Archive for October, 2015

Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food: Seminar Overview

We don’t just consume food. We have a relationship with food. From infancy, bad behavior was punished with “no dessert for you” and if we worked extra hard we “deserved a treat.”

Now we feel guilty for eating “bad foods” (by whatever criteria we moralize food) and we are perpetually self-conscious about our figure (as if there was a “holy” body type which receives God’s special favor).

Hopefully, you can begin to see that food is so much more than fuel in our culture. For many of us, a primary obstacle to a healthy relationship with God is an unhealthy relationship with food. We “cast our cares” on comfort foods instead of the God of all comfort, and we live with a sense of guilt or anxiety over our eating habits.

Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food is a seminar intended to counter this strong cultural tendency. This seminar addresses both over-indulgence and/or over-restriction in your relationship with food. Both over-eating and anorexia or bulimia result from asking food to do more than food can do.

Both sides of the unhealthy relationship with food spectrum will be addressed. We will acknowledge the unique facets of each struggle, but point to the same answer: the freedom of Christ which allows you to accept the body God gave you as good, while wisely stewarding your body for God’s glory and your satisfaction.

GAINING A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
Date: Saturday November 14, 2015
Time: 4:00 to 7:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP here

Identifying the History and Motives of My Disordered Eating

This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food” seminar. This portion is one element from “STEP 3: UNDERSTAND the origin, motive, and history of my disordered eating.”

To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events.

The longer we’ve engaged our disordered pattern of eating, the less motive that is needed to fuel that pattern, but the stronger our allegiance to the motives that drive our eating pattern become. This is a doubled-edged sword; habits become more deeply engrained while we become more defensive towards those who will warn us against their danger.

You will likely have to be on guard against both of these realities in this chapter. The longer we do something, the more it feels like “this is just who I am” and “you’re judging-rejecting me if you warn me of its danger.” Any theories about why (i.e., motive) we eat the way we do seem both silly (it can’t be that simple) and threatening (offended at the idea of changing).

You don’t have to fix this tension right now; just acknowledge that it says something about the importance of this material. We usually don’t boldly contradict ourselves over trivial things. We get into impassioned contradictions when two things we want don’t get along. That is the terrain we are getting ready to cross.

Begin writing out or sharing with a friend your answers to these questions.

  • When did you first become weight-conscious and when was your first diet?
  • What are your frequently repeated rituals related to eating and weighing?
  • What were your family’s belief and practices regarding weight, body shape, and food?
  • What have been the most impactful experiences you’ve had related to weight and body image?
  • How important were achievement and/or appearance in your family?
  • How many times have you reached and changed your perfect weight?
  • What was your worst day of disordered eating?
  • How many diet and exercise plans have you tried?
  • How would you currently define “a healthy relationship with food”?

What did you learn about yourself or admit to yourself in these reflections?

Answering these questions was another exercise in not running away from your struggle. That is good even if it’s hard. Having these conversations with another person is an exercise in not facing your struggle alone. That is even better.

As you reviewed your history with food, see if you can answer this question, “What has become so important to you that you’re willing to jeopardize your health in order to get it?”

We will look at this more when we get to motives, but try to answer these questions as well, “When did this become so important? Who helped it become so important? How would your life be better if it were less important?”

Read James 1:1 and 4:1-10. In these passages we see a connection between history and motive. James’ readers were persecuted for their faith and dispersed in order to survive. They left their homes, their jobs, and their communities. Out of this history, what they had left became much more important to them; so important, in fact, that they fought fiercely when the things they enjoyed were called into question. Their excessive love for things (motive) was shaped by their difficult history. God was compassionate towards their history without allowing it to excuse things that would be destructive to them. As we transition from history to motive, strive to allow your disposition towards your history (compassion) and motive (without excuse) to be the same as God’s.

Motives that Drive an Unhealthy Relationship with Food

If our motive for eating was as simple as, “I’m hungry,” then we would start-stop eating in ways that would be healthy. If our motive for eating were as pure as, “To be a good steward of the body God has blessed me with,” then we would eat a balanced diet that was healthy for our body.

Unfortunately, as fallen people marred by sin, we have the innate tendency to use things (our body and our world) for reasons other than how God designed them to be used. We are not content with God’s design and believe we can “improve upon” what God called good and bad for us. This tendency has its origin in the original temptation (Gen. 3:5). We continually fall for the same lie.

The problem is not usually that we want bad things; most disordered eating is not an overt effort towards suicide-by-starvation or suicide-by-obesity. That may be the effect, but it’s rarely the motive. The motive is the good thing we want so much that we’re willing to kill ourselves, however slowly, in order to get it.

As you weigh these motives for disordered eating, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” in light of this reality. Later we will come back and engage the question, “If these things aren’t bad, how can I enjoy them rightly?” but, for now, begin to tame the excessiveness of the motive by comparing it to its actual cost.

We will look at 10 motives that frequently drive an unhealthy relationship with food. These are not meant to be exhaustive, but represent the alternative uses we try to derive from food. If you don’t find your motive on the list, then reading through the list should allow you to put into words what you’re trying to make food do for you.

1. Relaxation: Life demands a great deal. God wants us to rest. Food can be an excellent distraction from the stresses of life. When the sense of taste is activated, it can divert our attention from sight and sound; senses we use to problem solve (i.e., visualizing solution or reading reports, and that voice in our head reasoning through various possibilities). But when this God-given diversion is over relied upon, it becomes a form of escape and soon food has become our refuge from life (contra Psalm 92:1). This is when we begin to, in effect, pray to our food; we “cast our anxieties on food” (contra I Peter 5:7). Soon we are begging an inanimate substance to deliver us from life’s woes (Psalm 115:4-8); our idol, instead of being made with gold and silver, is made with flour and sugar.

2. Reward: We work hard. Everyday requires a wide assortment of tasks. There is a perpetual battle to maintain our motivation to meet the challenges of each day. Enjoyable moments at the end of a task are a reasonable way to reward ourselves. Food makes a great treat for a “job well done.” But too often our reward system grows erratic; there is less and less achievement for more and more reward. If businesses paid their employees like we rewarded ourselves with food, then they would go bankrupt for the same reason we become obese; there is an imbalance in the reward system.

3. Control: Over-indulgence is not the only way we can abuse ourselves with food. We can also over-discipline ourselves, which is a nice way of saying “starve.” Often this pattern is tied to the desire for control. When someone’s life feels out of control they begin to look for something in which they can have a voice. Meals provide three times during the day when life cannot be forced upon them. They may not be able to master pain, but they can master hunger. They may not be able to control the hurtful words that come in their ears, but they can control the bites of food than come in the mouth. Getting some approximation of control in these self-harming ways may not seem “worth it” unless you’ve known what it is like not to be able to change the things that are most important and most hurtful in your world.

4. Appearance: We live in an appearance-oriented culture. Thin is good. Thick is bad. Carolyn Costin, in Your Dieting Daughter (p. 13), coined “The Thin Commandments” to capture the rules that begin to dominate what “win” means in a thin-obsessed culture.

    1. If you aren’t thin, you aren’t attractive.
    2. Being thin is more important than being healthy, more important than anything.
    3. You must buy clothes, cut your hair, take laxatives, starve yourself, and do anything to make yourself look thinner.
    4. Thou shall “earn” all food and shall not eat without feeling guilty.
    5. Thou shall not eat fattening food without punishing oneself afterwards.
    6. Thou shall count calories and fat and restrict intake accordingly.
    7. What the scale says is the most important thing.
    8. Losing weight is good, and gaining weight is bad.
    9. You can’t trust what other people say about your weight.
    10. Being thin and not eating are signs of true willpower and success.

While Costin makes no attempt to base her writing on Christian teaching, she beautifully illustrates what Christians have long taught about the nature of idolatry.

“Idols create laws that multiply exponentially (p. 174)… The Law of Diminishing Returns is in full force in idol worship. The behavior will grow and grow until it completely consumes you and you spend your entire life compulsively overeating, binging, purging, or starving. Your god has an insatiable hunger—and if you feed him, he’ll grow (p. 180).” Elyse Fitzpatrick in Love to Eat, Hate to Eat

5. Protection: Sometimes the idols of control and appearance can combine to create the desire to be unattractive as a form of self-protection. This is especially true for someone who has been sexually abused; preyed upon because of the attractiveness of their body. But this can also be true for those who are uncomfortable with attention from others and learn to use their size as a way to make themselves “invisible” to the kind of attention they don’t want to receive. Unfortunately, using food this way only provides the kind of protection one could get from a gang; yes, you are safe from certain dangers, but in the process you become exposed to many other dangers.

6. Companionship: Food never rejects us. Food will listen to our every woe. Food is never too busy. Food always seems to understand. These sentences reveal the mindset we’re in when we try to use food as a pseudo-community. But there is also the frequent pairing of social events and food. When people gather (i.e., holidays, parties, etc…) there tends to be food. We easily begin to think, “If I’m going to be with people, I must eat.” Whether you over-eat and this is a moment of temptation, or you over-discipline and these are moments of great stress, the pairing of food and people presents a challenge that must be navigated.

7. Numb: Food is sensual; it engages the senses. Food has taste, aroma, and texture. The more senses an activity engages, the better distraction it provides. This is why many people eat to numb emotions like anger, fear, guilt, insecurity, boredom, or shame. The multi-sensory nature of eating makes it a very effective emotional numbing agent… at least for the period of time we are eating. The problem is you can neither starve nor stuff your anger away. And, when the time of munching or starving is complete, the emotions return… compounded by the sense of failure and futility over how you’ve tried to manage them.

8. Compensate: “If I can’t [blank], then at least I can [indulge or starve myself].” When our motive is compensation, then our disordered eating becomes either a form of penance or a consolation prize for how we believe we’ve failed or life has disappointed us. The food rules we follow are not a path to righteousness (next motive), but a way to make the best of a bad situation. Our unhealthy relationship with food is our perpetual “Plan B” for when life goes wrong. The more life disappoints us, the unhealthier we become.

9. Achieve: We can turn anything into a competition. Every class, discipline, field, and activity has its “best” representative; whether its algebra, art, or hot dog eating. Achievement-oriented people strive not to be “less than” others. This is what drives them. It is a form of self-righteousness. When this mindset gets tied in with our diet, we can get so fixated on being healthy that we become unhealthy. With this motive, it is important that “healthy” is not an extreme, but a balance; healthy is not on either end of the spectrum, but in the middle. This is why we talk about a “balanced diet” as being most healthy.

10. Punish: “I’ve been bad so I should not eat.” “I’ve been bad, so I should punish myself by binging.” “I’m a bad person, so I should make it obvious to everyone by getting fat.” These motives for an unhealthy relationship with food are rooted in self-loathing. For some reason, we are prone to believe that our disgust is a better solution for our legitimate failures than God’s grace, and we believe self-harshness is a better response to our non-moral short-comings than self-compassion. We believe because “we are being hard on ourselves” then no one should be able to “criticize us” for how we’re using food and engaging life because that would be them trying to be more extreme than we already are. Hopefully as you read these few sentences that logic begins to fall apart.

Other ___________: What was missing? What motive(s) fit your unhealthy relationship with food better? How would you describe what makes them enticing and what makes them ineffective?

Here are three other reflective questions to help you identify the motive for your unhealthy relationship with food.

  • What fantasies do you think would come true if you reached your ideal weight?
  • What things will be absent when you begin the process of change?
  • If I could personify my cravings based on my experience of them, what form would they take?

Read Luke 9:23-24. In light of what you’ve been learning about yourself, reflect on this well-known passage that summarizes what it means to be a follower of Christ. Often we view this passage negatively, “You have to be willing to give up everything that’s important to you in order to follow Jesus.” But hopefully you can see the beauty of this passage now. When we are dominated by the things that are too important to us, we can’t enjoy them even when we get them. It is only when “less important things” become “less important” that we can savor the joy that God intended to provide through them.

Read Ecclesiastes (yes, the whole book). The entire book of Ecclesiastes is one long book of motives for the pursuit of peace, hope, and happiness. As you read, realize this is the journal of a very wise and influential person. Realize your motives are not new and your disappointment in what they cannot provide is not unique. Be encouraged that someone has walked your same path, experienced the same emptiness, and learned where to find the security and fulfillment you’re seeking.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Disordered Eating” post which address other facets of this subject.

4 Building Blocks of a Healthy Relationship with Food

This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food” seminar. This portion is one element from “STEP 2: ACKNOWLEDGE the breadth and impact of my sin.”

To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events.

We don’t want to leave all the “practical” suggestions until step six; otherwise, this study could begin to feel like you’re learning so much about what’s wrong that hope fades. Below are several suggestions that would enable your relationship with food to become healthier.

1. Get Adequate Sleep

Food is fuel. If you do not get adequate rest, you will be tempted both cognitively and physically to compensate by consuming more fuel. As you seek to express self-control, your efforts will be made much easier if you are not fighting through the fog of inadequate sleep.

2. Don’t Skip Breakfast

Metabolism arguments could be made for this, but motivational arguments are better. When you skip breakfast (a) you are beginning your day with a punitive measure, and (b) you are making yourself mentally weaker to resist temptation for the rest of the day. Enjoy a healthy breakfast, thank God for his goodness, and start the day mentally alert.

3. Plan What You Will Eat

Begin planning what you will eat. A budget is a good practice for your money; the less disciplined you are, the more it is needed. A food plan is a good practice if you’ve not relating well to food; the less healthy your relationship with food has been, the more a food plan is needed. A sample food plan chart is provided at this link. Here is some guidance on how to use it.

    • Name: This is your chart. Own it. Make it fit your life. It is here to serve you, not for you to serve it. Write in foods you enjoy or are interested in trying. This is not punishment; it is a way to choose an enjoyable life that honors God and your body.
    • Date: You don’t have to complete one of these every day for the rest of your life. Make several that work for you and alternate between them if you like. At first, it will be important to follow the plan closely. Once you begin to naturally enjoy living within the range of what is healthy, the guidelines of a written plan will become instinctual and the written plan will be less necessary.
    • Calorie Information: Commit to stay within your range. In order to determine your healthy calorie range, first determine your healthy weight based on age, gender, height, activity level, and body type. Your physician can help you identify your healthy weight range. If calorie counting has been a pronounced part of your restricted eating, then please skip this part of the daily food plan.
      • For women, multiply your healthy body weight by 9 and 10 to get your healthy calorie range.
      • Example: If your healthy weight 140 to 150 pounds
        • 140 x 9 = 1260 (low range of daily calorie intake)
        • 150 x 10 = 1500 (high range of daily calorie take)
      • For men, multiply your healthy body weight by 11 and 13 to get your healthy calorie range.
      • Example: If your healthy weight 170 to 180 pounds
        • 170 x 9 = 1530 (low range of daily calorie intake)
        • 180 x 10 = 1800 (high range of daily calorie take)
      • Note: These numbers are taken from Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick. They represent the range for a sedentary person who is seeking to lose weight. For a more specified gauge for a healthy calorie range based upon your age, gender, height, and activity level visit this site.
    • Meals: Eating smaller meals and allowing for healthy snacks is good for your digestive system, optimizes your metabolism, and prevents you from experiencing intense hunger (see below). Planning your meals also helps prevent you from buying binge-tempting or plan-busting foods at the grocery.
    • Food and Amount: Whether you’ve been over-restricting or overeating, “healthy” will feel odd when you write it down. It won’t seem “practical” or “realistic.” Don’t allow those feelings to derail you. It is normal to have an uncomfortable acclimation period to what is healthy when haven’t been eating well.
    • Level of Hunger: Use a subjective one to ten scale; one being “famished,” and ten being “stuffed.” Your goal is to live between three and seven and not eat unless you are below five. This is a much more sustainable approach to hunger and eating. Writing these numbers down will help you become more self-aware of your sense of hunger and satisfaction. Here is a scale developed by Carolyn Costin & Gwen Schubert Grabb in 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder (p. 134-135; paraphrased and summarized)
      1. Extremely hungry, lightheaded, headache, no energy.
      2. Still overly hungry, irritable, stomach growling, constant thoughts of food.
      3. Hungry for a meal, sensing hunger, thinking about food and what would be good to eat. This is the ideal hunger level for eating a meal.
      4. A little bit hungry, a snack would do, or making plans for eating pretty soon.
      5. Neutral: don’t feel hungry or full.
      6. A little bit full, not quite satisfied, have not eaten enough.
      7. Satisfied and comfortably full, could get up and take a walk. This is the ideal target for conscious eaters to stop.
      8. A little too full, happens sometimes, wait until hungry again to eat, but not too long.
      9. Overly full, uncomfortable, like what happens on holidays, try to learn from this.
      10. Extremely full, painful, likely after an episode of emotional eating or binge eating. Very physically and emotionally distressing.
    • Feelings: Pay attention to how you feel before, during, and after eating. If you find you want to eat for reasons other than hunger, be honest about that. Name what you’re experiencing and find ways, other than food, to resolve those emotions. Talk about these experiences with the friends, pastor, or counselor with whom you are going through this study.
    • Purge: This column is for accountability for purging. If you purge after eating, put “Y” for yes. If you are tempted to but resist, put “T” for tempted. If thoughts of purging do not emerge, put “N” for no. If your struggle with eating does not include purging, you can ignore this column.

4. Every Balanced, Proportional Meal Is a Victory

Victory is not a changing number on a scale. Victory is every meal that honors God by caring well for your body. Your goal is not a number, but a relationship – a thriving relationship with God, an honest relationship with others, and a compassionate relationship with yourself.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Disordered Eating” post which address other facets of this subject.

The Physical Affects of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Over-Eating

This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food” seminar. This portion is one element from “STEP 2: ACKNOWLEDGE the breadth and impact of my sin.”

To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events.

The impact of disordered eating is broader than an addictive lifestyle and unhealthy patterns; it is profoundly physical. Food is where we get the nutritional building blocks for the maintenance of our body. When we do not provide our body with the correct supplies, it cannot maintain health.

In this section, we will examine the physical effects of disordered eating. Your goal is this section is two-fold: (1) identify those changes that are already occurring in order to motivate an adequate level of commitment to change; and (2) be aware of coming dangers if you do not commit to a healthy relationship with food to offset the temptation to quit when your motivation inevtiably wanes. If you are uncertain about the presence of these changes, then speak with your doctor to help you make this assessment. We will examine how to counter these effects more in step six.

Physical Effects of Anorexia

The malnutrition of anorexia affects a wide array of body systems. When the body does not get adequate nutrition, there are literally no parts of the body that are unaffected. The effects listed below are representative, not exhaustive, of the impact anorexia has on your body.

  • Osteoporosis / Osteopenia – Bones fail to get the calcium they need to remain strong; becoming brittle. Not only do bones break more easily, they become less capable of supporting your body structure – due particularly to deterioration in the spinal column – and chronic pain develops. Being underweight does not offset this structural compromise. Rather than appearing young and fit, you accelerate the visual impact of age – being brittle and slumped.
  • Dry, Rashy Skin – Skin becomes papery for the same reasons bones become brittle; malnutrition robs them of their needed recuperative supplies and a multi-vitamin is inadequate to offset this deficiency. Bruising and cutting of the skin become increasingly easy to do. Similar deterioration happens with your hair as well.
  • Gastrointestinal Imbalance – Our digestive tracks were designed by God to operate with a rhythm of activity and inactivity. Unnaturally long dormant periods affect our digestive system like leaving your car in the driveway not driving it for six months. You may think because its unused it cannot be broken, but that is untrue.
  • Abnormal Blood Count – In our day we seem to be more concerned with neurological imbalances than blood imbalances (both are important). Not only does anorexia result in deficient supplies of nutrients for the blood to transport to the body, but also of the ratio of red blood cells (anemia – energy levels), white blood cells (disease resistances), and other blood cells get off balance.
  • Hypoglycemia – When your body has inadequate glucose levels it experiences shakiness, dizziness, mood swings, visual disruptions, increased sensitivity to cold, and difficulty concentrating… among other things. When you view calories as evil, you are cutting off the glucose supply that stabilizes these symptoms.
  • Slowed Thinking – Inadequate glucose for the brain results in this and the next effect. When the brain does not have adequate energy stores, it will not perform optimally. The greater reduction in its energy stores, the greater the reduction in its ability to process information.
  • Mood Swings – Malnutrition impacts emotional stability in several ways. First, the sub-optimal brain performance makes it harder to process life events. Second, the lack of energy creates an emotional instability comparable to prolonged sleep deprivation. Third, the lack of nutritional supplies compromises the body’s ability to produce the needed neurotransmitters related to emotion.
  • No Menstrual Period – The body is excellent at prioritizing those functions which are most necessary for survival. As malnutrition becomes more pronounced, the body will shut down a woman’s menstrual cycle. This is a sign that malnutrition is reaching severe proportions. Infertility can result from these changes.
  • Irregular Heartbeat – As your overall body weakens and has to work harder to maintain basic survival functions, the decrease in potassium results in an irregular heartbeat that can result in heart failure. You do not have to be “dangerously thin” in order for this effect to take place. Often death occurs because people believe they have to be at the most degenerative end of anorexia to experience heart failure.

Physical Effects of Bulimia

All of the effects of anorexia could be listed under bulimia as well. Because purging interrupts the absorption of nutrients, the food ingested during binging does not offset these effects. The symptoms listed below are those that uniquely begin to emerge from the various approaches to purging.

  • Severe Constipation – When laxatives are abused in purging, the intestines become dependent on their influence. The rapidity and ease with which laxatives cause food to pass through the intestines results in a muscle decay that is comparable to what happens with our leg and arm muscles when we live a sedentary lifestyle.

“Diet pills and laxatives are not only emotionally addictive; they are also extremely physically addictive– especially laxatives, which are intestinal tract and digestive system become dependent upon in order to operate (p. 243).” Gregory Jantz in Hope, Help, & Healing for Eating Disorders

  • Body Swelling – Vomiting results in the body becoming dehydrated. Your body resists this by storing water. This is because your body likes you more than you like your body. It wants you to survive and knows that fluids are necessary. The results can be swelling in the face, abdominal area, hands, legs, and feet.
  • Tooth Decay – Purging by vomiting results in stomach acid frequently passing over your teeth. Your teeth were not made for this acidic environment, so they decay. Cavities and even tooth loss can be the result.
  • Esophagus and Voice Box Damage – The acidity of vomiting does not just affect the mouth. It also affects the passage from your stomach to your mouth. This is your esophagus and includes your voice box. The health complications of these effects can be severe.
  • Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers – The more you vomit the more stomach acid your body loses. The more stomach acid your body loses the more stomach acid it produces. When you habituate your body to produce stomach acid, it produces an excessive amount. Add this to an inadequate amount of food for the stomach acid to work on and it begins to erode your stomach wall and intestines.

Physical Effects of Overeating

Over-nourishment can be as detrimental as under-nourishment. Remember, our goal is to find the range of nutritional intake that allows us to steward our bodies well and learn to be content living in that range. That means we also need to examine the impact of providing our body with too much food.

  • Obesity – This may be the most obvious effect both logically and physically. Our body stores excess calorie intake as fat. This becomes weight that our body must carry and additional living mass for which our body must care. In both of these ways, the larger we become, the more stress we put on our body.
  • Gastrointestinal Imbalance – Overeating creates an opposite GI imbalance from under-eating. When we overeat our digestive system does not get the rest God intended. This overuse does not provide time for the natural recovery processes God designed for our digestive system. Overeating does for our intestines what sleep deprivation does for our brain.
  • High Cholesterol / Heart Disease / High Blood Pressure / Stroke – These four affects cluster together. Our circulatory system was not made to be jammed with extra cargo and to deliver nutrients across a body that begins to grow wide after it has finished growing tall. When we stretch our circulatory system in this manner high cholesterol and blood pressure will result in heart attacks and strokes.
  • Diabetes – Obesity is the leading cause of type II diabetes and account for 95% of the occurrences of diabetes in the United States. Your body begins to have trouble processing the glucose in your blood. Many more health effects begin to emerge because of the presence of diabetes.
  • Sleep Apnea – Obesity is also a leading cause of sleep apnea, the obstruction of breathing while you are asleep, which results in a poor quality of sleep. Often this becomes a spiral as you sleep poorly and then crave sweets or carbohydrates as a way to compensate for the lack of energy which sleep should have provided.
  • Arthritis – When your body is asked to carry extra weight, it takes a toll on your joints. This results is persistent pain and less mobility; factors that make it harder to exercise in order to lose the extra weight.

If you’re thinking, “This won’t happen to me.” You’re wrong. This is how your body works. If you spend more than you make, you’ll go bankrupt. If you fail to obey the law, you’ll go to jail. If you mistreat your body with food in these ways, these are the health consequences.

You can allow this warning to make you more sober and begin working to offset the lifestyle that produces these effects now, or you can wait until they are so pronounced you cannot avoid them and face much more intense challenges then. As a body-bound human being, we are not afforded any other options.

Read Genesis 2:5-9 and John 1:14-18. Notice how pro-body God is. God thought it was worthwhile to make a body for our souls. When Jesus came he thought it good to have a body. Don’t allow the realities of this section to merely produce fear-based change (avoiding painful health conditions). Allow this section to awaken you to the blessing it is to steward the gift of a body. Strive to think more of honoring God than punishing or comforting yourself when you partake of a meal.

Read Exodus 20:13. Before this section it might seem extreme to parallel disordered eating and the command, “Thou shall not kill.” But if Jesus would say that lust is early-onset-adultery (Matthew 5:27-30), then starving yourself to death (anorexia and bulimia) or embracing a lifestyle of obesity is early-onset-suicide. Often we only think of the 10 Commandments in terms of how we treat others. “Lying to myself isn’t really lying,” we think. But the 10 Commandments apply equally to how we treat ourselves. It is wrong to abuse yourself with food; not because God wants to be the food-police, but because God is a loving Father who wants to see his children flourish. God’s commands are for your good; not to make life a moral gauntlet.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Disordered Eating” post which address other facets of this subject.

Tweets of the Week 10.27.15

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

10 Patterns of Thinking that Undergird an Unhealthy Relationship with Food

This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food” seminar. This portion is one element from “STEP 2: ACKNOWLEDGE the breadth and impact of my sin.”

To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events.

Disordered eating patterns begin about three inches Northwest of our mouths; in our brains. Behavior patterns are thought patterns before they are activities. In this section we will not focus on thought content (e.g., “I’m worthless” or “I’m fat”) as much as thought patterns (i.e., ways of filtering, processing, or reacting to information). Often we are ineffective at changing the content of our thoughts because we fail to see the patterns in which they are established.

Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb describe ten patterns of thinking that contribute to disordered eating (p. 98-100 in 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder; bold text only). These patterns are very characteristic of most anxiety disorders. This reveals the role that disordered eating often plays in our misguided attempts at emotional regulation.

1. All-Or-Nothing Thinking:

If I’m not perfect, I’m trash. If I don’t obey my eating plan, I’m a worthless human being. If life doesn’t go according to plan, then life is falling apart and completely out of control. If this is how you process disappointments, then it will be difficult to have a healthy relationship with food; or other people. It becomes hard to have a “good day” because in an all-or-nothing mindset, days are either great or awful. The emotional exhaustion results in retreating to food for comfort or punishing yourself by not eating.

2. Over-Generalization:

In this style of thinking every negative event is perceived as part of an emerging pattern. The response to the negative event is, therefore, as intense as if it were a longstanding issue. “My friend hasn’t called me back. They must think I’m annoying. No one will ever want to be my friend.” Or, “I had a second helping of dessert. I’m a failure who deserves to be punished and rejected.” When no moment can be an island, every moment feels like a tidal wave.

3. Discounting the Positive:

This is the flipside of over-generalization. Every positive event is an exception and every compliment is a pity-based courtesy. “I think I had a good day, but there is no way I can keep it up. They said I look nice, but it’s just because I was such a mess last time they saw me.” When we discount the positive, our life-narrative remains unremittingly negative. We “know” our life story is bad, so we brace against allowing having hope so we can’t experience the pain of disappointment. But a life without the possibility of disappointment is either a fantasy (unreal) or depressing (barricaded from hope).

4. Emotional Reasoning:

Emotional reasoning confuses the “realness” of our emotions for the “truthfulness” of our emotions. Emotions are real experiences. There is no question we feel fat or that we feel hopeless. Our emotions are not always truthful. We may not be fat, and we are never without hope. A vital skill in battling the thought processes that undergird disordered eating is the ability to doubt our own emotions; we don’t have to deny our emotions (because our emotions are real, this would be a form of lying) but we should doubt them (require that they live up to a standard of truthfulness before we act on what those emotions call us to do).

5. Mind-Reading:

We all tend to project our fears and self-assessments into the minds of others. If we are insecure, we think others think poorly of us. If we are prideful, we assume people will be honored to be our friend. If we value thinness, we believe losing weight will solve our social woes and we explain interpersonal conflict or slights because of our weight. We “know” that the things that are most important to us must explain the responses of people around us. People quit being real people and become personifications of our fears.

 6. Personalizing and Blaming:

We are incredibly creative at coming up with ways to explain our behavior in ways that have nothing to do with our choices. Blaming is when we say another person’s bad choice caused our bad choice. “I binged because my friend forgot my birthday.” Personalizing is when we inflate the significance of another person’s actions by making ourselves the center of their world so it can excuse our bad choice, “My friend hasn’t call me back because she hates me, so I need to take comfort in food.” There will always be enough sub-optimal events around us for personalization and blame-shifting to leave us stuck in our disordered eating habits. We must develop the ability to grieve misfortune without allowing it to become fuel for dysfunction.

7. Magnification and Minimization:

Our mind operates like amusement park mirrors. It makes some things seem way too large and other things way too small. If we had a strong sense for what was true, we would be amused by this distortion (like we are when we see the appearance of ourselves as if we were 20 feet tall in a distorted mirror). But, unfortunately, often we lack the ability – or willingness – to identify this distortion, and we begin to view life as if the distortion were true.

8. Mental Filter:

If the last pattern was about the magnitude of an experience, mental filters are about the relevance of an experience. Consider this scenario: if you have three good days and one bad day in your relationship with food, do you feel like you’re winning or losing? If our answer is “It depends on what the scale says,” then our focus is still more on body figure than body stewardship. Either way this question reveals a mental filter. Either the number three will be deemed more important than the number one, or the weight of being “bad” will be considered heavier than the weight of being “good.” Know your filter and be able to account for it in your emotional reasoning.

9. Should Statements:

Should statements usually are based on enough truth to be powerful but exist in a hypothetical reality that makes them useless. “I should have eaten better yesterday.” This is TBU, true but useless. It creates guilt, but gives little direction for change. Rarely does it lead to a positive resolve like, “I want to be a good steward of my body today.” Similarly, “I should be in better shape,” is also TBU. All it does is create shame and discontent. Rarely does it lead to the commitment, “I will follow my doctor’s exercise and eating recommendations today.” Christians are often prone to should statements because we feel like we’re holding to high ideals. Instead, let’s focus on walking faithfully with God as we seek to be a good steward of the life and body he’s blessed us with today.

10. Labeling:

Labeling is when we turn verbs and adjectives into nouns and identities. “I failed,” becomes, “I am a failure.” “I’m lonely,” becomes, “I am unlovable.” Verbs and adjectives are temporal. Nouns and identities are permanent. That is why this exchange is so dangerous. You may have failed to follow your body stewardship plan today, but thanks to God’s grace, that does not have to be a permanent reality. Turning verbs into nouns makes us passive. Turning adjectives into identities robs us of hope. This is more than English grammar; it is a huge key to human motivation.

Read I Corinthians 10:4-6. We often restrict the idea of “taking every thought captive” to countering the content of theologically inaccurate thoughts. After reading this section, hopefully you can see the benefit of allowing this practice to extend to taking captive patterns of thought that dishonor God and are personally destructive. In the same way that we would want to battle lust at the level of imagination, not just behavior; we want to recognize thinking patterns that allow us to begin taking destructive thoughts captive earlier in the process. In the next chapter we will examine an even more basic level at which to take thoughts captive – motives. Until then, begin paying attention to when these patterns lead you in destructive directions.

Exercise: Write your initials beside each of these patterns of thought to which you frequently succumb. Write the inner dialogue by which you enact these patterns. Ask a friend to read this dialogue to you. See if the logic is as convincing when it is heard in another person’s voice and outside your own mind. Allow this to further awaken you to the way that sin so easily entangles us when we attempt to battle it on our own.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Disordered Eating” post which address other facets of this subject.

8 Ways an Unhealthy Relationship with Food Is Like an Addiction

This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food” seminar. This portion is one element from “STEP 2: ACKNOWLEDGE the breadth and impact of my sin.”

To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events.

Don’t get hung up on whether your relationship with food is an “addiction.” There is no need to engage a discussion of withdrawal symptoms and tolerance levels at this point. Regardless, the dynamics of an addiction can provide us with good questions to assess the severity of our unhealthy relationships with food. Gregory Jantz in Hope, Help, & Healing for Eating Disorders (p. 82-83; bold text only) identifies eight parallels between addiction and disordered eating.

1. Both promise freedom but deliver slavery.

Do you feel like your eating pattern has provided what you hoped it would when you established it? Were things supposed to be “better” or “happier” than this? Gluttony (obsession with food), like any sin, fails to keep its promises. Personifying your relationship with food and being angry with it is one way to better come to grips with how sin lies.

What are some of the promises that your eating patterns have left unfulfilled?

2. Both are progressive.

Your relationship with food did not begin where it is now. Whatever unhealthy roles we ask food to play in our lives grow until we intentionally change them. That is why we have moments of shock when we realize things have gotten “this bad.” It is important not to fall back into denial during these moments of grace.

What are some “moments of clarity” when you realize how things were worse than you realized?

3. Both are deceptive.

We can’t believe our own eyes and thoughts are caught up in destructive eating patterns. Whether we’re telling ourselves we’ll just have a few or saying our emaciated body looks fat, we have a hard time being honest with ourselves (much less anyone else) when we have an unhealthy relationship with food.

What distortions have you noticed in your own thinking and perception about food and weight?

4. Both steal intimacy.

The less honest we are with ourselves the more threatening it is to be close with people who love us enough to be honest with us. It’s not that we don’t want closeness; we do. We hate being alone. We just fear the implications of being more fully-accurately known. Whether it’s isolation or superficiality, an unhealthy relationship with food tempts us to withdraw from people who really care.

How have you noticed your relationships becoming more distant as your disordered eating became more pronounced?

5. Both promote shame.

Whether it is self-loathing or self-deprecating humor, an unhealthy relationship with food will not let you be nice to you. The more secrets you have the more shame you’ll feel. The more we try to distract ourselves from life or control life the more helpless we will feel.

How have your eating patterns contributed to a sense of shame?

6. Both produce spiritual isolation.

What we do or don’t eat will never make us closer to God. But if we’re trying to manage life vis-à-vis what we do or don’t eat, then these patterns will definitely make us feel further from God. The less we trust God with what matters most to us, the less relevant God feels for our life. Disordered eating is often strong evidence of trying to manage life without God.

How have your eating patterns added to the sense that God doesn’t care or isn’t willing to engage with you?

7. Both cause physiological changes.

Our habits change our bodies. We will provide a more detailed discussion of this later, but for now ask yourself the question, “How have my eating patterns changed my body in unhealthy ways?” As you reflect on this question focus more on health matters than body figure.

8. Both lead us to accept fear and anxiety as a normal part of daily life.

The more we manipulate life with destructive patterns the scarier it is to think of engaging life in healthy ways. The idea of eating what “experts” call “healthy” seems frighteningly unrealistic when that has not been our lifestyle.

What parts of a healthy relationship with food causes you to feel upset (anxious, offended, defeated, etc…)?

Another aspect of an unhealthy relationship with food can be the behavioral pattern of weighing yourself. The number on the scale can easily become our glory or our condemnation. In reality, it’s neither; it’s just a temporal fact. Here are some recommendations to help you break a “scale addiction.”

  • If your struggle is with anorexia or bulimia, only weight yourself with your physician or counselor.
  • Only weigh yourself one time per week; short-term fluctuations don’t mean as much as we feel they do.
  • When you weigh, always weigh at the same time of day; this provides a more accurate comparison.
  • If you have been practicing good body stewardship, don’t weigh. The number is not the most important thing.
  • If you are not emotionally prepared to be disappointed, don’t weigh.
  • When you like the number, don’t allow that joy to supplant satisfaction with being a good steward of your body.

Read I Corinthians 10:23-24. One of the classic defenses of addictive behavior is the question “What is so wrong with [blank]?” and the blank is filled with a minimized description of the addictive behavior. This passage, which is about food, answers that question with nothing and everything. There may be nothing technically wrong with the behavior, but if it is destroying or controlling you, then it is against God’s design for your life. A key litmus test is how this behavior impacts relationships (v. 24). Does it facilitate more meaningful friendship? Is it a blessing you would want for others? Does it lead to you being more authentic? Does it lead to you being more vain (self-centered) or caring (other-minded)?

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Disordered Eating” post which address other facets of this subject.

10 Phrases that Encapsulate Your Journey with an Eating Disorder

This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food” seminar. This portion is one element from “STEP 1: ADMIT I have a struggle I cannot overcome without God.”

To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events.

Read Provebs 23:7. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you (NKJV).” Our thoughts reveal our hearts (Luke 6:45). So we can trace our journey in phrases as well as stages. Below you will find ten phrases that capture our journey to a healthy relationship with food (adapted from Carolyn Costin & Gwen Schubert Grabb in 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder p. 14-16; bold text only). Use these as a tool to help you locate yourself as you listen to yourself. The better we are at listening to ourselves the fewer setbacks we will experience and the shorter those setbacks will be.

As you read these, gain an appreciation for how change is a process; not a single leap from where we are to where God wants us to be. Realize afresh that God is kind and patient; walking us along the journey of change at a human pace. When we think “I can’t do it” we are usually trying to cover multiple segments of change all in one moment. Allow this study to prevent you from being overwhelmed by the totality of the journey and grow your contentment to take each step by God’s grace and in his strength.

1. “I don’t think I have a problem.” (Denial)

Chances are you wouldn’t be beginning this study if there was not some reason for concern. If this is where you are, consider making this statement, “I would like to fairly assess my relationship with food to determine whether it honors God and is contributing to me living the full-satisfying life God intends.” The goal of this study is to avoid taking anything from you that is serving you well. You will make every choice along the way. We simply ask that you have the courage to be honest.

2. “I might have a problem but it’s not that bad.” (Minimizing)

“That bad” is a loaded phrase. Unless we’re in the hospital we don’t think we’re “that bad” and, even then, we can easily rationalize that the doctor is being unreasonable or that since we understand the dangers we can control our eating habits better. It is the wise person who assesses the degree of their struggle before a crisis forces them to. That is what you’ll begin doing in the early steps of this study.

“There is no particular body shape or appearance that someone must have in order to qualify for having an eating disorder. Anyone—male or female—of any race, age, height, or weight can have an eating disorder… Many people with eating disorders do not seek help, because they do not feel as if they look sick enough to have an eating disorder (p. 63).” Jenni Schaeffer in Life Without Ed

3. “I have a problem but I don’t care.” (Ambivalence)

We see the conflict that exists inside our own soul again. It is so easy for us to see something detracting from our life and not care. “I’m going to die of something. Why not this?” We can easily rationalize. If the issue was merely your right to choose what you want for your life this logic would be fine. But our stated goal is to steward the life and body God entrusted to us. That radically changes our logic.

“Start by admitting how reluctant you are—this might be the first honest thing you have done with your obsession in a long time (p. 14).” Ed Welch in Eating Disorders: The Quest for Thinness

“We don’t own our bodies; they are not ours to abuse or care for according to our own perceived wants or desires. On the contrary, not only did God create us; he paid a high price to redeem us. And when he redeemed us, he didn’t just redeem our souls; he redeemed our bodies and claims them for his use as well. Therefore honor God with your bodies (referencing I Corinthians 6:19-20; p. 46-47)… How we treat our bodies is a question of stewardship even before it is a question of health, comfort, enjoyment, or pleasure (p. 47).” Gary Thomas in Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul

4. “I want to change but I don’t know how and I’m scared.” (Panic)

This is why ambivalence is so appealing. We often get to this phrase and go backwards instead of forward. When we commit to the journey we become intimidated by its length. That is normal and understandable. It is part of the process. Don’t condemn yourself for it. Admit it and be honest with God about it. Let Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you [God],” be your perpetual prayer when this is your dominant thought. God is honored when we run to him with our fears; like a parent is honored when their child instinctively runs to them when they are afraid.

5. “I tried to change but I couldn’t.” (Despair)

We have to come to the end of ourselves before we will rely on God. Despair is the first step towards reliance. This is another uncomfortably-good part of the journey. You will fail many times on this journey. You are fighting your sin nature, not just a bad habit. At this point, simply commit to fail-forward into God’s grace and strength. Despair that takes you to God is your friend; you will find that it was the seed of hope instead of destruction. If you feel stuck here, read the book of Ecclesiastes. Notice how God inspired a whole book of dead-ends in order to show his patience, grace, and wisdom to guide people in the process of change.

6. “I can stop some of the behaviors but not all of them.” (Early Change)

We prefer results over process, but one key mark of people who achieve great things is their ability to savor each increment of progress rather than being perpetually discouraged about how far there is to go. In kindergarten we started by being able to recognize “some of the letters” but thought memorizing the whole alphabet and learning to read was impossible. Now you’re breezing through this study (at least the reading part). Your emotional response to this journey may be just as daunting, but if you stay the course, it will be just as rewarding as learning to read.

7. “I can stop the behaviors but not my thoughts.” (Middle Change)

Behaviors are more tangible than thoughts and emotions, so it makes sense that one would change before the other. Don’t become disheartened by what is predictable. This will be a season when you strengthen your ability to “take every thought captive” (II Cor. 10:5), but allow God’s faithfulness with your behaviors to be seen as a down payment on his faithfulness with your thoughts and emotions. By this point in your journey, you will have already come farther than you thought possible at the beginning.

8. “I am often free from behaviors and thoughts but not all of the time.” (Latter Change)

The more freedom we experience the more troubling setbacks and temptation can feel. When setbacks were a lifestyle, we experienced them as “normal” so they didn’t bother us. When you get to this stage you may experience more upset because of a lesser setback than you do now for a greater set back. That is actually a good thing. It will mean your conscience and sense of normalcy have acclimated to an expectation that you will live more in accord with God’s design for how you steward your body and life.

9. “I am free from behaviors and thoughts.” (Mature Change)

Don’t assume, “My life will always be this hard if I try to have a healthy relationship with food and steward my body well.” It won’t. You will begin to enjoy healthy so much that unhealthy makes much less sense to you. This requires relinquishing many of the idols that fuel your current relationship with food (step three) and establishing a lifestyle where healthy habits are part of your rhythms of life (steps six and seven), but you are not signing up to fight a perpetual battle that will be as hard as it feels right now.

10. “I am recovered.” (Recovered)

Our sanctification – stewarding our life as Christ would – will never be complete in this life. But you will not need to say, “Hello, my name is [blank] and I have a destructively unhealthy relationship with food” for the rest of your life. The definition below captures well what it means to be “recovered.”

“Being recovered is when the person can accept his or her natural body size and shape and no longer has a self-destructive relationship with food or exercise. When you are recovered, food and weight take a proper perspective in your life, and what you weigh is not more important than who you are; in fact, actual numbers are of little or no importance at all. When recovered, you will not compromise your health or betray your soul to look a certain way, wear a certain size, or reach a certain number on the scale. When you are recovered, you do not use eating disordered behaviors to deal with, distract from, or cope with other problems (p. 16-17).” Carolyn Costin & Gwen Schubert Grabb in 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder

Exercise: In the margin beside these ten phrases write “today” beside where you are now. Write significant dates or events in the margin that came to mind when you read each description. This journey will not be as linear as these ten phrases or the nine steps of this study might imply. Use these phrases and this study to orient you to (a) locate where a given moment of struggle is in the process of change, (b) reinforce the appropriate and most effective approaches to that part of the struggle, and (c) avoid the mentality of thinking you have to be “all better” or might as well “give in.”

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Disordered Eating” post which address other facets of this subject.

Tweets of the Week 10.20.15

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

5 Levels of Motivation to Change an Eating Disorder

This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food” seminar. This portion is one element from “STEP 1: ADMIT I have a struggle I cannot overcome without God.”

To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events.

“Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a couple dozen times,” captures well the pattern of trying to change our relationship with food. We want to, but we don’t. We’re motivated, but we’re not. We think we should, but wish people would just leave us alone. This mindset is called “ambivalence” – feeling two contradictory emotions about the same thing. Even if we didn’t know what ambivalence was, we’re good at it.

Read James 1:5-8. This is often a guilt passage. We read it and think, “If it applies to me, I should freak out because it sounds really bad.” Start with verse five and realize the passage begins with presenting God as generous. God is not upset about supplying what we need in our double-minded moments. This will help you not doubt there is hope for your fickle desire to change (v. 6). God is a gentleman. He won’t change us against our will (v. 7). But God is also loving and warns us against the dangers of our double-minded tendency. At this stage in your journey, you’re just getting comfortable with what God already knows. There is hope because God is not surprised even if we are surprised when we admit how bad things have gotten. Hope begins where you are and God will always join you there.

You need to name this tendency early in your journey or this attempt will merely be the latest edition of your good intentions. Don’t feel ashamed of your conflicted motives. God already knows and he still wants to help. The only person you can lie to is yourself and those who love you. In this section, you will look at five levels of motivation from Carolyn Costin & Gwen Schubert Grabb in 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder (p. 19-22; bold text only). In the parentheses we’ll map out how these correlate with the nine step journey of this study.

  1. Pre-Contemplation (before you started): This is the stage when we think our relationship with food is fine. You are annoyed and offended if someone suggests that changing your eating or exercise habits would be a good idea. “Change” is a concept met with resistance instead of consideration.
  2. Contemplation (step one): Now you are beginning to believe that change might be beneficial and are wondering what the process might look like. You are trying to decide if change is “possible,” and, if so, if it’s “worth it.” You want to know what would be required of you and whether these sacrifices would produce a more satisfying life than continuing to neglect them.
  3. Preparation (steps two to four): In this phase your consideration becomes more concrete. You gather the information necessary to enact an effective and sustainable plan. You assess obstacles; both logistical (external) and motivational (internal). You begin to enlist people to come alongside of you for the journey.
  4. Action (steps five to seven): At this point plans come to life; ideas become choices. Progress is made and setbacks are navigated. There are successes and failures, but the trajectory of your journey is forward. Techniques become habits and habits become a lifestyle. You begin to enjoy the fruit of living differently.
  5. Maintenance (steps eight and nine): A new lifestyle is embraced. Increasingly your emotions and thought patterns conform to this new lifestyle of stewarding your body for the glory of God. You learn to navigate changes related to events (e.g., wedding or a vacation) and life changes (e.g., metabolism changes with age).

Exercise: In the margin beside these five levels of motivation write “today” beside where your motivation is now. Write significant dates or events in the margin that came to mind when you read each description. Avoid writing the names of people. It’s not that we can’t learn from others, but there is a tendency to compare ourselves to others and say, “I’m not like them. This would be easier if I were.” Whether that is true to not, it’s not useful. This is your journey. No one will take it but you. Do not feed that habit of distracting-discouraging yourself with comparisons.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Disordered Eating” post which address other facets of this subject.