Monthly Archives: October 2012

How to Stop Bad-Mouthing Your Body

In magazines and throughout our society, there is such a heavy focus on how women look.  Because of this, many women have major body image issues. 

In my book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, I relay a call from a woman who told me she was short and tubby.  You know how some people have six-pack abs?  Well, she had a “12-pack” of fat rolls.  The thought of being sexual with her husband made her freak out because she was so self-conscious.  However, I told her that her husband would rather have her naked up against him than have her body be perfect.  She said I was an idiot, but promised to try out my advice anyway. 

So, she went to a lingerie store and bought something bright red and outrageous with spaces everywhere.  It was even a little too small because they really didn’t have anything in her size.  When she got home, she started changing upstairs while her husband was in the living room.  She then stood at the top of the stairs and called for her husband in the garish, red, too-tight lingerie outfit which prominently displayed her rolls of fat.  He took one look at her, smiled widely, and ran up the stairs.  They had a great night (and by the way, she no longer thinks I’m a complete idiot).

In my opinion, women are to blame for this obsession with their bodies.  I read a Glamour magazine survey (which obviously only sampled women who are obsessed with glamor) revealing that 97 percent of women are cruel to their bodies on a daily basis.  After surveying 300 women of all sizes, the researchers found that, “On average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily – nearly one for every waking hour. And a disturbing number of women confess to having 35, 50 or even 100 hateful thoughts about their own shapes each day.”

That is sick stuff.  I feel sorry for these women who are more concerned about superficial things than their brain or character.  They are not worried about choosing the right men, doing charity work, getting educated, or being aware of what is going on in their community and world.  They are not worried about figuring out how to actually raise their own kids instead of just dumping them in day care.  No.  They are worried about how they look. 

That is so pathetic.  There is something to be said for school uniforms where how you look is irrelevant.  There is less distraction that way.

I’ll admit I’m not too crazy about looking in the mirror and seeing lines and wrinkles.  No woman likes that.  However, I don’t care about new styles of clothes, hair or makeup, and I don’t care about creams that make your face appear younger.  What I do care about is being strong and fit.  I don’t want to be spending the last years of my life unable to get around.  Everything I do is a preemptive strike on the future.  Every day, I get up at 5:30 a.m. and kill myself working out for an hour.  I play tennis two to three times a week, and I also kayak, sail and hike.  I work my body.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have very good luck with genetics, or they’ve been in some kind of accident (e.g. they’ve got osteoporosis and they’re just waiting for a broken hip).  However, when you do have control, put in the effort.  Don’t have 17 different plastic surgeries.

Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., a Cincinnati psychologist who specializes in body image and helped Glamour design the survey, said:

“Neuroscience has shown that whatever you focus on shapes your brain. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about your body, that neural pathway becomes stronger – and those thoughts become habitual…Imagine a concert pianist. Her brain would have stronger neural pathways that support musicality and dexterity than someone who hadn’t spent her life practicing.”

Interestingly enough, if a man thinks the same things women are thinking about their own bodies, he’s considered offensive or abusive.  If a man says that a woman’s got a big nose, disgusting skin, bags under her eyes or small breasts, it’s a “no-no.”  And yet with women, negative talk is part of how they bond with each other.

Women also tend to talk and feel bad about something rather than trying to fix it.  Whether it is stress, loneliness, boredom, or a bad day, women go into depression mode rather than being proactive.  I’ve mentioned many times on my program that it’s more typical for guys to be proactive about a problem than women.  Men want to go fix something.  Women want to talk about it over and over and then feel upset about it. 

It’s not easy, but there are some simple things you can do to change your body and feel better:

  • Rewire your brain to see the positive aspects about your body. 
  • Ask yourself if this really is about your body.
  • Exercise!  I cannot stress enough how being physical can change your mood and outlook.
  • Just say “stop” when you have a negative thought.  That will shut it down.
  • Remind yourself that obsessing about what you eat or look like doesn’t make you look better.
  • Appreciate your body for what it does – not what it looks like.
  • Play up your strengths.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Focus on what you have and be proud of it. 

For further reading, here are some interesting body image statistics.

Shacking Up Does Not Lead to a Stronger Marriage

Remember this little ditty?: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.”  Nowadays, this rarely happens.  For a lot of adults it’s, “First comes love (maybe), then comes ‘shacking up,’ then comes a heartbreaking split involving children.” 
 
Many shack-up couples claim, “We’re living together to improve our chances of having a great marriage.”  I recently even had a young woman on my program whose own father told her to do just that.  I couldn’t believe it.  As research shows, shacking up actually has the OPPOSITE effect.  I have been saying this for 30 plus years.

For the small percentage of cohabitants who actually go on to marry, the majority of them end up getting divorced, or they experience spousal abuse and infidelity.  The simple fact is that shacking up does not lead to stronger marriages.  I love it when someone writes to me saying, “Well, I shacked up and my partner and I are still together.”  So what?  That doesn’t mean shacking up is good.  There are people out there who smoke like crazy and don’t get lung cancer.  Does that mean we should tell people to smoke because some people have dodged a bullet?

Of course, if two people want to shack up it’s their own personal choice, but they should know it leads to reverberations – even when there aren’t kids involved.  For example, how is your extended family supposed to accept someone as “family” when you’re not even willing to make them family?  People become family through birth, adoption or marriage.  If you’re not willing to make somebody family by making a commitment to them, then you can’t get angry when the rest of your family says, “Leave him/her home, they’re not family,” or, “Of course we don’t want them in the family photograph, they’re not family.”   Furthermore, don’t be surprised when other family members with kids don’t want to hang out with you because they don’t want their kids to think your behavior is OK.

There’s enough research to show that cohabiting dissolves families, impacts children, and increases instances of sexual abuse, drug abuse, crime, illiteracy, and out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  In addition, studies reveal that only 45 percent of couples who live together go on to marry, and of those who do marry, there is a 45 percent higher risk for divorce than people who have never shacked up.  Only 15 out of every 100 shack-ups will result in a “long-term successful marriage”.
 
When cohabitants do marry, they tend to be less committed to the long-term future of the relationship, and they are less reluctant to terminate it.  Cohabitation is, in part, an acceptance of leaving.  One study found that the more months young people are exposed to cohabitation, the less enthusiastic they become about marriage and having kids.

Most importantly of all, since shack-ups have such a high dropout rate, there’s a better chance that kids will end up devastated.  All too often, kids are made or hauled in to a shack-up situation.  Moreover, kids who come from divorced parents frequently go on to shack up themselves.  It’s a ripple effect. 

Kids who live in homes with parents shacking up are more likely to:

  • Become involved in unmarried sex because their lives are very sexualized outside of any context of marriage and family. 
  • Experience sexual abuse in the home.
  • Have emotional and social difficulties due to problems with forming permanent emotional attachments.  When they reach adulthood, they struggle to find happiness and productive marriages.
  • Experience poverty, poor achievement in school, and a litany of other problems.

So, what should you do if you have already gotten yourself involved in a shack-up situation? 

  • Stop!  If your relationship matters to you, then you and your partner need to cease shacking up.  The longer people shack up, the less likely they are to move on to a long-term successful marriage.
  • Seek premarital counseling.  This is really important in establishing the communication and relationship skills needed for a successful marriage.  If you have already been shacking up, then developing these skills is even more crucial because you’re used to living with insecurity.   
  • Protect your kids.  If you’ve put your kids in a shack-up situation, understand that this is not in their best interest.  Stop being selfish, weak, scared, or any combination thereof. 

If you know someone who is revving to shack up or is currently shacking up:

  • Talk to them.  Bring the facts to their attention.  Although facts seem to bother some people’s emotions, make them aware anyway.  
  • Celebrate marriage. If you are happily married, share your experiences with other people – especially young people. They need to know that happy marriages exist.

Can You Not Live Without Your Cell Phone?

I recently went to go see a movie (something I very rarely do), and I didn’t bring my cell phone in with me.  I then went to lunch, and again, left my phone in the car.  For some reason, this freaked people out.

My friend: “Where’s your cell phone?”
Me: “In the car.” 
My friend: “Why don’t you have it with you?” 
Me: “Because I’m having lunch. I want to relax.”

My cell phone is even off now as I’m sitting here in my office.   I don’t understand why so many of you folks can’t do without them.  According to a survey, more than half of Americans would rather give up chocolate, alcohol and/or caffeine than their cell phone.   A third of you would rather give up sex.  Over 20 percent of you would do without your toothbrush, and if you’re an iPhone user, that percentage doubles (well, I suppose it is good you’re talking into a phone because nobody’s going to want to smell your breath!).  In addition, 21 percent of you would go without shoes before separating from your cell phone.  Two-thirds of you even sleep with your phone by your side. 

When it comes to being able to access the Internet, the insanity level is the same.  Forty percent of you feel lonely and 53 percent of you feel deprived if you can’t get on the Internet.  I guess if you live your life through Facebook rather than face-to-face, that makes sense.  One participant in the survey said that unplugging was akin to having their hands chopped off.  Another stated, “The emptiness overwhelmed me,” and yet another described feeling incomplete.

I can only say one thing: This is scary!

I remember in one of the original Star Trek episodes, there was this group of people who had ceased being corporeal.   They were essentially just thought waves, and they had no need for sex or farming.  All interpersonal interaction was gone.  It was very interesting to them to see how humans interacted with each other because they had bodies.   This is what we’re becoming.  A lot of you see technology as a way to keep in touch, but in my opinion, you are all becoming more and more distant.  You are only engaged in virtual relationships as opposed to real connections. 

Here are a couple little things you can do to unplug and start having healthier relationships:

Schedule some periods of time where you are inaccessible and nobody can reach you.  No texts, no emails…nothing.   Nobody can access you.  You can even make them short at first.  You’ll probably feel anxious and maybe even depressed from being disconnected, but guess what?  Your life will not implode!  It’ll be good for you – just think of all the time you could be spending seeing a friend or doing a hobby while you’re not plugged in.

Pick a day where you don’t touch your email or your cell phone.  Just one day.  It could be Saturday, Sunday, your “day of rest,” Shabbos…whatever.  Pick a day.

Or, if you think that’s impossible, how about this?  Set intervals for when you check your email, or don’t check your email before a certain time.  You can use an autoresponder explaining that you can be reached any time on your cell phone.  At least your cell phone is voice-to-voice.
 
Try to get some humanity back in your life. 

Do you crave your technology?  Take this quiz.  If you can’t get to the end of it without texting, you probably already know your diagnosis.

What Makes Someone a Hero?

“Hero” is a word that’s misused all the time.  People who hit baseballs, throw footballs, or lob tennis balls are frequently labeled “heroes,” but they are really just paid athletes – not heroes.  It would be heroic if an athlete gave up a kidney for someone who needed it knowing that he or she would probably never play ball again without it.  You can’t be a hero without sacrifice. 

If benefiting somebody else results in no cost to you, you’re not being heroic.  “Hero” is a very special term.  For example, although he was damn courageous, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (the pilot who landed Flight 1549 in the Hudson River and saved the lives of all 155 passengers and crew aboard) was not a hero.  Yes, he ensured that the airplane didn’t hit any buildings and he saved a lot of people’s lives, but there was nothing for him to sacrifice because he was going down with everyone else.  Although he was courageous and kept his head while those around him were losing theirs, the term “hero” should not be applied.

By the same token, a person dealing with treatments for serious medical issues is not a hero either.  As brave as a person needs to be when going through something like that, they don’t have a choice.  There is no sacrifice involved on the behalf of another person.

I was recently watching the movie Act of Valor, which used real military guys to create a dramatic representation of a true story.  In one scene, the soldiers are clearing rooms in a building, and one of the guys goes into a room looking left and right, but he forgets to look up.  A bad guy perched on the scaffolding pulls the pin out of a grenade and tosses it into the room.  The soldier turns around to run out, but he sees his buddies entering that same room.  He has a choice to make: He can either run and see how far he can make it before the grenade explodes, or he can stay and protect his fellow soldiers.  To my shock and horror, he threw his body on the grenade, thereby taking the full force with his body.  It wasn’t pretty.  His buddies then shot the bad guy. 

That was the part of the movie I remember most.  This guy had a choice to make a sacrifice, and he did.  That was a heroic act.  He could have tried to run or throw himself behind something and let the other guys sink or swim on their own, but he chose to sacrifice himself. 

I remember back when our country first entered Iraq, a young soldier did the same thing.  He was clearing a room, saw a grenade, and threw his body down on it.  I remember being so incredibly upset because I was identifying with his mother, knowing and worrying that my kid might be in that same circumstance.  It was just terrifying.  But I knew his act was heroic – a personal sacrifice for the benefit of others.  That “Band of Brothers” mentality which ennobles a person enough to sacrifice themselves for their buddies is a mind-blower. 

In my opinion, some of the most blatant acts of heroism ever known were performed by “The Righteous Gentiles.”  That’s what Israel called people who protected Jews from the German “Final Solution” during World War II.  These were folks who knew they could die and their children could be tortured and hung in the street as a message to others for what they did, but they risked everything and did it anyway.  When you read or see interviews with any of these people, they all say the exact same simple, humble thing: “It was the right thing to do.” 

I believe “doing the right thing” has a lot to do with how people are brought up.  For example, when my boy was growing up, I told him that I didn’t care about the zero-violence nonsense at school.  I said, “If somebody hits you, or even more importantly, threatens or hits somebody else, I expect you to intervene and we will deal with the principal later.” 

One day, he came home in trouble.  A boy had been picking on another boy at school, and my son punched the bully.  I took my son out to dinner and sent my husband to go deal with the principal.

In short, heroism is about making a personal sacrifice for the benefit of others.  It’s serving others at a cost to you.  When those firemen, police officers and other folks looked up and saw the burning buildings on 9/11 with debris falling everywhere and smoke filling every breath, they made the decision to go into the buildings knowing full well that they may never come out again (and a lot of them didn’t).  That is heroism – not a guy who gets paid a lot of money to make field goals for people’s entertainment.

Video: Use Hypnotherapy to Transform Pain

This listener, Lidia, was severely injured during her naval service. Her surgery and rehab were botched and, on top of that, her family never visited while she was in the hospital. 

Twenty-five years later, her rage over these incidents has returned and she’s not sure if this is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  In my opinion, it’s not about her injuries or rehab, it’s about her feeling abandoned by her family. I’ve got a way to transform that pain into something else…

Love at First Sight

How many movies have you seen where a man sees a woman across a room filled with people dancing and he thinks, “That’s it, I’m in love.” 

I believe that men are a lot more likely to say, “I fell in love at first sight,” and women to say, “Gee, he’s really hot.”  Guys are visual – “I fell in love at first sight.”  They fall in love with what they see and what they feel right after seeing it.  If a man sees a woman who he finds attractive and he feels she is sexually interested in him, he’ll think he’s fallen in love right then and there. 

However, no matter what he thinks, at this point he is not in love.  “Over 90 percent of a man’s decision at this stage is purely based on visual cues. Some men get super glued on boobs, others on booties and others on legs, etc. Physical features and bouncy behavior that suggests youth, health and vitality… It’s just pure sexual chemistry. At this stage, you are still dispensable and interchangeable. You’re still just another woman in the pack, and he is still very much attracted to several other women at the same time.”

A lot of people call into my show saying, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been seeing him/her for three weeks and we’re totally in love,” but my answer is always the same: “No you’re not.”  There could be a romantic or sexual attraction, but that’s all.  This is just the fantasy stage – you think he or she is what you fantasize you want.  It’s the stage where you’re wearing rose-colored glasses and ignoring things.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told callers, “You ignored these things, didn’t you?,” and after denying it several times, they eventually say, “Well, yes, but I didn’t know they were going to be this bad.  I saw what I wanted to see.” 

If you’ve got a guy who wants to do the settling down process by shacking up, humping out of wedlock, and making babies without any commitment, then I’ve got a news flash for you: he’s not in love with you.  No man in love with a woman does that.  When a man is in love, he stakes his claim.  All throughout the animal kingdom, males make it clear who is their woman.  Men enforce it by giving their woman a ring, a ceremony, and a commitment of fidelity.

So, for all you silly girls out there thinking that a guy who wants to hook up or shack up is in love with you, you are so unbelievably wrong.