Dear Caitlin: My boyfriend finishes too soon and leaves me hanging

1186315_4822421613162_388622102_nDear Caitlin,

I feel like every time I have sex with my boyfriend, he finishes and I’m kind of left hanging.  I feel awkward saying something because I think he might get defensiveIs there something I can do or say that will make him realize I need a little bit more from him?

Thanks!

Awkward

Dear Awk,

It’s great that you’re ready to start saying something because you deserve to have your needs met too! It can be very awkward to ask for what you need in bed when you’re not used to asking. It gets easier once you see that it’s ok, and that your partner can handle it, and wants to please you. Of course, if he doesn’t want to please you, you should find someone who does! Think about it: you’re meeting his needs, so why wouldn’t you expect that he meet yours?

Right now, he may think he IS pleasing you. Perhaps, in the past, whatever he is doing was enough for his other partners. Or, it’s possible that his previous partners didn’t feel comfortable telling him what they needed. A lot of people want their partners to just know, but that’s not fair to them. Everyone is different, so each new partner has the responsibility of communicating his or her needs.

There are many ways you can ask for what you need. There is a difference between asking for what you need, and telling your partner he’s not good in bed or not pleasing you. It’s important that you stick with, “I,” statements. For example, “I really like xyz.” Or, if you’ve been leading him to think you’ve been having orgasms even though you haven’t been, you can tell him you have the best orgasms when someone does xyz to you, and you’d like to share that experience with him.

You’ll need to know what you like, which is sometimes a challenge for people. That takes exploring your own body so you know what to ask for.

Now, if your partner gets defensive or tells you he doesn’t want to do what you need, or he tells you you’re wrong about what you need (yes, there are people who will do any and all of the above), that’s information that you need to consider about your relationship. It might be scary to ask because you’re afraid you might get answers such as these, and it would hurt you. However, being left hanging is hurtful too. So, you’ve got choices. You can take a risk and ask for what you need, and then deal with the result. Or, you can continue to feel unsatisfied, which will likely lead to resentments and your relationship will likely become problematic.

It’s normal to feel uncomfortable when you do something new. But, like everything else, the more you do the uncomfortable, the more comfortable it becomes. Good luck!

My best,

Caitlin

Send your questions to therapy@caitlincantor.com! If you have them, others do too! 

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

 

 

Dear Caitlin: My parents are dead set against my relationship!

Potato Cantor

Potato Cantor

Dear Caitlin:

I am a twenty-eight year old professional, never married. Now, I have fallen in love with a man who is also in love with me, and is almost 20 years older than I am. He is divorced with two teenage children. I am an only child, and my parents are dead set against this relationship, pointing out all of the problems that go with the age difference and a second marriage where there are children from a prior relationship.

I have dated many eligible men in the past, but I never felt this way about any of them.  My parents are giving me a really hard time.  I don’t want to lose them, but I also want to marry this man and have children of my own.

What do you think?

~Nervous

Hi Nerv,

The cliché that says we don’t choose who we fall in love with takes on real meaning when you find yourself in love with someone who doesn’t match up with who you imagined you’d be with. Obviously you and your parents didn’t imagine this scenario when you thought about who you would end up with. But this is who does it for you! Good for you for being open to love and not pushing it away, even during this scary time. Some people have a harder time finding the person they love and connect with than others. If you’ve found love and a connection, it’s worth fighting for, even if it doesn’t come in a neat, perfect package. Keep in mind, the real thing rarely does.

A few things come to mind:

1.   Your parents’ initial reaction will not be their final reaction. Right now they are hoping that they can talk you out of this. Once they see you have made up your mind, they will begin grieving the loss of the idea/fantasy they had about who you would marry. Then, they will be more likely to accept what you’ve chosen and make the most of it. They may even come to like him. Regardless of what happens, keep in mind that their position will change from what it is now.

2.   If this is the first time you’re openly going against your parents’ wishes, it will be very scary for both you and them. You have no historical evidence to give you hope that they won’t abandon you. That is why this feels like such a big risk. In fact, it IS a big risk, but a necessary one in order to make your life your own.

3.   Deciding for yourself whether or not it is ok to marry this man is an act of independence. Your parents will fight you. They may feel abandoned because you’ve done what you want, not what they want. You may feel that you are abandoning them too. Leaving them may be even scarier than your fear of losing them. It is difficult for both children and parents to become separate people, and to learn how to remain close and connected. However, the healthiest relationships are among people who can be securely connected, but remain separate and independent. It’s a tricky balance!

This is about more than just doing what you want, despite what your parents have to say about it. It’s about being who you are, as opposed to who your parents want you to be. Of course, there will be some overlap with that.

Make sure that you seek support while your parents are going through their process! That’s the one thing that every single

person I know who has had to go through something like this says they wish they had done.

My best,

Caitlin

Send your questions to therapy@caitlincantor.com! If you have them, others do too! 

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

Dear Caitlin: My boyfriend doesn’t want me to meet his family

My cat, Potato

My cat, Potato

Dear Caitlin,

I have been dating Brad for over a year, and I still have not met his family.  He says he is not close to his family and doesn’t want much to do with them.  But he goes home for Christmas Eve, and for a few other holidays and for the birthdays of his niece and nephew.  He says it is all for his niece and nephew, but he does not want me to go with him.

Brad says he wants to spend his life with me.  Do you think this will work out?  Is he for real?

Doubtful in Denver

 

Dear Double D,

A couple things come to mind, so I’m just going to throw all of them out there in the hope that something resonates with you.

1. It seems like you think (or wonder) that if you don’t meet someone’s family, they aren’t serious about you. That’s an attachment you made to the act of meeting your boyfriend’s family: meet family = level of seriousness in a relationship. That belief may come from your past relationships, or it may be because your family means more to you, and you would want someone you’re serious with to meet them. This may be completely different for Brad. To him, having you meet his family may have nothing to do with his future plans with you. He may not like spending time with his family, and he may dread bringing you, someone he loves, into that world. The reasons that Brad may not want you to meet his family are endless, but the point is, there could be many more reasons than just that he isn’t serious. He may not attach the same meaning to the act of meeting his family, that you do.

2. Do you believe Brad when he says his family isn’t important to him other than his nephew and niece? If something in you senses something is off, that is not to be ignored. Too often we ignore our gut feelings. We don’t trust them. And too often (as in usually), they are right. So, if your gut is telling you something is off with Brad, you can communicate with him in ways that may encourage him to talk to you about it. For example, saying things like, “when you go see your family and don’t take me with you, it makes me feel worried,” as opposed to “why don’t you ever take me to see your family?” Perhaps, Brad will be able to give you an answer that you find more comforting. However, the truth may be just what he says: he doesn’t want much to do with his family, and goes home out of obligation. If so, you have to decide whether you can accept that or not.

3. Is being close with your partner’s family important to you? If so, that is something you need to consider. If you love Brad, you may decide to grieve the loss of whatever idea you had about your partner’s family. Or, you may decide you want someone who has a closer relationship with his family.

I’d have to know more to be able to be more clear and specific. There is no right answer to what you should do. I can’t tell you if he is for real, or if this will work out. However, the first suggestion I made above can help ease your anxiety because you can separate what you believe meeting one’s family means to you, from what it means to your partner. This skill of what I call, “meaning-separation,” is valuable in every relationship. The second suggestion will help you practice communication that enhances closeness, rather than distance, by connecting on emotion. And the third will help you make decisions. You have to give yourself permission to want what you want, not settle for less, or decide what you want doesn’t come with everything else you hoped for. That’s usually the case. No one is perfect, of course.

Hope this helps Double D!

My best,

Caitlin

 

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

Dear Caitlin: Why do men keep leaving me even though I’m giving them 100%??

560475_2991330357025_2074387617_nDear Caitlin,

I have had a couple relationships in the past few years. I dated one guy for 2 years, and another for one year. I give these men 100 percent, and they leave me. They leave without even saying goodbye. They literally stop talking to me, refuse to answer me, and then call me crazy when I keep trying to talk to them. It’s not like we dated for a month and I’m confused about them. We are talking years, and then totally nothing. Not even a goodbye. What’s up with that? I don’t get it. I’m losing hope that I’ll find someone and I’m afraid if I do, he’ll just leave again.

Thanks,

Hoping You Can Help The Hopeless

Dear Hopeless,

I hesitate to address you as hopeless because there really is still a lot of hope, even though I know you are discouraged. And, just so you know, this actually happens quite often. Yes, even after people are in a relationship for a couple of years,  they will cut ties in a cruel, harsh way.

I’m curious about giving 100 percent. What does that mean? Sometimes people make the mistake of giving 100 percent to the other person at the expense of themselves. The art of relationships comes when you can balance giving yourself to someone, so to speak, without neglecting yourself. By that I mean, you have needs that need to be met. If you’re always sacrificing your own needs—what you want to do, what you expect from partners, how you expect to be treated, and so on—you’re abandoning yourself. And, you’re teaching your partners that it’s ok to abandon you too. You can be dedicated to your partners and still be dedicated to yourself. People struggle to know the difference between being selfish, and self-care.

You teach people how to treat you. It starts with how you treat yourself. If you don’t meet your own needs, others will think it’s ok not to meet them as well.

Have hope!!

My best,

Caitlin

P.S. I hope the photo of my cat, Potato, helps cheer you up! :)

 

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

Dear Caitlin: How Do You Know If You’re Good In Bed?

I have received a lot of emails from people asking me questions, so I’ve decided to begin answering some of them publicly. Feel free to send your questions to therapy@caitlincantor.com. Privacy will always be protected. My goal is to help people, and if you have a question, others have it too. If you would prefer not to have your question answered publicly, let me know in your email and I will not post it on my blog. Thanks!

Dear Caitlin,

I am in a relationship, and it’s going really well. I love my girlfriend, and I want to be a good lover. She tells me I satisfy her, but I don’t believe her. I don’t think I’m good in bed. I’ve always had girls tell me I’m good, but I don’t buy it. Lately I’ve been worrying about it a lot. How do you know if you’re good in bed?

Thanks,

NYC Lover

Dear NYC,

What makes a good lover differs for everyone. I know what I think makes someone a good lover, but there is no universal answer or definition. You have to figure out what it means to you to be good in bed. It also helps to know what it means to your partner.

However, I think there is more to your worries than just this. If I am right, no amount of external validation is going to ease your anxiety.

Think about it. You can’t believe you are good in bed, even though you are told that you are; you have always been told that you are. So, either everyone has been lying to you, or, you are projecting. A projection is when we feel something, but we think it is others who feel it. FoMales_Anas_platyrhynchos_2_r example, if you ever notice that you feel REALLY bad about something, as though you let someone down, but the person seems totally fine with it, it is more likely that you let YOURSELF down; you are projecting your disappointment onto someone else.

I think it is possible that when you say, “she isn’t satisfied,” what you really mean is, “I’m not satisfied.” This doesn’t mean your girlfriend is, “bad in bed,” whatever that means. It may mean that you have unknown needs and desires that you would benefit from exploring. I suspect the latter is true, being that you’ve always had the sense that your partners didn’t really think you were good in bed, even though they said you were.

If I am right, and you are projecting your dissatisfaction onto her, the first step is realizing it. Then you can explore what you need to be satisfied.

My best,

Caitlin

 

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

Escape From The Prison Of Diet Plans (And Yourself)

The other day, a friend of mine told me that if I had publicized my theories for treating disordered eating and obesity long ago, I would have been burned at the stake as a heretic.

There is overwhelming evidence that suggests diets don’t work in the long run, and that something more is needed to help people with food and weight related problems. The latest statistics say that 90 percent of those who lose a significant amount of weight will gain it back, regardless of whether they had weight loss surgery or did it using another diet intervention. Despite this knowledge, people are extremely frightened by, and resistant to, trying alternative treatment methods that don’t ask them to limit, restrict, etc. People still feel more comfortable with a diet, a plan, or other intervention that tells them when and what to eat. People don’t trust themselves, and both doctors and weight loss programs reinforce to them that they can’t, and that they must seek instructions from others.

Diets give people the illusion of self-control. It is an illusion because following someone or a plan means that the person or plan controls you; it tells you what to do, and you attempt to obey. When people learn to trust themselves; to listen to their bodies and guide themselves, they experience freedom from the prison that disordered eating, diets, planning, tracking, restricting and obsessing keeps them in. This prison of diet plans, with its illusion of safety, order and control, is often MUCH more comfortable than the idea of such freedom. That is why people want diet programs, as much as they don’t want them, and despite the fact that they don’t work.

In a nut shell, I help people address much more than weight loss. Addressing weight and food intake is not enough for lasting changes. I approach the treatment of these complex food and weight related issues from many different perspectives: a relational perspective, a systemic perspective and a mind-body awareness perspective, in addition to a behavioral perspective. People are able to change the way they have relationships with others, themselves, their bodies and they can also change their relationship with food.

Part of my treatment requires that people eat, and that is the part that people resist the most. It is much easier for people to believe losing weight and keeping it off means having to fight themselves and restrict themselves. It is harder to hear that it is possible to learn to eat in moderation. I think that defining what moderation means with respect to people’s eating behaviors, is necessary before disputing its possibility. In my treatment, eating in moderation doesn’t mean eating according to a plan such as Weight Watchers, in which you eat regular food (instead of pre-prepared food or shakes). When I help people learn to eat in moderation, I help them eat according to their bodies and their needs. I help people experience their bodies and their feelings so that they know what they need and can take action to meet those needs. Sometimes that means eating. Other times those needs can be met by other means. It’s ok to have needs, hunger, and cravings. It’s normal. The crucial piece is to learn how to slow down long enough to feel, so that you can determine what you actually need and then act to meet those needs. Otherwise people automatically reach for food because that is what they know and that is what they are able to access until they learn new skills. I believe that people can learn to eat in moderation when it is defined in this way. I also believe it is very scary to think about being able to eat in moderation, for both those who struggle with disordered eating, and those who treat them.

It is time to approach weight loss in a new way. I hope that my own success with weight loss, combined with the success of those I’ve treated for weight and food related issues, will give people some confidence that there are other ways than what they currently know to lose weight and keep it off; to end disordered eating; emotional eating; and compulsive overeating.  It doesn’t have to be my way. But there needs to be a new way or an expanded way, because right now people who struggle are sick, in pain, miserable, depressed and even dying. People deserve to get back to themselves, and to find freedom and enjoyment in life. Dieting, restricting, counting, planning, and otherwise obsessing about food and weight is not freedom. If I thought about food and dieting all day, I’d eat. Until people are open to a new way, perhaps even a radical new way that asks people to eat, feel their feelings, be inside their bodies and trust themselves; they will remain in their own prisons.

To make lasting changes with regard to food and weight requires a willingness to be open to new approaches and new concepts.

 

Therapy Ain’t Nothin’ But A Super Mario Bros. Game

When I was a kid, I loved playing Super Mario Bros. on my Nintendo. I faced each level head on, and tried again and again until I beat it. There was always another chance to improve because, when I ran out of lives, I was forced back to the beginning of the game.  Each time I revisited a level on my way to the latest one I was struggling to beat, I was more thorough. I found new shortcuts, secret coins, and underground tunnels that I missed the first few times. I earned more extra lives, killed more bad guys and picked up speed. Over time I mastered the levels I beat and continued to face the new challenges of the seemingly infinite new levels. With success came more work: a harder level, more fireballs to avoid, and a tougher bad guy to beat.

It didn’t matter how frustrated, upset or angry I got, something always compelled me to keep trying. There was a competitive urge that would keep me in my chair for hours playing the game. I was determined to beat it, and I believed that I could if I kept trying.

Therapy is just like the Super Mario Bros. game in that with success comes more work. When people work on their intimacy issues and move forward, they’re faced with theImage

challenges that come with a close, intimate relationship. As they strengthen their relational skills, and begin to enjoy the new intimacy, they’re faced with the struggles that accompany the relationship as it moves to the next level. As long as they don’t give up, they continue to move forward toward the ensuing challenges.

Therapeutic progress is a process. With therapy, the process is fluid and graceful. People slowly glide forward, and eventually reach new ways of existing. Without therapy, the journey is jagged, with people leaping from one place to the next, unsure of where they will land or how they arrived.

This does not mean that therapy in itself is not painful and difficult. It is often emotionally draining and it requires long term commitment. It is when people look back and contrast where they were and where they’ve come that they understand the process of change. It is the journey that matters most in this world because that is life itself. One’s passage through life is where it all happens. Once the princess is rescued, the journey ends.

I honestly don’t know if I ever beat the Super Mario Bros. game. I don’t recall whether or not I rescued the princess. I only remember how much I loved playing the game.

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

How To Get The Most Out Of Therapy

with-diploma-copy2.jpg

Recently, a friend of mine asked me how to make the most out of her therapy sessions.  I think that is an excellent question. You’re spending hard earned money and you don’t want to feel like you’re wasting it. It’s important to remember that the benefits of therapy happen over time, not in one or even a few sessions. Some sessions will seem more intense and powerful than others, but ultimately, it is consistency over time that leads to real change. People often tell me that a day comes when they look back and think, wow, I’ve really changed! I’ve had that experience myself. But, it takes time and commitment.

Therapists have different styles, so your therapist may not choose to pay attention to the things I include in my work. Sometimes I believe it is best if you go in without a plan of action, and for you and your therapist to see what naturally emerges. Other times it’s great to go in with a plan for what you want to work on. Either way, there are certain things that I think are always important to keep in mind during your sessions.

Keep in mind that studies show the number one factor that contributes to successful therapy is not any one particular intervention, but is actually your relationship with your therapist.

To make the most of your sessions, pay attention to the following:

1. Be honest with your therapist about your experience. Do you feel optimistic that your therapist can help you? Do you feel understood? Misunderstood? Judged? Accepted? Do you feel cared for by him or her? What have you found helpful? What have you found unhelpful? What bothers you about your therapist or the therapy you’re receiving? What do you need from your therapist? Do you know what you need? Tell your therapist. A large part of healing takes place within your relationship with your therapist. Sometimes it is not in the details of your week that will move you forward, but in your experience of your therapy. You may want to talk about your overall experience of therapy. Or, if you notice something comes up for you during your session, like a reaction to your therapist of some sort, you can bring it up right away. Be honest as much as possible. Don’t worry about taking care of your therapist; he or she is there for you, not the other way around.

2. Go to therapy whether or not something specific is going on.  Often, it is after or between crises that deeper work can be done. Sometimes people don’t see the point in going to therapy unless something is wrong, but when there is not a crisis, deeper wounds can be addressed. Some of the most powerful sessions can emerge when going in, you have no idea what you will work on.

3. Explore your relationship with your therapist. How you relate to your therapist will in part mimic how you relate to other people in your life. We reenact many aspects of our lives in our therapy. Healing happens when we change our relational patterns, and your therapist provides a safe place for you to take relational risks. Your therapist and you are in a relationship, and you have the chance to have a positive experience; a more intimate connection; vulnerability; honesty; trust. As your relational patterns change with your therapist, they will change outside of therapy. Over time, your life will become filled with deeper more meaningful relationships.

Therapy is complicated. It is not a quick fix, but it is a chance to change your life for a lifetime.

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

120 Pounds Later…..

Caitlin Cantor, LCSW, MSW

Lessons I’ve learned:

As some of you know, I lost 120 pounds and have maintained my weight for over five years. According to statistics, that means I’m now less likely to gain the weight back (before the five year point, they say 90% of those who lose a significant amount of weight will gain it back). To lose the weight, I did not use a program, have any surgery or access any help. I figured things out for myself.  Then, using my personal experience and extensive training in psychotherapy, I eventually designed therapeutic interventions to help other people struggling with weight concerns. I believe therapy for weight loss and weight maintenance is the missing piece of the puzzle; it should be combined with nutritionists and doctors to increase the likelihood of long term success.

Here are a few things I’ve learned that may help you in your process:

1. Eliminate choices. I do best when I don’t give myself choices. I don’t make a plan or a menu, but I know in my mind what I’m going to eat every day. I eat those things until I get tired of them, and then I switch to the next things that serve the purpose. For me, the purpose is to fuel my mind and body so that I can do what matters. I find something that satisfies me in the way I need it to, and stick with it until I find myself wanting something else. When I say, “satisfies me the way I need it to”, I mean that I have different needs at different times during the day. In the morning, for example, I like to eat something that satisfies my sweet tooth. For a while, every morning on my way to my office, I’d stop at the coffee shop nearby and get something that satisfied that need, but not something that would cause me to gain weight.  I go by calorie intake, so I balance that out throughout each day. I’d go to my office, eat it, and get busy with my life. When I found myself diverting from that routine, I found a new one. I started having cinnamon oatmeal and coffee at home because I got a new coffee maker that I love. Basically, I find something that meets my needs (which requires that I know what my needs are), and eating it becomes part of my new routine. I don’t think about food; there is nothing to think about. When I have a million options for all the different foods and places I can go to get them, food becomes too important. That mentality leads me to begin getting into unhealthy habits.

2. New habits that will work for you don’t develop over night. There is a process we go through to get into unhealthy habits, and we must go through another process to get back out of them and into new healthy behaviors. It takes time to figure out what new habits will work for us as unique individuals (we can read advice all day, but in the end, we have to find out for ourselves what will work; that takes time).  Weight and eating issues are not black and white, and we cannot expect to be back to healthy ways over night. Not long ago I found myself creeping above the ten pound range that I exist in comfortably. I was eating less healthfully and gaining weight. I tried to wake up each day and be back on track, but it wasn’t working. I wasn’t taking the time to go through the process; to slowly figure out what was going on with me and to then move back into healthy habits. While going through the process, I did not lose weight and that bothered me. But once I got from point A to point B, the weight came off. I learned that it takes patience and trust in myself. Most importantly, it takes perseverance. In the past I would have gotten stuck in the frustration of trying to wake up each day and be back to the old me who had my weight under control. I now know that it doesn’t work that way, and this will always be a process that I have to move with, not against. I learned to let go of the frustration and beating myself up because being mean to myself will never lead to success. If I put on a few extra pounds, it’s not the end of the world. It’s information that it’s time to make some changes and get on a new path.

3. Give yourself credit. Be sure to focus on any changes you make each day, even if you don’t stick to all of your goals. Weight loss and weight maintenance largely aren’t about goals; they are about a process. The goal of being healthy and at a comfortable weight will always be there for me. However, the process will always be changing and requiring me to keep up with it. It is the process that requires my attention and energy, not concern about the number on the scale (though I admit it is difficult not to be concerned with that). So, when times get tough and I’ve gotten off track, the process of getting back on track includes doing small things differently and giving myself credit for them. It involves letting what I wish I had done differently go, rather than being harsh with myself. For example, going into Starbucks and getting my usual iced coffee but skipping the chocolate cake pop that I’d gotten into the habit of eating is a small change that matters. For a while (as in a couple of years), that cake pop or other small sweet treat wasn’t a problem. But when I began putting on weight, I had to adjust. I might not make any other changes for the day; I might eat a lot or eat unhealthfully. Nonetheless, that’s a change that mattered. As I piled on these slight changes, they became life changes, and I eventually got back on track. For me, getting “back on track” means for the long term. It’s unreasonable to expect yourself to be a different person overnight. That sets us up for failure. We must be patient with ourselves, trust ourselves, and never give up on ourselves.

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

Find Comfort Without Using Food: Learn To Self-Soothe

Find Comfort Without Using Food: Learn To Self-Soothe

People often turn to food to comfort themselves. Food eases anxiety, provides a feeling of warmth inside our bodies, fills us up and can distract us from our pain and the difficulties of every day life.

There are many reasons that people overeat, eat compulsively, and/or binge. In order to heal and change, you must address both your mind and body. If you identify with using food for comfort, the following tips may help you soothe yourself, mentally and physically, in other ways:

1. Take a hot shower or bath: Warm water fills the need we all have for touch. While in the shower or bath (I recommend bath if possible), pay attention to the warm water on your skin; pay attention to the steamy air surrounding you. What do you notice? What do you feel on your skin and in your body? Immerse yourself in the experience. This activity will help you be present and attends to the mind-body connection.

2. Drink tea (or other hot beverages): Drinking something warm feels nurturing to your body and mind. Notice what it feels like in your body as the warm liquid goes through you. Breathe in the aroma; savor it. Give yourself the time and space to enjoy the experience. Let it comfort you.

3. Get a pet: If at all possible, get yourself a pet. I prefer dogs, though I have a cat named Potato who I absolutely adore. When you start to feel the need for comfort, reach out to your pet; hug him or her; pet him or her; cry to him or her. The physical act of petting an animal is soothing.

4. Aromatherapy: Get aromatherapy oils (make sure they are organic and healthy as there are some oils that can be harmful, especially if you have heart problems. I am not a medical doctor so please do not mistake what is written in my blog as medical advice). These can get you out of the craving state of mind and bring you to the present moment, so that you can try to make the decision not to overeat or binge and so on. Some of these aromas can be very enjoyable! Imagine yourself being wherever the scent takes you in your mind. You may want to get perfume if you are a woman, or cologne if you are a man (or, vice versa if you prefer…no gender specificities here). I personally enjoy perfume and often drink in the aromas from my wrists. It brings me a lot of comfort and pleasure.

Try to find something that brings you mental and physical comfort and enjoyment. The trick is to bring your body into the experience by paying attention to the sensations you feel inside, during each activity.

The above tips are not a solution to weight problems, binge eating, emotional eating, feeling out of control and other food related concerns. However, they are helpful and may give you what you need to get through tough times as you work on healing your deeper wounds.

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