Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Acne, warts, BDD?

Recently, I read an article in the NY Times's "Price of Beauty" section about the differences between cosmetic and medical dermatology appointments and how some doctors seem to be more catering toward the cosmetic industry. Though my post isn't about this particular article, it got me thinking about vanity.

I've never considered myself a "vain" person. I've always left that title to my father (he would even agree with this really). However, I still think my appearance is important. As a teenager, one of my main concerns was dealing with acne. It was no doubt a normal, typical adolescent process, and I know I was not the only one who suffered this angst. Since the age of 10, I've always had some acne, even to this day. I just never seemed to have been blessed with the beautiful skin I always wanted. Dermatologists would always tell me, "oh you'll grow out of this. It should be ending soon." Well, I'm 28, and it has not ended.

Just like with those who diet, I've tried every product under the sun--from potent medications like accutane to Retin-A to birth control pills to products with antibiotic ointments like Ziana and Benzeclin to Proactive to Beautiful Skin, to drinking tons of water, and a number of other things. I think my next step if I could really afford it would be micro-dermabrasion or maybe phototherapy at a dermatologist's office. The funny thing is that whenever I go to the dermatologist about my acne, she always says, "oh, it's not that bad." It drives me nuts. Just because I am tan and do not have flaring red acne doesn't meant it is "not that bad." It sometimes makes me wonder if this is all in my head., like I'm suffering from subclinical BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder). I say subclinical, because I don't think this necessarily hinders my daily life, though I do think about it a lot, pick at my skin, etc.

At my last few appointments with the dermatologist, I also noticed I had bumps on my face which wound up being flat warts (gross!) and warts on my finger which were removed with cryosurgery last year. Then this summer, I noticed these other bumps on my arms, and my fear was it was warts. She confirmed this, though wondered how I would have gotten flat warts on my arm as opposed to my legs which is where they are often seen. Again did another round of cryosurgery. Though cryosurgery works, I hate how the warts balloon up in size and/or are darker than the rest of the skin until they grow scabs and fall off.

Anyway, I did a little research about warts. I already knew it was a virus that caused them and many times they fade or will go away in sometimes just as little as a few months to years! Well, I couldn't handle the years part, so I guess that is why I sought the dermatologist. The other interesting thing I read was how people who chew their nails are more susceptible to the virus since that could be one way the virus was coming into the skin. That was kind of scary to think about, because I have always had a problem with biting my nails. The other thing was how the immune system may be low, so it can't fight off the virus. That makes sense, but I always thought I had a great immune system. I rarely if ever gets colds or sick. I can literally only count on my hand the times I've been ill.

So I'm dealing with these skin conditions with yet again another ointment to try. I asked my dermatologist whether she just thought this was hormonal. She thought probably so. Great (insert roll eyes here)

Then this past week, I noticed Baxter had a large white growth on his lip. I had originally mistaken the growth for his tooth since it was similar in color. Well upon closer inspection and a little research online, I know it is canine viral papilloma, aka canine warts. Most of the time, these warts are harmless unless they grow inside the throat and cause breathing problems. It's actually a common thing dogs get, but more prevalent in puppies as their immune systems are maturing.

One of the people on my dog list said to just leave it alone and that it would go away in a few months. But what if it doesn't? He has three growths--one is large, the other two small. It is contagious to the other dogs, but the incubation time is 1-2 months, so I'm not sure how long it's been present. I haven't seen any symptoms in the other two, but still it makes me worry.

If I went to the vet, he'd probably do cryosurgery which isn't a guarantee that he'll be cured. I'm thinking of trying a natural approach and seeing how that goes. The thing about this is that this isn't affecting Baxter in any way, he is not bothered by it, but it bothers ME. This reminds me of when my other dog Hank was getting a little pudgy. I didn't put him on a diet per se, but I did add extra vegetables and cut back on his food by an ounce, everything else remained the same.

Does this make me a vain person both in terms of myself and my dogs? Am I really obsessing too much about any of this?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The latest obesity prediction

A new article out today by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, predicts that 86% of the population will be overweight or obese by the year 2030.

Hmm, that's a pretty "weighty" statistic. I guess this might also mean that the rate of eating disorders would increase as well?

thoughts? Far-fetched number? Exaggeration or accurate?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Alarming article on the increase of obesity-related medications for children

I read this article in the NY Times as well as my local paper about the increase of prescription obesity-related medications for children and was quite alarmed. These were medications for high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, acid reflux, and high blood pressure being given to children as young as 6 years of age! After one 13 year old girl visited her doctor for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar, she went home with five different medications. Gosh, how scary is that?

One of the biggest problems I see with this besides the fact that our society and insurance companies continue to push a "quick fix" approach to solving health ailments is the fact that not enough information is out there on the effects of these drugs on children. Any prescription medication for an adult is going to be different for a child.. You can't just halve a medication and give that dosage to a child. It is never a one size fits all approach.The fact that there are no real long term studies worries me (or at least none that I've seen). These children could have some major health issues from being on these types of drugs (not that they should be on them anyway) in the future. And some physicians proclaim that children who start them early in life will wind up having to rely on them in the future.

The phamaceutical companies are also jumping on this bandwagon with developing new flavors and liquid forms for these medications.

The other issue I see is the pressure physicians feel to do something about the problem. Some physicians say they have recommended exercise and diet and only turn to medications as a last resort. Some of them also say that changing the child's lifestyle is difficult depending on their location (low income, no grocery store locales) and lack of physical education in the school system, so they have to turn to pharmacotherapy.

I think this article is a good case in point about just how far the whole idea of obesity among our children has gotten a bit out of control in my opinion. It's also indicative of how so many, including parents and doctors alike, seem hurried into the "here and now" that they're not even questioning what they are doing. I think the "here and now" approach is relevant to many things, but in terms of medications, a lot can happen in the future. It's important that we think about these consequences, because otherwise, then the whole idea of "saving" on healthcare will wind up just the opposite anyway with having to undo the mistake that have been made in the sake of "saving" these children from obesity-related problems.

I don't know the solutions to all these problems, but I don't believe it's about pill popping.

My upcoming visitor this week

In a few of my posts, I've mentioned "DA." DA is my upcoming visitor this week. This will be the first time I've ever met him, and there are a variety of emotions. Part of me is super excited, then another part of me is filled with anxiety and insecurities. The similar type one might have had in middle or high school. Those feelings of whether someone is going to like you, whether you will be able to talk with each other or whether there will end up just being moments of awkward silence, whether you will wear the right outfit, whether your hair will decide to cooperate or have an "off" day, and whether the general first impression you give is enough for a second date, call, or e-mail.

It seems like such a trivial matter, but any kind of dating prospect matters to me. I honestly do not really "date" much nor am the schmoozy, social type. Over the years, I've mostly ventured into online dating. I've been on a number of well known dating sites. I've met a few guys in person, but have found that it seems after one date, I don't hear from them that much afterwards despite whether I think the date went well. It kind of makes me question whether there is something wrong with me which doesn't do much for my self-esteem.

The only time when I broke it off with a guy was last summer. The turn off for me was that on the second date, he made me a mixed music cd. It seems sweet, right? Umm sort of, it seemed a little "desperate" to me. Well, the songs on there were ones like "One is the loneliest number," "Beautiful stranger," "Head over heels," Take a chance on me," "I want you to want me," you get the drift. Plus, the fact that when he would call me, he would just go on and on about whatever, and it just bored me to tears. Don't get me wrong, he seems like a sweet guy, I'm just not the right one for him. The funny or you could view it as creepy too is even though I broke it off quite awhile ago, he still views my profile occasionally!

This time around, I tried using a different dating service geared more towards fitness enthusiasts. Indeed, I did get a few e-mails and guys checking out my profile. I checked out others as well and found DA. I know some people do not really read profiles, but I actually do. You can get a basic idea of the person by what they write.
After my initial e-mail, he e-mailed me back, and from then on, we've gone back and forth. Within the last month or so, we started talking on the phone and decided to meet.

DA and I seem to have a lot in common. Though similarity can clash, it is helpful to have some kind of common bond to be able to relate to. For us, it's out ethnicity/heritage, running marathons, views on a variety of issues, those sorts of things. I'm sure I will learn more about him when he visits.

The thing is that I know the whole thing about relaxing and just being yourself, but at the same time, I want to give a good impression, especially since DA does not live close to me at all. He is something like 750+ miles from me. He's running a race next weekend, then heading to see me despite the fact that it is not on the way to his next destination which is a friend in NC. My thinking is that he wouldn't be coming to see me if he didn't think there was something?

So I guess I shall see this coming week. I know to be hopeful but not to hold onto expectations. In the end, things have a mysterious way of working out or not. Stay tuned for an update.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Post-mom visit

I haven't talked much about my mom here. It's mostly been my father since he has had more of a direct influence on the ED, despite not living with him while growing up. My mother is a rehabilitation counselor. She has been for many years. In the late 70s, she worked with spinal cord injury victims, then later with the visually impaired. After that, she worked with the long term mentally ill, and now she has a general case load which includes a whole range of disorders and disabilities. I'd definitely categorize her as a caretaker. I know this type of job, although as stressful as it is, does satisfy her. She has told me that it's the whole aspect of taking something that is broken and making it better.

My mom came to visit me this week, surprisingly. It was out of the blue, but since she lives a distance a way, it's not like a hop, skip, and jump, more like a 7 hour drive. In the past when my parents or other people come, I always feel this need to have everything "perfect" and cleaned. This time since I knew what my mother's "mission" was upon coming (though not everything she was bringing with her), I didn't worry about cleaning.

When we got to my place, I was a little worried what was underneath the tarp in her truck. Apparently, she decided to bring me a lot of furniture. It's not that I am furniture-less, but most of my stuff is REALLY old, the old in a bad way, not antique stuff, though I do have some of that too. I spotted one item that was a turquoise color which I thought looked garish at first. It seems my mom thought I needed some color. In the end, it did look okay.

In the four days she was here, we got rid of a lot of old furniture (some with memories but really did need to go)and crap stored in my shed (like my old roommate's backseat of her van which she never came to get/got rid of),
bought some new furniture (a new table, small entertainment center for my tv, a bookshelf which I really needed), repainted in my kitchen, organized a lot of loose items I had everywhere (I've learned baskets can go a long way), put up new paintings and blinds, took all my recyclables to the recycling center (I'm really lazy about this one and do it every six months or so), went through old clothes to be donated, and just general cleaning. I think the only thing we didn't do was pull up the carpet which I'd love see to go but since I'm renting, I do not want the burden to pay for it. The only thing my mother did that I was completely opposed to was when she repainted my door a bright TURQUOISE color which matched a piece of furniture she brought. When I saw it for the first time coming in from work, I had a moment of "what was she thinking?" Luckily, she understood and repainted it another color--more a dark periwinkle that is much less obtrusive.

The first picture is the turquoise dresser. Yes, this was the color of the door! You see now why it was just a little too much. The second picture is the new table. I think it is really pretty and a much better upgrade from my other one.

Here is Daphne on her new dog bed. We bought two more like them, so all three dogs can have their own.

So some of you may ask WHY my mom did all this? This is where my emotions go in all sorts of directions. A part of me is incredibly happy she came. I don't know if I would have done all this on my own, and it's obvious she has great ideas. We've actually decided her job after she retires is going to be as a "house stager," the people who come in to decorate and spiffy things up for presenting houses to buy. Of course, hopefully, that'll be after the housing crisis has ended and the market much better.

But still I was kind of confused why she REALLY came and asked her directly why she did all this for me (yes, I have "deserving" issues). She said she wanted to, that she wanted me to have a nice place to live, and that she knew I worked a lot and didn't have a lot of time to do these types of things. She said it was not because DA was coming next weekend (I'll get to a post on that later), but for me. I had mentioned to her a few weeks ago that I really wasn't that worried about DA not liking me (well I still am), but more that he wouldn't like my place. My dad has always said I live in a "dump" which usually makes me very upset, so I think that's somehow been ingrained in me. Of course, this is my dad saying this who lives on 5 acres with a beautiful house worth half a million, so the comparisons are drastic. For him, it's more that he just thinks I "deserve" better--better living quarters, better job, that type of thing.

All in all, I think my mom's help was really touching, and I am grateful to have someone like that in my life. She's always been the type to "buy" or send me things, even when I felt like I never deserved them. Even with this visit, I was worried about how much money she was spending, granted we got great prices on a number of items that would have been twice the cost. But still, I always worry about that Sometimes she buys me too much, and I have to kind of reel her in. The one thing is that she always means well.

Overall, the visit went nicely. We even had some funny, laughing moments, the kind that your belly hurts, and you get teary-eyed. I don't get as stressed out when my mother comes compared to my father, but we've still had our moments, like a few years ago when she just "lost" it with me and began to cry hysterically by the fact I couldn't figure out my life. She's let go of that for now, having faith that I will eventually find out what is best for me and what I want to do (that's a saga in and of itself). Nowadays, she's realized she'd rather just enjoy the time she spends with me, that life is just too short to be arguing.

When my mom and I have visits like this, I really enjoy them and kind of miss her when she is gone. It always takes me a few days to readjust and wind down when company comes no matter who it is. Then I go back to my day in/day out life and convince myself that I really am not lonely.

Friday, July 25, 2008

America the Beautiful revisited

Since my last post talked about a new documentary being filmed on eating disorders and self mutilation, I thought I'd briefly mention again America the Beautiful. I wrote about this film back in April here.

The film has already been shown in Chicago with good response as well as the Minneapolis "Emily Program," a comprehensive treatment program for eating disorders. It will be making its premiere in New York on August 1, 2008. Then it will be heading to the west coast at the end of the month. After that, it's premiering in a number of other large cities around the country. To find out more locations, look at their website America the Beautiful documentary.

In May, Roger Ebert reviewed the film, saying that the film "carries a persuasive message." Another article in the New York Sun also talks more in detail about the film as well as interviewing the director.


I'm finding it highly interesting that within the last few years there seems to have been an increased number of films out about body image, eating disorders, and the beauty industry. I think it's very telling of the state of society in general. Even with all the studies out on these topics and the efforts made for awareness, I think there is still the question of WHY. Logically, the answers are there with contributing factors of nature and nurture. However, the reasons still seem to plague people. Beyond that, researching, observing, and evaluating effective treatments is still a pressing issue that warrants more attention.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Better the devil you know

Better the devil you know is a title of a new documentary about adolescents (up to age 19) and mental illness in a psychiatric residential setting. The creators, Stacy Pearsall and Alice Brooks are both documentary filmmakers who want to look at adolescent girls and the impact of eating disorders, self-mutilation, and body modification.

Although the filmmakers were inspired by Lauren Greenfield's Thin, there will be differences in their film. One noticeable difference they say is that, (from website)

"This film will not show triggering behavior, because between THIN and the popular A&E reality series INTERVENTION, there’s enough graphic representation of ED and SI behavior available to young girls already. This is not to shy away from the reality of the conditions, but to glorify recovery instead. Although relapse is certainly part of EDs and SI, it is not the story we want to tell. This is a story about finding a new, positive obsession to replace the old, negative one. It is only when this happens that one can really be 'cured.'"

Another difference is that participants will be given super 8 cameras which are small, inexpensive, easy to use cameras that were popularized in the 1960s and 1970s, especially for home made type movies. The filmmakers feel that this will allow the girls to manually and digitally edit themselves, thus showing what they want of their own, unique story.

Filming will begin in November 2008 at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska.

I think this could be an interesting film, especially since the the sensational factors will be removed. Though emaciation, purging, relapse happen, there is just a lot more to eating disorders and mental illnesses than the mere physical nature and behavior. I'm sure there will be a lot more questions as the filming gets underway, especially with the use of solely adolescents and their "mental health" in making decisions such as being in a film. Many may feel it is exploitative, while others not so. In this day and age, it seems par for the course and something the filmmakers will have to defend.

I guess my hope is that this will be a fresh, new, different take on those struggling with eating disorders and self mutilation. I applaud the fact that cutting will be represented as I think it often gets neglected and is misunderstood. We'll have to wait and see how the film pans out. I get excited about new films on mental illnesses, but at the same time am afraid of being disappointed as well. Let's hope this film gives voice to those suffering and will be helpful to the public.

Monday, July 21, 2008

On hair and identity

For months, I've been saying how I need to get my hair cut. Originally, I had said after my May marathon, I would get it trimmed. That rolled around, and it did not happen. So then I changed the date to June, July, and now October?

I was trying to ask myself WHY I was stalling on getting my hair cut. It's not like it is a big deal, right? I've gotten my hair cut before with no problems. I never had some kind of traumatic incident with a hairdresser, so there shouldn't really be any fear. And I'm not sure fear is really the right word, it's more that I'm having trouble letting go of my hair. Rationally, I know 8-10 inches is not a lot of hair for me, and whenever I actually do get my hair cut, I'm donating it to either Locks of Love or Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

So still, the question of why I'm stalling about it so much. I think I've realized that hair has really become a part of my Identity. It's the one part of me that never seemed to have suffered even through the worst of the ED. I know I am incredibly lucky in this way, and it's something I've never taken for granted. The only instance I've had in my life where my hair was damaged was after taking a potent medication which thinned out my hair. I seriously cried about that, now understood what my mom may have felt when her hair thinned out from chemo.

It is evident that many of us have an emotional attachment to our hair as can be seen here at the f-word blog. I'm not sure how many of us can say it is apart of our identity, but it is certainly important to many of us.

So for me, growing up, I always wanted "long-time" hair and for the most part, that's how I've had it. I've had a few changes here and there--my hair at my shoulder, bangs, and even interesting highlights of blonde, red, and blue, though not at the same time. However, still it's always gravitated toward being long and thick.

The interesting thing is growing up, I kind of had a love/hate relationship with my hair. As a kid, I didn't quite understand what was so special or interesting about it and expressed this to my fifth grade teacher. She couldn't understand why I was being so negative about my hair when it was beautiful to her. Other people in elementary school felt the same way. I don't know if it was so much that they really liked it or that it was different. Practically being the only Asian in school, well, they just didn't see Asian hair much. The place I grew up in was fairly conservative and most of the population was either Caucasian or African-American. Many of my African-American friends always wanted to touch or braid my hair. It was a bit insane at times, but I think I enjoyed it too? I remember another friend of mine who described me as a horse (we had to describe classmates as various animals) due to my ponytail which I always wore at that time. She said it reminded her of a mane of a horse.

In high school and college, I played around with my hair in different color of highlights. Eventually, I let the color grow out, so my traditional locks were seen again. It's only been the last few years where I've really grown to love my hair. It's now become part of my identity. It's how people recognize me. Just other day while checking out a book at the library, I ran into a woman who lives near me. She asked if I was out running that morning since she was out walking. I told her I was. She said she thought so since she recognized my long hair. Awhile ago, someone else said the same thing. Then some random person at a store said how much she liked my hair even when it was barely brushed and was sweaty from a run.

Rationally, I know of course, that I am still somebody even if my hair was cut to my chin or something, but it's just the letting go of it that seems so hard to me. Although different, I kind of equate it to a person with an ED who has always been viewed as "anorexic," the "skinny girl," "the girl who doesn't eat," etc. It becomes a part of their identity, and without it, they are unsure of who they are.

I know I'll eventually get past this. Even though this is an insanely small issue compared to other things in my life, it still somehow holds a lot of importance for me. After all, hair is symbolic of many things.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Love story

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about LOVE. I'll be vague for now but will soon be writing a post about it.

Today, a friend of mine sent me this e-mail about a beautiful Chinese love story. Some may have seen it before, but I think it is really touching. Besides, this is a good way to start off the weekend.

This is a story of a man and an older woman who ran off to live and love each other in peace for over half a century.


The 70-year-old Chinese man who hand-carved over 6,000 stairs up a mountain for his 80-year-old wife has passed away in the cave which has been the couple's home for the last 50 years. Over 50 years ago, Liu Guojiang a 19 year-old boy, fell in love with a 29 year-old widowed mother named Xu Chaoqin..


In a twist worthy of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, friends and relatives criticized the relationship because of the age difference and the fact that Xu already had children.


At that time, it was unacceptable and immoral for a young man to love an older woman.. To avoid the market gossip and the scorn of their communities, the couple decided to elope and lived in a cave in Jiangjin County in Southern ChongQing Municipality .


In the beginning, life was harsh as they had nothing, no electricity or even food. They had to eat grass and roots they found in the mountain, and Liu made a kerosene lamp that they used to light up their lives. Xu felt that she had tied Liu down and repeatedly asked him, 'Are you regretful?' Liu always replied, 'As long as we are industrious, life will improve.'

In the second year of living in the mountain, Liu began and continued for over 50 years, to hand-carve the steps so that his wife could get down the mountain easily.

Half a century later in 2001, a group of adventurers were exploring the forest and were
surprised to find the elderly couple and the over 6,000 hand-carved steps.

Liu MingSheng, one of their seven children said, 'My parents loved each other so much, they have lived in seclusion for over 50 years and never been apart a single day. He hand carved more than 6,000 steps over the years for my mother's convenience, although
she doesn't go down the mountain that much.'


The couple had lived in peace for over 50 years until last week. Liu, now 72 years, returned from his daily farm work and collapsed. Xu sat and prayed with her husband as he passed away in her arms. So in love with Xu, was Liu, that no one was able to release the grip he had on his wife's hand even after he had passed away.


'You promised me you'll take care of me, you'll always be with me until the day I died,
now you left before me, how am I going to live without you?' Xu spent days softly repeating this sentence and touching her husband's black coffin with tears rolling down her cheeks..

In 2006, their story became one of the top 10 love stories from China , collected by the
Chinese Women Weekly. The local government has decided to preserve the love ladder
and the place they lived as a museum, so this love story can live forever.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Would this be enough to scare you?

We are all aware that anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. But what about life expectancy? An article in The National Post, a Canadian based paper, reports on a study in which Canadian doctors calculated the life expectancy of those with anorexia.

They concluded that depending on the age of onset of anorexia, anywhere from 10-40 years old, the life expectancy was reduced by 22-25 years. However, those who made a full recovery lived a normal life span.

These results were based on mortality statistics of 954 British Columbian women with anorexia over a 20 year time period. Decision analysis software which compares outcomes as death or illness among different groups was used.

Researchers "
hope their dramatic life-expectancy statistics will both motivate anorexia patients to get better, and spur governments to more generously fund work on the condition."


I'm not sure whether this study will help as much as these researchers may hope. Scare type tactics only do and mean so much. I think for many when they are at the height of their illness, they are not thinking about the future in terms of how long they are going to live. Rather, they are just trying to get through each day in one piece and cope in whatever way they can. I could be wrong about this, but I know for me, I surely was not thinking "I'm going to live 25 years less due to this eating disorder."

In terms of more funding, this could be helpful, but I don't know how much of a dent it would make. Even with the well known fact of the high mortality risk of anorexia, there hasn't been much given.

What do you think? Is this a good approach to helping those recover from anorexia? Would a scare tactic like this be meaningful to you?

Abstract: Anorexia Nervosa: A survival analysis
If you go to this link and study and click "nonsubscriber," you can see the full text.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

PSAs for eating disorders

The tagline reads "Not every suicide note looks like a suicide note." This is part of the Public Service Announcement campaign for eating disorders in Canada which began airing today. The Looking Glass Foundation in British Columbia, a company dedicated to raising awareness of eating disorders and gaining funds for residential treatment, wanted a way to draw attention to plight of eating disorders and the importance of early intervention.

The founders hope that these PSAs which show images of girls compulsively weighing and measuring themselves, a broken toothbrush used by a bulimic, and other stories of eating disorder sufferers will help let go of the stigma surrounding these illnesses. Their hope is that people will begin to talk about these problems rather than hiding them.

The creative director of DDB Canada, a marketing communications agency, says "The campaign's tone reflects both the seriousness of this disease and optimism for thoseafflicted, and leaves viewers with a positive message of hope."

I don't live in Canada, so if any of you Canadians see or read these PSAs, I'm interested in hearing what you think about them. Did you find them helpful and informative?


Googling PSAs on eating disorders, here is a PSA from NEDA, entitled "do you think I'm fat?" NEDIC, based in Toronto, Canada also has some PSAs. Face the issue has several PSAs on eating disorders directed at young children and adolescents. Print wise, I know NEDA has a number of brochures and posters about eating disorder awareness.

I don't know how many of you saw the print ad by The Body Shop a number of years ago.

If you can't read the line, it says "there are 3 billion women who don't look like supermodels and only 8 who do." Even though many of us know that EDs are not about vanity, I still think this ad gave food for thought. There was another ad at about the same time that sparked controversy of a naked woman in the act of purging. On the side of the photo, it read "obsession." I think it was supposed to emulate a "Calvin Klein-esque" feel.

Anyway, I think PSAs can be a good thing in bringing about education and awareness. Often times when I think about PSAs, I think about the ones involving substance abuse, drugs, or drunk driving. It's obvious that there has been an effort for PSAs on eating disorders, so why is there still so much misguided and false information out there?

I think part of the problem is that these PSAs aren't widespread enough and only seen in certain areas of the country versus nationwide. I could be wrong about this, but I don't remember seeing many of these PSAs on eating disorders or maybe they just weren't memorable? Come to think of it, the ones that stick out in my mind the most are those from the Dove real beauty campaign.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Underweight rock climbers face ban

As the ban/restriction of underweight models has taken place in several countries worldwide, in Austria, female endurance rock climbers will also not be immune. Recently reported in The Independent, the problem has become startling. The Austrian climbing federation will be implementing a ban of those rock climbers with a BMI less than 17 from competing beginning next year.

According to Jens Larssen, who runs 8a, the world ranking organization for rock climbing, "many female athletes choose to lose weight rather than build up muscle strength. It's such a successful formula that some of the best female athletes are as good as the best male climbers."

I think this is an interesting article which brings to light about the dangers of this sport. Although I remember hearing about it a long time ago, it's not something I automatically associate with eating disorders. Personally, I've never been rock climbing, but am actually quite fascinated with it. For me, it's about the climb more than anything else. It's one of the many things on my "to do" list someday.

I'm sure the average, recreational rock climber may not have issues with body weight, but it's when these athletes get into a competitive atmosphere where things can change. Carrie at ED Bites recently posted "a good thing gone wrong" in relation to an ultrarunner who had/has an eating disorder, asking the question whether her ultrarunning is just the ED in disguise or another manifestation of it.

In a recent study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine which looked at the Anthropometric characteristics in ultrarunners of finishers in the 2007 Western States Endurance Run (100 miles), it was reported that lower BMI values were associated with faster times. Of the top five finishers for women, their BMI averaged 19.8 which would be considered on the low end of the "normal" weight spectrum. I should note that the study did say that of the overall finishers the BMIs ranged variably from a classification of overweight to underweight.

I think in many sports there is still some mentality of "lighter= faster, stronger, better, higher." However, that's truly not the case. It may seem like that for awhile, but in the end, everything catches up with the person and lighter will equal slower and weaker.

How do we get it across to athletes and people alike that weight does not equate to success and achievement?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cool sighting

I recently talked about Natural Highs and had an interesting sighting yesterday. I was at work, picking
up a branch that had fallen into the paddock. Then I see this.

Upon closer inspection, I realize it is a bird just sitting on top of the fence. And actually, there are two of them. I honestly could not tell if these birds were really alive until one slightly moved its head. Since these birds literally stayed there the entire day, I was also to snap these photos in the afternoon.

The interesting thing about this is that I was incredibly close to these birds.

Of course dumb me tried to cut off that leaf in front of the bird to get a better picture and accidentally touched one of the birds who then happened to fly away. I could tell he was pissed as seen in this photo. I told him he could go back to sitting with its mate, but he just scoffed at me and pouted. I guess I ruined his day.

Here's a picture o the other bird who remained sitting there.

There isn't a real rhyme and reason to this post other than this was a cool sighting. The birds weren't spectacular looking or anything, but just the fact that I was inches away from them was an awesome feeling. I love how sometimes I'm able to be that close to nature.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Germany jumping on the "no anorexic model" bandwagon

It looks like Germany is now joining on the "no anorexic model" campaign, having signed a charter requiring models to be 16 years of age and have at least a BMI of 18.5. It joins other countries like Britain, France, the US, Italy, and Spain who banned ultra-thin models from runway shows back in September 2006.

I really like this line from
Frank Hartmann, the director of the fashion trade fair organizer Igedo. He called on the industry to show "that dying of hunger is not part of the job." This was especially referenced by the cases of Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston and Uruguayan sisters Eliana and Luisel Ramos, all of whom died from complications of eating disorders while modeling.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I will forewarn you that this post talks about death, so if you're not in that mood, well you can decide to read or not.

In another one of my dad calling moments, he asked me what I would want if he died. Now, this questions came up out of the blue. He called on a non-designated day, not that he can't call anytime, he has just designated himself to calling on Wednesdays and Sundays. I know when he calls on an off day that it must be a question of concern or just some random thought that popped into his head. This happens frequently, but it's a good and bad thing and sometimes makes me think about things a bit.

So the conversation to the above question went something like this:

Dad: What would you want if I died? Everything would go to D. (his wife) first, but if there is something you want, then you need to let me know. I am redoing my will.
Me: Hmm, I don't know, I hadn't thought about what I would want. Do you mean like possessions?
Dad: Yes. What about the family paintings, you know the one with my great grandfather who looks like me? Or would you rather that goes to Matthew? (his younger brother)
Me: Err, I don't know. I think Matthew might want the pictures more.
Dad: What about making the decisions, funeral plans, etc.? Do you want to do that or do you want Matthew to?
Me: I'd rather that be me I guess.
Dad: What about a headstone? Would you need a place to go to?
Me: I don't know. I always though you wanted your body donated to science anyway?
Dad: Yeah, I thought about that too. But would you still need a headstone? In any case, I do not want my body to be shipped back if I should die overseas. (this was brought up since there was the possibility that he was going to move to Brussels.)
Me: Okay, I will remember that. I'll think about the headstone.

I still have not come up with an answer about the headstone, and currently he hasn't asked. Yeah, I get a little err into that whole avoidance thing when it is something I obviously do not want to talk about nor had even thought about in the first place.

So what has this to do with eating disorders? Well, I think we sometimes forget we can die from this. Or at least go into an invincible state, thinking that really couldn't happen to me. If you still think that, then just check out the something-fishy memorial page. It's a pretty stark reminder that yes those with eating disorder do die. Or if you haven't read Andrea's Voice, it's a reminder of the reality that someone can die from an eating disorder after a short bout of the illness.

I guess where I'm going with this is posing the question what would you want if you died whether it was ED-related or not? Anything can happen today, tomorrow, in a month, a year, etc. It's certainly not something I dwell on, though there were definite periods in my life when I did.

I don't think I even seriously thought about until the whole Terri Schiavo case was brought about to light. I will not go into details as this case often brings up many stirring feelings about the right to life debate. I know for me this case really made me wonder what I would truly want if I died or even became in a state where I could no longer make decisions for myself. It made me want to go out and get a will to ensure that things would be carried out the way I chose.

Have I gotten a will? No. I'm not sure why either. It's one of things that I keep meaning to do. It's something that's on my list that I just haven't gotten around to, although I know I should. For me, one big concern would be the decisions made if I were ever in an incapacitated state and could no longer make decisions for myself. Who would make those decisions for me? My parents? A close friend? I lean towards my parents but what if they aren't there, then who? What I do know for sure is that I would not want "heroic" measures taken to continue my life in which there was slim to no hope that I'd come out "alive."

My other major concern would be my beloved pets. Whom would I want them to live with where I know they would be happy and well taken care of. I always have this fear that my pets would go to an awful home and be very unhappy. I highly doubt that would happen but you just don't know. I could care less about most of my possessions after I'm gone. I'd rather they were donated unless there were items of importance my family wanted to keep. And lastly, I know I'd like a "green" funeral if that could occur (I think it's only accepted in some st ates but can't remember right off hand) and be buried where a dogwood tree would grow taking care of me.

Yeah I know, I just need to put all this stuff on paper and make it official, etc. Maybe this will help keep me accountable to that.

So my question is do you have a will? Have you thought about a will? What's important to you after your death if that should occur (though of course hopefully not anytime soon)? What would be your last wishes?

I know this is kind of a morbid post, but I think it's important to consider every once in awhile. Though death isn't the most pleasant thing to think about, life can be taken away in an instant.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Natural Highs

Last week, my dad's wife called me. She wanted my opinion on the latest thing my dad decided to tell her. Basically, she wanted me to side with her as "ammunition" against my father. She said my dad wanted to get a motorcycle. This is not his first one, but rather would be his maybe third or fourth in his lifetime. The first one he purchased was way back in the 1970s. The day he was going to sell it, he decided to take it for one last spin--just to see how fast it would go (can you say stupid?). He wrecked, almost dying but lived with second and third degree burns instead and a long recovery process. You'd think he would have learned his lesson from that.

Ever since then, my family has always been against him having a motorcycle. since he's an adult and all, it's not like we were really capable of him not getting another motorcycle. The only good thing was that he had partially learned his lesson from the accident and was careful. However, with all of his health problems the last ten or so years, my family I really question the motorcycle idea.

I talked to my dad directly on the phone about this motorcycle idea. The conversation went as follows:

Me: I don't think you should get a motorcycle. You remember the bad accident you had, right? Why not go for a bike instead?

Dad: I like motorcycles, because I can go fast.

Me: Well, you can pedal fast on a bike.

Dad: Yes, but not the same. Motorcycles give me a high. It's like a crack addict on cocaine, but for me, it's a motorcycle instead.

I could understand where he was coming from, but I still didn't agree with the idea of getting a mortorcycle.

This got me thinking about natural highs and eating disorders. I think for many of us there is/has been the feeling of the "starvation high." I know when I had bouts of this type of high, I loved the energy it gave me for the first few days. I loved the idea of staying awake late and being able to get up effortlessly the next morning. I loved the feeling of just going out for a run and running light like the wind, because I was empty. I loved the feeling of not thinking about food, because I could just shrug it off, thinking I just didn't need it. I often felt like I could write better when in this state as well. It seemed like words just flowed on the page. But then a few days later, reality would strike and that "high" was gone. I missed it and wanted it back.

Fast forward towards recovery. There's no doubt at times I miss this feeling. It was a different feeling that just seemed incomparable. Due to trying to get myself well, it's made me think about what my other highs are. I remember an e-mail I received a number of years ago, entitled "Natural Highs." I actually printed it and kept it as a reminder in my college room which was filled with a lot of inspirational poems and quotes and such.

A few of my highs these days would be:

* a great run--not obsessive but feeling my body as it moves and the wind at my back
* just being out in nature seeing a deer, a red fox, or even a groundhog
* laughing until my belly hurts
* seeing an old friend or making a new friend
* watching my dogs play, sleep, and just "be"
* feeling inspired whether it be because of myself or someone else
* achieving personal goals
* knowing that I've somehow helped someone even if it is in a small way
* watching sunrises and sunsets or the waves at the beach
* sales at my favorite stores (not that I shop often but it's always a great feeling to know they are there)
* certain smells and feels like fresh cut grass or brand new sheets on the bed
* finding four leaf clovers

Those are a few of mine, and I'm sure I have more. So what are yours?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Just what we need--another new diet book

A new book is out called The Pen and Paper Diet The website touts that this diet plan will allow adults to maintain their desired weight for the rest of their life, using scientific principles and common sense. Apparently, this diet plan accounts for height, age, weight, activity level, and gender and can be applied to ages 19-84 years old. The catch is that you have to continuously count calories throughout the day. Hmmm, is that really healthy?

The line that really sticks out for me the most seen in this press release is:

"This diet will be ideal for those that struggle with anorexia and bulimia because it can enable these individuals to maintain their weight at the low end of BMI like they would prefer while digesting their food," Dow says.

I should note that Dow and his wife are not medical experts but two people who wanted to lose weight. I think I'm astonished that someone would even say this. Sure, many with anorexia and bulimia don't want to gain weight. Even when weight is gained, many want to hover at the minimal range of ideal which just puts that person at risk to fall back into old patterns. This can also lead to living like a "functional" eating disorder individual, making that seem okay. But really, it is not okay. It's not okay to be married to your calorie counter or your scale. :sigh:


Besides this new book coming out, I've also been seeing the trend in weight loss by a few of my clients. One is a woman who recently got back from Hawaii. She and her husband have a condo there and go every year for several weeks. I knew she had been on Weight Watchers and was attending meetings and such, but I was surprised at her weight loss. She said she thinks that most people had only seen her when she had gained weight and not the weight she was most of her adult life. I don't know whether things could get out of control or not, but it is a little worrisome.

Then I saw my good friend last week out of the blue. I had left a number of messages for her but didn't hear back. When I saw her, I could tell she had lost weight. She said she was on the "CNS diet, ie "caffeine, nicotine, and stress" diet. Most of her life, she has been big and losing weight was always a tough battle for her. However, I do not think this is the way to go. She said it's mostly stemming from personal problems. I do worry since she is a good friend.

The last client is a married couple. When I last saw them, it was noticeable that they too had lost weight. Neither were what I'd call overweight, just more on the average. They talked about their weight loss saying it was mostly due to drinking more water, some exercising, and eating healthier. I do know the woman has been doing more exercise since her job position changed. I guess I hope that it was a healthy approach for them.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm more sensitive to people losing weight. I can understand losing some weight for health, but I always have this fear it will go overboard for them. Maybe I'm just too clouded by my own experiences. I keep wondering if these people are married to their calorie counting books or their points systems or whether they have just embraced healthy living. The latter is my hope.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Pet safety for the 4th of July

I know this is late in posting, but just want to put this out there.

4th of July can often be a scary time for animals, but there are some tips you can do to help ease the holiday stress.

Many do not like the sound of firecrackers, fireworks, or other very loud objects that can be set off. This is especially evident with dogs who already have a history of thunderphobia, noise phobia, or anxiety. If it helps, you can turn the radio or television up to create a "white noise" effect. If your dog prefers to be in a crate or in a limited place, allow him access to those areas. If cats are afraid, let them have their own "safe" place whether it be a room, under the bed, etc.

It's also important not to soothe your pet when they are frightened as that only reinforces the behavior. They truly can't distinguish a pet out of praise versus one out of concern.

Keep your pets indoors. I can't stress this enough. Both cats and dogs can easily get lost during this holiday. Keep them away from fireworks and firecrackers. They can easily burn your pets and the flashes of light can scare them.

As with any holiday, make sure any kind of foods or decorations that can be ingested by your pets is put up, placed in appropriate receptacles and not reachable. Since many like to have barbecues and grill outdoors,, anything with cooked bones must be in a place where your pet cannot reach them.

If you pet is up for it, you can try doing fun activities that he/she may like. For instance, some dogs like to play ball. Sometimes this helps with desensitizing. Other times, it is too overwhelming for the animal, and thus futile at that point.

Hope you and your pet(s) have a safe and happy 4th of July.


This morning I got up at a bright and early 5 AM to go to the local 10K race downtown. I tried hard to get to bed early (11:40 PM in this case). I was successful with that but woke up several times during the night afraid I missed my alarm going off. The last I checked it was 5:02 AM (really that's 4:52 AM as I keep all my clocks set 10 minutes fast. I got that from my mother).

I left at 5:45 AM. It was raining. Ugh! I arrived in plenty of time and was going to park where the flyer said we should park. Well, I couldn't figure out where that was exactly. It was not where I thought it was and wound up driving around for 30 minutes. Finally, I screwed that idea and parked somewhere downtown. I managed to park at the newspaper building which was just a few feet from the start line. It was still raining at this point, and I was beginning to get chilled and nervous. I must have gone to the porta-porty three times within an hour!

There were a lot of people here for a local race--over 3,000. Everyone gathered at the start line. By this time, the rain had stopped. The gun went off, and off we went. I had no clue where I was and apparently mid-pack, so it took me a little longer than I expected to find a pace. By mile 2, I finally did. The rest of the race was uneventful except for whatever reason, I felt sick during the race and at the end of the race. I felt really bad for this poor girl who thought I might hurl on her (sorry gross I know) at the finish line. I didn't and managed to find a porta-potty again.

During the race, there was one person who stuck out at me. She was quite thin. I do not know whether she had an ED, but her running style was what I see a lot of very thin people look like running--kind of crouched, low to the ground, with long strides. I'm not making any generalizations, just observations. She wound up passing me after I had her at some point. It took a lot for me not to kill myself to reach her and pass her. I don't know why that competitive streak comes out in me. It's always been a bit of a achilles heal for me and seems to come and go.

All in all, the race went fairly well. I'm not sure what my exact time was as I don't remember what the announcer said, and I forgot to stop my watch right at the finish line.

I called my parents after the race since they both wanted to know how I did. Both of them thought I did well, but my dad says, "you know if you had ran that pace at the marathon, your time would have been incredible. If you had just run a few more miles, just think of the time." :sigh: I agreed that my time would have been better but no need to dwell on the subject now.

The rest of today will be spent just doing things around here. I may take a nap this afternoon as well. What I really need is a day to sleep in really late. Maybe tomorrow since I'm off in the morning. I know next week is going to be very busy, so I need to keep myself out of the exhaustion state.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Progress? update
image: foodnetwork

A few weeks ago I questioned my progress in food intake. (The post can be read here) This didn't just mean the amount of calories but also rather my food choices which for the most part had not changed in eight or so years. The post made me think about how I needed to try more and step up to the plate even when it feels scary and uncomfortable.

So, I'm back to report. I bought avocados a day or so after writing that post. I bought them completely on a whim since they were on sale. I'm really not quite sure what possessed me to buy them as it isn't usually something I think of as "I'd really like to eat that." Actually, I've always thought of avocados as very fattening, even if it is the "good" fat, ie monosaturated fat. To me, like many ED people, fat is well fat. It's always been a bit of an issue for me, though I have gotten a little better over the years, so fat is no longer completely banned from my diet as it once used to be.

I also think the only time I've ever eaten avocado is in the California sushi rolls. I'm not a big Mexican food fan, so guacamole and such I rarely eat. In general, I really didn't know how to prepare it either. I posed the question in a forum and got some good suggestions. Now, the hard part. Get myself to actually eat it.

Well, the avocados sat in my fridge for at least two weeks. They stayed in the back ,behind all my other fruit, so I really didn't have to think about it. I kept thinking that if I just applied the whole "out of sight, out of mind" concept, they would somehow disappear. I kind of dreaded at that point buying them and knew I could toss them, except that I hated the thought of wasting money even if they were on sale.

This past weekend, I had this craving for tuna fish salad. No clue why but I did. Again, mayonnaise is not an item I normally buy. In fact, I rarely eat mayonnaise at all. But that pre-dates eating disordered times. I bought mayonnaise only in order to make the tuna fish salad. I found myself having a hard time just choosing which mayonnaise. I was, however, not confident enough to buy the full fat version, so I did remain safe and went with the lower fat/less calories version.

I made the tuna fish salad and was still thinking about those avocados. I had remembered reading about avocado and tuna fish, so I decided to see how that might taste. After a few futile attempts, ie getting the food out, opening it, smelling it, putting it back in the fridge, I finally took a small bite of the tuna fish/avocado mixture. Surprisingly, it tasted pretty good. I took a few more bites, and then put the rest away. Whew, that was all my head could handle for the day.

This may seem insignificant, but I think it was a good smallish step to diversifying my food a bit. Now, I don't know when I'll eat avocado and/or tuna fish salad again. It may be soon, it may be awhile from now. But you know what, I was able to fight through that feeling of being scared and uncomfortable. Better yet, I didn't balloon to the size of an elephant, something I had actually imagined in my irrational fear. This just reminded me that I really can make breakthroughs if I push myself a little harder. Sometimes, it's the small victories that count the most.