Disordered Eating As Dieting: The Fads that Went Bads

Fad diets might not work, but they sure are creative.

As much as I like to think of myself as well-rounded, modern, intelligent woman, I am also a sucker for anything that has an infomercial on at 2 am (pretty sure that I do need a food dehydrator). And, as many women I know in recovery, I have had issues with food since I got my first training bra.

My impulsiveness + food issues + marketing = Chrissy’s fantastical review of fad diets of tried…

Slim Fast

Not gonna lie, this lasted for about a week before Spring Break my senior year of college. It furthered my commitment that I would rather eat my calories than drink them.

Atkins

I think the kids these days call this “keto” but back in 2003 it was all about Atkins. I was looking to lose the booze weight and thought unlimited protein and fats was the way. Mind you that I was extremely broke and many times lived off of a carton of eggs and peanut butter. Come payday I would take my cash and buy about five Atkins bars from the gas station and go to town. By the end of this experiment, I was begging for a piece of fruit wedged between a pretzel bun.

Paleo

I love fitness and had a brief Crossfit phase (until the price drove me back to a normal gym). Through this I decided that yes, I do need to eat more like a caveman. I don’t know how long this lasted but pretty sure my love of cheese intervened. If the cavemen knew how delicious it was they would have started milking cows too.

Vegan

I watched a documentary on Netflix one day and decided that I indeed needed to save the planet by going vegan. This was by far the most expensive of all the diets that I had tried because I just bought pricey packaged food made to resemble the foods I wanted. What can you do with tofu? The question is what can’t you do with tofu. Then I got pregnant and the thought of my soy crumbled “beef” made me want to hurl. I drove to Burger King.

Weight Watchers

After the free-for-all that was my pregnancy, I needed to get back into the closet of clothes that I owned. Although those maternity pants are amazing. I liked Weight Watchers, but they kept changing how they calculated their points. I think I would need an advanced degree in trigonometry to understand their algorithms. Towards the ends it seems like it was: grilled chicken breast=1 point, look at a piece of bread=17. I see you keto, I see you. But really it was the fact that I had to obnoxiously calculate all the time that finally made me say bye bye to the WW.

The Online Coach

Okay, I have food issues and a sprinkle of body dysmorphia and thought, “Me, room full of strangers, small bikini, lets do this!” I spent a crap ton of money on this online coach to get me stage ready for a fitness competition, and she was very good and was also concerned about me doing this (I reassured her I was fine!) At one point I was in Times Square eating rice and cod cold out of ziplock bag that I packed and traveled with in a cooler as my airplane carry on, I was looking at baked goods like some people look at expensive shoes, my period stopped, but boy was I fit. I got on that stage which actually felt less like fitness and more a beauty pageant meets a wet t-shirt contest. I exited stage left and promptly gained all the weight back, and then some.

The Nutritionist

I was seeing a therapist about my food issues and she recommended a nutritionist. A nice woman, who was always late and extremely expensive made me a “meal plan.” I think she might have been in cahoots with the Weight Watchers people because it involved some weird xerox copies of a point system that she only seemed to know. Once again I was held to numbers and food scales and I couldn’t take it.

Final Thoughts

This is just a fraction of what I have tried. What I have learned is the body has strong hormones and chemicals in the brain which are altered every time I see a new book and decide to break the food scale out again. A study that changed how I look at the world of dieting is the Minnesota Starvation Project. Want to learn more about it? Try out an exercise from our program, about the project.

This is a battle I still face and it is scary to think of how long I have been “dieting.” But I keep trying, trying to accept my good choices and my “bad” ones, know that my body is just a vessel of my fabulousness, and understand that I was okay, I am okay, I will be okay.

 

 

Let’s Get Physical: 4 Reasons To Exercise In Early Recovery

Early recovery is the perfect time to get up and get going. Why? Because it will help your brain and your body.

 Director of Counseling Chrissy Taylor wants YOU to move! Director of Counseling Chrissy Taylor wants YOU to move!

I love to work out and have done it regularly for the past 15 years. Even when I skipped out on other self-care, exercise was usually (sometimes lazily), a part of my life. Here’s the good exercise has done for me:

1. Exercise helps me manage my stress and anxiety. I have done to many kickboxing class visualizing some person or situation that I am air punching the crap out of.

2. I feel better about myself when I work out.

3. There is no better shower than the post-workout shower.

4. Fitness journeys evolve. I was once a cardio-bunny, then a runner, then a weight lifter.  Right now I am really into fitness classes and my spin bike.

If you are in early recovery, just putting your shoes on the right feet might be a challenge, but make exercise (however small) a priority. The science stands behind it. Exercise helps your brain and body balance itself back out. This is exactly what you need.

You can make exercise whatever you want, and as big or small as you can handle. Don’t do yoga if you don’t like it, and if running hurts your knees then skip it. Find something you want to do, whether it’s a walk in the park or a YouTube dance video, and then do it.

Why Medication-Assisted Treatment?

The Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment

Yesterday, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. We have few details on what exactly this will look like, but we hope the administration follows the White House Commission on Opioid’s Interim Report in its suggestion to allow greater access to treatment options. At the top of the report’s list suggesting a declaration of national emergency, and also steps to solve the crisis, was enhanced access to medication-assisted treatment.

If you’ve been following the evolution of Workit, (which of course you have!) you probably noticed that we’ve focused in on the opioid epidemic, and that our care team is now offering medication-assisted treatment to folks who need it. As your Director of Counseling, I’m here to tell you why.

Here is some history: Workit was started after a good friend passed away from an overdose. She was trying to use the current treatment services out there and she slipped through the cracks and passed away. To us, this was unacceptable. Taking a step back and looking at the attitude of substance abuse treatment this is what we saw:

“Do 12 step programs or end up jails, institutions, or death.”

“12 step programs are misogynistic and will force feed God to you.”

“Come to this fancy rehab that your insurance will not cover.”

“I don’t know any of ‘those types’ of people. Not my problem, but too bad for them!”

Not exactly the warm hug someone in the grips of addiction needs. (And yes, we believe addicts need warm hugs and support, rather than tough love, guilt, or shame.) Workit was formed to fill those huge cracks we saw in substance use disorder treatment, and hopefully catch some of the people falling into them.

“Workit was formed to fill those huge cracks we saw in substance use disorder treatment, and hopefully catch some of the people falling into them. ”

Two women in long-term recovery (not your usual CEO’s or executives) hit the pavement, talking to businesses, community leaders, friends in recovery, and anyone else who would listen. They said we weren’t meeting people where they were if we only offered up polarizing, limited choices. We needed to do better.

In communities across the nation, medication-assisted treatment is, to say the least, controversial. But as a company we don’t believe in shying away from controversy: we lean in, we hear the arguments for and against, and we check the science. We concluded that we had to offer MAT.

Offering the best options for those interested in getting better is everything Workit stands for. We believe in connecting people with a better way to get better, stigma against it be darned. We could send folks to meetings, and of course, there’s room for that too. But meetings are already available. Medication-assisted treatment isn’t. No other effective treatment is as desperately needed and as under-supported. We’re headed into those spaces we can make the biggest difference, fastest. Our friends are dying. We don’t want to lose anyone else to this epidemic.

I could post you all the science and research about MAT’s effectiveness (which we have and will do in other blog posts) but here is what I know with 100% accuracy: You can’t recover if you are dead.

Is medication-assisted treatment a perfect fit for everyone? No. Is it for some? Yes. This is no longer a debate about being right or wrong. This is about saving lives. If we have to step out of comfort zones to provide treatment we will, every time. This is about giving people the best chance to make it out of the worst drug crisis this country has ever faced. This is about the 142 Americans dying every day of drug overdoses. Is a national emergency warranted? Absolutely. We’re already living it, whether it’s declared or not. But what comes next is crucial to saving lives, and access to treatment options is vital.

From One Mom to Another: What You Need to Know About Reaching Out for Help

An Addict’s Story About Being a Mom Struggling with Addiction

It was my first Mother’s Day as a mom. What should have been a day filled with fresh flowers, Hallmark, and pampering, I instead spent in the fetal position, sobbing my eyes out. I was giving every bit of energy I had to my son, so that I could smile and act like his usual mommy. Here’s the thing, and this is for all you moms out there. Being a mother, a new mother, an old mother, a stepmother, is amazing, but at times it sucks so very, very much. Everywhere I looked (okay, it was only on Facebook) these other moms were making it look so wonderful all the time. And me, the selfish one, was loving this small life beyond my wildest dreams, but also grieving the freedom I once had.

“Being a mother, a new mother, an old mother, a stepmother, is amazing, but at times it sucks so very, very much.”

In the midst of this, my own mother turned to me and said, “Maybe you should talk to your doctor.” I have been on antidepressants for a long time—like before the cheesy commercials. And while that’s not the sexiest fact about myself, they’ve helped me a ton. So I don’t care if anyone has a problem with it. Want to judge? Go on with it, I have a prescription to refill.

My mom looked at me and said, “Chrissy, you’ve had a lot of changes and your body and mind might not be the same anymore. You need help out of this hole.” These were not typical words for my mom, so I decided to see a psychiatrist, instead of my normal general practitioner.

Here’s what I want to tell you. I am savvy, I have done care coordination for years, I was gainfully employed and have had health insurance for a long time. I called my insurance provider and was given a list of psychiatrists who take my (HMO) insurance. No one was taking new patients. Grrrr…

So I called this extremely large health system in my area, known to be one of the best hospitals in the world, who call themselves leaders, who do amazing research, and talked to their psychiatry department. Here’s what I got:

Grumpy Receptionist: “Are you a (fill in the large university) patient?”Me: “No.” Of course I wasn’t, it could take weeks or months to get into primary care there. Grumpy Receptionist: “Well then, all we can give you is one appointment, we’re booked all the way out to October (6 months later!). And at the appointment, they won’t be prescribing any meds.”Me: “Seriously, then what’s the point?”

And these people took my insurance! What. The. Hell. I was astonished and angry. What’s the point in the research if you can’t help people?

I reached out for help and took steps that I didn’t feel like taking but knew I needed. I was ahead of the game. I was turned away.

“I reached out for help and took steps that I didn’t feel like taking but knew I needed. I was ahead of the game. I was turned away.”

So what did I do? I continued to see my very nice, considerate primary care physician, who would very much like me to have a psychiatrist but knows how impossible that is.

I like to tell people this story for many reasons:

  1. If you’re a mom and you’re struggling. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Trust me.

  2. Our healthcare system needs to do better.

  3. There is no shame in having co-occurring issues. In fact many of us do, come join, we are a fun bunch

7 Lies You Should Never, Ever Tell Your Counselor

How Honesty with Your Counselor Can Help You

This will not come as a shock to our users: as a counselor, I actually work for you. I am invested in your success, I want great things for you. And as an experienced mental health professional, I know that your path to recovery will be a few steps forward, and a few steps back. That’s 100% expected! Your counselor will never judge you, I promise.

In addiction we spend so much time trying to hide things and keep secrets from the people in our world. Well you don’t have to hide anything from your counselor—ever. That being said here are the 7 things most often fibbed about and why they cause trouble for the most important person in all of this: you.

The goals you want set.

Your mom, partner, sister, co-worker and cat all want you to stop but you just want to moderate. If that is your goal then let me know so I can give you those resources. You don’t need to razzle dazzle me with lofty ambitions that you honestly don’t care about. Just be real, so I can help you.

When you are in a bad place.

Talking about what’s on your mind brings relief and new perspective. Even just saying it to yourself or typing it, will give it clarity. Remember you are always entitled to have a bad day, no matter where you are in your journey.

When something is not working for you.

Workit gives you a lot of tools using a variety of therapy methods; not all of them are going to work for you. I will not be offended if you tell us so. I want this to benefit a lot of different people and take any user feedback to make our program better. Hate an exercise? Tell me and I guarantee I will sincerely thank you.

If you haven’t done any of the program.

First off, your counselor can see your exercises, I know what is up. Secondly, I understand that at the end of day full of things to do sometimes your Workit program will slack. If you are on day 79 and just decided to go through the Body module we will give you high-five not a side eye. This is for you, not us. We are your faithful cheerleaders.

About getting outside help.

I won’t think that you are cheating on me; in fact I would think that it’s great! Workit gets that we can be part of the many resources you use to recover or stay recovered. It helps me help you if I have a complete picture of what is working for you.

Why you missed an appointment.

Hey, as a counselor I would be lying to you if I said that I don’t get a little bummed when someone misses a chat appointment, but as a human being who has missed her fair share of a lot of stuff I totally get it. Just reschedule. Not a huge deal.

About your current addictive behavior levels.

You might be disappointed in yourself, not want to talk about it, or feel all kinds of shame. I won’t judge you, I won’t feel disappointment, I won’t feel shame! I will feel nothing but continued hope and belief in you, and a desire to be of service in your progress.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by being honest with your addiction coach, and any other mental health professionals you encounter as well. Neither of us can know where to go next if we don’t know where we stand. Keep chatting, honestly!

 

15 Things Your Addiction Counselor Wants You to Know

A Few Things to Remember When Starting the Recovery Process

Ready for the journey? Got your snacks packed, some water, make sure you go to the bathroom before we leave. As Workit’s Director of Counseling, I have some tips for your Workit trip before we get started.

You are okay.

You may not feel like it but trust me you are. Really. You are okay and things can get better. Your body, brain, heart and everything else can heal. Promise.

Seize that spark.

You are reading this because something inside you wants to win. Grab on to it and start running! Repeat after me: I deserve this. A little motivation can blossom into amazing things. Take it from us.

No one is hopeless.

You are amazing and resilient; you just need to learn how to embrace and own that. We can help. Everyone deserves a redo. You included.

You are not alone.

Other people have gone through what you have gone through. Tapping into their perspective can be a huge relief and help. Remember if it has a name it has been done before.

Now is the time.

Your life is precious. Way too precious to let slip by without giving yourself the chance of addressing whatever brought you here. Invest in yourself. It will repay you for the rest of your life.

You can always go back.

For many of us, this was a comforting thought that got us through the early days of kicking our bad habits. Treat it as a grand experiment. Your vices aren’t going anywhere. If the pros don’t outweigh the cons after 90 days, you can go back to your old ways.

Changing behavior is never easy, but that’s a good thing.

A good rule of thumb: the harder it is, the more you stand to gain.

Your coach or counselor doesn’t judge.

We love helping people. That’s what brought us into this field, and we do it with enthusiasm and no judgment.

Perfect will not happen.

But better will. Rebounding is a muscle you will learn to strengthen.

Spot every win, and celebrate! 

Your coach or counselor will cheer you on for the seemingly “little” wins, because small changes add up! Even just entertaining the idea of change, for example, is a win. You’re onto something…

Sleep is weird.

When you stop or reduce an addictive behavior, your sleep patterns can change. You might find yourself too awake or too drowsy, but it won’t last forever. In the meantime, we have strategies to help.

You can still make mistakes.

Even stone cold sober people have been known to do some interesting things and exercise some very poor judgement.  Don’t kick yourself too much over it; learn and move on.

Honesty and accountability will save you.

The secret behaviors you do, that you feel shame about, can quickly become the bat that hits you and then the relief you see for your wounds. Telling your coach means they can help stop the shame spiral. As professional counselors they are literally trained to be nonjudgmental.

There are many paths, find what works for you.

Research has shown that people can recover in many ways, so mix and match tools until you find a combination that works for you. Ask your coach for addiction resources.

Your coach or counselor is here for you 100%.

If you’re in your own head thinking “How could anyone possibly want to join this party?” believe me, we do. We live, breathe, and were trained to help people exactly like you.

You can do this. We can help. Let’s go!

Dear Chrissy: How do I deal with holiday stress?

Dear Chrissy:

Help! The holidays are turning me into a nervous wreck. Any tips for dealing with it?

–Not So Holly Jolly

Dear Not So Holly Jolly,

Despite what the cheery songs and decorations suggest, many people find the holidays a tough time of year. Warm flannel blankets, a glowing fire, mugs of piping hot chocolate, and slipping into the family dynamics you had when you were 12…Did you just take the last cookie? (throws mug). 

But don’t worry, we have your back. Here are 6 ways to make the holidays easier:

1. Check your HALT. 

Take care of your basic needs by making sure that you are not hungry, angry, lonely or tired (get it? HALT!). Being just one of those things can make the holidays rub you like sandpaper. Attending to your physical wellbeing allows your emotional wellbeing to stand a chance.

2. Always have an out. 

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Give yourself the gift of personal space and solid boundaries. Drive separately, tell the people that you are with that when you say it is time to go it is time to go.  No getaway car? Go for a walk or hide out for a bit. A little me-time goes a long way so build it into your schedule and get used to insisting on it.

3. Manage expectations. 

Try to have no expectations. Okay, that is probably not possible, so have realistic expectations. Remember that you don’t have to live in a hallmark card or put on Pinterest-perfect parties to be happy or worthy. Managing expectations is even more key if you’re staying sober this holiday. When sober you might realize that your family is way more awesome than you thought, or you might realize that everyone is drunk. Just because you are changing does not mean everyone around you is too.

4. People don’t care that much. 

This is a good thing to remind yourself if you’re feeling pressure or self-conscious around others. We don’t want you to feel like you are not the special snowflake your mother said you were but really, people are just very self-involved. What you do will be a much bigger deal to you than it is to anyone else. That includes not drinking or using; at most people will be glad that you didn’t decide this year to dance on the dinner table and then move on to what gift they should return first.

5. Keep busy. 

Don’t sit in a corner and stew over the injustices of the holidays, do something. Wash the dishes, go to a shelter, see a movie. Try to think about what you can bring to the party (not just a great cheese log) and not how it will affect you.

6. Make new traditions. 

Does your family usually do jello shots every Christmas Eve or play quarters? Or any other tradition that stresses you out? Time to make new traditions. Get creative and introduce some activities that work for your wellbeing, get prepped and make it something that you are excited for.

With the right mindset and some tricks up your sleeve we believe that you can make any holiday situation enjoyable or at least tolerable.

Go forth and holiday!

– Chrissy

Relationships, Unfiltered: A Guide to Dating in Recovery

Think you are ready to date in addiction recovery?

Some people get their kicks from reality TV, sky-diving, or venturing out with no cell phone. For me? I like to observe people on dates when sobering up. People watching at its finest. Many people decide to pick up a significant other after they have put down the bottle, the dice, the pills, or *fill in addictive behavior.* And sometimes, well sometimes it does not turn out very well.

I once heard an addiction treatment center therapist say, “I have never had a couple that met at rehab later come back to me and tell me what a wonderful and happy life they have together.” (Take a moment and make the mental note of that one couple that you think is an exception to this rule…). Early recovery can feel very much like a middle school dance where you date without any perception of the future….”I know I am in med school and he still deals drugs but he is super spiritual, ya know?”

“I know I am in med school and he still deals drugs but he is super spiritual, ya know?”

So what do people tell you? Wait a year, keep a plant alive then a pet, then date. Get through Point X and then you should be able to date successfully.

From my perspective, whenever you date it is a challenge. All kinds of fun issues with yourself and others will surface and you need to be prepared to handle it. Dating while curbing substance use and other addictive behaviors has its own set of challenges and rewards.

Things you need to be prepared for if you’re newly sober:

  1. You are used to a level of drama that most “normal” people would think only belong in Tyler Perry dramas.

  2. You are not used to being by yourself. And by that we mean unsupervised in your own head, without any mood altering substances. It can be a scary place. People have been known to settle for bad relationships to avoid going there.

  3. You will change as time goes on. What works well now might not work well later.

  4. There’s no nice way to say this…you might find yourself well…um, emotionally stunted. You might not know how to handle the first argument without screaming and blocking their number.

  5. You will read into EVERYTHING. You will be the worst Sherlock Holmes, Special Victim’s, CSI detective. You are used to being hard on yourself and expect others to be hard on you too.

I don’t believe in rules for grown-ups, unless they are laws (I do believe in those!) You won’t find here at Workit a hard and fast rule on when we think it is best to date, but you will find help in figuring out whether you’re ready.

Guidelines for dating in early sobriety:

  1. Are you okay with being alone? Should things not workout with your main squeeze you should be sad, that’s normal. You should also be confident that you can stand on your own two feet.

  2. Do you know what you want in a partner? Breathing, cute, and into me are not enough.

  3. What tools do you have in your toolbox to deal with relationship issues? Two completely mature, sane, and well-communicating adults will still have problems and need to know how to deal with them.

  4. You have the ability to say “no”. You know what works for you and what doesn’t. Relationships are all about compromise…within limits. Like trying Thai food out, not letting someone freeload on your couch for months.

  5. Is most of your life calm? If you are successfully paying bills, showering, and showing up to work– taking care of your life– then you are ready to invite someone to the party. If you can’t accomplish basic adulting 90% of the time then you should put the focus on you.

So what if you have dated, or are dating, and didn’t take the time to check my handy lists? Be aware, be forgiving and be prepared. Be aware that your relationship might have been started on a rocky foundation. Be forgiving to yourself (and your partner) if you have not acted in the best ways. Be prepared that not all relationships end with wedding bells and bliss and that it is completely okay. You can leave a crappy relationship and survive– trust us, we know… It is what we do with our life experiences that makes the difference.

Go out, love yourself, love your life, and then love someone else.