How I Hokey Pokey

Feet in teal sandals pic

In my other life, I swam competitively or ran 6 miles most days.

Then, due to lupus and ankylosing spondylitis, I couldn’t breathe or walk for periods of time. Dressing myself seemed like running a marathon. So did using the restroom. I told God, at age 28, “Please take me if this is a preview of my future.”

One month I spent on the couch. I rolled off the floor and crawled down the hall to use the restroom. Every last thread of energy I used to complete the tasks involved in using the bathroom.

My future dreams included a triathlon. Not using every ounce of stamina to relieve myself.

Physicians and naturopaths tried many different approaches to treat the inflammation that ravaged my body, mind and soul.

I changed my diet as well.

After years of battling the beasts, sometimes I saw glimmers of hope. But often the darkness enveloped my life story.

Yes, I learned volumes from this journey. I’m a prayer warrior, and I learned to stop and breathe in the beauty of jasmine fragrance. I also divorced my drivenness. This go, go, go mentality of many Americans creates chaos of the soul. The drive shoots cortisol throughout our bodies, and stress pumps through our veins. And of course, that was me.

But nowadays – thanks to an injectable medication called Humira – I have part of my life back. I can sleep through the nights without waking all night long in pain. I can walk. I can dress myself. And I can breathe without having a frozen iced venti cup of water on my chest. (This works better than an ice pack, for some reason.)


Nowadays, every other Tuesday I inject myself. That’s my hokey pokey. As in, I poke myself with a needle that offers me two more weeks of a semi-normal life. (Sometimes I’m still exhausted, feeling as though I’ve been drugged. But that’s another story, and this happens on the sunny days. A part of lupus.)

And yes, I am quite aware of the side effects of this TNF blocker medication. I’m willing to take the risks. Because deep down, I’m an athlete. I love the wind caressing my hair on my pink kayak. (Below: pic with Werner kayak paddle.)

That. Is. Life. I feel the gratitude engulf my soul as I paddle among the seals and salmon.

And this is a piece of my heart that you may learn from:

Don’t share about your friend who died of lupus. Please don’t dance that song in front of anyone fighting any disease.


Oh, and also don’t share an approach you know will fix it. Because chances are – I’ve tried it. If you absolutely must share, please ask graciously first. To offer false hope is like piercing me with a broken piece of my life story.

Parking in a handicapped space when you don’t need to? I’m going to TP your house.

Why am I sharing this story?

So ribbons of gratitude weave their way through your own body image story.  Can you breathe today? Jump in gratitude. Can you walk? Rejoice.

Dance like a diva or dude to the music of gratitude.~




Do you have a hokey pokey body image story? Please share.

(*happy feet picture at the top shows my toes separated due to injections of cortisone from years ago. But who cares, right? 😉

The full story is in my book, Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit

The Only Woman in America with No Body Image Issues! ;) (humor)

Guess what?

There’s only 1 woman in the USA with no body image issues. (And no, it’s not me.)

Here is a short video clip:


There’s Only 1 Woman in America with No Body Image Issues!


Here’s her secret: (Short Video under 2 Minutes)

Let me know your thoughts.


Body Image and Men:The Man on the Chicken Diet


man at sunset nice

(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.


“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.


Copy (1) of IMG_0070.JPG

Body Image and Fat Talk

“I’m tired of the way women talk so much about food, diet and fitness issues,” Cindy said.  She sipped her chai tea Starbucks latte as she played with the wrapper from the straw.

“I know, ” I said. “Sometimes I wonder if women could go a whole week without talking about 


                                    workout plans,


fat grams, and


She glanced out the window at the pink snow from the cherry tree. 

“Why don’t women just get on with their lives instead of obsessing about their bodies? I really don’t get it.” 

We had just hiked one of the St. Edward’s Park trails down to Lake Washington.  The Seattle sun smiled on us and people laughed and told stories as dogs, kids, and trail runners met and then passed us. 

“I think the windfall of media poisons our thinking, causing us to compare ourselves to photoshopped and airbrushed images.  And since we see over 250,000 ads by the age of seventeen, we’re drowning in a tsunami of lies.”  I ignored the beep my phone made to signal I’d received a text message.  “It leads to a lot of comparing and coveting; wishing we had bodies that are not actually real.”

“That’s true,”  Cindy said.  She reached into her backpack to find her phone.  “This whole business of coveting can drive us to despair.  When we compare and covet something someone else has – like an image in a magazine that has been photoshopped- we buy into the lies of the Body Image Bandit. I heard a clip of Cindy Crawford saying, ‘I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.’ She was talking about how the pictures of her in magazines don’t resemble her because of all the photoshopping.” 

“Wow.  That’s unbelievable,”  I said.  I noticed two kayaks paddling down on the waterfront.  “Hey, want to go kayaking on Saturday?” 

“Sure.  Sounds fun.  Let’s see if we can go on the Hood Canal to check out the seals you’ve been telling me about.”  She got up and put her cup in the recycle bin.  “I’m going to write a challenge to my Facebook friends to go a week in their real lives without talking about diets, sizes, workouts, and foods.  I bet they’ll have better weeks because they won’t get into negative thinking patterns.”

“That sounds interesting,” I said.  “Can’t wait to hear how it goes.  See you Saturday.” 

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17

Body Image and Humor: Woman vs. Kitty

Meow.. by Motor-Head

Great news!  I just learned that chocolate has superb anti-aging properties.  I read a short article about this while waiting for my kitty’s appointment.  If I keep drinking mochas at the same rate, I should reclaim my 29th birthday by Labor Day! I guess I will keep feeding the chocolate monster within.  Maybe I should get back into the habit of making chocolate chip cookie dough.  I used to mix it up every few weeks, but hardly any of it made it into the oven because it would take a detour and end up in my tummy.  Then it would immediately slide down due to gravity, but for some reason the gravity would stop kicking in when the cookie dough got to my rear end.  Weird, huh?

While I had this delectable news about chocolate on my mind, the vet assistant called us in.  Prissy, my kitty, had to get her booster shots.  It’s still hard to believe I have a cat because I thought of myself as a dog-only type of person.  But my husband kept wanting a kitty, so what could I say?  She is very loving most of the time, very low-maintenance, and makes an excellent heating pad.

So when Prissy and I got called for her appointment, they weighed her in. The last time we did this, the vet scolded me because she had plumped up to eighteen pounds.  He said he was concerned about her health at that weight, so asked me to cut back on her food.  Let me tell you, Prissy got nasty and angry.  Even worse than me when I used to believe in diets and was irritable because I felt so deprived.  She spent a lot of time hanging out by the pantry door where the cat food is kept, making noises like she was in labor of birthing sixteen kittens.  So I cut her back very gradually, a little each week.  Today we got the good news that she has lost a little over two pounds.  The vet  now wants her to lose about two more pounds, then she will be at her so-called “ideal weight.”

The advantage that Prissy has over you and me is she has no psychological hang-ups about her weight.  She doesn’t compare herself with other kitties, thinking, “Is that cat’s butt bigger or smaller than mine?” Or, “When I turn so you can see my profile, do I look like a pregnant mongoose?”  She has no concerns about her appearance because she is preoccupied with more important things like pouncing on our dog or looking for bugs on the ceiling. I have seen no evidence that she obsesses about her waist or the appearance of any other body parts. She doesn’t care about her size or shape, but is more concerned about keeping herself clean. Oh, to be a kitty!

What kind of freedom would you have if you were more like Prissy?  I don’t mean having claws and a mousie toy, but  what if you could be totally without knowledge or concern about your appearance? Maybe that gives you shudders, and you picture yourself as a sloth rolling out of bed with bad breath, putting on a little pit juice (deodorant), and going about your day.  Your hair is uncombed and your clothes are wrinkled, but you don’t really care. You’re on a mission to hunt down breakfast – and the bigger, the better.If you are like the majority of teen girls and women, you frequently compare your body with other people.  Many – not all, but many – of those you compare yourself with – have eating disorders that you can’t see.

Other times women and girls compare themselves with the pictures they see in magazines and usually get depressed because they feel they don’t measure up.  We have already discussed the statistics on this, which reveals that females feel bad about themselves the more they look at magazines.  So why torture yourself with magazine-induced depression?

 by Chelsea3883I am Beautiful, by Chelsea Panos

And so I say it again – let’s have a beauty/fashion/celebrity magazine recycling party. Imagine this: You get together all of your friends and their friends as well. Each person brings all of her beauty magazines, all of her fashion magazines, and all of her celebrity magazines. Each person adds her magazines to the pile. A microphone is provided where anyone can talk about what the magazines have done to their hearts. You may want to have a cake to celebrate the day that you decided to give the Body Image Power a kick in the rear-end.

Maybe you could even find a speaker to discuss all the ways you can kick the Body Image Bandit out of your life.I rarely look at such magazines.  I really don’t need that kind of negative influence in my thinking.  I am reminded of the passage in Philippians 4:8, although it was not written with body image issues in mind, Paul attests:  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, think about such things.”

It is not healthy to stuff our feelings, as I often tell my clients.  In fact I tell them that stuffing is for turkeys and teddy bears, and they are neither one! Neither are you. So it is important to get your feelings out in a safe venue, perhaps with a trusted friend who is not shaming or even on paper because paper doesn’t judge.  (If you are concerned about someone finding it, no worries because you can type it and then delete it.  Believe it or not, the act of the purging your feelings is what is important.)  King David called out to God again and again, and often expressed his feelings.  Had he been born today, he would have received just about every diagnosis in the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders.

Even though it is healthy to express your feelings to safe people. That is why I like to express my feelings with friends or on paper and to God, and then focus on the positive : …”whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.”

Focusing on other peoples’ bodies and shaming ourselves for our own looks is not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable.  In fact, it is false (when we look at magazines which are photoshopped and airbrushed), shaming, wrong, and despicable.  It brings us down and is another form of “stinkin’ thinkin’” as Al-Anon and the 12-step programs say.

You will notice that Scripture does not say, “Look at the woman (or teenager) in front of you in line at the store. Notice if her thighs, waist, bust, ankles, and/or fanny is bigger or smaller than yours. Then mope around for the next four months because you feel fat and ugly compared to her.”  Thank goodness it doesn’t say that!  We are not supposed to compare ourselves to the world’s standards, because we are actually citizens of heaven.  That is why Scripture emphasizes, “Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7b). 

How I wish we could saturate the hearts and minds of girls and women with this profound truth.  You probably noticed the verse says nothing about evaluating ourselves on the basis of our body fat percentage, or on the shapeliness of our figures.  What a sigh of relief.  Since we’ve seen over 250,000 ads by the age of seventeen, we may not be able to completely erase their effects from our minds and be like a kitty.  But with practice of stopping negative thinking and focusing on more pleasant thoughts, we can reclaim the plunder of the Body Image Bandit. Like this story? There are many more funny stories in my book. Tooshie:Defeating the Body Image Bandit 

Exercise of Cat 03 by J i J y

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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How to Improve Your Daughter’s Body Image

A few years ago, I spoke on Seattle’s KOMO 1000 radio for a two-minute sound byte on how parents can improve their daughter’s body image.  It is replayed frequently, and here is the short clip. I would like to add that women often score higher on depression inventories when they have looked at beauty and fashion magazines in the prior ten minutes.  This should take less than three minutes to listen to.

Related post:

7 Ways to Protect Your Daughter (or Son) from Eating Disorders: