Worlds Best Rehab

Compulsive Exercise & Eating Disorders with Ali Silver

May 06, 2020 Worlds Best Rehab Season 2 Episode 1
Worlds Best Rehab
Compulsive Exercise & Eating Disorders with Ali Silver
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Worlds Best Rehab
Compulsive Exercise & Eating Disorders with Ali Silver
May 06, 2020 Season 2 Episode 1
Worlds Best Rehab

Compulsive Exercise and Eating Disorders

Host Alexander Bentley with guest, Ali Silver.

I'm here today with Ali Silver, one of the top qualified eating disorder practitioners in Europe and also an intuitive eating coach. Ali speaks regularly at schools in the UK, in Europe about body image. And he's also the founding director of the Bridge Marbella, which is a specialist treatment center in the South of Spain.

Exercising can be a great way to boost both your physical and mental health, whether it’s taking a jog around the neighbourhood, going for a swim, or lifting weights in the gym. But even though the benefits of exercise are well known, there is a problem known as exercise addiction that occurs when people become obsessed with working out — often with adverse consequences.

Even though exercise is designed to improve your overall wellbeing, exercise addiction can actually produce the opposite effect and increase the risk of hurting your body and mind.

Compulsive exercise is not a recognized clinical diagnosis in DSM-5, but many people struggle with symptoms associated with this term. If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s relationship with exercise, it’s advisable to consult with a treatment professional.

Our brain has nine areas which body image is processed through. And it's not just about our environment. It's also about our brain chemistry. There's so much in body image which makes it hard to tackle. Body ideals have changed, but it's still a body ideal to look up to and to change ourselves. 

According to Ali Silver, expert in Eating Disorders and body image “Exercise addiction often doesn’t exist in isolation – it is 4 times more common among people with eating disorders. Compulsive overexercising is seen as another way to purge: compensating for perceived over-eating. Those with body dysmorphic disorder engage with over exercising as a way of exerting control of their body. Having negative body image is a significant risk factor in developing an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder; as well as being a primary cause for relapse or delayed recovery.

There is very little enjoyment in exercise for those with this addiction: the enjoyment comes from the perceived control it gives them and the ‘high’ – much like bulimic behaviors in eating disorders as well as other addictions.”




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Show Notes Transcript

Compulsive Exercise and Eating Disorders

Host Alexander Bentley with guest, Ali Silver.

I'm here today with Ali Silver, one of the top qualified eating disorder practitioners in Europe and also an intuitive eating coach. Ali speaks regularly at schools in the UK, in Europe about body image. And he's also the founding director of the Bridge Marbella, which is a specialist treatment center in the South of Spain.

Exercising can be a great way to boost both your physical and mental health, whether it’s taking a jog around the neighbourhood, going for a swim, or lifting weights in the gym. But even though the benefits of exercise are well known, there is a problem known as exercise addiction that occurs when people become obsessed with working out — often with adverse consequences.

Even though exercise is designed to improve your overall wellbeing, exercise addiction can actually produce the opposite effect and increase the risk of hurting your body and mind.

Compulsive exercise is not a recognized clinical diagnosis in DSM-5, but many people struggle with symptoms associated with this term. If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s relationship with exercise, it’s advisable to consult with a treatment professional.

Our brain has nine areas which body image is processed through. And it's not just about our environment. It's also about our brain chemistry. There's so much in body image which makes it hard to tackle. Body ideals have changed, but it's still a body ideal to look up to and to change ourselves. 

According to Ali Silver, expert in Eating Disorders and body image “Exercise addiction often doesn’t exist in isolation – it is 4 times more common among people with eating disorders. Compulsive overexercising is seen as another way to purge: compensating for perceived over-eating. Those with body dysmorphic disorder engage with over exercising as a way of exerting control of their body. Having negative body image is a significant risk factor in developing an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder; as well as being a primary cause for relapse or delayed recovery.

There is very little enjoyment in exercise for those with this addiction: the enjoyment comes from the perceived control it gives them and the ‘high’ – much like bulimic behaviors in eating disorders as well as other addictions.”




Support the show (https://worldsbest.rehab)

Alexander Bentley :

Welcome to luxury wellness with Alexander Bentley. I'm here today with Allie silver, one of the top qualified eating disorder practitioners in Europe and also an intuitive eating coach now and he speaks regularly In the UK, in Europe about body image, and he's also the founding director of the bridge modifier, which is a specialist Treatment Center in the south of Spain. Hi, Ali, and welcome.

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

Hi, thank you for having me. Oh my god, that was quite an introduction. Who else can hear this? This sounds great.

Alexander Bentley :

I'm so pleased that you're on the you're on the show today. I know that you've got a lot of a lot of deep specialist knowledge in the area of body image and body dysmorphia, which is something I know that our listeners are really, really interested in hearing a little bit more about because we've been hearing a lot in the media I think about over exercise, and it's hailed as a good thing. You know, staying in shape getting fit healthier, warding off depression and anxiety as well. And even in so much as getting that endorphin hit is generally seen as a good thing and and to an extent Maybe in the 1980s hauled away, even being addicted to this hit is is generally seen in a positive light by, by by the media.

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

Mm hmm. It's really true. I think it's, you're right about the hit of exercise is seen as a badge of honor. And not something that needs to be worried about. I think now, especially when, you know, health has become really much more associated with a look and a body size. People often turn to exercise as it's one way that they can exert some control over how they look or They feel like it does anyway.

Alexander Bentley :

And in terms of I think that's especially interesting. I mean, have you have you seen maybe over the last especially over the last kind of five years, since that kind of body image was always it was always it was always in the news. I think over the last kind of five years, maybe even more, we've had the kind of instant generation as well. And personally, even even in my lifetime, I've seen them the idea of of what is a good body changed so much from from being super super slim, right, though it worked their way through to potentially now not not being quite so so thin as well.

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

I think body image has always been an issue. I think it's just, you know, it's such a difficult subject to talk about because often when people express concerns over how they look or or that they have body issues. Worry is it seen as you know, maybe that being vain or people are quite flippant about it because they think it's, they're just thinking about their appearance. But it's really a complicated issue it our brain has nine areas which body image is processed through. And it's not just about our environment, it's also about, yeah, it's about our brain chemistry. There's so much in body image, which makes it hard to tackle. And you're totally right. Our body ideals have changed over the last few years. But it's still a body ideal to look up to and to change ourselves. I think that's the point is that no one is feeling like they are okay as they are. No one even with the body that is, you know, the hot body at the moment. No one who maybe has it thinks, Oh, yeah, great, now I'm safe. It's always kind of living in fear or trying to get to that body or to kind of feel accepted. or accept themselves. So yes, I do think I also think people feel like they have more control over their health, or it's something that people want to exert more control over. Especially when you know, the world is quite a chaotic place, not just now in quarantine and with Coronavirus, but in general, it's quite chaotic, and people don't really have as much control over their lives as they would like, the exercise and food is one way that they can, you know, make sure they're juggling the plates that they want to juggle.

Alexander Bentley :

Oh, Crikey, absolutely. It's some. I think what I found really interesting was you spoke about it having existing in nine separate areas of the brain. So I guess it's it's really is the embodiment of, of self in its in its truest sense. And I guess it's it's, it must be frustrating sometimes from frustrating or interesting for your point of view. That that that perception of self is, as you say, it's always kind of negative, there's always something to look up to. There's always something else to do. Perfection is something that's never, that never actually seems to be achieved.

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

Exactly. It's so true. And, you know, working with body image, I mean, you're up against it. Because, you know, body image is not a consistent thing throughout the day, often people come to me and they say, you know, they often don't say, hey, I want my body image to be better. But when we start talking about it, and I say, look, we can work on this stuff. I think people expect it to be you know, you work on it, you fix it, and then tick that's done. But body image even changes throughout the day and a healthy person, I'm sure you can identify with waking up, feeling good. And then maybe like seeing yourself in a distorted mirror and instantly your perception, your feelings and your behavior the rest of the day might change. Maybe you can't Oh, Don't fight with down, but most women probably good. So you know, body image is not constant. And it's influenced by thoughts. It's influenced by feelings by people by behavior by memories, by photos. You know, that's just one of the pieces about it. So it's really, it's a really hard thing to tackle. And you, you have to put a lot of work on a daily basis into it. It's not easy.

Alexander Bentley :

Yeah. And I think what's interesting is that we started off speaking about overexercise, but, you know, the same as the same as many things, the more kind of layers of the onion that we that we peel away. I guess the overexercise is simply the the manifestation of what

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

I think so. I think often, you know, exercise addiction doesn't appear in isolation. And, you know, I'm sure you know, there are many cases where it does, but I think there's there's so much which lies with eating disorders and other addictions. Yes, the The chemical influence but as well as you know, the the need for control and perfectionism and the preoccupation with shape and weight. And it's, but you know, it's also not clear which comes first. Is it over exercising? Or does the exercise become one of the rules of an eating disorder?

Alexander Bentley :

It's very such a such a complex. Such it's such a complex subject once you once you really dive in. And you you mentioned a lot about control and control around what's going on around food control and eating control around image. What are the what are the what are the warning signs Do you think so to look out for whether whether whether you're looking at yourself or perhaps someone that you love, or maybe your teenager or your child even? What should people be watching? Yeah, out for

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

such a great question. I often get asked this when I go to schools, especially with the teachers on my path. And as well as what you know, how soon Should I get treatment? Or, you know, when should I ask for help? Like any illness, the sooner someone gets someone with an eating disorders treated, the more likely that recovery is, but things to really look out for. If it's yourself that you're questioning, I think you have to be rigorously honest. Because, you know, addiction, eating disorders, they are highly manipulative and super secretive, super secretive. So but warning signs would be, you know, increasing obsession around food, maybe specific changes to diet. They might be under the guise of health or you know, certain allergies or intolerances and any behavior changes. It's hard to say like an exact thing because obviously with teenagers, they're pretty turbulent anyway, I guess I was, yeah. Increasing body image concerns Maybe a lot of negative self talk about their body or other people's bodies, you know, dissatisfaction and negative talk around people around us often reflect something that's kind of not right inside.

Alexander Bentley :

could it be that it manifests through around them around food. For example, not just eating or not eating but maybe a preoccupation with cooking food, reading about food, preparing food, preparing food for other people, perhaps

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

100% just a preoccupation with food you know, many people with a common misconception around people with anorexia is that you know, they're not hungry or not interested in food is the total opposite they're absolutely consumed and obsessed. Many will pour over cooking books, Instagram accounts with food, you know, they'll they would love to spend all day in the kitchen preparing it for others, but will any of that food actually touch their lips.

Alexander Bentley :

Crikey. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. And even even, you know, I think it's such a, it's such a common, such a common thing. I mean, even thinking back to people I've known in the past or, or even people from my childhood, you know, once you start to learn those signs, it becomes apparent how widespread it is.

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

It is and sort of, I wouldn't say acceptable because, you know, people don't like to think that they make mental illness acceptable, but you know, looking at being careful, quote, unquote, with food, and you know, looking after one's health is really seen as a positive thing. But it's kind of where is it too far? How much of this how much it's Sorry? How much a bit like mental time is this taking up? How emotionally attached are they to this way of life? You know, if they happen to, you know, fall off track, so to speak, would that be you know, Would they punish themselves? Or would it just be you know, such as life and move on? And I think that's really the difference.

Alexander Bentley :

And I know a lot of I know a lot of people out there listening will be able to either identify with this or have someone that they know that they can identify these characteristics in. So what, what's the what's the what's the next step? How do you even begin to, to treat it or address it or raise it as a concern? I guess it's very, a very difficult topic to even reach with somebody. What's your what's your recommendation around that? What's your what's your sort of best recommendation?

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

It's really hard to admit you have a problem and it's hard to confront people as well. I think, with eating disorders, I often tell people you know, it's such a, an ambivalent illness, you know, the more ill you are, the less likely you want help or the less you want help. And so if you're going to confront It's best to acknowledge that you see what they're doing. And not that you're going to try and make them stop or, or ignore it, but you see what they're doing. And I think that confrontation, it leaves the power with the individual rather than protesting and saying, no, that's not right. Or them even feeling quite pleased with the fact that they may have lost weight, for example, then actually, they're left with these feelings and, you know, encourage them to talk to someone. I know that's easier said than done. But there are so many resources and going to your GP and, you know, explaining, picking up the phone, you know, there are so many helplines, lots of resources for people. I think those who need physical and medical help, they need to be in inpatient treatment.

Alexander Bentley :

What does what does residential treatment look like for for eating disorder, body dysmorphia? What What would people expect? And how does the treatment kind of play out over over the course of time?

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

we take all people who are physically stable, we if they need medical help, we'd like them to have You know, completed that first stage of treatment or if they don't need it, then that's totally, you know, they can come and be with us. We are a small facility. So we take maybe maximum eight people, because we really want to foster that made that family unit, you know, connection is everything. So if they can make a bond, a close connection and community here, then they can maybe go on to replicate that in their real life when maybe they weren't relying on people outside. So at the bridge, our mornings are structured around therapy. We really believe in the power of group, you know, it's so much it's so powerful to hear a comrade saying, the things that you identify with, rather than, you know, being spoken to just solely by a therapist or someone in perceived power Therapy one to ones we work with CBT You know, a lot, there's no one way to recovery, I learned that the other founders of the bridge also have by experience, you know, there's many ways to help someone recover. But what we really want to focus on is helping them to communicate, giving them power. So we really believe in educating people about their illness, you know, knowledge is power, when you can come to grips with what you're dealing with, you know, name the monster in the room, you can then take the next steps, you know, you can't live in the dark, but we want people to not just rely on not rely, ignore that. We don't want people to think of themselves as you know, I have this and this is me, identified by that. We want them to leave the bridge and be able to have the happy, free life that they deserve without this monster on their back. So we have workshops on recovery. We do workshops on Noticing triggers and specifically with eating disordered clients, and we focus a lot on body image work and nutritional interventions. So, yes, many might be quite preoccupied with nutrition. But a lot of the time, they have so many chemical imbalances from the way they've been eating, you know, a lack of food or, you know, disorders such as binge eating or bulimia, the biochemistry is really, it's chaotic, and a lot of the time before they can think clearly and go on to the cognitive side of things that will needs to be rebalanced.

Alexander Bentley :

That's wonderful. It's there's such there's such a lot to such a lot to think about and, and take on board. I mean, I know that you guys over the bridge have really, really focused on taking that long term recovery approach. You know, as As you know, it sounds a bit cliche, but yeah, as as long as it takes to foster that long term, that or even some people use the word, remission, you know, in case it, you know, for cases where you'll never never necessarily be 100% free, but you know, it can be a remission for the rest of your life.

Ali Silver, The Bridge Marbella :

It takes vigilance a lot of the time, you know, it's not an it's not you can't cross it off the list. I often think that is one fully recovered people, you know, have their own opinions on what they like to label themselves. But I think it's always a work in progress. There are always so many levels to recovery. And I think that's what's great about the bridge is that whatever stage you are, there is a place for you. With there's always more work to be done. And there's always ways that you can then help it you know, say you've been here a few weeks, there's ways that you can go on to help someone who's new and pass on the message.

Alexander Bentley :

Fantastic. Well Thank you so much for your time today. I know you're I know, I know, I know, I know, you're, I know, you're busy. I know you've, you've got you've got so much on juggling so many, so many things at the moment. And I know you're also getting involved in an element of, of remote therapy so that if anybody has any Yeah. And if anybody wants to connect with you, remotely, or if someone they worried about have one of their children, I know that they can get in touch with you at https://alisilver.co.uk Transcribed by https://otter.ai