My Virtual FitBit Group Promotes Health, Self-Care, and Body Acceptance!

My Virtual FitBit Group Promotes Health, Self-Care, and Body Acceptance!

By Erica Leon, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD

Changing our behavior is never easy, especially as we get older. As a former aerobics instructor, fitness was always a passion for me, and exercise was built into my workday. After a serious injury and getting tired of the gym, I began looking for new ways to move my body for both physical and emotional health. I found it in a most unlikely place—the Internet.

I received a FitBit fitness tracker as a gift. Now all the rage, fitness trackers “count” steps, miles, fitness intensity, and other data depending on the brand. To my surprise, the pride and satisfaction I felt when reaching 10,000 steps, or any other goal I set for myself, proved to be the boost I needed. I embarked on a mission to find other women who, like me, wanted support becoming healthier using their fitness trackers and setting realistic and achievable goals. I found several communities on the FitBit website and learned that members often form private Facebook groups to support one another.

I joined a few groups and recognized the flip side to using fitness trackers that are important to keep in mind. Some people can become quite obsessive about tracking their steps, much like tracking calories or points. I rejected any group with members whose focus was dieting, weight loss, or any type of obsessive behavior. I found several women my age just looking to be healthy.

Over the past few snowy months, our merry little group of “FitBit Women Warriors Over 50” has grown in size and in friendship. I have shared ups and downs with women from almost every U.S. state, as well as those from Canada, Australia, and England. We motivate each other to move more and eat in a healthy, balanced way. In short, we encourage each other to care for our bodies by eating for satisfaction and hunger and moving more because it feels good—especially seeing our step counts increase.

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We have a fearless leader who took it upon her self to organize group challenges on Sundays. We all push each other to be accountable for our goals. One Sunday while shoveling show, I imagined myself walking on a sandy beach with warm ocean breezes. We cheered each other on as we spent a full week walking 35.02 virtual miles around the Cayman Islands. On another Sunday, we worked together to complete a puzzle challenge. Pieces of the puzzle would be revealed each time an individual met her own personal exercise goal. Said one group member, “the challenges have triggered my competitive side and made me get my rear in gear!!”

When asked to describe what health meant to them, here were some responses:

“Health means taking care of your body physically, nutritionally, spiritually, and emotionally! It means living each day to the fullest.”

“Finally enjoying foods that are good for me as opposed to snack foods and finding that my body responds well to them.”

“I finally feel good in my own skin.”

“Having vibrant energy to go and do all the things you want to do. Your options are limitless!!!

Women at every stage of life can benefit from discovering their own paths to improved health. We often take ourselves for granted and care for other people first. Finding time for balanced exercise, healthy and regular meals, and friendship and support is equally important.

 

 

Raising a Child to Love Their Body

Raising a Child to Love Their Body
By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD

I was recently out with a group of “mom friends”, having one of those conversations talking about anything and everything related to our kids, all under 1 year old.  Our conversation turned into an honest discussion about raising our children to be anti-dieting, body image-loving, positive self-esteemed individuals.  My friends were worried about being a good example to their daughters, teaching self-esteem, and hoping that their girls will learn to love their bodies.  These moms were especially worried about raising girls, but this is a topic for every mom- mothers of sons included!  I claim to be an expert in this area but it’s honestly something I’m concerned about too.  I had just talked about losing the last few pounds of my post-pregnancy weight 10 minutes before this part of the conversation came up.  My point is that my advice for moms and dads is something I am going to be working on as well.  I think moms can all learn from one another and support each other to raise confident children.

Photo Credit: uLightMe via Compfight cc

Here are my favorite tips:

  1. Eliminate fat talk:  Take a good look at yourself and your environment.  Do you criticize yourself in the mirror?  Do you complain about being “fat”?  Your kids will learn from you.  Eliminate this kind of dialogue in your life to other people and especially to yourself.
  2. Feel good about your body:  Replace the fat talk with positive talk.  Do something each day to make you feel good about your body.  One of my favorite tricks is something I heard from a therapist:  Take a tube of red lipstick and write on your mirror “I am beautiful because…” and everytime you look in your mirror, you have to answer the question.
  3. Model healthy behaviors with food:  Show your child a healthy relationship with food by eating balanced meals and snacks.  Don’t restrict and binge.  Have a wide variety of food in your diet, including food from all food groups, including nutritious and less nutritious foods.  Have desserts and fruits and vegetables in your life, and teach your child how to enjoy these foods in a healthy way.
  4. Make time to move with your family:  Exercise as a way to feel good, not just burn calories.  Pick an activity you love and make time for it.  Treat this as part of your self-care routine.
  5. Introduce the concepts of “hungry” and “full” as early as possible:  Children are born with the skill to stop eating when they are full but gradually lose this with environmental influence.  In order to prevent the dieting “restriction” mindset, it’s important to teach children it’s natural to eat when they are hungry.  Therefore, it will be natural to stop eating when full and satisfied.
  6. Do not label food (or yourself) as “good” and “bad”:  Every food is included in a healthy lifestyle, no matter what.  Restriction of “bad foods” can lead to bingeing.  Don’t say “oh I had a good/bad day” because nutrition is not all-or-nothing!
  7. Never force your child to clean his/her plate:  This will alter kid’s perception of how much they should eat.  If they don’t eat at this particular meal, there is always the next meal or snack to make up for missed food.
  8. Talk about how bodies come in all different shapes and sizes:  Respect other body types and talk about how people look different because everyone is unique and special.
  9. Spread the word:  I love movements like “Operation Beautiful”, which spread the message of positive self-esteem and self-worth.  Teach children to participate and have fun doing so!

Congratulations to Our "Intuitive Eating" Winners!

Congratulations to our “Intuitive Eating” winners, Melissa Cadle and Cara L. Sachs!

Congratulations on winning a copy of Intuitive Eating by  Evelyn Tribole M.S., RD. and Elyse Resch M.S., R.D., F.A., D.A —A book that encourages the Non-Diet Approach and a lifestyle towards healthy eating.

Tweet @MomDishesItOut with your info or email us at cipulloRD@aol.com

Thanks for playing and remember to check back every week for our Monday Giveaway!

Help, My Daughter Is Overweight.

By Real Moms: Guest Blogger Elyse Falk, MS, RD and Laura Cipullo RD, CDE

Real Mom Question: How do I help my 13-year-old daughter who is overweight?

Real Moms Answer: For females, there are a lot of hormonal prepubescent changes that happen around this age.  The body is getting ready for menstruation and womanhood.  Weight gain is normal during this time. Don’t get overexcited by this increase in weight or body fat. This is normal and necessary.

Avoid diets

If your daughter is sensitive to her recent weight gain or her body image, sit down and have a heart to heart conversation with her. Recognize she may want to try different diets at this point in her life. Many tweens or teens choose to try vegetarian intakes around this point (See our article in the Publication Tweens and Teens).  For us, as women and especially as mothers working in the field of eating disorders, the word diet conjures only negative feelings such as deprivation, restriction, sadness, failure, and being “bad” when you “cheat” on the diet, etc.  The list goes on and on. There are too many girls and moms that feel badly when they eat a food that would be forbidden on a diet. Therefore, at all costs, discourage your daughter from dieting. Instead, help to foster body acceptance, balanced eating and lifestyles changes if and when needed.

75-90 % of the Time, Eat Healthy

Teaching our children, tweens and teens to eat in a healthy and balanced way is of utmost importance.  What do we mean by healthy?  Eating when one is physically hungry and recognizing when one’s stomach feels full; Not eating for emotional or behavioral reasons like many tweens and teens do. The idea is to eat foods that help our physical body work properly and prevent disease while eating adequately and varied to encourage mental wellness.  A healthy attitude is to eat the foods that help our body about >/=75 – 90 percent of the time; the other 10 – 25% percent of our intake can include the foods that Elyse calls “yum yum” foods or Laura calls “sometimes” foods: ice pops, candy, baked goods, fried foods etc..

Make it a Family Affair

It’s important for our tweens and teens to have positive role models for eating and movement. Parents and caregivers have a great influence on this, so think about how you eat and exercise.  Think about how your family eats and moves? The goal is to have the entire family eating a varied intake of everyday foods and moving regularly for fun and for heart health. Be sure to try for family meals, plan family activities such as walks, bike rides and even hikes. If your teenager always wants to snack, keep fresh fruit, veggies, lean proteins and low fat calcium foods in the house at all times.  A whole grain low sugar cereal with low fat milk is always a great option as well.  Don’t try to control or restrict your child. Rather provide food and active opportunities and let them make the choices

Forget the Scale

Be aware of your 13 year old’s behaviors and mood. If your teenager is skipping breakfast, it can lead to an over-hungry state, which can result in overeating later in the day.  It can also lead to mood swings. Talk to your daughter about behaviors and mood swings but never say you are fat, too heavy or need to lose weight. And please never put them on a scale.

Avoid Guilt

Recognize, sometimes your daughter may feel bad about eating “too” much after having restricted all day. Then this guilt results in future restriction, meaning skipping meals or eating very little calories over a long period of time. Again, this only leads to being over-hungry and then over eating again likely binging. Unfortunately, this has the potential to turn into vicious dieting cycle.

Prevent Skipping Meals

To help prevent your daughter from restricting her food intake be sure to keep fast and easy breakfast options in the house: an organic yogurt smoothie with extra protein powder, ¼ cup almonds and fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs with a toasted pita, low sugar protein/nut bars, pbj sandwiches, whole grain waffles topped with nut butter and bananas are all great options to start the day.  Ensuring breakfast is eaten will help to guarantee meals are not being skipped and the day is heading in a proactive direction.

Encourage Internal Self Regulation

Make a conscious effort to see if your teenager is eating regularly for physical reasons.  Educate them to adhere to a feeding schedule for meals and snacks to prevent restricting and binging.  Eating every 3 to 4 hours is normal and helpful.  If you feel that your child is eating immediately after a full meal, encourage her to use a hunger fullness scale to identify internal cues for portion control. Maybe she is eating because she feels stressed, anxious, or nervous.  If this is the case, help your daughter learn new coping skills and or offer hugs and your listening ear when she needs you.

Eat for Physical Hunger

So the message is avoid having your daughters diet regardless of your concerns or your daughter’s concerns for her body weight. Allow her body to go through puberty and encourage all foods in moderation and moving for energy. Provide varied foods and a safe place to talk about food and body. Avoid judging your daughters body and instead focus on behaviors and moods. If weight loss is needed, lifestyle behavior changes and eating for only physical reasons usually helps to make your teen grow into the body they were born to have.

Mom Is Dishing Out 2 Copies of Intuitive Eating!

In Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole M.S., RD. and Elyse Resch M.S., R.D., F.A., D.A., discuss the dieting mentality and how freeing oneself from it can help one “make peace with food.” They introduce Intuitive Eating–a program that encourages an individual to use hunger signals, to eat in balance and moderation and most of all, “to rediscover the pleasures of eating and rebuild your body image.”

Thanks to Gürze Books, Mom Dishes It Out will be giving away Intuitive Eating to 2 lucky followers!

Want to enter for a chance to win a copy of Intuitive Eating?

Enter by one of the following ways:

Let us know what you like about the book and you could be one of the lucky winners!
Winners will be announced on Friday, August 31, 2012 at 6:00 PM EST.

"My Body, My Food, My Way"

Moms and daughters, teens and tweens: Read with love and follow with care…This week’s post features a piece entitled “My Body, My Food, My Way”

 

Food is for fuel, not love.

Photo Credit: Chris Blakeley via Compfight cc

Parents, here is a letter wrote by one of my clients. May it be a lesson to all parents and policy makers that children are worthy and beautiful no matter what size they are. Children should not be put on diets, restricted or told they are not okay because they have a belly, thicker legs, or are hungrier than their siblings. Research and my clients prove that restriction and dieting causes binging, self-loathing and obesity. Read this letter and think what you can do to tell your children that they are special no matter what. Find words to encourage your children to internally regulate their portions based on hunger and fullness. Teach your children that success is balance, trying something, not perfecting it. Tell your children your love is unconditional.

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

At 34 years old I am finally coming to value my worth, my body and my needs. As you know I have struggled with my identity, my weight and my self worth since we did weight watchers together at age 12.

After, 11 years of therapy, and a few months of nutrition counseling, I have finally realized, food is not my problem. My problem is I have lumped food and feelings into the same pot. I used to eat for love, for protection, to feel safe, to prevent myself from failing, to comfort my loneliness every weekend, to feel I deserved.

But, now I am finally learning to separate food from feelings. I am learning to feed myself and feed myself foods based on how they physically make me feel rather than how they emotionally make me feel or not feel. I have started to exercise for enjoyment and am slowly realizing I am worthy even though I am not what you have deemed skinny.  I have started to rebuild my foundation and nurture myself.  I am learning to accept that what makes me beautiful is not the number on the scale or the size of my jeans, but how I treat myself and how I allow other people to treat me.  Mom and Dad, I know you didn’t mean to do this to me, but you never focused on what made me okay, worthy or beautiful. I need you to know the real me that I am getting to know, the woman who is funny and beautiful, who is smart and in control of her life.  You see, I never needed all of the food, I just needed your acceptance.  But now I am learning to accept myself and now I am realizing I don’t need the food anymore.

With Love,
Your Daughter

A Therapist's Changing Body – Guest Blog

Photo Credit: bengrey via Compfight cc

Today’s guest blog from Psychotherapist Jessica Aronson touches on a question that many working women and expecting moms often wonder. What can we do as parents or professionals to teach others (kids and adults alike) to both respect and feel comfortable with the inevitable physical changes as they grow, from puberty to pregnancy? How can we learn to cope with our bodies through different stages of life?

As you know, this is a topic I hold near and dear to my heart. Her account is decidedly honest, and I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to join in the conversation in the comments section below.

A Therapist’s Changing Body

By: Jessica Aronson, LCSW-R, ACSW, CGP Psychotherapist http://www.wmhcnyc.org/aronson/ www.jkpassages.com

As I anxiously and joyously await the arrival of my second child, another boy, I am reminded of the process all over again. It’s no longer just my client and I sitting in the room; with my son growing inside of me, there are three of us now.

My clients in particular are heightened to these changes. Having worked with eating disorder patients for more than 10 years, I’m familiar with—and prepared for—the comments: “You look great, did you change your hair?” or “You’re so little,” or “You’re wearing colors today.”

So it wasn’t all that surprising that the comments continued as I too continued to grow and change. People have remarked on how big I’ve gotten; how my skin has broken out; how uncomfortable I must be (and am). The list goes on.

At eight months pregnant, there is no way to hide my belly. It now shares the sacred space of a therapy session, a place that’s otherwise reserved solely for my patient and myself. That being said, I nevertheless try not to talk about my pregnancy or my changing body with my patients at great length, as it leaves me exposed and vulnerable as their therapist.

When the situation seems appropriate, however, I do push myself to inquire as to what thoughts and feelings my changing body and unborn child brings up for them. Clients have shared feeling uncomfortable by the size of my belly. They’ve expressed sympathy as well as the desire to take care of me by offering me a seat on the couch. They’ve expressed fears about my maternity leave.

Of course, there is no way to avoid these changes—or the physical changes any woman experiences during the course of their pregnancy. And while I know it is so important to use my own position as an opportunity to help my clients explore their own feelings and fears about pregnancy and weight fluctuation, I am also honest when I say that, as a therapist, I feel very exposed and vulnerable in doing so. Sure, I am happy to make this sacrifice to benefit my clients. I’m just far less enthusiastic about sharing it with strangers.

Many of my clients stayed with me through my first pregnancy, but I still struggle to cope with my own discomfort (as the baby kicks and moves inside me), as well as anxieties and fears that arise while in sessions with patients. Like any transition or change in a therapist’s life, this too is major. We just can’t hide or cover this one up.

 

37 Pounds Of Love

This mom is not dishing on her kid’s food habits today. Instead, I am hoping to relieve moms of the new social mindset that pregnant women should sport a bump—and only a bump—during the most beautiful nine months of their lives.

In recent years, pregnancy has become fashionable—an accessory to flaunt. With all the attention on celebrity pregnancies, of course, weight gain and weight loss post-delivery have surged into the spotlight. At times, it can seem like a competition between who can gain the least amount of weight and lose it quickly afterward. (I believe it was Bethenny Frankel who lost 30 pounds in less than a month and Rachel Zoe who limited her weight gain to between 12 and 15 pounds.)

As I walk through the streets of Manhattan, I see pregnant women strolling around the city sporting their baby bump—so cute. Women looked beautiful with their bumps even before it was a trend—before it was more fashionable than the label on their mom jeans.

And while pregnancy is supposed to give women that inexplicable glow, now, pregnancy is more about how much weight you didn’t gain.

Because of my profession, but also as a woman living in a trend-driven urban center, I see and hear it all the time: women who worry that they’re gaining too much weight and who don’t understand why they gained 20 pounds when their best girlfriend only gained 15. As a RD, CDE, I have a special understanding that what we feed ourselves affects our unborn child. I understand that an increase in blood sugar puts the baby at risk for high blood sugar too.

For these reasons, when we talk about a healthy weight for pregnancy, I encourage pregnant women to focus on self-care—eating a balanced intake of food and reaching for more if and when you are in fact hungry for more.

Pregnancy should be about you and your baby, not about restricting your intake to flaunt the latest vogue, be it crop tops or jeggings below your bump. Because if we aren’t careful, pregnancy could become one of the many factors that trigger an eating disorder, which would be an absolute waste of one of the most magical aspects of being a woman.

As there are risks to restricting your intake, there are equal risks to over-consuming during pregnancy. Just so you know, I was told I had gained too much weight during a few weigh-ins during both pregnancies. (FYI, they don’t weigh pregnant women in Europe).

In my case, I knew I couldn’t eat less. I was active during both pregnancies and practiced Pilates and yoga until right before I delivered. I ate carbs, proteins and fats, gaining about 37 pounds in the process. During each pregnancy, I carried differently, felt differently and gained the weight at different times.

The result? Today, I’m fortunate to have two healthy boys. They weighed about 6.12 pounds each at birth. I lost the weight slowly over a nine-month period for my first boy, while the second pregnancy took longer—about 12 months to lose the weight and another 6 months to get my tummy toned again. You don’t need to eat without regard, but you definitely need to be mindful of how you nourish, honor and work with whatever changes your body endures during and after pregnancy.

Ironically, I bumped into a colleague last week—a physician. She is pregnant with her second child and this time gained 60 pounds and developed gestational diabetes.  So you see, we are all susceptible to certain health conditions during pregnancy.

When people ask me how much I gained during my pregnancies because they feel guilty about having gained more than their friends or certain celebrities, I tell them that they need to recognize that their body and baby is their ultimate responsibility.  Moms: Don’t feel pressured to be a super skinny during your pregnancy. Enjoy this 9 to 10 month period that you will never get back. Feed yourself moderately and love your body. Pregnancy can be one of the most special periods in your life if you embrace it. And if you really don’t enjoy being pregnant, that’s OK as well. Just make sure you feed yourself appropriately throughout.