Friday, October 31, 2008

Enlist Laughter to Increase Your Endorphins Through the Winter Months

The weather is changing. Fall is here. Growing up in the Midwest this was always a depressing time of year for me. Shorter days, cooler weather and the threat of snow. I loved the vibrant fall colors as the leaves on the trees changed. The reds and oranges were my favorite and painted a beautiful backdrop heading into Thanksgiving. I loved playing in the snow, but hated the conditions the weather created that went along with it. Worst of all was the gray days and lack of sunshine that went on for two and three weeks at a time. Driving by the mall, there were those huge piles of dirty snow that didn't melt until the end of March.

By contrast I loved Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays. Fall created a sense of conflict. A time of year I enjoyed for the festivities of time spent with family and relatives. But the challenge of the cold weather and....all that food! Being bulimic it was a constant struggle to fight off the pull to indulge in all the food that was so readily available at school and the office. The more cookies and candy and junk food I indulged in, the worse I felt. Which contributed to the low level of energy I had in the winter months. I spent a lot of time tucked under a blanket on the couch to fight off the chill.

It wasn't until April that I felt my spirits start to lift with the promise of spring. The fresh cool breezes that meant summer wasn't too far away. Watching the buds grow on the trees and feeling that sense of calm that came with the return of green on the trees and yards.

Okay, but reality check. You can't just give away six months out of every year! How can you cope with the changes this time of year and keep your attitude and emotions up? One thing I've found is curling up to watch a great movie. A movie that makes you feel good all over. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas it's easy as there are so many heart warming movies from years gone by on TV. But what about the rest of the time?

We've all heard the term "Laughter is the Best Medicine." I've heard numerous stories of people with terminal illnesses that have incorporated laughter as part of their therapy and healing. One example of this is told in the movie The Secret where a woman uses comedies as part of her treatment for breast cancer. Combined with positive thoughts and affirmations laughter is incredibly healthy and a powerful tool for us.

"Breakthrough medical research is shedding new light on the physiological beneficial effects of humor on health. A sense of humor can come in handy, whether it's for dealing with an illness, the pressures of daily living, stress, coping at work even, humor can dramatically change the quality and outlook of our lives. Humor is an easy way to get in touch with your feelings, and control them in difficult situations." If you Google "laughter and healing" you'll find numerous websites and articles on this topic. (

For individuals struggling with eating disorders, being overweight or depression laughter can be used to uplift your mood, emotions and take your mind off how lethargic and awful you feel. It's a great way to disrupt the pattern or rut you're stuck in. So whether you head to the local video store, order from Netflix or buy On Demand through your cable carrier stock up on your favorite comedies shows and movies for a boost in your endorphins (the natural feel good chemical). If this is new for you maybe you don't have a long list of favorites. Here are some ideas. Hopefully this list will remind you of a few of your favs. Make an appointment on your calendar to spend 4-8 hours a week laughing and watch your mood improve!

I love silly comedies. Here's a few of my movies favs:
  • A Fish Called Wanda
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (series)
  • Airplane (series)
  • Arthur
  • Austin Powers (series)
  • Beetlejuice
  • Caddyshack
  • Dumb & Dumber
  • Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin movies
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • National Lampoon's Animal House
  • National Lampoon's Vacation
  • Ocean's Eleven (series)
  • Patch Adams
  • Romancing the Stone
  • Silent Movie
  • SilverStreak
  • Snowball Express
  • Stripes
  • The Birdcage
  • The Jerk
  • The Life of Brian
  • Trading Places
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Thow Momma from the Train
  • Wayne's World (series)

Here are some of my TV comedy show favs:

  • Alf
  • Bewitched
  • Carol Burnett Show
  • Chapelle's Show
  • Cheers
  • Fawlty Towers
  • Frasier
  • Friends
  • Green Acres
  • In Living Color
  • Monty Python
  • Mork & Mindy
  • Red Skelton
  • Scrubs
  • Saturday Night Live (70's shows)
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • The Jonathan Winters Show
  • The Flip Wilson Show
  • The Simpsons
  • Will & Grace

To your health!

Want to win a free copy of the MP3 version of It Started With Pop-Tarts...An Alternative Approach to Winning the Battle of Bulimia? Visit this link for details:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Food: Getting from Obsession to Fuel

For the millions of individuals affected by eating disorders, (anorexia, bulimia or binge eating) food is a constant obsession. Life is consumed with controlling or fantasizing about food intake. Let's take a look at the lives of three fictitious characters to fully understand this phenomenon.

Take Anna the anorexic. For Anna, her life is filled with stress, anxiety and concern about what she puts in her body, how often she puts food in her body and how she can control her feelings associated with eating. For Anna, she gains a feeling of superiority in being able to control her food intake, ignore the hunger pangs, weakness, headaches and other serious physical symptoms that plague her. She has pride in her level of determination that will help her reach her ultimate goal. To be thin. Perhaps to emulate her favorite super model, actress or other celebrity. There is nothing more important than reaching her goal and food is evil, her enemy. She can't indulge in full meals or she will gain weight. So Anna develops a series of rituals. Her rituals include a schedule for food intake. What days she will eat limited quantities of food and what days she will only drink water or tea and won't eat. Anna has no concept of food as fuel. Food is an obsession she has to control.

Then there's Brenda the bulimic. Brenda's life is a chronic cycle of abuse. When she gets upset, hurt, disappointed, feels lonely, depressed, stressed or anxious she eats. When she starts she can't stop. Often her binges include vast quantities of sweets, carbohydrates and junk food. After a binge she is miserable and can't move. Brenda doesn't purge by throwing up, she uses strict diets and excessive exercise to recover from her binges. Once the cycle is complete she spends the next few hours and days berating herself for her behavior. Brenda is often lethargic from the overdose of carbs and lack of nutrition her body so desperately needs. There are certain foods she can't keep in the house because they are trigger foods for her. Meaning she'll eat the whole box of cookies, bag of chips, pizza or carton of ice cream in one sitting. Her only possible method of control is not to purchase these foods. Unwilling to gain weight, her world is consumed trying to control her food intake and compensating to regain control when she binges. Food is an obsession and a constant struggle based on her emotional state.

Lastly there is Belinda the binge eater. Belinda, like Brenda has a constant battle with food. She spends much of her time thinking about what she'll eat and keeps her cupboard full with her favorite binge foods. However, Belinda doesn't control the weight gain. She can't stop the binges and doesn't have the desire or ability to counteract them with diets or exercise. She gave up long ago. She's destined to be obese. After a binge she too experiences serious physical discomfort leading to extreme lethargy from carb overload. Belinda has many health issues caused by ingesting so much food in one sitting and from the extra 100 pounds she carries. For Belinda, food is an obsession, it's the highlight of her day.

Individuals who suffer from eating disorders as is well documented struggle with a combination of psychological issues. In addition they experience serious health problems as a result of the abuse their bodies take from either the lack of food or too much. Simply stated their bodies suffer huge nutritional deficiencies. These cause cravings for Anna, Belinda and Brenda and feed into their cycles of abuse.

Is it possible for someone suffering from eating disorders to get to a place of viewing food simply as fuel for their bodies? Yes! In order to fully recover five areas must be addressed:

1 - Identify and understand the causes of the eating disorder

2 - Improve self-esteem

3 - Embrace the power of the sub-conscious to eliminate negative self-talk, self-defeating behaviors and beliefs. And to create healthy behaviors and beliefs

4 - Balance nutrition and supplements to create a healthy chemical balance in both mind and body

5 - Improve mental and physical health with body work to reconnect the mind and body. This enables the individual to "be present" and stay in the moment

This alternative approach is incredibly powerful to help individuals locate and take back their personal power. This is key for those who use food to block out reality as a means of survival. They must again connect with their authentic self. This is a critical step in healing--to find and embrace who you are. For Anna, Belinda and Brenda they have no clue who they really are or what they want. They are so numb and out of touch, their authentic self is far removed from their day-to-day existence. How can you love yourself if you don't know who you are?

Although many individuals go in and out of traditional treatment programs and suffer for years, recovery from an eating disorder is possible. And with recovery comes the freedom from obsession and peace in viewing food as fuel for your body. A process much easier to stomach once your mind and body are in balance!

For more information, please visit my website

In peace, balance and health,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It Started With Pop-Tarts MP3 Version Available Now!

The audio version of It Started With Pop-Tarts...An Alternative Approach to Winning the Battle of Bulimia is now available! Listen as I tell my story personally. This recording has the usual dose of "Lori" energy, intensity and entertainment. It also includes snippets of the music behind the lyrics I wrote as part of my healing process. (Yes, that's really me singing!)

This is a great way to learn about a powerful, alternative approach to winning the battle of eating disorders. My approach includes acupuncture, several forms of body work, meditation, nutrition and supplements, creativity and working with the sub-conscious to improve self-esteem and change negative thoughts and beliefs. It offers hope, inspiration and direction to those who at "are at risk" and individuals who are submerged in this chronic cycle of abuse.

For parents and loved ones, it provides a candid look into the depths of obsession a person suffering with an eating disorder is experiencing.

This MP3 version was prepared especially for those who don't have time to read, don't like to read or just plain prefer listening through their iPods.

It Started With Pop-Tarts... goes beyond eating disorders it's packed with great information about chemical imbalances that cause cravings and binges, and provides great strategies for creating a healthier lifestyle if you're struggling with your weight or unhealthy habits.

Get your copy now, only $9.95!

For those who prefer to purchase the CD Audio Book it will be available later this month, both on my website and Amazon.

In peace, balance and health,

Lori Hanson

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Four Easy Steps to Help You Reduce Sugar Cravings

Do you fight food cravings? Are you constantly hungry and nibbling? What do you nibble on? Or do you even know?

Many people are caught up in unhealthy habits that are compelled by their daily diet. Yes, sometimes you eat because of emotional reasons (nervous, anxious, stressed, depressed, etc.). But what many people don't realize is that the combination of a diet filled with fast food, pizza, pasta, breakfast pastries, and other "white" flour foods with sweets (candy, cookies, chocolate, pies, ice cream, etc.) on a regular basis can contribute to your body actually craving sugar. So before you know it, you're reaching for second or third cookie at work, or having a candy bar for a snack without even thinking about it. By the time evening rolls around, you may be mindlessly eating a bag of potato chips or cookies in front of the TV after you finished diner because you still feeling the "need" for something.

Even though fruit is "healthy" for you, fruit that has a high concentration of sugar (fructose) will also contribute to these cravings. This includes fruit like honeydew, cantelope, banannas, apples, pineapple and nectarines to name a few. Concentrated fruit juices (e.g. orange juice), most pre-packaged juices you buy at the store, even "juicing" have a high amount of sugar and will can also contribute to cravings. And here you thought it was healthy!

Here are four easy steps to help you reduce your cravings and constant need to nibble.

1. Awareness
The first step to changing your behavior is understanding it by being aware of what it is. Keep a food journal for a week. Don't change anything about your eating habits, just keep track of what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat. It can also be helpful to note your emotions at the time. Are you feeling happy, sad, depressed, lonely, excited, anxious? The point of this is NOT to beat yourself up, only to take note of what your eating habits are.

2. Analyze Your Journal
After keeping a food journal for a week take some time and evalute it. Do you skip meals?, are you taking in some form of sugar and coffee first thing in the morning? (Note many Starbucks-type coffees are filled with sugar!) How much coffee do you drink? Are you eating any vegetables or any brown flour foods (wheat bread vs. white, brown rice vs. white)?

3. Create a Meal Plan
After analyzing your food journal take some time to create a new meal plan for the next week. Create a plan that includes:
  • A balance of carbohydrates and protein at every meal
  • Make healthier choices and limit the amount of fast food in your diet
  • Substitute lean meats for hamburgers and fatty beef
  • Include vegetables with at least two meals everyday. Be sure to include one green leafy vegetable a day
  • Substitue wheat flour choices for white flour (bread, pasta, etc.)
  • Don't go more than 3-4 hours without a meal. Eat a healthy snack between meals. (Avoid low blood sugar which can contribute to cravings
  • Reduce your coffee intake, or try substituting decaf for a few cups of java. Caffeine (including decaf and chocolate) contributes to cravings.
  • Increase your water intake. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. This will make it easier to avoid constant snacking.

4. Reduce Simple Sugars From Your Diet

  • Exchange high sugar fruits for berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • Reduce your alcohol intake. Limit wine and beer to one drink a day. Better yet, drink white liquor (vodka, gin) instead of wine.
  • Reduce the number of sweets, candy and desserts. If you're used to having three or four a day, try limiting yourself to one a day, then continue to reduce your intake to a one or two times a week.

These four steps will help to reduce the amount of concentrated sugars in your diet and curb the sugar cravings. The result? You'll feel better, have more energy and probably lose a few pounds! For more detailed information please visit my website, and contact me directly.

In peace, balance and health,

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Do You Ask For Want You Want?

It's a simple thing - really. But how many of us ask for what we want or share our expectations with others on a daily basis? Sure, if you go into Starbucks for a double frap espresso something or other you know how to ask for what you want. But, what about the important stuff? Sometimes it's difficult to spit it out!

I remember as a young girl around 8 or 9 years old being asked to go into a store and purchase a grocery item for my mother. When I couldn't find what I was supposed to get I froze with the thought of having to ask someone where it was! I was so incredibly shy as a kid. Okay, so that has changed over the years! Now I'll ask if I can't find something within the first minute as I don't want to waste my time looking all over the store for something.

In certain relationships, those we work with, our parents, our significant other, or even our kids it's more difficult to be honest and ask for what we really want. Sometimes it may just be that we need patience and understanding as we go through a difficult time in life. Other times we may need someone to really get in our corner even though they don't agree with us and be a loyal supporter or friend. Maybe it's just letting your significant other know that you'd like more help in the kitchen after dinner, more help with the kids or help buying groceries. For men maybe it's a need to not get blasted with dialogue the minute you walk in the door. So you need to ask for a little chill time when you get home.

At work this is sometimes tough as there are often politics in play. I know for me personally navigating the corporate politics was something I didn't do well! I don't like playing games even for the sake of "x". Nevertheless, it's important to let others know what YOU need to do your job, be more effective and meet that deliverable.

If you are someone who suffers from anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders, like I did, you probably aren't good at expressing your wants and desires. But it's an important step in empowerment.

Regardless of the need or want. It's important to speak up (in a polite way) and tell that someone what it is you need, today that will make a difference. Try a softening statement such as, "I'm confused, I thought we had agreed to do "x"m or Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought you said (or we agreed) you were going to do this yesterday and it still isn't done. Did I miss something?

Defining boundaries and asking for what we need are important to healthy self-esteem and building confidence. Start with small things and work up to larger issues. Don't let other people "assume" you are doing fine when you aren't. Don't let your date assume you're fine with an activity or something they did if you aren't.

As a child I was taught to be seen and not heard and my midwestern upbringing encouraged me to always be politically correct. To not upset other people or say things I might regret. As an adult it's sometimes difficult to find the boundary on where that advice is valuable and where it isn't serving you.

So ask for what you want! And don't forget to reciprocate...ask what you can do to help someone else. You might just make their day and have a new BFF!

For more information on improving self-esteem please visit my website

In peace, balance and health!