I recently watched the co-host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski, discuss her new book about her secret struggles with food and it made me think of Miss Elegant.
I refer to her as Miss Elegant
because she used to come to our sessions directly from her job at a stylish boutique wearing chic, size two outfits. She wore lots of big jewelry and tailored white shirts and she had impeccable taste.
But even now this woman’s story tugs at my heart. Miss Elegant was a third generation eating disordered woman who grew up watching her mother leave the dinner table each night to “use the bathroom,” which was code for throwing up.
Except no one dared talk about this secret in her family.
After all, her grandmother had been anorexic.
One day she asked me, “Leslie did you hear from my insurance company yet? They have to approve my treatment. They have to!”
When I told her I’d be advocating her case with a mental health reviewer the next day, she told me what I should emphasize. At five feet four inches she was worried that her current weight of 102 pounds might be mistaken for health.
“Can you please explain it? Tell them I’ve weighed 140 pounds and I’ve weighed 80 pounds, and nothing changes, not-inside-me! They have to know it’s not about my weight. It’s what’s going on in my head, can you please make sure they understand this, Leslie?”
After she said these words I remember pausing. It such a riveting moment of truth and I suddenly wished other women could hear this; even though Miss Elegant was still vomiting several times a day she realized there was no magical number on the scale anymore.
I share this story because this morning when I listened to Mika Brzezinski and Diane Smith discuss their latest book, Obsessed: America's Food Addiction -- and My Own, I was reminded of how easy it is to become fixated on a certain dream weight. And how common it is to keep this obsession about weight a secret.
I’ve been watching Mika’s news show for years now and her rants against junk food are legendary. She talks openly about her physical work-outs and her dedication to running and jokingly complains about the eating habits of her co-hosts. But until this book, I didn’t realize she had a secret obsession with her weight and food. From the outside, she looks like the epitome of physical health.
Of course eating disorders are tough to spot from the outside. In fact, one frustration for women who are at a low weight, is how many compliments they receive from those around them. They can be vomiting like crazy, abusing laxatives, running ten miles as punishment for eating a piece of pizza (Mika’s example) and filled with shame,
but as long as they’re thin, they continue to get admiring comments.
Mika and her co-host Joe Scarbough
On the show Mika shared her struggle to maintain an unhealthy weight of 118 pounds (she’s 5 feet 6’½ inches ) but talked openly about all the compliments she got when she was “too skinny.”
Eventually her close friend Diane Smith confronted her on Labor Day weekend 2011.
Diane, who was 5 feet 8 inches and weighed 250 pounds admitted to Mika that she never knew what to cook when Mika was a guest, calling her the “food police” and admitting how self conscious she felt about her own weight problem around her. Diane’s honesty led them both to an in-depth conversation that prompted Mika to share the truth.
“You really don’t know how much I struggle with food?” she asked her long time friend.
“You’re fat. I’m skinny. But we have the same problems.” Mika told her.
And although initially it was hard for Diane to believe that someone who wore a size two could feel a similar torment over weight and food, it was this discussion that led to their collaboration on this book.
During the writing process Mika offered Diane the advance money of the book to finally get help and lose her weight. And to deal with the emotions that were being masked by the focus on food.
And at this time, Diane has lost 70 pounds and is still losing more with the help of a personal trainer and healthy eating. And Mika is now 132 pounds and a size six.
Mika and Diane in the studio
Together they’ve written a book that includes some of the latest science on sugar, salt and fat, and how these three substances promote an addiction to unhealthy foods.
I’m definitely adding this to my book list.
can you relate to having a love-hate relationship with the bathroom scale?
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Hello my friends.
I stumbled on this wonderful article at Apartment Therapy and the minute I saw the first “simple thing” I had to share it with you. According to THIS article, our smallest habits in our home can have a powerful impact on our happiness. That’s because our homes are an extension of ourselves.
For example. Do you make your bed each morning? I don’t. But after reading this article I actually have a different perspective about my messy bed.
Here’s the ten things that might inspire you to make a few changes in your life.
1. Make your bed
Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestselling book "The Happiness Project", explains that making the bed was "the number ONE most impactful change that people brought up over and over" when she was researching her book on what inspires happiness. Isn’t this interesting? Evidently making our beds is considered a “keystone habit,” which is a habit that spills over to other productive habits. It starts your day off on the right foot and encourages you onward.
Three minutes. That’s all you need to devote to this task in order to lift your spirits.
2. Bring every room back to "ready."
Here’s another quick improvement to your mood. Because clutter is known to cause stress, the idea is to be your own best friend by creating a nice ‘welcome’ when you return home.This doesn’t mean you need to be a neat freak. Just take a few minutes before you leave the house to get your room to a state of “readiness.” Pick up. Put the shoes away. Wipe up the counters.
When you walk in the door it will be a mood changer. The author recommends this Seven Step Path to learn more.
3. Display sentimental items around your home
This seems like a no-brainer but when we surround ourselves with sentimental objects that remind us of good experiences we feel better. So be careful not to lump those special, little mementos into the clutter category.
Studies tell us that it’s our relationships that are the foundation of our happiness so when we decorate with meaningful objects we help create that warm, homey feeling.
4. Start a one-line-a-day gratitude journal
People who keep gratitude journals are happier. This is what research tells us. Before bed, simply jot down one happy memory from that day. (If you have kids, you can ask them, "What was the best part of today?") Reflection is an important part of happiness, and pausing to reflect on a positive event from each day cultivates gratitude
The author recommends buying Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, to guide you.
5. If you can't get out of it, get into it.
Cleaning dishes is a good example. Obviously, dishes can’t clean themselves so there’s no avoiding them.
But we have the power to transform our mundane housekeeping into something worthy of our time. Begin by being in the moment. Feel the soothing, warm water on your hands. Enjoy the tickle of the tiny bubbles. Turn on the music to make it fun.
And try to practice gratitude.When you’re cleaning the dishes it’s a perfect time to be thankful you have a sink to stand at and dishes to wash. And the food that’s stuck on the plates? Well, it’s a wonderful thing to have food to satisfy our hunger, isn’t it?
6. Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day.
In The Art of Happiness, the Dali Lama recommends this daily practice. Choose your attitude each morning and make this a positive habit. It only takes a few moments to settle on an affirmation for our day.
What will it be?
If you can’t decide, use this one from the Dali Lama to get you started.
7. Do small favors for housemates, expect nothing in return
Mow the lawn for your husband, but don't expect him to pat you on the back. Make the bed for your wife, but don't try to get bonus points for it. Take the trash out for your roommate, just because. The ability to cultivate strong, healthy relationships is one of the biggest contributors to health and happiness, but when you start to keep score, the benefit is lost.
It's a well-known fact:
When you do good, you feel good.
8. Call at least one family member or friend a day
You can do this while you clean, while you make the bed, or while you walk the dog. Texts and emails do not count! Make an actual phone call to a loved one, just to chat and catch up. We humans are social beings and studies show that even when we don't feel like it, even if we are naturally introverted, socializing with our loved ones makes us feel better
9. Spend money on things that improve your experiences in your home
Save money for a new grill for parties or a new DVD for family movie night — something that will encourage you to have people over and entertain.
Plan a summer barbeque, invite your closest friends, kick back and relax. (And don't forget to print out the pictures to remember the good times.)
10. Spend a few minutes each day connecting with something greater than yourself.
Whatever your spiritual beliefs may be, studies show that connecting to a higher power is correlated with happiness. Before bed, spend just a few minutes contemplating something larger than yourself. Pray. Take a walk in nature. Write in a journal. Create a sacred space in your home. (Or if spirituality is really not your thing, create a home spa: light some candles, soak in a hot bath, delve into a good book… are you feeling better yet?)
Do you already do most of these 10 things?
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Mother’s Day is such a special occasion. If you visit here regularly, you know how much I love creating pretty tablescapes and flower arrangements. And although I have no idea what I’ll be doing yet, I thought I’d share some ideas that I’m loving right now for a Mother’s Day celebration.
Alright. Maybe you don’t have a charming old door to hang for this creative alfresco table setting. But wouldn’t this be a unique dining experience? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten off a door before.
But this indoor setting might be more practical.
Isn’t this a sweet idea for place cards?
At this table each guest has their name tag attached to measuring spoons. What a great idea for a mother who loves baking.
Mother’s Day is a perfect time to bring feminine touches to the table.
Book pages and music sheets make sweet place mats .
But I think personalizing the table by using sentimental items adds that special touch. Consider using a vintage style postcard that tells a story about the guest of honor. Add their name to make a unique place card.
Or use this idea; each guest has a place card with a photo of her own mother on it. It’s simply a piece of cardstock that also has a flower clipped to it. How easy and personal is that?
And if you like the sentimental idea of using photographs, click HERE …and you’ll learn how to make this beautiful table runner.
I like getting creative when it comes to the flower centerpieces. It doesn’t have to be anything grand or elaborate.
Mother’s Day is a chance to pull out all of your special thrift store finds for your table.
Personally I love seeing flowers inside old tarnished pieces of silver …
or placed inside pretty tea tins for a bit of charm.
When planning a special table for someone,
I like to incorporate unique touches that say something about the guest of honor.
Like this crossword puzzle. Wouldn’t this be a cool addition to a brunch table setting?
I included this table because it’s a perfect example of how you don’t have to spend lots of money on flowers to make a statement. Look how lovely a few green plants can be when paired with classic linens. Do you see the plant inside the trifle bowl?
Using everyday items for your table adds personality and keeps the costs down.
And here’s something I want to do for my next brunch.
I want to set up this lovely help-yourself mimosa bar.
On this table bottles of pear nectar, cranberry juice and papaya juice (love those labels) are next to fresh fruit garnishes inside berry baskets…
right next to the bottles of champagne.
(those are raspberries, apple slices and papaya slices in the fruit baskets, how delicious)
When setting up your brunch table, use baskets that are lined with colorful linens to display your food. It’s easy and it looks so pretty. I collect my best baskets at thrift stores.
Use chalkboards to label dishes.
Even syrup look special when it’s served in small crystal decanters.
To complete this look, stack cake pedestals for height and order milk bottles and cheery, striped straws HERE.
And don’t forget these Bloody Mary shooters at your brunch.
Don’t they look yummy?
But before I go, here’s one last idea. While I think this centerpiece looks pretty enough, don’t you think it would be perfect if it spelled out MOTHER?
You can make your own handwritten mugs by using Sharpie paint pens. Or better yet, this is a perfect project for your kids.
I guess you can see by now that on Mother’s Day I prefer sentimental tables over formal ones. Actually, I love anything home-made, especially when it comes from my boys. Which reminds me, if only our husbands and kids could read this post!
Oh well, if you’re a mother and you liked a few of these ideas, pass them on to the people in your life! Really.
Because you deserve to feel special.
Wishing you a Mother’s Day filled with love,
I’m linking this post with some of these friends:
Are you looking for a perfect brunch recipe?
I recently hosted my Mom’s birthday brunch and everyone loved this Paula Deen recipe for Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup that I served.
If you’re planning a Mother’s Day brunch I’d definitely recommend it.
I used Challah bread instead of French bread after I read some of these reviews, and it was SO delicious. Other than this minor change, I stuck to the recipe.
Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.
If you like French Toast, I guarantee you’ll love this dish.
I’m linking this recipe up with Yvonne at StoneGable. Please stop by and check out all the fantastic foodie posts.
This post really began with Rondell.
Whenever I get a comment from someone I don’t know I like to click on to their name to find out if they have a blog too. And if so, I’ll stop by to get a sense of who they are and maybe leave my own comment on their blog. I just think it’s a nice courtesy.
But when I went to Rondell’s blog I was surprised by what I read. Apparently she was taking a break from blogging because “its starting to be not fun,” and as an explanation she provided THIS link which of course I read.
I’m so glad I did too, because Liz Cowan’s words were like a cool, refreshing drink of truthfulness.
Do you ever read words that feel like they could be coming straight out of your own mouth?
Well that’s how I felt after reading this post about the ugly side of blogs. It’s an important message from a blogger that has purposefully chosen not to display followers or comments on her blog. And who loves blogging now that she’s made these changes.
The interesting thing is, several weeks ago I was reminded that we’re all vulnerable to comparing ourselves to others and feeling worse. In fact, I almost gasped when my fabulously successful blogger friend told me she sometimes felt like “throwing up all over her blog,” and confessed to the same doubts about her content and her writing that I had.
What about her thousands of faithful followers?
She pointed to her giveaways and humbly questioned their dedication (as a faithful reader of her blog I know this is not true).
However the point is this.
Depending on our mood, it’s easy to look over at someone else’s life and only see the rosy glow of happiness.
It’s easy to swiftly assess what someone has…
Tons of blog comments
A mass of admiring blog followers
A pretty face
A funny writing style
A slender body
A beautifully decorated home
A cosmopolitan lifestyle
…and wonder what’s wrong with you.
But the truth is… a blog is not real life.
Blogging is merely a slice of the life we choose to display to the world. And it’s important that we don’t get confused.
Blogs are actually a constructed image that depends solely on the blogger’s editing. Think about that. Our readers see and read only the parts of our lives that we choose to disclose and even when we offer glimpses into our deeper selves, we select the shadows we want to illuminate.
Yes, there are those who write fearlessly from their heart, shining a light on even the painful, gritty parts of their world. Those bloggers who show us their struggles and allow us to feel a kinship with their humanness.
But there are certain blogs that are reliable for their brand of beautiful, frothy images. Blogs that we visit for their pretty pictures and their brand of happiness, the kind of gorgeous distractions from real life that I crave at certain moments.
The problem is not this brand of light banter and visual beauty.
The key is realizing that what we’re seeing in front of us is not the whole story; and the question is whether we’re gullible enough to believe that this always-happy-perfect-looking world really exists. As a visitor to a blog we should know we’re stepping into a world where behind-the-scene clutter, kid problems, and painful insecurities are carefully scripted. We may not always see the thread of imperfection that binds us together.
So you should be careful when you’re blog hopping. Be wary of making assumptions about a blogger’s entire life simply from the glimpses you have from her posts.
Because it’s so tempting to visit a blogger and swoon over the artfully styled photographs of her home and believe that’s how it always looks.
It’s easy to read well written posts by faceless women and imagine their life is filled only with romantic interludes and fascinating travels.
One minute we’re gazing at a white linen couch on a design blog and the next second we’re filling in the missing pieces of this perfect picture with a handsome husband who cleans after himself and never leaves the toilet seat up, and children who eat dinner in a sparkling clean kitchen with matching napkins and fresh flowers on the table. A world without bills that need to be paid and laundry that’s piled on the floor.
Only the dangerous part of this idealized fantasy world we imagine, is that it ultimately makes us feel worse about ourselves. As women, as mothers, as bloggers, as writers.
This is what I got from reading the post at Mabel’s House. No, there weren’t any crescendo crashing words that I hadn’t heard before, but her post reminded me that the minute we begin to make comparisons,
of our blogs,
of our kids,
of our homes
we invite discontent into our lives. Because comparing ourselves to others instantly distorts our own worth. Either we feel worse about ourselves (after comparing ourselves to an illusion)
or we feel temporarily better after having ranked somebody beneath us on some fake, arbitrary scale in our heads. Either way it’s mental trickery, it’s not real.
But this is real:
The act of making comparisons robs us of the chance to feel gratitude for what we have.
Comparisons steal our joy.
Does blog hopping ever make you feel worse about your own blog?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
(p.s. I think you’re amazing)
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