Investigating Your Eating

Here’s a quick and easy way to investigate your eating behaviors AND, more importantly, help you make wise decisions about what you choose to put into your mouth!

Investigators and reporters use the who, what, when, where and why method to gather clues about whatever it is they are investigating. You can use this simple method to learn more about your eating habits. Awareness is the first step to change, so you can use what you learn as a way to improve your food choices! Let’s try it. Imagine yourself in a situation where you are faced with making a food choice. For this example, let’s say you are at work and the boss throws an ice cream social to thank all of the employees for their hard work. Answer the following questions to help you make healthy choices.

WHO:     Who will benefit from my eating ice cream?

No one will actually benefit from your eating ice cream.

Who will be negatively affected from my eating ice cream?

You will if you begin to talk negatively to yourself because you opted
for a food choice that leads you away from your goals. Your co-
workers and family members may be negatively affected if you are
upset with yourself and take your frustrations about your food choices
into your relationships with others. 
WHAT:  What will the consequences of eating ice cream be?

You may feel guilty, angry or frustrated with yourself. This can become
a negative spiral in which you treat yourself/others in negative ways.
You may gain weight and become even more frustrated and
disillusioned. When we are upset with ourselves, we are not our best in
our relationships with others, who will indirectly be affected because
we chose to eat ice cream.

WHEN:   When did you choose to say ‘no’ to foods like ice cream that would lead you away from your healthy goals in the past?

How did you feel when you refrained from eating those foods? Proud?
Empowered? You’ve opted to say ‘no’ to unheathy food in the past and
you can do so today!

WHERE: Where do you want to be with your weight next week? Next month? Next year? Where can you turn to for support to get through a situation with food that is difficult?

Where have you been and where are you headed? If you’ve been
heavy in the past and perhaps regained weight after losing it before,
you know where you are headed if you make unhealthy food choices.
Keep in mind where you have been and how you got there. More
importantly, keep in mind where you are going – to a healthier life!
Have a list of people on your phone you can call for support in
difficult situations.

 WHY?     Why are you working hard to get to, and remain at, a healthy weight?

                                  Remember the reasons you chose to lose weight. They will keep you
focused on your goals. Keep a list of your ‘whys’ where you can look
at it regularly. Reminding yourself of the things you want to do, the
places you want to, and the people with whom you want to go in the
forefront of your mind to help you maintain motivation to say ‘no’ to
unhealthy foods.

For the LOVE...!

For the love…

I have a good friend who frequently uses the expression, “For the love…”  When I was a kid, I heard a lot of adults use that expression with some variation. The three that come to mind are: “For the love of all that’s holy,” “For the love of God,” and “For the love of Pete.” I never knew who Pete was.

“For the love…” seems to be used when one is feeling exasperated, as in, “For the love of Pete… what in the world are you doing?” or “For the love of God, how did you manage to end up in this predicament?” I often heard this expression when people were exasperated and angry: “For the love of all that’s holy, I told you to get this room picked up two hours ago!”

My friend Catherine just seems to say, “For the love…” as a prelude to one of her always very funny stories, usually about her children. So, perhaps she is using it as an expression of exasperation and/or anger!

Speaking of love… what I saw of the verb “love” in my childhood also seemed to be accompanied with exasperation and/or anger. I never doubted whether I was loved by my parents or my siblings. But what I observed as “love” between my parents (who were, after all, supposed to love each other) was most definitely anger. In all honesty, I recall very few pleasant conversations between the two of them. Ever. Rather, there was either a lot of loud arguing (primarily after the kids were in bed where I guess they thought we couldn’t hear) or there was cold silence.

Hence, I learned to verbally fight a lot in my adult “love” relationships. I’m so glad I chose to learn there are healthy ways to communicate with my spouse, even when I am exasperated and angry. (And most often, I actually opt to use those healthy ways!) As a child, I learned passive aggressiveness and verbal aggression from my parents. They were married… they loved each other, right? That’s what we were taught. You grew up, fell in love, got married, and had kids. And you loved them.

That’s not the kind of love I wanted. But I was ill-equipped to know how to share healthy love in a marriage, especially when I was mad at my husband. So, l got help and learned how to communicate in healthy ways, even when I was furious. And so did my Lovebug. We went to couple’s counseling and individual counseling and family counseling. We learned how to express difficult feelings and to show love in healthy ways, no matter what was going on.

As a result, our love grew. Not just for each other, but also for ourselves as individuals. How’s that? When I acted in the way I learned from my parents (yelling, criticizing, silent treatment) I didn’t like how I felt about myself. I was ashamed and told myself what a bad person I was. As I learned and practiced (and practiced and practiced and practiced) to share my thoughts and feelings without yelling or being critical, I began to feel better about myself. I continue to be proud of myself when I express myself as a healthy adult in appropriate ways, particularly when I am really ticked off. It wasn’t always that way.

The more I like myself, the more I choose to act in healthy ways because I don’t want to feel that old shame and I don’t want to talk badly to myself about myself. I’m pretty sure it’s the same for Lovebug. Consequently, we both continue to treat each other more lovingly, with respect, kindness and compassion, even when we’re upset!

Oh – and that still happens. We definitely still get upset with one another. We’ve been married nearly 35 years! Of course we drive one another a little crazy. Now when I get exasperated or angry with him, instead of lashing out, I just think, “Oh for the love…!”



FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats for Women

                         FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats for Women

                in Atlanta, Georgia with Connie Stapleton, Ph.D.  

“FAIR and FIRM” means being compassionate and accountable.

"Whatever the issue you’re addressing, compassion and accountability will help you learn, heal, and take healthy risks toward being your best authentic self." Connie Stapleton, Ph.D.

Real learning for use in everyday life leads to positive growth! Come grow with us!

Retreat Titles                                              Dates             RESERVE YOUR SPOT

                                                                                            (only 8   people per retreat)

          Reversing Regain                               7/11/18 (6 PM)

                                                                     7/15/18 (1 PM)

            Healing from Food Addiction          8/22/18 (6 PM)

                                                                       8/26/18 (1 PM)

            Gain While You Lose (Weight Loss  9/26/18 (6 PM)

                       the Whole Person Way)         9/30/18 (1 PM)          


         Connie Stapleton, Ph.D.

The FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats for Women are the culmination of my life’s work. These are my dream and I thrilled to be able to share them with you.

I have been blessed beyond measure in my life. I have also done a whole lot of personal work, with the guidance of many others, to get to a place in life where I can pass on to others what I have learned through my experiences gained at the school of hard knocks, the schools made of brick and mortar (where I spent 12 solid years of higher education), the rooms of many a 12-step meeting, and from the incredible people God has put in my path over the years.

Did I use the “G” word? I did. I am a believer in God, a higher power. I’m accepting of those who don’t believe in God and who do not participate in any religion. I do not “shove my beliefs” down anyone’s throat or up any other body parts. I simply live and let live. I hope that my belief in God, and my regular reference to having a higher power will not be a deterrent for you in choosing to work with me!

Back to the amazing people in my life. My husband, commonly known as “The Lovebug,” but whose name is Steve, has been my greatest supporter, my best friend (as well as the most frustrating person in my life, at times). He is my partner in all things, including all of the work that I do. Without him, I would have no business (he is a CPA, after all). Nor would I have the honor and privilege of having a man who really needs to teach men how to be truly good men as my life companion. Without the Lovebug, I would not have the other most important people in my life – our three phenomenal children and their families. These are the people for whom I live. They are the people I spend the vast majority of my non-working time and some of the people I like most in the world. Don’t get me started on my 7 grandbabies, or I will write about nothing else. They are a joy beyond description.

I have three women friends who have been my lifelines for nearly thirty years. I love these remarkable treasures, who provide me a safe place in life to be fully myself without fear of abandonment. They give me loving, constructive, “FAIR and FIRM” feedback when I need it. They give me laughter and hugs (many of them virtual as we all live a great distance from one another). They share with me their trust and their love. And we have oodles of fun together!

I have had mentors in life who literally taught me how to live as a healthy adult. We all need them and I am so grateful for those who have been part of my journey.

My journey… through an emotionally difficult childhood (in many ways), but also a childhood filled with beautiful lessons of giving to others and spending time with family. My journey led me through various forms of addiction in my late teens through my late 20’s, until I was guided to an outpatient program in 1989. It was at that point in time I began to live life fully.

Several years of therapy and beginning to learn who I am, followed by completion of a Master’s degree in Counseling and a PhD program in Counseling Psychology led to my professional practice of nearly three decades.

The retreats I have created are part of what I was born to do. I teach and I engage. I teach from a place of personal experience through much therapy and recovery from addictions. I also teach from a place of many years of formal education and ongoing professional education. I engage with people and we connect. That is what makes the work I do so fulfilling and why it is something I (usually) do well. Not that I have “the answers” for anyone. I do have the compassion to connect and the skill of listening. Together, we work on ways to improve the difficulties in life.

Join me as I impart what I’ve learned about being my authentic self. Join me and discover your own authentic self. Work with me and let’s learn more about living balanced, healthy FULL lives!

The Administrative Team

        Kelsey P.  Right-hand Woman, Administrative Guru – Bio to be added

        “The Lovebug”/Steve  CPA and Business Manager) – Bio to be added

        Dawn R. Hurlebaus The sponsor of the FIRM and FAIR Therapy Retreat Series. Owner and                CEO of Slimpressions (

The Retreat Team (retreats may include some or all of the following presenters)

         Jennifer Hnat  Registered Dietician, owner of Nutrition Atlanta                (  – Bio to be added

        Julia Karlstad Exercise Physiologist, owner of JKFitness (  – Bio to be added

        Laura Preston  Vitamin education and Marketing Manager for Celebrate Vitamins

(  – Bio to be added

         Yvonne Burns McCarthy Also known as Bariatric Girl ( Recovering Food Addict and Mentor.

        Laura Van Tuyl Successful weight loss patient and Board Member of the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America. (


 About the FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreat Series

 Each of my FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats are residential programs for women who are seeking to heal from a variety of issues they have encountered along their life’s journey. As a therapist who has been through a great deal of personal therapy before and since going back to school to become a psychologist, I understand the enormous positive impact of attending intensive therapy retreats. Immersion in a supportive learning environment with the opportunity to work through the information being presented is a gift that provides recipients a lifetime of day-to-day benefits.

One of the things that is most important to me is that each participant becomes more familiar with, more consistent with, and more supportive of her unique, genuine self. For many of us, living through stressful childhood situations can result in abandoning our authentic self as the need for emotional protection becomes the priority. We stop speaking our truth, stop standing up for ourselves, and learn to cater to the needs of others at the exclusion of ourselves. In the retreats, we will identify ways in which our authentic self was stifled. We will address the issues that separated us from who we were born to be, and give ourselves permission to thrive as our authentic self in our adult lives. This is a core tenet of each FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreat

I can only accommodate 8 women at each retreat. This is an amazing group size as we have time to explore issues, to ask and seek answers to questions and to develop healing relationships that may last a lifetime. I look to host women who are interested in improving their present life circumstances, who are willing to take a look into their past to see what has influenced the trajectory of their lives, and who are ready to do the hard work of sorting through the myriad of situations and people, as well as their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors, that have culminated in their present reality. Each woman will experience a combination of various therapeutic interventions including talk therapy, relaxation/meditation, artistic expression, visualization, goal-setting, mindfulness, and other experiential techniques designed to heal thoughts, feelings and behaviors that do not serve them in healthy, productive ways. We focus on learning healthy coping skills to implement in all areas of life that will assist us on a daily basis as we continue our journey through life.

In addition to the many hours each day of therapeutic group interaction, each participant will benefit from the expertise of other professions to include Registered Dieticians, Exercise Specialists, and Massage Therapists.

Because many of you will opt to attend more than one of the FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats, it may seem there is a great deal of overlap in topics. I assure you, care will be given to provide a variety of options for the different therapeutic modalities. For example, relaxation techniques will be presented at all of the retreats, but I will present different relaxation skills at the different retreats. There will, of course, be some overlap. It wouldn’t hurt any of us to learn the same healthy skills on annual basis anyway! That’s a good idea… come to one of my different retreats each year!

At each and every retreat you will be invited to participate in some or all of the following activities:

·      psychoeducation presentations utilizing PowerPoint presentations

·      group sessions to process exercises completed as part of the psychoeducational component

·      virtual and/or live appearances by other professionals (registered dietician, exercise physiologist, mentors, massage therapist, yoga instructor, etc.)

·      physical exercise (outdoor walking on paved roads), swimming, yoga, stretching, resistance bands, etc.

·      journals for writing in

·      a retreat journal with PowerPoint presentations included

·      relaxation exercises

·      cooking demonstrations

·      films related to topics of retreat

·      references for further exploration of topics upon returning home

·      relaxation and free time


About the Reversing Regain FAIR and FIRM Retreat

 Two of my least favorite words when it comes to weight loss programs are “behavior modification.” Don’t get me wrong. I realize that a number of behaviors likely need to be modified in order for a person to lose weight. However, my thought is that if changing behaviors was enough to get one’s weight off and keep it off, then there would be no such thing as regain. Although behavior modifications (think “eat less, move more”) are essential to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight, for many people, they are not sufficient. And that is why I do what I do.

We all know that being able to lose weight is one thing, but keeping the weight off is quite another! So many people engage in “yo-yo dieting” and, in many cases, do so for years. I have joked about wanting to write a book called Chronic Losers to address this group of people. While that title is humorous (to me), I know it would cause an uproar among the politically correct among us. I also realize that many people who struggle with weight issues actually refer to themselves as “losers,” but are not referring to their weight when doing so. They truly feel that because they have not been able to maintain a healthy weight, they are an overall “loser,” in the 20th and 21st centuries use of the word. I never want to offend anyone and, while my intention in using the title Chronic Losers would be to utilize a bit of humor, I know some people would be hurt or offended by it. I share all of that to let you know a bit about my personality…

Regaining weight after losing some is not at all humorous. In fact, it is so much the opposite. Weight regain is frustrating, discouraging, disheartening, and downright depressing. Weight issues are complicated, like the relationship status of most people! There are so many factors that influence weight and the propensity for weight regain.

Throughout the Reversing Regain Retreat, although we enumerate what the factors are that cause weight gain and regain, we focus on those we can influence. In addition, we look back over time to help identify patterns so that we can develop plans to prevent the same old, same old.

Using a variety of therapies, the goals of the Reversing Regain FAIR and FIRM Retreat include:

·       identifying the non-medical issues that can influence behaviors that result in weight regain (self-esteem, self-talk, automatic thoughts/behaviors, the interactions between thoughts/feelings/behaviors, trauma, family of origin issues, addictions)

·      moving beyond “behavior modification” to addressing the aforementioned non-medical issues

·      learning healthy coping skills to deal with stress, a leading cause of unhealthy, mindless eating

·      learning positive self-talk to promote and encourage long-term healthy weight maintenance

·      incorporating knowledge of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors impact eating behaviors

·      utilizing breathing skills, relaxation tools, mindfulness skills, and visualization as tools to remain on a healthy eating routine every day

·      exploring and improving the relationships we have with food and with ourselves as a way of learning to use food as enjoyable fuel for our bodies

·      implementing the Gotta Do Em’s for sustaining a healthy weight

·      learning to implement Dr. Stapleton’s 4 ACES to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent weight regain

·      and MORE


About the Healing from Food Addiction FAIR and FIRM Retreat

 Addiction is a mind-body-spirit disease, one that I am afflicted with and one that I have been in recovery from since 1989. If you have a food addiction, then no traditional “diet” is ever going to be sufficient for you. Recovery requires abstinence. For most food addicts, that translates to no added sugar and no flour.

At this retreat, you will be served nutritious meals that contain no added sugar and no white or wheat flour. You’ll see that you can continue to enjoy food and not engage in those foods that result in cravings, binges and the resulting guilt and hopelessness.

It’s important to me that people do not equate the word “addict” with any sort of personal shortcoming or character flaw. Addiction is a biological disease, no different from diabetes, cancer, or obesity. We cannot “cure” these diseases, but we can, in the case of addiction, put it into remission through healthy behaviors.

 Using a variety of therapies, the goals of the Healing from Food Addiction FAIR and FIRM Retreat include:

·       learning about the disease of addiction and identifying your personal (possible) predispositions to addiction and/or circumstances leading you toward addiction

·      accepting the fact that dealing with addiction requires daily efforts

·      learning coping skills to deal with cravings, which are a part of the disease of addiction

·      learning coping skills to deal with stress, a leading cause of unhealthy, mindless eating, as healing our unhealthy habits related to food consumption are essential along with treating our addiction(s)

·      learning positive self-talk to promote and encourage a healing relationship with self, the underlying issue (as far as I’m concerned) related to the emotional/spiritual healing from addiction (which leads to physical healing)

·      incorporating knowledge of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors impact relapse, recovery, and eating behaviors

·      utilizing breathing skills, relaxation tools, mindfulness skills, and visualization as tools to remain active in recovery and healing from addictions

·      exploring and improving the relationships we have with ourselves and others to increase our experience of living fully in healing from addictions

·      implementing the Gotta Do Em’s for sustaining a healthy program of healing from addictions

·      learning to implement Dr. Stapleton’s 4 ACES to maintaining a heathy relationship with self and ongoing healing from addictions

·      and MORE

 About the Gain While You Lose FAIR and FIRM Retreat

  Weight loss, the multi-billion-dollar industry that robs millions of people of billions of dollars each year… on purpose! What?! Yes, they do. They literally set you up to lose and regain so that you’ll have to start their entire program over again. And pay for it again.

“Diets” are things people go “on” and then “off.” Typically, most people gain back whatever weight they lost “on” the diet when they go “off” the diet. That is not a surprise! It never ceases to amaze me that we fall for things like this… Honestly, I know we’re smart enough to understand the reality of these gimmicks that go like this, “Eat only this ____________ and you’ll lose weight. Usually whatever _____________ is, works! Until you stop eating _______________. I can’t help but wonder if people actually think they are going to eat nothing but cabbage soup or frozen meals or shakes and nothing else every day for the rest of their lives? If not, surely they must know they will regain every lost pound if they return to their previous eating behaviors.

So why does our society continue to waste their money in this way?

DESPERATION. At least that’s what I think. We become desperate for a quick fix to lose weight and then hope against science that this “fix” will keep weight off forever, regardless of what we do when we go “off” the diet. Magical thinking…  and your rational, adult self knows this ___________________ diet won’t sustain you for the rest of your life.

How many hundreds to thousands of YOUR dollars has the diet industry thief stolen from you? Or, in a more FIRM manner (as is my style), how many of your hard-earned dollars have you willingly given to the diet industry thieves?

In the words of Bob Newhart (, “STOP IT!” Very funny video clip, if you’re up for a good laugh!

Seriously, stop spending your money on “diets” only to regain the unwanted pounds. As many people I have worked with say, “I gained those back, and then some.” Others tell me, “The pounds I lost found me again… and they brought friends.”

GAIN While You LOSE is designed to help you:

·      gain insights as to the reasons you struggle to lose weight and then put it back on

·      gain awareness as to reasons you may subconsciously regain weight on purpose (I know, this sound preposterous)

·      learn the connection between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and gain tools for applying them to your daily life

·      discover your “Meaningful Matters” in a variety of areas of your life, primarily focusing on your relationship with food and your relationship with self.

·      learn and practice healthy, assertiveness and communication skills that will assist you in making healthy choices in all areas of life

·      understand the relationship between your emotions and food while gaining tools to let your emotions help you seek positive ways of meeting needs, other than turning to food

·      address body image issues and provide tips for accepting the good, the parts we would rather not focus on, and our whole selves

·      implementing the Gotta Do Em’s for sustaining a healthy weight

·      learning to implement Dr. Stapleton’s 4 ACES to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent weight regain

·      and MORE



 Each FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreat begins at 6 PM on a Wednesday and concludes at 1 PM on the following Sunday.

The cost of each retreat includes all food, lodging, amenities and a minimum of 25 hours of therapies provided by myself, Connie Stapleton, Ph.D., a Registered Dietitian, an Exercise Physiologist, and a number of other professionals.

The cost of each retreat is $1750 dollars.

Here are the steps for registration:

1)    Contact Kelsey at or call her at (706)364-5228. Let her know which retreat(s) you are interested in attending. She will put your name on the list in the order in which you contacted her. (HINT: If you call her, be sure to leave a voice message if you get a recording, along with the time and date that you called.)

2)    Kelsey will email you a couple of forms that you must complete and return (an application and a standardized personality assessment instrument for you to complete online).

3)    Upon receipt of the application and personality assessment, Dr. Stapleton will review the materials to make certain that the retreat you are interested in best meets your needs.

4)    Kelsey will then confirm your registration. She will also send you a copy of the Cancellation Notice.

5)    ONLY then will you be required to make a non-refundable deposit of $300. You must pay half the remaining balance 60 days prior to the retreat date. The remaining balance is due 30 days prior to the date of the retreat. You have until 30 days prior to the retreat to cancel your reservation and receive a refund of total payments, less the non-refundable initial deposit of $300.



The retreat center, a brand-new facility, is lovingly referred to as the “FFC,” standing for the “FAIR and FIRM with Connie” retreat house. The FFC sits on 5 private, wooded acres 30 miles North of downtown Atlanta. If you are driving in, you will be given specific driving directions. If you are flying into Atlanta, we will pick you up at the airport, but we may need to coordinate flights for multiple attendees!

Onsite is a 1500-squre-foot lodge-type room with a full kitchen, dining table and a gathering area for learning and sharing. A beautiful fireplace and a 75-inch screen for viewing PowerPoint presentations and welcoming virtual speakers creates a relaxing, restorative environment. Three comfortable West-End couches with lumbar support cushions make for a very comfy sitting experience. Additional pillows and blankets are available for use during the day and at night! Two rest rooms are on the main floor. Coffee, tea and water will be available at all times on the mail floor, along with sugar-free sweeteners and sugar-free syrups, as well as half and half.

There is an in-ground pool for those who opt to exercise, play and/or relax in the water (depending on the weather, of course). There is also a fire-pit where people can sit and chat. Group discussions may take place around the fire-pit, weather permitting.

A screened-in porch on the second floor overlooks the pool and the serenity of nature. This is a great place to have a private conversation, to write in your journal or to play a board game!

All beds are on the second floor. Therefore, all participants need to be able to safely and comfortably climb a full set of stairs at least one time per day. There are 8 double beds, one bed for each retreat participant. There are no single rooms. Both the “Firm” and the “Fair” rooms will accommodate two persons each. A Jack-and-Jill bathroom with two sinks, a shower, and a toilet (in the privacy of its own four walls) adjoins these two rooms for sharing.

The “Community” room is a bunk room with two sets of bunk beds (hence, the reason for calling it the Community room… although we all need a strong, supportive community in our lives). A set of regular-sized stairs gains two adventurous participants access to the top bunks. There is limited headroom for these bunks, so you would need to be able to bend over at the waist and crawl in and out of these beds. Sleeping arrangements are assigned first-come, first-served by request, so we can’t guarantee that special arrangements can be made for late registrants. Again, all beds are double size beds with double size mattresses, even the bunk beds! A full bathroom with double sinks and a walled off toilet and bathtub/shower are available for this group of four to share.

There are no price differences for any of the rooms. Everyone will be comfortable (“enough,” considering you won’t be in your own bed in your own home)! Each person will have two pillows of varying densities and firmness on their bed. Additional blankets are available for those of you who may, like me, tend to be cold at night!

Water is allowed on the upstairs level, although no other beverage and no food will be allowed on the second floor.



Following are lists of things you will want to bring and another list of things you don’t need to bring with you to the FFC retreat center.

Feel free to get in touch with Kelsey ( for any questions that you might have.

What you will need to bring:

·       COMFORTABLE CLOTHING (Dress comfortably!!!!! We are here to learn and connect with one another. This is NOT a fashion show! You will want to be as comfortable as possible as your days are going to be long! Heck – makeup is optional!)

·       A swimming suit (if you want to get in the pool)

·       Exercise wear (bike pants/tights/shorts/track pants)

·       PJs, (Whatever clothes you sleep in – and yes, sleeping attire is required! Bring slippers if you want to. Please note that the main floor has all hardwood floors, which can be slippery.)

·       Walking shoes for exercising.

·       Personal toiletries (toothbrush, hair brush, etc.) and makeup


What we will supply for you:

·       All bedding, pillows, towels, washcloths, blankets

·       Exercise equipment (swiss balls, hand weights, yoga mats)!

·       A water bottle

·       Shampoo & conditioner, hair dryer

·       Soap

·       Tissues ☺

·       A shared computer from which you can check emails


Please DO NOT bring these contraband items):

·       Alcohol (This is an ALCOHOL-FREE ZONE)

·       Tobacco (This is also a TOBACCO-FREE ZONE)

·       Non-prescription drugs

·       Foods and sweets (as well as drinks)


Please note: We request that mobile phones are not used outside of the

bedroom. This will allow you to gain greater benefit from your stay, and ensures

other participants can also spend some time away from the outside world and the

constant ringing of phones. However, if you have an emergency of some sort and

need your phone to be with you, then we request that you discuss this with us and

that it be left on silent for the convenience of others.



THANK YOU for taking the time to read this introduction to the FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats for Women. It is with humility and enthusiasm that I invite you to a remarkable experience that will enhance both our lives.   Connie


Stop Fat Shaming (yourself)

If ever there were a combined pair of words that had the bariatric world buzzing, it’s these two:

FAT SHAMING. These two words can evoke intense emotions for those who have, or who are,

suffering from the disease of obesity. Similarly, the family members and loved ones of those

who suffer from the disease of obesity are highly sensitive to the numerous varieties of “fat

shaming” that takes places in our society.


The words that come to mind when I think about the cruelty imposed on people whose physical

bodies carry excess weight include “tragic, cruel, thoughtless, ignorant and completely

unnecessary.” Of course there are many others, and I’m sure anyone who has been victimized

by this sort of bullying could supply a plethora of words to describe the anger, shame,

humiliation, sadness and dejection they experience.


Anger and disgust are two emotions that capture what I feel in reference to the fat shaming

done by others to those who are struggling with excess weight. Intense sadness is what I feel

when I hear persons who are suffering from obesity engage in fat shaming of themselves.


Much is being done to help stop the public and organizations from engaging in fat shaming.

Several national groups have major campaigns geared toward highlighting negative attitudes and

behaviors related to fat shaming. Clearly, more efforts are needed in this area and the tide

continues to move in favor of this happening.


What about the ways in which the person suffering from obesity fat shames him/herself? Every

day I hear patients shame themselves in ways that are no less critical, demeaning, tragic, or cruel

than the comments of those “others” we target in the campaigns designed to stop fat shaming.

“I’m a failure.” “I don’t believe I’m lovable.” “I hate myself.” “I’m not worth it.” “I look disgusting.”

“No one would want to be with someone like me.” “I feel filled with shame.”


While I applaud the efforts of everyone participating in putting an end to fat shaming, I would

love to see as much public and personal emphasis placed on encouraging individuals to refrain

from engaging in shaming self-talk that is often directly or indirectly related to their weight.


When strangers, family members of co-workers engage in fat-shaming comments, gestures

or behaviors, they diminish and dismiss the fact that they are referring to a human being who

has thoughts, feelings, talents and unique qualities that have nothing whatsoever to do with

their physical size. When a person suffering from obesity engages in negative self-talk that

is somehow related to their weight, they, too, diminish and dismiss so much of who they are

as a human being. So much of their goodness.


Engage in the public outcry against fat shaming. Equally as important, get and please, please

refuse to fat shame yourself. Are you upset with others who engage in fat-shaming, yet you

are actively engaging in the fat-shaming of yourself?


Use the 4 ACES to eliminate self fat-shaming:


AWARENESS: Listen to your self-talk. Become aware of when you talk negatively to yourself

about yourself, particularly if it has to do with your weight. Replace your negative thought with

a more neutral or positive self-statement.

ACCEPTANCE: Accept that it will take time (a LONG time) for you to consistently engage

in positive self-talk. Every time you say something compassionate and loving about yourself, you

are moving in the right direction!

ACCOUNTABILITY: Ask your closest friends and family members to help you become aware

of when they hear you being critical of yourself. Then take responsibility for rephrasing what you

said into something neutral or positive.

ATTITUDE: “I tried that. It didn’t work.” That’s not the attitude that will get you to where you want

to be. “I’ll work on this because I’m worth it,” is a more useful attitude!

COMMITMENT: Every. Single. Day. For the rest of your life. That kind of commitment.

EFFORT: See above. That kind of effort.

SELF: YOU. YOURself. You’re worth it.

It's NOT a "DIET"

It's NOT a "DIET"

Are you old enough to remember the movie Kindergarten Cop? Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a policeman who, on assignment, poses as a kindergarten teacher in order to catch a criminal. In the famous scene, he is in front of his class of 5-year-olds, rubbing his head. One of the kids asks, “What’s the matter?” Arnold, the cop/teacher, responds, “I have a headache.” The child, offering his wisdom, suggests, “Maybe it’s a tumor,” to which Arnold replies, “It’s NOT a TOOMAH.”

When I hear post-op patients talking about “going on a ‘diet,’” I really want to scream, “THIS ISN’T ABOUT A ‘DIET’! It’s about LIFESTYLE CHANGES!”

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