the HAES® files: The Circle Game*

by Health At Every Size® Blog

by Dr. Deah Schwartz

And the seasons they go round and round…”

As spring approaches I find myself thinking about the cyclical nature of life.  This isn’t very deep or profound; the circular pattern of the seasons is a topic of contemplation, poetry, and prose with a long history.  Depending on my frame of mind, this repetition, or redundancy can trigger feelings of despair, stagnancy, being stuck in patterns that just won’t move… just won’t budge.  Considering that spring is supposed to be about new beginnings, spring cleaning and fresh starts, adds additional pressure to someone, like myself, trying to be patient with incremental change.

We’re captive on a carousel of time…”

Other times I find great comfort in this predictable repetition.  Seeing the plum tree in my back yard begin to blossom right on target every March fills me with a sense of safety that at least in this part of the planet all is right with the world.  And when something is predictable it provides us with the opportunity to be proactive and prepare for what is ahead.

We can’t return we can only look behind from where we came…”

Each season has its own idiosyncratic challenges for people struggling with an Eating Disorder and or Body Hate; spring is no exception.  As people begin shaking off their winter coats and emerging from their layers of down jackets and sweaters, the prospect of showing more skin becomes a reality.  In turn, body image panic comes out of hibernation accompanied by an overwhelming urge to “do something drastic” to feel acceptable.  The results are frequently dangerous and self-destructive behaviors.  And lest we take all of the blame for the re-blooming of our self-hate, unless we are living in a vacuum we are already being bombarded with ads urging us to

Spring into the NEW YOU!” “Drop the winter weight and put a spring back in your step!”

You know the ones I mean.  They are feeding the awakening beast of our body hate with negative reinforcement and false promises.

 And go round and round and round in the circle game.”

But remember, our history is not fate, it is knowledge.  We can glean from our past, hold on to the positives, and choose to throw the negatives in the mulch bin.  Spring is about rebirth, reemerging from sleep, blooming.  Springs of water are replenishing and circulating.  Springs are not stagnant. Springs have bounce.  Spring coils have the power to propel.  When we look at a spring

springMoving Upward

we see that although it is circular and gives the impression of redundancy and repetition, it also has the sense of upward movement, support, and resiliency.

So while we may be tempted to repeat old patterns or feel compelled to go from one extreme to another, from hibernation to full action, don’t forget that the flowers and trees that are reemerging from their winter states are not moving very quickly at all.  Nature knows this is a time of transition and thoughtful movement.  Carefully consider gently letting go of old habits and behaviors that are self-destructive, reinforce negative self-image, and impede our self-acceptance.  Instead hold on to the aspects of ourselves that are helpful. This is NOT an all or nothing proposition. Let’s tap into our inner strength and self-devotion and use those forces as springboards to a blossoming acceptance of the wonders of our body’s natural shape.

Some things to consider

  • There may be a compulsion to start a restrictive diet with the onset of the warmer weather.
  • Fear of binge eating related to St. Patrick’s Day, Passover, and Easter rituals will be challenging for those with Eating Disorders.
  • Beware of an onslaught of ads by Diet Companies promoting programs promising quick and magic transformations.  Messages like, “Springing into the NEW YOU” result in extreme restrictive dieting, purging, and self-loathing.

*Written by Joni Mitchell.

4 Comments to “the HAES® files: The Circle Game*”

  1. Thanks, Deah, for such a thoughtful and perceptive article. Indeed, this time of year, the marketing for diet programs are ubiquitous and particularly insipid, whether Marie Osmond, Genie Francis, or the miraculous shake-drinker who lost 100 pounds shows us “before” pictures in which they are invariably poorly dressed, groomed, and sad in photos digitally manipulated to make them appear wider. What a load of sewage!

    How utterly insulting it is to be told by some corporation that “you need a NEW YOU”! Excuse me? You greedy corporate dreck have the gall to say there is something wrong with me the way I am? Bite me!

    It’s useful to be aware of these blatant sales techniques and be able to notice what is really going on. Women are constant targets of advertising’s “you are not good enough” message, whether it is weight, wrinkles, hair color, makeup, parenting, cooking, etc. Is it any wonder that the counterpart onslaught of commercials hawks remedies for constipation, ulcers, depression, anxiety, stress, muscle aches and headaches? Ever wonder whether there is a cause-and-effect here? Ever wonder about the commercial relationships of manufacturers that make a killing (sometimes quite literally) on BOTH sides of this oppression? The more educated and savvy we become, the less effective this trash will be, and the more it will hurt corporate balance sheets.

    Awareness. Let’s remember that what we see on TV, in magazines, online and in the movies is FAKE, and nothing more than the modern version of snake-oil sales, pitched with pure greed. So let’s all remember to “notice and discard” these messages in favor of treating ourselves the way we would treat a best friend: with joy, acceptance, humor, and compassion!

  2. “So while we may be tempted to repeat old patterns or feel compelled to go from one extreme to another, from hibernation to full action, don’t forget that the flowers and trees that are reemerging from their winter states are not moving very quickly at all.” Love this ❤ I'm enjoying watching the Japanese maple near my front door gradually release and unfurl its leaves, and it does reassure me that getting things done doesn't necessarily mean doing them all at once.

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