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In 1993, after working with the Overcoming Overeating approach for many years, we joined the national network by forming the Chicago Center for Overcoming Overeating, Inc. As practitioners, we are profoundly committed to the Overcoming Overeating approach and believed that by uniting our energies, we would reach more people and create an even greater sense of community for the Overcoming Overeating network.

The newsletter is an exciting venture. It has tremendous potential to reach all of you—around the country and the world—who want to share thoughts, feelings and experiences with Overcoming Overeating or want questions answered that will help you move forward. With all of us working and talking together, we can join forces to expand the growth of the anti-diet revolution.

Building on the excitement we feel as the newly organized Chicago Center for Overcoming Overeating, we held a full-day Advanced Conference on October 24, 1993. The conference, entitled "Discovering Your Good-Enough Caretaker", was a multidisciplinary and multi-media event that brought together 60 women who are committed to the Overcoming Overeating approach. The energy in the room was intoxicating!

We began the day by discussing several issues which we see as key in moving ahead with the mechanics of Overcoming Overeating. Curing compulsive eating requires that we care for ourselves in an attuned, loving and nurturing way. We all know that such good caretaking feels great, but we also know that, at times, it is difficult to be there for ourselves consistently. We did an exercise in which participants focused on the reasons they give themselves for not wanting to, or feeling unable to care for themselves. We then helped participants connect their present "stuckness" with their individual childhood experiences. (We'll be sharing more about this in future issues of the newsletter.)

Our conference was greatly enriched by guest speakers from the Chicago network of professionals who work with the Overcoming Overeating approach. Elisa D'Urso, R.D., spoke about "Chronic and Everyday Health Concerns" in relation to the Overcoming Overeating approach. Her brief history of the changing "trends" in nutritional research (what will we be told to eat next??), gave people a great deal of relief about "proper nutrition". Elisa stressed the fact that our internal cues are certainly reliable in the management of everyday nutritional concerns as well as with specific health problems, such as diabetes.

Barbara Meyer, M.A., an exercise physiologist, spoke about opening your mind to the idea of "movement" instead of exercise. She suggested "legalizing" all kinds of movement, just as you have legalized all foods. She also spoke about removing the "shoulds" from movement. When movement becomes a "should," it becomes a diet against which you rebel. She recommended that you leave your option to move open—for example, by carrying a "movement bag" with any necessary supplies in case you decide that you want to move. (Between food bags and movement bags, you are just loaded with options!) Barbara led the group through a calming musical fantasy in which people imagined themselves moving in any way that felt comfortable. She encouraged people to move in ways that make them feel comfortable, not in ways they imagine to be "right" or "best." Participants found themselves discovering new, exciting ways to move, or even think about moving, that felt pressure-free.

In the afternoon, we showed Jean Kilbourne's film "Still Killing Us Softly," an examination of the negative impact of the advertising industry's portrayal of women and the "perfect body." Afterwards, art therapist Leslee Goldman, R.T.A., led participants through visual exercises. She asked participants first to draw their response to the film and then to draw what they had been told about their bodies as they were growing up. The responses, although moving and painful to experience and hear, gave expression to participants' feelings of body hatred; the drawings also often revealed the hope hidden beneath the despair. Leslee encouraged people to build on that hope.

In an attempt to further size acceptance, we used an exciting visualization developed by Carol and Jane. In the fantasy, people think about how they would feel if their current size suddenly became the cultural ideal. Responses ranged from relief and exhilaration to concern about and discomfort with the nature and quantity of attention paid to society's ideals.

The energy generated by this roomful of women, all deeply committed to Overcoming Overeating, was an uplifting part of the day. We hope to recapture this sense of community again and again.

When we come together in person or in spirit:

  • the connection with others strengthens us;

  • we learn from one another's thoughts, feelings and experience;

  • we feel challenged to urge ourselves beyond the internal and external barriers to making Overcoming Overeating a part of our lives; and

  • we realize we are all on the same road, and it is more easily traveled together.

Judith Matz and Carol Coven Grannick

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