Cissy Brady-Rogers
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Archive for 'disordered eating'

In the spirit of full self-disclosure, I’ve known and loved several current and former staff members at Reason’s Treatment Center. But that’s not the only reason they are my first choice for adult intensive eating disorder treatment. Their philosophy aligns with my own: spiritually centered and focused on helping patients understand the deeper reasons for their symptom and change their relationship with food and their bodies.

They help each patient find their own meaning and path to recovery, integrating evidenced based treatments with experiential interventions based in depth psychology.  Let them tell you more:

This is old news that our instant gratification conditioned culture doesn’t want to hear. So here’s the reminder as we begin 2015:

DIETS DON’T WORK!

When I first saw this Daily Beast article, I was hesitant to re-post on Facebook. I prefer to encourage rather than discourage. The negative spin of the headline “Why Your New Year’s Diet Will Fail” activated my resistance to generalizations and absolutes. But, truth is truth. All the research indicates that most often, diets offer temporary weight loss at best and in many cases contribute to increased metabolic efficiency — they train your fat cells to hold on tighter to that stored energy you’re trying to get rid of!

DIET = SLOWER METABOLISM = WEIGHT GAIN

Sure, some people begin their road to better health with a specific diet and eventually transition into permanent lifestyle changes. But they are the exceptions, not the norm.

The diet industry is profiting heavily off our discontent. Recent estimates indicate that in the U.S. alone $20 billion of our hard earned money goes into diets that don’t work. As nutritionist Evelyn Tribole points out, the diet business model uses our culturally induced shame to create a fail proof business model: “It’s the only thing we buy that, when the product fails, we all blame ourselves and then go buy another version.”

So, before you go waste your money on another diet program, I suggest you take time to reflect on the core issues:

How’s your relationship with your body?

– Do you honor your need for 7-9 hours of sleep a night?

– Do you drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated?

– Do you minimize the use of caffeine, alcohol and over-the-counter medications to regulate your energy?

Begin with the basics of self-care so your body will trust that you have your own best interest in mind.

If you aren’t already getting adequate sleep, start with that. Insufficient sleep disrupts the hormone cycles and metabolic functioning that support your body’s optimal energy efficiency.

If you aren’t drinking enough water, start with a commitment to hydration. Most of us need 9-13 cups a day minimum. More in some cases.

And if you’re using “legal” drugs (yes coffee and alcohol are drugs) to compensate for disrupted sleep and energy cycles, begin with getting that part of your energy regulation normalized.

If you’d like support in making these foundational changes in your relationship with your body, I’d love to be of service. Contact me about how health coaching can help you create a more loving relationship with your body that will support positive behavioral changes.

I look forward to journeying with you in 2015 as we love and enjoy living in our good bodies, just as we are.

Normally I spend significant time on my blogs. I edit for brevity (thanks to Dave Rogers who tells me less is more). I eliminate needless details about my personal life that don’t really support the point I want to share with my readers. But today, I mainly want to vent.

Last week I decided that after 2 1/2 years of seeing her every 6-8 weeks I’d had my last appointment with my hairstylist. It’s not so much about her skills, but more about being true to myself.

Our values about beauty are completely different. I’ve known that since my first appointment. But I figured that being “stylish” and concerned about looking just right goes with her territory. I gave her a break and joked about needing to hire her as a style consultant.

Along the way I also learned that she’s a competitive bodybuilder–a world that celebrates many of the values and behaviors that reinforce disordered relationships with food and bodies. But I decided she isn’t my client and what she does in her personal life isn’t my business. And, in the beginning she was very pleasant, gave me great cuts and was conveniently located. Moreover, when I decided to go from long to short hair a few years ago, she’s the one who took me into my new look. For that, I’m very grateful.

But as my time with her progressed, I also began to notice that when preparing for a bodybuilding show, she got especially crabby and didn’t give as good a cut. (Sometimes being a clinician trained to observe patterns in people isn’t such a good thing after all.) I also noticed that she often spoke critically of other clients or even her husband and kids.  My growing sense was that I just didn’t like or enjoy her a person. I put up with her tough, slightly caustic and sometimes negative attitude, ignored my truth and kept going back for my next cut.  All the while complaining to my husband and friends about the bad cuts, values differences and my dislike for her.

She wasn’t the problem. I was. If I were true to myself I would have broken up a long time ago.

Last week when she casually mentioned her use of Botox during my appointment and gave me a dissatisfying cut, it was the third strike.

Bad cuts on occasion are one thing. Irritability at times is understandable. But when I heard her voice her preference for Botox over Frownies in the salon conversation about the best way to deal with wrinkles, I realized I’d been compromising my values by continuing to support her business.

She’s not the problem. I am. As is always the case when it comes to relationships that aren’t working for me, I need to look at my side of the street, be completely honest with myself and take responsibility for how I’ve contributed to the problem.

My error: not listening to myself. I need to be true to myself, my values and views about authenticity, beauty, and health, and invest my time and money being with a stylist I respect and enjoy.

Fortunately, I have a number of stylists already on my list.

Now I’m wondering: how do I break up with my stylist?

I googled it and found plenty of advice. The bottom line seems to be that I’m probably more concerned about “how” than she’ll be. Clients come and go. It’s all part of doing business.

The last time I broke up with anyone was 27 years ago when my husband and I were dating. We still playfully argue over who broke up with who when sharing our story. But I remember it being fraught with tears and strong emotions. Thankfully, this break up isn’t hard to do. I just need to listen a bit further and decide what is the most equitable way to say good-bye.

A humorous personal opinion piece from the NY Times reminds me why everybody needs to take personal responsibility for finding our own unique blueprint for optimal health.

Apparently, kale and other cruciferous vegetables must be avoided by people with hypothyroidism. These “super foods” that health gurus juice, powder, and encourage us to eat in mass quantities may actually be making some people sick. Wrap your head around that!

And those fruit and veggie juices you drink because of all the nutrients they deliver? When it comes to your oral health, you may as well drink cola and eat chocolate because to your teeth, sugar is sugar!

I’m not going to stop eating my cruciferous veggies and I don’t juice. I like my food as close to nature as God made it. No point in throwing out all that good fiber and having a mess to clean up. I prefer to just eat my fruits and veggies whole. But, that’s me. Some of my best friends swear by their juicing routines.

The next time you see someone touting their latest wonder remedy for whatever ails you, remember that you must be your own health expert. Know yourself. Know your body. And listen to your gut.

There are many well intentioned so-called “professionals” offering services, products and plans that aren’t regulated by any governing authority. The detox programs,  vitamins, supplements, and other regimens they offer may have value, but can also be ill-advised for some people.

Be a wise consumer. Know your own health profile. Listen to your body and trust yourself first of all!

Please join me for a South Pasadena Community Special Event Screening and Community Discussion of the award winning documentary Miss Representation Monday, February 24, 2014 , at the South Pasadena Library.

In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.

Free Screening - South Pasadena Library, Monday February 24 5:30 p.m.

Hailed by the Hollywood Reporter as “A relevant and important doc[umentary] that deconstructs the insidious role of visual media in the widespread, unbalanced depiction of women and girls,” Miss Representation exposes how mainstream media contributes to the under- and mis- representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which makes it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.

“How we think about ourselves helps to determine our sense of self-worth. Well-being is not just the absence of disease or illness. It is a complex combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. Well-being is linked to how you feel about yourself and your life. We need to be increasingly mindful about the demeaning and sexualized images of women and girls that popular media promotes. This event will bring awareness to the source of these negative messages and jumpstart a much needed conversation in our community about self-esteem and political empowerment.” Marina Khubesrian, MD, FAAFP

The 90-minute film will be screened from 5:30pm-7pm followed by a dynamic discussion from 7pm-8pm facilitated by Cissy Brady-Rogers, LMFT, featuring expert guests Katherine Wong (Common Sense Media), Mayor of South Pasadena Dr. Marina Khubesrian;, SPHS Feminists Unite Club members Charlotte Foley, Mia Forman, Paige Valentine, Paige Forman, and Suki Sekula; Katherine Wong (Common Sense Media); Pasadena City College Board Trustee Linda Wah; Oliver Middelstaedt (USC student and featured in the film);, Pasadena City College Board Trustee Linda Wah and Shaunelle Curry (Media Done Responsibly).

The event is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. Space is limited. Refreshments and snacks will be provided. While attendance of the screening is encouraged, it is not necessary for participation in the community discussion.

Press Release supplied by Healthy South Pasadena and Day One.

A recent LA Times headline caught my attention: “CDC targets needless deaths due to poor lifestyle habits.” I thought of my mom and dad’s lifestyle choices. Committed smokers (mom refused to go anywhere they wouldn’t let her smoke) they both died of lung related diseases that might have been avoided if they’d quit–or better yet–never started! It wasn’t for lack of effort. I remember mom trying any number of extreme methods, including tying her pack of smokes up in a maze of rubber bands to limit access.

The CDC study refers to “avoidable deaths” as those which could be prevented by better medical care or healthier lifestyles.  Death itself is unavoidable. We all come into life with a genetic predispositions for disease that will eventually contribute to our bodies wearing out and dying. But the onset and progress of disease is complicated by many things, including: availability and quality of medical care, nutrition, activity level,  social support and geographic location. The CDC study indicates higher rates of avoidable deaths in the South. Even your zip code plays a role in how your genetic predisposition for disease manifests!

Mom died because her lungs gave out, but I bet her cholesterol levels were still healthy.  In spite of a diet consisting of a lot of butter, eggs, half & half and sugar, mom never had problems with cholesterol. I probably inherited that from her. My doctor once remarked that she’d never seen a “good” cholesterol number so high! Genetics is on my side with that one–thanks be to God (and my Irish ancestry apparently)!

Disease is part of life. Genetics loads our system for certain potentials, but lifestyle impacts how they play out. A coaching client reported that in spite of a very healthy diet, active lifestyle and limited stress in her life, she has high blood pressure. “Both my parents had hypertension, so I’m not surprised that in spite of all I do right, it still runs high.” Imagine the problems she might have if she weren’t conscientious about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The CDC reports that nearly one fourth of all deaths from cardiovascular disease are avoidable through lifestyle changes. But those changes could also eliminate other “needless” physical, psychological and relational problems.  Smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and excessive use of alcohol (the primary lifestyle factors in heart disease) also contribute to limited energy, strength and mobility, depression, relational stress, isolation and feeling like a burden to family and friends–among other things.

The study also points out the need for systemic change–like improving access to quality health care and providing physical and social  environments to support healthy lifestyles for people in economically and geographically challenged locations. Other suggestions include improving community design to increase access to sidewalks and providing bike lanes, improving the local food environment, enhancing worksite wellness programs, and improving insurance coverage.

Local school breakfast options

What about improving the quality of school lunches? As my friend massage therapist and health minded mom Erin Wrutemberg pointed out when she posted a lunch menu for a local school district, “I wonder if test scores would be higher if all kids were eating real, whole, nourishing food for breakfast. Its no light bulb realization that the epidemic of childhood type II diabetes, heart disease, and obesity IS linked to diet. If your typical lower income kid who qualifies for free and reduced meals at school eats off this menu they are beginning the day at a disadvantage.”

For many people it may take a village to create and sustain healthier lifestyles. Kids who eat funnel cake and bacon cheese eggstravaganza’s for breakfast are starting out with a weak foundation for later disease manifestation.

Mom might never have quit smoking, even if she’d had a village behind her. Many of the friends she smoked with in earlier decades were able to quit when it became clear in the 60’s and 70’s that smoking was hazardous to your health.

Who is in your village and what are you doing to support health in your spheres of influence?

What small changes might you make in your lifestyle or advocate for in your community to support better health for yourself and others?

Death isn’t avoidable, but some of the pain and suffering of it’s precursors can be alleviated by small choices we make each day. May we all have compassionate wisdom and strength to make small choices now that may minimize suffering later.

Blogger Sarah Kopplekam’s post “How to talk to your daughter about her body” went viral last month, landing her a spot on the Huffington Post where 146,249 people have “liked” it and 35,292 people have shared it.

What Sarah said isn’t revolutionary to those of us who work with eating disorders. Unfortunately, wise counsel like this often only reaches parents too late–after years of negative modeling and messages have already done their damage. And her wisdom applies to sons as well as daughters.

My favorite suggestion: Don’t dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your kids, or about your new diet.

A dear friend’s daughter recently moved to Los Angeles to attend graduate school. We hung out last week, laughed about how “crazy” her mom and I were when she was young and the impact our relationship with each other and our bodies had on her. “I never heard my mom say anything negative about her body. I asked her about it a few years ago. She raised her eyebrow like she does when she wants to make a point and told me that she was very intentional about that.”

Katie internalized a healthy sense of her body by watching us love and enjoy being in our woman bodies, enjoy good food, move because it felt good and not be afraid of getting dirty or talking about vaginas and penises! Needless to say, I was absolutely delighted by this conversation. I can’t imagine a better compliment than to hear that my example, even more than my words, impacted the life of another person.

The greatest gift a mom can give her child is her own positive relationship with her body.

The greatest gift one woman can give another woman is to fully embrace our own bodies and lovingly care for ourselves through the many changes and challenges of the female life cycle.

Passing it forward to Natalie

I met Kristen Fenton at the beginning of her career in social work. She participated in a self-care mentoring group I lead for ministry and mental health professionals.  I passed onto them the understanding and skills that have helped me find a new way of being in my body and life.  Years later, Kristen passes it forward through helping others heal from disordered eating and body image in her private practice in the Chicago area.

Last spring Kristen visited Los Angeles and I had the delight of meeting her engaging and beautiful daughter Natalie.  In writing to thank me for the time I spent sharing my life with her, she wrote “I am forever changed because of it. And my sweet Natalie now gets to live her life with a mama who is not enslaved to food or a poor body image.”

Thanks be to God!

Maybe you don’t “love and enjoy” your body. Begin with a small step: notice what is right with your body: your eyes that see, your ears that hear, your ability to walk. Practice noticing what is right with your body, not what is wrong.

And, if you need to talk about what is not right, the things you hate, wish you could change, please don’t do that with your daughter or son. Kids have more than enough negative and confusing messages about body image coming from media and peers. They don’t need you to add to that baggage.

Lots of resources are available. No matter what age your kids are, now is moment to begin to change your relationship with your body into a more loving, compassionate, and even celebratory one. It isn’t easy, but it is possible.

If you’d like some support, I’ve been there and done that and would love to share my experience, strength and hope with you.

If you told me 25 years ago that one day I’d be teaching yoga at the upcoming Big Bear Yoga Festival–I’d have said you were crazy!

Raised Catholic, I stopped attending mass in junior high school and became a “born again” Christian within the year. God’s timing was perfect. I desperately needed someone or something to “save” me from the disease and dysfunction growing within me and around me in my family system.

I spent the next 15 years involved in evangelical church and para-church organizations and attended evangelical undergrad and graduate school.  The personal relationship I developed with God and the people that surrounded me during those years really did “save” me. I made plenty of poor choices as it was–I can only imagine the trouble I might have gotten into otherwise. I’m grateful for the love and support of all those who came alongside me, loved me, and prayed for me. I also learned how to study the Bible and think critically about spiritual and theological matters. All of this laid a foundation for my faith in a God who so loved the world that he became flesh and blood, lived among us and revealed the way of love through the life of Christ Jesus.

And, I needed more than any of that provided.

I needed to embody my faith.

I needed to experience that love in my flesh and blood, in my female body. But the things about “flesh” and “body” I learned in church contexts didn’t take me deeper into my body.  Confusing messages reinforced an already shame-based body image: you are intricately and wonderfully made, but your desires, instincts, feelings and thoughts can’t be trusted; your sexuality is a gift from God, but don’t act too sexy or show too much of your body lest you cause your brother to lust. For Christian eating disorder patients I’ve worked with those same messages were life threatening–creating distorted views of “flesh/fat” and appetite that reinforced destructive body related thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

My bout with breast cancer in 1992 activated an interest in alternative approaches to health. I attended my first yoga class in 1993 with cautious interest. I prayed before I entered the room, asking God to give me discernment about participating in what my earlier training had told me was “of the devil”. Twenty years later I can’t imagine life without yoga. It’s the spiritual discipline God has used to heal my relationship with my body–to learn to listen to, respect, appreciate and be grateful for the glory of God’s image revealed in my body, in my flesh, in my blood. To experience Christ in me — the hope of glory dwelling in the sacred temple of my body.

I keep coming back because the practice takes me into my body in a transformative way, deepening my knowing of God’s love in the depths of my innermost self. My movements on the mat are prayers: my body speaks what my heart longs to express but words fall short of conveying.

Yoga for Every Body

I teach Christ-centered yoga because I want to share the transformative power of moving prayers with my communities of faith. While I mostly practice the physical postures (known as “asana” and one of the eight limbs of yoga), I have a deep respect and appreciation for other aspects as well.

That’s why I’ll be teaching a Christ-centered yoga workshop at the festival this month. I love sharing the immeasurable riches of God’s love in Christ through the yoga postures. I love guiding others into a deeper connection to the goodness and sacredness of their bodies. I love being at home in my body and inviting others to more fully inhabit their own homes.

I’d love to have you join me!

August 23-25, 2013

The recently released DSM-5 (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) adds the classification of “Binge Eating Disorder” to it’s compendium of mental health diseases, justifying it as a medical condition requiring treatment and covered through insurance. Yesterday the American Medical Association voted to designate  obesity as a disease, thereby labeling 78 million American adults and 12 million children with a medical condition requiring treatment.

These decisions are important and necessary as they increase treatment options and availability for patients. Prior to inclusion in the DSM-5, without a specific classification and criteria, insurance companies often resisted covering costs for treatment of binge eating. Along with the impact on treatment, our hope is that these changes will also reduce stigmatization,  further research, and increase awareness among healthcare providers.

Sadly, these decisions also reflect the consequences of living in an eating disordered culture. Highly accessible, inexpensive, nutritionally deficient, calorie dense foods have become standard fare in our American cuisine.  A recent Los Angeles Times article on founder of The Cheesecake Factory noted that one of their pasta dishes contains more than 3,000 calories – enough energy in one meal to fuel many of us for a day and a half. Additionally, cultural normalization of overeating, treating food as a reward and entertainment (entire television networks devoted to food), distorted portion sizes, and array of other culturally accepted attitudes and behaviors, all factor heavily in both binge eating and obesity.

Data on processed food production and pricing set alongside statistics for statistics on obesity indicate a correlation between increased availability of processed foods and increased obesity over the past thirty years. Correlation may not equal causation, but it’s certainly connected.

Why do we continue to focus on the problems resulting from an eating disordered culture while not addressing the systemic issues that may initiate and definitely contribute to both of these conditions?

Why does the medical community continue to use an inaccurate measure (body mass index) as it’s criteria for health?

Why doesn’t the government step in to address the huge role that the food industry plays in these problems?

When it comes to fixing the troubled relationships that people have with food and their bodies, we’ve put too much focus on the individual  and not enough effort into addressing the dysfunctions of systems that feed their diseases. My training as a systems thinker tells me that when one part of the family is symptomatic, we need to treat the whole family for sustainable change to occur. Pinning the problem on those suffering from the effects of a broken system (the “identified patient” in family systems terms) is not only ineffective, but leaves individuals bearing personal responsibility for problems much bigger than any one person.

Demi at Boston Marathon

Demi at Boston Marathon

The following personal story was written by my beautiful friend Demi Clark who crossed the finish line for the Boston Marathon seconds after the first bomb exploded. I met Demi in my Health Coach training at Duke Integrative Medicine last fall. From our first encounter, I loved Demi’s strong voice, engaged, passionate way of being in her life. When she shared that she’d had a long history with an eating disorder, I wasn’t surprised.

Demi embodies the powerful potential that I see in my eating disorder clients. Many have similar big, bright and radiant spirits. Uniquely blessed with an expansive consciousness and exceptional capacities for empathy,  intuition, creativity, sensory awareness and intelligence, the eating disordered thoughts, feelings and behaviors temporarily help them contain and regulate the vast spiritual consciousness that their families, schools, and faith communities haven’t even a clue exists.  And often leaves those same loved ones feeling powerless to support these girls in their healthy development.

Demi’s life testifies to the powerful lives of loving service that are possible when we listen to our hearts, allow ourselves to be as big and bright as we are, and follow our dreams. Here’s her story:

It’s Sunday night. I just tucked my kids into bed, almost identically to the way I have every night of their short first- and third-grade lives. Kisses, plus a hug, and an “I love you.” The only addition — which has been part of the routine since Monday, April 15 — “Do you all feel safe tonight? Mommy and Daddy are here if you need us.”

My husband and I not only consider ourselves lucky to ask that question every night, we are downright grateful and blessed to do so. The parents of precious 8-year-old Martin Richard can’t do that anymore. The parents of Krystle Campbell and Lü Lingzi can no longer call their children and ask, “Do you feel safe tonight?” And countless families are still in the hospital, supporting loved who are in critical condition, or without limbs, who face long, long roads ahead. That’s thanks to two terrorists, who have changed the world as all of us know it.

I happened to be “that girl with the pigtails” who was 10 feet from the finish line of the Boston Marathon as the first bomb exploded and we found ourselves in a war. I say “war,” because I’m also a health coach. I have clients who are soldiers currently downrange in Afghanistan; they called me later, saying we all earned our “combat stress” badge that day. The sights, sounds, smells, and horror are all still very fresh in my memory. Yet I NEVER want to forget. If we forget, we can’t change the future for the better.

I also coach Girls on the Run, and nothing is more rewarding than seeing those 9- to 11-year-olds happy, healthy, active. Their actions and their attitudes inspire others to get off their iPads and move. They help make the world a happier, healthier place.

Happy, healthy people don’t place handmade bombs next to 8-year-old children, knowing the immense destruction that will follow. Happy, healthy people do things like participate in the Boston Marathon; happy, healthy people have raised $127.9 million since the Boston Marathon Charity Program started in 1989.

So, today is not the day to scream at the guy who cuts you off in traffic. It’s not the day to eat a can of frosting because you can start eating healthy tomorrow. (I had an eating disorder for two decades — trust me, it won’t make you feel better.) It’s not the day to ignore your mom. Or your children. It’s not the day to work late — for the 100th day in a row.

It IS the day to pay it forward. Take your dog for an extra-long walk. Buy your neighbor a Starbucks. Lace up your shoes for the first (or one-thousand and fifty-first) time. Our lives have a true purpose. Honor yours by being good to yourself, taking care of your body, and being HAPPY and HEALTHY. Runners have a “runner’s high” for a reason — those endorphins are scientifically proven to make us happier. Runners truly love what they do. I haven’t met too many angry ones. Runners wanting to be faster? Yes. Angry? No.

In coaching, we have a saying: “So what? Now what?” I’ve asked myself that a million times in the past week. What are the odds of me being right there at that horrific moment (with my family right there in the finish-line bleachers), with 26,999 other runners ahead of or behind me? Why was I spared, without so much as a scratch on my body? I will never know the answer. But what I do know is that I’m still here — and now, I feel this overwhelming need to inspire people.

Demi's Girls Maize & Willa at Finish Line

My goal then, from here on out, is to motivate as many people as possible to get off the couch. I want to urge everyone to draw up a vision board, to decide on a goal, then to make it happen. I have a quote from Homer on my home-office desk that says, “Go forth confidently in the direction of your dreams!” It has served as my internal compass for  years. Find yours. Faith over fear, life worth not net worth — whatever your quote, pick something that puts the fire in your belly to be better, and go do it. Let’s get each other off the couch. It’s OUR time to win.

You can hear more of her story at CBS News and The New York Times.

Thanks to Théoden Janes who first published this story on his blog covering the Charlotte, North Carolina running scene.