Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names (words) will never hurt me

It's a classic phrase that we've all been told at one point or another in our lives. I wish it were true, but in reality, it is not. I'm sure a lot of us can attest to the falseness of this phrase, proverb, idiom, adage, maxim, whatever you want to call it.

I tried looking up the origin of it but only came across this posting on the web.

So are there differences in physical and social pain? How do the intensity of pain rank for each? Which one is easier to recall and relive?

Researchers recently looked at all these questions in a set of four experiments. In experiment 1, participants were asked to relive both a physical (injury) and social (betrayal) pain experience and to rank their level of pain when the event occurred. In experiment 2, participants were asked to relive either a physical (injury) or a social (betrayal) pain experience and also rank their pain level at the time of the event. Then both groups wrote a detailed account of their experiences and stated what their pain level was at that moment.

The results of these studies showed that it was easy to recount both physical and social pain experiences and that the pain level was similar for either experience at the time the event occurred. However, participants who relived a social pain experience had more pain intensity after recalling the event than those who recalled a physical pain experience.

In experiments 3 and 4, similar protocol was followed as the previous other two studies, but with series of easy and difficult cognitive tasks. The results indicated that participants who had to relive a social pain experience had a higher level of pain intensity and performed worse on the difficult cognitive tasks than those who relived a physical pain experience.

Researchers think one possible explanation for these findings has to do with the evolution of the cerebral cortex in the brain. The authors write, "
The evolution of the cerebral cortex certainly improved the ability of human beings to create and adapt; to function in and with groups, communities, and culture; and to respond to pain associated with social interactions,” the authors wrote. “However, the cerebral cortex may also have had an unintended effect of allowing humans to relive, re-experience, and suffer from social pain."

Full text study: When Hurt Will Not Heal
Exploring the Capacity to Relive Social and Physical Pain


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I actually don't find this research that surprising, but I think it is good validation at the importance of social pain versus physical pain experiences. Sometimes, I think we forget that just because we can't see a physical scar or wound, that the pain doesn't exist or affect us. In my opinion, it's the invisible scars that hurt worse. Those are the ones that are deeply buried and don't fade away so easily; thus, the reason why we can relive them easier and have such high intensity towards them.

Everyone has a different school of thought as to whether it is better to drudge up these experiences or not. For some, reliving and processing that pain helps them to heal and move ahead. For others, it's about acknowledging that pain but leaving it there (in the past) and moving forward. Each individual has to decide what works best for her/him to heal. In the end, it's all about making oneself whole again.



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is our sense of body labile?

Participants had a rubber hand placed in their field of vision and their real hand concealed behind a partition.
image: Physorg

I came across this fascinating article today called "Sleight of hand and sense of self." We all know that many people with eating disorders have body distortions. Sometimes the distortions become so focused that individuals have a difficult time sensing ownership of their bodies. It can lead to a mind-body dissociation. Normally, one of the goals in treatment is to bring back self-awareness, so individuals can feel whole both in body and mind.

Researchers at Oxford University wanted to see if they could replicate this type of experience in two ways. Through the mind, they wanted to see if they could manipulate a sense of ownership of the body. Physically, they wanted to see if there was any detection of a temperature change.

From the article,

The rubber-hand illusion involves placing a rubber hand in front of the participant in their field of vision and near to their real hand. The real hand is then concealed behind a partition. If the real hand and the rubber hand are touched or stroked in the same way and at the same time, the participant tries to co-ordinate what they are feeling (their own hand being stroked) and seeing (the rubber hand being stroked). They can experience a shift in where they believe their hand is to the position of the rubber hand.

Participants said they felt like they owned the rubber arm. With this type of result, researchers concluded that it was like they were "disowning" their real arm which resulted in a temperature drop in that hand.

Dr. Mosley, one of the researchers said, "
The rubber-hand illusion is a beautiful device to manipulate our sense of self. It tells us that our sense of our bodies, our sense of who we are, is labile."

I just think this is a very interesting study and really shows the adaptability of the mind. I'm not as well versed in the physiological aspect of temperature change with regard to body distortion, but it is an avenue worth consideration for researchers.

What are your thoughts?




Miss Sister 2008 nixed

I was browsing NPR today, looking for a story that I heard on NPR this morning. Unfortunately, I could not find the story. It was to do with Abercrombie and Fitch and how they strategically place "more beautiful" retailers up front. They say it is for sales purposes only and that many stores do this. I was curious if stores really do this? Anyway, it reminded me of the Olympic opening ceremonies with the little girl lip syncing to the song of the girl actually singing who was backstage since she just wasn't cute enough for public.

I also came across 30 second clip about the Miss Sister 2008 beauty contest being nixed on NPR. Reverend Antonio Rungi wanted to change the old stereotype that nuns were cranky and old, so he came up with a beauty contest online. The nuns would have a profile with a bio and a picture dressed in traditional attire, then people would vote online.
After much outcry from the public, Reverend Rungi has decided not to have the beauty contest.

In this article Rungi said
"that contestants would not wear swimsuits or revealing outfits because it was inner beauty that counted.." Then the very next sentence is, "'We are not going to parade nuns in bathing suits. But being ugly is not a requirement for becoming a nun. External beauty is gift from God, and we mustn't hide it."

While I agree with Rungi that any woman, no matter what their external appearance can be a nun, for some reason, holding a beauty contest seems contradictory. If it is really about "inner beauty," then ideally, there should be no photos of the nuns at all with only their bios. I just find it interesting how the whole concept has even reached this mass of people. Is it simply trying to change their stereotype or is it based on culture?

BDNF and onset of obesity

In this week's New England Journal of Medicine, there is an interesting study looking at the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its relation to obesity. BDNF is a protein encoded by the BDNF gene. BDNF's role in the brain is to help with learning, higher thinking, and memory, especially long-term memory. Studies have looked at the role of BDNF in energy homeostasis in animals but never in humans.

This study looked at a subset group of individuals with
WAGR syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which puts people at risk for eye disorders (Aniridia), certain types of cancers (Wilms tumor based in the kidney), genitourinary anomalies, and mental retardation. In normal people, there are two copies for the BDNF gene, however, those with WAGR syndrome have a deletion in one of the copies, therefore having a lower BDNF. The results showed that all of them with this deletion had onset childhood obesity by age ten and had a strong tendency towards overeating.

The importance of this study is not only looking at genetics but also the role of BDNF on obesity and appetite control. Also to note, BDNF may be indirectly controlled by leptin.

Abstract

FYI: There is a prospective article in this week's
New England Journal of Medicine that may be useful to some readers who are interested in dispelling the myth that obesity is only based on lifestyle choices. The title of the article is "The power of the extreme in elucidating obesity" by Philippe Froguel and Alexandra Blakemore. I just read the first 100 words, and it sounds like an interesting article.


Vilifying hot dogs

There is a new commercial coming out about hot dogs and the risk of colon cancer. Actually, the ad is for improving nutrition in schools and removing processed meats, but it is looked at that the hot dog is the culprit. The ad opens with images of hot dogs in a cafeteria. Then, you see a young boy, saying "I thought I'd live forever. I was dumbfounded when the doctor told me I had late stage colon cancer." Then there are two other children talking about cancer and how it has effected them and their families. By the way, none of these children have cancer in real life. The ad ends with a voice saying how "even small amounts of processed meats can lead to adult cancers."




According to this AP article, there is some debate about the commercial. The Hot Dog Council feels like the sponsor--Cancerproject is just using a scare tactic. Cancerproject feels like it is raising awareness about an important issue, stating that there have been a number of studies linking the role of precessed meats to the risk of colon cancer.

What do you think about this ad? Is it merely a scare tactic or does it provide useful information? Is it right to use the children in this ad?

**********

The Cancerproject group is correct that there have been a number of studies showing a link between colon cancer and intake of processed meats. However, the positive correlation is only in with a high consumption of processed meats. A few studies can be read here, here, and here.

I think the problem with this ad is that it gives the impression that eating one hot dog is going to give you colon cancer. In reality, someone would have to be eating at least one hot dog everyday for several years to increase the risk of colon cancer to 5-7%. Truly, that's a lot of hot dogs. Personally, I do not eat hot dogs and have not done so for a long time even before ED began. However, as a young child, I did eat hot dogs. Heck, I even loved hot dogs and ate them right out of the package!! I can't even believe I did that now, but I doubt that that is really going to give me colon cancer.

While it is true that shaping good eating habits early on is helpful for children in making better choices nutritionally, it does not mean that hot dogs and other foods need to be vilified. As always, everything needs to be in moderation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Maximizer versus Satisficer

I recently finished the book, The Paradox of Choice: why more is less by Barry Schwartz. Although not an eye-opening book per se, it did give me a lot of food for thought in how I function with making choices. Normally, you'd think that having so many choices would be a great thing. It is to an extent, but it can get hairy quickly. This comes when decision making becomes detrimental to our psyche and health. That, in essence, is the paradox of choice. I have a lot more thoughts about everyday paradoxes, but that'll be left for another post.

I want to focus on Maximization. Below is a cartoon about maximizers.



What is a maximizer? A maximizer is one who only seeks and accepts the best. They are the people who check out all the options before making any choice. They often take a long time before making a choice and will compare purchase decisions to choices others have made.

Even when they have made a choice, they worry that that was not the right option or may feel less satisfied and less positive with the choice they have made. They may also experience regret after a purchase or choice. Maximizers also don't cope with negative events well, take longer to recover from these events, and will ruminate about their experiences.

Many would think being a maximizer would be a good thing, but it can pay a price. A number of problems can occur with those who are maximizers, including feeling less happy, more regret, being more perfectionistic, and feeling an overload of choices. In the book, Sachwartz outlines a few studies that represented this.

Then there are individuals who are what Schwartz calls Satisificers. They are people who do check out options but settle for good enough or excellent but not necessarily the best. They don't worry about the choice they have made or that there might have been something better.

Compared with maximizers, satisficers take less time comparing and purchasing products. They do not seem to compare their decisions as much to others. They usually feel more positive about their choices and experience less regret than their counterparts.

Schwartz in general says how we should all strive to become more satisficers. However, he also realizes that it's also about acceptance too. For many people, they are "domain specific" of when they will be a maximizer or a satisficer. And that's really okay. It's when it becomes a point of real hindrance that there is a problem and it needs to be worked on.

Personally, for me, I was taught to always want the best out of life, that being number one, going to the best college, etc. was important. None of those things happened, and it left me feeling like I was "settling" for second best, second rate, that it wasn't enough, that
I wasn't enough. I still have a really hard time with choices. I am positive I suffer from the overloading of choices phenomenon which has left me at a standstill at times. It's something I am working on and trying to realize that sometimes the best isn't all it's cut out to be. I know and have accepted that there will be certain things in life that I will always be a maximizer, but over the years, I have lessened it to a degree, especially with food/household items. I think a large part of that was financial to be honest, but also realizing that even those things that may have been second rate to me, I've come to actually just be satisfied with.

Here's a Maximization Test reprinted in the book,
The Paradox of Choice courtesy via APA. Where do you fall on the Maximization Scale?

Maximization Scale
Ratings are from 1 (completely disagree) to 7 (completely agree) Scores can range from 13 to 91. A score of 65 or higher is on the maximization side. A score of 30 or lower is on the satisficing side.

1. Whenever I'm faced with a choice, I try to imagine what all the other possibilities are, even ones that aren't
present at the moment.
2. No matter how satisfied I am with my job, it's only right for me to be on the lookout for better opportunities.
3. When I am in the car listening to the radio, I often check other stations to see if something better is playing,
even if I am relatively satisfied with what I'm listening to.
4. When I watch tv, I channel surf, often scanning through the available options even while attempting to watch
one program.
5. I treat relationships like clothing; I expect to try a lot on before finding the perfect fit.
6. I often find it difficult to shop for a gift for a friend.
7. Renting videos is really difficult. I'm alway struggling to pick the best one.
8. When shopping, I have a hard time finding clothing that I really love.
9. I'm a big fan of lists that attempt to rank things (the best movies, the best singers, the best athletes, the best
novels, etc)
10. I find writing is very difficult, even if it's just writing a letter to a friend, because it's so hard to word things just
right. I often do several drafts of even simple things.
11. No matter what I do, I have the highest standards for myself.
12. I never settle for second best.
13. I often fantasize about living in ways that are quite different from my actual life.

Quintessentially Models

The modeling industry hasn't been in the news for awhile, but then again no one has died either. Sorry bad choice of words but is true. Next month is London's Fashion Week which always brings about a buzz. However, one modeling agency, Quintessentially Models, is not making a buzz so much about the models, but the fact that the British Fashion Council (BFC) has decided to disregard the compulsory health checks for models. Last year, the BFC came up with 14 recommendations under the Model Health Inquiry as a safeguard for the health of models. However, they felt that the compulsory health checks which ensured that models were free of eating disorders and healthy enough to work, were "unworkable" and "counter-productive." One model, Erin O'Connor, felt that the checks "infringed a model's dignity and rights."

According to Eleni Renton, the founder of Quintessentially Models, an "ethical" modeling agency, she feels that the decision of the BFC is poor and weak and that public funding for the show should be pulled. She feels that it is only promoting unhealthy ideals. Her take on Miss O'Connor's comments is that it is nonsense, that compulsory health checks are easily doable. She feels that the industry will never change without having guidelines and enforcing them and having designers create clothing that is simply not just reserved for skinny models. Also, another point made by a model is that if agents stopped sending out thin models, then designers would be forced to use healthy sizes.

So the model debate continues. I do applaud Renton's efforts for establishing a different kind of modeling agency. Her agency only employs models who are in the healthy BMI range and if individuals are getting too thin, then weight gain is encouraged. There is also an in-house counselor for models to talk to, as well as nutritional health checks. Her models have landed campaigns with Nivea, Lancome, Vogue, and Marie Claire.

Although Renton is not in the norm for a modeling agency, maybe others will follow in her lead. As I said before, change never happens without an uproar, and it has to be within the industry itself. But small changes can make a difference and prove to others that there are more options out there.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Diving, eating disorders, and age

During the Olympics, I didn't follow that much of the diving--just kind of here and there. However, I did watch the women's 10m platform finals and was quite startled at how underweight the two sixteen years old Chinese divers, Chen Ruolin and Wang Xin, appeared to be. It's reported their BMI is only 14.5, and they are only 4'6 or so. You can do the math there. Each won an Olympic medal respectfully--the gold to Chen, the bronze to Wang. A Canadian veteran diver, Emilie Heymans, took the silver. I believe she was just out of the medals in Athens, so this was a sweet victory for her.

So what was the winning recipe for these divers? No dinner for a year. Pretty scary isn't? In any sport, not refueling your body only harms it in the long run. For awhile, the body will adapt, however, eventually a crash and burn is inevitable, ultimately with the possibility of death. And in sports like gymnastics and diving where an athlete is jumping, twisting, and somersaulting at great heights, this not only can be highly dangerous but also lead to disaster.

Apparently, Chen's and Wang's coach, Yu Fen, does not care. She only wants to win. Here's a statement she has said about Wang.

"Even though she's a world champion and technically impeccable, an abrupt fluctuation in weight could be seriously damaging for Wang."

The Chinese coaching rationale behind this (besides winning) is that girls who enter puberty will gain weight (duh, inevitable really, that's all a part of human nature) and essentially make larger splashes. It's even been reported that some coaches have tried to stunt their athletes' growth. One diver, Jia Tong, winner of the synchronized diving with Chen in the 2005 Worlds, did not have her growth stunted. However, she paid a price with a "surge" in body weight and was excluded from the Olympic team. Whether it was due to this completely or not, we'll never know. However, there's a suspicion it was due to her weight possibly.

I think this assumption about splash is completely false. Although a lower body weight may have some accountability for hitting the water with little splash, much more of it is based on good technique and how vertical the diver is going into the water.

The article above does not say whether Chen took on the self-imposed starvation herself or followed coach's orders, but her reward for winning...indulging in a big dinner with her family and friends. That should never be the case, and it's sad to see a young girl (everyone included here) think this way. I'm sure many of us have had those similar thought patterns of exercising X amount, thus allowing ourselves to have X amount for dinner. It's faulty logic. Bodies need food for fuel. It's what keeps our systems working properly at optimum levels.

The other thing with all this is that it just reinforces the idea that a diver needs to be small, thin, and starve herself in order to win. That's just simply sad. I should also note that not all the Chinese divers on this Olympic team were too thin but quite a few, both men and women, were borderline underweight, according to their bios on the Olympic site.

**********

Besides these divers' body weights, I'm wondering if there should also be age restrictions for the assurance of the physical and mental health of these athletes. Of course, we know that can be a sticky situation as was seen by the presumption (or likelihood) of the underage Chinese gymnasts. However, according to this article, here were some other very young athletes at these Olympics. Most were divers or swimmers with one being only 12 years old. How come we didn't hear about this at the Olympics? My feeling is that since there aren't regulations in either of these sports, a big fuss was not made.

There's no doubt that these young athletes have talent. However, athletes, like the rest of us are human and go through the changes of life both physically and mentally, or I should say, they should be allowed to. As coaches of these young athletes, especially those who have moved away from home, there should be some nurture. In my opinion, this also includes making sure the well being of the athlete's body, mind, and soul is intact and capable of the stress and pressure of competition. It shouldn't be solely about winning medals which unfortunately seems to be the case in many situations.

Mass change of rules and regulations don't happen without an uproar, but it's highly doubtful there will be one in the sport of diving. Instead, it's all just swept underneath the rug, with a hush of silence even though we all already know the facts.


Looking at the Olympic commercials

Although I know logically commercials are only there to entice you, make money off of you, hoping that you'll be swayed by its contents to buy their products, but I still couldn't help but watch them during the Olympics. Of course, it's the only way, they really have to fill in the gaps between the events. Advertisers know that the majority of the people (2/3 worldwide) viewing the Olympics are not watching just for the commercials. (I'd say the Superbowl wins that title) Instead, they pay millions of dollars for a coveted ad spot in hopes that you'll see their ad, be persuaded, and buy their product. Amazing how commercialization works.

With that said, here's a rundown of some of the commercials featured. McDonald's had quite a few since they were the "restaurant for the Games." It helped that athletes like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt loved McDonald's products. Here's one of the ads. Don't you love that they have that girl with the ripped ads? I guess she got those by eating McDonald's.




McDonald's also showed a more touching side with this ad entitled "Layover" where the African-American boy shares his McNuggets with a Muslim little girl.



Then there was Coke who has been a longtime sponsor of the Olympics. One of the commercials this year looked at cultural stereotypes between the Chinese and Americans. The ad featured basketball stars LeBron James and Yao Ming, taking a break from basketball and "united" by drinking coke.



Coke also showed this one which I really liked, despite the fact that I no longer drink Coke or any soft drink for that matter.



Home Depot also aired several commercials throughout the Olympics, demonstrating their Job Opportunities Program in helping athletes. I think I saw something like 660 athletes, 180 medals, in one of their last commercials during the closing ceremonies.




VISA Gold ran a lot of commercials throughout the Olympics, showcasing various athletes in both triumph and heartache. Besides the music and graphics, VISA made a great choice in using Morgan Freeman for the voice. I'm still trying to figure out how they showed the VISA Gold commercial congratulating Phelps on his eight Olympic medals literally right after he won. I'm thinking it had to have been pre-made. I posed this question to my dad, and all he said was, "well, Morgan Freeman is out of the hospital you know." Okay, and that signifies? Despite these technical questions, I really liked the VISA Gold ads. I thought they showed true "Olympic" spirit.




I don't know how I missed this commercial by Nike. Or maybe I did see it, but it went by so fast? Who knows, but it's a great tribute to the Olympics with a cool song!



Although Budweiser is more known for sponsoring the Superbowl, the Olympics did air one of the popular Clydesdale horse ads. In this one, "Thunder" doesn't get chosen for the team. However, with coaching from the Dalmatian and his hard work, he perseveres and makes the team. How can you not win the hearts of America with dogs, horses, and the "Gonna Fly" song from the movie, Rocky. Actually, I have that on my ipod. I use it when I need inspiration, running up a big hill. I imagine myself like Rocky when he climbs the Philadelphia stairs and reaches the top! It works most of the time.


And lastly, if you can't wait for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver , there is already a commercial promoting it. This is the first time I've seen it. Maybe those of you in Canada have already seen it. Kids plus winter attire, showing off the winter sports equals cuteness!




Whew, that took a lot of editing!
My apologizes to those who are on google reader and had to see these posts separately. I was trying to edit and condense them all into one, but it posted them anyway.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Psychology tests

Here are a wide variety of online psychology tests from the New York Times site. A few I've seen before, but they are kind of fun to do. If nothing else, it kills boredom. ;-) Several of them have some interesting outcomes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Late summer flower photos

It's obvious I'm such a sucker for flowers. I think they are quite beautiful and it's fun taking them from a variety of angles.
These first photos were taken way back in June.














The pink flowers I took just a few weeks ago.












Random Friday photos


If you look closely, you can see some of the web. On a white background it makes it a lot harder to see.


I'm not sure what type of tree this is, but I thought the buds were cool. You can see the progression of them opening in the next two photos.





This had flash, so that's why the leaves look lighter. It reminds me of a postcard.


This is butterfly mint. This is probably one of the only things that I have kept continuing to grow every year. I'm not quite sure how that happened.


This is actually a tall weed. I like the fuschia color. See even weeds can be pretty sometimes.


Another weed near the purple weeds.


The stately Queen Anne's Lace


This is striped grass. Whoever lived here before me grew it. It's kind of cool looking.


A full view of striped grass


This is Dancer, my boss's German Shepherd. I've literally known her since she was 12 hours born! She's now 5 1/2 years old. The ball is one of her favorite toys, so we often play it.

Attire and the Olympics

Having watched the Olympics for many years, I never really think about attire, but apparently it is important. There's already been the debate with swimming and the use of the new streamlined LAZR speedos. In synchronized swimming, the female Spanish duo's swimsuits were banned from competition. The team of Fuentes and Mengual wanted to wear embedded waterproof lights in their swimsuit. FNIA,the governing body disallowed it, saying it was an "accessory." Sequins are often on swimsuits, but these lights which were sewn in were not allowed. Still, the women came in second place.

Then, of all sports, in table tennis, there is a growing push for women to change their attire. Apparently, the governing body of table tennis, ITTF, has been upset by poor ratings. Therefore, it feels that female players need to have sexier outfits. Well, they call it outfits with more "curves." They feel that this might attract more sports enthusiasts and give popularity to the sport.

Hmmm, maybe this is why beach volleyball got so much primetime air this year?

Whatever happened to the fact that the Olympics is about athletic prowess and NOT what you're wearing? I remember back in I think it was 1996 Olympics where the Chinese gymnasts got deducted a tenth of a point, because their leotards were too high cut, it was something incredibly silly like that.

I just find it amazing how much controversy the Olympics brings, excluding the fact that it was in China. Well, at least we can wait another two more years until the Winter Olympics. I'm sure they'll be another whole set of questions brought on for debate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Inspirational cards, t-shirts, etc.--do they help you?

As recovery is an individual process, there are vast amounts of tools people can use to enable them towards healing. Transformology, a group based out of Chicago who help those with eating disorders, has created a card deck to help those in eating disorder recovery. The Treasures of Transformation card deck covers topics like hunger/full cues, body image, good job, and journaling. Each card has a drawing done by an artist who has fully recovered from her eating disorder and has been given "healing energy." The premise is to help those in any stage of recovery cope positively and find their authentic selves.

This is not the first card deck (nor probably last) to be created. Another card deck about mindful eating has categories like mindfulness, intentions, blessings, letting go, hunger and taste, and contemplations. These cards have a painting and a depiction of the cycle of food. The healthy at every size card deck is about empowerment. These cards display a nature photograph with a key message about enjoying food without guilt, not depriving yourself of food, feeling better about yourself, and enjoying the movement of your body.

The purpose of these cards are all similar-- to help those with food issues whether it is simply giving food for thought, helping during meal times, learning to feel better about themselves, or coping to get through the day.

So my question, do these type of cards help you? Do they give inspiration? Do they help with learning new coping skills?

Lastly, if you're looking from some interesting ED stuff, check out cafepress and zazzle. Though I doubt I'd ever wear a t-shirt about eating disorders in public (congrats to all those who can), I do like what many of them have to say, especially this pin.


Cookie Button by cranberry92

image: zazzle

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Putting things in perspective

I received this e-mail awhile back and meant to post this. I've been talking about perceptions recently, so here's a cool way to look at the universe.










I don't know if this will make sense. Maybe it sounds a bit hokey, but perhaps those issues we view, think, or feel as the "sun," or like the bright stars of Pollux, Arcturus, Betelgeuse, and Antares are really only a "mars," "mercury," or "pluto" in the grand scheme of things.




Monday, August 18, 2008

Dieting is now going virtual

In this new study, University of Houston researchers are recruiting an international pool of 500 participants in a healthy eating and physical activity challenge. The catch is that it is taking place in the virtual reality game Second Life.

The premise, err competition is that participants (avatars) will receive lindens (the currency of Second Life) for behaviors like trying new fruits and vegetables, physical activities such as walking on a treadmill, riding a bike, etc. Participants receive "challenge" points for each healthy behavior. Then whichever country team has the most challenge points wins the International Health Challenge.

Apparently, there is also going to be a space in Second Life for interactive games and learning opportunities for those who sign up for this health challenge.

The hope of this study is that it will allow participants to practice and learn new behaviors in this virtual reality setting and in real life.

**********

Hmm, it's an interesting proposition. I have never actually been in Second Life, though it's often discussed in one of my podcasts. I think you have to be careful with virtual reality environments, not only with the suspicion of pedophiles, but in the time consumption there. I know quite a few grown adults who are very into the computer games where everyone makes their own avatars and such. One of them even tried getting me into it. I thought it was interesting for awhile but soon realized just how much time I was spending there--time that could be spent elsewhere. That, and my satellite wasn't fast enough to keep up with what was going on.

I guess my concern would be "internet addiction." That and whether a program like the study above really helps in real life. Though internet addiction is still subject for debate, I do think people can spend unhealthy amounts of time on the internet. Then when you couple it with competition, it can really rev people up. I'm still uncertain about how these challenge points work. I mean couldn't you just keep grabbing different fruits and vegetables for the mere addition of points? Or step on the treadmill continuously to rack up points? I guess maybe I'm not seeing how this can translate into real life other than possibly the accountability factor.

Don't get me wrong, I do think there are some computer-based interventions and programs out there that do help people with various disorders, I am just not sure about virtual reality. Bu then again, may be the idea of the "social" component could be helpful? Who knows, maybe this will provide an interesting outcome.

Another age-defying moment in the Olympics

Like Dara Torres in her silver medal finish in the 50m freestyle, there was another age-defying moment in Olympics with Oksana Chusovitina of Germany winning the silver in the vault event finals. Chusovitina is now 33 years old, a virtual old-timer in a sport where the 20s are the norm for retiring. I find it incredibly amazing as well as her story of so much change and helping her son battle against leukemia.

Though I take nothing away from any of the Olympics medal winners--they've all worked hard, but I love hearing these types of stories of beating against the odds. I think it just gives a lot of inspiration to people.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

So what's in a name?

What's in a name really? It's kind of funny this topic can about since I recently read an article about how people decide on naming their dogs. According to Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon, a female Thai weightlifter, this was part of the difference in her winning the gold medal in the 53kg weight division. By the way, I have absolutely no clue how you say that name. I don't even want to attempt it. If she changed her name to this, I don't even want to think about what it was before that.

I first heard from my father (I don't watch weightlifting) that she had gone to a fortune teller who told her to change her name. She did, and then she won. This article from the New York Times doesn't say much other than she gave some credit for her victory to the fortune teller.

This got me thinking about the importance of names. In our society, we name many things--our kids, our pets, different brands of products, some of us even name inanimate objects like cars, houses, etc. Often times when we name things, there is meaning behind it. Maybe for a child, the name has personal significance or for a pet, that name just fits their personality.

Besides just distinguishing ourselves from this or that person, names also give us a sense of identity. I know for me, I view my name as both a curse and blessing. It's a common Asian name, and according to facebook, there are over 500 people also with this name. However, I think some of them are more a play on words than the actual name itself.

According to baby name specialist, Maryanna Korwitts,
" Of all the name components, the FIRST NAME is used independently with greatest regularity. Consequently, the first name has the most significant influence on a person's life and personality. Almost from the moment of birth, the first name vibration begins impacting perceptions, traits and talents. With time, the underlying frequency or vibration of the first name plays a major role in establishing an individual's relationship patterns and communication style."

It makes me wonder about different people who I know with the same name and whether there are similarities in their personalities. I don't know if this holds true, and I'm too lazy to really think about it. Still, it's an interesting concept. This concept also makes me wonder how my personality might have been affected if I had an entirely different name.

Then I wonder about the names not only that we are given at birth but the nicknames and names we and others call us. Are they positive or negative? Do they affect us? Is it simply just a name? I think they can be any of these things depending on how we look at them. I think descriptors can also be looked at as informal names as well. I'm sure there have been times when we've (or some might say their eating disorder) called ourselves fat, maybe weak, pathetic, lazy, "a pig," etc. In the end, I think calling ourselves this just perpetuates the cycle of abuse. And the goal or at least I hope is that each of us can recover and give ourselves compassion. It's not always an easy thing to do, but maybe it starts out with a simple name we give ourselves. Perhaps, this is what helped with the Thai weight lifter win the gold medal. Maybe whatever her name was before was something meaningless and the new name somehow made her feel better, more confident, stronger.

Now, I don't think we should all go changing our first names, but I do think the names and descriptors we give ourselves can play an important role in how we view ourselves. It may sound incredibly cheesy, but maybe it's worth a try?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Let's just be friends"

In my break from reading the Olympic news, I received an e-mail from DA. for those that remember, DA was the guy I met online who was supposed to meet me a few weeks ago. I posted about my excitement of meeting him and my disappointment when he cancelled.

After not hearing from him for a week, I shot him an e-mail, just asking what happened and if everything was okay now. A day later, he sent me a message back, sort of explaining why he didn't come. To be hones,t it sounded like cold feet. In the middle of the e-mail, he said those dreaded words,
"let's just be friends."
I swear I don't know who invented it, but it is the most lame, dumbest thing for a guy to say to a girl. (or vice versa too) I think it's the worst break up line ever, though I wouldn't necessarily say DA was breaking up with me (how could he, he hasn't even met me!) He just said how he felt that the distance was too difficult for him to deal with a serious relationship. This is, despite the fact we talked about distance and he said it wasn't a problem. Heck, he said he even had a long distance relationship with a girl who lived in Germany!

One of the other things that irked me about this was that three days later, he wound up visiting his friend in NC. The original plan had been for him to run his race, drive to meet me, and then go to NC. I mean am I chop liver or something?

I'm not really sure whether to be mad or disappointed in him or myself in the fact I got my hopes up for nothing. I'm feeling a bit stupid honestly for not really reading into this well and just falling for it all. I suppose friendship isn't a bad thing and of course should be a part of any serious relationship anyway. It's just that when you're looking for something else, "just friendship" feels like you're settling for less. :sigh:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Elite coaching and the concept of happiness

Sorry for the slew of gymnastics articles, I've just found a lot of different points that can be made pertaining to everything from body image to eating disorders to doping to coaching. And this last point is one I want to touch on, especially as the women's gymnastics team final airs tonight.

There have been a lot of articles about Shawn Johnson, a favorite, to win the all around title at these Games. Reading various articles, what I've found most interesting is her "unconventional" if you want to call it that coaching and her balance of life. Unlike many gymnasts, Johnson only practices 26 hours/week. She attends public school, went to her prom, hangs out with her friends, basically just living a "normal" teenage life. It's really quite refreshing to read something like this, especially in this sport that does have it's darker side. You can read the most recent account with Jennifer Sey in Chalked up.

The other aspect I've found a "novel" concept (and I'm being facetious here) is that her gym environment is actually happy. Imagine that in the world of elite gymnastics. Often times, the audience and tv viewers only get a glimpse of the coaches. Most times the coaches are shown happy, giving a lot of praise to their gymnasts. Bela Karolyi who was known as the top elite gymnastics coach in the US since Mary Lou (Comaneci before that, but he was still in Romania at that time), was often shown giving his gymnasts "Bear" hugs. Every Tv viewer probably thought he was gruff maybe but also had such a warm side with those hugs, praise, and jumping up and down joyously when his girls did well. Honestly, I think it was all for show and he was far from it behind closed doors. That's only my speculation from accounts I've read and people I've talked to.

However, with Johnson's coach, Liang Chow, and his wife, I just don't get that impression. Sure, he is smiling on camera and such, but there is just a nice sense of true warmth about him. He's not about calling out names or telling a gymnast how awful she is. For him, it's more about happiness. He says here, "The kids in the gym, they have to be enjoying themselves and so do the coaches. If you're enjoying yourself by creating this loving environment, everybody can do more - everybody can be happier."

The other thing Chow also told Johnson before the Olympic trials was "perform like a champion, don't be afraid to make mistakes." In a sport that's about perfection, that can be hard not to worry about. Johnson said in the article,

"I remember him telling me that, It is almost just a relief. You're just trying to please the person who has taught you eveyrthing; you want to show them that you can be just as perfect as they've trained you to be. You're afraid to make mistakes. You're afraid to let them down -- even though you wouldn't. For him to have told me that, that as long as I went out there and did my best and he knew I had done my best, no matter what happened, he would have been happy -- it made me have a lot more confidence in myself because I knew if I went out there and made mistakes it wouldn't be the end of the world."

I think in any athlete in any sport, it's an important message. Mistakes are really the only way we learn and grow albeit sports or in life in general. The fact that her coach doesn't get upset when she makes a mistake and illuminates a positive attitude, has been so helpful to her success. My belief is that it's all about balance. Working hard is a deifnte part of the recipe for any goal, but so is having the assurance that everything will be okay no matter whether you win or lose.

I'll be rooting for her as well as the rest of the team tonight.

Another way of cheating?

Doping is a big issue in sports worldwide. With the Games in session, it really comes to the limelight. There have already been a string of athletes charged with doping, including US swimmer Jessica Hardy who bowed out of the Olympics after testing positive for clenbuterol, a Spanish cyclist who tested positive for EPO, and seven Russian track and field athletes, some of whom were to compete in the Games, who illicitly substitued their urine for someone else's. There have also been eyebrows raised with several of the Chinese swimmers winning their heats in the 4x100 reloay, coming out of nowhere with exceptionally fast times.

Then, there is gymnastics. Though there was the Romanian gymnast, Andrea Raducan, who was stripped of her gold meal after testing positive for pseudoephedrine, a banned substance, which her coach had given her for a cold at the 2000 Olympics, normally, doping charges aren't in the conventional way in this sport. Instead, it's to do with falsifying ages. This is not new for the sport. In 1997, the age of eligibility to participate in the Olympics was raised to 16. Many felt it was for the safety of the girls. However, since then, some feel like it's only gotten worse, not better.

Currently, there is a huge debate about the Chinese women's gymnastics team with 3 out of the 6 appearing younger than 16 years of age. Supposedly, the team passports have been checked and all is okay. Hmmm. Just like eating disorders, this issue is a bit taboo, and especially in a host nation's country.

One outspoken person has been Bela Karolyi who feels like it is a slap in the face. He says it is obvious these girls are not the ages they say, especially when compared to the US gymnasts. These Chinese gymnasts are at least 3 inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter. That's a whole heck of a lot, though it is hard to say for sure whether it is age or malnourishment, unfortunately. And with China's record (as well as other totalitarian nations--Romania has confessed to falsifying ages of Gina Gogean and Alexandrea Marinescu in 2002), it really can't be put past them. Apparently, Yang Yun, one of the Chinese gymnasts who won in the Sydney Games was only 14 at the time.

So, the question is, is this another form of cheating? And if China has done this, what is the answer to alleviating the problem?

According to Bela and Martha Karolyi, age restrictions should be lifted. That way, as Martha Karolyi says, "it would even the playing field." However, Bela Karolyi points out that there would still be the issue of using young gymnasts as "pawns" to win.

However, in this New York Times article, the Italian women's gymnastics coach apparently has the answer, "create weight classes." In this same article, he also says how it could be suspected that the US gymnasts were doping since they were so much more muscular than his gymnasts.

Great, that's just the answer. We need more of them to think about body image issues as it is or to have coaches doping their girls in order to stay at a certain weight. I don't know the answer to this issue, but I can tell you right now, having weight classes will only cause more harm than good. We already have boxers, wrestlers, and horse jockeys (all sports where there are weight classes) self-harm themselves in order to make their weight classes, I don't think gymnastics needs to be included.



Rational thinking versus emotional thinking

We all have people who can get under our skin or know how to push the right buttons to set us off. It can get to our emotions, causing us upset, maybe even triggering episodes of self-harm behaviors. For me, one of them is my father. I've talked about it before, but here's just another example of it.

On Saturday, I had returned his phone call from earlier in the day. We talked about the Olympics and other general things going on in our lives. I got on the topic of talking about this one dog at the kennel. I was telling him how I felt really sad for her. This dog is old--probably 12-13 years old, has several medical issues, has a huge tumor which is benign on her lower abdomen that affects her gait, smells (probably infection and the "sick" dog odor), and has horrible mats since her owners do not brush her. I know her quality of life cannot be great since she is merely existing. However, the owners continue to let her live this way.

For many of us, we don't like to see animals suffer and will try to prevent that. I no doubt did the best I could while she was at the kennel to make sure she was comfortable (cut out many of her mats) and took good care of her. It's always hard when there is a case like this, because I really do worry about the dog dying on my watch. The owners were aware that this could possibly happen and we have them sign something ahead of time for liability purposes. It's only been very few times it has ever happened, but when it did, these dogs were elderly and in poor health.

I told my dad about all this, and how I wish I could say something to the owners, but that in my position, it was really not right. I'm not a good friend of the owners nor did they ask me for my opinion, I'm just a caretaker for their dogs. He couldn't understand this. He said how someone needed to stand up for the dog since she can't talk herself. He then accused me of saying it was all about money, and that I really didn't care. He was disappointed that I was not going to say anything to the owners other than how she did at the kennel. He suggested I talk to the owners about at least brushing this dog. I told him that this isn't a new issue, they've been clients for over 6 years now, and they just never brush their dogs. Then, he said how they should be banned from the kennel. Umm hello, if we banned every client who did not brush their dog, well, that would be more than half our clients, seriously. It's not something people think about unless they have a dog that needs to be groomed, their dog is massively "blowing coat," shedding, or their is something wrong with their fur or skin.

The thing is that the owners know she is ill. I know their vet has told her she is on her last legs. I'm sure they have a hard time letting go, only thinking with their emotions and probably hope that she will just pass away in her sleep. These issues are hard for everyone, and everyone is affected.

At the end of the conversation, my dad and I "agreed to disagree." He changed the subject to something else, but the tension remained, and we wound up quickly ending the phone call. Right after, I talked to one of my friends. She's met my dad and knows how he is. Something she said however was really important. She said, "do you see how your dad is only acting by his emotions?" I knew this logically, but just hadn't quite put it together since I was still wrapped up in my own emotions.

This may be just a simple reminder, but it's really important for me. When I was in the throes of the eating disorder, this type of conversation would have thrown me into a full fledged b/p episode, leaving myself probably even more upset than when it had happened. Then, I'd just "punish" myself for even disagreeing and having the argument with him, especially since I avoid confrontation at all costs. I essentially allowed these disagreements and fights to put me over the edge. I allowed them to affect me instead of looking at things rationally.

There's no doubt that there are times and places to think both rationally and emotionally. Some of us have a tendency to only think either rationally or emotionally, and we have to learn to be able to balance the two types of thoughts. For me, whenever I'm making tough decisions, my emotions get in the way. I know the elements of the decision which are logical in nature but often have a hard time choosing that over what my emotions are. My good friend reminds me that sometimes I need to eliminate the emotions and just look at the bare minimum. It's not an easy feat, but the more I am able to let myself do this, the better equipped I am at handling the situation.

Although this disagreement is tough (I hate disappointing people), I'm letting it go. I spoke to my mom briefly about it today, and apparently my dad had already discussed the conversation with her, just going on and on about it. Fine, he can do that, but I know I acted professionally and appropriately and did not let my emotions cloud my rationality.

Confidence is hard for me, but in this particular case, I'm confident I made the right decision.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Elite athletes and healthy eating

Eating disorders and disordered eating have recently been discussed in athletics. I've posted about it on here a number of times.. Although an eltie athlete's needs are different nutritionally than the average person, I think it's also important to showcase those who have "normal, healthy" eating habits.

Here are some brief interviews with Mary Lou Retton, Olympic gymnast in 1984, Apolo Anton Ohno, Olympic speedskater in 2002 and 2006, and Dara Torres, Olympic swimmer who now has won 10 Olympic medals.

Mary Lou's interview is here.

Apolo Anton Ohno is here.

Dara Torres is here.

Two other elite athlets in the sport of running also talk about healthy eating. With Kara Goucher who will be running the 5,000m and 10,000m in this Olympics, in this interview she discusses how she overcame disordered eating and now eats healthy, making sure she gets enough calories for her perfomances.

Jennifer Rhines never had an eating disorder but knew many of her fellow teammates that did. Her emphasis in this interview is that if an athlete wants to make it to the elite level, an athlete has to fuel his/her body appropriately. Otherwise, he/she won't last.

What I love about these athletes is that they do not count calories. Each eat healthily for their body, realizing food is fuel for their body, and if they want to do well, they must eat enough. The other aspect of these athletes is that they are not depriving themselves of "bad" food. They eat dessert, doritoes, m&ms, etc. It's all a balance.

I think it's just a good take away message. Sometimes it's easy to look at all the negatives, but it's important to remember the positives too and what we can learn from them.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Perceptions and our pets

I'm on a roll with thinking about body perceptions and how we perceive them. This next post is about how we view body image in our four-legged friends. Yes, I know this may sound odd, but again, I'm wondering if those of us with body image issues have a different ideal for our pets than the rest of the population. Are we able to distinguish between thin, normal, overweight, obese in our pets? Are we more vigilant about our pets' health even though we compromise our own? I'm seriously not trying to dumb anyone down, so I hope these questions aren't offensive. They really do have a point.

Recently, my boss loaned me her back issues of BARk magazine, a magazine of modern dog culture. It's actually a fairly interesting magazine with a wide variety of topics. In this 2006 issue, it discussed canine obesity and how it was mostly a human perception problem. According to this article, 34 percent of dogs are overweight but only 30 to 40 percent of their human caretakers realize it. This 2005 study about the prevalence and risk factors for obesity in dogs and cats (may have been the same one the article used) also said how vet practitioners commonly underreported animals who were overweight or obese.

So how are pets assessed for obesity? Well, since there isn't a BMI calculation, it becomes more individualistic.
At times, it is obvious to see the body condition of an animal and tell whether it is too thin or overweight. However, if there is a lot of fur, this can easily deceive the pet owner. The standard measurement is to check their bodies around the ribs. An ideal pet has a small layer of fat over the rib bones, however, the rib bones are sufficiently felt. Usually , a "waist" is also easily visible. Pets who on the thin side can have rib, spine, or hip bones easily felt since there is no fat. Pets who are overweight or obese, none of these can be felt without some pressure.

Like humans, there are various reasons why pets gain weight. Genetics of certain breeds, reproductive status (spayed and neutered), hormones, and their human/canine lifestyle (think lack of exercise for many companion animals) are all reasons for weight gain. In reality, it's quite amazing how much our four-legged friends resemble many of the same characteristics as humans, including similar diseases like diabetes type 1 and 2, cancer, hypothyroidism, Cushings's, disease, etc. In animals who are overweight or obese, problems such as osteoarthritis, respiratory, cardiovascular, and dermatological can occur. Some studies have also shown a correlation with high body fat mass and longevity in dogs. (AVMA collections of obesity)

As the reports of obesity in pets has risen over the years, new weight loss products have come onto the market. Slentrol which debuted in 2007 was the first to be approved by the FDA. The key mechanisms are reduced appetite and fat absorption. Though this is the only actual medication for dogs and obesity, there are other products labeled as "natural" to help your pet. lose weight. I'm sure, just like humans, there will be other drugs researched as well. Although I have not heard of gastric by-pass surgery for pets, there are people who have actually asked about it! It's kind of a scary thought.

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Now, that I've given some background information, let's look at human perception versus dog perception. Something funny that Dr. Marty Becker, a well known veterinarian, said in an article for The Whole Pet was,

"No pet is going to catch sight of himself in the mirror and see that hairy derriere and say 'That's it! No more Scooby snacks for me!' There is no canine bikini season, and they don't try to get into last year's jeans and find they don't fit."

Animals for the most part do not have an image problem like humans do.One question I've seen asked is if animals can be anorexic? Yes, anorexic in the medical sense of losing appetite. The nervosa part, however, is not obtainable.

In most cases in terms of eating, it's about survival. There's the line, "dogs eat to live not live to eat." For the most part, it's true, although sometimes I question it as some dog sand cats do appear to live to eat. For some if they could have as much food as they wanted sitting right in front of them, they would eat it in a heartbeat and not think about it or have "guilt-associated" feelings with it. For many, the time elapsed between eating too much and an actual ill event is too long to make an associative cause since they do not have a "conscience." Whenever I think about this, I am reminded of one of my own dogs who ate five pounds of chicken in a sitting or two pounds of organ meat in less than five minutes or the dog I knew who ate over a pound of candy, then suffered an allergic reaction, only to still eat its dinner twenty minutes later. All of them looked like they had a "guilty" feeling, but in reality, it was only because they didn't feel well, or they reacted to their human. In the case of my own dogs, I was pretty upset with them.

So where am I going with this? As I posed the question earlier about whether those of us with body image issues are more vigilant about our pets' health, do we perceive the same thing as the average, normal dog/cat owners? Are we different? Are we more sympathetic to an animal who may be underweight or overweight? I guess I'm asking these questions, because I think of myself and how I perceive my own dogs and the animals I have cared for over the years.

In the almost eight years now that I've worked in a kennel environment, there have been a variety of sizes, breeds, and ages that I've seen. Many have been normal weight, well taken care of, some underweight, and others overweight. In the cases where dogs were underweight and overweight, I do ask their owners whether they realize this (it's of course in a polite way) and how much food they are giving their dogs. Some owners do realize this, say they've tried getting them to lose weight/gain weight to no avail, others have tried different foods, and still others are truly oblivious to the problem or dare I say it, they will tell me their vet said the dog looked fine. I've seen it where you can practically count the number of vertebrae on the spine, or where there is no "waist" in a dog, and that is okay? I've often asked myself how a professional could not see that? But then again, I question my perception at times since my view tends to be skewed.

I remember another case of a dog who hadn't been boarded in three or so months. When she came, I was absolutely shocked at her appearance. This was a dog who normally was about five or so pounds overweight and supposed to be a show dog even though she was already six years old. The dog had probably lost a good twenty to twenty five pounds. She was so thin it aged her in that amount of time. Her face was sunken, her ribs and spine could be counted, and she was so cold, needing a sweater in the fall, typically the season most dogs enjoy. I did inquire about what happened, and the owners only said that she was being trained some place in FL, and that they were being more strict with her food, not giving table scraps and such. I told them my concern and thought she needed labs run. I honestly don't know whether they had the labs run or not. I do think that they maybe realized there really was a problem. Now, she is at the appropriate weight where she should be at which is a good thing.

Another case on the opposite spectrum is my dad's wife's dog. C. is a shih tzu-poo. He weighs in at something like 35 or so pounds. He is by standards way overweight. After realizing that the early influence of his weight was their own fault--many many treats were given, they cut back and gave healthier options. They also realized his weight was a problem when he could no longer enjoy long walks with them and his stamina was much lowered. They tried reducing his meals, they took him to an endocrinologist to have labs run as well as their vet. His thyroid was borderline, the Cushing's Test turned out negative, he had some liver problems, and he had arthritis in his knees. One specialist said he just had a "fat economic" gene, so he couldn't lose weight. They also tried swimming, but everything was to no avail and now they've just given up. Sure, he's a happy dog, but it is obvious he can't keep up with his two housemates.

Another case is with one my mom's dog who is a king charles cavalier spaniel. L. turn three this December I believe. Last year she had some knee issues. It turned out to be a luxating patella (kneecap moves in and out of place) which was more than likely genetic. The vet wanted to do surgery, but L. weighed in at somewhere between 22-25 pounds. She wasn't grossly overweight, but enough that the vet did not want to do surgery until she got her weight lower. He decided to put her on slentrol. The first few months, she didn't lose weight but probably gained instead. My mother said it was more due to the fact that she received so many treats. The treats were a way for her to stop barking at her dad when he wanted to play a computer game instead (similar to the kid who wants something, and in the end the parent gives in and gets them the item). L. also likes food a lot and will shove her way past the other 3 cavaliers to try to eat their share as well as intimidate one while she eats her food. An additional few months later, L. did lose some weight. My mom, however, said she was really wasn't sure whether it was the medication or just the fact that they had reduced her treat intake. She did notice that L. felt better, and they are now adding some exercise.

None of these people have eating disorders, though a few do have body image concerns, and one I'd say has BED. Still though, many didn't perceive their pets to have a problem whereas I noticed these things right away. Is it the fact I work with dogs everyday or that I'm more attuned to what a dog should look like? Or are my perceptions clouded by my own experiences?

I do remember one client who actually mentioned she had recovered from an eating disorder and had taken in a stray dog. She was concerned about her eating, saying she once knew what it felt like to starve and didn't want the poor dog to feel that. The dog was in no way overweight, but could it have been if her fear of not letting the dog starve got in the way of what was healthy for the dog?

I hope this post doesn't offend. It's just something I've thought about through my observations of dogs and their people. I think for the most part humans love their pets. There are countless things our four-legged companions do for us., but we, as their caretakers, do need to ensure their safety, health, and well being on all levels physically and emotionally.

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On a completely different note, this story recently surfaced with a man being charged on cruelty for allowing his dog to become obese.
Another case last week showed a cat, now dubbed "Prince Chunk" who was found homeless in NJ. (owner's house was being foreclosed) The cat is obese weighing just short of 2 pound on the Guiness Book of World records. The cat has been vet checked and is okay and will be adopted out. The sad thing is that so many people want to adopt the cat since seeing it on television, forgetting about all the other homeless pets out there that need a home.