March 24, 2017

Midlife Eating Disorders

Posted in Eating Disorders, Self Image tagged , , , , at 3:32 pm by kellyfdennis

clouds over the bayI thought I’d share an interesting article from AARP:

Think anorexia, bulimia and bingeing only occur in teens and young adults? Think again.

A woman with an eating disorder looks at her warped reflection in a mirror.
Although excessive concerns about weight can appear to be little more than vanity, an eating disorder is a mental illness.

Gayle Hodgins wasn’t planning on buying candy, but then she saw the sale sign in the window of her local drugstore.

She stopped in and bought six large boxes of movie-theater candy and a king-size chocolate bar with one thought in mind. She planned to eat every last bite and then force herself to throw up.

Hodgins suffers from bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder that compels people to binge on large amounts of food and then purge the calories through vomiting, pills or excessive exercise.

Although most people think of eating disorders as a young person’s problem, Hodgins is no teenager. She’s a 53-year-old mother of two living in Philadelphia, and she’s one of a disturbing number of middle-aged adults suffering from life-threatening eating disorders.

Midlife eating disorders
In June 2012 the prestigious International Journal of Eating Disorders published the results of a seminal study on the prevalence of eating disorders in midlife and beyond.

5 Signs You May Have an Eating Disorder
1. You make yourself vomit because you feel uncomfortably full.

2. You worry that you have lost control over how much you eat.

3. You’ve lost more than 14 pounds in a three-month period.

4. You believe yourself to be fat when others think you are too thin.

5. Thinking about food dominates your life.

Lead study author Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D., director of the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that 13 percent of American women 50 or older experience symptoms of an eating disorder; 60 percent report that their concerns about weight and shape negatively affect their lives; and 70 percent are trying to lose weight.

Those figures mirror the rates found among teens and young women, says Bulik, author of Midlife Eating Disorders: Your Journey to Recovery.

“Eating disorders affect quality of life, and this has a tremendous impact on society,” Bulik says. “It can affect productivity at work, well-being at home, and it can have very serious economic impacts” on families, as many insurance companies are reluctant to pay for care.

Although excessive concerns about weight can appear to be little more than vanity, an eating disorder is a mental illness with close links to depression and anxiety.

Besides bulimia, eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, which causes a person to starve herself even while underweight, and binge eating disorder, which causes a person to consume large amounts of food without purging.

Patients who meet some, but not all, of the criteria for anorexia or bulimia or have other symptoms (such as forcing themselves to vomit after eating normal amounts of food, or chewing and spitting out large amounts of food) may be diagnosed with other specified feeding and eating disorder (OSFED).

A mental health condition with a physical impact
Apart from the psychiatric impact of eating disorders — sufferers often isolate themselves from friends and family — these conditions also have a serious medical impact.

Anorexia is the deadliest of all psychiatric disorders, killing up to 20 percent of chronic sufferers. Starvation, binge eating and purging all damage the heart and gastrointestinal systems. Erratic eating can cause hormone imbalances that can lead to osteoporosis. Repeated vomiting and malnutrition damage teeth, too. These problems affect eating disorder sufferers of any age, but they hit harder and faster as people get older and their bodies become less resilient.

Although no one knows exactly what causes an eating disorder, researchers believe it results from a complex interaction between our genes and our environment. Eating disorders most commonly begin during adolescence, amid the swirling hormones, physical changes and psychological adjustments of puberty.

While some patients recover in their teens and 20s, others continue to struggle into midlife and beyond. Some of those who do recover will relapse later in life. And still others will develop an eating disorder for the first time in midlife.
Menopause and other life changes
The physiological and psychological changes that happen during menopause seem to echo changes at puberty, Bulik says, which may make this time a high-risk period for the development of new eating disorders or the reemergence of old ones. These changes occur against the backdrop of America’s youth-oriented culture, which embraces the idea that aging — and the extra pounds that can accompany it — must be fought at any cost.

A Weighty Problem

79 percent of American women say their weight and shape affect their self-esteem
36 percent of American women say they have spent at least half of the past five years dieting
“Women don’t have a way of talking about the physical changes that go along with menopause,” says Margo Maine, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in West Hartford, Connecticut, and author of The Body Myth: Adult Women and the Pressure to be Perfect. “Instead they seek to manage their bodies with the next exercise craze or taking the latest diet pill.”

These renewed concerns about weight and appearance frequently emerge alongside stressors unique to the 50-plus age group. Children leave home (or move back in), parents begin to age and boomers may begin to struggle with health issues.

Robin McKenzie, a 51-year-old resident of rural West Virginia, had suffered from an eating disorder since age 14, but it wasn’t until the illness and death of her father last summer that her disorder significantly worsened. McKenzie’s mother’s health was failing as well, and her father’s death had left the family saddled with massive amounts of debt. The burden of caregiving and financial management fell squarely on McKenzie’s shoulders.

“I began to exercise to relax,” she says. Plus, she began to eat less, and her weight plummeted to dangerous lows. Unable to concentrate at work, and with her heart, liver and kidneys beginning to fail, McKenzie was ultimately hospitalized last August. Despite being much older than the stereotypical eating disorder patient, she was far from the oldest patient on the ward. Several patients were in their 60s or older.

New ways to get well
Yet, maturity brings substantial advantages to fighting an eating disorder, experts say. Older patients have more life experiences and insights to draw on. In addition, they’re more painfully aware of the physical and psychological costs of maintaining their unhealthy eating patterns. Even those who have tried and failed to control disordered eating in the past can often succeed later in life.

“Lots of times older women feel such shame and hopelessness because they’ve had the eating disorder for so long, but I’ve seen great things happen in people who have sought help in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond,” Maine says.

A growing awareness of eating disorders in older women (and some men) has also led to more treatment options. Women whose illnesses are more severe or chronic may require hospitalization, or treatment at a live-in facility. There, all meals are provided, and women participate in a variety of therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, nutritional counseling and medication.

After a few small setbacks this past winter, McKenzie is maintaining her weight and working toward a new career. Hodgins remains in therapy and is making progress. “Slow and steady wins the race, right?” she says. “I just want to be well. I want to be a normal person.”

by Carrie Arnold, AARP The Magazine, August/September 2013|

June 17, 2014

Have the Second Damn Piece of Pizza

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 9:22 am by kellyfdennis

This blog describes very well the amount of mental energy Eating Disorders take up. Stop renting space in your mind to the numbers game. I agree, have the second slice of pizza and savor it!

Lion-Haired Girl

Friday night is supposed to be Pizza Night.

You know if you eat just one slice you’re going to feel like you’re still hungry in a few minutes. Better yet, someone else at the table will forget the unspoken dining rules and take what is clearly marked as your hunk of cheesy goodness because you all know you’re splitting the bill evenly anyway, and they know if they just keep the conversation going, everyone will lose track of who had what.

Everyone except you, that is. Because you notice, and because you’ve faced this before.

You’ve fought hard, and it’s an ongoing fight, but not just against the freeloader in your friend-group. You’ve fought against the mental numbers in your head.

The number of minutes you’ll need to exercise to work off the combination of dough and cheese (and mighty fine pepperoni, if you’re lucky), which leads your brain to remember the last

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June 4, 2014

Every Body is Different (source: NEDA)

Posted in Self Image tagged , , , at 11:31 am by kellyfdennis

purple-sunny-background-100214127It is important to remember that every body is different. We all have different genetic and cultural traits. Even if everyone started eating the same things and did the same amount of exercise for a whole year, we would not all look the same at the end of the year. This is because each person’s genetic inheritance influences their bone structure, body size, shape, and weight differently.
So, how can you determine your ideal body weight? Well, your “ideal” body weight is the weight that allows you to feel strong and energetic and lets you lead a healthy, normal life. For example, when your body is healthy and at its ideal body weight, you are not too tired and you have the energy to interact with friends and family, participate in sports, and concentrate on school or work. While being overweight can be associated with adverse medical conditions, your body weight can be healthy across a wide range of weights. When searching for your ideal weight, charts, formulas, and tables may be misleading and should be used under the guidance of a qualified expert. Focusing on eating balanced meals of nutritious foods and enjoying regular physical activity will help you to achieve balance and arrive at your ideal weight. Consult a qualified expert in medicine and nutrition for more information.
Most of all, avoid comparing your body with your friends’ bodies or the people you see in advertisements or on your favorite TV shows. If you compare yourself to others, try to remember that we are all naturally different, which means we all have special qualities. Make a list of some of your strengths. What do you like to do? What makes you unique?
To make it simple, remember these keys to an ideal body:
Treat your body with respect.
Give it enough rest.
Fuel it with a variety of foods.
Exercise moderately.
Resist the pressure to judge yourself and others based on weight, shape, or size.
Respect people based on the qualities of their character and accomplishments, rather than just because of their appearance.
Listen To Your Body
Choose a variety of foods that contribute to a healthy diet, and eat when you are truly hungry. Stop when you’re full.
Eat what appeals to you. Do this instead of any diet, and you’re likely to maintain a healthy weight and avoid eating disorders.

May 25, 2014

Listen to Your Body. (Source: nationaleatingdisorders.org)

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:12 pm by kellyfdennis

20140525-181723-65843226.jpgSearching for the perfect diet? Always worrying about counting calories and fat grams in order to control your weight can be difficult and tiresome. Is there really a “perfect diet” out there anyway? After all, 95% of attempts to diet fail not because there’s something wrong with you, but because diets don’t work. Why else would people have to keep searching for new ones all of the time?
When was the last time you truly had fun dieting? Most likely you won’t remember it as a pleasurable experience. After all, it doesn’t feel so great to get hungry for lunch but force yourself to wait an extra hour. Do you remember feeling irritable? Did you get a headache or feel your stomach growling? And didn’t those “forbidden” or “off limits” foods seem to be calling your name even more than usual? It’s not very much fun, is it?
The reason strict diets don’t work and aren’t much fun is because your body needs food for energy, just like a car needs gas to drive. Food is fuel for your body! Your body knows what it needs in order to keep running efficiently—it needs the fuel of vitamin and nutrient-rich foods from a variety of food groups. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body and respond to its natural hunger. It will tell you what it needs. And if you don’t listen, it will find ways to keep reminding you—like headaches, a growling stomach, and obsessing about food.
Three Keys to Listening to Your Body
The first key to listening to your body is being able to detect when you are getting hungry. If you are indeed truly hungry, and not just looking for food to cure your boredom, stress, or loneliness, then it is time to refuel.
The second key is being able to know when you have had enough. Listen to your body. When you begin to feel full, you will know that you have had enough to eat. The goal is to feel content—not uncomfortably stuffed but not starving either. For some people this means planning 5 or 6 smaller, well-balanced meals a day instead of 3 large meals. And remember, it takes about 20 minutes for your body to realize it’s full. Be aware of what you are eating—eat sitting down, chew slowly, enjoy the tastes, smells, and textures of your food. Learn about mindful or intuitive eating.
The third key is moderation, nothing to extremes. Often people hear this advice and think it means they can eat whatever they crave, all the time. Obviously we cannot survive on potato chips or peanut butter cookies alone. And if you tried, chances are you’d probably start to crave a balanced meal or fresh fruit or vegetables after awhile. These cravings are your body’s way of helping you get the nutrients it knows you need.
Eat what you want, when you are truly hungry. Stop when you’re full. And eat exactly what appeals to you. Do this instead of any diet, and you’re likely to maintain a healthy weight and avoid eating disorders.

May 22, 2014

The Numbers Game

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 11:33 am by kellyfdennis

numeral-background-10088353Do you play the numbers game? Do you look to see how many fat grams are in the food you eat, or how many carbs, serving sizes, jean sizes, number of time you eat in a day, the number on the scale? Have you gotten so trapped in your “system” that you’ve lost track of how to listen to your body? If you have an eating disorder, the answer is probably “yes”.

Donna from The Begin Within Blog writes: “Numbers are a dishonest, fabricated replacement for intuitiveness. They are arbitrary, counterfeit ways of feeling in control. They are useless. They render you powerless, NOT powerful. They don’t give you control over anything. They merely give you the illusion of control and disable your inner means of determining your needs. Why are you afraid to give them up? Most likely because you distrust yourself, yet you ARE the best, most trustworthy determinant of what you need. Perhaps society has influenced you. Perhaps you have heard of, or embarked on numerous diet plans that are based on numbers. Perhaps you have been made to feel that you are GOOD when you are following numbers, and BAD when you aren’t.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Numbers seems so concrete, yet playing the numbers game, just makes your thinking even more disordered. When you find yourself playing the numbers game, ask yourself what you really need right now, what you crave, your level of hunger. Then begin to make small changes to allow you to trust yourself and your ability to make good choices. Believe it or not, there is freedom in separating yourself from the numbers game.

 

May 15, 2014

Midlife Eating Disorders Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 6:40 pm by kellyfdennis

The diagnosis of midlife eating disorders is increasing. When we think of the term Eating Disorder, some think of a white, middle class adolescent girl. The reality is that eating disorders are a mental illness that can affect anyone across any culture, race or socioeconomic background. Today’s blog post is from a guest blogger who underwent bariatric surgery and developed a dangerous over restrictive style of eating. Recent literature suggests that about 1.5% of bariatric patients will experience this phenomenon, some meeting the full clinical criteria for Anorexia Nervosa. This individual shares her journey through a midlife eating disorder. Perhaps her words will speak to some of you. She writes:

“The journey through an eating disorder is an evolving process of twists and turns leading to the ultimate goal of recovery. I have found as a woman in her forties the process is a lonely journey. It is lonely in the respect that those in my immediate circle aren’t confronted with food in the same fashion as someone struggling with an eating disorder. Nor are they in a place of acknowledgement that food has an important role/control of their life.

I would like to credit my decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery four years ago as the beginning of my eating disorder; when in reality bariatric surgery was yet another twist in the journey. In fact, the journey began as far back in my early childhood that I can recall. From my earliest recollection, food was used as a bribe for desired behaviors from my parents. It was used as an emotional blanket to deal with the trauma of an abusive childhood. Food became my catalyst to deal with the full gamut of emotions, from happy to sad and all in between.

As a result, my relationship with food was never healthy. Food was my crutch not a means to provide energy to my body. Another result from such an unhealthy relationship was my ever fluctuating weight, albeit, I was always on the heavier side. If I had been successful in losing weight it would be a short-lived success as I would inevitably regain the weight.

Fast forward to adulthood, my relationship with food remained emotionally and physically life threatening. Reaching the staggering high of 350 pounds after the birth of my third child. I was a rather active busy mom living my life through the trials and tribulations as an obese mother. It was difficult accomplishing even the simplest of tasks such as tying my toddler’s shoes. I had heard about bariatric surgery and contemplated the process many times as an adult. I was leery about the mortality rate that was associated with the surgery in its early days. As bariatric surgery was becoming more mainstream and less frightening, I began investigating the possibility. Even though there is an inherent risk with any surgery, I was satisfied that the risk no longer out-weighed the benefits. I had reached the stage of fear that my weight would end my life prematurely. I needed to do something radical to ensure that I would be alive for my supportive husband and three young daughters.

So I began the bariatric process. It started with an on-line survey to be invited to the first informational seminar. I went to the first session alone. It was very upbeat and made one hopeful. The comprehensive team of dietitians and nurses accompanied the surgeon as the program was explained. There was friendliness. There was a confidence amongst the team that wooed. The following nine months was laden with blood work, cardiology approval, bariatric nutrition classes, an appointment with a psychologist, a sleep apnea work up, the required minimum of ten pounds lost and on-going visits with the bariatric team. I have since come to realize that there was one additional component that was missing for anyone to be truly successful in the bariatric process. It is my opinion that one should undergo intensive psychotherapy pre-surgery to prepare you for all that will come post-surgery.  At the end of the insurance imposed mandated nine month waiting period, I underwent my transformation with bariatric surgery.

I was a text book successful bariatric patient. I had actually lost eighty pounds pre-surgery and began working out day one of my journey. My then personal trainer, now good friend, and I often recall that it was a success to stay on the elliptical exercise machine for three minutes. Within in the first year of my bariatric surgery, I had lost an additional 100 pounds. I spent my days and nights consumed with the need to exercise and to follow the bariatric diet near flawlessly. My obsession to become healthy very soon became unhealthy.”

March 10, 2014

10 Ways to improve Body Image

Posted in Eating Disorders tagged , , , , at 11:41 am by kellyfdennis

Be honest and kind to yourself as you examine your beliefs, thought patterns, and assumptions about your body and the bodies of other people. This is fruitful but demanding work.

• Expand your idea of beauty.

Expand your concept of what is beautiful. View art. Observe different cultures. Spend time in nature. Constantly remind yourself that everyone is beautiful in his or her own way. Think about people you admire. In what ways are they beautiful?

• Let go of perfectionism.

In the same way that you are learning to accept yourself—flaws and all—you will also be learning to accept your unique body. Striving to reach an arbitrary idea of physical perfection is a form of self-sabotage, and is not possible anyway.

• Fully experience your senses.

Get more in touch with your body by noticing all of your senses. Concentrate on smells, sounds, colors, and touch. Best of all, connect with taste! Eat something you love (that’s not triggering). Try something you hate! Your body enables you to have physical experiences, so get brave and enjoy them.

• Reconnect your mind and body.

Certain activities—yoga, stretching, dancing, Pilates, Tai Chi—bring the mind and body together by focusing on the physical experience of the moment. These are wonderful practices for both quieting the mind and building a friendship with the body.

• Tolerate negative body talk without acting on it.

You don’t go from bulimia to loving your body in one day. Acknowledge that it’s a process, and that negative body talk is inevitable. But don’t act on the thoughts by turning to old habits. Instead, learn to talk back, or decide that you just aren’t going to listen right now.

• Understand the deeper meanings of negative body talk.

Negative body talk is a symptom of an eating disorder, just like bingeing and purging. There can be deeper meaning behind the phrases “I feel fat” (I feel worthless), “I have to lose weight” (My life lacks meaning), and “I hate the way I look” (I hate my life). When you have these thoughts, recognize that they are code for bigger issues, and investigate.

• Talk back to harmful body thoughts.

When you hear yourself being self-disparaging, talk back. Use positive affirmations and use rational, rather than emotional, language.

• Process body trauma with support.

Sometimes, body image issues are symptoms of past trauma, such as teasing, abuse, rejection, or abandonment. Healing the pain of trauma is a challenging and intimate process. I recommend working with a qualified therapist.

• Write a love letter to your body.

Thank your body for all the good things it does for you. Appreciate it for giving you a life. Tell it the kinds of things you would say to a soul mate, because, after all, your body is your soul’s companion!

October 10, 2009

Mirror Experiment- Day 3

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 12:07 pm by kellyfdennis

glass-wall-of-office-building-100188547Yesterday was day 3, the completion of the “no mirror” experiment. On one hand it was easier…I don’t see clients on Fridays.  Therefore, I didn’t stress about the clothing selection, jeans and t-shirt are always ok for me.  I just let my hair do its own thing.  I didn’t do eyeliner, only mascara, so I didn’t have to use the compact. Once I was ready, I headed off to the grocery store.

At the store I was pretty involved in price checking and whatnot, so I really didn’t think too much about the experiment or my appearance.  As I was standing in the check out line, though, I found myself looking at the other people waiting in line and wondering if it would be difficult for them to be doing the mirror experiment.

I took my groceries out to the car and I was a little taken aback that I had an urge to look in the window to check my hair…what was that all about, I wasn’t expecting to be concerned about my appearance today.  I fought the urge and headed home.

I put away the groceries and had lunch, all the while thinking about why I was concerned about my appearance.  My theory had been that it was attached to my professional persona, which is true, but clearly no one in the grocery store knew that I was a therapist. Hmm…

A little later on in the day, I was cleaning the bathroom and the towel I had hung over the mirror fell off (I guess the thumbtacks just got tired).  So there I was, standing in front of myself.

It felt good to see my reflection once again.

This was a very interesting experiment.  Even though I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who struggles with negative body image, I learned that I certainly worry about how my appearance is perceived by others.  As I reflect (no pun intended;)), I realize during the past three days, there has been an underlying uneasiness within me.  When that towel fell off my mirror, I actually felt relieved!

So does all this mean that I obsess over my appearance?

I’ll leave that for you to decide.

October 8, 2009

Mirror Experiment- Day 2

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 7:12 pm by kellyfdennis

vintage-mirror-frame-isolated-100148377Ok, so I was expecting day 2 to be easier than day1.  It wasn’t.

I picked clothes that I had not worn together before.  Therefore, when I got dressed this morning, I was wondering how the whole ensemble looked…of course, I couldn’t check…no mirrors. I looked for lint and whatnot, I was fine there, but I couldn’t help wondering if this outfit was flattering, or professional enough.  So, I let it go and proceeded to do my hair.  No one mentioned any sticky uppy parts yesterday, so I did it the same way.  I patted around to make sure the gel would keep that stubborn hair in place.

Next came make up.  Once again I had to use the compact for eyeliner.  It was harder today to resist the urge to look elsewhere with the compact.  But I didn’t.  I moved on to mascara; again wondering if I had the same amount on both eyes.

As I left the house, I remembering wondering why it was so important to me that I look “put together”. Today I didn’t glance at the mirror right inside our back door…I remembered that I wouldn’t be able to check.

Once in the car, I thought, “I could just glance a little longer in the rear view mirror while backing up…then I would be sure that at least my hair and make up were ok, even if my outfit may be off base.”

But I didn’t.

Once I got to work, the experiment was easier because I was distracted.  However, I remember wondering if my first client was critiquing my outfit, as she is a “well dressed” woman. After I got going with clients, though,  I really didn’t think about my appearance or the experiment.  Until lunch.  I went in the bathroom and had to think about whether or not I wanted to cheat and look at my outfit. (no spinach for lunch today, so teeth weren’t a problem.)  I stood in the doorway and tried to figure out the answer to the question which plagued me earlier. Why is it so important to me that I look “put together”?  I realized that to me, “put together” means competent.  If my appearance is “right” then my clients will perceive me as competent.

Anyone who knows me can guess what I said next…”that’s ridiculous!”. Competence as a counselor is based on many things.  Sure, appearance plays into how I am perceived, but not nearly as much as I was imagining.  I didn’t look in the bathroom mirror.

I finished out my counseling day and proceeded into the front office to wrap up. I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the plate glass window that separates the waiting room from the front office…my outfit looked ok.

Boy, is this challenging. Tomorrow will be easier, right?

October 7, 2009

Mirror Experiment-Day 1

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:12 pm by kellyfdennis

blue-mirror-glass-building-100107185Ok, so Day 1 isn’t technically over yet, but I won’t be in the mood to blog later (this I know about myself). So here are my reflections (pun definitely intended) on “no mirrors”.

First, I feel compelled to mention that I do realize that appearance has importance in our society.  We are judged and we judge others based on  appearance, almost instinctively.  The purpose of this experiment is to determine just how much we obsess over appearance and how much that obsession gets in our way.

I discovered that I am exposed to many mirrors during the day.  I covered the ones I use most at my home.  However, I quickly realized that I would not be able to cover all the mirrors I use in a day (the rear view mirror in my car, for example!).  I also did not cover the mirrors at work.

Getting dressed without mirrors didn’t create feelings of anxiety for me.  I could look at my shirt and slacks to determine if lint (or other things that didn’t belong) were there.  So far, so good.  Of course, I had picked an outfit that I have worn before which I like.

Next came doing my hair.  I have short hair that pretty much likes to do its own  thing, so I dried it with the hair dryer by feel.  Ok, so this was when a little bit of …hmmm…nervousness maybe, came in: I have a clump of hair in the back that likes to stick up.  Was it sticking up?  I couldn’t tell, so I put more gel on it to make sure it stayed down.  Surley, I thought, someone will tell me if it’s sticking up.

Make up..hmm…had to cheat here and get out a little compact to do eyeliner…didn’t want to poke my eye out after all.  I put the compact away (without checking for sticky uppy hair) and put on my mascara. A little more apprehension here:  Did I have the same amount on both eyes? (Maybe I should do a “no makeup” experiment sometime.)

Brushed my teeth, flossed…ok that was easier no mirror required.

Walked to the door to leave for work and instinctively looked to my right (we have a mirror there which I had covered). Ha! Can’t check myself before I leave.

Got in the car, looked in the rear view mirror to back up.  I caught a glimpse of one eye…mascara seemed ok, resisted the urge to check for sticky uppy hair, although the urge was pretty strong.

Got to work, waited for comments, none came…I thought to myself, “I must not look too out of the ordinary.”

The time between getting to work and lunch was pretty uneventful, mirror-wise.  I didn’t really think about my appearance or the experiment.  Then I went to eat lunch…you’ll never guess what I brought…casserole with spinach!  UGH! I remember thinking, “Now what am I going to do…no mirror to check my teeth after spinach!” I really did have to think about this for a minute.  I”m a therapist afterall, and who wants to sit across from their therapist when she has spinach in her teeth…how distracting! I decided to eat the casserole (the other option was to go buy something to eat, which I didn’t have time to do).  I drank some water and “swished”, ran my tongue over my teeth…it didn’t feel like anything was stuck.  Ok, I decided to move on…surely, someone would tell me if I had spinach in my teeth.

I went to use the bathroom at work (there is a mirror in there). I looked off to the side as I was washing my hands, but I gotta say that the urge to look was very strong! That sticky-uppy-hair and spinach-in-the-teeth thing was getting the best of me! But in the end, I resisted. Whew!

I saw the rest of my clients for the day and then headed out to my car to go home.  As I sat in my car debriefing from the day, I rolled my shoulders and instinctively looked up..right into the rear view mirror! I quickly looked away, but not before I had seen my reflection!

My thoughts: This is really more difficult than one would think it would be. I realized that I think about what others are thinking about my appearance.  I also realized that my “professional” persona and appearance are connected for me.

So how’d it go for you?

stefdennis

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