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Some Tips on How To Manage Difficult Problems

1 Aug

Check out my video on some tips on how to manage difficult problems.  Keep in mind that this is just a starting place for how to work on challenging problems in your life.  This video can give you the framework to begin to start dealing with life issues more effectively.

Giselle Bundchen: Role Model or Just Model?

20 Jun

Recent attention has been given to celebrity moms who have lost weight quickly after giving birth.  Giselle Bundchen recently posed in Vogue magazine and was on the catwalk three weeks after her son was born.  Bethenny Frankl of “The Real Housewives of New York City” reportedly lost a total of 30 pounds in the three weeks after giving birth to her daughter.  Are these celebrity moms setting a good example for other moms out there or could their drastic weight loss be damaging to their own health and the health of others?

Most doctors recommend that weight loss after having a child be limited to a few pounds a week.  Losing more than that can jeopardize the health of the mother, as well as the health of their baby if they are breastfeeding.  Women’s bodies go through a lot during the process of pregnancy and delivery and to drastically lose weight at a time when the body should be recovering is considered unwise.  That is not to say that mothers should not attempt to lose baby weight if they so chose, but the methods for going about the weight loss are just about as important as the weight loss itself.

It is important that women have healthy role models for post-baby recovery.  Often having children can trigger strong emotional reactions in women.  The influx of hormones, lack of sleep and changing body can make post baby recovery quite challenging.  If a female has a history of depression she is at an increased risk of experiencing depression post partum.  In addition, if she has a history of an eating disorder, she may be at an increased risk of engaging in these behaviors again post delivery.  Celebrity moms with drastic weight loss can be potential triggers for depression and disordered eating in many women.

How the media (and the celebrities themselves) talk about post baby weight loss can influence what kind of impact they have on mothers.  When the media portrays drastic weight loss with a sense of astonishment and congratulations it sends the wrong message.  This is especially true when they do not reveal the full picture.  Rarely do celebrity moms disclose the help they receive from staff hired to help them achieve their weight loss goal.  Many celebrity moms have nannies to help care for the child, personal chefs and personal trainers.  They may also forego breastfeeding, or supplement with formula so they have more time to focus on their post baby body.  Adding to the negative messages are the celebrities themselves who may down play the difficulty of the weight loss.  They may paint a picture of a life they want others to believe rather than the life they really live.  Consider some of the claims Giselle and Bethenny have made about their pregnancy and post partum experience.  Giselle reportedly had a pain-free birth and was up and cooking a day after giving birth.  Bethenny minimized her difficulty in losing the baby weight and stated that perhaps women who struggle with losing post-baby weight are having a hard time because they “go off the rails and go to McDonalds or Taco Bell.”

Everyone has the right to chose what they do with their own body, including how they lose weight after having a baby.  My hope is that celebrity moms will be more authentic in showing what it’s really like to give birth, have a child and lose weight.  My hope is that they will be honest about who helps them achieve these goals and what their experience is really like.  If they are to be a healthy role model to other mothers then it is important that they chose to put their own health and the health of their child before vanity and weight loss.

Is Fear and Anxiety Holding You Back From Living Your Life?

10 Feb

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We all have fears.  We all have anxiety.  But for some people their fears and anxiety get in the way of them living their life the way they want to live it.  If this is the case for you, it is important to recognize that you can learn tools to help set you free from the fear that holds you back from living your life more fully. 

It is important to learn how to manage feelings of fear.  Part of doing this is creating the ability to separate the true signals of danger from false alarms.  For some people, their brains fire signals that indicate they are in danger when they we really aren’t.  Some examples of this are: 

  • Having a panic attack when there is not immediate threat to your safety.  For example, in a grocery store.  At that moment your brain is telling you that you must flee- that you are in danger.  When in reality, there is no real threat to you.
  • Feeling a sense of dread or extreme fear when you encounter germs.  Although your intellectual mind may know that not every germ you encounter is going to kill you, it feels as if you are in immediate danger.  The danger feels very real.
  • Something in your environment reminds you of a past trauma and you immediately feel that you must fight or run.  You may feel a sense of danger and extreme fear even when you are in a safe environment.  (This frequently happens to people who have experienced terrible trauma or have PTSD).

Panic attacks essentially are a false alarm.  The brain is sending off the fight or flight signal, when no real danger is present. 

Anxiety has been coined as “a disease of uncertainty.”  If you suffer from anxiety, you may be plagued with feelings of self doubt.  You may not know what you feel or what you truly want.  You are likely to be out of touch with your own desires and needs and, as a result, may find it hard to trust your own intuition or decisions.  This leads to an overactive mind that is constantly thinking, questioning, and worrying about what the “right” decision is.  You may spend countless hours trying to think through decisions before you make them and you are likely to feel stuck and indecisive.

One of the things that can keep you stuck in feelings of anxiety is self judgment.  Often people judge themselves as an attempt to try to get themselves out of a rut they are in.  They may say to themselves “You shouldn’t be feeling anxious right now!  Snap out of it!”  Or they may be even more self-critical and put themselves down for feeling anxious or fearful.  The result of this kind of self-talk is that you end up feeling more anxious, rather than less.  Each time you tell yourself that you should not feel a certain way you are actually increasing that emotion you are trying to rid yourself of. 

One of the most important concepts regarding anxiety is that it feeds off of avoidance.  The more you avoid, the more anxiety you will experience.  This is a basic tenet of anxiety management.  Avoidance can take the many forms such as:  procrastination, withdrawal from activities and isolation from others.

If you are like the millions of others who suffer from anxiety you may feel helpless and scared.  Because of all the ways anxiety can end up taking charge over your life, you may end up feeling powerless to make changes.  You may feel like the anxiety is ruling your life and you have no control. 

Mindfulness is one way to effectively decrease symptoms of anxiety, panic and worry.  A regular meditation practice and a mindful outlook on life will help you to increase your awareness of what you feel, want and think, and as a result your feelings of uncertainty will decrease and you will increase your ability to trust your intuition.  One of the main principles of mindfulness is decreasing self-judgment.  Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral techniques can be very useful in transforming unhealthy judgment and criticism into feelings of self love and kindness.  You may find that when you begin to take a stance of kindness towards yourself when you feel anxiety, worry or fear, your anxious feelings soon become less powerful and the one who feels powerful and in control is you.  By slowly beginning to decrease your avoidance you will find that your anxiety loses its power over you.

Ask Alisa

14 Jan

Welcome to my blog!  My intention is to provide a format to increase awareness and encourage discussion regarding topics related to self improvement.  The main topics are:

  • Psychological Education:  I hope to provide you with clear information related to psychological diagnoses and mental health.  Many people have misperceptions regarding psychiatric diagnoses and my hope  is that by giving you clear information about various personality structures and psychiatric symptoms you will be better able to understand yourself as well as those around you.   We frequently see mental health issues on television- actors going to rehab, celebrities acting erratic or unpredictable.  You may also notice that people in your life act in ways that are confusing to you.  Or, you may also wonder how to deal with an emotional struggle you are having.  The information I provide is intended to shed some light on these issues and help you make some sense of yourself and the world around you. 


  • Integrating research and practice:  In the work I do with clients I tend to integrate information from research with clinical experience in providing life advice and guidance.  I studied cognitive science during my education and I am fascinated by the study of the human mind.  Although there is still much to be learned about the brain and how it operates, there exists a great deal of information about the brain, our mind, and human consciousness that can inform how we approach the world and how we deal with suffering.   I will use common terms to explain some ideas and concepts from this area of research to help you learn how to deal with the  inner-workings of your brain and to live your life in a more satisfying way. 


  • Mindfulness:  I also work from a mindfulness based perspective.  Mindfulness is a philosophy, or way of living, that is about being in the present moment.  The practice of mindfulness can help you to increase your awareness of what you feel, want and think, and as a result you can more clearly know what is right for you.  The mindfulness tools I present can help increase your ability to trust your intuition and decrease your suffering.