Rosebud: Hi Dr. Burgard, what would you do, if you had a body that doesn't work? I have mild Cerebral Palsy. I used to called myself ugly, reject and retard. And I still do because I don't like my body. How can I improve my self image on this?
Dr. Burgard: Hi, Rosebud. Well, there are a lot of people whose bodies aren't perfect, (can I get a witness?), and we all can do much more to appreciate what our bodies can do. I am glad that your body allows you to be here with us now! But I do understand that you probably face people's prejudices, and that is not easy. It is important to try to remember that the way people react reveals their own fears, and your job is to "show up" with your real self. I am glad you have stopped calling yourself names. We can all learn from you.
David: I'm wondering how many people in the audience tried dieting to make themselves feel better? Send me your comments and whether it actually made you felt better, worse, or the same.
aimilub: I diet to make me feel better but end up feeling worse because the diet always fails.
Nerak: I have tried so many diets. They all make me feel worse cause I fail so bad at them. I believe this plays a part in my depression.
Kello: At first dieting made me feel better, but before long, anorexia began controlling me and I ended up worse.
mickey: My life has been one diet after the other and still can't loose weight to be thin enough.
Cutie: I am always dieting and I love and enjoy the healthy food I eat. I also love the way my body responds to the food choices and work out schedule. However at times I feel I become obsessive and I wish that I did not let my body image greatly affect my mood.
chyna_chick: How can a person w/ an eating disorder who has to gain weight do so when they already feel and look so fat?
Dr. Burgard: This is so hard, I know. It is almost as if the universe is forcing you to face your worst fear in order to recover. But you do have to find out that your body is not really your enemy, that your fear has to be identified and dealt with. For example, if your fear is really how you will be treated if you were seen as fat, you need to develop the tools to defend yourself anyway. You need to feel like you can be OK no matter what you weigh. That is true liberation.
LynneT: I'm a compulsive overeater and incest survivor, I've had a lot of therapy and I'm a member of Overeaters Anonymous. I am considerably overweighed. When my weight drops to a certain weight, I become terrified and usually gain weight, even if my eating is not enough to gain. How do we get past this barrier?
Dr. Burgard: If in fact your genetic weight is below where you are now, and you have to eat when not hungry to maintain it, then you have probably identified that a thinner body size scares you somehow. But of course you know that it is not a thinner body but how you feel in your thinner body that worries you. The people who I have worked with have to develop a pretty unshakable trust in themselves, in their own willingness to advocate for themselves and their safety, with words or with actions (like leaving the scene of an abusive conversation, for example) in order to replace what they see as the "message" of their bigger bodies. But remember that your genetic weight might be higher than you think, and this could also be your body just trying to get back to its set point. It gets confusing, yes?
Taryn: How can a person be happy with their "set" weight when it is heavier than what is acceptable. I hate always having to be dieting just so I can barely be acceptable, not even thin.
Dr. Burgard: Almost all of us have set points that are higher than acceptable! Our culture is crazy - everyone is supposed to be a greyhound. If the average clothing size is a 14-16, and you can't even always find that as a "large" then most of us feel like we're not "acceptable." So my question to you all is, what are we going to do about this, ladies?
Susie3: How much damage do you do to your body when you drop a lot of weight.
Dr. Burgard: I am not a physician but the studies I have seen flag some potential problems for example, loss of lean body mass (including heart tissue), and, with weight re-gain, the potential for high blood pressure, redistribution of the regained fat to more "metabolically active" areas, and so forth. These issues have made many of us in the healthcare field think twice before recommending that people try to lose weight. I am much more comfortable helping people figure out what changes they feel like they can make and sustain for the rest of their lives, and then see what their body size is, and try to accept that body size as their healthy weight - i.e., the weight they are when they are living in a healthy way.
David: One of the things about body image, and I'd like you to comment on this Dr. -- from conversations with other women, I think many women, and guys for that matter, want to have a certain "look" which is tied to lower or moderate weight. And then they think that's going to be the trick that "gets them a man or a women." But if you walk down the street, you'll see all different types (shapes) of couples -- one tall, one large. A tiny guy with a moderate woman. I mean, they're are all mixtures. But yet, many feel like they can't get a mate or a date without having that "look."
Dr. Burgard: Yes, people who want to be attractive to men, especially. Straight women and gay men are more likely to want that "look" maybe because men's sexuality is pretty visual. But you're right, all you have to do is look around to explode that myth. I remember being in junior high and seeing that my friend's older brother, who was one of the best-looking people I had ever seen, was with a really homely girlfriend. And I was fixated on this, I think because I wanted to be able to "talk back" to all the messages I was getting that were myths - and I could use my own feelings as well, because I was drawn to all kinds of people, some of whom were not conventionally attractive, but who I found very appealing. I think that undoubtedly you get more people looking at you, without knowing you, if you are conventionally beautiful, but those people get stereotyped too. And so you still have the same existential dilemma about how to "show up" to someone with your real self.