Thursday, March 17, 2016


After suffering with Bulimia and Binge Eating for years, I found Robin and realized she might be able to help me out. Here is what happened after working with her.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Since the 1960’s Weight Watchers has been a moderate representative of the diet industry, and has helped millions of dieters deprive food and closely monitor their effected weight. Today, Oprah Winfrey has decided to encourage more people to do the same.

In October of 2015 Weight Watchers sold 10% (6.4 million) shares to Oprah for 43.2 million dollars. By the end of the day Weight Watchers stock doubled, making Oprah 70 million dollars. But as with all diets, the allure of the fantasy dies and so did the ‘Oprah effect’. Weight Watchers stock has tanked since January, with a steep declining trajectory. Could it be the influx of newer easier weight loss apps and gadgets? Or maybe the growing movement to reject the dogma of the body-image culture?

In a recent Weight Watchers commercial Oprah declares,

“Inside every woman is the woman she knows she can become.”

In other words, what she’s saying is in every woman is a thinner woman wanting to get out. In every woman is a picture programmed into her brain of what she’s supposed to look like and without question, it matches societal dogma as thinner and more attractive.  

In another commercial she states,

“Let’s let 2016 be the year of our best bodies.”

In this she’s inferring that in order to have a better body, it must be thinner. This is a wonderful example of both dogma and stigma.

Dogma is defined by a set of principles or beliefs given by authority that is irrefutably true. Stigma is consequential to those beliefs, in that a person’s reputation is negatively defined by not meeting those standards. These messages sent by Weight Watchers emphasize the dogma of thin-supremacy.

The principle is that thinner people are smarter, sexier, healthier, have more self-control, and are more important and valuable to society. Thin people are superior people. The stigma then is that fatter people are unintelligent, unattractive, lazy, and worth less to society. Fat people are inferior people.

Without questioning the validity and credibility of these beliefs, they have become sacred to society. Enough so that even with her affiliation with some of the most prolific and popular spiritual teachers of today, Oprah still hasn’t transcended the controlling grasp of thin-supremacy. It’s no wonder she feels she has a thin woman inside her waiting to get out and that her thinner body is a better body in 2016.

Unfortunately, the hundreds of trillions of dollars spent on acquiring the ideal dogmatic body is an indication of how many people believe in it and are fearful of resulting stigma. But with awareness comes knowledge. 

There has been a shift in what the consumer is looking for, which could explain why Weight Watchers is struggling, despite benefiting from a few months of the ‘Oprah effect’. Many people aren’t buying into the body-image fantasy the same way they used to, and they might actually be less influenced by stigma. Enough so that Oprah might realize she already has a better body, when her investment isn't enough to keep her from getting hungry and wanting to eat.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


When someone comes to me for help, they are seeking guidance for how to rid the horrific side-effects of dieting. These effects are described as chronic anxiety, paranoia, panic, fear, and obsessive thinking about size, weight, clothes, food, and restrictions. They are ridden with incessant pressure to fix their body, anxiety about food, and are heavily burdened by the daily task of starving in order to feel safe and adequate in their body.
When you look at the negative emotions one has about themselves, it's clear why the abuse and dysfunction of dieting is rationalized as a worthy cause. The obsessive mental focus on restrictions, food, and exercise are promoted as “healthy”, with the underlying belief that all of the negative emotions will go away once their body is good enough.
The problem with this focus is that it misdirects and projects the original emotions one has about themselves onto the body. But in fact, the emotions were there prior to believing weight-loss would make the uncomfortable emotions go away. Once an individual believes fat loss will make them feel better emotionally, fat becomes the focal point of cause and effect. In other words, if you feel ashamed and you believe losing weight will make those feeling go away, the unintended consequence is that gaining fat becomes a cause of shame.
For me, days after a traumatic sexual assault, I decided losing weight would help me direct and control intolerable feelings of loss, darkness, shame, fear, chaos, and disorientation. Because I didn’t understand the trauma or recognize why I felt ashamed, my first instinct wasn’t to fix the experience, but rather to blame and fix myself. My way to resolve feelings of inadequacy, failure, and chaos was through organization, order, and control of food, and through a fantasy that fat loss would make me feel powerful and safe.
I consciously made my diet and body my unconscious cause and effect.
Once I began to successfully restrict food and lose weight I experienced feelings of peace, calm, quiet, safe, and order. But the moment I deviated from the safety of my diet, my coping mechanism became my biggest enemy. It became a bigger cause of failure and emotional pain than the original trauma itself.
Feelings of failure, inadequacy, shame, chaos, disorientation, and panic came flooding back, but worse. The only focus that would remove those feelings was to eliminate the damage. Purging, excessive exercise and obsessive dieting took over. Like a rabbit hole, I was sucked into a vicious cycle of mostly shame, fear, panic, anxiety, starving, and severe psychological pain.
At its worst I would have to exercise to burn at least 1200 calories a day and would starve enough to binge and purge 8-12 a day. All just to feel fleeting moments of safety. Ninety percent of my day was spend in horror and heavy depression, especially when I realized there was no way out.  It wasn’t until I had decided to commit suicide that the process unraveled.
In the end, I had to get down to the original emotions and detach them from my body. I had to experience those emotions as a soul, not a body, giving me clarity, perspective, and freedom from the torture of trauma and the suffering of my coping mechanism.
The people who come to me for help, I understand. I know what Hell feels like and despite feeling inescapable, there is freedom. But not without going into the original emotions, and not with coping mechanisms to escape.
When you have the humility to willfully surrender ALL coping mechanisms you accept responsibility for your emotions. You open your mind to recontextualize trauma, and have compassion for yourself and others. You open your soul to the grace necessary to recognize illusions, and the freedom from having to be defined by them.
There is freedom, and it isn’t with a coping mechanism. Once you open yourself to what you are afraid to feel, you are given perspective. Here is a session with a client where I discuss the insanity of dieting and the truth of what your desire to lose weight is hiding.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015


The link between body image and depression, low self-esteem, social anxiety, and eating disorders has been studied as a personal psychological problem for well over fifty years. Because the prevalence of eating disorders and body image based problems have skyrocketed over the last 20 years, the discussion of body image is now being looked at not strictly as a personal psychological problem, but rather an indication of a social problem. This is great news for us parents! As the body image epidemic grows culturally, we can recognize the problem and prevent it from spreading to our own children. But first, we need to recognize it in ourselves, and we need to understand what body image is.
What is body image?
Body image is defined as a person using his or her body to construct a sense of self. The image of who she is becomes psychologically constructed by how she looks, her attractiveness, her sexuality, how her body performs (athletically), or if her body is healthy. In short, body image is used as a gold standard of worth for people who are able-bodied. Are you attractive enough, thin enough, sexy enough, athletic enough, or healthy enough? I like to refer to these as sacred body-righteous standards. They are sacred because they are believed as unquestionable truths, and righteous because the body is used to define the individual morally. If, however, an individual has the misfortune of a disease, a disfigurement, or an accident that leaves her disabled, none of the body image rules apply and the person is free to be and to love herself without condition. But if you are able-bodied, you are held to an incredibly high standard in order to feel good about your body and for it to be approved.
Once an individual internalizes and believes a body-righteous standard is important and required, he is held to the ideal and compared to it in order to define and prove his worth. When he compares himself to the able-bodied gold-standard, the difference between what he believes is ideal and his actual body creates feelings of dissatisfaction and discontent. But if his body matches the ideal he can feel proud, a sense of power, accomplishment, and safety. Either way, someone who uses body image to define his value, sense of worth, or to construct his sense of identity is at high risk for eating disorders, as well as exercise addiction. But again, for all of this to take hold, an image of what the ideal body is must be recognized, understood, and internalized as an unquestionable “sacred” requirement.
The role of media
Corporate-driven media has been a huge contributing factor to the definition of the idealized body image. They use perfected and airbrushed pictures as examples of what should be aspired to. The diet, beauty, and health industries use perfected body images as their main selling point and motivation behind what they are selling. These businesses send a powerful message that beauty, health, fitness, and thinness are the most important measures of life, worth, happiness, control, and success, and the media they use captures the perfected body-righteous standard in such a way that has stigmatized anything other than the ideal. But corporate media only has power if the consumer actually believes the message behind the body image symbol, and that’s where parents have a key role in either contributing to or preventing the problem.
Positive and negative parenting examples
Parents and family can play an important contributing factor when they, too, have internalized, believed, and encouraged these sacred body-righteous standard
s. Most people are aware that making your teen’s weight and diet a focus is an obvious contributor to negative body image and eating disorders. But, they don’t necessarily understand that how parents feel about themselves and how they treat their own bodies can be just as influential.
Parents who openly discuss their “battle with weight,” who openly judge and criticize parts of their body, who publicly talk about their diets, who describe food as “bad/good” or “clean/dirty,” who feel the need to excuse eating, who have to justify what they eat, or who negotiate for food–all of these positively teach moral importance and values of body-righteousness.
Conversely, powerful contributors to poor body image are the parents and people who believe they actually have the power and righteousness of the ideal body that others aspire to have. Many of these people are in the diet, nutrition, health, and fitness industry and they use themselves as the example. They tend to use their ideal body as a measure of their success and have a higher, more righteous standard for themselves and their children.
Children of these “ideal body” parents are often held to a stricter body-righteous standard, have food restricted needlessly, are forced to exercise for fitness, and they often hear their parents criticize, judge, and even shame other people who are fat, unhealthy, or who don’t believe or prioritize the same body-righteousness. The internal family perfectionism without grace inevitably results in their children’s fear of shame and disapproval if their body doesn’t match the family standard. Essentially, these children are held captive by the strict requirement of their parent’s egotistic standard of righteousness.
These parents are more likely to over-criticize their children’s bodies and make them diet out of their own projected fear of being judged for having an overweight child. These children tend to resent their parents, feel bad about who they are, hide food, over-criticize themselves and their body, and, unfortunately, are at a high risk for eating disorders. But this type of body image captivity and fear mongering doesn’t have to come from a parent. It can come from a spouse, friend, significant other, or society.
While parents and families can certainly contribute to the body image problem, they are just as powerful in preventing it as well. When you find a sense of worth that forgives and eliminates body image, you will have more power to teach your children how to do it for themselves.

Tips to encourage a positive body image
What can we do as parents to raise children to have positive relationships with their bodies? Here are a few suggestions that might help.
1. Find a sense of human-worth that is not defined by body image, physical attractiveness, or any cultural ideology.
2. Love and appreciate your body without condition.
3. If the body you are in is alive, it is perfect.
4. Expose the extreme perfectionism used in the media to manipulate our concepts of body image.
5. Expose the body-righteousness and health-righteousness used in the diet industry and body image culture.
6. Recognize that as an able-bodied human, you don’t actually have a problem.
7. Give yourself the freedom to live life as if the ideal body isn’t possible, as if it doesn’t exist and it never will.
8. Exercise for pleasure, not for an image or an illusion of health.
9. Eat a variety of food and eat pleasurably.
10. Do not diet, and do not encourage your children to diet.
11. Do not weigh yourself or measure yourself in front of your children.
12. Do not body-shame others or body-praise others.
13. Do not discuss your judgment of yourself or others in front of your children.
14. Do not make your children’s looks important or worthy of praise/criticism.
15. Eat when you are hungry and avoid excessive fullness, and encourage your family to do the same.
16. Do not judge food morally.
17. Do not food-shame.
18. Give your children the breathing room to express and dress themselves.
19. Take the seriousness out of your own dress code.
20. Get professional help if you believe you or your child struggles with disordered eating or an eating disorder.
By following these tips, you can improve your own healthy body image and serve as a powerful role model to your child.
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