The Lighter Side of Transformation

with Lisa Wessan, LICSW

My Ongoing Battle of the Bulge Continues…I reached my 50 lb. milestone!

For those of us who have more than a few pounds to shed, it is usually requires a multimodal and multidimensional effort…To that end, below please find a brief summary of my Fabulous Foursome for Successful Weight Loss and Good Health.  Learn more here as we hasten slowly towards our best health and lifestyle ever! 

09/19/19 |

So it turns out that after taking at least 10,000 roads to wellness over the past 50 years, my sacred formula for success is a multimodal treatment plan combining Weight Watchers (WW),  Yoga,  Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Forest Bathing.

I’m grateful to share that I feel light as a feather…even though I have a long way to go.

For those of you still struggling with the 3Fs (Food, Fat, Fear), I’d like to invite you to pick at least one of these paths to wellness and begin to unpack the multidimensional conflicts that keep you in the Plus Sizes.

I’ll briefly describe each one, and may you find your solution soon!

1. WW (Wellness WINS! aka Weight Watchers)

First, let’s deal with the food. Good food, good mood, right?  Who is ever happy living in deprivation, with an “all or nothing” restrictive food plan?  For years, I used to manage my weight by eating no sugar, flour, booze, fried food and more restrictions.   I would be slim for a while, sometimes as long as seven years, but then as soon as I picked up one of the Forbidden Foods, e.g. chocolate, or wine, chips or whatever, I would blow it, fall off the wagon and spiral into a relapse of some sort. I believed the mythology that I could not eat one of anything, that for cookies, “One is not enough, but a thousand are too many.”    I was caught up in a kind of cult-like belief that I was a food and sugar addict and had to live my life in a Black and White, All or Nothing paradigm or else I would binge my brains out and be morbidly obese.

I even found doctors and research that supported this idea!  Fun fact:  this is NOT true.

I needed some serious cognitive restructuring, which I finally received. I had to let go of my former Belief System (B.S.) and move into a new realm where I knew nothing about food. Oh yes, I reached the critical point of being sick and tired of being sick and tired,  the best place to “achieve” the sweet surrender of the Beginner Mind.  I finally let go of my B.S., and opened my mind to a new way of looking at food, fat, carbs and more. It happened to be unexpectedly delivered by WW.

WW is an international organization, so you can join anywhere in the world you have internet service.  To sweeten this experiment, if you click on the link below, you can get a free month to try it out, and see how it goes.  That’s what I did.

[GET YOUR FREE WW MONTH TODAY!]

Fast forward to 2019… now it’s easier than ever to eat what you love and lose weight. Click HERE for one month free to explore… You can refund your misery after 30 days if this does not work for you!

The best part of WW is the Mindfulness training…there’s a lot of brilliant cognitive restructuring built into the weekly lessons and discussions in the Workshops, and in the online Connect community. Plus the WW App is totally genius for tracking your food (comes with the membership). I’ve used MyFitnessPal and other weight loss/fitness apps – this one beats them out hands down.

Good health is wealth, GO FOR IT!   [Note: don’t bother getting the WW cookbooks, because all of the recipes are online and the App.]

2. YOGA AND WEIGHT LOSS

I originally went to yoga just to STRETCH, to avoid getting injuries.  In the past, I would get Plantar Fasciitis,  shin splits,  and other sports related injuries because even at my top weight, I did a lot of walking, hiking and working out but not enough stretching. Yikes. It was a bitter and painful lesson to me, that not enough stretching causes incapacitation!

Imagine my surprise, when I started attending yoga classes, and discovered how much unexpressed grief, rage, sadness and other negative emotions I could release on the mat.  It was powerful for me, and continues to be a very helpful emotional release.  I need it.  It is definitely part of my weight loss success here.  See if you can find a yoga studio near your home or office.  Gentle suggestion: If you are new to yoga, or have any kind of physical challenge/injury/Plus Size body, start with the Restorative Yoga, which is deeply healing and relaxing.  That’s what I did.  I went from Restorative Yoga to more active Vinyasa Yoga (a bit more cardio).  I do both now.

3. DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY (DBT), SOLUTION-FOCUSED THERAPY AT ITS BEST

These skills of Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Mindfulness  are necessary for the cognitive restructuring you need to move away from that toxic All or Nothing mindset, designed for Recovering Perfectionists like me.

Big Bonus:  DBT relieves depression, anxiety, mood swings, OCD spectrum and other behavioral issues that can be barriers to weight loss, and other long term goal driven projects. 

Grateful and shameless plug: If you follow my blog, you already know that I am a passionate DBT Skills trainer, and believe that these courses should be taught in third grade to all humans.

That said, if you are north of Boston, or near Westford, MA, you could check out my DBT Skills Groups. If not, search for your nearest DBT group in your area.   (As it happens, our next round of DBT groups for teens and adults on Mindfulness & Emotion Regulation are starting in January, so if you are interested, fill out this contact form and I’ll send you the new flyer and registration info.)

4. FOREST BATHING: DEEP HEALING FROM HIKING OR WALKING IN THE WOODS

If you’re still reading this, you are clearly motivated to make a change.  So are you truly sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Is this it?  Are you DONE suffering with the 3Fs?  If so, put on your walking shoes, sneakers or hiking boots and spend a little time on the trails.

It has been my experience that there is a healing force field that is very strong in the woods.  You need to drag your tired self over there and walk, even for ten minutes, to get into that healing field. Even better,  hug a few trees.  See what happens.

Selby 1
Selby Gardens, Sarasota, FL (December, 2019)

Notice if you suddenly feel as if your head has cleared, and you feel a bit more peaceful, or, dare I say it, even joyful?  I am 100% confident that the time I spend in the woods has contributed to my weight loss, and not just because I am burning fat on the trails.  No, it is the good energy shift I feel.  It helps me make more loving choices with my food, and my thoughts are transformed into better thoughts.   If you are curious, you can learn more here…

You might also enjoy this article I wrote, that was published in the SOCIAL WORK VOICE journal,  about the clinical benefits of walking in the woods,  Wessan, L. (2018). Walk and Talk Therapy: Moving Towards Wholeness. The Social Work Voice. Sept/Oct; 16-17.

In sum, I hope at least one of these four options — WW, Yoga, DBT or Forest Bathing —  help you in your journey towards wholeness, lightness and feeling good in your body.   May you find that peace with your food soon, however you get there!

Onward and Upward,

To your best life ever,

Lisa Wessan

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2019. All rights reserved.

 

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What should I do about my Fitbit rash and other electropollution?

I’m bedazzled by the electromagnetic field (EMF)  radiation around me! But is it hurting us?  More will be revealed…

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Ever since I heard of this Fitbit technology I was concerned about the possibly harmful effects of the radiation on my health and body.  But my concerns were swept aside when my nephew shed 165 lbs. strictly by using his Fitbit daily, tracking movement, food intake and using all the app can do.  I was inspired, and thought maybe it could help me release my unwanted pounds, too.

So I have been using my Fitbit since last November…the good news is that I have been tracking 10,000 steps or more nearly every day and it is fun to see the counts come in and get cheered by my fellow Fitbit friends.  My overall health metrics are very good.

The less good news is that I have not released my extra weight in any significant way, plus I just recently developed a rash from my wearing my Fitbit daily.

I’ve discussed my multidimensional food challenges in other articles, so for today I’m just going to share about this Fitbit rash, because I care about and love my readers here who might also be getting hurt from your  wearable tech.

Research on the dangers of wearable tech

I suggest you search at Google Scholar online for “Dangers of Fitbit” and “Fitbit Rash” to see what’s been coming down the pike on this topic.   For me, these were the three most interesting articles from reliable sources:

Do I Need to Worry About Radiation From WiFi and Bluetooth Devices? by Catherine Roberts, Consumer Reports, 3/1/18)

Why a Fitbit Harms More Than Helps Your Health  by Sarah Pope (The Healthy Home Economist, 8/30/18)

Wireless Silent Spring  by Cindy Russell, MD      (WirelessSilentSpring_-SCCMA-Oct-2-2018.pdf)

Besides the unknown effects of the chronic wireless marination of our bodies, there is clear evidence in Dr. Russell’s  report in the SCCMA about the dangers of this radiation for our birds, bees, trees and other wildlife.

Robert’s article in Consumer Reports gives some excellent suggestions to curb the exposure to radiation towards the end of the article.

I’m not here to preach anything to anyone, I just love our beautiful Earth and want it to be sustained for 10,000 generations and more. Plus, I want to see the epidemic of cancer be reduced and eliminated.   It’s very possible that our environment is causing this massive cancer phenomenon and we can do something to curtail this now.

Oh my, I know you will be annoyed to hear this – but we need to pull back and be more mindful of how we use our devices here!

Some background: When I was younger, I was a full time environmental activist for a while. I served as the Executive Director of the Strategic Defense of the Environment Group (SDEG).  Our goal was to preserve as much of the rainforest terrain as possible,  more dramatically, “TO SAVE THE LUNGS OF THE PLANET!”

SDEG  produced a very successful conference in Rabat, Morocco in October 1995, covered by five countries’ television crews, with 5,000 attendees. In sum, due to SDEG’s efforts, legislation was revised and improved in Brazil to reduce the deforestation of the rainforest dramatically, so we definitely had a positive influence. Plus all the Ministers of Environment around the world got to meet each other and create useful networks.

Why I stopped being a full-time environmental activist:  after SDEG I chose to shift from a macro career dealing with global transformation issues to a more intimate micro focus, dealing with individuals’ and small groups’ transformation process as a therapist.  At the end of the day, battling governments’ legislation issues was not for me. I have deep respect for those who do battle with policy, Big Pharma, Big Oil and all of the contributors to our planet’s health challenges.

Solution Focused

For today, I support a bunch of exemplary environmental groups that are doing the work for me, as it were.  You can donate to any of these organizations and know that your loving kindness will be doing great things for our planet (for a full list of my favorite environmental charities, just request it below in Comments):

The Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council

Do cell phones cause brain cancer, or other harmful side effects?

One of the many things I did learn at SDEG is that even in the 1990s scientists were concerned about the cell phone towers and how the electromagnetic fields (EMF) generating radiation were affecting the environment, and us.

Shameless fact: I was the last person in my family and circle of friends to get a cell phone because I had read so much scientific research at SDEG on the dangers of  EMF.  I still never put my cell phone next to my ear.

Not so fun fact:  there has been a huge rise in brain tumors located by our ears.  Conservative estimates abound, but you can find many studies warning us now. This is truly a dilemma for all of us, who love our cell phones (and other wearable tech).

So for today,  I am going to need to retire my beautiful Fitbit for a while…at least until my rash goes away.  Then I might wear it occasionally, but not daily.

This will be my version of Moderation Management!

Slowly, slowly, letting go of my beautiful Fitbit…sigh.IMG-7095

For yourself, think about what all this EMF radiation is doing to you. Learn more about electropollution and how it affects you here…

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

 

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2018. All rights reserved.
www.LisaWessan.com

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Decompressin’ with Wessan: Walk and Talk Therapy comes to Chelmsford, MA

LW WATT

Since I changed careers in 1999,  morphing from science journalist to therapist, I feel as if I have given birth to three clinical children in this journey…

First, I delivered Therapeutic Laughter for Caregivers (and others) in New York City, which emerged as keynotes, workshops and seminars.  I still enjoy presenting these programs which also include Team Building with Laughter, the Let Go and Lighten Up program and LaughAnanda (laughter meditation).  Each program serves a different sector, for corporate, medical/healthcare, educational, non-profit, and spiritual organizations.

Second, after a long gestational study period,  I delivered Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Groups (DBT) two years ago and currently facilitate two DBT groups in my office in Westford, MA, one daytime and evening group.

Third, and brand new as of June 2017, Walk and Talk Therapy (WATT) was born.  I am very excited about the progress and results my clients are experiencing during WATT.

Over the past several years, every time I read about exercising with clients, I was more intrigued…yes, there is solid science and empirically verified research on the benefits of WATT.

In brief, the motion of walking stimulates the bicameral brain and increases activity between the left and right hemispheres.  This allows people to access more complex feelings and memories, and have the ability to process the sadness, grief or trauma even more effectively while walking. While walking, everything is flowing, and the negative or heavily charged energy from the  traumatic memories can discharge quicker.  (I’m in the process of writing an article on a few of my clients who have had dramatic shifts and turnarounds on these walks.)

RISK MANAGEMENT

I have my clients sign an Indemnity Agreement prior to the WATT, and we discuss the possible challenges that may occur, such as tripping on a rock, or falling for some reason.  For some, this often leads to a lively discussion of their previous adventures and how confident they are in their walking ability.  “Walking around a lake? This is nothing, a piece of cake!”  they say.  For others, the prospect of walking for two miles is daunting, but they understand they can do as much or little of the walk as they want.  We have a choice of several benches for resting along the way with stunning views of the lake.

If you are considering WATT, I strongly recommend it.  As the Scottish-American naturalist John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2017.   All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My new hero, Poppa Neutrino (1933-2011)

Read about “The free spirit who rafted across the Atlantic,” (THE WEEK, Feb. 11, 2011). Here’s a man who lived fully, a life of adventure, passion and purpose on every level. Poppa Neutrino is my inspiration du jour…

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What is Digital Grief?

As a counselor, I have had the privilege of witnessing unexpressed grief, unresolved grief, good grief, bad grief, ancient grief, and grief from loss, neglect, abuse, even past life grief.
I’ve heard nearly every kind of grief available to humans during my time spent in the consulting room, or listening to friends and family process or avoid their grief.

Now there is a new kind of grief emerging in cyberspace, Digital Grief…yes, more people are experiencing painful loss and feelings of grief from cyber-based relationships. In many cases, the people never met face to face. In some instances, they met in a video game and developed a second life together, with emotional, spiritual and financial ties. Some people have lost large amounts of money in gaming groups where fees are won or lost in virtual contests. These financial losses were equally painful and real.

As professional counselors and coaches, we need to be ready for this new kind of grief. It’s real, it’s fraught with complex emotions and we need to acknowledge these losses as equal to flesh and blood level losses.

Here’s an insightful article on Digital Grief, entitled “Your immortal cybersoul,” by Rob Walker. Walker offers some new practical ways to work through the cyber landscape to better manage your digital self.

What legacy are you leaving on the internet? Do you want someone to have access to all of your passwords and maintain your accounts indefinitely? Would that make you feel immortal? There are now ways to do this. More will be revealed….

© Copyright 2011 by Lisa Wessan. All rights reserved.

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Defining the Laughgasm (Laughing Orgasm)

As sex educator Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright has noted, “While I’ve had some out-of-this-world orgasms, I personally think that a good laugh gives orgasm a run for its money. Nothing is more delicious than losing yourself in a side-splitting, seemingly endless crying with laughter session. It’s no wonder that being drunk with laughter has so many benefits. Laughter boosts your immune system, healing and cleansing your mind, body and soul. It increases the level of endorphins and neurotransmitters that are health-enhancing while lowering the level of stress hormones in your body, like cortisol. Laughter provides fantastic physical and emotional release. It gives your body a good workout, exercising the diaphragm, contracting the abdominals and working up your heart rate. It enhances your mood, drawing you away from any negative emotions, like anger, that are consuming you. In being utterly contagious, laughter also connects us. Hmmm, kind of sounds a lot like orgasm.”

I would never say that laughter could replace sex and orgasms, but there are times when a good full-bodied laugh can certainly help you experience the relief, release and feeling of refreshment you might have from an orgasm, plus it can reboot your nervous system, similar to an orgasm…that is, clear the mind, settle the synapses, relax-reboot and all is well…

I met my first laughter meditation teacher when I lived New York City, his name is Laraaji. Besides facilitating a brilliant laughter meditation class, Laraaji is also a powerful musician and peace activist. Laraaji says “Laughing and orgasming are very similar. For me, ejaculatory orgasm is draining. Instead of coming, its more like leaving. I prefer orgasmic laughter, it nourishes my nervous system, keeps my expressional vehicle loose, and puts me in touch with my feelings. As part of my yogic practice each morning, I have a hearty laughgasm.” Watch Laraaji having a LaughGasm here…

Laraaji facilitates a wonderful two-hour laughter meditation program in NYC…definitely worthwhile if you’re in the city and want to have a mind-blowing laughathon. He’s not big on social media, but he does share his beautiful zither music here.

In my keynote speeches, seminars and consulting work on therapeutic laughter, my audiences often have laughgasms, but I have never labeled them or called them out on it…are we ready? Dare I do it? Should I even consider marketing my work as offering Laughgasms? What do you think?

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Earth laughs in flowers. ~ Emerson

Earth laughs in flowers. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Invitation for centenarians, gerontologists and studio audience participants…

I am currently seeking healthy, alert and oriented centenarians to be interviewed for “The Super Centenarian Series” in 2011, my new my cable television topic. If you know any centenarians in the greater Boston area, please invite them to contact me.

I am also interested in talking with gerontologists and health care professionals who work with the elderly for the caregiver segments.

Also, if you would like to be part of our studio audience, please join us!

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Nothing is impossible…

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’M POSSIBLE!” ~ Audrey Hepburn

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Retirement Readiness and Longevity…are you ready to be a healthy, wealthy Supercentenarian? (that’s over 110 years of age…)

I’m excited to be a guest on Mike Bonacorsi’s radio show tomorrow, Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 12 Noon – 1 PM, broadcast live from Nashua, NH, in the studios of WSMN, 1590 AM on your dial, and globally webcast from WSMN at this link: http://wsmn.wgamthegame.com/archives/138.

Bonacorsi is a certified financial planner, and is well-known in New England as “The Retirement Readiness Expert.” Together we will explore the good, better and best ways to manage money, life and health affecting baby boomers+. Please join us for a fun lunch and learn experience!

Here are some of the questions we will explore:
Last week the oldest person in the world passed away at 114 years-can this be the norm at some point?
Is living to an advanced age 90+ genetic, good living, luck or a curse?
How difficult is it for someone to accept the fact we are getting older, into the advanced years?
Do we accept the fact gracefully, or with resignation?
As a population we are living longer-can we maintain a quality of life as we get to 90 or maybe even 100+ years?
What can we do as we age to maintain the quality of life we want?

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