What NOT to ask around the holiday table.... and what to say instead by Gia & Danielle

By Danielle Keenan-Miller, Ph.D. 

The holidays are often a time for gathering with people we don’t see much during the year-- distant relatives, neighbors, and friends of the family that by chance or by choice are not part of our everyday lives. At its worst, negotiating the several hours of a holiday dinner can feel painstaking or repetitive. But having a handy list of the questions that avoid causing conflict and instead open up the door to engaging and meaningful conversation can turn those long holiday meals into a time for joy and connection.

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Surprising New Findings about Wearable Exercise Trackers & Teens by Gia & Danielle

A new study in the American Journal of Health Education looked at the impact of a popular wearable lifestyle technology on teen exercise habits. At first, the 13 and 14 year olds reported being more motivated -- by guilt and competition to meet the fitness goals. But the positive trend in their desire to improve exercise habits did not last. The study revealed, it’s not that simple.

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Your Brain on Altruism: The science behind holiday do-gooding by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Danielle Keenan-Miller

The holiday season comes with an onslaught of requests for your time and money: envelopes from non-profits arriving to ask for donations, soup kitchens requesting volunteers, and even the ringing bell of the Salvation Army santa. In the midst of the stress, lack of sleep, and (let’s be honest) grumpy mood that can accompany the holiday season, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we don’t have the time, energy, or resources to give. However, the science of altruism suggests that accepting some of these requests, rather than depleting us, would likely improve our well-being (in addition to contributing to the social good).

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6 Simple Tips for Success on Thanksgiving Day: During Eating Disorder Recovery by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

A day that seems to be all about food can be very stressful if you are trying to recover from an eating disorder. Here are some tips that can help you manage well on Thanksgiving. Starting by...

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Facing Your Food Fears by Gia & Danielle

Therapists have long known that the key to conquering fears is facing them and learning that you can survive. In fact, the therapy based on that concept, called exposure therapy, is the treatment of choice for a number of psychological problems, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobias, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. For example, if you went to therapy because you were afraid of dogs, that therapy should include things like looking at pictures or movies of dogs, going to dog parks, petting dogs, and maybe even engaging with dogs that seem scary. Current theory of how exposure therapy works is that it helps people learn something new about their feared situation-- that the outcome that they fear is unlikely to happen, or that if it does happen, it’s not the end of the world.

 

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How to Tackle Bulimia Nervosa & Depression Together by Gia & Danielle

"Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging" --Joseph Campbell

As if overcoming a serious eating disorder isn't challenging enough, more than half of people with bulimia nervosa also deal with a depressive disorder. New reseach is encouraging for those working to recover from both. 

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“Look at her!”: How social comparisons hurt us all by Gia & Danielle

We’re all aware that “fat talk” -- that is, talking about dissatisfaction with our own bodies or making negative comments about the bodies of others--  are harmful to ourselves and those around us (not to mention foster a negative social environment where women’s bodies are commodified). But far fewer of us are aware of how dangerous it is to even mentally compare our bodies, exercise, and eating habits to those of other women. Our culture’s obsession with social media, reality TV, and celebrity watching have enabled us to make detailed comparisons between our lives and those of people we may have never even met, and there’s reason to suspect that those comparisons are hurting us.

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Find Calm & Improve Your Health: Meditate Daily by Gia & Danielle

by Dr. Gia Marson

"The Intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind a faithful servant, we have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." - Albert Einstein

We live in a complex world, bombarded by media & technology. It is easy to default to spending our days reacting to external stimuli. This strategy can get you through days, weeks and even years. But it may not get you what you truly want. If you have been busy chasing your life as opposed to living it, I want to encourage you to make change-- to a life of acting rather than reacting. One well researched, simple method to shift away from responding to forces around you and toward being centered and value driven is meditation. Evidence shows it can improve your mental and physical health...and it feels good.

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Photoshopped Images Need Labels by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

France now requires all retouched, airbrushed or altered photos to come with a warning. The purpose of the new law that went into effect Sunday, is “to avoid promoting inaccessible ideals of beauty and to prevent anorexia among young people...Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic body images leads to a feeling of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can have an impact on health-related behaviour” according to their former health minister, Marisol Touraine.¹

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Make 2 Friends and Call Me In The Morning: Building Social Connections to Improve Health by Gia & Danielle

By Danielle Keenan-Miller, Ph.D.

In Western culture, which places a lot of value on the role of the individual, maintaining our physical and mental health is typically seen as a solo venture. It’s presumed that our well-being is largely under our own control, and improving our health is something we should be able to tackle independently. However, a large body of evidence from different fields of psychology and medicine are highlighting the key role that our relationships play in our health.

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Actions Speak Louder than Words, in Eating Disorder Recovery by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

Does this sound familiar? You want to recover but you also want to keep a few of the familiar eating disorder behaviors. Maybe you want to ignore your body’s hunger or fullness cues or stay at a weight that your treatment team tells you is not healthy. While recovering, you may want to maintain certain parts of the eating disorder that seem comforting and comfortable. You may have even convinced yourself that you can pick and choose which behaviors or beliefs to keep and which to release. There are so many versions of resistance to change, so many symptoms you may be unwilling to give up. If so, you are not alone.

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How a Suicide Prevention Song Inspires Hope & Help-Seeking by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

We were recently reminded how much of a positive difference one person can make. At the Video Music Awards, singer Logic performed a moving song about suicide prevention and mental health. The song called "1-800-273-8255" is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The day after the song was released, the hotline had the second-highest call volume in its history.¹ Callers reached out for help. Logic’s honest songwriting and courageous performance revealed his own history of suffering and inspired hope through positive action. He connected through our shared humanity. He generated help-seeking. Now, calls to the hotline are up more than 30% from this time last year.

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Use 3 C’s to Improve Body Image: Catch it, Check it, Change it by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

Can we agree that weight and health are not synonyms? Even though most of us recognize this in theory, our everyday language confuses the two words. Furthermore, our conversations are littered with negative assumptions about what it means to have a higher BMI or weight. Research shows that weight bias is the fourth most frequently reported form of discrimination and there has been a 66% increase in its occurrence between 1995 and 2006.¹

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Say My Name: The Power of Naming Emotions by Gia & Danielle

By Danielle Keenan-Miller, Ph.D.

In the process of trying to avoid, push away, or minimize negative emotions, people often miss one of the most simple and powerful ways to change emotions: naming them. It sounds somewhat counterintuitive—why would saying I feel sad or anxious help me to feel better? In fact, when asked how much naming a negative emotion would help them to feel better, most people do not think that it will be a useful strategy.¹ However, a large body of evidence now exists to suggest that this simple, easy-to-use technique can be powerful for helping people to get a hold of strong negative emotions.

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Why do we Confuse Weight and Health? by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

Can we agree that weight and health are not synonyms? Even though most of us recognize this in theory, our everyday language confuses the two words. Furthermore, our conversations are littered with negative assumptions about what it means to have a higher BMI or weight. Research shows that weight bias is the fourth most frequently reported form of discrimination and there has been a 66% increase in its occurrence between 1995 and 2006.¹

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The Tyranny of “Should” Thoughts: 3 Questions to Fight Back by Gia & Danielle

By Danielle Keenan-Miller, Ph.D.

One of the most common and most problematic types of unhelpful cognitions are “should” thoughts.¹ Sometimes they take the form of thinking you “should” want or not want something, be some special way, or meet some particular (and usually arbitrary) standard. Other times, “should” thoughts are embedded in a deeper sense of whether our actions or someone else’s behaviors are right or wrong. These thoughts are often so deeply ingrained into our way of seeing the world that we might not even notice their presence.

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Want to Reduce Binge Eating? Use Your imagination by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

Michael Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman believes vivid imagining (or mental rehearsal) is necessary for peak performance in every endeavor. Bowman says “the brain cannot distinguish between something that’s vividly imagined and something that’s real...If you can form a strong mental picture and visualize yourself doing it, your brain will immediately find ways to get you there.”¹

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Should You Tell Your Boss About Your Depression? by Gia & Danielle

By Danielle Keenan-Miller, Ph.D.

You may have recently read the story of Madalyn Parker, who emailed her boss to let him know she was going to take some days off to attend to her own mental health. Her boss, Ben Congleton, was not only supportive of her in his return email, but responded to reaffirm the “importance of using sick days for mental health” and praised her as an example for others to follow. The story quickly went viral¹, with many people lauding both Madalyn and Ben for being willing to tackle stigma and model the importance of mental health.

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Weighing In on Netflix’s “To The Bone” by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

In “To The Bone”, Ellen, the main character played by Lily Collins, shifts to embrace healing when she faces and accepts the complexities of past missteps, multi-dimensional relationships, the life threatening illness of anorexia nervosa and the difficult recovery journey ahead. As Pema Chodron says… suffering begins to dissolve when we can question the belief or the hope that there’s anywhere to hide

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