Monthly Archives: July 2012

Learning to Love and Respect your Body

Andrea Wachter, author of my all time favorite recovery book wrote a great article on Beating the Body Image Blues. In it she states: People in our culture are hypnotized and possessed. We have had a spell cast upon us — from our first fairy tale to the current magazine on the checkout aisle. It says this: If you are thin and pretty, you will feel happy and special.

Your body is nothing more than a vessel to hold what really matters, the amazing, beautiful you. If what is inside is mean, ugly and detestable, what’s outside is useless. Its contents are damaged. Of course you need to treat that vessel with respect because it holds your most precious cargo– the real you. That doesn’t mean abusing or obsessing, but loving and caring for.

Your body deserves love and respect. Treat it the way you would treat the love of your life, your most precious possession.

Give the article a read. She has some amazing tips on how to love your body.

Friday Q & A- I still have an eating disorder- help!

This question comes from Poppy in the UK
Question:
I stumbled across your website today, and saw that you were giving advice to people with eating disorders so I hope you don’t mind me asking for some advice and a fresh perspective.
I’ll try and keep it short! My story goes like this: I developed anorexia around 14/15, which then turned to bulimia. There was never any huge event as a trigger, rather a small accumulation of things. Ive always had low self esteem, my parents broke up, we moved to a different country, i had a very unhappy time at a boarding school, plus my mum (a past bulimic) is a personal fitness trainer and is vigilant about food/exercise (though she means it lovingly). My way of dealing with all that was to take it out on my body. I never do anything by halves, and always go for the extreme option.
I then went to therapy, got my family involved etc and managed to stopped purging. But that was the easy part. I have had some periods of less bingeing, but its never really gone away.
Over the past year since September, during my Gap Year, the binges have got worse and worse,  and I began to spiral deeper into depression (which I suspect had always been present but I’d manage to keep going until I’d finished school). Things in my personal life made the binging worse, and the bingeing made the depression worse. I went back to therapy and was put on anti-depressants as I just wanted to sleep and never wake up.
In March I went travelling, and I came home in June. The anti-depressants had begin to work, and generally I was feeling much happier (though not happy with my body as I’d gained nearly 2 stone since last summer from bingeing!). Whilst I was travelling, I binged occasionally, with increasing frequency till I came home. Since I’ve been home, Ive been dieting and overeating on and off. It feels surreal, and I can’t believe its still happening.
I’m so confused, as I have the support of my family, I have all this information and education about EDs that I’ve learnt and am feeling happier so why am I still bingeing? I am now embarassed by my body and I just want to be free of this shameful habit.
Would you be able to advise me of a sensible next step?
Many thanks
Answer:
Thank you so much for your question. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re still dealing with bingeing. But what a great accomplishment for you to have overcome anorexia and purging. That’s truly amazing and I hope that you give yourself accolades for that. You are already in your recovery process. Remember, it is a process and you will keep getting better.
It seems from your note that you feel very ashamed that you are still acting out with food, despite how  far you’ve come and it seems as though you feel that because you are so knowledgeable you shouldn’t still be struggling.  Isn’t it amazing that we can have all the education in the world about food, nutrition, eating disorders, yet still be very in our eating disorder?  I think that’s probably more normal than you would imagine. I cannot tell you how many women I’ve seen who are very successful yoga teachers, personal trainers, and even an Olympian who have come into my office and struggle greatly with food. And they have so much shame about it. They think they’re the only one. You are definitely not alone.  However, because so many people have so much shame, they tend to suffer alone, believing that they are the only one with this problem or that they need to be strong for others or put up a good facade because they believe that they have to be perfect. Is there anyone in your life who might be like this?
As I said in my email back to you, it seems that although you are getting support from family, therapist and loved ones, you don’t seem to have peer support– that is support from other women who are going through the exact same thing as you are at the same time.  Groups like Eating Disorders Anonymous (http://www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org/) Overeaters Anonymous – (in the UK http://www.oagb.org.uk/) can help you to meet other folks who are struggling in the same ways that you are.
As far as the binge eating, I know that you are struggling and unhappy with your weight gain, but I would encourage you to stop dieting completely and begin to eat what your body needs to be healthy. When you restrict foods, bingeing is on the other side. You might start by telling yourself that you’re allowed to have any binge food that you want… but only after you eat a healthy meal. So, if you’re craving a giant piece of cake, you tell yourself that it’s okay to have it, but first you must eat a piece of fruit and some veggies with some egg or protein. Then, if you still want that cake, go ahead. You might find that you are able to eat a moderate amount of it without bingeing once your nutritional needs are taken care of. If you cannot, you then know that you are bingeing for emotional reasons. This is a good time for you to pick up the phone and call a support person, someone who is struggling and healing with you or to go to a meeting. If you cannot find any support groups in your area, you can also find online support. It’s okay to go to meetings online and meet people that way. You can make recovery friends that way and still have people to chat on the phone or to instant message with.
Here are some resources that might be helpful for you:
Online Groups:
I hope that this answers your question and you’ve found this helpful.
Warmly,
Leora
Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.

A recovery story- Finally choosing to let go of Ed

This amazing and intense recovery story was submitted by April via email.

My name is April and when I was 8 I started having serious body issues. I started my period and didn’t really know why or what it was. My mother was not a very nurturing mother always competing with me about weight and clothes and she would take over my friends so they liked her better. I hated my body. I remember praying to die at 8. I always felt awkward in my skin never comfortable.  I got the message early on that being fat like my aunt Kathy was unacceptable.  I was told fat people were not worthy of love and were failures in not so many words.  I started my first diet at 8 eating just an apple and orange every day for a week and lost weight. I saw the pride in my parents faces when I dropped weight.  The next few years were a blur until I hit junior high. I had friends and I felt like I belonged but my body was an issue.  I hated my body. I hated being in it. I would throw up but it was getting out of hand. Just when I felt stressed. I just sort of hated my body and then it was time for high school.  All my friends went to one school I went to another. I was shell shocked. I had no idea how to make new friends. I hated my body and myself and was in awe of all the pretty girls.  I turned inward. I was sad my old friends left no room for me in their life.  My home life was a little scary as my dad and brother constantly fought.  I would live in my room never coming out unless I had to. I also ate the same thing every day for over a year.  Then that summer I turned 15 and the binging and purging took over. I became a full-fledged bulimic. I lost weight I was like 95lbs and I loved being thin and I was 5’2” and usually 113 to 110. My parents put me in a hospital for kids with behavior issues. This only pissed me off because all they said was get to 100 and you can go home. I got to 100 in two weeks they never put me in with the eating disorder unit they just stuck me with gang members and drug addicts. I was so angry at my parents. I had no control and I felt so alone.  When I got out of high school I started exercising and running. I think started on anorexia. I would eat very little like an apple and glass of milk and then throw it up.  From the age of 19 to 33 I was severely anorexic and bulimic and exercise crazed. I had no life, no friends, and just was waiting to die. My life was sad and lonely.  I did manage to get a college degree, a paralegal certificate cause my dad wanted me to and then a master’s in business management. I quit any job if my weight came in question. I floated between 69lbs and 84lbs for that period of time.  I thought I would die and I wanted to. I somehow married and had two kids.  My kids are healthy but I was starving and binging and purging all through my pregnancies. I lost one but I blame myself cause I purged and was exercising two hours a day. Therapy after therapy couldn’t help me. I was married to a man that ignored me and treated me like servant. I realize now I picked that man because I could continue practicing my behavior because it went unnoticed. I started for some reason reaching out to people through FB. I don’t know why I did it but something in me changed. I saw my daughter being left out by my parents who treated my son like the number one grandchild and I just snapped. I thought I had to get better. I read the book by Portia De Rossi and one night I believe I heard the voice of God tell me to stop. I stopped. I stopped the crazy behavior and I stopped allowing a man to dominate and ignore me. I have had to cut out my parents because they are very sick and controlling and will never get help. I have had to get better for myself for my kids. The sad part is I had to recover alone with the help of God and the support of some friends.  I am getting divorced but it is the right thing to do.  Even if I end up alone forever, I have my health and my mind back. I am sad I wasted all those years and all that time stuck in an eating disorder without knowing how to lift the fog. I have no idea what the future holds for me but I know I am a good mother and I love my children and nurture them and will see they group up with love and self-esteem.  I had to come to terms too with the fact just cause I got sober doesn’t mean I can get everything I ever wanted. It doesn’t mean I can turn back the clock and recover lost time with people. That is probably the hardest part. Letting go of the pain and the hurt that I caused myself is really hard to do but I am trying to and it feels so good not being consumed with starving and exercising or purging. Life is hard enough and surviving an eating disorder for 22 years was hard but I did it, so I think I can pretty much do anything.  I lost so much time.  22 years wasted, and I don’t want to waste another minute, another day, another hour.

If you have a recovery story that you would like to be published, please send it to bingeeatingtherapy (at) gmail.com