Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Tenth Circle

The Tenth Circle - 2006
image: jodipicoult

Lifetime aired The Tenth Circle last night by Jodi Picoult. If you haven't read her books, they are excellent. She focuses on family issues, children growing up, and ethical issues. She does a very good job with giving her characters a 3-dimensional depth, exploring their feelings and thoughts. Her books also usually have a slight twist to the ending as well.

I was really looking forward to this movie. I always like to see how much movies stay true to the book. For the most part, it was fairly accurate from what I can remember, except it left out a huge chunk of the book that I felt was important. I guess they felt like it wasn't important enough or there was enough plot without it. Did anyone else see this? What were your impressions? Also, an encore of it will be played at 7 PM EST tonight.

By the way, her book My Sister's Keeper, is also being made into a movie, schedule to come out in 2009. The role of the mother is being played by Cameron Diaz. Already, people are not sure of this casting. Apparently, Dakota and Elle Fanning her supposed to play the parts of the sisters but both dropped out, and now it will be Abigail Breslin and Sofia Vassilieva. Alec Baldwin will also be in the movie. There are rumors that there may be some changes from the book, like the ending as well as the ages of the daughters. Hmm, stay tuned for this one.

Olympics, gymnastics, and mentality

Official logo of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games
image: wikipedia

The Summer Olympics is fast approaching. This is a controversial Olympics since the site is Beijing, and China has been in the news a lot this year. Nevertheless, whatever your opinion may be of China, I think there needs to be a lot of respect given to the athletes as a whole in general. I'm hoping political differences will be put aside and the true Olympic spirit will prevail throughout these games. After all, that is the theme of the Olympic Games.

Anyway, this post isn't so much about the site of the Olympics, that was just a preface ;-) Many sports are now having their Olympic Trials to see who will make the list to Beijing. Under the American system, it's all objective on that particular day even if you may be a star athlete in your field of sport. Talk about some major pressure! Other countries allow more leniency, so if a star athlete is injured who is likely to medal at the games, the individual can still be on the ticket to Beijing through selective choosing.

Last weekend was the U.S. Olympic Trials in gymnastics. I didn't know it was going to be on, but I was really glad I was able to watch it. In my former life, I was a competitive gymnast, so gymnastics will always hold a dear special place in my heart. Although I do not follow it as closely anymore ( no more gymnastics magazines, taped televised competitions, all the latest gymnast gear, etc.), I do try to watch it when I can. These days, I'm more interested in the psychological aspects of the gymnasts than the sport itself.

Over the years, gymnastics has evolved greatly. In 1997, the age requirement for gymnasts was changed to 16. I don't know if any of you remember in the 1992 Barcelona Games, there was a North Korean gymnast who looked like she was 12 years old! I can't help but think that did not play a role. It was later discovered that the gymnast's birth certificate had been falsified and changed. In 2005, the code of points was changed, following more of the figure skating scoring system with emphasis on difficulty and execution. So for now, no more of the elusive 10.0 which Nadia Comaneci earned in the 1976 Olympics. Now, it's a 17!

I think one of the biggest changes came after the death of Christy Henrich, a world class US gymnast who died in 1994 of multiple organ failure due to her anorexia and bulimia. She had just missed out on making the 1988 Olympics by less than 0.200 tenths. Prior to those Trials, a US judge remarked on her weight which was the catalyst for her weight loss. After her death, several other well known gymnasts like Nadia Comaneci, Cathy Rigby, and Kathy Johnson came out about their own ordeals with eating disorders. Other changes took effect as well. In the mid-90s, media stopped displaying the gymnasts' weights. In 1996, the Athlete Wellness program was formed, educating coaches, nutritionists, psychologists and athletes about the importance of nutrition, the female athlete triad, etc. in the sport.

And in 1995, we can't forget the now what some call infamous book Little Girls in Pretty Boxes by Joan Ryan, was published. It exposed the dark secrets of the sports of elite gymnastics and figure skating. Some found it eye-opening, while others felt it was one-sided and Ryan held a grudge.


There is no doubt that in elite gymnastics, there isn't sacrifice, blood, sport, and tears. Really, this can be said of any activity where someone is at the cream of the crop. Gymnastics and other appearance related sports (cheerleading, diving, wrestling, ballet) seem to be more disconcerting since there is usually a higher emphasis on body image which can lead to risk for eating disorders/disordered eating. Many studies have shown this and too many to cite here.

Besides that, there is a huge mental component in any sport. With the Olympics being a a little over a month away, that pressure rises higher. Even at the conclusion of the trials, only the top two gymnasts (Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin) were guaranteed spots to Beijing. The rest of the gymnasts who are invited go to the Karolyi ranch where a team will be finalized July 20th. Yep, it's definitely some major pin and needle time for these gymnasts.

I also couldn't help but notice several things as I watched the trials. One, the commentators just kept mentioning injury and injury of these gymnasts. Some have come back healed and well, while others are still on the mend but competing anyway. Many times they mentioned Alicia Sacramone and how she was in tears 4 years ago just short of making the team. Though it is likely she will make the team this time around, if she didn't she'd probably be known as the gymnast who didn't make the team twice, or as others might say the horrible "F" word, failure.

I also noticed one gymnast in particular, Ivana Hong, who reminded me a lot of me, it was quite uncanny. Gymnasts often times do have serious faces, but there was something with hers that just yielded to the fact that she places an immense pressure on herself to be perfect. Then there seems to be a trend among parents of gymnasts also being their coaches. That can be a tough relationship and definitely needs to be handled with care.

It'll be interesting to see what happens. The thing about pressure and mental toughness is that they are the characteristics which can be both positive and negative for competitive athletes. I remember in the 1992 Olympics when Kim Zmeskal fell off the balance beam. The crowd was shocked. Then the next day, there were headlines that questioned whether she had succumbed to pressure of the Games or if we were pressuring these young gymnasts too much. If something like that happens again to let's say Shawn Johnson or Nastia Liukin who are heavily favored as all-around contenders at the Games, you bet, there are going to be similar headlines. It's a sad fact, but that is what happens. In some sense, it is true, while in others it is not. And sometimes it's hard even for the athlete to recognize the pressure and who she/he may be performing for.

The other thing I often wonder about these athletes or any after they complete the Games is what happens next? Some continue with training and maybe hope for another Games, others retire from the sport, a few try to get a college scholarship and put in four more years, some move on and do something completely different. Then there are those who don't know what else to do, as gymnastics (or insert any sport here) was their life, their identity. It was their passion (okay, maybe I'm being a little more reflective than I planned here), and it becomes difficult to find a new one. I think it's one reason why many gymnasts go into coaching. It's what they know and also probably love too. Still though, since gymnasts' careers in general end earlier than other sports, it really can be a trying time for them. I think the one positive thing of stopping gymnastics for most of these athletes (and you can't say all of them have disordered eating) is that they go off their stringent diets and eat healthier, have more normal food intakes.

I guess in whatever happens, it is my hope that they find balance, remain healthy, and do what is best for their own sake. Sometimes I want to say to some of these athletes that it is okay to be a little selfish and do what you want to do.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Satire or rude commentary?

June 26, 2008
Non-Runner Dies While Not Running

A Mississippi man died yesterday while not running in a local marathon.

Les Actiff, 43, of Jackson, Miss., collapsed while watching television in his Hattiesburg home. Attempts to revive him failed, and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

He was still clutching a bucket of fried chicken.

Like 25% of the U.S. population, Actiff was obese. Federal statistics show that nearly a third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese; about two-thirds are overweight. Actiff had been a non-runner for more than 20 years, according to his family and friends.

Family members were stunned.

"I don't get it," said his wife, Bess. "He didn't run all his life. He was always so inactive. And now, this. You just never know, I guess."

"At least he died doing what he loved," she added. "Not running."

Spectators gathered outside Actiff's home were similarly shocked.

"I'll never not run," said one woman. "It's too dangerous."

A large man on a scooter, out walking his dog, was more fatalistic: "If you can avoid doing a single positive thing for your health your whole life, just sit around like a lump and eat poorly and then still drop dead... Well, I just don't know. I guess when it's your time, it's your time."

Actiff appears to have died from atherosclerotic heart disease, according to Lamar County Coroner Paul Caste.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, at the Pizza Hut off of I-59.

First off, I did not write this piece. It is from a blog entry in Runnersworld. If you haven't gathered, it is supposed to be a satire. However, is it really? Many in the running community have been upset that when an athlete dies suddenly in a running event, headlines asking whether running is safe appear everywhere.

It's interesting reading the comments from this entry. Some people found this incredibly hilarious, in the same liking as the satirical Onion. Others found it not funny, in poor taste, and felt like it was being critical of obese people.

There is no doubt good satire is funny with proper taste. However, weight, obesity, personal lifestyle tends to tread on a fine line. Maybe I'm a bit sensitive when it comes to these topics. I know I've preached this before but I truly do believe education, awareness, and helpful strategies have a better chance at providing lasting change in any avenue of life.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Madness: A Bipolar Life

I just finished the book, Madness, by Marya Hornbacher. Most of you will know that she also wrote Wasted, published ten years ago, about her ordeal with anorexia and bulimia. As with most books, the reviews are mixed with some people praising the book, while others feel like she has sensationalized her illness. My personal opinion falls more towards understanding and appreciating her candor. I think reading this book after having read Wasted when it first came out, her behaviors make more sense to me. I remember when there was so much talk going on about Wasted, rumors had spread she had relapsed into her ED and been hospitalized. When it reality, it was really for the bipolar, not her ED at the time though there were some relapses.

Personally, I've always liked her style of writing, and this book really captivated me. Her writing makes you feel like you are there right with her, feeling the flow of her highs and lows. In all honesty, I'm amazed she is still alive with everything she has done/been through. Listening to her in an interview on psychjourney, I just don't get the impression she is out there to really "sensationalize" herself, just more that this is her daily life and how she manages/mismanages it.

Sometimes I've wondered whether I would fit bipolar disorder, more along the lines of bipolar II or soft bipolar, however, sometimes it's hard to distinguish how much of it would be from an actual disorder versus a semi-starved/starved state. I've never sought after a diagnosis but just know that anti-depressants in general didn't do much for me when I was younger. Perhaps, the wrong ones or maybe a different disorder. Hard to tell, but right now, I seem to be "okay," or at least not feeling like the world would end or something.

Within the last few years, there has been more research on bipolar disorders, especially in diagnosis. It's been concluded in many studies how bipolar has been misdiagnosed for another psychiatric disorder. The need for receiving the right treatment is contingent upon a correct diagnosis. It's my hope as more awareness is out there for bipolar and its various forms, more people receive the treatment they much need. And as with many mental illnesses, that it is treatable and manageable.

Sunday, June 22, 2008



The latest thing to add to society and the exploitation of young girls. :sigh: Some may not view it this way, but I find it disturbing. Over at Dr. Deb, an excellent blog on psychology and mental health topics, she talked about these new high heel shoes for infants. Yes, that's right infants!

From the website, Heelarious
, it says these shoes are "extremely funny, completely soft, fully functional high heel crib shoes for babies 0-6 months." These shoes come in six different styles ranging from hot pink to animal prints. The makers, two childhood friends, say the shoes are made to be funny and light-hearted just like their company name. Hmmm.

I think it's obvious that the makers knew there would be some controversy in these shoes. It's kind of sad really, but it seems the way society works. Don't get me wrong, some controversy is good as it opens communication and perspectives. However, this seems just over the top to me. We have a big enough problem in society as it is with the loss of innocence in childhood, why add more?

So what you think? Are these shoes appropriate for the age? Do these shoes scream sexual innuendos or is it just all play and games? This article from ABC news gives a variety of opinions.

Can Aol get even stupider?

First off, no offense to anyone who has aol. I used to have it when I first began using the computer, more than ten years ago. I even ventured in the ED chat for a long time and got to know people there In fact, some I still keep in touch with to this day.

Anyway, someone from one of the running forums I visit recently talked the ridiculous weight loss tricks that popped up on her aol news. Many of them are more or less consistent with what professionals have said for those who do need to lose weight for health purposes. However, a few of them could easily be seen on a "pro-ana" site. It's really scary to think these would even be considered and how there will be people who do these anyway. :sigh:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Co-op experience

One of my things on my list was to do my grocery shopping which I normally do on Mondays. I normally go to Whole Foods when I'm getting natural products but decided instead to stop by the local co-op. It had been awhile since I'd shopped there, so my navigation skills weren't too great. I also realized it seemed that everyone had gone alternative and was using the reusable bags, similar to green bags Actually, I had these in my car and totally forgot to bring them. It somehow made me feel a little self conscious. However, when I do remember the green bags, I only feel comfortable using them in natural food stores versus a regular grocery store where I see no one using them. Seems quite silly when I think about it.

Anyway, within the first five minutes, I saw a client who immediately waved and said hi. I said hi back and we both went on our way. Thirty or so minutes later, I saw another client. This one was actually my former professor, so it was nice to see her. The funny thing was when I drove up to the store, I wondered whether P. (professor) would be there. And lo and behold, there she was.

Then in between seeing clients, this guy comes up to me and hands me this American flag pin. The paper the pin was stuck to read, "Let's be friends! I am a deaf person selling these cards and flag pins for a living." Then there was a heart in the middle with the "I love you" sign. The bottom of the paper read, "Donation-any price you wish."

I really was not sure how to react. Was this guy really deaf? And how come I didn't see him going around to other people but just me? I wound up giving him a dollar. He signed thank you, and then scurried off. It was a really bizarre encounter. I have nothing against deaf people, I've met several of them and my boss is profoundly deaf. I guess I like to think I did a nice thing, but maybe I was being played? Who knows. Has anyone else had this happen to them?

The rest of the shopping trip went okay. I did pick up a few different items to try. Hopefully, I don't get a lot of anxiety over it. Oh yes, and I saw this sign in the store for a dietitian that meets with people there on certain days of the week. The first 15 minutes is free, but I'm not sure what the rest of her fee would be. I'm considering this idea, at least maybe to bounce off some ideas or feel accountable or something. My insurance doesn't cover nutritionists/dietitians and the one here in town I would like to go to doesn't take my insurance. Maybe I can work something out. I guess it's good that I'm at least giving this food for thought, right?


Have you ever had one of those days when you are simply exhausted but know that if you sit down, you will utterly crash and burn? You know you need to rest but there are just so many things to get done and not enough time in the day. Then by some bizarre force of nature, you just keep going and going, just like that pink energizer bunny. This was me yesterday as well as today.

Whenever I get this way, it affects me on all facets. I run myself into the ground, my mind becomes single focused at getting the task at hand completed, my emotions are non-existent, my eating goes haywire, and I become even more sleep deprived than I am. It's not a good way to start off the weekend.

So have the last two days been different? I think it had to due with a change in schedule suddenly. My boss informed me on Thursday she couldn't work the days I'm normally off next week and was giving me this weekend off. This wasn't such a bad thing except a) the person covering for me is the annoying girl from dog obedience class, b) I have clients picking up their dogs who I wanted to talk to, and c) screws up my schedule. I decided I'd take today off but work tomorrow to be able to see clients.

Now, I've just been running around trying to get everything done. When I feel this way, it simply doesn't matter that it is overwhelming. I just feel this maddening need to get my entire list completed. Logically, I know this is dumb. I know the world is not going to shatter if I don't get these things done. I don't know why this has just hit me in the face so suddenly. I already know that next week is going to be incredibly long, so I really can't afford to be too tired. Argh! I guess I'm chalking this up to some anxiety. What about, I'm not sure. I'm going to need to do some digging on this.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

From irritation to smiles

I woke up in a very irritated mood despite having a good run this morning. Part of it was from yesterday at doggie obedience class. This one girl there just drives me nuts. Then I was really questioning whether I was burnt out on my job. The dogs boarding have been driving me crazy. I just want calm, nice dogs who don't run the fence, go into their kennels when asked, come out when asked, remain quiet for food preparation, and do not jump. Is that so hard to ask? :sigh:

Now, however, my mood has been lifted a bit. I did some mowing which actually makes me feel better a lot of times. Then I got this e-mail from this guy I've been corresponding with the last few months. We'll call him DA. Anyway, he said "it'll be nice to meet this summer." I seriously hope we will be able to meet. Do I dare say this could really be something worthwhile? I was just very excited about this.

The other cool thing is that I could have sworn I saw a hummingbird today. I was sitting in the office at work and suddenly see something fly around the Heath Aster and Lavender in the window boxes. I only saw it fr a moment, but the shape was like a humming bird. My last several runs I've also seen a number of deer and ground hogs.

Gotta go for now. Hopefully, my mood will stay in this state.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chick and egg

Recently, one of my mother's King Charles Cavaliers was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. She's concerned since their last cavalier also died of CHF. The dog is now currently on meds and seems to be doing better. I know she'll keep her on a good/healthy diet since that significantly helped their last cavalier.

My mom was rather depressed over the weekend about it. She received an e-mail from her husband who is out of town. It was titled "Losing something special." She deliberately avoided opening the e-mail, because she was afraid of being upset and hurt. It turns out the e-mail was opposite.

I hope some of you vegetarians/vegans are not upset by this. I personally chuckled and smiled at this. Sometimes I do feel like that scrambled egg. However, I keep reminding myself that even if I am one, there is still me in there. Anyway, take the image as you see fitting to your life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Over the weekend, I was thinking how bored I was with food. It probably doesn't help that I mostly eat the same thing day in and day out and have for practically the last eight or more years. I like to convince myself I'm eating more variety, but is it really justified when it is only a different brand of protein bar? Or I'll convince myself that I'm eating a spectrum of vegetables, so this must count for something right? After all, we're told we should eat the colors of the rainbow when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Is this really progress?

I think so much still has to do with "safety." For me, safe items are salads and crackers. I know in general, over the last several years I have made progress in terms of what I'm eating. I've added soy milk, nuts, supplements, more nutrient dense foods, etc, however, I feel kind of stuck in making myself eat more different things. For example, I went to the grocery thinking I was going to try some new foods or buy products for a certain recipe, but I found myself still gravitating towards the produce section.

I know part of this thinking is that I want to eat something I can prepare quickly and without much thought, so a typical salad with some form of protein is easy to do. I don't know how to get pass this. When I do try to buy foods that are not on my "foods to eat" list, I either don't touch it or I eat it, like it, feel guilty for eating so much of it, and want to dispose of it. It's like being there just feels like temptation that I would rather not have. Then I just feel even more guilty for having wasted all that money. It's a vicious cycle.

I guess I'm beginning to question how I measure progress. Maybe I'm too hard on myself, maybe I'm not trying enough, maybe I just don't know how to really define it? It seems like it should be an easy answer, so why do I have such difficulty with it?

Monday, June 16, 2008

NYC continues on trans fat mission

In a press release today, NYC will be implementing further its ban on trans fat in cooking products. As of July 1, all artifical trans fat items will be off the menus in NYC. NYC had already begun to ban trans fat in their restaurants last year, but this is the final installment of the series.

I know this was a very hot topic of debate when NYC first suggested this ban at the end of 2006. Everything from economics to personal freedom to "nanny" regulations were discussed. I think this has died down a bit, but I'm not sure since I do not live in NYC nor do I go to fast food restaurants where these trans fats were mostly the culprit. It does look like NYC restaurants have mostly complied with the ban, though maybe that was so they wouldn't get fined?

Anyway, I do know that just about every single product these days touts "no trans fat." Does it make people think about their health more? Do people know what trans fats even are? So I guess I wonder whether this has been truly helpful. Has it really slashed the obesity crisis? Hard to tell with any of this, and there are so many other confounding factors involved. Will this stir up more hackles and regulations? I guess only time will tell.

Another doggie birthday

Happy Birthday Hank!

You are my cool, calm, handsome, "me too" boy. When I originally met you, you were a rescue from a lab organization. You came to our kennel to become trained as a psychiatric service dog. I worked with you on a lot of basic obedience and instantly felt a bond. After several months of training, and then going to your forever home, everything looked like it was going to work out. However, after a few short months, it did not turn out that way, and you came back to our kennel.

Five to six months later, there was a woman interested in having you as a service dog. I knew nothing about the woman but did as I was told. Sadly, I was heartbroken, especially when I saw you at class the following week. Our eyes locked, and you immediately wanted to come see me. I was so so sad and thought I'd lost you forever. It was at that point that I said to myself, "if it was meant to be, he'll return." The lady decided she really wanted a lab instead for a service dog, and thus you were returned once again. This time, I did ask to take you. My wish was granted, and four years later, here you are still.

You are an incredible dog, one that can never be matched. I love you for all that you have done for me in being a companion and providing so much comfort and joy into my life.

With love,
Your mom

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Father's Day is now over. I don't think the day has changed for me, but I think I hold a different perspective of it. About 4 1/2 years ago, my father really did almost die. He had melanoma, his second cancer in less than three years and just one of his health ailments, and was being treated for it aggressively. He had a bad reaction to the treatment and went into sepsis and was in the ICU for a month.

When I heard the news, I went down to the hospital, about a nine hour drive away. I stayed there for a week. My mother and I as well as his wife visited and talked to him, telling him how much we loved him, that he was strong, and would make it. Right before I left, I do remember talking to him alone and telling him if he did want to go, it was okay, that he didn't need to hold on for me, that I was going to be okay. It was a weird thing. I didn't want him to die, but at the same time, I accepted it too if that was what was going to happen.

He eventually came out of his coma state and when was able to talk, he remembered hearing my voice as well as my mother's. I am certainly glad he made it out alive and well. These days, we laugh about it and say how he has survived just about everything. But really you never know. It could easily be a misstep, or the flu, or pneumonia, or an accident that could send someone to the hospital and not make it out alive. It's a scary thought.

We still have a lot of issues from the past. I'm *trying* to let go of some of them, knowing that it's never really going to change, that I can't change him, nor him me. Even though he still irritates me with certain issues (ie grad school, medical school, job, house, etc.), I do know that his intentions are in the right place. Sometimes those intentions can be overwhelming and tiresome, but they do come from a place of love. For that, I am thankful.

I hope one day I can feel just as good about myself as the many positive, good things he says about me/towards me. In the end, I think that would be his ultimate goal for me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Weekend musings

It's a little past 6:00 AM and I woke up at 5:15, of course meaning to go for a run. My evening run yesterday got nixed due to a bad thunderstorm. Thunder isn't so bad, but when it seems like lightning is hitting just a few feet from you, eeek, it's really not that worthwhile to be a nice little target. That and pouring down rain where you can't see at all is not that thrilling for me. So yes, I stayed indoors and did nothing. Hated myself for it, and promised myself to get out and go this morning. The morning arrived, I looked out at it--kind of dark I said to myself. So instead, I just sat in my chair, read a book until my satellite came back on to hop on the computer. Again promising myself I'd go for a run this afternoon.

I tend to get like this on the weekends. I don't know why it feels that different from the week since my schedule doesn't change. Somehow, I feel like structure is broken down. Maybe it's when I realize more that I really don't have that much of a life, nothing to really look forward to on the weekend. People around me sleep in, go to the movies, go shopping, go on mini vacations, etc. But me, I work, go run, watch the Suze Orman show on Saturday night, maybe pick up a few things at the store, and that's it. Sounds pretty boring, right? I've tried to get together with people, but everyone is busy or they never call back. It really drives me nuts on occasion but I try hard to give people the benefit of the doubt. I know people have real lives, they are busy. I know I could do certain things alone, and sometimes I do (example: Postsecret event came here awhile ago), but many times I don't.

I think my emotions feel more over the place on the weekends. It's probably the most likely time I'd binge and really think about purging. So far, I've succeeded in the last what six months, maybe seven, who's counting really? Anyone else I'd tell them it's a great accomplishment. I know for a fact it is, but the minimizer comes out in me and just gives a shrug like eh, okay, whatever. The fact is I don't want those thoughts. I don't want to have to even be considering it. Why is it so hard not to? I think to myself just once, and that'll be it. But I know that is wrong. It doesn't work that way. Once becomes twice, then thrice, and it goes on and on. :sigh:

I think there are other things going on too that set me up for feeling like crap today. Besides not running, it's little things. I called my mom in the evening with nothing really to say, calling out of boredom I guess. I really need to stop doing this and just wait for her to call me which takes damn forever, then she apologizes, says she realizes she hadn't talked to me all weekend, etc. Once, when I was incredibly upset with her, I did not talk to her for over two weeks. That's like a record. I of course gave in and was the one called her. That was three or four summers ago. It's been better since she stopped having crying attacks and wishing I'd figure out my life. She still does wish the latter but just doesn't go into crying fits anymore. Not that crying is a bad thing or whatever, it just always made me feel even worse than I already did for not having a plan A, plan B, etc.

Then, my boss gets into a car accident on Thursday. I was quite surprised. I asked if she was okay and all. At the time, she said she would be but that the car was not drivable. She decided to see the Dr. yesterday and sent me an e-mail in the afternoon. She said she had neck, back, and right leg problems, though she did not elaborate on what they were other than she was insured. Hmm, okay. I feel bad for her seriously as I would not wish for anyone to get into an accident or have something bad happen. Another part of me just feels annoyed about it. It's a long story the relationship between my boss and me. There have been some highs and some real lows. I've learned to weather the storm and just try not to read into things too much. I know I'm being vague, but it's really complicated and would take many posts to write. But in any case, no matter how I may be feeling, I'm nice, ask how she is doing, if there is anything I can help her with, etc. I have a feeling I'll be working on Monday, but we'll see. And whatever, whenever I'm talking to her it is genuine.

Then, we had a client come in, one of my favorites actually. She is really a nice person and I enjoy seeing her except for the fact that she reminds me of my old T. See, this client is a psychologist who has an office space in the same building/converted house as my old therapist who back in December (I think) said I really needed to start doing more in recovery or not come see her anymore. It wasn't enough at that point that I'd decided to quit purging for sure. That wasn't enough of a step. I needed to do more--work on my self-esteem, sitting with my feelings, saying positive affirmations, running less, etc. So the client and I chatted. She asked me how I was. I told her about running the marathon. She said the familiar words of "good for you, that's a a great accomplishment, etc." She asked if I'd decided to do more classes. I told her I didn't know but that I probably should be. We stopped there, and then she left. The other thing with this client is that I know she knows more about me than other people. Most don't know I've had an eating disorder for years. I mean she has to know since the therapist I was seeing specializes in that. Maybe it bothers me in some way, though I know she is incredibly professional and would never ask.

Then on the news, I found out that Tim Russert died. I'm not a huge political oriented person, but I always liked him as a journalist. I liked his interviews and how genuine he was. The people around him who mourned his loss all said what a wonderful person he was. He just seemed like such a nice guy. I don't know, you don't get that feeling everyday from news reporters, so it was nice to see. He'll surely be missed by many.

So that's kind of a run down of a few things bothering me. I hate when I get this way--that agitated feeling, thinking too much, berating myself for not having done something right, just feeling so out of place, so out of touch. I just keep reminding myself Monday is right around the corner. I have things to do, everything will be structured again, I can get back on par with my running routine even if the weekend is crappy mileage, I can set new goals, etc.

Sorry this is such a downer type post. I know there isn't a need to apologize, I mean it is my own blog, but somehow I don't know, I feel like I need to be more together. Those aren't the right words I'm looking for exactly but I can't seem to think of them at the moment.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Exercise balance--where is it?

Ever since I was young, I have always exercised in some form. For years, it was gymnastics. After that, it was cheerleading and track and field. In college, it was mostly running and continues to be to this day. Now, I find myself going from recreational runner to more "marathoner" type status if you want to call it that. I find exercise a double-edge sword. I love it for the feelings it brings about--the runner's high, the calmness, the stress relief, the going "into the zone." However, at the same time, there is an obsessional quality to it as well which goes hand in hand with the ED.

Throughout the years, exercise has truly done an up and down type of thing. There were times I'd exercise multiple times a day, other times, I was so demotivated, I did nothing. Then there were other times when I'd go for a run simply due to high amounts of anxiety that only seemed to be suppressed through exercise. I struggle to find this balance and feel OKAY with it.

For example, I recently joined a running challenge. It's good in that it keeps me motivated. I admit I do like seeing my mileage increase, but I also enjoy seeing others joining in the team effort by putting in miles. However, I also feel unworthy in a sense when I have the big goose egg in number of miles. There is no doubt that I know rest is important. But I'm finding it harder to do. Last week, I did take two rest days, knowing I was beginning to fall into this trap. I was okay with that, but this week, it's a struggle.

The last two days, dog obedience classes were cancelled. On Tuesday, I took an evening run since it was cooler. Wednesday was going to be my rest day. Though I did not run, it was all I had to distract myself not to just put on my running clothes and go. Instead, I dremeled the dogs' nails. I was interrupted twice by my dad calling me. After that, I did some much needed weed eating around my place which has now left my left arm numb seriously. So I guess I was successful, but that anxious feeling of knowing I need to put in more miles tomorrow creeps in. I had a planned an early morning run, but I'm not sure I'll make that one since it's already past 1 AM. Therefore, I feel like I just have to suffer through the heat.

So I ask the question, where is the balance?

A few months ago, I read the book, The Exercise Balance. The Exercise Balance: What's Too Much, What's Too Little, and What's Just Right for You!
image: amazon

I thought it might help me with this question. Though it did not answer my question completely for me, it was a nice basic book. The book looks at underexercisers, overexercisers, and normal, balanced exercisers. In each group, the authors, both who have treated eating disorders, talk about the physical, mental, medical issues and give suggestions to find this exercise balance. There are also some good questionnaires to distinguish whether you are an overexerciser which is helpful.

One thing that was interesting was that the authors broke down overexercise into two categories: obligatory and compulsive. The obligatory exerciser must exercise no matter what condition--sickness, illness, changed plans, doesn't matter. Not exercising is not an option. The compulsive exerciser feels compelled to exercise in the same way, duration, and frequency. Individuals can be one or the other or both with some not truly being excessive exercisers. If you are both obligatory, compulsive, and exercise excessively, then you're really screwed, or more like it takes a lot more to overcome the exercise habits.

I never really thought about it broken up like that. I just mashed everything into the category of compulsive exercise. I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter. If you have a problem, you have a problem.

So how do I keep myself in check? I do not want to forgo the running challenge. I need to somehow feel okay with rest days again. I've done it before, so I need to get back to that understanding and acceptance of it. I seem to only get to that point when I'm injured which in essence is too late. I especially need to be able to do this if I am planning a fall marathon and want to be healthy, do well, and be injury-free. :sigh: It's hard sometimes, but I need to sit with those feelings again, maybe journal too again?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rant about insurance and other thoughts

Since my last post was about eating disorders and insurance, it reminded me of a few things. First off, I get really pissed off at insurance companies. Even for my 4 months of physical therapy I had this year for my hamstring and knee injuries, they covered maybe $400/month. I wound up paying nearly $3,000 out of pocket. For me, that's a lot of money on my budget. However, the interesting thing was that a month prior to physical therapy, I had some labs run (non Ed-related) which was covered without a problem--nearly $1,000. Sometimes I feel like why have this insurance when the coverage just seems like crap. And on individual policies, you can be really limited which further makes it difficult for any type of ongoing treatment mental health wise and beyond.

Besides not being covered by insurance, there is the whole burden factor. For many, it is quite troubling. Individuals don't want to burden their families with the treatment of costs. This just makes the guilt even worse. At least for me it did.

Here's a vague conversation I had with my father in my mid-teens when the eating disorder had really taken force. He was very frustrated with me for not getting better/recovered. He said things like, "do you want to be emaciated looking, have a tube down your nose?" I replied with that I did not want that. And then he said, (this is jest of what he said, I can't remember it exactly word for word) "because you know, treatment costs a lot of money. I'd have to take money out of my savings. Do you want that?"

Talk about a major guilt trip. Of course, I answered with that I did not want that. The underlying factor of what I heard here is that I really wasn't worth it. Maybe it's one reason why I never got incredibly thin but remained just under the radar all the time. Even with my therapists, they'd ask something like "do you think you need to go inpatient?" I'd say I did not know, but what I really wanted them to say was, "yes, you need to go." At that time, I wanted the choice out of my hands. I thought if I was inpatient, maybe it would convince me that I was truly sick. That maybe if someone really advocated on my behalf, it would show me that I really was ill.

Inpatient never happened, at least not for the eating disorder (inpatient one time when I was 16 for suicidal tendencies which was a horrible experience other than finding coloring to be relaxing), but I'm beginning to realize that I really don't have to be inpatient to be better. Most of the time, the real healing only begins afterwards anyway.

Eating disorder lawsuits

We all know that insurance coverage for eating disorders is virtually non-existent or better put that we are often denied the coverage we really need and deserve. Last week, it was reported that the insurance company Aetna had settled their class action lawsuit among a number of eating disorder families. The Meiskins were the first to file the lawsuit in NJ, and 100 other families were listed thereafter. Aetna agreed to pay seven years worth of denied coverage to these families. Both parties have agreed to the settlement, but a judge still has to approve it. Let's hope he does. If it is approved, it really is quite a big victory for those with eating disorders who have had to battle insurance companies for treatment. Article here

Also to note, the Meiskins were featured back in 2007 on the TLC show ."Shalom in the Home." If you've never seen the show, Rabbi Schmuley uses mostly a family based approach to help his clients. His approach is centered on looking at the family as a whole and helping them rebuild relationships. I'm not sure the show is airing now, but I think there are other available videocasts you can download from the site.

Another class action case, also based in NJ, is with the insurance company, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield. The family of Janelle Smith say that the insurance company discharged Janelle when she was not healthy enough to be released. Within days of being discharged, she committed suicide.

Their lawsuit wants eating disorders to be covered like any other biologically based mental illness. The insurance company has supposedly agreed to reimbursing the Smiths The case goes to court this month. Article here


It'll be interesting to see how this case turns out. So far 13 states have mental health parity laws which allows eating disorders to be covered like any other mental illness. I'm hoping with more cases like this and the convincing literature on genetics and biological components to eating disorders, it will bring bring about even more change. Hopefully, these small victories will turn out to become large ones. After all, sometimes change is slow, but with persistence, it can happen.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Happenings and thoughts from the week

It really wasn't a very exciting week, but there were a few interesting things:

--Met the new dogs/puppies for obedience class. Noticed we are seeing a lot more designer dogs--labradoodles, a cavapoo, some other unknown mixes. We even recently had a Morkie at the kennel. Here are a few photos of the cavapoo and morkie puppies.

--Have been trying to switch my runs to the morning. It has only been somewhat successful so far. Sleep, however, is still well deprived.

--Somehow managed to burn myself from my ipod *I think.* Not exactly sure what happened. I was running in the rain and stuck my ipod in my bra so it wouldn't get wet. I've done this before without a problem. Well, when I got home, I had burns and blisters on my chest. It was very bizarre. That could be some headline: "Burned by my ipod."

--Tried out the new camera for my runs. The pictures were less than stellar. I'm going to have to work on not moving while taking the photos and find the right distance.

--Almost ran over two squirrels who could not make up their minds at all.

--Spoke with my dad on his possible departure to Brussels. They still do not know anything yet. Gave him the okay to go. (Gee I sound like some parent here). This could be anywhere from 2-5 years or however long they wanted to stay. Good news is that their dogs won't have to be quarantined as long as all the appropriate documents/vet checks have been done if they do leave.

--Almost done with the book, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters. I'll post more on this soon. I have a lot of thoughts on this.

--The temperatures rose to 90 and above all this week with lots of humidity. I felt scorched, sweaty, and tired! I think it made me very irritable. That and hormonal crap.

--Very tired/pissed about the gas price increases. This is now like an everyday occurrence. I know we can all relate to that one.

So let's hope this week, I won't get burned by anything else, my mood improves (right now, it's on agitation), I get more sleep, and don't have any more close calls with animals running in front of my car.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Boxer Birthday

This is a little late in the day, but I wanted to post it anyway.

Happy Birthday, Baxter!

Today, you are 9 years old! It has been an absolutely wonderful 9 years, and I hope there are many more. You are such a beautiful boy with so much personality. Watching you grow up, has been an absolute blessing for me. I love how you have matured into a full fledged adult, but also how you continue to have spunk.
You still make me smile everyday. I could never have asked for anything better.

Because of you, I got into dog training. Throughout our years together, you have taught me a lot about life, what unconditional love is, and what having a "child" is like. ;-) Thank you!

Your mom

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Diagnostic crossover in eating disorders

I know I've written several posts about the diagnostic criteria of eating disorders. It's a hot topic of debate as the new DSM-V undergoes revisions for a variety of disorders. I came across this article from a few months ago which looked at the crossover rate in eating disorders. By crossover, this mean changing from an anorexia to bulimia diagnosis and vice versa.

This longitudinal study consisted of 216 woman with anorexia, anorexia subtypes of restricting or binge/purge, and bulimia over a period of 7 years. The average duration of illness was 6 years among the women. Based on symptomology, each were assessed weekly with a diagnosis.

The results indicated that almost three-quarters of the patients with anorexia crossed over, about half of that number switched within the anorexia subtype, almost one tihrd crossed over to bulimia, leaving a small number who did not cross over at all. Of those with a diagnosis of anorexia restricting type, a little over half crossed over into either binge/purge type anorexia or bulimia. Those with an initial diagnosis of bulimia had a much lower rate of crossing over. The small minority that experienced this changed to binge/purge type anorexia.

Besides the diagnostic changes, results also indicated that a significant number from each group had partial recovery. Those reaching full recovery was higher for the bulimia group versus the anorexia group, including subtypes. In about half of those with anorexia who crossed over to bulimia, happened while obtaining partial or full recovery. This could indicate that it isn't really a change in disorder so much as a stage in illness. The other half of anorexics who crossed over to bulimia crossed back to anorexia which could indicate that those with a lifetime history of anorexia are more prone to relapse into anorexia.

Essentially, this study shows the frequency of cross over between anorexia, its subtype, and bulimia. This questions the validity of having anorexia subtypes in the first place. It seems that it is not likely a change of disorders, but rather a more apparent of stage of illness. I should note that this study did not look at non-purging bulimics nor EDNOS as it was not recognized in the DSM at that time.

I thought this was an interesting study overall. The fact that it was longitudinal was very helpful in showing how so many individuals flip flop back and forth between anorexia and bulimia. It was also sobering that many reached partial recovery and a good number full recovery. In general, this study implicates further the need for better diagnostics for eating disorders. I hope the DSM-V will provide that.

study abstract

If you go to the full text, you can download it for free. The graphs shown give a better idea of the frequency of cross over and recovery rates.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Brussels, anyone?

Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
image: Brussels

Since it is Sunday (well technically now Monday), my dad always calls. It's like clockwork that he calls every Wednesday and Sunday, sometimes more frequently as well. Sometimes we both have a lot to say, while other times, we don't. Tonight, however, he ran something by me. He said that D., his wife, has applied for a job in BRUSSELS and that she is on the short list. Yes, this is Brussels, the one in Belgium, in Europe. Eeek! He wanted to know what my opinion was. I was flabbergasted and shocked and really didn't know what to say. We left it with that I would think about it.

He said it was important what I thought as well as S., D.'s son. Both S. and I are not teenagers but rather adults. S. is three or four years younger than me and engaged. He does have some issues (don't we all?) in terms of mentally. He was diagnosed as bipolar a few years ago and ADHD in his teens. He's had a hard time with academics, and I guess is working now. I know he and his fiance share at apartment not far from my dad and D. I'm not sure the rest in terms of how much they support him financially and such.

Then with me, my dad doesn't financially support me, but my mom helps me out greatly in terms of insurance stuff. However, my dad is the "go to" guy. He's often the person I go to with questions about my car, cooking, any appliance, how to fix something, geographical locations, etc. I guess I've gotten into the "habit" of knowing he'll be there for that type of stuff. In another sense, I think it's often made him feel useful, especially since I didn't share with him much of my personal life for a long time.

I honestly am not sure what to say. I want he and D. to be happy, live their life, etc. I don't want to be selfish thinking only of myself and my needs, but at the same time, can I fly solo? Yes, I've been pretty much living alone (or with roommates) for almost ten years now, but my parents have still been a big source of comfort for me, even with all our differences. Yes, he would still be there of course, but just on a different continent. E-mail would be come even more vital as phone calls might be difficult. I know I only see him a handful of times during the year, but it seems that if he was in Europe, it would be a less. I think he would have a hard time with this, especially since he sometimes just calls me to "hear my voice."

For a long time, South Carolina was the place where he really wanted to live. He's been living there for almost ten years now, though different locations. SC was like his paradise, so for him to even think about leaving seems out of place. He and D. built the home they are living in a few years ago. It's a gorgeous home with a beautiful wrap around, screened-in veranda. It sits on five acres with many trees and a pond with several different kinds of fish. The house alone I think is worth at least half a million.

Living in Brussels would definitely be an opportunity of a lifetime for them, though they would probably have to learn French fluently. That wouldn't be a problem for either of them, but still, it would just be a huge change. Heck, just moving out of state can have major changes, so imagine how different a continent would be. One concern I do have is my dad's health. He's established a good team of Drs. who know him well. He'd have to start from scratch which could be difficult, especially since his medical history is very complicated.

I keep thinking to myself, what if the tables were turned and it was me that wanted to live on a different continent? What would my parents say then? Ugh, I hate that I have to carry the weight of this decision. He tells me that if I am not comfortable with it, then they won't go. But how can you possibly say no when this might be what they truly want? I'm definitely going to need to sleep on this one.