Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘binge eating’

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Here is what I am wrestling with right now. I hope that someone has an answer or a suggestion for me…

My healthiest state of being is staying present in my life. When I am able to stay present, my weight drops very quickly because I only eat until I am no longer hungry. Weight loss is effortless. The issue isn’t just weight, though. When I stay present, I am not so tense and intense. I am able to appreciate the little things, such as the warmth of the sun or the beautiful blue sky. Life feels like it is worth living when I can stay present in my body.

Thanks to so many illnesses in my family immediately followed by another deep layer of healing work to do (including lots of flashbacks, nightmares, and body memories), I am having trouble getting back to staying present. I am not binge eating anywhere near what I have done in the past, so my weight isn’t too bad (fluctuating by about five pounds – in past years, I could jump 10 to 20 pounds in a very short period of time). However, because I am having trouble staying present, I am also having trouble determining when I am no longer hungry. That’s a real problem when I eat out on the weekends, and restaurant portions are so much larger than my body needs.

This isn’t just about weight, although I am frustrated with that part of my life. It’s also about losing touch with the beauty of being alive. I have only had three or four “good” days since November, and that is too low of a ratio to make it feel like all of my hard work is worth it. There really isn’t another choice – my subconscious is going to keep spewing out these memories no matter what I do – but this hard work would seem more purposeful if there was some sort of payoff, and the payoff I am looking for is more than 3 or 4 “good” days every four months, which basically breaks down to one good day a month or a 1:30 ratio of good days to bad ones. That’s not okay with me.

I know the key is to get back to staying present, but how do I do that? How do I stay present while, at the same time, sorting through so many hellish memories and emotions? I worked out this morning, including yoga and meditation. Those tools will help, but I don’t know if they will be enough or not. I need a way to convince myself that I can stay present and work through the past issues at the same time. How do I do that? Just looking forward to the absence of physical or emotional pain from time to time is not enough for me.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Are you still in the same place you were last year? Are the issues you wrestle with today the same ones that you were wrestling with last year? If you can identify at least one area of your life, no matter how small, that was a problem at this time last year but is not today, congratulations – that is growth!

Someone shared an interesting quote with me that I have modified to match my own beliefs – You know that you have grown when what you are wrestling with today is different from what you were wrestling with a year ago. Life is all about growth and change, and it is always going to be hard. However, when you can honestly say that what you are wrestling with today has changed in any way, that is an indicator that you are making progress, which is great! (Side note – If your answer is no, that does not mean that no healing is taking place. Our deepest wounds often heal from the bottom, so it can be difficult to see the progress until a lot of healing has taken place.)

After hearing (and modifying) this quote, I did an analysis of what has changed in my struggles since last year. (Keeping a blog makes this even easier!) There are many areas that are still a struggle, such as what to do about my mother/abuser. However, I have grown in many areas as well.

One area of which I am particularly pleased is my progress in taking care of my body and finding ways other than binge eating to get through the day. It was in May 2009 that I found the courage to step on a scale and stop “hiding” from the truths about my weight. (See my blog entry entitled Me, My D@#$ Eating Disorder, and Physicals.) I currently weight six pounds less than I did when I wrote that blog entry. My weight has fluctuated quite a bit, with my weight being another six pounds lighter at one time, but the bottom line is that I am six pounds lighter than I was 11 months ago, and my weight has never gone above the number on the scale when I wrote that blog entry. That is huge progress for anyone with a lifelong history of binge eating.

I have my annual physical scheduled for May 20. I have decided to try to focus on my body for the next 6-1/2 weeks and see if I can get my weight down to a goal range (not a particular number but within a range of numbers). I do not typically do this, but I have built a spreadsheet in Excel to track my daily progress – goal weight each day (shooting for losing 2 pounds a week) as well as the amount of time each day I spend doing aerobic exercise, weights, and yoga. I used to lift weights (light weight-lifting, I assure you) back in graduate school and before my son came along. Goal-setting 101 says that a goal without a schedule and a deadline is just a wish, so this is why I decided to get serious with a spreadsheet.

I am not thinking past May 20. Right now, I just want to focus on transforming my body into a healthier one, which is also a “safer” body – better able to run or fight back. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

How is this for weird? I think I must have just found my “inner anorexic.” This is really weird, and I don’t know how long it will last … but let me back up…

Since I was 11 years old, I have used food to help me “stuff down” the bad feelings. I just thought I had no self-control. I was well into adulthood when I learned that there was a label for what I did – binge eating/compulsive overeating – and I was shocked to learn that it was a real eating disorder. Since I wasn’t thin and did not vomit up my food, I did not appreciate the severity of the eating disorder. It was validating to call it what it was and recognize that the problem wasn’t just me being “lazy” or lacking in self-control.

I generally succumb to the urge to binge eat at this time of year and wind up putting on weight. Because most people tend to overeat to some degree during the holidays, nobody ever seems to notice this pattern in me. However, this year I have an added stressor – next month, I will be seeing my mother/abuser for the first time in six years as we both attend my sister’s college graduation. I expect to battle the eating disorder in spades, so I have been trying to nurture my body during the times that I am doing okay. I am actually making some progress!

I went to battle with an alter part recently. I finally “met” one of the parts that drives the eating disorder. This little girl believes that being bigger makes me safe, so she is always hungry. Once I recognized this in myself, I started putting energy into fighting this false belief. I have been telling myself that, as an adult woman, I am no longer a small, vulnerable child. I am about 20 pounds overweight, and the extra weight actually makes me less safe. If I need to run away or fight back, then I will actually be safer if my body will get a little bit smaller.

I guess I got through to that part of myself because the urges to overeat have all but stopped. (This has only been for about a week, so I am hardly holding my breath that this is permanent.) In fact, there have been a couple of days where I started feeling lightheaded and could not figure out why. I finally realized that I had not eaten anything other than rice milk all day, and my body was reacting to having so few calories in it by lunchtime. Still, I did not feel hungry.

This is not normal for me, and I am curious to see how long it lasts. In the meantime, I am perfectly happy to drop a few pounds before the next wave of binge eating rears its ugly head. I would love to believe that I have conquered it, but it will take me prolonged periods of eating in a healthy manner for me to believe it.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »


As I shared here, here, and here, one of my focuses (obsessions??) over the past five weeks has been fighting my eating disorder (binge and compulsive overeating). I am happy to report that I am making good progress. I measure progress in two ways – by what is going on in my body as well as by what is going on in my head.

Let’s start with my body. Since I braved stepping on the scale five weeks ago, I have lost ten pounds. That averages out to two pounds a week, which is what, by all accounts, is considered a healthy rate of weight loss. I am feeling better about my body physically. My “fat pants” are annoyingly loose, and I am now wearing a pair of jeans that I have not even bothered trying to wear in a very long time. So, I am on the right track physically.

When it comes to an eating disorder, emotional progress is a completely different animal. You do not want to go from one extreme (binge eating) to the other (starving yourself). Instead, you want to find a healthy medium that enables you to feel like the eating disorder is not controlling you. I really battled the first couple of weeks, but I have now worked out a rhythm that is working for me.

Another part of emotional progress is how you feel about yourself. Most of the time, I drive a diet by degrading myself. I tell myself that I am a fat cow who does not deserve to eat, etc. I use my self-hatred to fuel the weight loss. I am not doing that this time. Instead, I am trying to listen to my body and feed it small portions whenever it is hungry. I might eat five or six times a day with most of those times being a healthy 100-calorie snack.

Another measure of progress is my reaction to messing up. Let’s face it – I have been binge eating since I was 12 years old, so I am going to “fall off the wagon” from time to time. That happened when I went to the movies last weekend. A friend bought a huge tub of popcorn for us to split since I paid for the tickets. I was only going to eat “a little bit” of popcorn. Uh … that’s not exactly what happened … the best laid plans and all…

Instead of getting angry with myself, I went to bed with a slight stomachache and began the next day back on track. I am coming to realize that one overindulgence from time to time is not going to make or break my weight. My body size is reflective of how I am treating my body over time, not one instance.

So, right now I am feeling pretty good about myself. I am eating in a way that works for me. It is not a “diet” so much as a lifestyle change. I am still very susceptible to feeling the pull of the eating disorder, but I am trying to meet those emotional needs in other ways. When that doesn’t work, I have a glass of wine or take a Xanax (this is mostly an issue in the evenings). If that isn’t working, then I’ll have a small snack rather than a binge. Then, I start fresh in the morning. So far, so good.

Related Topics:

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »