Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Anti-junk food law in Korea

As most of us know, reports of obesity in children have risen worldwide, and it seems more and more countries are placing stipulations on foods, especially "junk" foods. In 2006, there was a big push to eliminate sodas from schools in the US.

A year later, Korea followed suit with similar measures in banning sodas in schools. And now, according to
KoreaBeat , the blog for Korean news in English translation, an anti-junk food law went into effect 21 days ago. The purpose of the law is to prevent the selling of high calorie, low nutrition "junk" food, like sodas, hamburgers, and ice cream sold near schools. The government hopes this will help children to curb their "junk" food eating habits. Unfortunately, this has backfired since the nutrition regulations are not very standardized and have been delayed for some food items, causing much confusion within the vendors.

According to one middle school girl whose school ejected vendors last year, there has not been change in students snacking habits between meals. Another girl said there was an increase in students bringing instant ramen noodles from home or just buying sodas and snacks at a convenience store.

I find this interesting since you really don't hear much about what other countries are doing to stymie the "obesity" epidemic in their countries. It seems everywhere, the same notion is implied--junk food is bad, soda is bad, greasy foods are bad, sugar is bad, fat is bad, etc. This just breeds children who will begin to fear everything, and that is not a healthy view to give. I wonder if Korea and other countries will follow suit with posting calories on menus like several cities in the US (UK has as well) have or propose an "obesity" tax on non-diet sodas, or ban trans fats, etc.

In the end, I don't know how much any of these measures really solve the overall problem. This is not to say that some of these efforts aren't made with good intentions, it's just that they do not seem to be properly thought through, creating many other problems to occur.

Note:--*It's a bit ironic, but a small study suggests that junk food make make kids fatter but happier
*Removing sodas in schools was stickier than thought in some places.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Raising ED-free children

In this press release, Dr. Stacy of Every Woman Had an Eating Disorder, lists concrete ways parents can help develop positive body image and healthy eating in children. I won't type out the entire list, you can go to the link above for that. What I do like about what Dr. Stacy says is that even if you do all the things right, your child can still develop an eating disorder. (hint biochemistry here and cultural pressure) She says:

"What is most important is that parents need to recognize the signs and trust their instincts. Oftentimes, parents ignore early signs because they feel that this problem would be a bad reflection of their parenting and love for their child. If parents witness the signs and jump in early, they can get their child off a dangerous path. It can be a matter of life or death."

I think this is so true. I'll use myself as an example here. When I first began the wrath of an eating disorder, less than a year later (somewhere between 8-12 months, I can't remember the exact time), it was me who reached out to my mother, saying I really needed to see a doctor in an e-mail no less. She obliged my request. I saw a Dr., was honest, and then headed to see a therapist. Even though I acknowledged the problem and was uncertain of really getting better, the problem was at least out there. Later, my mother would tell me she suspected a problem but never said anything. Why, I don't know. It's such a touchy subject to broach, and even when it is, the likelihood of a teenager (or any eating disordered person of any age) giving a truthful answer is pretty bleak.

After awhile in therapy and leaking my guts out, talk of inpatient was mentioned. I was against this but a part of me knew it could have turned me around too. Essentially, my dad guilt-tripped me out of it (it would take all my savings, and only you can get better if you really want it), and thus, I never went. I don't blame my parents or anything for my eventual demise of ED hell for another 10+ years, but I do think had there been more push for intensive treatment at that particular time, (and this is of course not to say that inpatient would have cured me) just maybe my ED descent would not have lasted so long.

All those what ifs. That's all they are now. I rarely think about it honestly, knowing the past can't be changed. For now, I can only live in the moment and make choices for today.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

When swimming is hard...

I took this photo today of a carpenter bee in the water bucket. It was quite sad really. There it was just flailing around in the water. I don't know much about carpenter bees and whether they behaviorally go towards water for a deeper meaning than just "taking a drink," but in my anthropomorphic mind, I like to think this was all it was doing. But then, it fell into the bucket and helplessly swam around and around in circles, unable to fly out. After some time, it got tired and could no longer flap its wispy wings. Its poor eventual demise was death, just floating on top of the water.

So what does this have to do with this post?

At my last therapy session, I told C. I had been entertaining thoughts of sliding towards ED behaviors. Restriction is always there in the back of my mind, but purging hasn't been on my radar for quite a significant amount of time. Like the carpenter bee with water, I feel like taking a "sip" of anorexia or bulimia. However, at the same time, I know just a "sip" of it is all it takes to spiral out of control.

So where do I stand? I don't know honestly. Part of me knows that, falling back into ED hell is futile, but another part of me wonders if it is just self sabotage--a way of saying "see you can't even do recovery right, you'll never be recovered." :sigh:

I know logically the best option is to swim, fighting all the currents along the way. It just feels so hard.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blog writing and the connection of emotions

Some of you know that I've been working on some trauma-related issues in therapy (read here, here, and here). Currently, I'm on exercises five and six of this CBT approach my therapist and I are using. In the last two exercises, the assignments were to write in detail a traumatic incident, focusing on sensory perceptions, like sight, sound, and smell, as well as the feelings you felt. At first, I procrastinated the assignments (okay, still have a tendency to), but I find that once I make myself write, the words easily flow to the page.

During each session, I am supposed to read aloud my account. I think in some ways this causes me more anxiety than the actual writing bit. The first time I did this, I was incredibly nervous and read through it like some maniac in a speed reading contest. C. noticed this and asked if I could reread it and try to "feel" the emotions. The second time around, I still didn't really "feel" the emotions, but apparently, it must have affected me more than I thought. Right after I left, I had what I call mini panic attacks. It's not the first time this has happened when broaching this subject, and it will unlikely be the last.

At this last session, I knew I would have to read aloud what I had written. I had already warned C. that I didn't remember a lot of sensory type details, only the facts of what happened. After listening, C. said she felt like she was listening to a story. In essence that it really wasn't me, my story. This is very typical "dissociation"-like behavior that many of us do when we are hurt or something is too painful to cope with/discuss. And I'm certainly not immune to it. Even in the past, various specialists have told me that I talk about the ED in a third person-esque tone, despite using "I" statements. So obviously, I'm pretty good at this technique, albeit it is not the best at times.

Then, C. posed a theory, saying "I wonder if this could be related to your blog writing--that you're so used to that type of writing you aren't fully able to connect with the emotions."

In some ways, this could be a possibility. When I blog (though it is ultimately for myself), I am well aware that I am writing to an audience. Even though I talk about my feelings and emotions, there is still a kind of guardrail. This is improvement from a ten-foot tall wall which would have surrounded me years ago, but the guardrail continues to leave an element of distance, of protection of sorts. Sometimes, I wish I could be like other bloggers and be raw, intense, thought provocative, really displaying my emotions. I'm not saying that I haven't at times, because I'm sure if I look back through the archives, there are some that tug at the core. Most times, I think it is more due to insecurities, but that is a post for another day.

C. thinks that maybe we should drop the writing a bit and try to "talk," that maybe that way I could feel more of the emotions. While this is true, this does lend to feeling more emotions in a sense, it also is very hard for me to talk about (10+ years of never really talking about it). The last time I tried, I went into a dissociation state, almost shutting down in therapy and then reverted to a bad ED cycle of restriction and what felt like effortless running.

So I don't know what to tell C. I'm really not sure how to completely "let go" if you want to call it that. Maybe dealing with this crap
trauma issues is just not for me. Maybe I'll never really be able to be in a full, complete, intimate relationship with another human being. Or then, there is the theory that maybe I'm just unwilling to push the envelope, too scared to see what is inside.

Curious do any of you feel like blog writing deters you from connecting with your emotions, or does it do the opposite and enhance it? Or has it not changed a thing?

Note:--*image is from Garden State Highway Products, a company who supplies traffic signs and safety products. I liked this image since it shows a guardrail around a dangerous curve, something I can metaphorically speak of.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Draconian measures

In a recent conversation this weekend with my mother, I was bitching discussing to her about the edriving course I was taking to reduce the points off my driver's license. You can read about the ticket on speeding here.

There were a few things that did not make sense to me. One was the letter I received in the mail, stating how I'd been "ordered" to go to traffic school. Uhh, no, this was my own choosing. Secondly, it said how I needed to complete the classroom course/online course/watch the dvd in 30 days or else I'd be liable to a suspension of license. The 30 day limit confused me further, because it never clarified from when. The options could be time of when the ticket was, time when the ticket was paid, or time from enrollment/date of registering online. It kind of stresses me out, so I feel like I need to get it done quickly since my 30 days is close.

But that's the thing. Why am I really fretting about this? I mean I paid my ticket and all. I'm not some criminal who has multiple traffic violations or tickets. My mother agreed with me, and then said, "yes, this seems a bit draconian, doesn't it?" Brilliant word which conveyed my feelings exactly.

This also got me thinking about the word Draconian. For those of you who remember your Greek history, Draco was the one chosen to draw up the first set of laws for Athens in 621 BC. This was the time Greece was building its democracy and the citizens wanted concrete, specific laws rather than just oral rules.

Well, apparently, 'ole Draco decided to codify strict, harsh, unreasonable laws. Draco felt that punishment by death was warranted for even minor offenses like stealing cabbage! Thus, the word "draconian" became adopted in the English language when describing law or government as extremely cruel or severe.
I guess we all could say we are not happy to have lived during that time. But what about in our mind?

Thinking about draconian (though not in the legal sense) reminds me of dieters and those with eating disorders. How many times have we punished ourselves for the smallest of infractions? We eat X piece of food or X amount of calories, and then punish ourselves through restricting/purging/overexercising to somehow "make up" for our misdeeds. Or we do not live up to or adhere to some expectation we feel we must and then wind up berating ourselves. The list could go on and on. Doesn't all this seem excessively cruel? So why do we do it? Why do we feel we must be draconian with ourselves? In the end, what does it really accomplish?

Like the citizens of Athens, they realized they could not live under Draco's Law and eventually appointed Solon to redefine the laws. How come we don't do the same thing and have an uprising of our own draconian laws we place among ourselves? Something to think about. Perhaps, it's all a part of recovery?

Note--*Originally, I thought state traffic school would be easy, like just a four hour session in the classroom or online. Wrong! In the online version, there are 6 units with 3-4 sections, each having 6-8 parts. To me, it seems excessive. I wonder about those people who may fail but really are capable drivers.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Horrible headline

A headline from Reuters reads: Stay slim to save the planet.

The brief article goes on to say how overweight people eat and travel by car more frequently, therefore are further contributing to the worsening environment.

According to British researchers, Phil Edwards and Ian Roberts who published a study on this in the International Journal of Epidemiology,
"We need to be doing a lot more to reverse the global trend toward fatness, and recognize it as a key factor in the battle to reduce (carbon) emissions and slow climate change."

While I agree we all need to be doing things, like driving less (and yes even thin people do drive a lot) to save the planet, playing the blame game is not necessary nor cool in my opinion. I hate when articles pull this kind of crap.

Anyway, if you are interested in saving the environment (think early Earth Day post), here is a list of 50 simple things to do to stop global warming and a global warming survival guide from Time.

Note: *some of these are repetitious but still good reads

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The perfection model of binge eating

Most of us know about the correlations between perfectionism and anorexia and bulimia, however, a new study is looking at binge eating. Simon Sherry, a graduate student at the University of Dalhousie, recently published a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, explaining the perfectionism model of binge eating. (PMOBE) "According to the PMOBE, perfectionism confers vulnerability to binge eating by generating encounters with and by magnifying responses to specific triggers of binge eating: namely, perceived discrepancies, low self-esteem, depressive affect, and dietary restraint." (from Sherry's dissertation of PMOBE)

To test this theory, 566 undergraduates completed a web-based structured daily diary for 7 days. Results indicated that individuals who had socially prescribed perfectionism (SPP), a type of perfectionism when one feels others are evaluating them critically, were more at risk for binge eating through triggers versus those who had self oriented perfectionism (SOP), perfectionism where one is self critical. It is also noted that perfectionism in general harbored exposure to binge eating triggers, however, it was not of the same magnitude. More specific information on the study can be read at the above link (all 259 pages!)

The significance of this study is that it shows a wider variation of perfectionists other than the typical anorexic which has been revealed through much literature. Although this study makes sense, at the same time, I don't think a lot of people would guess perfectionism, especially the SPP type, would be associated with binge eating. These researchers hope that this will result in better care, assessment, and treatment to help perfectionists with disordered eating.

Other information at: Binge eating: when perfection unravels
Perfectionism in women with binge eating disorder

Friday, April 17, 2009

Witnessing cruelty in people

I went out for a short run this evening. Apparently, my legs were not too happy about it since I decided for whatever reason to do lunges around the perimeter of my yard last night. At the time, this seemed like a good idea, and I felt energized. However, today was another story. I thought perhaps a short run would help with the lactic acid buildup. Think I was wrong again.

Anyway, I ran into a group of five dogs. I've seen them before--one is an older border collie mix, and the other four are chihuahuas and mini dachshunds. Before this, they had Boston Terriers. I have no clue what happened them. This wasn't the first day they decided to follow me I didn't realize two of them were tagging along until I physically looked back and saw them right at my heels. These are friendly dogs, so I was not worried, however, I do know their owner or at least the person who I saw last time doesn't want them to leave the property. Last time, I asked them why they were out in 30 degree weather, and all she said was "so they could enjoy the sunshine." Hmm.

I stopped, walked back up the hill towards their house as they continued following me. Then, I heard this guy saying, "[insert dog's name] get back here now, you know better, get up here." This was not in a nice happy tone but rather yelling. And meanwhile, he was holding a small limb! When they were close enough, he would use the limb to whack them up the road. Honestly, I was sort of shocked and felt incredibly sad for these dogs. I don't know the rest of their situation, but I was thinking, "Buddy, this is surely not the way to get your dogs to come to you."

What is wrong with people? Next time, I'll just pick up the dogs and bring them to their house, so he can't whack them. Needless to say, the rest of my run felt pretty pointless.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Building a life instead of rehashing the past?

I recently read an interesting blog post on the treatment of borderline personality disorder at Many people with BPD have had childhood trauma, and this is where therapy usually begins. The patient and clinician delve into whatever traumas they may have faced, what happened, how they felt, etc. Sound similar to eating disorders, eh?

In a new book titled
Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder –A Guide to Evidence-Based Practice by Joel Paris, a researcher and professor at McGill University, he offers a different viewpoint. In studying various forms of theories and controlled trials of psychotherapy of BPD, Paris concludes that the most effective BPD treatments all have one commonality. He says:

They focus on the present, and on the current issues a person is dealing with. According to Joel Paris, people with BPD don’t get better by uncovering memories and rehashing the past, but by using the past as a context for understanding the present. This includes validating and acknowledging a person’s life history, and then putting it behind them. What sets successful therapies for BPD apart is that, in one way or another, they teach people how to tolerate painful feelings and to how experience difficult emotions without acting upon them in self-destructive ways.

He goes on to say that how a person with BPD needs to give a commitment to making a life for themselves. The goal is to work on building a life worth living, while putting the past into perspective and learning skills to tolerate intense emotions. Building a life for oneself is by no means an easy task. It includes developing goals for the future, finding work, and building relationships...The trick is to diversify one’s interests, and to try to retrieve satisfaction and pleasure from a range of different activities, relationships, and emotional investments.

Much of what Paris proposes has similar connotations with DBT therapy, but I still think it needs to be heard more. So often in eating disorder treatment, it seems the clinicians want to focus too much on the past and not enough on the present. While I certainly think delving into the past is one integral part of therapy, it doesn't need to be rehashed but more than once or twice unless it is causing a complete detriment to the present. All the past does is offer context and understanding for the who we are and how we came to be. Once we learn that, it really is time to let go, move on, and live in the present. After all, the past cannot be changed, but you do hold the power to change your own future.

Note--*I'm currently working on one past issue which has plagued me for awhile, but I'm hoping after that to not revisit the past. More can be learned at post Revealing secrets

Monday, April 13, 2009

Adventures in spontaneity update

As much as I like plans and predictability in my life, after having moments like I had this weekend, I am reminded how we all need a little spontaneity. Sometimes, things turn out way better than anticipated, and if you had turned down the opportunity for [insert whatever crapola excuse], you might have regretted it.

Saturday started out with meeting K. whom I hadn't seen since last October at the dog conference and her new dog. She wanted him to meet me as well as see the kennel before his boarding. It went well overall, and we both think he will be okay for his boarding which will also include his three other housemates. K. and I also talked a lot about work, my life, etc. It's comforting to know that she tries to look out after me and wants to see me happy. My parents and friends do too of course, it's just different since she understands my situation well. We're hoping to meet again in May and have lunch or dinner.

Saturday evening I met with H. who was visiting her sister. H. and I used to carpool together for gymnastics and also attended the same middle and high school. We stayed in touch a little in college but for the most past lost contact until I found her on facebook not too long ago. When she said she was in town, I really wanted to go meet her, but there was still that nagging sense of change of routine. So Tiptoe had to do some of that 'ole positive self-talk, you know the kind they always talk about in therapy. I took a deep breath and said "let's meet at P.F. Chang's."

I got there about ten minutes before H. The restaurant was packed but the waiting time was not too bad. H. saw me first and walked over and hugged me. I honestly didn't recognize her. Her hair was shorter with a blonde streak. Her body was curvier, and she looked mega tall in those heels. Then, she said she wanted me to meet someone. Apparently, it was her French roommate, C. This I had not expected. It's not that I don't mind meeting new people, but eating in front of strange people is awkward for me.

I noticed from the get go that C. was very gregarious (I'll get to that case in point at the end). Apparently, C. also loves shoes and shopping, so we headed to a few nearby stores as we waited for our table. H. and I just talked, trying to catch up on ten years' worth of our lives.

After we got our table, we all chatted about various topics. I learned H. had lived in a variety of places, including currently Paris which is where she met C. She will be back in the states for law school this fall, however. We talked a lot about high school, our families, our experiences, etc. It really only scratched the surface, but it was enough to tell me how I'd like to keep in touch with H. better.

A few things that stood out to me was how we had both changed but stayed the same too. There is always such a difference from knowing someone in just middle and high school and then not seeing them through their college years. Many do mature through that time. I think this was the nice thing with H. It wasn't the high school H., but the young woman who has experienced, traveled, fallen in love, and just simply grew up. Sometimes I can see it better in people than myself. Sometimes I think having been mature beyond my years was a detriment, kind of like there wasn't room for that much more growth, because I was already there.

The dinner I had was great. I had a Sichuan in the sea which was a seafood combo of shrimp, scallops, and calamari. If you've ever had general tso's chicken, it was like that texture but very spicy. I wound up only eating half of it and deciding to get a box. I quickly learned from both H. and C. that you never do that in France. That made me rethink things, but then I said, "well, it's too good to leave." They both agreed as well.

The two of them decided to head to a bar/club which we found the waiter very informative for. He was actually a cute fella but very young at only 21. I kind of laughed at the places he recommended which were all the college age/scene. I decided to head home as bars and clubs are not my thing. They were cool with that. However, right before we left (and this is the part I mean where C. is very gregarious), C. insisted on taking photos in front of the big P.F. Change horse (I believe all the restaurants have one) with her camera phone. H. took one of her, then one of H. and me. Then, she asked some older random dude (kind of sketchy) what time the mall closed. He didn't know but said he wanted a photo with her. He wound up taking a photo of all three of us and C. took one of H, me, and the dude. As he drove away, he just honked and waved and was all giddy. I guess that is just NOT something I would have done. I'm sure it will be on one of their facebook pages when they get home.

So that was my adventure for the night. I was highly overstimulated from all the "social-ness", but I seemed to be okay the next day. The other reason why these events were meaningful was that early in the week I was a bit down. Several friends who live nearby, I had wanted to get together with. One, I know has issues going on but just never seems around. The other always says she is working and doesn't appear to make much of an effort. Both of these people are not great phone callers either, not that I'm a phone person either but I do like to check in every few weeks or so to see how they are doing. It did however make me rethink how I need to expand my social circle which is always a hard thing for me. Sometimes I think people who live out of state make more of an effort to get together versus those who live close by and take it for granted. Or maybe those are the people I just know. :sigh:

And lastly, I should mention that H. did not comment once about my figure. There was no "you are thinner" comments or "you have lost so much weight." Both of these are truly not true, just a weight distribution phenomena. I only mention this because in past posts I have talked about people mentioning my body size and how it aggravates me to pieces. Maybe H. did notice but she never said anything, so I'm just grateful for that.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

So as the tradition goes to "dress" up the dogs for at least one holiday photo, Easter gets its fair share.

From all of us (Baxter, Tovah, Hank, and Daphne), we all wish you a wonderful holiday however you may celebrate it.

Full set here

Note--*None of the ears are left on long. These ears were pretty floppy (need to get new ones), so I had to readjust them many times.
*Tovah did learn to pick up the basket for one of her graduation tricks, but she doesn't hold it long enough for a photo, hence the reason why Baxter is holding the basket with plastic Easter eggs.

*If you look through the full set, there is one really funny photo of Baxter standing in front of the Easter basket. He gives me the most scornful look.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Deciding on spontaneity

I checked my e-mail tonight and received a message from an old friend who I recently reconnected with through facebook. Apparently, she is visiting her sister and is about an hour away from me. She wants to get together this weekend.

Normally, I'd probably say no since this is a spontaneous event. Spontaneity = change in routine, change in foods, finagling schedules, something that causes the ED to uproar and the anxiety to elevate. However, I haven't seen this person in ten years and would really like to see her. Therefore, I'm going to make a strong effort to see her. This is despite feeling and looking like crap (aka fat), having a several pimples on my face, and bloated from the wonders of womanhood.

If all pans out, I will post an update.

I should also mention this isn't the only spontaneous event as a friend is coming down with her new dog to meet me and visit the kennel. So it looks like this weekend is full of spontaneity and getting taxes done.

Lesson of the day

Warning: Tooting a horn tonight

Tonight was graduation day for the puppy class which Tovah attended. There is awlays a fear that your dog will decide to embarrass you on graduation day. I've seen it happen many times before, even with my own dogs. I wasn't sure what would happen with Tovah but hoped as long as I remained calm and did not get stressed, she'd do well. She surpassed my expectations, performed all three of her tricks, and did beautiful down maintains (stay) with many distractions. I could not be more proud of her. At such a young age, 5 1/2 months, she has grown leaps and bounds and will only improve as she learns more.

Lesson of the day: Never underestimate your dog nor yourself.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The irony of math

As I read this recent study on college students and mathematical anxiety, it reminded me of me. Growing up, math grew to be my least favorite subject. Whether it was due to disliking the subject or because it wound up becoming my weakest, is hard to say. I think my worst fear was being called up to the blackboard to calculate a problem and being WRONG. Sometimes I was, sometimes I wasn't, but whatever happened, I never gained any confidence in math.

Then, in college, I took a calculus course my freshman year. I barely passed. It was my worst grade in college and significantly dropped my GPA. I had to work incredibly hard to bring it back up. In retrospect, I know I should have retaken the class with a different professor, but both my pride and hatred of math stopped me at the time. After that, I really developed a phobia to math and now the thought of taking any standardized test in that subject just nauseates me.

What I find incredibly ironic about all this is how math has become an essential part of my life the last 13 years via the eating disorder. Hasn't this been the case for many of us despite whether you may consider yourself a "sciencey" person or an "artsy" person?

The problems like" if Jane is X height, and her brother, Jeff, is 4 inches taller, and Jane's friend Sarah is two inches shorter than Jane, how tall is Sarah," are no longer relevant. Instead, it's "if I eat X amount of calories in this food, and Y number in this food, then I need to exercise this amount to burn X + Y amount. And if I don't make that amount, then I need to subtract X calories of food for tomorrow."

Does this sound familiar?

We all know weights, calories, sizes, repetitions, etc. are all numbers. But did we ever think of it as math (though our bodies do not necessarily work on a linear system)? I guess it feels so juxtaposing to me since I have such a dislike for the subject.

The other thing thing is that if you look at a description of mathematical anxiety, it says (according to the article above),
"Mathematical anxiety appears through a series of symptoms "such as tension, nervousness, concern, worry, edginess, impatience, confusion, fear and mental block" when dealing with the subject of mathematics."

Anyone see else how the substitution for "eating disorder around food" could be found in that description?
Do other people see the irony in this? Are there other math phobic people out there who also gravitate towards numbers?

Monday, April 6, 2009

New website for men with eating disorders

In this press release, a new website Men Get Eating Disorders Too has launched. This is the first website known to be exclusively devoted to men with eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating, binge eating disorder, compulsive overexercising, and "bigorexia."

The website is similar to something-fishy with general information, news, treatment, and message boards. It's not as extensive but it is in its early stages, so I'm sure more information will be added in the future.

I think this could be very helpful for this population since there has been a rise in eating disorders in recent years, according to a Harvard study in 2007. Many men feel isolated both in general with their eating disorder as well as in a treatment center which is normally filled with women. It's important that they have a place to reach out and have support, so hopefully this website will fill part of that void.

Note--*Interesting study of male Finnish twins and the incidence of eating disorders

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Booty can have style

Earlier in the week, I went grocery shopping. It was a pretty mundane shopping day, so I didn't have too much anxiety.

Anyway, I was in the produce section, specifically deciding on whether to buy asparagus that looked decent and was $1 cheaper than usual. As I was deciding, a woman came up in her cart, debating the same question. I stepped aside and decided to grab a few zucchinis while she
took some asparagus.

And then, suddenly, something caught my eye. It was similar to the picture above. All I could see was what looked like two butt cheeks sitting in the front part of the cart but with no legs or torso or head for that matter. I took a double look and finally saw the strap which concluded that it was a handbag.

Please tell me I am not the only person who knew these things existed. Seriously, I had never seen one before.
My first thought of this was how bizarre. However, I began thinking about it some more and then thought:

This would be such a cool thing to do to those skinny jeans a lot of us still hold on to
It's like a way of reinventing but with style. Instead of wearing these jeans around our waists, berating our selves, they can be worn as an accessory!

So what do you think? Cool or not?
Note--*images by handbagblues
*For all those seamstresses out there, if you're interested in making your own blue jeans handbag, ehow offers directions.
how to make blue jean handbags

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Debate on Britain's Next Top Model

I admit one of my guilty indulgences is catching a rerun of America's Next Top Model every so often. I'm truly not triggered by it, it's just the cattiness of it all that I find super funny. I don't know exactly how ANTM works, but I know on other reality shows, there's a lot they do to make sure audiences stay glued to the tube, like making sure contestants have easy access to alcohol, are deprived of sleep, and hear circulating rumors.

Reality shows also like to have a bit of controversy to spark audiences. Well, it looks like in the next cycle of Britain's Next Top Model, airing later this month, there will surely be some debate. Apparently, one of the contestants (Jade) is anorexic. According to the UK's The Sun, Jade has been anorexic since the age of 8. Now, at 21, she is receiving treatment (some through the show) and has gained weight, though still underweight for her height.

This is all good and well, but I think there is an ethical issue. Should someone with anorexia be permitted to be on a show, promoting modeling? Even Jade herself asks this question:
"Do I deserve to be here as I’m promoting an unhealthy image? But then I was determined to make myself happy. And it’s helped me put on weight...I never wanted my weight to be an issue. I came into the show with literally zero confidence and I’ve got so much more."

Again, this is superb that the show has helped. However, what I don't understand is why she could not have finished treatment or been in more recovery, then allowed on the show. Perhaps, this show thought it would be helpful for audiences to see what someone who is being treated for anorexia has to go through, but still, there is a cost to the contestant with that. Maybe the show thought this would help deter the size zero debate in modeling in that models did need to gain weight to book some jobs.

Whatever the reasoning, the bottom line is that it is a reality series where having a problem, a good back story, an eccentric/cool personality are part of the casting calls half the time. Case in point with The Real World auditions where "weight issues could be welcomed again this time," according to the producer. In the end, it just becomes about drama and ratings.

What's your opinion? Is this ethical? Does this harm the contestant? Does this make you want to watch the show?

Note--*This reminds me of Jamie Lynn-Sigler when she got the part of Meadow on the show The Sopranos. However, from what I remember reading, I'm pretty sure casting directors were surprised at her gaunt appearance from anorexia as she was not at the point of the audition. She did receive treatment and says she is recovered now.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Egg rolls!

After many weeks of craving egg rolls, I finally succumbed to making them. They came out good but I have made better, though that's by my judgment only. Others would probably tell me they tasted fabulous. Hmph, such the critic I am.

It's funny, egg rolls and I have quite a long history. I learned making them a number of years ago through an Asian cooking class offered in my small town where I grew up. This was very surprising since there were very few Asians. I know the lady taught us three different dishes, but I only remember the egg rolls. After understanding how to make them, I experimented with different ingredients.

Then, I made egg rolls ALL the time--at family gatherings, at holidays, for various people, for school events, even for a college class where I taught the class how to make them. Yes, imagine me (a petite 5'1 1/2) lugging an electric wok, my backpack, and whatever else was needed that day for class. Quite the haul I may add!

I'm debating what to do with them. The last few years I've made them, I ate a few, and then gave the rest away or froze them for when my parents came to visit. In reality, this was 1) fear of eating them all, 2) craving them for a moment, then not really wanting them which reverts back to #1, and 3) making others happy (most people really enjoyed these egg rolls and easily finished them off in a few days)

Guess I need to make a decision. Hey, anyone want me to send them one? Just kidding. They would not mail/ship well unless completely frozen anyway. ;-)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Vegetarianism and eating disorder risk

AP photo from the LA Times

First off, I find this photo absolutely hilarious! I know it is for promoting vegetarianism, but those vegetable costume cut outs are just incredibly silly. It kind of reminds me of PETA's sexy lettuce ladies who also are known for similar antics as mentioned here in the Philippines.

The story about vegetarianism and eating disorders is also found in the Daily Mail and ABC News, both of which add more details than the LA Times piece.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association looked at a self-reported survey of 2,516 young adults aged 15-23 about their eating behaviors, weight, and lifestyle. They found vegetarians on the whole ate healthier and had healthier weights than their meat-eating counterparts. However, of the former and current vegetarians, they reported they were twice as likely to use unhealthy measures to control their weight such as diet pills, laxatives, and purging than their non-vegetarian peers. About 20% of current vegetarians also reported binge eating and a feeling of loss of control.

Several questions the researchers asked were:

Does lack of meat in the diet make people more likely to binge?
Are people with a susceptibility to eating disorders attracted to vegetarianism in their teen years?

Whatever the answers are to these questions, the more important question to ask is what the motivations are for choosing a vegetarian lifestyle. This is a cue to parents to take interest in their child's answer, and if it is for weight loss, a red flag should be alerted. However, at the same time, many teens also answer that going vegetarian is about "health." This is when it can get tricky as the "health" scheme can become a guise for an already existing eating disorder or a pre-emptive eating disorder in conveniently restricting.

Sometimes I feel vegetarianism gets a bad rap in thinking that vegetarianism and eating disorders go hand in hand, but at the same time, I can ascertain why it's a big deal too. In the end, it comes down to personal choices. Hopefully, those choices will be ones that reflect true health, mindset, and beliefs and not just to determine a number on the scale..

Note: *Two related posts by bloggers Carrie (Vegetarianism and eating disorders) and Kim (Going vegetarian?)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gym observations

Awhile back, I posted on "why I don't do gyms," at least in the classical sense of being what I'd call a "gym" rat. I'd rather be outdoors most days exercising than stuck in a gym. In that post, I talked about a specific thin, older woman I saw there. Well, a few days ago, I saw her again. It seems I only see her on one particular day, but that is probably more likely due to our schedules than anything else. For all I know she could be there everyday.

As I entered the fitness room, I kind of cringed when I saw her. At least this time, there was an available elliptical versus having to use a treadmill right beside her like last time. For the most part, I focused on my own workout and didn't pay that much attention to her except in the mirror every so often. I know at one point she left, but then 20 or so minutes later, she was back and continued her treadmill walking. Then, she went to some of the weight machines. She looked incredibly tired, just kind of sitting there all hunched over.

Then, right before she left, she checked herself on the scale. The bottom knob did not move. It was what I expected honestly. I wondered what was going through her mind that moment. Was there a relief that she had not gained weight or remained stable? Was there disappointment for gaining weight or perhaps not gaining weight either. I think the latter is doubtful as she looks just the same four months ago, and if she was trying to gain weight, I'd think there would be some difference.

I don't know her story, so of course I have no right to judge. It's just a simple observation. I find whenever I'm there, I have a tendency to observe a lot of people. This fitness center is family oriented, so I see all shapes and sizes. I notice a variety of things--how long they are there, what machines they tend to use, how they look exercising (are they tired or energized), whether they step on the scale, etc. I'm actually surprised by the latter and just how many people I see weight themselves, both young and old.

And then I wonder as much as I observe other people, how many are watching me?

Note: *The blogger She in China has very funny observations about the gyms in China.seen here and here