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Can We Compare Apples to Oranges or Apples to Pears?

“Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.” Faith Baldwin

By Susan Parish Walker

Can we compare apples to oranges or apples to pears? When one compares their body type to another person’s body type it is similar to comparing apples to oranges or an apple shaped body to a pear shaped body. If one is comparing their body type to others it becomes a futile attempt when there is such a remote chance that you have similar metabolic rates and body types. A women’s metabolic rate slows down approximately two to three percent every decade. A myriad of issues may affect the metabolic rate in a negative manner such as stress, hormonal imbalances, dieting, and the aging process. However, exercise increases the metabolic rate and women who exercise moderately generally maintain a healthy weight range throughout their lifespan.

Comparing Bodies

Let’s do a little retail therapy! Is a size 6 the same in all retail stores? Absolutely not! A size 6 at The Gap may be a size 8 at The Polo Store and various designers tailor their clothing in such a way that the sizes vary. However, if you go shopping many times girls and women in particular refuse to buy a larger clothing size. At the end of the day if you actually compare the waist of the different sizes of clothing they are all pretty much the same. Why have the weight on the scales and the size of the clothing becomes an obsession for American women?

Clearly, gender differences result in different body types and genetic predispositions play a significant role in the development of one’s body type. Men and women differ greatly in body types, body images, and how they maintain a healthy weight. Male and female reactions to lifestyle behaviors are varied and contingent upon physiological and biological factors such as behavioral history, genetics, and childhood.

This addresses biological risks that may affect one’s body type such as:  (1) Resting metabolic rate; (2) Fat-metabolizing enzymes; (3) Set point theory; and (4) Fat cell theory.

More specifically, fat cells are produced during the last trimester of prenatal life up to the first year of life between the ages of four and seven, and during the years between nine and thirteen. The fat cell production affects everyone’s weight management for throughout their lifespan.

Breaking the Rules of an Eating Disorder

By Natalie Hutson, M.S., L.P.C.

Eating Disorder Deception: You are an exception to the rule.

The eating disorder has a way of making people feel very special- like they are an exception to the rule. People with eating disorders often have thoughts such as: “If YOU eat this or that, YOU will become fat.” “If YOU don’t exercise, YOU are a failure.” If YOU aren’t completely selfless, YOU are selfish.” “If YOU seek out help, YOU are weak.” Now, these rules don’t apply to anyone else; they only apply to the special, select few who battle the eating disorder.

Eating disorders often make people feel special in the area of self-compassion. Everyone else deserves to be loved for who they are, but eating disorder sufferers are somehow special and somehow have to earn the love they receive from other people.

The reality is that even though we, as people, are unique individuals with many different character qualities and personality strengths, we are alike in the sense that a rule is a rule. If one do not believe other people should follow the many rigid rules inherent in an eating disorder, why should eating disorder sufferers abide by these harsh rules?

Today, make it a goal to think about one “Exception to the rule” the eating disorder may tell you or someone you love and BREAK THE RULE! We all have a rebellious side, so this is permission to unleash the rebel within for a positive result! Have a great day!

Altering Body Image Distortions as Part of Eating Disorder Treatment

Early in their treatment most patients with formal eating disorders have a gross misunderstanding of the meaning of “body image”. These patients are aware that the term refers to how the body is viewed, but the method for altering poor body image is imagined to be changing the body. When patients understand that it is the distortions in the mind that require change they often feel discouraged. Anything contrary to a loathsome view of their bodies is what these patients view as distorted. Patients experience such negativity as objective truth that negates competing sources of self-evaluation.Body Image Distortion

Worsening their dilemma is the cycle of futility created by patients’ belief in an inferior body co-existing with, and reinforced by an obsessive pursuit of impossible physical perfection. This cycle is difficult to interrupt because both the pursuit of perfection and the belief in physical inferiority are driven by a deeply held assumption that appearance, weight, and shape are inextricably linked to self-worth. Patients’ self reports often indicate acknowledgment of accomplishments, talents, intelligence, creativity, compassion, and other aspects of personal value. However, these are seen as inconsequential compared to the value of appearance. Multitudinous evidence of personal value is summarily dismissed because the patient believes her true standard of worth (her body) is sub-standard. She believes that her worth would be proven if only her body were perfect; and because that perfection is hopelessly elusive, her value is unalterably undermined.

Images of idealized female beauty are marketed as the normal and desired standard, and are virtually inescapable in our media saturated culture. Exposure to this relentless urging to pursue unreal physical perfection and thinness is thought to detrimentally influence the self-esteem of most girls and women. Indeed, evidence suggests that the non-clinical population experiences significant and persistent body dissatisfaction. A research summary from the Social Issues Research Centre cites a study indicating that 81% of girls had already dieted by the age of ten. The centre also cites recent research indicating an increase in body dissatisfaction among adolescent and middle-aged males, attributed in part to increased presentations of unrealistic images of male beauty.

Among the clinical population, most, but not all patients with eating disorders suffer from distorted body image, according to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The authors suggested that, if replicated, their findings might indicate a need for revision of the DSM diagnostic criteria for formal eating disorders, which currently include body image distortion. That said, while many women with normal eating habits adopt a critical stance toward their bodies, and not all persons with eating disorders suffer from extreme body image distortions, it is rare in our clinic to see a patient who does not suffer more than the average person from distorted body image. Rita Carter in her book Mapping the Mind states, “anorexics…may have impaired hypothalamic function”, positing that “limbic area dysfunction is increasingly seen to play a part in eating disorders”. Carter also names cultural influences as culpable in patients’ distorted body images.  “An anorexic’s ambition to be thinner-than-thin, or the bulimic’s determination to prevent their body from absorbing what they have eaten, are conceived in the conscious part of the brain and clearly have a lot to do with the way that a person thinks.” Carter suggests that eating disorders are open to interventions that address both physiological disturbances and mental distortions.

Mental distortions are addressed in Walker Wellness Clinic’s body image groups for adolescents and adults with evidence-based interventions based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy methods and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Patients are shown how to reduce anxiety and loosen the grip of negative beliefs by distancing themselves from distorted thoughts and overwhelming emotions. Patients then become more open to exploring and disputing negative self-talk and other self-defeating habits. The resulting glimpse of a more affirming relationship with the body introduces a sense of hope; and hope becomes the patient’s strongest ally in exchanging a sense of futility for the will to continue the arduous process of body image alteration.

photo credit: by Janine via photopin cc

Cognitive Distortions for Eating Disorders

By: Susan Parish-Walker, M.S., L.P.C.

All or Nothing Thinking:  You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
Example:  “I can either have all of the birthday cake or none at all.”

Over generalization:  You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
Example:  “I ate some pizza last evening so I am going to fail to maintain my weight.”

Mental Filter:  You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all realities becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.  Example: “I ate too many fat grams today and did not exercise and I will become really overweight.”

Disqualifying The Positive:  You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences. Example:  “Although I made a good grade on my biology exam the test was easier and I just got lucky.”

Jumping To Conclusions:  You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion. (A.). Mindreading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check this out. (B). The Fortune Teller Error:  You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that you prediction is an already established fact.

Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization:
  You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”  Example:  “I gained 3 pounds and I know that one day I will have morbid obesity.”

Emotional Reasoning:  You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are. Example:  “I feel that I am so fat, therefore it must be true.”

Should Statements:  You try to motivate yourself with should and shouldn’t, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment. Example: “I should be very thin like Cindy Crawford or the models in Vogue.”

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