July 18, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Ask the Therapist

Irene Rubaum-Keller

Irene Rubaum-Keller is a licensed psychotherapist who has practiced on
the Westside for over 20 years. She specializes in treating people with
eating/weight/body image issues as well as motherless daughters. In
addition to her private practice, Irene has been on staff at UCLA’s
Risk Factor Obesity clinic for the past 15 years where she works with
some of the most esteemed leaders in the field of obesity research and
treatment. She has published numerous articles in professional journals
and for the popular media and currently writes a weekly weight loss
blog for The Huffington Post. Her television appearances as an expert
guest include:
World News Tonight, Penn and Teller’s Showtime Original
Series,
9 on the Town, UPN, KTLA and NBC news.

Dear Irene,
I find myself getting more and more annoyed with the traffic.  It takes forever to get from one side of the 405 to the other.  I also constantly notice people breaking the traffic laws and wonder where the cops are.
 
The newest thing that is making me crazy is how people will not pull up behind the car in front of them anymore.  When there is a stop light these bozos are leaving car lengths in front of them.  Why???? Why???
 
These little annoyances build up and I find myself being short with people when I arrive at my destination.  What can I do?
 
Mr. Road Rage
 
Dear Mr. Road Rage,
This is a good place to use the “two week rule†.  What is that you ask?  The two week rule was taught to me by a very wise man and it goes like this:  If something is going to piss me off in two weeks, then I’ll let it piss me off now.  If in two weeks, I will barely even remember it, then I refuse to let it bother me now.
 
When applied to little traffic annoyances they aren’t worth letting them piss you off now.  So how can you deal with it when people behave badly in traffic?  I choose to take the Margaret Mead approach.  Remember her?  She was a famous anthropologist who went into cultures, like the Pygmies in Africa, and studied them.  She didn’t engage, she observed.  When we put our cars on we behave in ways we never would if we were walking down the street or standing in line.  I picture my pith helmet, imagine my steno pad and observe the bizarre human behavior of people in their cars.  Then I imagine them doing what they just did on foot.  It makes me laugh and puts some distance between me and the situation.

Enjoy the Ride.

Dear Irene,
I am an emotional eater.  I eat when I’m upset, happy, frustrated, etc…  I am also 100 lbs. overweight and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to lose weight.  Help!!
 
Dumpy

Dear Dumpy,
You are better off than you might think.  First of all, when I ask most people who come to me for emotional eating and/or weight loss help, why they are overweight, the most common answer is, “I don’t know.†  What this means is, “I am not paying attention to what I eat, how much, how many calories and if I exercise or not.†  The next most common answer is, “It must be genetic because I don’t eat that much and I weigh this much.â€
 
So the fact that you are already aware that you are an emotional eater and exactly how overweight you are means you are paying attention.  That is good.  I suggest you pay even more attention by keeping a log of everything you put into your mouth that has calories.  Write down the food, how much and how many calories.  This can be a big wake up call.  You will learn how many calories a day you are taking in and where those calories are coming from.
 
The next step is to identify what it is you really need if you are turning to food when you are not hungry.  If you can identify the need, you are better able to fill it.  For example, if you realize you are not hungry but want to eat because you are lonely, then maybe you could call a friend or go to a Starbucks and be around people instead of eat.
 
If you are unable to do it alone I highly recommend getting some help.  You need new coping skills and therapy is an excellent place to learn them.
 
Take Care and Good Luck.

Have a question for The Therapist? Send it to Letters to the Editor via www.westsidetoday.wpengine.com/contact.html and place “Ask the Therapist†in the comments section.

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