Friday, February 25, 2011

Challenge Body Hatred!

In honor of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Amy Grabowski is sharing an excerpt from her upcoming book, "Imagine Being at Peace with Food, your Body, your Self." This is from the last chapter and is one of the ten tools to Make Peace with Food and your Body. Amy will be leading a workshop, "Make Peace With Your Body" on Sunday March 6. Please see info at the end of the article.

Challenge Body Hatred!

...Think way back, why did you start your very first diet? For most of you, ‘Feeling Fat’ and being uncomfortable in your own skin was something you’ve felt since you were a kid. In the majority of cases, feeling bad about our Body was the first symptom of our Eating Disorder. And sorry to say, it is usually the last symptom to go. You know this – because even when you have managed to lose weight, you still ‘Felt Fat’.

Or maybe as a child you felt fine about your Body; but sadly someone, your father, mother, doctor or coach put you on a diet. Like I pointed out already, once the dieting started, then the rest of the Eating Disordered symptoms, including feeling bad about your Body, followed.

Part of recovery is going to be learning to not trust the negative feelings you have about your Body and relearning to feed your Body as if you did not have these negative feelings, which you also need to learn to be untrue – even though you will still have these negative feelings for a while. Huh?! Clear as mud – right? Don’t worry I’ll try to make this as understandable as I can.

In today’s society, with our size negative-0 actresses/actors with their perfectly chiseled abs and thighs that never touch, plus the availability of cosmetic surgery to chop off or suck out parts of your Body to achieve the perfectly chiseled abs and thighs that never touch, it is very hard not to have a negative Body Image. Only 3% of the population of the US naturally looks like a supermodel. Does that mean that 97% of us should spend each day hating our Body? I choose to disagree! And I encourage you to disagree as well!

Interestingly, in a research study about the effect of a mother’s Body Image on her daughter, anyone in the control group who had a positive Body Image was eliminated from the study because liking your Body was considered abnormal. In another study, subjects who preferred larger Bodies were also eliminated. So in our culture, having some degree of dissatisfaction with one’s appearance is considered normal and liking large Bodies is considered abnormal! How absurd!

If hating our Body actually worked, if it actually motivated us to stop overeating, then everyone would have an ideal Body. We have to admit to ourselves, "Hating my Body doesn't work!" It just makes all the other symptoms worse, much, much worse!...

If you would like to participate in Amy's Workshop, "Make Peace with your Body" and learn the tools to stop Body Hatred, please call her at (773) 929-6262 x11 or email

Monday, February 21, 2011

Loving Your Body and Yourself

What does body image mean to you? What are your thoughts on your body? Do you like it? Hate it? Feel too uncomfortable in your own skin? Body image isn’t about how you look it's about how you think you look combined with all your criticisms, judgment, and emotions connected to yourself and how you think you look. It is these criticisms, judgments and emotions that drive the body hating. It’s time to reframe your thoughts on your body.

Your body is the vehicle you have been given in order to do what you do. While its necessary to address the inner critics associated with body image, it’s also important to reframe your approach to thinking about your body. Try starting with your hands they may not be the shape or size you want but think of what they do for you. There are so many things you do each day that would be much more difficult without your hands! Other parts of your body and your body as a whole function the exact say way. So next time you’re thinking I hate my legs, arms, nose, body try to remind yourself all of the things you couldn’t do without it. It’s time to begin the journey to loving your body and loving yourself.


Kira Redig

Kira is the art therapy intern at the Awakening Center, and there are currently openings in her Body Image group. She can be contacted at (773) 929-6262 x13

Friday, February 18, 2011

Breaking the Winter Rut

This is the time of year where the cold, dark days seem to endlessly blur together. The sky is perpetually grey and there are constant traces of salt on all of your shoes, refusing to give you respite from the weather, even when indoors.

When I awaken in the morning, it's dark. When I leave the office in the evening, it's dark. Every time I step outside my breath is caught short by the sharp, frigid air, which somehow seeps in through my boots and gloves, leaving my toes and fingers frozen, despite my double layer of socks. Each winter as I skate along the icy sidewalks I'm guaranteed a minimum of one wipe out, rated at least a 7.5 on a scale of 1-10 for embarrassing moments. But instead of letting my mood plummet with the weather, I make time for the little things that bring a smile to my face, such as hot chocolate, catching up with far away friends on the phone, getting a pedicure, meeting friends after work for dinner or a drink, and trying a new yoga or workout class (even better when it's free!).

Some people may find it difficult to identify those things that bring them joy. If this is the case, I encourage you to try something new and then take the time to explore the experience, asking yourself what you did and didn't like about it. Practice this process for several novel activities, each time, noting aspects you did and did not enjoy. Eventually, you’ll have a list of things you like and don't, and will be more aware of your interests and what will be more likely to bring you joy.

Other people may know what makes them happy, but are challenged by time constraints or are unable to find much motivation to get them out of their winter rut. In order to prevent the winter from melding into one long depressing day, try making plans with others for an activity you genuinely enjoy, but that is a little bit further in the future. Maybe plan a day-trip to go skiing or visit friends or family over a long weekend. You will have something to look forward to and including others will increase the chance that you'll actually engage in an activity that you like. Furthermore, identify 2 -3 things that you love and work to incorporate these into your daily, weekly or monthly routine. That might be a monthly massage, a weekly bubble bath, and a daily phone call.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Aim to accept your thoughts and feelings by being compassionate, complimentary, loving, and lenient.

Katie Anson, MA, LPC

Katie is bilingual (Spanish/English) and sees clients for individual therapy at The Awakening Center. She can be reached at (773) 929-6262 x23.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Winter Blues

The sun came out this weekend and it was warmer. The sun shone and everyone seemed lighter, happier. People smiled as they came out of hibernation and filled the stores. People were walking and running in the park. I felt the sun on my face and saw a hint of the moon in the blue sky and the tracks of a jet trail. I noticed things more. I wasn't just scurrying from place to place with my head down against the wind. Everything changes in Chicago when there is a hint of warmth and sun.

Winter's in Chicago can be gray, hard, long and lonely. We get blue. We look out the window and see one more gray day and want to hibernate. It's harder to get out of bed in the morning when it's pitch black. Many people have a difficult time with the lack of sun in the winter in Chicago. Many experience a mild case of the blues. For some, however, the change of season can be much more serious. Some people become depressed and start to have urges to eat sugar and high carb foods, experience fatigue, have weight gain and have difficulty concentrating. These symptoms may be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which affects half a million Americans a year-with more women affected then men. Treatment for SAD may include lightbox therapy or if severe, your doctor may determine medication is necessary. Check with your doctor if you think Sad may be impacting your life. But for those whose symptoms are mild, the most effective strategy may be to get outside in the morning rather than hibernating inside. Exposure to the natural light can help restore your body's natural rhythms and also boost your mood and mental functioning. The good news is spring in Chicago is only a month away...

Maureen McNichols Ed.S, LCPC is training at the Awakening Center and loves to visit places to see the sun in the winter! She co-leads the Tuesday night Drop-In Support Group and can be reached at (773)-929-6262 x. 12