Fat mass v body weight? Explanations welcome

This is an excellent example of why your weight should be only part of how you gauge your progress. She noticed a 3% drop in body fat (that’s significant!) but because the scale shows her having gained a pound, she wasn’t celebrating the 3% not-fat (muscle!) gain that this number reflects. That is a huge win this week!

the fat girl in the gym

Today I should hang my head in shame. I managed to fall off of the diet wagon in spectacular fashion. I had another awful week of job hunting and yet another disastrous jump on the scales where I have actually GAINED a pound even after strictly eating clean

Sooo.. I was feeling completely disillusioned and I was due to go on a girlie cinema trip (magic mike, of course) I managed to eat a hotdog, nachos and a large Ben n jerrys core sundae as well as two glasses of wine ūüėß maybe a little overkill on the comfort food. Jumped straight back on the wagon on Saturday but I think the evil contraption in the bathroom will make me suffer.

I’ve been to the gym everyday and I’m starting to lift heavier weights and the squats are making my quads visible but that’s about it. I might have a…

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Your Therapist is Not Your Friend (and 4 other things you need to know about ethically sound counseling)

I read recently about a couple of therapists in the town next to mine who were arrested for insurance fraud for bilking the Medicaid system. They got caught in part because they were bragging that they had found a way to¬†“get paid for work they hadn’t performed,” namely billing for sessions that didn’t occur, and using the licensed provider’s credentials to bill for work that an unlicensed social worker performed. One of the many charges they are facing is “defrauding a public community,” a class-B felony. Since reading about this story, it’s weighed heavily on my mind. You see, as therapists, whether we like it or not, we are held to a much higher standard of behavior in the community than folks working in many other professions. And there are important reasons for that. As professionals who create space for people to share their most closely held, often shameful secrets, we, simply, must be trustworthy. If your therapist (or a therapist you see on the news) is defrauding the system, engaging in inappropriate relationships, lying, cheating, or otherwise behaving badly, how can you trust that person? Some might ask how can anyone trust any therapist? I’ve had two conversations this week that further disturbed me and led me to write this post – one with a person who described a long history of feeling emotionally abused by healthcare providers, and another who quit therapy after finding that her therapist wouldn’t entertain the idea of being friends outside of therapy. It made me wonder what people think ethical therapy is, and if perhaps a little bit of education is in order. I’m curious what you think – feel free to let me know in the comments. In the meantime, here’s a primer on ethical counseling.

no friends

1. Your therapist is not and cannot be your friend, love interest, exercise buddy, financial advisor, babysitter, travel companion, or, as you might have guessed, anything but your therapist.¬†Any relationship outside of therapy is considered to be a “dual relationship,” and is ethically forbidden. In order for us to do our best work, we have to have some space from your life. It helps us to maintain objectivity. There are also power dynamics in the therapist-client relationship that are all too easily (and too often) exploited. Having very clear boundaries is incredibly important to being able to help you, and to avoid exploiting our clients for our own emotional or financial gain. It doesn’t mean we don’t like you. We do. We just can’t be your friend.


2. You shouldn’t know a whole lot about your therapist. In the same vein, your therapist should be mostly a mystery to you. Small talk happens, of course, and if it seems appropriate or if asked directly, I’ll share my marital status or that I have children, etc. But I try very hard to not use situations in my own life as examples, or as a way to connect with my clients. Therapists need to be somewhat of a blank canvas on which you can try out and expose¬†your hopes, dreams, fears, and shame. This is why a good therapist often will, when presented with a personal question, ask you why you want to know, what the answer would mean to you, etc. We’re not being cagey or coy. Essentially it’s more helpful for you to be discussing you than it is to be discussing me. I know sometimes this can feel uncaring, but believe me, we care about you very much and yet are modeling good boundaries. We have to. That’s part of ethical counseling.


3. Your therapist should hold up her end of the bargain in any and every way possible. This means calling you back when she says she will, explaining and acting on her policies, staying awake during sessions (the #1 complaint I hear about ex-therapists is that they fell asleep on the client), and showing up for sessions. This may also mean things like charging you for late cancellations, ending sessions on time, reflecting back to¬†you things that might be uncomfortable to hear, and refusing to meet several times per week, for example. All of this boundary-setting is necessary in order to provide you with the best counseling possible, and to avoid misunderstandings and ethical pitfalls. If you’re ever wondering if your therapist¬†is setting boundaries because she doesn’t like you, ASK. Have a discussion about the therapist’s policies. Good therapists apply the same policies uniformly and don’t play favorites.


4. Your therapist should behave ethically when it comes to¬†money. He shouldn’t bill insurance fraudulently (that’s a given), but also should give you plenty of notice before raising his rates, and communicate clearly about money issues, including not allowing you to carry an unmanageable balance on your account, resolving money issues with compassion and clarity, and sending out clear billing statements.


5. Your therapist sometimes can and should refer you to someone else. This can sometimes feel like abandonment, and as a therapist, I typically don’t enjoy the process. But the truth is that I can’t help everyone. It doesn’t mean that the people I refer out are “worse” or “sicker” than others; it simply means that the issues they are bringing to counseling aren’t within the scope of practice that I feel comfortable providing. As a therapist who works with individuals, and is transitioning to health coaching, I will often refer people with issues far outside that scope, and, as my practice is only for individuals, I will always refer couples and families. Sometimes it’s apparent at the first phone contact that I’m not a good fit, but sometimes it takes time (or perhaps your circumstances change) and it’s a parting that occurs after we get to know each other. A good therapist will handle a referral with compassion, and will provide you with information about how to find a new therapist, as well as offering to communicate with your new therapist if that’s helpful.

I’m curious what you think and if you have any stories of your own to share. Feel free to share this article and comment below.

Website Wednesday: Eating what your body loves, and loving what you eat

In this second edition of Website Wednesday, I’ve listed a few of my favorite websites for lower-carb cooking (and one for eating for joy). Although I’ve moved away from the low carb lifestyle, it helped me to lose and keep off over 30 pounds. What I do now is carb cycling (more carbs on workout days), but these “paleo” sites still come in handy on “control” or rest days.


Nom Nom Paleo is an engaging site run by Michelle Tam, a mom of two who describes herself as obsessed with food. She offers a huge variety of recipes, of course, and also a blog, videos, and a podcast overflowing with useful (and fun!) information.


Juli Bauer, a professed CrossFit addict and “bad dancer” is the author of PaleOMG, an irreverent site with a ton of recipes, and sections dedicated to fashion and workouts as well. It’s a well-organized site, and the go-to for many who are following a low carb or paleo lifestyle.


Mark’s Daily Apple is a deep treatment of the Paleo lifestyle, with articles on exercise, food, and the art of napping. There’s a free forum available for connecting with like minded folks, and merchandise for sale. This site is for athletes (and those who aspire to be) who want to fuel their body well.


Smitten Kitchen is a beautiful little blog created in an adorable kitchen in New York City, and a great resource for recipes for comfort food, basic how-tos, and simple food ideas.

Add your own links in the comments! Happy, healthy Wednesday!

New: Website Wednesday

As a new feature of my blog, I will be posting a short list every week of websites or articles that I’ve found helpful or interesting personally and/or professionally. If you are aware of other sites that might be of interest to readers, or if you have a website of your own that you would like to see featured, please let me know in the comments, or by sending me an email at rburtontherapy@gmail.com. In the meantime, welcome to Website Wednesday Week 1. This week’s edition focuses on fitness.


I’m a fan of a low-carb diet for weight loss – it helped me lose 30 pounds and keep it off for over a year. It’s true that many people can successfully (mostly) give up bread, pasta, and cake, even if you’re an actual sugar addict like me. But when my goals changed to building muscle at the gym, I found that after a few weeks of effort, I was completely out of gas. I did a little research and found that my love for low-carb was likely interfering with my energy levels and my ability to take my fitness to the next level. So, with much trepidation, I began to eat according to the principles of Eat to Perform. The basic idea is to turn the idea of “exercising so you can eat” on its head, and begin to think instead in terms of appropriately fueling your workouts, which means, on some days…MORE CARBS. There is a lot to learn, but if you fork over a smallish sum, you can join the ETP “Science Lab” (forums) and have all your questions answered. I’m still in the transition stage, but I’m feeling much more energy and have noticed a marked difference in my ability to lift heavier and run faster and farther. Thumbs up!

live fit

Live Fit CT¬†is an exciting new website for Connecticut readers that brings together, all in one place, listings for all things healthy in the area. Categories include Walk/Run Events, Hiking, Restaurants, Farmers Markets, and much more. This is a real “go-to” site for CT residents who are looking to improve their well-being, and I’m looking forward to seeing it expand.


Does anyone really enjoy tracking food? Besides me, I mean – I’m kind of weird that way. But if you’re going to track, and I highly recommend tracking for so many reasons, some of which will be outlined in a future article, MFP is where it’s at. Some of my favorite features are a bar code scanning option for your phone (no need for a separate app), the option¬†to set your own goals as your needs change, and the ability to connect with others. Readers of past articles will probably gather that I’m no social media fan, but when it comes to accountability, having a fitness¬†community can be an important support. There are other features available for a fee, such as being able to set different¬†calorie and macro¬†goals for different days – something that’s proved useful when following ETP principles. My diary is public – feel free to take a look if you’re curious and let me know if you have any questions.


Technically I use the Map My Ride app, but they’re all interrelated, so sign up for what you like and be connected to them all. (There are options for Map My Walk, Map My Run, Map My Hike, and maybe even eventually Map My Tap Dancing). Each site provides a slightly different focus, of course, but the basics are the same – an app that allows you to use your GPS (or not, in the case of gym workouts) to record your fitness endeavors, share them with your friends, and, my favorite part, track how you’re doing over time. You can also connect MMF and MFP for a seamless experience where the two apps talk to each other. Like magic!

That wraps up my first Website Wednesday. Let me know what you think in the comments!

The Importance of Rest Days: Five reasons and one revelation

rest day

Usually¬†when people begin a weight loss or fitness program, there is an internal rush toward change. “Finally! I’m doing something about it! Bring on the gym membership and the salad greens!” Enthusiasm is a very good thing, but when I began to get very active, I started to have a complicated relationship…with rest days. Rest days made me feel guilty and itchy for activity. I was beginning to see myself as an athlete, and what kind of rock star was I if I took a day, or (heaven forbid) TWO days off per week from my program? I began to find that rest days were actually more challenging than workout days. After months of continuous effort, I didn’t know what to do with myself when I took the day off. I’ve since learned (well, more accurately, am in the process of learning) how to “tolerate” rest days, and not feel as if I’m in danger of going off the rails.

Below are five good reasons to take at least one rest day per week, and one revelation about your Day(s) of Rest.

rest day

1. Rest days are…Necessary for injury prevention.¬†Resting your muscles and tissues allows them time to recover. Overuse injuries are no fun. And when you’re tired, you’re more likely to make mistakes in your training, or rush through it, which will make you more injury-prone.

2. Rest days are…Important to avoid mental burnout and hating your program. And they’re nothing to feel guilty about.

3. Rest days are…When you should be cutting back on your calories and carbs in order to maintain a calorie deficit and to¬†burn more fat.

4. Rest days are…An opportunity to hang out with family and friends. When we’ve found a new passion, it’s easy to forget that not everyone shares it. Take time to reconnect with those you love doing activities you all enjoy.


5. Rest days are…Meant to be enjoyed.

lonely rest day

You’ve earned that rest, and more importantly, for the reasons above, it’s important for your body and mind to take it. Rest days should not suck.

And now: The Revelation. Rest days can be active.¬†Some days you might want a true rest day where you lie around and write blog articles (no, no, I actually went to the gym today), but often “rest” means taking the day off from your lifting program and doing some non-strenuous cardio, such as a moderate hike, bike ride, or walk. It may also mean going to a trampoline park, going ice skating, or swimming. It’s like cross-training, only with a more relaxed, nurturing approach. On rest days, you may need to rest specific muscle groups, your whole body, and/or your mind. It’s up to you. The important thing is to make sure you take at least one day off per week.

Happy Rest Day!

Five ways to embrace (or adjust) your imperfections.

defeat your limitations

I was talking with a client the other day who wanted to start a blog, but was worried that potential readers would “see right through her” and that her imperfections would be exposed. It occurred to me that some of the most meaningful, life-changing conversations I’ve had with others have been around sharing our imperfections, and then (this is crucial) going on to discuss how we’re overcoming¬†them.

Here are five ways I’ve been imperfect this week. If you’d like, feel free to share your own confessions in the comments.

1. I had a perfect day on My Fitness Pal. I mean, perfect. A few calories below my goal, and right on for my macros. Until 8pm, when I opened up the container of mixed nuts, and a bottle of wine, and didn’t emerge from basically a fugue state for an hour. How I overcame it:¬†By reminding myself that lapses are not relapses, and making better decisions beginning the very next day.

2. I whined at the gym. I mean, really whined to the point of sad little tears. My personal trainer, I’m convinced, sometimes tries to kill me. I heard things come out of my mouth that I really never wanted to hear (and I’m not talking swear words – those are fine by me). No, I mean really pitiful utterances like “I don’t think I can do this,” and “Why are you doing this to me?” How I overcame it: By looking him in the eye during the last set and making a commitment. I told him I would complete the last set without whining, and I DID IT. Weak, shaky high fives all around.

3. I felt like I couldn’t get a handle on my generalized fear and anxiety. Some days are just like that. How I overcame it: I sought support from people who love me, and allowed them to remind me why everything is more or less okay.

4. My car is a pollen bomb and shamefully cluttered and dirty on the inside too. I’d take it to the car wash, but that means I’d have to figure out how to take off my bike rack, and I know I’d never get it back on securely. How I overcame it: I decided on acceptance¬†–¬†that I’ll be driving a dirty car until I can figure out how to take the rack off and put it back on without endangering the family in the minivan behind me. That’s probably not going to happen during this busy week.

5. I realized I haven’t updated my blog in too long, but didn’t have anything “important” to share. How I overcame it: I shared my imperfections.

When faced with your own imperfections, see if you can adjust your thinking from seeing imperfections¬†as liabilities. Instead, begin to explore¬†them as opportunities for change – even if it just means sharing them. Someone else may need to hear that, like them, you’re imperfect too.