Next Month, You’ll Eat Everything but the TV ;)

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Face it. Dieting almost ALWAYS leads to losing – then gaining back – all the weight you’ve lost – plus MORE. A meta-analysis from UCLA showed that almost 100% of dieters end up gaining weight over the long-haul. (Scientific American, April 5, 2007)

So yes, you’ll be eating everything not nailed down within a month, right? (Isn’t there a crow bar in your garage?) And the TV might not be safe, either. After all, who knows if a bottle of chocololate sauce might make it taste better.

Learn from a licensed therapist why our dysfunctional relationship with food and body image stem much more from our stories than most people realize. The truth is – your personal life story creates the chaos of the soul which results in a Big Mac Attack.

  

As a former competitive swimmer and frequent runner, I learned a lifetime of truths about body image when illness robbed me of my ability to walk. At the apex of my journey with lupus and ankylosing spondylitis, I couldn’t walk one step. I rolled off the couch and crawled down the hall to use the restroom.

During those tragic times, I would have given anything to regain my ability to walk. I thought about all the time I’d wasted obsessing about my body, and wished I could regain every last second.

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Nowadays, I’m able to walk and breathe (I’m addicted to breathing, what can I say?) without trouble most days, and am so utterly grateful. I’ve enjoyed speaking on radio shows and at conferences about my story, the underlying roots of food/body image issues, and how people can set themselves free from the lies of the Body Image Bandit.

So before you eat your TV, read my book that explains how your heart and life story intersect as a catalyst for a positive or negative body image. This week only, the kindle version is on sale for $.99.

My hope for you in 2017 is that you learn to work on the roots of your issues, and that you kiss dieting goodbye.

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Chasing after health is one thing, and of course this is an honorable goal. But you know dieting virtually always leads to gaining the weight back. Plus more. So learn how to work on the true underlying causes.

Happy New Year. Do the dance differently in 2017. You’re worth it. ~

Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit

(Click on blue link to download.)

Kindle version on sale for $.99 the first week of January, 2017.

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Legless in Seattle


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I have nothing against legs. Really, I don’t. In fact I have a pair myself.

But here’s the deal. Imagine a culture in which women wear dresses everywhere. So 1950’s. Right?

Except on most TV news stations. Just about all of them. The photography angles emphasize the legs. Yet we like to call ourselves a modern society. The media would love to say they choose female newscasters – dare I say sex symbols – for their superb communication skills. And most seem smart.

 

But you know what? The women are always positioned so the audience can see their legs, front and center. Some have positioned their brilliant women anchors under glass tables. Glass tables! Glass ceilings we have heard of. But really – to purchase glass tables so the audience can see their legs is….

Disturbing.

Sexist.

So yesterday.

And so insulting.

Yes, I get how people are wired, and their thought processes, and of course how this is all about ratings and sales and savvy.

Yet still…do you want your daughter – your wife, girlfriend or even female pet – for that matter – believing their worth is all about their….

Drum roll, please –

Legs?!

It’s enough to make me want to throw a fried chicken leg at you.

But maybe I’ll buy a classy pair of pants and send them to your station. After all, there’s a time and a place to be sexy. But the news?! Really, have some class.

Sincerely,

Legless in Seattle

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Body Image and Men:The Man on the Chicken Diet

 

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(NOTE:  All characters in this blog and book are fictitious. )

I wasn’t sure I had heard him right.  A physician came into counseling to get help with anxiety and depression, and told me during one of our first sessions that he was going on a chicken diet.

“A chicken diet?”  I asked.

“Yeah.  I think chicken is the perfect food, in lots of ways.  If I eat mostly chicken and drink water, then I can lose some of this.”  He grabbed a glob of excess fat around his belly.  Although he could afford to lose a few pounds, Ben definitely was not obese.  He looked as though he had once been athletic, and wore a crisp blue shirt that brought attention to his blue eyes.  Crossing his legs, Ben  placed a few stray strands of his dark hair behind his ear.

I asked if he was kidding or not.  I had taken a number of nutrition classes in college, and this chicken and water diet did not sound balanced, especially for a physician.  Maybe there was more to it.

“Nope.  I’ve already done a lot of research on it, and I know I can get down to my goal in two months at the normal recommended 2 pounds a week pace.   I’ll have chicken for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and I’ll drop the weight like a woman with PMS drops her boyfriends.”  We both laughed.

“So you’ll have chicken shakes for breakfast, baked chicken nuggets for lunch, and a slab of chicken breast for dinner?”  I smiled, thankful it was not me that would be on the chicken diet.  I like chicken, but just can’t imagine eating it all by itself for even one day, let alone three months.  Chocolate – sure. But chicken?  Never.

Ben started to unknowingly pick up and set down his empty Starbucks cup repeatedly, so I could tell he was anxious.  Even though he probably felt nervous because he had never been to counseling before, he seemed especially anxious talking about his magical chicken diet because he knew I would have questions.  And of course he was right.

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“It’s gonna be so great – I’ll drop that extra weight, and then I can wear cool, manly clothes.  Then the women will be really into me.”  He smiled and looked out the window as though he had found the answer to all of life’s problems. The Great Fix.  The Magical Cure.

“So then you’ll have the perfect life, huh?”  I asked.  I had heard different versions of this magical thinking many times before.  Countless women in their twenties and thirties – and sometimes women in their forties and fifties – told me that when they got “skinny,” they would start to buy cute clothes.

I usually asked them why they wouldn’t buy cute clothes until they were skinny, but they usually scrunched up their noses and thought it was absurd.  In fact, many people use the word “skinny” as a magical word.  They get so excited about their little pet word, their mouths automatically form into broad smiles when saying it.

Once they are “skinny,” their lives will suddenly become supremely enjoyable, but not one minute before.   They realize cute clothes are available in larger sizes now, but they have no interest in spending money on them until they were – drum roll please – skinny.

The magical thinking never stops.  Once they get skinny, they can get a fun wardrobe.  Then guys will want to date them, and that will help them to get a boyfriend.  Not just any boyfriend, but a perfect- or almost perfect boyfriend, which would open the golden door to the Perfect Life.

Once the door opened, they got the successful and cute boyfriend, then had the perfect wedding, and then bought a beautiful home.  Finally they had children, and as long as they stay skinny, their lives will be flawless, dreamy, and perfect.  Because of course their marriages and children would be perfect!

Magical thinking comes in many different flavors:  Once I get a college degree, life will be perfect.  Or once I get married, life will be perfect.  Or once I have a house or a larger house, life will be perfect.

Or a very popular version:  Once I move to _______, life will be perfect.  The interesting part of the last one is that if the person lives in the Pacific Northwest, they want to move to Hawaii or somewhere warm.

(Yet the same people would often complain like men with their wives at the mall if the weather got too hot in the summer for them.)  If the person lives in Hawaii, he believes that moving to the Mainland will be the answer to life’s problems. 

When I lived in southern California and people found out I was originally from Washington state, they often said, “Why would you ever leave such a beautiful state?”

Because of the popularity of the statement, “If I move to ______, life will be perfect (or much improved),” many 12-step recovery programs call it “the geographical cure” as a sarcastic joke.   This kind of thinking is labeled as another type of “stinkin’ thinkin’ “.

Often people think that if they get their child or spouse to move to _____ to “get a fresh start,” they are going to be different and make better choices.  But it almost never works because everywhere you go, there you are. 

That means you will still have your personality, your likes, dislikes, and your style of relating (personality).  We will continue to attract the same kinds of people for friends and romantic interests unless we change.

So once again I found myself talking to a man with a mission to change his whole world – this time through the chicken diet.  That was definitely one I had not heard of.  “Will you eat anything besides chicken, or just chicken?”  I asked.

He bent his elbow, locked his hands, and placed them in back of his head, which often happens when men (and sometimes women) are feeling out of control. “Well, I’ll eat mostly chicken, and take a supplement liquid diet to get some more nutrients, with maybe a salad or piece of fruit once in a while.”

He began to lightly bounce his leg, which told me he was quite anxious.  Ben felt uncomfortable talking about this because he probably was beginning to wonder if the chicken diet really would make his life a trip to Disneyland.

“I want to lose weight fast so I can lose it all before summer.  Then I can get a gorgeous girlfriend and we can enjoy ourselves kayaking and hiking and stuff.  I mean she has to be smart too and funny and all, but anyway then I can have an awesome summer.”

“Do you think people usually keep weight off when they lose it quickly on a diet?”

He laughed, but it was a nervous laugh and not a funny laugh.  “Well, usually diets don’t work anyway.  But research shows that the slower you lose weight, the longer you usually keep it off.”

We both laughed because we realized that he was about to contradict his own beliefs by going on a diet.  And not just any diet – a chicken diet.

“So are you telling me that you don’t really believe in what you are about to do?” I asked.

He started to rub the part of the couch where his hand had been resting, which is another sign of anxiety.

“Yeah, I guess so.”  He looked at the floor and then out the window.

“When did you first start to gain weight?”  I asked.  The all-important question that most naturopaths, physicians, and nutritionists never ask.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Body Image and the Fearless Foursome: Dieting and Bingeing

Dieting has become a rite of passage for teen girls.  I challenge you to find a teenaged girl who hasn’t tried dieting.  Sometimes the dieters lose weight, and other times they don’t.  Either way, they often hurl themselves onto a path of life-long roller-coaster dieting.  Whether the first attempt ends in success or failure, it likely gives them a taste where they long for more.  If they lose weight, they become believers, and if not, they profess to try again and again until they get it “right”.

Just when they begin to feel sure-footed from the triumph of dieting, the ground shifts beneath them, bumping them onto the merry-go-round of self-contempt.   They feel completely deprived, and begin to crave what they’ve started to call bad foods.  This turns them into eating machines.  The hunger wells up within them like a hurricane ready to ravage everything in its path.  They crave  fatty foods and sweet foods and salty foods.  Hunger consumes them.  Food, food, food, is on their minds a great majority of their waking hours and sometimes in their dreams as well.  They’ve opened the floodgates of eternal hunger and will never be the same.  They crave foods they love, as well as foods that they did not used to like before they felt deprived from dieting.

They now feel insatiably starved, which leads to the first all-out binge.  The binge fools their hearts into happiness, but only briefly.  This leads to a free-fall into the shaft of despair and depression, with waves of guilt and shame knocking them into the heart of hopelessness.  Around and around they spin on the merry-go-round of self-contempt, dizzy and depressed from a level of hopelessness they never knew possible.

Research shows the majority of people who lose weight by dieting usually gain it all back, plus more.  So what’s the answer?  Stay tuned for more.

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Body Image: Dieting, Bingeing, and Self-Contempt

 Food to Eat to Lose Weight

Dieting has become a rite of passage for teen girls.  I challenge you to find a teenaged girl who hasn’t tried dieting.  Sometimes the dieters lose weight, and other times they don’t. 

Either way, they often hurl themselves onto a path of life-long roller-coaster dieting.  Whether the first attempt ends in success or failure, it likely gives them a taste where they long for more.  If they lose weight, they become believers, and if not, they profess to try again and again until they get it “right”.

Just when they begin to feel sure-footed from the triumph of dieting, the ground shifts beneath them, bumping them onto the merry-go-round of self-contempt.

They feel completely deprived, and begin to crave what they’ve started to call bad foods.  This turns them into eating machines.  The hunger wells up within them like a hurricane ready to ravage everything in its path.  They crave  fatty foods and sweet foods and salty foods.

Hunger consumes them.  Food, food, food, is on their minds a great majority of their waking hours and sometimes in their dreams as well.  They’ve opened the floodgates of eternal hunger and will never be the same.

They crave foods they love, as well as foods that they did not used to like before they felt deprived from dieting.

They now feel insatiably starved, which leads to the first all-out binge.  The binge fools their hearts into happiness, but only briefly.  This leads to a free-fall into the shaft of despair and depression, with waves of guilt and shame knocking them into the heart of hopelessness.

Around and around they spin on the merry-go-round of self-contempt, dizzy and depressed from a level of hopelessness they never knew possible.

Research shows the majority of people who lose weight by dieting usually gain it all back, plus more.  So what’s the answer?  Stay tuned for more.

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Body Image and Size: My Life Will be Perfect when I’m a Size ___ (Yeah, right!)

Want to be Skinny

(Note:  All names and identifying information throughout my blog have been changed to protect individuals.)

I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right.  A physician came in for help with anxiety and depression, and told me during one of our sessions he was going on a chicken diet.

“A chicken diet?”  I asked.

“Yeah.  Chicken is the perfect food.

If I eat mostly chicken and drink water, I can lose some of this.”  He grabbed some excess fat around his middle.

“I’ve researched it, and I can hit my goal in three months at the normal recommended 2 pounds a week pace.   I’ll have chicken for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and I’ll drop the extra weight.  Then I can wear cool, manly clothes.  And the best part is women will be really into me.”

He smiled and looked out the window as though he’d discovered the answer to all life’s problems.

“So then you’ll have a perfect life?”  I asked.  I’ve heard this magical thinking from many people.  Countless women mentioned that when they became “skinny,” they would buy cute clothes.  I usually asked why they couldn’t buy them now, but they generally scrunched up their noses and thought that was crazy.  They insisted they had to wait until they were “skinny” to buy fun clothes.

In fact, many people use the word “skinny” as a magical word.  Once they are “skinny,” their lives will become enjoyable, but not one minute sooner.   They realized they can find attractive  clothes in larger sizes now, but had no interest until they were – drum roll please – skinny.

The magical thinking continues: Once they get skinny, they can dress better.  Then guys will want to date them, which will lead to a perfect  boyfriend, which will open the golden door to the perfect life.  Once the door opens, they get the successful, attractive boyfriend, the perfect wedding, and then buy a beautiful home.

Finally they have children, and as long as they stayed skinny, their lives will be flawless, dreamy, and perfect.  So goes the beast of

Magical thinking comes in many flavors:  Once I get a college degree, life will be perfect.  Or once I get married, life will be perfect.  Or once I have a house or a larger house, life will be perfect.  Or a very popular version:  Once I move to _______, life will be perfect.  But the truth is, once we rid ourselves of such magical thinking, we will be much more comfortable in our own skin. Life won’t be perfect this side of glory, but once we can rid ourselves of magical thinking, we will be much more at peace.

© Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC and Reclaiming the Plunder of the Body Image Bandit, 2007 – 2017. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA,  LMHC appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Body Image and Your Scale: Does it Own You, or Do You Own It?

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Scary Scale [ Explored:) ] by Chelsea3883

Photo by Chelsea Panos

How much power have you given your scale?

Many people let the numbers dictate whether they have a good day or bad day.  They feel like it owns them, and they give it a lot of power in their lives.

Over the past several years counseling women, I’ve encountered many who give their scales that much power.   Other women have sadly expressed their mothers did this, and it had a profound effect on their growing up years. 

If their mothers weighed in at a lower number, they displayed more of a fun, upbeat side.  But if the cloud of weight gain (even a pound or two) hung in the air, the house felt tense and their moms acted depressed.

Eating disorder programs often recommend that patients get rid of their scales.  Specialists in the field realize that many of their clients have an obsession with weighing themselves, often stepping on their scale many times each day.

Experts believe people can tell whether they are gaining or losing weight by the way their clothes fit.  Besides, weight varies throughout the day, week, and month anyway.

How long will you continue to let your scale cause you to have bad days, weeks, and months?  Can you honestly say that you never let the number on the scale  – the magic number– influence how you treat people?

You may want to discuss this with safe people whom you trust to give you honest feedback.

If you don’t have the courage to put your scale away long-term, consider a therapeutic separation. That means taking a break, putting it on a cruise to Tahiti or the attic for a while.

My hope and prayer is that you re-think your relationship with your scale and begin asking the tough question:  Do you own it, or does it own you?

TRY THIS:  Write a letter to your scale.  Tell it how you’ve given it too much power in your life (i.e. letting it dictate on many days whether you have a good day or a bad day).  Describe in detail how you are tired of the feeling that it owns you.  You may even want to give it a name, and suggest that it go away for a period of time.

© Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC and Fannies:  Reflections on Cookie Dough, Life, and Your Derriere and Fannies:  Reclaiming the Plunder of the Body Image Bandit, 2007 – 2047. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC and Fannies:  Reflections on Cookie Dough, Life, and Your Derriere with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Body Image and the Perfect Size

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img_1771I finally began to understand that dieting becomes an undertow like the momentum of the ocean when it decides to roll out another glorious wave.  First it gets psyched up by gathering thousands of gallons of water.  Once it has collected bountiful rows of water, the wave curls upon itself and throws the water back to shore with magnificent power.

The same holds true with dieting.  You invest a great deal of time and energy into counting calories or carbohydrates and studying information about food.  On a Monday you start the diet that is going to make you “skinny” and have the perfect life.  So you pork out until you’ve almost outgrown all of your jeans because you’re a free woman or man until Monday.  Then on Monday your all-or-nothing thinking kicks into turbo mode and you have a “good” (perfect or close to perfect) dieting day.  You think you’re on your way to skinnihood, and you will have the perfect life because of your new skinny body.

But by Thursday or Friday, the cravings build up until you crave and eat everything not nailed down.  You pack your gut with all the foods you craved.  The binge is a violent experience in which you shove the food in like an abandoned dog that hasn’t eaten in a week.  You do this either alone or with one or more of your dieting buddies who have also bought into the cultural lie:  “If I am skinny, I will have the perfect life.”  Once again, you are scared that if you don’t stop this pattern, your weight will double and you will grow sad and lonely.

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And so you hop back on the diet train, but all you can think about is food and the tiny jeans you will buy.  Once again, your brain gets saturated with thoughts about food, fat, and rearends.   You go to stores, restaurants, your cupboards, and graze your way through Costco again and again until they figure out you’ve devoured all the samples and kick your rear end out.

Body Image and Dieting: Diet is a Four-Letter Word

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During my sophomore year of high school, I decided I needed to lose five to ten pounds.  Dieting was the only solution, or so I thought.  I was an athlete, so I felt the only other thing I needed to do was go on a diet.  Now that is an interesting phrase, because if you go on a diet, you imply you will eventually go off.

I mentioned to my dad that I was going on a diet, and he said it was a bad idea.  First, he didn’t think I was fat.  Secondly, he thought if I wanted to lose a few pounds I should just “cut back a little.”  I looked at him as if he had three heads.  “Dad, are you serious?!”  I asked.  I continued to educate him.  “Everyone knows that doesn’t work.”  I shook my head in disbelief, wondering how he could be so naive on such an important subject.  He certainly needed to spend more time reading Seventeen Magazine!

Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he’d learned in seven years.”  I could certainly relate to Twain’s comment once I realized years later that my first diet had launched me onto the escalator of the Ferocious Foursome.  I don’t remember what kind of a diet I went on, but I do remember the intense cravings caused by the dieting.  So I went from the first floor of the Ferocious Foursome, dieting, to the second floor of the Ferocious Foursome, which is binging.

The cravings started a millisecond after I decided to diet. I hadn’t even began the official “diet” when the mammoth cravings began.  I decided mid-week to start the following Monday.  You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?  Apparently there is an unofficial eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt start dieting on Monday.”  Simply telling myself that I would begin dieting started to unleash craving monster within. Thinking I would never eat yummy foods again led to an all-out binge, which I had rarely (if ever) experienced before deciding to begin my first diet.

Even when I wasn’t bingeing, I began to eat more than my normal quantities of food.  First of all, I had no rules about eating before my diet started.   I ate what I wanted when I wanted, and since I loved to exercise, I’d never been overweight more than a few pounds.  But once I drowned myself in teen magazines promoting lookism, I began to think of myself as flawed because I was born with a muscular body type and loved sports.   It was clear that I was never meant to look like a catwalk model.  God had created me to be athletic and curvy.   Once I opened the golden door of Dieting, I realized it was actually made of plywood and covered with gold foil.  It led to another door called Bingeing, which led back to the golden tin foil door of Dieting.  Inside the drab room of nothingness called Dieting, I saw the Ferocious Foursome of Dieting, Bingeing, Overexercising, and Purging.  It was enough to make me dizzy.  Where would I turn next?

Body Image and Diets: Rethinking Resolutions and Dieting

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Many Americans will begin another year with a resolution to lose weight.  Most will start out with a bang, but then fizzle out like New Year’s Eve fireworks.

The majority will lose weight, but only a small percentage will keep it off.  Most will gain it all back, plus more.  They will then jump again onto the merry-go-round of dieting, which always leads to the feeling of deprivation.  This usually leads to a binge, which causes shame and despair.  Then the cycle continues and the person hops back on the dieting bandwagon.

The cycle continues until they understand the truth:  Food and body image issues are much more about our hearts and stories than about calories and exercise.  Granted, a calorie is a calorie, and exercise is pivotal (unless it becomes an addiction, which happens to many people).

But food/body image issues (including eating disorders, although they are much more complex than this) are issues of the heart.

This trap of dieting, bingeing, dieting, and bingeing is a vicious cycle.  Sometimes it includes purging and/or over-exercising (which is a relatively common addiction in which people look great on the outside but feel like a 90-year-olds due to all the wear and tear on their bodies).

More recently, research has poured in showing a strong correlation between binge eating, purging, and binge drinking.  The cycle of dieting, bingeing, dieting, bingeing repeatedly is hard on the body, mind, and soul.  And considering that less than 1% of the people who lose weight will keep it off, why not deal with the roots of the problem?

If you are a professional dieter, you probably know so much about dieting you could write a book on it.  But the problem is you have missed the major piece of the puzzle.  I know I’ve already said it, but I want to shout it from the Space Needle:F

Food, weight, and body image issues are much more about our hearts and our stories than about calories, carbs, and exercise.  If you continue to concentrate on the symptoms instead of the causes, it is like putting gas in a car that has a hole in the gas tank.  You will be successful, but only for a while.  This blog (and book, which is almost complete) addresses the underlying issues so that you will have a greater chance of beating the Body Image Bandit. 

Make this the year to address the underlying issues so that you can become the person you were meant to be.

My hope and prayer is that you continue on the journey of changing your heart, working on the causes of your food issues instead