The New Year is usually a time when we make resolutions, express our hope for the future and shake off our past troubles to make a new start at whatever we want to change. But 2020 was a much different and more challenging year!! So, how should you approach THIS New Year? Should we still be optimistic?

In this podcast, you will learn:

1. What I learned from #MichaelJFox about his struggle with #optimism
2. Why it’s just as important to be realistic as it is to be optimistic.
3. What is the best New Year’s resolution you can make?


Gratitude Practice:
Homework Exercise: Thank You
1. List below areas of your life where you feel you are struggling to be grateful. (Example: My mother does lots of thoughtful things for me, but I rarely show my appreciation.)
2. In response to the list above, write specific actions you are willing to take to show your gratitude to people in the areas you listed.
3. Create a Daily Practice
Choose from the list below or make your own list of things you can do every day to practice gratitude.
• Take a few minutes at the start or end of each day to take three deep breaths— breathing in gratitude with each breath and feeling the energy of gratitude pulsing throughout your body with each beat of your heart.
• Say grace before your meals.
• Say thank you to at least five people every day for one week.
Schedule a free consult to discuss your food and body image issues:
To learn more about The Anchor Program a 12-week non-diet program offering ONLINE group and individual sessions for the treatment of binge eating, emotional eating, food addiction and compulsive overeating. Want to learn more about the Anchor Program?
Affirmation mentioned in the podcast: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Today I am grateful for all that I have and all that I am.”


Hi everyone Dr. Carolyn here. Happy new year. I hope your new year was as good as mine. I was very, very lucky to have both of my sons here. All three of us have our COVID survivors and so they traveled by car to visit me and we kept safe and were able to have a good time. I haven’t seen my older son and over a year and a half. So that was a special treat.

So today we’re going to be talking about, this is episode number 78. I can’t believe it we’re getting up there 78 and we’ll be talking about the best new year’s resolution you can make. I know all of you are familiar with new year’s resolutions, but I’m not talking about what you think I’ll be talking about. So be sure you stay tuned to find out what the best new year’s resolution you can make is.

Well, the new year is a usually a time when we make resolutions express our hope for the future and shape, shake off all our past troubles to make a new start and change whatever we want to change. We can, we can think of the new year as a fulcrum for change. It’s just an artificial time that we’ve set to kind of reevaluate things and make that change. Whether or not our new year’s resolutions come true and by the way, most of them don’t. We don’t let that bother us as we power through our lives. With the hope that just making a resolution will eventually enable it to come true. And that sort of that positive thinking that we’ve all been trained to do.

But 2020 was not your grandmother’s normal year. It was a much different and more challenging year. At least for me, I don’t know about for you. So basically how should you approach this new year? That’s my question. Because 2020 was a doozy. We experienced political strife, social unrest, and to top it all off a pandemic. Which looks like it will continue for some time and has taken the lives of so many people. Should we still hold on to the rituals of even making resolutions? Should we even still be optimistic? I mean, I know many of my patients that I work with in the anchor program have struggled with being optimistic and looking towards the future because it just seems like. We’ve been so beaten down in 2020, but I recently listened to a podcast interview with Mike, the actor, Michael J. Fox, which was on NPRs fresh air podcast. I don’t know if you guys remember Michael J. Fox, but he was in back to the future, a bunch of other movies and TV shows and more recently he was on the good wife and, um, has made cameo appearances on other TV shows. Well, he has now had Parkinson’s disease for 30 years. I don’t know where those 30 years went, because I remember him coming out and revealing that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which everyone was shocked about because he was really young when he was diagnosed. But on the podcast, he talked about something that really caught my, my eye and that is what he has learned from having Parkinson’s. So what he said, and that, honestly, this is not a direct quote. Cause I was, you know, on my walk, when I was listening to the podcast, I didn’t have pen and paper to write it down. But he said that even after his diagnosis, he always try to present an optimistic spin on his life. Always trying to see the positive side and always trying to present the positive side, be a role model for other individuals struggling with Parkinson’s disease. But after he had a recent really serious medical issue, he hit bottom and he realized that he needed to turn. I’m sorry. He needed to learn to be an optimist and a realist at the same time. So let me say that again. He would always be an optimist, everything’s going to be okay and then he realized in the depths of his despair when he hit bottom with this new medical issue that he needed to learn to be an optimist and a realist at the same time. So for him, this meant no longer always painting a rosy picture. In other words, that everything will be okay. Kind of approach. Rather, he had insight that this was not sustainable because honestly, let’s face it, we should know by now after 2020, that things really don’t always get better and that can lead to disappointment and also feeling like a failure. So he was able to see that one of the things, I think this was his biggest insight that caught my attention was that the glue between being an optimist and a realist, the connection is having gratitude.

Having gratitude is essential to being able to sustain optimism and hope no matter what your situation is. So the glue between optimism and realism is gratitude. So I know it was interesting when I heard this podcast because I had had a lengthy conversation with one of the people that I work with in the Anchor Program, who said that she was a big believer that, uh, she needed to always present kind of a happy face and everything’s going to be okay and positive thinking. And I think this is, I think the positive thinking is like putting lipstick on a pig as we used to say on the south. But when you can join optimism with realism, that become with gratitude, joined them through gratitude that becomes more sustainable. So when you’re only optimistic, it’s like saying, you know, I’m angry, but I’m going to pretend I’m not angry and maybe that anger will go away. Well, it’s difficult to submerge your feelings. It’s difficult to hold your feelings back and what you end up doing to hold your feelings back is what? Think about it for a moment. How do you keep your emotions from popping up and out? Mostly through food, right? So you feel angry, you binge you feel sad, you binge you’re happy emotions are too overwhelming, you binge or emotionally stress is getting to you, you stress eat.

So, you know, I, I always say emotions cannot be denied. Your emotions cannot be denied. And when you are always practicing to be positive, to be “optimistic”, what you’re doing is suppressing those emotions and in order to suppress them. It’s not easy to do. You have to use something like food or substances or compulsive exercise or a fill in the blank. You have to come up with something because the natural course of things is for emotions to be expressed. So basically, we’re talking about how to sustain optimism and yet be aware of what’s real. So if you’re only focused on optimism, you’re pretending that other stuff isn’t happening. Like we didn’t have a pandemic. Everything’s fine. It’s going to be okay. Et cetera. And, and I know that’s, uh, I don’t want to get into politics, but you know, we did have a pandemic. I was one of the victims of COVID-19 and I’m still recovering. So I can honestly say from personal and professional experience, I have more and more patients now who are having family members who are getting sick during the surge and so on.

So when we look at 2020, you may feel like, what do you even have to be grateful for? So this, this year, has been a struggle and maybe you struggled to find something to be grateful for. So give yourself a break, give yourself some grace and don’t expect big, huge accomplishments for 2020. This was a tough year for everyone. Our entire country, the entire world has experienced things that none of us have experienced before. With the exception of, you know, the, the, a few people who are over a hundred who were alive during the Spanish flu. So just it’s important now, to instead of trying to make these big grand new year’s resolutions to look for small things, to be grateful for small things you appreciate. If you’ve been struggling with binge-eating food addiction or emotional eating, maybe you didn’t meet your goals of 2020 to stop bingeing or start working out, but maybe you were able to make some small changes, like not eating at McDonald’s every day. Like, you know, getting more rest, drinking more water, all of those things contribute to your long-term journey to recovery.

So you may think that the whole notion of practicing gratitude is a woo new agey thing. But what you may not know, there’s lots of reasons search about gratitude and it’s links to overall wellbeing. So for example, in research studies, the practice of gratitude is associated with feeling better about your life, feeling more optimistic, people who are, who practice gratitude they also exercise more and have fewer medical problems. Gratitude can also contribute to feeling happier and having better social relationships. If you are a grateful person, someone who sees gratitude as a permanent part of your personality, rather than just a temporary state of mind, you’ll also be more likely to take better care of yourself and engage in healthy behaviors, such as more physical activity, eating a healthy diet and getting regular medical checkups, just being able to feel gratitude, even in the midst of trying or stressful times can help you cope better with stress. So it’s, it’s actually can be used as a stress management tool to practice gratitude. So some studies showed, for example, after September 11th, the terrorist attacks, there’s a marked increase in feelings of gratitude, even in the face of tremendous tragedy tragedy. Gratitude helped offer a buffer for people against the negative effects of all the trauma, making those who experienced gratitude, even less likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. So gratitude felt internally can certainly improve your overall wellbeing. But it’s kind of like, there’s this saying by a guy who says feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it away, that’s from William Arthur Ward. So wrapping a present, but not giving it away. So what are the ways in which you might want to express or cultivate gratitude? Well, before we get to specifics, I just want to talk a little bit about something that is linked to gratitude. And when your life is a reflection of what you value most, what you love, you’re more likely to be living a life that you’re grateful for. So many times we violate our values, you know, I, I know in my work with people with addictions, they may have a value to respect people and that they’re in relationship with. But then when they are drinking. They may rage or abused people in their lives. And that violates their values, which creates a sense of dissonance between that their values and their actions. While it may be difficult to think about things that you’re grateful for. If you’ve had this tough year, which most of us have, it’s important to look at how the events of 2020 helped you to tend what you value. So, what are your values and how are you tending them. For me, my lengthy recovery from COVID-19, which I had in March. And I’m only now nine months later, getting better from forced me to reevaluate my pension for, you know, pushing myself so hard, being a workaholic. I really had no choice, but to rest because I was too exhausted from the virus to do anything else. I had no choice, but to work less, to manage my stress better. And because I also value my family relationships, I’ve had to double down on spending time with family members, my sisters in particular, who were my main support and being more available to them and also accepting their support while I was ill. So I’m really grateful for them and for grateful for my recovering health as well.

So if you value, for example, spending time with your kids, the pandemic may have enabled you to tend what you value because many kids have been at home due to the school closings, and often in the beginning, it doesn’t look like. It’s going to be something be grateful for, but I’ve heard many parents who are patients or who work with me in the anchor program talk about how this has changed their relationship with their children for the better. You may also value being appreciated at your job and ended up being laid off from a job where you weren’t being appreciated or valued. And then we’re able to find a better job or make a career change or go back to school. I’ve also heard that. So I’m not making this up. These are from real people’s real experiences and these experiences may not have seemed fortuitous in the moment, but maybe looking back, you can see aspects of them you’re grateful for.

So I just wanted to give you an exercise to help you understand how you can cultivate gratitude. I mean, there are a number of opportunities for gratitude. So I’ll give you some potential examples that might trigger you to think about where you have opportunities to cultivate gratitude. And so write down some of the things that occur to you that maybe you haven’t paid attention to during all the stress of the last year, but now you want to do something about, so maybe they’re things your parents have done that helped you that last year. Maybe someone opened a door for you recently, uh, perhaps your spouse or partner had stunned, something for you or for the family that you were too busy to appreciate at the time, maybe you experienced an act of kindness from a stranger, even. Maybe there were times when you got emotional support from a friend or a coworker, perhaps you had unexpected contributions of money, time or support that helped you over the last year. Maybe they’re just things in nature. You’re grateful for. You know, I remember after being isolated in the house during the quarantine and honestly not leaving my house for days on end, I walked to get it to go grocery shopping and saw that my roses had bloomed and I was just struck with the beauty of being outside of my house in the sunshine that day and looking at a beautiful rose, maybe have pets you’re grateful for. That’s a good one. I think.

So I also want to just talk about an exercise, I call the “thank you exercise” to do this you, you need to have a piece of paper and a pen. But if you’re listening in the car or while you’re walking or on the treadmill or whatever, just think about the answers and then if you choose, you can write them down later. So lists below areas of your life, where you feel you are struggling to be grateful. For example, your partner does a lot of thoughtful things for you, but you rarely show them any appreciation. So think of areas in your life where you feel you’re struggling to be grateful in response to that list, write down some specific actions you’re willing to take, to show your gratitude to people in the areas you’ve listed. So you remember you’re listing things, your areas where you’re struggling and be grateful. Or people you’re struggling to be grateful for. And in response, write down a specific action you’re willing to take to change that now, again, this is not meant to be a, yet another to do list that makes you feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Just think tiny things you can do, text them with the happy face emoji, uh, give someone you haven’t talked to in a wall wall call, you know, tiny things you can do. Okay. So that’s one area which is looking at things you may have overlooked and then correcting that by showing gratitude.

And the next part is about developing a daily practice of gratitude. So here are some things you can do. I’ll give you some examples, but you can also come up with your own examples. So one example is. Take a few minutes at the start or end of each day to take three deep breaths breathing in gratitude with each breath and feeling the energy of gratitude pulsing through your body with each beat of your heart. So that would take what all of three minutes. So plenty of time to do that. So three deep breaths, you breathe in gratitude with each breath. And as you, as you do feel the energy of gratitude pulsing through your body with each beat of your heart, uh, you can say grace before meals, or do an inspirational reading before meals say thank you to three people every day for a week. Write a thank you note for something special someone has done for you, or thank you text, write down three things you’re grateful for before bedtime. Do this for a month, make a drawing of all the things in your life you already have and are grateful for. We often focus on things we don’t have things we need without focusing on the things we do have. And then in particular, if you’re struggling with food and body image issues, find one thing each day that you’re grateful to your body for doing for you, like grateful to your legs for taking you up that long flight of stairs, grateful to your heart for its constant beating, grateful to your space for being able to smile. I don’t know, just make something up that you’re grateful for, to your body. So that’s, that’s just another way of enabling you to, first of all, become more aware of things that you can be grateful for. And second of all, practice gratitude on a regular basis. S

o, you know, if you are binge-eating are struggling with food addiction or emotional eating, and that’s gotten worse during 2020, or you gained the COVID 15 or the COVID 30, you’re not alone. It takes a lot of support to heal from food and body image issues. But if you’re ready to take a realistic step towards true recovery, versus the usual quote, unquote optimistic new year’s diet. Then you can set up a pre-consult to discuss your own food and body image issues. I’ll put the link to scheduling that free consult appointment in the show notes. So just click on that link and schedule the appointment. And I just want to remind you about the anchor program, which is ongoing it’s a 12-week intensive followed by a six month program, it’s a non-diet program that, and everything is online, online curriculum and online groups, um, and also some individual sessions and it’s for the treatment of binge eating, emotional eating food addiction, and compulsive overeating. So I’ll also put a link to find out more about the anchor program in the show notes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the podcast. I hope you will be able to spend some time reflecting on using gratitude to sustain and maintain your optimism while also staying realistic. This is Dr. Carolyn signing off until next time. Thank you for listening.

Hi all. Well, I hope you enjoyed my spin on new year’s resolutions. I wanted to give you an affirmation for the week, which I’ll also include in the show notes. So don’t feel like you have to get in an accident trying to write it down or pull to the side of the road. But the affirmation is gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Today I’m grateful for all that I have and all that I am. So that’s the affirmation for the week. Uh, when you, uh, have a chance, you can look in the show notes and it’ll be listed right there. Gratitude, unlocks the fullness of life today. I am grateful for all that I have and all that I am. So that could be part of a daily practice that just reciting that affirmation every day for a week. Sometimes I put this kind of thing in my phone with the, you know, in the. Or you can put an all day, uh, thing in your calendar and have, uh, an alert so that at 9:00 AM it just alerts me to remind me to say the affirmation. So keep that in mind. And, uh, next week we’ll be talking about a very interesting topic, the ultimate guide to ending food cravings. I know a lot of people that I work with in the anchor program really struggle with food cravings and how to get rid of them. So I’m going to give you the ultimate guide for ending food cravings.

So stay tuned for the podcast and I will be talking to you soon. Be sure leave us a testimonial about what you like about the podcast so we can get more listeners. If you like this particular podcast or another one, please share it with your friends, family and whoever else. Okay. All right. This is Dr. Carolyn I’ll talk to you next time.