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4 posts from September 2010


Personal Note from Sandee Nebel: Self-care routines from the WPF team

Since we've been talking in the Fence Post this month about self-care routines and how to stick to them, I took an informal poll of the White Picket Fence Counseling Center team. I asked: What have you added to your self-care plan recently, and how do you stick to it?
Please note that the following information is not meant as a prescription or recommendation. Always consult your therapist, dietician and/or doctor before beginning any program of treatment or exercise.
Here is what the team told me:
Liz, therapist:
Recently, I noticed that I was feeling more tired than usual, almost dragging myself out of bed on some days. In order to find some relief, I started journaling on a regular basis. Doing so allowed me to monitor any new patterns or routines that may have been contributing to my exhaustion and make the necessary adjustments. Now I'm getting my energy back and feeling so much better!
I stick with this routine by keeping my journal on my nightstand. That way I see it every morning when I wake up and every evening when I head to bed. Since I'm journaling about my sleep, this bedside location really helps to remind me to keep up with my writing.

Courtney, graduate student intern:
I have recently had food allergy and deficiency testing done; as a result I have started being conscious of the foods that my body was deficient in and starting to incorporate them into my daily meals. I also have tried to avoid the foods my body was sensitive to, and replace them with foods my body more easily digests.
I am able to stick to my newly implemented self-care plan by evaluating how good my body feels when I stay away from foods that I have a hard time digesting and increasing foods in which I am deficient. Although I miss certain foods, I am finding alternative foods to replace them with. It’s all about being creative and finding balance.
Ali, therapist:
I have started walking every other night with my husband. This activity has the double-bonus of staying active and enjoying quality time with each other – both are important for our health. When one of us wants to bow out I try to remind myself that one mistake – or one missed walk – isn't the end of the world, I will just go again tomorrow.
It is also important for me to stop and remind myself what is really important in my life at that moment. Whether it is requests for my time, offers of food, or even an extra job to make some money, I have had to learn to stop and think about my decisions and who they will affect before replying with an automatic "yes."
Sandee, therapist:
Recently I started varying my food selections. I used to do this more regularly, but for convenience was getting away from it. A food journal has really helped me to see just how limited my choices were becoming. I enjoy my food so much more when I haven't eaten the same things for my meals!
I stick with it as best I can. There will be times when life just gets in the way. I pick up my healthy self-care at the next meal.
The obstacle I encounter most is when I fall back on planning. Then I'm more likely to run out of fresh vegetables, or not have food prepared to take with me when I'm heading out the door. When I take even just a few minutes to think ahead to what foods I'll need, it gives me more freedom to be present in my day and with people at work and at home.
Tara, therapist:
I recently began running three times a week. I also enjoy walks in nature, and I recommend walking as a self-care activity that's suitable for people at all fitness levels.
When something comes up that might get in the way of a run, I'll handle it differently based on what the request is. If the request taps into another personal value such as my children or other relationships, then I might rearrange my schedule and run at a different time. If my schedule is pretty tight that week, ultimately I may have to miss a run. More often than not, it usually means saying no to something/someone else, which I view as modeling self-care. 
Joe, business development:
I have a birthday coming up and that has motivated me to develop healthier habits. I recently cut out unneeded sugars, such as sodas, candy, etc. When people offer me sweets, I'm polite but firm. I am now taking much better care of my self through balanced nutrition.  Of course, it helps to work with such great role models of good health!


Featured Tool: A Plan of Eating

We talked the other week about getting your mind off food, but how? One way to do that is with a food

plan. When you know ahead of time exactly what you'll eat, that can take away the obsession of making choices about each meal or snack. You can get a food plan and nutritional support through a therapist, dietician or nutritionist, doctor or sponsor.
Some people plan and commit to even the amounts they will eat, weighing and measuring every morsel. They have the increased freedom of knowing the amounts they're eating are just right—not too much, not too little. This is a highly individualized approach and not right for everyone. And for many people, weighing and measuring are things they do for a limited period of time.
A food plan creates a boundary around the food—your food is figured out for you. Having boundaries around food can carry over into the rest of your life and help you have boundaries around relationships. As we talked about the other week, this will be really helpful when you need to say no or "not now" to a request in order to protect your self-care plan.
And just like the boundaries in our relationships need to change over time, your food may also be changed or "tweaked" with the support of a professional, a trusted mentor or a sponsor. 
Stay tuned for the next post, where members of the White Picket Fence Counseling Center team will reveal some of our own self-care routines, and talk about what we do to keep them up.


Featured Event

The disease of disordered eating can have a very strong pull. And when you combine that with media images and societal stigma, it can be really disheartening to focus on the positive aspects of your recovery – such as your self-care routine. That's why it's so important to be reminded of how much better things can get when you're in recovery.
Our Stories from the Living Room program is designed to share that positive side of the recovery experience, to remind people of what's possible when you get there.
The next event is on Wednesday, September 22, 2010, from 7:00-9:00 p.m.
There is no charge to attend, just please bring a can or two of food for charity. At this event, someone will speak about overeating and being overweight, and someone else will speak about restricting and anorexia.
Family members, friends and individuals with an eating disorder are all welcome to attend, but seating is limited so please book your space now.
We have been talking a lot about setting boundaries and limits with others and yourselves...If you'd like more helpful information about setting boundaries in your relationships, we recommend these books and online resources:
Boundaries - Where You End and I Begin: How to Recognize and Set Healthy Boundaries by Anne Katherine, MA
Where to Draw the Line:  How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day by Anne Katherine, MA
Co-dependents Anonymous (CoDA) at
Next week, we'll talk about food plans and how they can actually help get your mind off the food.

Featured Article: Getting Your Focus off the Food

As anyone who has suffered from disordered eating can tell you, it's impossible to find any peace of mind when you're obsessing about the numbers on the scale or the label. Yet when you focus on nourishing a healthy body and mind, the food and weight somehow take care of themselves.
But it's not always easy. Sometimes the biggest barrier to a healthy choice is our own fears about what other people will think of it. For example, we plan a healthy snack, but then leave it at home when we're asked to take our kids on a last-minute trip to the mall. Or we cancel a doctor's appointment because things are getting busy at work.
In both of those cases, we didn't want to disappoint someone—either the kids or the boss. We want to be liked, loved and appreciated, and unconsciously we bend over backwards to make sure that we are. And that sometimes means turning away from our healthy behaviors and back towards the food or unhealthy eating patterns.
There's a saying that "whatever you put in front of your recovery, you will lose" (along with your recovery). Even if you don't actually lose the person, your relationships will definitely suffer if you keep sacrificing your self-care to please other people.
When you put your self-care first and say no to requests from friends, family or work, you don't always get a warm reception. But in the long run, you will be a much better friend, spouse, daughter, mother, sister, boss or employee if you're healthy, happy and free from the obsession with food and weight.
Inevitably, your recovery will lead to better relationships with all of the people in your life.
Watch for our next post, when we'll share some upcoming events, resources and links. Then later in the month, we'll have personal examples of self-care routines from the White Picket Fence Counseling Center team. We'll also talk more about food plans and how they help to get your mind off the food.