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Archive for the ‘Eating Disorders’ Category

I have shared that I struggled with an eating disorder (binge & compulsive overeating) for most of my life. My weight used to yo-yo by 20-30 lbs. each year. I have been on a bunch of different diets, but nothing ever worked permanently because emotional distress caused me to feel hungry, and eating calmed my emotional distress.

When I was in regular therapy, I was surprised that my therapist was not bothered by the eating disorder. He said it was a symptom of the childhood trauma and that as I healed the trauma, I would let go of the need to binge eat. I found it hard to believe at the time, but he was right. Over the years, I have gradually let go of my need to binge eat to manage my emotions as I developed other, more positive coping strategies.

Despite working out regularly, I still carried ~ 25 extra lbs. I had accepted that this is what my body would always look like. That turned out not to be the case.

As my regular readers know, I have struggled with acid reflux all year. The reflux was so severe that I was unable to eat much for weeks at a time. I felt like an old woman living off of vanilla Ensures and melons because that was about all my stomach could handle. As a result of all of this, I dropped the extra 25 lbs. and have been a “normal” weight for the past couple of months.

I could enumerate the many negative aspects of acid reflux, but one positive aspect has been my inability to turn to food to manage my emotions. The last time I consciously chose to compulsively overeat because I was upset was in June, and I paid dearly for two weeks with painful reflux. Because of the reflux, I have been forced to disconnect managing my emotions from eating over the past eight months. As a result, I have severed the connection, which is something I honestly did not think could happen.

Additionally, my stomach cannot process eating a bunch of junk, so my eating habits have changed. Half of each meal must be something alkaline (a fruit or vegetable), which has forced me eat healthier. Also, overeating kicks off the reflux, so I eat five small snacks/meals a day rather than big meals.

It has taken me a while to mentally process that I am no longer fat. I was the fat girl in middle school and have pretty much worn that hat for most of my life. My life is not magically changed, but it is definitely an adjustment (in a good way).

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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As I shared in this blog entry, I “fell off the wagon” with my eating disorder on April 22 after becoming very triggered by two unwanted contacts from my mother/abuser in two days. Rather than beat myself up for a failure, I am choosing to celebrate the fact that I made it 47 days without binge eating, which means that I go even longer next time!

I have a big star on my calendar on March 7, which was the day I chose to focus on freeing myself from this not-so-good “old friend” that has been a part of my life since I was 12 years old. I have another big star on April 23 to mark the start of my second round of fighting the eating disorder.

I really do have a lot to celebrate. First of all, I succeeded in not binge eating through the stress of starting a new job, feeling overwhelmed and powerless when the expectations kept seeming to shift, and through several triggers. I succeeded in losing ~ 10 lbs during this time as well. My clothes are fitting me loosely, and that feels really good!

Even when I “fell off the wagon,” it wasn’t with the intensity of prior compulsions to overeat. While we had plenty of ice cream and chips in the house, I chose to have a small portion of a leftover burrito and some peanut butter – that’s it. I am classifying this as a “binge” because I was truly not hungry and only eating to meet an emotional need. It was also a compulsion that I must eat rather than a choice to eat. However, what I put into my body was high in protein, and it wasn’t anywhere near the intensity of the binges that I have battled throughout my life.

I chose not to “beat myself up” but, instead, be compassionate toward myself. I recognize the level of triggering that brought back the old pattern of behavior. I was blindsided twice in two days. Clearly I am still extremely vulnerable to any sort of contact from my mother, so I need to follow my friend’s advice to dispose of any letters rather than read them. I need to take my power back and stop letting my mother/abuser have this kind of power over me.

Over the past two days (the two days since the binge), I have been able to go right back to where I was before. By choosing not to heap guilt and shame onto myself for the binge, the bad feelings did not take on a life of their own. I am still feeling very triggered, but I am not using food to self-medicate. I am very proud of myself for this, and I am feeling very hopeful about my next round exceeding 47 days.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I have written before about reading Geneen Roth’s book Women Food and God. Her book does an excellent job of taking something very complicated (binge eating disorder) and making is simple. As I say repeatedly on this blog, “simple” is not the same thing as “easy.” I had a little success with her methods but then got slammed with being sick for several weeks, and it all fell by the wayside.

I was under stress at the beginning of March (what else is new) as I started training for a new job. I kept finding myself compulsively overeating but not getting emotional relief from it. Instead of feeling better, I still felt lousy emotionally and felt sick to my stomach. So, March 7 was the day that I said, “Enough!” and decided to give Geneen Roth’s methods another shot. I have been doing great ever since!

To recap Geneen’s methods, eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you are no longer hungry. When you are hungry, eat whatever your body wants, and enjoy every mouthful to the fullest. No food is “taboo.” To help you know when you are hungry and not hungry, practice mindfulness – deep breathing to bring yourself back into the present. She has other tips, but these are the ones that really work for me.

Since March 7, I have lost 9 pounds effortlessly. I have done this even though I have eaten ice cream several times, Mexican food, chips, etc. – all foods that I typical avoid when I diet. I find that I actually enjoy the food more and get to eat more frequently. I am eating much smaller portions than I used to by stopping when I am no longer hungry. Then, I get hungry again in 2 or 3 hours and have a snack without any guilt. So, I get to eat more frequently, eat anything I want, and still lose weight. How fabulous is that?

What’s more is that, this time, it’s not about the weight loss (although I am thrilled to see my pants getting looser and looser!). It’s more about balance and no longer being enslaved to binge eating to manage my emotions.

This past month has been a very stressful one for me, and I have had a heck of a time keeping my blog covered. I did not get a “heads up” that training would require 15-20+ hours of work a week. My kid has been sick for some of this time, and his school has been out a lot for Teacher Workdays and such. It has not been good timing for me to have to find an extra 15 hours in my week. This is the kind of thing that has historically resulted in my gaining lots of weight, but I have, instead, been sticking with the program, and it is working!

I know that recovering from an eating disorder is a lifelong process, so I do consider myself “cured” – just “on the wagon” so to speak – a wagon I don’t want to get off of.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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On my blog entry entitled Good Article on Overcoming Food Addiction, a reader posted the following comment:

and its just came to my mind the way that one reader wrote a letter to her body, during my therapy I was required to write a letter to my eating disorder treating it as a friend. It went like: Dear ….(whatever eating-disorder it is),

I would like to thank you for….
ie. always being there for me, for always protecting me…etc

It totally helped me change my perspective cos then I was able to see how much I got out off that “relationship” with my eating disorder and why it had been such a faithful companion to me. And step by step I was able to see my needs behind it and learned to fulfill those needs in a more constructive way ~ Queen of Acknowledgement

I have been thinking about this comment all week and trying to decide how I feel about viewing my eating disorder as my “friend.” I also talked with an off-line friend about this theory. She rejected the notion of viewing an eating disorder as a friend outright, but I am much more open to the idea, although I confess that I have never once considered doing so.

On the one hand, I have one offline friend who told me that it is important to distance yourself from what ails you. She says that I should not call compulsive overeating “my” eating disorder because I don’t need to claim an attachment to it. Her advice is contrary to what Queen of Acknowledgement is saying.

I have been thinking about the advice I give repeatedly – that the key to healing from child abuse is to love and accept every part of yourself, expressing your feelings and emotions as you experience them. Isn’t what Queen of Acknowledgement advises doing just that? Rather than reject the part of myself that found comfort in food when my life had little comfort, perhaps I need to honor and accept the creativity I found in surviving the unsurvivable. Perhaps Queen of Acknowledgement is onto something really profound. What do you think?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I was waiting on my hairdresser yesterday when the cover of Redbook magazine caught my eye. Trust me – that is unusual for me! The cover was advertising an article inside about the real reasons that women have trouble losing weight. I flipped over to the article curious to see if my observations (the need for more rest and sleep) would be included. Instead, I was treated to more insights that I had never considered.

The article is about Geneen Roth’s book Women Food and God. According to the article, the author had been binging and dieting for 17 years and was just “done” with the cycle. She says that she stopped dieting, started listening to what her body wanted to eat, and settled into her “natural” weight. You can read the Redbook article here.

The author touched upon an area of compulsive overeating that I had never considered but that really hit home for me. Her first point is to “realize that the size of your body isn’t just about food.” She says that you have to look at the big picture and recognize that your relationship with food is expressing “all the self-defeating beliefs you have about yourself and your life.” She says that you cannot separate out the way you eat from the way you live. Wow!

Then, she provides a couple of examples. She says that the person who eats “on the run” and will not take time out to sit and enjoy a meal is expressing a belief that everything else in life is more important than you are. If you do this, you need to be asking yourself how you want to be spending your time. All of this ties in with my need to set aside time to rest and relax. I used to eat on the run, and now I do set aside a “lunch break” every day that I thoroughly enjoy.

Her other example was feeling guilty for eating one cookie. The author asks, “If you feel guilty for eating one cookie, for instance, what does that say about the pleasure you deprive yourself of in daily life?” This article has given me a lot to think about, and I might just have to order that book.

The article includes four other points:

2. Understand that weight loss isn’t everything — but it is something.

3. Go ahead and feel bad.

4. Believe that you deserve happiness.

5. Eat when you are hungry.


Her point in #3 about feeling badly is something I have been working on for years through therapy. I ate as a child to “stuff down” the painful emotions, and I have gotten much better about just allowing myself to “feel bad” for a little while. The pain always passes. I am still a work in progress with the other three points. It is point #1 that I really want to focus upon.

Again, here is the link to the article on overcoming food addiction.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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I have shared on my blog many times about my struggles with an eating disorder (binge eating/compulsive overeating). I actually had an 11-month stretch when I appeared to have beaten it, but I fell back into it again and have struggled ever since.

I had renewed hope after participating in Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Bible study. I have written quite a bit about some of her words of wisdom about “breaking free” from any strongholds (obstacles) in our lives. I had about given up ever mastering the eating disorder, but her study gave me hope that nothing is impossible.

I have learned some surprising things through prayer and meditation that I would like to share with you. I have come to understand that our bodies are “powered by” energy, and we “fuel” our bodies in three ways – through sleep, rest, and food/drink. We need a healthy balance of all three to be successful. Because I have a Type A personality that rarely rests, I had thrown my body off balance.

I had already completed the first steps. #1 – I needed to learn how to process my emotions rather than “stuff them down” with food. #2 – I needed to stop hating my body and, instead, love and accept it. I had already succeeded with both but was not losing weight. Then, I added #3 in April – Develop a healthier lifestyle. I joined a gym and have been working out for an hour a day (45 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes of weights) for 3 to 6 days a week. While my body has toned up, my weight refused to budge downward.

These last few weeks have opened my eyes to the lack of balance I had in my body. Because I was never resting my body, my body was constantly in a state of deprivation. Since I refused to rest it, my body did the next best thing – it “stored up” energy through constant overeating in anticipation of continued energy deprivation. The problem is that food does not equal rest and stored up food equals fat. Until I chose to start fueling my body through rest, I was never going to get out of this vicious cycle.

I instituted Thursdays as my “day off” a few weeks ago, and I felt an immediate difference in my body. It had been years (yes, years) since I had spent 8 or 9 hours in a row doing whatever I felt like doing. I chose Thursdays because this needs to be “me” time, not taking care of my family time. I also tried to slow down my pace and allow myself more down time during the day, such as actually taking a 30-minute lunch break.

Then, beginning on Monday, I found my way back to the “energy” of eating health – the same place I was during those wonderful 11 months of successful healthy eating. I realized that, even though I was now meeting my body’s energy needs, my body had not accepted that it was no longer being deprived. I memorized a Bible verse about manna, which represents your needs being met as you have them rather having to “store up” for future needs. I promised myself to eat whenever I feel hungry and stop eating as soon as I no longer feel hungry.

Guess what? In four days, I have lost 3 pounds effortlessly. Can you believe it? I am eating very small portions of food and feeling satisfied. I feel really great physically (no lightheadedness or hunger as I typically feel when “dieting”). I keep reciting that Bible verse in my head and listening to my body’s signals.

I know I have a long way to go before I can declare myself “cured,” but I am feeling more hopeful than I have in a very long time. I know that I can do this because I have done it before (for 11 months). Here’s hoping this is a permanent change for the better.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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AARRGGHH!! Last night was such a rough night. I have had two eating binges in two of the last three days, and I am very frustrated. As you know, I have been working very hard to transform my body into a healthier one, and I was making good progress. However, the last few days are really impeding my progress.

Since I began my body transformation on April 5, I have exercised every single day except for one. On all but four of those days, I exercised for at least an hour (and 45 minutes on the four days that I didn’t). I have been doing the elliptical machine for 45 minutes and burning over 400 calories each time. I have been following that up with 15-20 minutes of weight training. There is no question that my body is beginning to transform.

However, I am not going to continue to burn off fat if I am binge eating. I simply cannot work out long enough to burn off that many calories. It is frustrating the h@#$ out of me that I successfully lost 6 lbs. in two weeks, and then it all went to h@#$ as soon as returned to my hometown. (I am tracking anything that throws me off so I can analyze what factors are presenting obstacles to my goals.)

What is really disturbing is that there was nothing I could say or do to make myself stop. It was like this driving force took over and compelled me to do it. I didn’t want to do it, but I did it anyhow. It just occurred to me that perhaps this is an alter part, and that is why I feel “out of control” when I do this. I know it is me and that I am responsible for my own actions, but it sure did not “feel” that way in the moment.

I am going to ask my doctor about a sleeping pill that will help me go back to sleep when I awaken during the night due to nightmares. I don’t think having so little sleep and rest is helping. I have not been able to sleep through the night for weeks unless I am taking prescription medication, and I have used up my stock in the one that works the best. I have lots of over-the-counter stuff to help me get to sleep, but that is not my biggest problem. I jerk awake at 3:00 a.m. flooded with adrenaline, and then I have no hope of falling back to sleep. I am so tired of only getting five or six hours of sleep a night.

A friend texted me last night complaining about a “disturbance in the force,” which is our code for “I am feeling freakishly out of control and don’t know why.” We have concluded that sometimes these “forces” triggering us are bigger than just our own PTSD-warped brains. Did anyone else feel a “disturbance in the force” last night?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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