Jun

11

By Kate Daigle

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Categories: acceptance, body love, eating disorder recovery, healing, inner hunger, inner voice, intuition, metaphor in recovery

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The Labyrinth of Recovery: An Ancient and Mysterious Archetype in “Eating in the Light of the Moon”

“In surrendering to the winding path, the soul finds wholeness.”

Charles Gilchrist labyrinth

As I embark upon research and reading for my presentation at Friday’s Conscious Living Book Club event, I have come across the metaphor of the labyrinth.  This metaphor is truly speaking to me at this moment.  In Eating in the Light of the Moon, by Anita Johnston, PhD, the symbol of the labyrinth highlights each of the chapters as Dr. Johnston explores how metaphors, stories, and fables can describe our relationships with food and can help us understand and heal from disordered patterns of eating and experiencing our bodies.

“The labyrinth walk is a request to nature for harmony.”

A labyrinth is a pathway that loops back repeatedly upon itself, reaches the center, and then winds its way back out again.  It’s different from a maze in that there are no barriers, false turns, or dead ends.  You cannot do anything wrong.  There’s only one path to the labyrinth, and you have no choice but to follow it.  The labyrinth is typically in the form of a circle, with a meandering but purposeful path, from the edge to the center and back out again.  On the spiritual journey we meet fellow travelers, obstacles and unexpected turns. The labyrinth walk is a process meditation that seems to suspend time as well as judgment and invites us to embody our experience in a completely new way.

Many see the labyrinth as a symbol of the journey of life, death, and rebirth and our journey through life.  In recovery from disordered eating or from any other type of addictive behavior, says Dr. Johnston, the journey requires you to follow a twisting, turning, winding path to your center.  You must leave behind perceptions of yourself that you have adopted from others and you must reclaim your own inner authority.

On your path, listen to your inner voice and allow it to offer guidance and support as you search for true thoughts, feelings, and desires.  Let go of linear expectation of progress, disengage the rational mind, embrace the power of emotion and intuition.  When you are able to do this, you can find freedom from behaviors and compulsions that have seemed to be holding you hostage, and your inner voice can guide you to nourish the TRUE hunger that you are feeling.

labyrinth_bloom_landmark_images_with_permissionOne of the cool things that I love about the labyrinth is that you can actually, physically, take this walk.  There are hundreds of labyrinths dotting our earth, many ancient and naturally born.  They have been healing tools for us for thousands of years!

As you wander the maze either literally or figuratively, imagine that you are wandering to the true center of yourself, you inner voice, your pure soul.  However, when you get to the center, when you find the essence of who you truly are, this is not the end of your journey — your task then becomes to find your way back out again and exit the labyrinth, and as you do so, integrate this new vision or understanding of yourself with a new way of being in the world.  This is the most pure definition of eating disorder recovery.

A mentor of mine uses the labyrinth concept regularly with the clients she helps, and envisions someday creating a real labyrinth for them to follow as they are working through healing issues in their own lives.  She had the idea that as they wandered through the labyrinth they could share all of the worries, anxieties, doubts, or negative self talk that plague them every day, and offer space to these feelings.  But once they reach the center and turn to find their way back out, they will come up against these feelings again on the path and this time they must offer them compassion, hope, and grace.  This exercise allows our FULL experience to be accepted and all feelings we might have, but as we integrate a new worldview on our way out of the labyrinth (or on our way in recovery) we can show ourselves that we are able to fully experience joy, peace, and love as well as the “negative” feelings.

Tell me:

  • How do you think the labyrinth could be a rich tool for eating disorder recovery?
  • How could it help you heal parts of yourself and discover what you are TRULY hungry for?
  • How does the metaphor of the labyrinth fit in with your own life journey and soul searching?
  • What other metaphors can be used in recovery?

Leave a comment with your own thoughts on this concept and any other ideas for how it can be healing!

May

28

By Kate Daigle

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Categories: acceptance, acceptance and commitment therapy, awareness, body love, compassion, eating disorder recovery, inner hunger, metaphor, mind-body connection

Addictions as metaphor: What are you TRULY hungering for??

closeupofdancingitlotmI thrive on being inspired. Experiencing others’ wisdom feeds my soul.  Today I am particularly inspired by two amazing women: Chela Davison and Anita Johnston.  These two women are writers, healers, and visionaries.  Chela writes in poetic prose on her blog, words that we can all relate to: “Our addictions keep us all wrapped up, entangled in the illusion of release”.

When we become addicted to something — alcohol, food, sex, gambling, drugs, work — this forms a way of coping with a particular sensation that is uncomfortable.  ”But it’s not the vice that we crave”, writes Chela, “it’s the relief from the arising sensation.”  What if we found a way to eliminate the suffering that can come with pushing away uncomfortable feelings, and instead found a way of being with them in an accepting way?  

Dr. Johnston is a clinical psychologist and the author of one of the all-time flagship books of my own journey to recovery and ultimately helping others, Eating in the Light of the Moon.  I am fortunate enough to be invited as the guest speaker at the Conscious Living Book Club on June 14, and I have chosen this book as a spark for discussion and deep meditation.  Why? Because it invites us to explore, through storytelling, myth and metaphor, our relationships with food and emotions, where “stories help us connect with our inner world, to the natural rhythms and cycles of the earth, and to the power of our intuitive wisdom.”

Chela and Anita both draw us deeper — they invite us to truly meditate on what nourishes us and how food or other “things” can become ploys for trying to meet some deeper need.  Can we find what we are truly looking for and stop the seemingly endless race (sometimes in a hamster wheel, spinning, spinning) to avoid what we are feeling?  What if we already have everything that we will ever NEED?

I invite you to begin a meditation on what your “drug of choice” — whether it be food, alcohol, sex, relationships, shopping, exercise — truly does for you (or used to help you with, but doesn’t work so well any more).  What’s your metaphor?  What are you truly hungry for?  Could it be love?  Attention?  Self-acceptance?  Companionship? What is its symbol?

We are taught from a young age that pain is something that is bad to feel.  That we shouldn’t feel it.  That we should do everything we can to change it.  This might involve eating, drinking, or taking drugs as a way to try to change that feeling.  However, pain is a normal, human feeling that we all feel.  It’s okay to feel it.  The true struggle comes when we exert endless amounts of energy to try to avoid it, and then we develop eating disorders and other addictions because it doesn’t work.  Food, at that point, is not what we’re truly hungry for.   

As infants, we eat intuitively.  We don’t want to eat when we’re not hungry.  Sometimes, as a way to try to meet selfLoveFortune-500x375our needs, our caregivers may feed us when we actually are tired, lonely, in pain.  Thus begins the cycle of trying to soothe an emotional need with a physical thing.  Food can take on a whole other role: companion, soother, nurturer.

How do we free ourselves from these struggles?  First, we must understand what we are truly hungering for.  Then, we must find a way of connecting with our bodies and our emotions (ALL of our emotions, even the scary ones) in a healthy, accepting way.  At this point, we are able to shift the way we experience our emotions and find a way of being with them that is nurturing, not self-destructive.  Your need to use food or other substances in unhealthy ways will no longer be so forceful!

So what’s your story?  How does food talk to you?  Eating in the Light of the Moon uses a metaphor of an old woman in Japan who followed her hunger to a dark cave filled with scary creatures who tried to keep her captive.  Only by finding a way to give them what they TRULY needed, was she able to escape.  Reading this, and other stories in the book, can help us sort out what’s going on under the surface in a fanciful, endearing and enlightening way.

Interested in learning more?  Attend the Book Club on June 14, or email me for your own FREE copy of Eating in the Light of the Moon. I would love to hear your own thoughts and musings!

Tell me: What are you TRULY hungry for? And how can you nourish that hunger in a compassionate, accepting way?

 

May

3

By Kate Daigle

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Categories: mind-body connection, mindful eating, mindfulness, self-acceptance, self-esteem

Chew On This (Hopefully Not Your Cheek!) – and Other Mindful Eating Perplexities

Kate Daigle Counseling Spring Newsletter –

Chew On This (Hopefully Not Your Cheek!) – and Other Mindful Eating Perplexities

Have you ever taken a good strong CHOMP on your cheek as you chewed up your dinner?  Did it hurt a lot?  Did you say, “OUCH, how did that happen? I must not have been paying attention to my eating!.”
When you hear “Mindful Eating”, do you wonder what in the world it means?  I certainly did.  For me, mindfulness and eating did NOT go together for a very long time as I struggled to find a healthy connection between mind and body.  Today, it’s not perfect (I’m not perfect), but I am much more aware of how to utilize mindful eating in my daily life and it has helped me to ENJOY eating so much more!  Whatever your relationship to food or eating is, these mindful eating tips can by fun to try.  Did you know how tuned out we can be to the exercise of chewing (and how complex a process it is?).  There can be so many benefits to slowing down the process of eating.

  • not overeating
  • learning to notice your body’s fullness and hunger levels and signals
  • enjoying the pleasure of eating delicious food
  • being aware of your environment so as to drink in the sights, sounds, and perhaps company you keep as you eat
  • explore new foods and find ones you truly love (and some that you might not!)
  • potential weight loss
  • decrease feelings of guilt and shame while increasing feelings of satisfaction and joy
  • many more!
Here are five fun activities to try when practicing mindful eating, as adapted from EATING THE MOMENT: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time by Dr. Pavel Somav.1.)The Admittedly Annoying Thorough Chewing Exercise

One of the commonly overlooked phases of digestion is chewing. Chewing takes time, and time facilitates fullness. Conscious chewing is a good way to slow down eating to give fullness time to emerge.  I suggest you study chewing. What side of the mouth do you chew on? What’s your natural average number of chewing motions per bite? What’s it like to have food in the mouth and not chew, just letting it sit there for a moment. How do you decide when you have chewed enough and it’s time to swallow?

2.) Slow Eating Record

Buy a bag of Hershey kisses. Take one out. Stow the rest away. Now that you have only one Hershey kiss, make this kiss last. Make love to it the way you would to the lips of a parting partner. Kiss it good-bye. Let your tongue slow-dance, gradually unlocking the nuances of the flavor. Of course, you can’t always freeze-frame in this type of gusto-sensual reverie when you eat. But, at least, set the record straight: you can slow-eat when you choose to.

3.) Reminiscence Eating

Eating links people, places and things of our pasts, and as such, can be a great way of going down memory lane, on a journey of self-remembering. Reminiscent eating is an opportunity to turn a simple act of eating into an existentially meaningful experience with the added advantage of slowing down the process of eating (and thus giving fullness time to emerge). Next time you eat, look at the food in front of you and allow yourself to free-associate about the past. What does this dish, this smell, this taste remind you of? Give yourself a taste of the past and turn what could have been mechanical and meaningless into sentimental and mindful.

4.) A Cooling Off Period

Think of the times you burnt your lips on a bowl of soup: isn’t it amazing that we are in such a rush to eat we are willing to burn ourselves?! Next time you have a bowl of soup in front of you give it a few moments to cool off. Stir it, mindfully, watching the vortex of colors swirl. Gently blow air on it, unlocking the aroma. Look around. Enjoy the wait, exhale the impatience, chill.

5.) Rest Your Hands Technique

Resting your hands between bites will help you slow down the pace of eating to give fullness time to emerge. Lay down the utensils, rest your hands on the table for 10-20 seconds. No need to keep track of time. Just a simple touch-down of your hands on the tablecloth. If you eat alone, get two tiny touch bells and put them on each side of the dish. When you rest your hands, you’ll hear a ring tone as your hands touch the bells. During the pause, take a breath and listen to the sound fade. Wait to eat another bite until the sound of the bell has faded into silence.

Curious about more ways to practice mindfulness? Check out Kate’s blog post about finding peace amidst a chattering mind (we can all relate to that!)
Want To Practice Mindful Eating? Join Us!!
Kate Daigle, MA, NCC, LPC is starting a NEW monthly group, Denver’s Mindful Eating and Mindfulness in the Park Group!  Starting this Friday, June 3rd(held the first Friday of every month), we’ll meet in beautiful City Park in Denver, Colorado and join together to have some fun with mindful eating! We’ll begin by taking a short walk around the park, getting into our breath and our bodies.  We’ll have a picnic and practice some of the mindful eating exercises listed above and MORE! This casual group is inspired by a need for a community of like-minded folks who desire to create a healthy and healing mind-body connection and truly appreciate the act of eating.  We’ll incorporate all of our senses in enriching this experience!  More info and SIGN UP!: Mindful Eating Group

Apr

26

By Kate Daigle

4 Comments

Categories: acceptance, body acceptance, body image, growth, insight

Tags: , ,

What Does “Bikini Body” Even Mean? Three Ways to Embrace Your Beautiful, Bold Body!

It’s that time of year again.  The media pressure to work out and have the ‘ideal’ body has waned a bit since the New Year’s Resolutions campaign, but now it’s coming back in force as the weather warms up and we are all eager to get outside and enjoy the sunshine: “get your best bikini body yet!”, “are you ready to hit the beach?”, “three tips to lose weight FAST to fit into that tiny bikini!”.  Then there’s the comparisons to celebrities who have the “perfect bikini body” and whose pictures are spread throughout the internet and in magazines as the “ideal role models” for how your body ‘should’ look this summer. Whoa.  I’m exhausted even thinking about it.  I can feel my chest start to tighten as I almost fall into that trap: “how will I EVER get my body to look like THAT??”.

Deep breath.

Who said that anyone had to have a certain body appearance or type in order to wear a bikini?  Where is the logic in that?  It doesn’t make sense to me and it feels very shaming, judgmental, and narrow-minded.  For those of us who embrace and love our bodies no matter what they look like (or are desiring to do so!), these messages can be very harming.  Bikinis come in all shapes and sizes, just like our bodies do.   And we all have a right to enjoy our bodies, whether in a bathing suit, a dress, a towel, a jumpsuit, a clown’s suit, or whatever we may choose!  I’m of the belief that if we are able to physically put on a bathing suit, we are ‘bikini-ready’.

I found this great article on the Huffington Post that inspired this blog post which asked readers to submit photos of their own fabulous, REAL, bikini bodies!  What I loved about it was the energy radiating from these women (no men included in this exercise, though I think that would be a GREAT idea, as men are subjected to media and slide_289059_2281071_freesocial pressures as well).

These beautiful bikini babes were jumping around, swimming with fish, enjoying the sun, and even in one case, running through snow, all embracing their REAL, healthy bodies.  I could just feel how happy they were, and even if some of them have had body image issues come up (which can happen no matter WHAT your body looks like), they were not allowing those to bulldoze their fun in the sun and water (or snow).

An important point: your body might naturally look a certain way — thin, heavier, whatever.  It’s not what your body looks like that matters as much as how you feel in your body and the amount of joy, acceptance and satisfaction you are able to experience in your body.  Exercising and eating foods that feel great to your body are certainly healthy practices, but we must remain present and balanced in these pursuits so as to not damage our self esteem and body image.

I wanted to offer some food for thought on this topic as we head into summer and are bombarded with messages that (mostly) tell us that our bodies are not good enough and that we need to change.

  • Instead of giving energy to “what’s not right” or “what I need to change”, try to reframe and notice what you already, splendidly love about your body.  We can lose awareness of our body and become disconnected, this giving way to letting the negative messages sway us.  What does your body do every day that you admire?  Which body part can you try to focus on and send love to for an entire day?
  • Take a step back and notice the underlying forces in media messages.  Most advertising has some subliminal message or force working for it — that may not have anything to do with what it’s showing you.  The diet industry (as well as the junk food industry) makes BILLIONS OF DOLLARS off of telling us that we need to be perfect and offering us “solutions” that may damage us more than help us.  Try to notice these marketing measures with a critical eye before you deem them true.  Do they really have your best interest at heart?  What will you sacrifice by doing what they tell you to do to “get that bikini body”?
  • Team up! Chances are, you are not alone in feeling these pressures.  Reach out to a friend who also might have some body image struggles and commit to embracing your bodies together.  Harming social messages can influence us sneakily, silently, and powerfully - so our response must be proactive, loud, and communal!  If you show others that you can enjoy and empower your real, beautiful bikini body, you will also empower them to do the same.

What else? I’d love to hear other ideas, thoughts, impressions, or questions about this topic.  It’s something we images-13can all relate to.

If you are looking for support in embracing your beautiful, awesome, real bikini body or in accepting yourself in any other way, please feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation.  You can reach me at kate@katedaiglecounseling.com or 720-340-1443.

Forward on to enjoying the sun, the beach, food, friends, and OURSELVES!

Apr

9

By Kate Daigle

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Categories: acceptance, acceptance and commitment therapy, anxiety, awareness, meditation, mind-body connection, mindfulness

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Tuesday Tune-Up: How to Find Deep Relaxation Amidst a Chattering Mind

snowToday is a snowy day in Denver!  As the wind blows and the temperature plummets, I am reminded of the gift of slowing down.  When something comes up that takes us out of our regular routine (whether it’s weather, illness, unforeseen obligations, etc), we might have no choice but to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N.  I greet this ‘slowdown’ with anticipation and also a bit of anxiety.  What to do on a snow day?  Play out in the snow? (did that, nose froze!).  Read a book (yes, please)?  Peruse the internet ?  Have you ever felt this way?

As I noticed all of the feelings I was experiencing and the thoughts I was having, I brought myself back to the present moment and asked:

“What choices do I have with this experience?”

I realized that I have the power to choose acceptance of this moment, EVEN THOUGH I still might feel some anxiety (or whatever else).  I became aware that this concept is something I have been working on with clients recently: finding a way to be with slightly uncomfortable feelings while making a choice that helps me to make steps towards being the person I want to be.  And today I really want to be peaceful and embrace the cold and snow because I know that tomorrow the sun will come out again, the flowers will be nourished, and the birds will awaken.  It will be spring once more.

Mindfulness can be effective in just a few minutes.  What is mindfulness and how is it effective?

Mindfulness is:

  • Mindfulness is the gentle effort to be continuously present with experience.
  • Mindful eating invites us to slow down the process of eating, to notice all it has to offer us — the smell of the food, the texture of it, the taste, the sensation of chewing and swallowing and noticing the change in our hunger as we eat.
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn offers:

    “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;

     

    On purpose,
    in the present moment, and
    nonjudgmentally.”

A great book for introducing yourself to this concept is: Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Kabat-Zinn is a famous teacher of mindfulness meditation and the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.

Today, offer yourself the gift of slowing down, breathing deeply, checking in with your body awareness, noticing your thoughts but trying to not attach to them.  This video is a great tool for experiencing the benefits of mindfulness — whether you have a snow day or a busy day – truly allowing us to feel our bodies and to follow their lead into our experience.  I invite you to try it yourself — whether you have an hour to give or even just five minutes.

Mar

21

By Kate Daigle

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Categories: boundaries, self-acceptance, self-esteem

Tags: , ,

Your Personal Bill of Rights!

PERSONAL BILL OF RIGHTS

  

  1. I have a right to ask for what I want.
  2. I have a right to say no to requests or demands that I cannot meet.
  3. I have a right to express all of my feelings – positive and negative.
  4. I have a right to change my mind.
  5. I have a right to make mistakes and do not have to be perfect.
  6. I have a right to follow my own values and beliefs.
  7. I have the right to say no to anything if I feel that I am not ready, if it is unsafe, or if it conflicts with my values.
  8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
  9. I have the right not to be responsible for the actions, feelings, or behavior of others.
  10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
  11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
  12. I have the right to be myself. To be unique.
  13. I have the right to express fear.
  14. I have the right to say, “I don’t know”.
  15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.
  16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
  17. I have the right to my own personal space and time.
  18. I have the right to be playful.
  19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.
  20. I have the right to feel safe, and be in a non-abusive environment.
  21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
  22. I have the right to change and grow.
  23. I have the right to have my wants and needs respected by others.
  24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  25. I have the right to be happy.

 

Remind yourself of these rights daily! It might be helpful to print a copy and post it where you can see it every day.

 

 

Mar

21

By Kate Daigle

2 Comments

Categories: acceptance and commitment therapy, anorexia nervosa, anxiety, awareness, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, eating disorder recovery, emotions

A Lesson In Exposure: How I Made Myself Vulnerable and Found Acceptance

Have you ever had something on your “to-do” list for days….weeks…(in my case, months!)?  And you keep saying, “I’ll do that later”, or “I’d rather do anything — even my taxes! — than do that”?  I knew that I was certainly avoiding parts of my “to-do” list because I found myself cleaning everything in my house, office, car, instead of facing the looming elephant in the room.

vulnerable-buttlerflies-quote-300x246That elephant, for me, was my professional video.  I have made videos in the past, when I started my practice, but took them down because I didn’t feel like they represented “authentic Kate”.  I tried again last year to film a video, with a new edge and twist to it, trying to be myself but instead getting emotionally overwhelmed.  What was the deal?

So, this March I decided to truly look at what was keeping me stuck and to confront those factors.  In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an amazing type of behavioral therapy I was recently trained in, one of the guiding principles is to define what is meaningful to you and to pursue it, even if that means experiencing some uncomfortable emotions or feelings along the way.

I spent an afternoon writing about why I wanted to film a professional video.  What did it mean to me?  Here’s what I came up with:

  • It gives a glimpse for potential new clients to “meet” me and see what it might be like to work with me in counseling
  • It shows that I’m a real person
  • It gives a bit of info about my theoretical orientation, training, and story
  • It gives some tips for getting started on the therapy journey
  • It makes therapy “accessible” and maybe less “scary”

I still was missing something.  Those don’t seem too intense….why couldn’t I just map out what I want to say, and say it?  With my meaningful goal in hand, I engaged in some “exposure therapy” (also an element of ACT), and tried to film some initial versions of my video. I was feeling quite uncomfortable.  I reflected on a quote I recently heard: “I know that when I’m feeling uncomfortable, I’m about to grow”.  Hmm.

After about an hour of filming, viewing, grunting because there was something “wrong” with it, I took a walk and laid down on a patch of green, bright, vibrant grass and took a deep breath.  I breathed into my body and tried to focus on what was my barrier to creating a video that was “showable”.

I realized my Perfectionist was rearing her hair-sprayed, curly, gum-smacking head and was telling me “IT’S NOT PERFECT ENOUGH!!! YOU CAN’T BE FINISHED UNTIL IT’S PERFECT!”.

Oh, man!  How did I not see this before?  I know my Perfectionist quite well…we have coffee sometimes and chat…and I thought I’d be aware enough of her nosiness that I would realize she was interfering.  I guess she tricked me.  I took another breath and told her: “You are not going to control my video.  But, you did show me something very important.”

So, I went back to my office and filmed my video in no time.  It is entitled “Perfectly Imperfect”.  Sure, it gives me the shivers to ‘put myself out there’ like this, but why not be myself?  Being authentic, human, and showing that I am not perfect is one of the most healing aspects I can offer my clients as they find recovery from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or body image and self esteem issues.

My Perfectionist showed me that, while I’m not going to banish her, she is not always helpful.  She can get in the way of me being myself, which then can build up anxiety and stress…to levels that I don’t always want to stay at.  Getting to understand the times when she is and isn’t helpful has been important for me, and you can also find a way to gently (or not so gently) ask your Critic or Perfectionist or Judge or whomever you have to take a hike for now.

If you are so kind, please view my video and leave a comment with your impressions.  My hope is to model that we are all perfectly imperfect and that, in itself, is freeing.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by and view this!

 

If you are looking to improve self-esteem or overcome destructive eating behaviors, I offer a FREE consultation so please give me a call at 720-340-1443!

Feb

27

By Kate Daigle

No Comments

Categories: anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, body acceptance, body image, bulimia nervosa, eating disorder awareness week, eating disorder recovery

How to Lend Your Voice to National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Let’s Eradicate These Disorders!

NEDAwarenesweek-300x125This week is a very special week for me and for those that I work with and support in recovery from eating disorders.  Every year, the last week of February the National Eating Disorders Association brings National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, this year falling on February 24-March 2.  This is a very busy time of year for me, and also one that I eagerly await, as it brings an opportunity for us to shine attention on devastating eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and many other types of disordered eating and exercise behaviors.  (Note: this is something that needs to be focused on every day of every year, not just one week per year).

Did you know that eating disorders are the #1 most deadly mental illness?  Eating disorders kill more people than any one other mental disorder (source: anad.org).  These often secretive, shameful disorders are hidden from public eye, leading to intense suffering and isolation.  Just by naming them, we take away some of their power.

It’s time to focus on promoting healthy body image, self-esteem, and coping mechanisms and eradicate eating disorders! I truly believe that we can achieve this, though it won’t be easy.  We have taken so many strong steps already!

This year, the theme of the NEDA Week is “Everybody Knows Somebody”.  We all are affected by the issues that cause eating disorders and are touched in some form by these illnesses, whether we are aware of it or not.  “In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their life.” (source: nedawareness.org).

What can you do to help spread the word?  Are you hoping to learn more about how to spot these disorders and how to search for support?  Here are some very helpful organizations and websites that can offer guidance to those struggling, and to their families, friends, and loved ones.

You Are Not Alone.

Highly Reputable and Respected Online Support Sites (recovery-focused):

Local Resources (Denver, Colorado area):

This week, I am offering complimentary 30 minute consultations and resources for those who would like to take a step on their journey to recovery.  Please give me a call at 720-340-1443 or send an email to learn more!

I am passionate about and dedicated to the cause of supporting healthy body image, healthy relationship with self and food, and finding peace from internal struggles that can feel overwhelming.  Sometimes the first step is the hardest, but recovery begins after that first step!

Everybody

Feb

14

By Kate Daigle

No Comments

Categories: acceptance, acceptance and commitment therapy, artistic expression

A Valentine for the Soul: Kate Daigle Counseling Winter 2013 Newsletter

Sending You a Love Letter From Kate Daigle Counseling!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! St. Valentine reminds us that life should be filled with love - for our friends, for our partner, for our family, for our community, and, extra importantly, for ourselves!  Have you shown yourself love lately?  Sometimes I think the greatest gift we can offer each other and ourselves is to slow down, notice, and be grateful for the world around us.  Here are a few great tips for focusing on this reconnection and being present with yourself amidst a busy, chaotic world:

  • Before you get out of bed in the morning, look out your window.  Take three to seven full breaths.  Inhale the colors, shapes and textures around you.  Don’t think about it — just breathe it all in, even if it’s just a patch of sky.  Notice how you feel.
  • As you walk to and from your car (or from building to building), feel your feet on the ground.  Imagine that your mind is in your feet — feel them there completely.  Notice your weight as it shifts from heel to ball, foot to foot.  Any time you notice yourself thinking, just note to yourself “thinking” and return to feeling your feet on the ground.
  • Give yourself permission to mimic the weather with your mood.  If it’s raining or snowing outside, let yourself be lazy on the couch or a little bit contemplative and melancholy, if that’s how you’re feeling.
  • Bring nature indoors.  Open the window.  Buy some houseplants.  Don’t be afraid to talk to them (or to listen to what they have to say to you).  Keep a vase of flowers on your kitchen table.  Start an indoor herb garden.  Put a crystal on your desk or a small fountain in the corner of your living room.  Find ways to bring the colors and vibrancy of the natural world into your home.  (Adapted from The Way of the Happy Woman by Sara Avant Stover).

Want to read more (this is just a snippet!)?  Access our ENTIRE Winter newsletter here, and be sure you sign-up for all future editions! (sign up box is on my homepage).

Feb

7

By Kate Daigle

4 Comments

Categories: acceptance, acceptance and commitment therapy, anorexia nervosa, awareness, balance, binge eating disorder, body acceptance, bulimia nervosa, eating disorder recovery, mindfulness

What Would it Be Like to Accept Your Emotions Instead of Fight Them? An ACT Approach to Mindful Recovery

images-11 copyI don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to change something.  When I was a teenager, the focal point of the thing I wanted to change was myself.  This dissatisfaction with myself, or parts of myself, spiraled into an exhaustive effort and cycle of “if only I looked like…if only I could do…THEN, I’d be happy”.  Let me tell you how that ended up: in an eating disorder.  Only when I was able to accept myself, ALL of myself, and the range of emotions I experienced on a daily basis, was I able to stop destructive behaviors and lead a value-driven life.  I know that I am not unique in the way I was thinking; I believed that my emotions were the problem and that my thoughts were “bad” and that I needed to change all of it.  When I stopped struggling with all of those beliefs, I was free.  That didn’t mean accepting the negative beliefs and talk I was saying to myself, but stopping the struggle with my emotions, as I learned that it is not the emotions themselves that create dis-stress or dis-orders, it is the struggle, or attempted control, over the emotions that is the problem.

Eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, binge eating, compulsive over-exercising and other types of disordered eating behaviors as well as body image struggles can be borne out of a desire to find happiness and peace — but somewhere that mission gets diverted into destructive behaviors that lead to suffering.  It seems that there is a call to find a way to “be with” our emotions in non-destructive ways.

I am currently getting trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, an empirically-based therapy that “makes no attempt to reduce symptoms, but gets symptom reduction as a by-product”, writes one of its founders, Russell Harris.  This approach is rooted in values, forgiveness, mindfulness, acceptance, compassion, living in the present moment, and accessing a transcendent sense of self, a therapy that encourages us to accept what is without judgment, and to be find some peace in our struggle (while acknowledging that some type of suffering is part of the human experience).  ACT has been clinically proven to effectively treat eating disorders and other types of conditions such as OCD, anxiety, chronic pain, and stress, amongst many others.

ACT uses six core principles to help people develop more psychological flexibility and to get out of some of the rigid patterns that keep us stuck in self-destructive pattens:

  • Cognitive defusion: when we are able to ‘step back’ and observe language without being caught up in it.  We can notice our thoughts at a distance, release some ownership of them, and tell our minds “thanks, mind, for that thought” instead of automatically believing it to be true or a real part of ourselves.  As we defuse our thoughts, they have much less influence.  This can be very effective with negative self-talk or eating disordered thoughts that could lead to destructive behaviors.
  • Acceptance:  making space for unpleasant or uncomfortable feelings, emotions, sensations, urges, and allowing them to come and go without struggling with them, running from them, or letting them “drive the bus” (a metaphor in ACT where emotions may feel overwhelming but you can still take charge of driving the bus of your life).  I find this to be quite powerful in eating disorder recovery because it allows us to be with our emotions and to find a way of accepting themimages-12 copy (even if we don’t necessarily like them) so that they don’t feel like big scary monsters that we need to flee from.
  • Contact with the present moment:   the practice of bringing full awareness to your here-and-now experiences with openness, interest and receptiveness.  This is akin to mindfulness, where we are able to engage fully in our present moment and be open to all that it has to offer without trying to change any of it or judge it.  The key here is: not trying to change anything.  Yes, we have painful experiences that we would perhaps like to change or erase.  The goal of mindfulness, which in this way is helpful to recovery, is to be in the present with openness so that we can feel our emotions and hear our thoughts but have some space from them so that we can make a choice about what type of behavior is associated with this experience.  This can lead to choosing less-destructive behaviors as a way of relating to the emotional experience we have.
  • The Observing Self: a way of experiencing directly that you are not your thoughts, feelings, memories, roles, sensations, etc.  In eating disorder recovery, this means disconnecting from the eating disorder and seeing who you are separate from the ED and empowering that self to heal, soothe, and find balance in accepting ways.
  • Values:  clarifying what is most important to you, deep in your heart what gives you energy, joy, purpose.  What sort of person you want to be, what is meaningful and significant to you, and what you stand for.  Finding and focusing on your personal values can facilitate the process of accepting your emotions and can be a motivation for sitting with uncomfortable feelings in pursuit of a value-driven life.  Values are what come after an eating disorder; our values are the parts of us that were suffocated by the ED and are powerful and eager to be free.
  • Committed Action:   This is the “action” piece; setting goals, guided by your values and taking effective action to achieve them.  This makes it all worth it!  This is the behavioral part of recovery where destructive behaviors become extinct and value-driven choices and actions replace them.

I’m eager to utilize this approach with clients and am excited about the way that it encourages us to be ourselves, knowing that we are okay just as we are.  To me, this is a big sigh of relief!

Are you interested in  applying some of these principles in a hands-on experiential way?  Are you ready to cultivate a more peaceful, accepting relationship with food and yourself?  Join me and colleague (and ACT expert) Christine Allison, MA, LPC on March 2nd, 2013 for a workshop where we will practice all of this!

Early bird special ends on 2/15 so ACT now!!!

Held at my office, 709 Clarkson St, Denver, on 2/3 from 10am-2:30pm, the early bird rate is $65, and after 2/15 it will go up to $85.

Contact me to sign up TODAY — seats are filling up!

See the flyer here:

Cultivating a Peaceful Relationship with Food

Read more about ACT: Embrace Your Demons by Russ Harris