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Healthy Eating Excerpt from Don't Weight
About the Author
I see that many books include a section about the author in the back of the book. I introduce myself to you in the beginning of this book so that you will have a better sense of who is talking to you.
I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am a mental health professional, fitness specialist, and survivor of the weight loss wars. I have learned much from my struggles. Common sense if my greatest specialty. Problem solving is my most helpful skill.
I have been a practicing psychotherapist since 1987, with my Masters Degree in Psychoeducational Processes from Temple University. However, my real education and training as a psychotherapist did not come from the graduate school where I got my degree. I have been an ACE certified fitness professional and teacher of fitness professionals since 1980. However, the true source of my fitness expertise did not come from the workshops I attended and certifications I attained. Life taught me what I know. Over the decades, my clients have been my best teachers.
I was in grammar school in the 60's. I was the smallest kid in the class until puberty. At 13 I got some curves. I thought it was pretty cool. Mom and I went shopping for a dress to wear to the eighth grade trip. We found a nice hot pink suit. (This was the 60's after all.) We bought it one size too small. Mom said that it "would look great if I just lost five pounds". In order to get that hot pink suit to fit I did not eat for a week. It did fit, for one morning. As soon as I ate snacks on the bus, the skirt was too tight. I ended up wearing my jacket all day even though it was very hot. At 13 I knew I was too fat. At the time I wore a juniors size 9.
I was in high school in the 70's. I used to wear a 2" wide leather belt (that was pulled as tight as possible) to bed at night. I thought it would give me a better waistline. After all, wearing a ring made a dent in your finger. I thought a tight belt would do the same for my waistline. Of course, we all believed the lie that says: "a smaller waistline is better".
My mom always dieted. My sister was fat. I watched my sister be tormented by classmates, family members and doctors. I knew fat was bad. Eventually, I got blood blisters around my waist from the belt. I decided that big purple marks were as "ugly" as fat, so I stopped wearing the belt. I began a diet/binge cycle that was the gateway behavior to more serious problems.
In my twenties I taught "The Diet Workshop" for a major corporation and "Safe Slimming" at Pennsylvania State University Extension Service. I was compliant with the cultural norm of thinness.
At 19 I married my calculus professor. I was compliant with my husband's wishes. He wanted a house in the woods. I lived alone in the woods with my two small kids. He traveled all the time. I suffered and recovered from major depression, suicidal tendencies, and bulimia. The marriage was over in ten years. I got two smart kids and a great last name out of the deal. I decided not to be compliant anymore.
I used running as a crutch while I was letting go of my bulimia. I ran a marathon in 1980 with my sister. Time and time again, as my sister and I rounded a corner during the race, we heard: "Look, there are some fat ones!" That was the last straw. Right then and there I decided my body was naturally round. If running three hours a day had not made me thin, then nothing would.
The dieting was over forever. I would never over-exercise again. I would build a healthy lifestyle and trust that my body would be fine, at any size. I developed a therapeutic technique and life philosophy. I found motivation for my healthy lifestyle through pleasure and enjoyment, rather than through willpower and deprivation.
My thirties were a blast. I played hard. I worked hard. I became Unit Director of an urban mental health center. I learned so much from my clients. At age thirty-seven I was on my way to a meeting for the negotiations on opening a wellness center where I could combine mental health and fitness. On my way to a meeting, my car was rear ended while I sat at a stoplight. I suffered head trauma, developed uncontrolled epilepsy, and slept for most of two years while the doctors played with my medications. What an education! I learned more from my rehabilitation process than from graduate school.
With help from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, I started a business where I could provide self-accepting counseling and fitness even though my epilepsy remained uncontrolled. My daughter functioned as my "attendant" as I went through days in and out of seizures. Through phone counseling and video fitness, I began working with a variety of people including people with disabilities and very large people.
I developed such respect for the human spirit. I watched my clients solve their problems. I learned so much from the courage and creativity I saw in them every day. My clients have taught me hope. Hope is contagious.
In my private practice I often see people in excruciating pain: emotional, physical or both. The metaphor that comes to my mind at these times is an image of giving birth. In the midst of all this pain there is something wonderful being born. Often we don't know what it is. But there is always something emerging from the pain that is worth cherishing. All this pain ain't for nothing!
As you read this book, you will see lessons that I have learned from my courageous clients. You will see much of what I learned from my bulimia, suicidal depression, head injury, uncontrolled epilepsy, and my rehabilitation. These experiences were some of the labor pains for birthing a new attitude toward healthy living. This new attitude is what Don't Weight is all about. Enjoy.
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