I've never blogged before. The first thing I do when I'm asked to write something is to research, so I looked at others' blogs to get information and ideas. The second thing I do when preparing to write is to become overwhelmed by everyone else's work – "Wow, that's great information/insight – how can I add to that? I'm not so prolific. I can't do it right". But then a little voice, that has grown louder along my journey to recovery, says, "There's no right and wrong," everyone has his/her own experience and way of sharing it. We learn and grow by taking risks.
A few weeks back when the weather really started to warm up I went for a run outside on the city streets of Toronto. As I passed by the Eaton Centre (this is a giant mall in the downtown core, for any of you not familiar with our lovely city) I stopped in a shady spot to have a drink of water. As I tilted my head up to drink from my bottle, I saw that what I was shaded by was a giant billboard displaying the advertisement shown below.
Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, organic—everyone you talk to is extolling the virtues of eating a proper diet. Taking a step toward trading junk for more balanced, nutrient-packed meals is a good thing. But when taken to an extreme, danger ensues, often in the form of anxiety, nutrient imbalances and other health issues.
I recently spotted a greeting card that said “I’m on two diets. There is simply not enough food on one”. Within the humorous message resides a very real truth… dieting means never eating enough. No matter how many new, creative ways that diets are re-packaged and marketed, the point is always to restrict nutritional intake and energy below what the body actually needs to sustain itself. While the multi-billion dollar diet industry promises a better body, better health and indeed a better life we now know that long term weight loss is not achievable for the vast majority of people.
Earlier this month Dr. David Herzog, Director of the Harris Center for Education and Advocacy in Eating Disorders, wrote a compelling yet heartbreaking article for the Huffington Post (Herzog, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-david-herzog/anorexia_b_1424487.html) about the public perception of anorexia nervosa. This important blog highlights the stigma commonly associated with anorexia, a disease often viewed as self-inflicted and ‘acquired’; a way of seeking attention and becoming thin.
“Does this dress make me look fat?” How many times have you uttered this phrase, or one similar? This, along with the knee-jerk reaction you can have to a friend decrying her big behind – which is often commiserated with, “Your big butt? Have you seen my muffin top?” – seems second nature. This “fat talk” is damaging to how we see and feel about ourselves, and yet it can be a daily occurrence.
“Faith is closing your eyes, stepping off a ledge into darkness and trusting that either someone will be there to catch you, or you’ll learn to fly.”
The above quote, spoken from a man in end of life care due to a battle with AIDS was relayed to me at a conference in 2010 by Cindy Blackstock, a tireless advocate for First Nations human rights in Canada. So, what’s that got to do with body image, eating disorders and mental health more broadly? For me the answer seems obvious – mental health is all about hope.
What do Lady Gaga, Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse have in common?
Fame, fortune and the essence of gossip- sure you could say that, but right now the media is trying drunkorexia on them for size.
While at first a catchy term for online sources with images of “skeletal celebrities who appear to live only off of Grey Goose and cigarettes” (Mohammad) the name has stuck so well that it now gets coined along with similar slang terms like pregorexia and orthorexia as well as serious illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia.
Today is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures. Wow! Connect and inspire girls – help them achieve brighter futures – lofty goals indeed. But how? How do we right the wrongs, inspire dreams and lead the charge? How do we show girls the way to greatness?
We don’t! I suggest we let girls lead and show us the way.
“Are you coming out tomorrow night with us?”
“I don’t think so, I have to go to the gym tomorrow night. Tomorrow is hams and quads”.
“Really? You’re ditching us again for a workout? We went to the gym this morning. You never come out anymore”.