Tag Archive | Books

Books are Ready!

It’s a self-help book with a twist!

Books are officially ready for purchase! My first shipment arrived today! If you know any adult woman (30s-60s) who struggles with disordered eating – primarily binge eating, emotional eating, and/or yo-yo dieting, please send her to the link below:

Behind the Mask: Our Secret Battle: Adult Women End Their Lifetime War with Food and Weight, Find Their Voice and Learn Self-Acceptance

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Book Release!

My book, Behind the Mask: Our Secret Battle, is in production and will be ready for purchase late November or early December 2012. Women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s who have suffered with lifelong low self-esteem, disordered eating, and body image issues, who have defined themselves by their weight, and experienced the relentless psychological “tug of war” that accompanies these issues, will relish this book as a means to help them deeply understand and appreciate their eating behaviors as a coping mechanism that no longer “serves” them, and as a hands-on skill-building tool.

Behind the Mask first details specific issues that many women struggle with during various stages of life that play an integral role in their disordered relationship with food, through the voices of two adult women with lifelong eating issues and the connections they have made along the way. It then provides my professional detailed three-phase approach to acquire the skills necessary to eat in a more peaceful way, find one’s voice, and practice self-acceptance and self-care. It is a book of connection, hope and tools for recovery.


Stay tuned for more specific information on how to purchase the book!


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Making Peace with Imperfection

This article was written by Vikas Malkani, and is an extract of the book, The Little Manual of Happiness


I have yet to meet an absolute perfectionist whose life is filled with inner peace. The need for perfection and the desire for inner tranquility conflict with each other. Whenever we are attached to having something a certain way, better than it already is, we are, almost by definition, engaged in a losing battle. Rather than being content and grateful for what we have, we are focused on what is wrong with something and our need to fix it. When we are zeroed in on what is wrong, it implies that we are dissatisfied, discontented.

Whether it is related to ourselves—a disorganized closet, a scratch on the car, an “imperfect” accomplishment —or to someone else’s ‘imperfections’—the way someone looks, behaves, or lives one’s life—the very act of focusing on imperfection pulls us away from our desire of being happy and gentle. This strategy has nothing to do with ceasing to do your very best but with being overly attached and focused on what is wrong with life. It is about realizing that while there is always a better way to do something, this does not mean that you cannot enjoy and appreciate the way things already are.

The solution here is to catch yourself when you fall into your habit of insisting that things should be other than what they are. Gently remind yourself that life is okay the way it is, right now. In the absence of your judgment, everything would be fine. As you begin to eliminate your need for perfection in all areas of your life, you will begin to discover the perfection in life itself. And yes, that is bound to bring happiness into your life.

Let me give you ten suggestions on how to maintain a state of happiness and joyfulness as you sail your ship in this ocean of life. Remember, we live in two worlds simultaneously, the inner and the outer worlds. To become joyful and experience happiness as an apparent quality in our daily life it is necessary that we maintain awareness of both these worlds in every moment. The steps below are intended to keep you firmly on the path of freedom and happiness in every moment of every day. Practice, and be happy—all-ways, always!

Step 1: Laugh at failure and defeat.  Defeat and failure are only a perception from a small vision. They have no real life of their own except what you give them. This means that the only time you have to feel the pain of any defeat or failure is if you ask for it, by delving into trouble.  Stay in the present moment. Consciousness likes great heights; dare to follow!

Step 2: Start all over again; if necessary.  Any time you truly choose, you can start your life over, without permission from any higher authority. You can have just as many new beginnings as you are willing to leave behind all your old ideas and conditioning about the concepts of right and wrong. Life can be as new as you choose it to be.

Step 3: Stop looking outside of yourself. After endlessly looking for it outside, realize that the answer is within you. Your life is only as complete as you are—no more, no less. Looking to your work, relationships or events for a feeling of self-completion is a self-defeating exercise. Being complete and whole is first an understanding, and then a state of being. It does not need a certain set of conditions to be perfectly manifested for its occurrence.

Step 4: Let go! Trying to control every moment of your life, or another’s, causes more disharmony than any other process. Keep in mind that everything and every person must go through their own lives, based on their own awareness, at their own pace. Allow this to happen. Let something higher have its hand at directing your life, in shaping your destiny. Learn to let go!

Step 5: Don’t live for others.  There is no satisfying the fear that you may displease others. Allowing what others may feel about you to dictate how you feel about yourself is like believing that someone else can decide your identity for you. This choice gives away your power. The only real strength comes from knowing that you have your own likes and dislikes in your own life, and can never make everyone happy with everything that you are, or can do.

Step 6: Believe in action. Wisdom turns into strength only if it is followed up with action. To learn how to swim, you must be prepared to get wet. Any weakness voluntarily faced and met is the same as greeting a greater strength. Wisdom lays the foundation, but it is action that finally changes life and the future.

Step 7: Be optimistic! You always have two choices in every situation—either curse the darkness, or light a candle. Choose the more positive. It comes at the same expense as the negative thought or choice but with extremely different consequences. Why wait until you feel down before you think of looking up. You can always glimpse the higher, in every moment, but you have to remind yourself to look in the right direction. Remember that if you keep your face to the sunshine, you cannot see the shadows.

Step 8: Choose the heart over the head. No matter how much you try, you can’t think yourself into happiness. You must actually feel happy. However, you can sink yourself to your lowest low with a chain of thoughts that start from a single dark one. Bright, positive emotions spring from the heart. Heavy feelings can’t exist without the presence of negative thoughts. This means that sad states are just a trick of the mind, and begin with our thoughts.

Step 9: Walk one step at a time.  Don’t be too concerned about how much there is to do, or how impossible some of the tasks seem. Just get one thing done at a time, again and again. Just do what’s in your power, and brush aside all other concerns. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And the most beautiful tapestry begins and ends with one of ten thousand individual threads.

Step 10: Know that the time to act is always ‘now’.  You can’t change the mind of the person you are later. There is no later, it’s always now or never. The moment, ever present, ever powerful, is before you. And it has limitless potential. The time to accept responsibility for your happiness and freedom is now. The time to change your destiny is now. Accept that change is inevitable; it is part of our life’s journey. Confucius wisely said, “They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.”

Be ready to accommodate change in your life. Your personal growth depends on this. So does your state of mind. Do not delay. I have always maintained that there is really never a better time than the present. Remember that if you keep your face to the sunshine, you cannot see the shadows. Accept imperfection.  Don’t have to wait for perfection to be happy.

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Does This Really Work?

I am asked the question “will this approach really work?” almost on a weekly basis by most, if not all of my binge-eating clients who are in a larger body than they want to be in. The other question I hear regularly is “are you sure this process will help me lose weight?”


The following article was in the “Huffington Post” several days ago. It is about Geneen Roth’s new book Lost and Found, which chronicles the parallels between her relationship with eating and her relationship with finances and shopping. In her book, she describes her “binge shopping followed by periods of budgetary self-deprivation”. Below are a few quotes from the article that illustrate the process of healing from binge-eating disorder.”


Q: How do you explain how Oprah could say she found the answer in “Women Food and God,” and yet still struggles with her weight?

A: I can’t speak for Oprah or about Oprah, but I can say when you find something that speaks to you, when you find something that feels like “Now I’m at home,” that’s the beginning, not the end. That “a-ha” moment is wonderful, but when it ends, and it always does, it needs to be followed by some kind of commitment to take action on your own behalf, a daily decision to be there for yourself.

Q: How do you decide to be there for yourself?

A: You can’t do it alone. Support helps you follow through, and the desire to follow through helps you get support. It can’t just be the support of one friend giving you advice. Advice doesn’t help so much. The problem with all the advice we’ve been given is we don’t know how to follow it. When people don’t feel instant change, they think it’s not working. This is a failure. I’m a failure. At that point, they need support in asking the right questions, like: What am I feeling? What happened in that moment when I went to eat when I wasn’t hungry? When I went to spend when I was feeling hurt? Unless you become interested in those moments, you’ll always turn to food or money to fill them.


The bottom line is that the process of healing from binge-eating disorder (or any other eating disorder) first involves the development of a good amount of insight about the relationship between your emotions and your eating, tracing back to when you were a child (presuming you are an adult). Making connections in an “objective” way, like being a detective, is key. So many of my clients focus on their disordered eating episodes, time after time in a self-critical way, which prevents them from seeing beyond or beneath the behavior to try to understand what the behavior is trying to “tell” us. When people with binge-eating continuously focus on the feelings of failure associated with their current eating patterns and current body, they prevent themselves from digging deeper into the origins of their disordered eating and the reasons why it is perpetuated.

Does insight translate into a different body? No. It doesn’t. It is one step on the journey to healing. Without insight, the same disordered patterns will continue day after day, month after month, year after year.

With insight, there necessarily has to also be a commitment to challenging the disordered behaviors. This is tricky because many, if not all binge-eating clients have extensive disordered behaviors and disordered thoughts that accompany these behaviors. Challenging disordered thoughts and behaviors runs the gamut of challenging restriction, deprivation, diet thinking, as well as binge eating, overeating and self-deprication. For example, most, if not all of my clients who suffer with binge-eating have been on numerous diets, to the point where they have no idea how to look at food in any other way than through the lens of a diet program. They feel guilt and shame if they are not restricting something or things out of their diet. Then when they can’t take the dieting anymore, they rebound binge once again…focusing only on how they “failed” to follow the diet plan.

Challenging the urges to restrict or diet ALWAYS makes my clients fear that they will gain weight. After all, they have spent a lifetime in the “black and white” pattern of restriction and weight loss followed by rebound bingeing and weight gain. Usually when a binge eating client comes into my office, they are absolutely “done” with dieting, but also want to lose weight. This impasse is very complex and not “fixable” in a short period of time. Years of disordered eating and thinking, and yo-yoing cannot be eradicated quickly.

Committing to stopping dieting is a huge step but will not necessarily create weight loss. Recovery from binge-eating disorder IS NOT A DIET IN DISGUISE. It is a healing process in which the goal is to considerably diminish the use of food as a coping/communicating mechanism over time, and ultimately have a more peaceful relationship with yourself, your food and the world. Stopping dieting is another essential step in the process. It is not the end point.

After a binge-eater commits to quit dieting and begins to develop insight about the complexities of her eating, she will need to develop the skills to identify her needs and emotions so that she doesn’t NEED the food to cover all of it up. This is very difficult and will not only take time, but considerable commitment, weathering the storm of ups and downs, and trying not to focus on weight loss. I know…this sounds crazy, right? It sounds especially crazy when you are in a body that feels extremely uncomfortable and you are used to continuously trying to fix your life by fixing your body. When that fails, you continue to experience disordered eating and you have gotten nowhere. Recovery from an eating disorder is a COMPLETELY different approach. You must be ready to try something new, imperfect and extremely challenging, in order to be free from your illness.

So, to answer the two most commonly asked questions.

  1. “Will this really work?”
  2. “Are you sure this process will help me lose weight?”

1.  In my opinion, this process begins working from the moment you take the first step. It continues to work every single time you develop an insight, make a connection, avoid a disordered behavior, feel a feeling, eat foods you like, don’t restrict, challenge unhealthy thinking. It is always working…

2.  When you have worked on all the steps and have a considerably healed relationship with yourself, your eating, your feelings, and your world, your weight will reflect your new life…whatever body shape or size that may be.

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Vic Avon on FOX Focus: Male eating disorders

Click below to read the story on Fox 23 News
FOX Focus: Male eating disorders

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“With self-compassion, if you care about yourself, you do what’s healthy for you rather than what’s harmful to you.”  

This is the last line from a quote in a New York Times article that discusses a new area of psychological research called “self-compassion” and a new book on the topic by Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.

The first thing I tell a client that comes into my office with an eating disorder is “This illness is not your fault.” The second thing I tell my clients is that “You need to be kind to yourself in order to heal from this illness.”

People who suffer from eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder, are extraordinarily sensitive, kind-hearted individuals. They are the types of people who make others feel good about themselves with their compliments, love, unending ability to listen and empathize.  Unfortunately, these sufferers reserve their adoring ways for others, and when it comes to themselves, they are self-critical, self-loathing, unforgiving, and merciless. They overinflate their flaws and minimize their attributes. They beat themselves up for the most insignificant “mistakes” and struggle to see their strengths and successes – in the food arena as well as in other areas.

This article emphasizes that negativity and self-criticism are not motivators for change, whether they come from others or from within. These tactics breed negativity and helplessness, two states of being that reinforce sickness, depression and lack of motivation for positive change. 

Self-compassion is not only the first step in healing, it is an essential step. If you suffer from an eating disorder, remember to treat yourself with the same kindness and respect you would bestow upon your friends, family and other loved ones. You will be pleasantly surprised at the power a little compassion can have in the recovery process.

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Thank you Dina, for a great post!

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

These are the first few lines of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss. If you are not familiar with this wonderful book about life’s challenges, please do yourself a favor and read it! (You can find the complete text online, but I really recommend reading the book.)  While the message of this book is relevant at any stage in life, it is especially appropriate for someone setting out in a new direction. To a special client who has just taken a very brave step toward recovery, and to all of you who carry on courageously each day – YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

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NEDA Conference: Jenni Schaefer – “Life Without Ed”

I spent today at the NEDA annual conference in Brooklyn, NY. NEDA is an amazing organization that brings together treatment professionals, sufferers, family members, and educators. The conference was filled with hope and promise for the future of understanding and treating eating disorders! I feel filled  with pride and confidence that we are committed to doing all that we can to help those that suffer (and their families) receive the help they need to overcome these illnesses! Jenni Schaefer, the author of Life Without Ed and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me was a consistent presence at the conference. To say she is an inspiration is an understatement! She moved people to tears with her words, and her song “It’s OK To Be Happy” is a testiment to her recovery and should be on everyone’s play list!

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A View from Inside

By Vic Avon, author of My Monster Within: My Story

Outsiders think this whole process is easy. They think it’s something that we can flick a switch and turn off.  They think it’s something that we can easily ignore.  They think it’s something that can be discarded as easily as garbage.  We know better, or more specifically: I know better.  I’ve experienced just about everything this disorder could have thrown at me.  For years I lived in a world of self-hate, a world of torment, a world of darkness. I’ve looked for the light and grew afraid of it; expecting it to be a freight train coming my way.  I thought I was alone.  I thought it was just me and “my friend”.  I loved “my friend”.  I trusted it.  I believed it.  I listened to only it.  Then one day I realized it wasn’t a friend.  It was a monster that was doing everything possible to kill me: both emotionally and ultimately physically.  This is when my fight really got hard.  It’s very hard to describe what it’s like to try to part with something that I depended so much on.  I loved it and I hated it at the same time.  Would I exist without it?  Who am I without it?  I’m sure there are others out there asking the same questions.  One will never know the answers unless he or she commits to climbing the mountain of recovery and peaking over the other side and seeing what life can be like.  One thing I have learned is that it is never too late to start your life over.  There are too many things in this world that we cannot control. 

Our reactions, our coping mechanisms, our commitment to bettering ourselves are things that we CAN control.  Just because things around you in your life may not be getting better doesn’t mean that things IN you can’t get better.  Recovery is a journey, a very hard journey.  It is a time to look inward.  It is a time to change.  It is a time to take down the bricks of the walls we build.  A time to break free from “safe” things.  A time to break the chains and feel freedom for the first time.  A time to actually start living rather than just being alive.  It is very scary at times, but each of us has the ability to confront those fears and walk through the dark tunnel until we walk out into the sunshine.  Confronting the darkness brings strength, brings hope, brings courage, brings wisdom, brings love, brings acceptance, brings trust, brings serenity.  It allows you to become YOU.  I know this because it allowed me to become me.  Turn your struggle into strength and meet me on the other side… you will not regret it.

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