She referred to this behavior as her guilty pleasure. In session, Sandi described spending hours of her day lying in bed, examining with great intensity the social-media profiles of her friends, her friends of friends, and even people she didn't know, all the while binge eating on sugary foods like donuts, peanut butter, ice cream, cookies, and sweet cereals. Binge eating was not a new behavior for Sandi. She had been using food to medicate her feelings since she was a teenager. But being on social media while in the throes of a binge-eating episode was a new behavior, and it magnified her feelings of shame tenfold. Sandi's critical inner voice was telling her how bad she was for binge eating while at the same time telling her that she was a complete failure compared to her virtual friends and followers, heaping extra servings of shame onto her psyche. If Sandi came in to see me for our appointment the day after a night of this, she'd always start the session telling me, I hate myself! Other, more progressive assessments (particularly genetic testing) might well yield useful insights in the near future, as the field of genomics continues advancing rapidly, but for right now their cost outweighs their utility. What's Your Problem? One advantage that genetic testing could provide is to identify how genes contribute to issues that affect some people but aren't a nationwide problem. Let's take our biggest addiction, caffeine. If you can drink a latte at 8 p. If that latte would keep you up until 3 a. People whose bodies can process caffeine more quickly can typically drink five to eight cups a day with few, if any, ill effects. But studies show that for slow caffeine metabolizers, such a high intake can increase their chances of developing heart disease. We sometimes make assumptions about how we handle caffeine or other foods, but we don't really know for sure. Genetic testing can remove the guesswork and let us know how quickly we metabolize certain substances and what the health consequences could be. So we believe something that is untrue, and it causes us pain. It is helpful to pinpoint what stressors trigger you.

Some, like racism, may be unavoidable, so there's no way to adjust ourselves to solve the problem. Consider the fact that mental illness is so prevalent in the Native American community, and that addiction, alcoholism, diabetes, and autoimmune disease afflict Native Americans more than other racial identity group. But as we discussed, this tendency doesn't come from their individual choices. It arises from social factors and intergenerational trauma that keeps them in vulnerable states and works against their immunity. In similar ways, this is what happens to people in all marginalized groups. In a society that stresses people out, individualized solutions can't work. Given the existence of social injustice, suffering is going to happen disproportionately. While there is no individual solution to a cultural problem, we have to find ways to work with the hand we were dealt. I'm disgusting! I'll never find a man! I'll be alone for the rest of my life! No one wants a fat woman! Everyone on social media is happy! My mom is right--I'll never be in a relationship looking this way! How can you even stand to look at me? Sandi didn't know how to pull back from her destructive eating episodes without mentally beating herself up and making herself feel even worse. Shaming ourselves or another person for an undesirable behavior doesn't lead to motivation, initiation, or change. In fact, this vicious cycle of binge-shame-binge even prevented Sandi from advancing in her profession and from forming positive and mutually satisfying romantic relationships, because it depleted her emotionally and intellectually. We could then make more informed lifestyle adjustments to improve our well-being and reduce certain health risks. Admitting the Limitations of the Quantified Self

Read enough geeky magazines and you'll see that some technology prophets and their disciples think that in our (read: their) infinite wisdom, we can use fitness trackers, apps, and smartwatches to monitor every aspect of our biology and then use the data to make our lives into some kind of uberhealthy utopia. In Dave Eggers's The Circle, the creator of the article's social media system states, I'm a believer in the perfectibility of human beings. This kind of statement is just vain hubris. Yet it's not much of an exaggeration of the attitude that prevails in the fitness tech community. The trouble is that for all their fancy speeches and I-want-that gadgets, people with this mind-set are failing to acknowledge the reality that there's far more about the body and brain that we don't know than we're letting on. And, sorry to burst the bubble, this isn't going to change anytime soon. The thousands of processes that are occurring within each of us in every microsecond are incredibly complex, and each is tied in to the others in ways that we cannot hope to ever fully understand. So while the term the quantified self might be here to stay, it implies a notion of perfectibility that's impossible to achieve, which means it will remain nothing more than a hollow buzzword. Coming together in community helps us identify the common struggles and move away from self-blame and the burden of seeing yourself as a problem to be fixed. And so, we must theorize. Theorizing is an interwoven process of understanding one's situation in terms of existing oppressive social norms, questioning those norms, and eventually opening your imagination to liberation from them. Theorizing lets you take control of the narrative of your experiences in marginalization. When you theorize, you stop authorizing others to define your experience. This agency is important. If you think back to article 5, we saw that lack of agency allows stress to permeate and do its damage, explaining why stressed executives (who have high agency) are less prone to stress-induced disease and dysregulation than similarly stressed working-class (low-agency) folks. Theorizing is a way to develop your agency, and this can provide some insulation for those with marginalized identities. It's a way to reclaim ownership of your identity and take back power in an unjust world--even as the injustice itself persists. Theorizing helps you realize that, for instance, it's not your fault you can't get a job. And Sandi's unacknowledged and unaddressed feelings of shame also made it more likely that she'd repeat this behavior again and again; Kristin Neff, psychologist and leading expert in the study of compassion and self-compassion, breaks self-compassion down into the following three components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

Let's now examine each one. Self-Kindness in Place of Self-Judgment Neff defines self-kindness as the ongoing, never-ending quest to understand in a kind, open, and curious way rather than having an attitude of harsh judgment, self-criticism, and defensiveness. Our personal flaws and inadequacies are treated in a gentle, understanding manner when we adopt an attitude of self-kindness, and the emotional tone of the language we use toward ourselves is loving, tender, kind, and supportive, making us more accepting of our imperfections. Similarly, when external life circumstances are difficult, self-compassionate people turn inward to offer themselves soothing and comfort rather than taking a stoic Just grin and bear it approach. An example of practicing self-compassion that Dr Neff recommends is giving yourself a big hug when facing a difficult situation or actually telling yourself, I'm so sorry, honey. The emotional benefit derived from self-compassion is not a new concept to the world of psychology and psychotherapy. Much of the aim of successful traditional psychotherapy treatment for disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, eating disorders, body-image disorders, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse is to soften rigid, inflexible, and punitive superegos. And if we keep chasing performance simply for the sake of improving our numbers, we're missing out on the fun of being active. No Good Answers to a Bad Question One of the latest trends in the wearables space is the use of smart clothing. This uses embedded sensors to measure certain things about our bodies. Some just replicate the functions of wrist-worn devices, measuring heart rate, steps taken, and so on. But other manufacturers are attempting to quantify elements of performance, such as muscle recruitment: at least a couple of these companies' product lines measure the activation of various muscle groups during a given exercise and then make recommendations on what you need to do differently to better engage those that aren't pulling their weight. The trouble is, who's to say what percentage of quad, glute, or hamstring activation you should ideally have in a squat or a dead lift? This is completely arbitrary, as is the subsequent advice for supposed improvements. Then there's the fact that measuring muscle activation and recruitment on the surface of the skin is inaccurate and error-prone. So maybe that smart clothing isn't quite as clever as its makers think it is. There are structural contributors (like racism, sexism, or ageism, or a crummy economy) that stand in your way. It is also, as hooks describes, a path to liberation.

When I was hurting badly from my eating disorder, I saved myself by going to school. My multiple graduate degrees were an attempt to think my way out--to learn everything I could about weight as a way to rise above my mess. Education was a liberating path for me because it led me to see the cultural roots of my discomfort with food and how I had absorbed toxic ideas that kept me from inhabiting my body comfortably. These ideas maintained a status quo that excluded me. To heal, you've got to ask the hard questions about what's at the root and be willing to sit with the discomfort you find there. You may get to the insight that tells you that the world is unfair and stacked against you, or that the people who were supposed to protect you failed miserably and didn't teach you the life skills or provide the material or emotional support you needed. It may instead (or also) push you to understand that the world is unfair and you are benefiting from others' pain. Most likely, all of this is true at once. Our superego, based on Freud's theories, is the part of our mind that acts as our self-critical conscience, reflecting the social standards we learned from our parents, teachers, and other important adult role models. A harsh superego, manifested in our harsh critical internal voice, causes us to feel feelings like shame and inferiority. Conversely, a balanced and gentle superego takes the form of a kinder and more realistic inner voice. In a nutshell, an inner voice that's compassionate means less emotional turmoil and realistic self-appraisals and leads to emotional openness and feelings of hopefulness. Cognitive behavioral therapy, another well-known treatment approach to various mental and emotional disorders, seeks to help clients put their inner critical voices in perspective by challenging critical internal dialogues with self-compassionate self-talk. Techniques such as reframing (rethinking our negative thoughts by challenging them) soften the inner critic by replacing negative thoughts with ones that offer a healthy perspective and balance. Founded by British clinical psychologist Paul Gilbert and based off of Neff's groundbreaking work in self-compassion, compassion-focused therapy is an integrative therapeutic approach developed for people who specifically struggle with chronic and complex mental-health problems stemming from self-shame and self-criticism, often people who come from neglectful or abusive backgrounds. CFT, as it is known, borrows its from Buddhist teachings--especially the roles of sensitivity to and motivation to relieve suffering--but its roots derive from an evolutionary, neuroscience, and social-psychology approach, emphasizing the psychology and neurophysiology of both giving and receiving care. An interesting pattern in the health domain has emerged that shows a link between self-compassion and a reduction in disordered eating, shame, perfectionism, and body dissatisfaction. For example, an innovative study investigated the impact that viewing fitspiration images (images that serve as motivation for someone to sustain or improve health and fitness) and viewing self-compassion quotations had on the body image and mood of women social-media users. Rather, it's giving you information that the information is arbitrary, not personalized, or both. Say that you're an injured basketball player and you start using a pair of smart, sensor-embedded shorts to measure your glute activation during a certain rehab exercise.