Monday, August 31, 2015

Interview with Diane Israel

Diane Israel

From Diane's website: 
Diane Israel is a psychotherapist and conductor with a private practice in Boulder, Colorado. She is professor of transpersonal counseling psychology and trustee of Naropa University. She ignites students and clients to recognize their wholeness and follow their passions through mind-body integration and celebrating their inherent genius. Her experiences as a world-class runner and triathlete led her to specialize in body image and eating struggles. Her award-winning independent documentary film, Beauty Mark, follows her personal journey as an athlete and explores our race to perfection. She is a end of life care consultant and ally supporting families as they navigate end of life issues.

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Interview with Diane Israel

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Lize and Diane

Friday, August 28, 2015

Social Media and Eating Disorders

I think I have thrown this rant out there before, but I'm in the mood to complain about things again.

There's not a whole lot of improvement in the social media world when it comes to people posting potentially triggering content. When I look at tweets, blogs and facebook posts of people struggling with an eating disorder, I sometimes wonder if all this sharing is a good thing. Of course, there are many who are committed to recovery, and even some who aren't, who can still provide others with some insight, encouragement even. My biggest problem is with those who constantly post questionable content while pretending they are fully recovered.

I aim for honestly in my posts, and my main goal is to help others. That's why you won't see tons of images of my XXX calorie breakfasts or photos of me pretending to lick an ice cream cone. Readers might remember that I have a thing for ice cream. I eat it. I enjoy it, but I don't feel the need to document my desserts in photos. If this were a food blog, it might be a different story. Quite often, I get the feeling that people who post a lot of food images in recovery blogs are trying to convince themselves they are well when maybe that's not the case. In some instances, it's painfully clear it's not.

But I'm not here to bash anyone, mostly because I couldn't do it with as much flair as Anthony Bourdain, but also because I don't want to be mean. I just have a hard time understanding why people who look incredibly unwell would be motivated to post so many potentially damaging images of themselves. I get more upset when I know the inside story and see that the blogger's content paints an entirely different image, one that's not at all truthful.

When I was sick, I wanted to disappear. The last thing I wanted was to be in photographs. I didn't want people to see my bones sticking out in odd places or my pale, sometimes yellowish skin. More than that, though, I was frank about my struggles and at least admitted I had a problem.

Perhaps social media has encouraged a new way for people to seek attention, a way that's not healthy or constructive, but I wonder what goes through the mind of someone who is so dedicated to broadcasting her compulsions. Is it a cry for help? Is it a symptom of narcissism? Maybe it's a warped way of seeking approval. Ultimately, my concern with all these attention-seeking attitudes is that what's depicted in blog posts etc. can end up sending the wrong message, especially to others who might be struggling.

Nobody who's trying to recover needs to be reading: "LOOK AT ME! I WEIGH  XX POUNDS, AND I JUST ATE A CUPCAKE FOR DINNER!" It's fine to eat a cupcake for dessert and even mention it, especially if you're breaking through some fears around it, but do it and be done with it. We don't need to see an entire documentary about your date with a cupcake, the hours and minutes leading up to it and all that goes on relating to it for days and days after the big event. If you want to get into the calories, point exchanges, exercise changes, meal replacements and restrictions leading up to eating the thing, that's not helpful in any way. It's a fucking cupcake.

I want to make it clear, though, that there's a difference between someone committed to recovery posting images of herself enjoying a meal, snack or dessert, maybe even with friends, and someone who's sick posting an image of her 1/2 cup of non-fat yogurt in a bowl with 1/2 a small banana and 10 frozen blueberries claiming it's a "recovery meal" after a 9-mile jog, especially if this person calls herself a coach or life coach. Um, no, that's hardly even a snack! What confuses me more is that these types of posts often get the most likes and encouraging comments, but there's a dangerous message in there, one that the poster should acknowledge. And I'm sorry, but posting something like that probably isn't helping you, your readers or anyone, really, because you're focused on the symptoms.

The struggle for anyone suffering from an eating disorder is real and often life threatening. That's why I get so upset about these kinds of issues. I'm not making light of anything here. I just wish people would move away from their own obsessions with details, numbers and fears and stop inflicting their unhealthy patterns onto others under the guise that it's healthy. Again, I'm not talking about anyone who's merely trying to process -- I do a lot of that here -- or being honest about what she's doing, and I'm definitely not talking about anyone who's seeking help. I'm talking about people who try to give the illusion that they have their shit together when it's so very obvious they don't. Mostly I'm talking about people who are unable to think about how their actions might affect someone else.

There are times when I can't look at running or training blogs, because I know seeing posts from streakers, high-mileage boasters and race-every-weekend types can upset me. That's my own shit. These kinds of posts can be very inspirational to others and probably are. I just don't want to get into comparing where I am with anyone or where I wish I could be with where I am now, but I fully support people being able to post whatever they like. In these instances, it's easy for me to look away and know that I'm not perfect and need to take steps to make sure I'm doing all I can to stay healthy both mentally and physically.

I'm more concerned with people being honest about what they post in so called recovery blogs or health-related blogs. Yes, it's up to the reader to look the other way if need be, but if you claim to be a mentor, health professional, someone in the women's health field or even someone who struggles with an eating disorder, at least have some sense that what you post could possibly negatively affect someone. Ask yourself why you're posting it, and then go one step further and ask yourself what message you're trying to send.

As far as where I'm at with everything, I know that any time I'm getting too caught up in details or other people's issues, it's time for me to take a step back, reflect, listen and search for some inner peace. That's easier to do away from the computer. Sometimes it's just fatiguing to be exposed to other people's shit, but I should have more patience since I was once very ill too. I can't say I'm ever triggered by online content, but I guess I'm somehow affected or at least concerned that others might be and get a little bit angry about how insensitive others can be.

For the record, none of the blogs I follow fall into this category, so if you are looking for inspiration, please feel free to click on any of the links to blogs on my list.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Oh Dear Body I wish you would cooperate.

My head is still mostly in the competitive athlete zone, but my body has moved to the hobby jogger lane.

I ran a 5K today. Leave it to me to get lost in a 5K, but I managed to go off course. It was towards the end of the race, but I lost some momentum and had to backtrack to get on course. It would have been nice if the race official standing at the corner had been on the opposite side to prevent people from going down to the sidewalk. There was a dirt trail above the sidewalk, but I didn't know we would be running on it. I may have let slip an F-bomb or three  Oops. One guy who was behind me ended up quite a bit ahead of me by the time I got back to the dirt path. Major grrr.

A woman running next to her husband who was pushing a baby jogger was in first place pretty much the entire race. As we were approaching the finish line, her husband pulled the stroller over, and she suddenly stopped to take her little girl out. They proceeded to run with the girl at a slow trot. I was coming up behind her and would have felt like a tool if I passed, so I reminded them that the finish line was a bit further. She thought we had just crossed the line. It was a little confusing, because we had to pass all the balloons where we had started earlier and continue to the finish line. Needless to say, I jogged it in behind her and her daughter and congratulated them both once we got to the actual end of the race.

My time was super slow, but I was OK with my effort. I definitely need to work on my confidence, but there are bigger issues to address than learning how to fully race again.

The best way to describe how frustrated I am when I run is to try to imagine running with thick rubber bands around your upper thighs, ones that limit your range of motion. Then stick a sharp knife blade into your left big toe and add a continuous blast of fire underneath it. Toss in a dose of worry about hamstring issues and other minor injuries, and that about does it. I'm running with the idea that I may break at any given moment, so I aim to run up to but hopefully not past what my body can do.

Despite all this, I ran as well as I could. It always feels more like a fast tempo run instead of a race, but that's about what my physical body, in terms of mechanics, can handle right now. It seems like I'm actually building a little bit of fitness, so my heart and lungs and even my mental skills are doing OK. Overall, it was a good day, even if I didn't set any records, except maybe in the slowness department.

I'm super sleepy, about ready to limp to bed with a belly full of yummy noodles from Zoe Ma Ma.

Race start. 

Aids Run at Cheeseman Park in Denver, Co.

Talking to the winner after the race.

The winner and her mom, or maybe it's the other way around.

Diva Dash winner.

Diva Dash.

Monday, August 10, 2015

TOE- Interview with Isabelle Tierney

Isabelle Tierney is a life coach and licensed marriage and family therapist with an M.A. from Tufts University in Child Development. She is the founder of the Body Beloved Renaissance, a counter-cultural movement designed to shift us from shaming our bodies to seeing them as sacred.  Loving our bodies is about more than just accepting how our bodieslook; it’s about falling in love with the intelligence, wisdom and consciousness our bodies hold within. As a pioneering Eating Disorder therapist who previously struggled with bulimia for 30 years, she now helps others move away from unhealthy and self-harming behaviors.

Isabelle Tierney

For more information about Isabelle, click on this link:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Oh Yes I did!

After quite a few years of not racing, I randomly decided to get in over my head and try the Mt. Falcon 15K in Morrison, Co.

Notes about the race that were made clear before the start:

No aid stations or water
Steep four miles up at the start and down at the finish
Shuttle bus to the start

Since it has been forever since I last toed the line, I ended up getting really nervous before the start. I was excited, but I had a feeling it was going to be a gnarly race. At the same time, I was focused primarily on the first four miles, the ascent. I read that there was a 2,000 foot elevation gain in those first miles, and that's what I wanted to run. I figured once I got to the top, I could carefully make my way to the finish line, even if I ended up walking bits of the course. Oh who am I kidding? I didn't want to walk! I gave myself that option, because I haven't been training much over an hour these days. This race was bound to take me into the two hour plus range, even if I had a good day.

The race started well. I ran strong but not crazy to the top, and was in pretty good shape by the time the trail evened out into some nice rolling sections. I even managed to keep my place for probably another mile or so. Someone yelled that I was third or fourth woman. At this point, I was in no-man's land, so I just held steady.

A few times I had to ask people on the trail if I was headed the right direction, and everyone assured me that I was. I was following the orange ribbons in various spots along the course, tied to trees or stuck near the side of the trail. Apparently, I wasn't the only one confused, though. Much later, I ran into a lady coming up a different way right before the final descent. She looked surprised to see me and a few other runners coming from the other direction and announced, "I think I went off course!"

All was fine until I started to go down and down and down. I may or may not have grabbed a tree branch to help me down one extra steep part. I kept telling myself to take it easy and stay upright. That became my main goal, not falling. Droves of people passed me. I passed a few back on the short uphill sections, but the majority of the remainder of the course was a lot of steep downhill.

As far as the rest of my adventure, at about 50 minutes, I basically stopped racing. Everything happened at once: the elephant jumped on my back, my foot started hurting, my hips were complaining, my stomach began to grumble and my head fell out of the game. I was TIRED. I still had a long way to go, and it was still a matter of surviving, getting down the brutal descents in one piece. 10 minutes later, I had a gel, which helped with my energy. I was glad I opted for chocolate instead of bacon flavor at the store. I can't imagine bacon-flavored goo sliding down my throat when my tummy is already unsettled, but that option is available for those who have the guts.

Are we there yet?

The course was beautiful, full of dips into forested valleys and climbs along pretty ridges. A lot of maneuvering took place in the last half of the race, making my way between hikers, mountain bikers and other runners. I did my best to get out of the way of those agile individuals who can fly down the mountain, because near the end, I was just trying to stay in one piece and get to the finish line sans bloody knees.

Right before the end, I came to another fork in the road. I started to go down one way but hesitated. Shortly after, a very nice lady stopped at the fork too. I asked if she knew which way we should go, and she said she was pretty sure it was the way I wasn't heading. I quickly jogged up and ran the rest of the way with her to the end. I wasn't going to try to out kick someone who had just pulled me back onto the correct course, so I settled in behind her to the finish.

Everyone there was very nice, except for one old man who passed me near the end. That was hard to take. He was one of those grunters who emitted strange sounds with every foot strike. Though it looked like he was shuffling along, swinging his arms forcefully, he was actually moving along at a good clip on the descents. I say he wasn't all that nice, because he yelled, "Fuck!" and mumbled some unintelligible things at a biker who was in the man's way but trying hard to get out of the determined old guy's path.

After the race, I had to get home quickly, because I had a half day at work to complete. By the time I left work, I was ready for more food, even though I ate well after the race. I wandered over to Salt and grabbed the last seat at the bar. Otherwise it would have been a 35-minute wait, and I knew I wouldn't last. Fries, a cheeseburger and half a beer hit the spot beautifully.

I don't know how far back I slid in the rankings, probably quite a bit, but I had my shining moment when I heard I was in 3rd or 4th place smack in the middle of the race. Considering all I have been through over the last few years, often thinking I may never run again, I'm pleasantly surprised how well my little body moved around on that course. I had to conquer some huge fears to get there, so there was at least one major goal accomplished.

I'm pretty sore and tired and maybe even a little bit cranky now, but I'm glad I did it. I think in the future, once I can walk normally again, I will stick to shorter, more uphill races.

**ETA - The final results are:

Time: 2:06
Place overall: 11th
Place in age group: 4th

I'm usually asleep at 6:37 a.m., but that's when I left.

Catching the shuttle to the start.

Start area.

Wider trail at the start that narrowed quickly. I like the big cushy wide part.

No, my socks don't match, but they are at least the same brand. 

This song was stuck in my head throughout the entire race. Since it's a bit of a guilty pleasure, I'm only slightly embarrassed to admit it: