Power to the What?

Before I had my son last fall I was petite but also strong  and healthy. I ate my three healthy meals a day, I ran  3-4 miles 3-4 times a week, I meditated daily, had a pretty good Vinyasa Yoga practice going, I ate ice cream, drank wine, and ate chocolate in moderate amounts.  I had a solid psychotherapy practice, a solid marriage and was enjoying a pleasant rhythm of life. I liked my body, I liked my routine and things felt relatively comfortable and easy. And then, after a few years of false starts, I finally got pregnant. and we were happy, my husband and I.

But pregnancy is not easy on a woman’s body. I developed a condition very early in my pregnancy called a subchorionic hematoma, which put me on moderate bedrest for the first half of my pregnancy. Which meant no running, no yoga (not even gentle restorative yoga), and pretty much doing nothing when I wasn’t at work other than laying in my bed. And I was hungry. I mean, I was really, really, really hungry. I was so hungry that I would be hungry while I was eating, I would be hungry after I finished a meal. The portions that I was used to eating were no match for my intense hunger. And forget eating fish, turkey, lean meats and vegetables. All I could stomach was fruit, pasta, grains, bread, juice and more fruit. I would sit down and ravage two whole mangoes in a few minutes. I would chug down watermelon juice. My body was totally rejecting protein and just begging for intensely sweet fruit. The only protein that I could manage to choke down was tofu. I would wake up in the middle of the night in agony because I was so hungry. The only way I’d fall back to sleep was by drinking milk and eating peanut butter. I was so hungry that I would sometimes cry because I just couldn’t quell this hunger. As he got bigger, there was less and less room. So I’d be ravenously hungry and uncomfortably full all at the same time.  I felt so different than I ever had in my body. It wasn’t like I was binge eating or restricting, it was like I was no longer driving the car. I just was not in charge. And, I gained weight. Because that is what happens when you get pregnant. You gain weight. And sometimes, a lot of weight.

My baby was born via C-Section at a whopping 8 pounds 8 oz and 21 inches long. And everything was great. But we were tired. Really, really, really tired. And the only thing I could get myself to eat was pasta and chocolate. It was easy, it was quick energy and it was all that I was craving. Really? Me, after years of eating a very balanced diet of mostly high quality proteins and unprocessed carbohydrates, I was all about spaghetti and chocolate.  I just couldn’t help it. I couldn’t be mindful about my eating, I was trying to keep this very demanding creature alive by using nothing more than my body. I fed him with my body all day long. And if he didn’t eat every two hours for an hour at a time, day or night, he would scream. I had no time to cut vegetables. I had no time to cook meat. I had no time to go to the farmer’s market and pour over beautiful organic produce. All I could do was breastfeed my baby, eat chocolate, eat spaghetti, change diapers, and if I was lucky, every once in a while, I’d get an hour of sleep. But that was rare.

So, let’s get back to my body. My stomach, which was once  tight and taught was  now completely stretched out. There was lots of loose skin, And, because I am a small woman who had a large baby,   my stomach muscles had split in half and my intestines were hanging out and pushing through the flesh of my stomach. And let’s not even mention the gigantic incision from my C-Section.  I also wound up having to have surgery to fix two hernias and now have three scars between my belly-button and pelvis. All just from becoming a Mom. Gross, right? Totally gross.

But not really.

To tell you the truth, I have never loved and been as proud of my body as I am today. I’m kind of in awe of it actually. It’s a workhorse. I can’t believe that my body managed to not only create a whole human being, but I’ve been able to make food for this baby in my body and keep building him for the past 11 months. I can’t believe that my body can create and grow and sustain a whole person! It’s amazing to me. To that end, I can’t believe that women’s bodies are exploited the way they are. Mens’ bodies should really be the display pieces, I mean, their nipples are vestigial.

So, do I still run several days a week and do yoga and have a great deal of consciousness about everything I eat? No. No. and No. But I’m not concerned. I imagine that when my baby isn’t a baby and longer, I’ll have time to do those things. Right now he is bringing me pleasure. He is my workout. He is my downtime and my fulltime job. My meditation and mindfulness practice still exists, though, not to the extent that it did. My baby is what I’m mindful of. I’ve definitely had to cut down my Psychotherapy practice a great deal, as I run home to nurse my baby between patients, and have to be home in the evenings to feed, bathe, and nurse him to sleep. And I’m happy. And very, very, very tired. But happy.

So what spurred me to write all this? It was this ad that I came across the other day: If you can’t read it, it says: Kick-start your day. Focus. Hit your stride. Breath. Change your pace. Change the oil. Make a difference. Make a home. Be courageous. Encourage others. Stay fit. Fit it all in. Breathe. Hug a kid. Kid around. Run your life. Run your heart out. Power to the She.

I know it’s supposed to be inspiring, but this ad made me really, really angry. It’s not new news that the media is detrimental to women, but this particular ad really rubbed me the wrong way. More than the ancient herion chic Calvin Klein ads with waifish Kate Moss, more than the diet pill ads, more than the Chanel ads of tiny women weighed down by big jewelry– I’ve become immune to all those ads and the messages they send. This one however, it really got to me, because it sends the message to women that not only do we have to be skinny, not only to we have to be perfect, but we have to be everything to everyone and nothing less is acceptable. We have to be to be Real Women.

What happened to us as women that we are expected to do all this? I mean, that is a lot to do in a day. When do I get to take a bath? When do I get to sit and eat a meal? When do I get to go to the bathroom? When do I get to check my email? Talk on the phone to my girlfriends? When do I get to relax with a glass of wine and watch reruns of Sex & the City on E!?   Obviously I don’t, because I’m busy running, doing laundry, cooking dinner for my husband, taking care of my kid, making sure that I don’t “lose my figure,” taking care of people around me, doing volunteer work, and being in complete control of everything around me– Running my life. But rejecting myself.

It’s just not okay. We as women have always been the ones who take care of everything. And we are expected to. This ad sends a message not  that we can have it all, but that we should be everyone to everything and still manage to workout all the time.  It sends a message to women that they have to be on top of things all the time, they can’t stop for themselves, it’s not okay to be tired, to be run down, to relax, to lose their shit, to freak out, to be sad, angry, lazy, or to be messy. This ad tells me that the “Power to the She”– Being a woman, is about being totally perfect, being in control all the time, and sacrificing my needs so that I can spend my days being everything to everyone. And skinny.

I call bullshit. I don’t think that these are feminist beliefs. I don’t think that men are held to these standards. My husband goes to work everyday, he’s a wonderful man and he’s a great Dad, but he’s not up three times each night breast feeding our son. He doesn’t run home several times during the day to nurse him and play with him and to make sure that he’s feeling safe and secure. Yet, because I’m the woman, I’m still expected to keep our house clean and cared for,  maintain my career and still go out for a run? No not in our house. Not ever.  I think that women are held to much, much higher standards, nearly impossible standards, lest they be judged. Women who stay home are lazy, women who work are neglectful, women who don’t exercise are lazy, woman should bear children, then still stay in shape to be sex symbols for their husbands, go to work, and still do the laundry.

No. That is not power to the she. Power to the she is responsibility to self first.  And that means not beating yourself up if you can’t be everything to everyone and still have a hot bod. It means splitting up your responsibility with your husband or partner.   It means taking care of your kids if you have them, taking care of your needs and asking for help if you need it. It’s not about being an island. It’s not about being perfect. That’s just a dangerous message. That’s just a woman trying to control herself and her environment to such an extreme extent that she’s not left anymore. She becomes what she does rather than who she is.

My feelings? As a woman, power to the she is taking care of what you need to and taking care of yourself first. Eating real food and honoring your hunger and your nutritional needs when you are pregnant and breastfeeding. Having integrity, being kind, and saying no to things that are too much. Knowing what is too much and being able to create boundaries. You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to beat yourself up if you can’t.

A lot of my clients feel so driven to be everything, that they wind up having these secret binge or binge and purge episodes or starving themselves, or exercising themselves into the ground. This isn’t okay. Women are being given the message that they have to be everything and they are hurting themselves to be so.

Power to the She? I’m rewriting this ad.

Be powerful, be strong, be good to yourself,  be everything that you can be, be proud of yourself, be encouraging to yourself and others, be loving to yourself, be loving to people around you, be kind to yourself, be compassionate to yourself, be calm, be bitchy, be happy, be sad, surrender control, honor your appetite, be in the moment, laugh, cry, let go, smell the roses, eat ice cream, drink wine, exercise when you can and try to relax and be you. 

 

 

 

Friday Q & A- My mom doesn’t believe that I have an eating disorder

my mom doesn't believe that I have an eating disorderQuestion:

Hi I am Sam. I have been suffering through a binging disorder for over 5 years now. I made a lot of progress over the years; I could go without binging for over a week, or sometimes when I would binge I could catch myself in the middle and be able to stop. But since the last two weeks I have been binging every single day, feeling uncontrollably helpless! My weight is just piling on and on. What do I do? They say journal writing helps, but it hasn’t been working for me. I feel so awful right now. Please tell me what to do? The more I think I’m a binge-eater, the more I binge. Also, last month I confessed to my mom about this issue. We live in Pakistan and eating disorders is something hardly anyone is aware of. So when I’m like I have this disorder and I’ve researched a lot on it, she’s like don’t be ridiculous..it happens to those who weigh like 400 pounds. And she’s like don’t read about it anymore on the internet and also that ‘you can control it yourself too if you try! I mean does she think I haven’t TRIED? This is purely ridiculously irritating! She did agree to take me to a psychologist, but only God knows when! She is very lazy and cool at things; which by the way pisses me off a lot.
I need help! I’m stuck in this cage with no one to open it! What do I do?

Answer:

Hi Sam, I’m sorry that you’re not getting the support that you need from your Mom nor your community. If she is not supporting you in getting the appropriate help, you might have to take it on yourself to get support. I would definitely recommend joining an online support group to help you discuss what’s going on for you with others who are dealing with the same thing.  Try to have an honest discussion with your mother. Tell her that you have something serious going on and that it’s very painful for you when she dismisses your feelings. Explain to her that you have a very serious problem and you need her help, not her denial.

As for your eating, journaling is a great start. You say it’s not working for you, but I would encourage you to keep at it. Healing from binge eating is a process and it takes practice. When you are feeling like you are ready to binge eat, grab your journal and just write, draw a picture, anything. Tell yourself that you can go eat after 20 minutes of writing. After 20 minutes, you might find that the urge has diminished.

You might try mechanical eating to start with. That is, making sure that you are eating 3-5 meals per day by the clock. For instance, you know that every morning you eat your breakfast at 7:30am, a snack at 10:00, lunch at 12:30, a snack at 4pm, then dinner at 8pm.  This will ensure that you don’t get too hungry and binge out of hunger and desperation.

Do lots of diaphragmatic breathing. For instance, each hour, on the hour, take 60 seconds to breath into your belly. In less than a minute you should be feeling relaxed, when you feel that you are about to go toward a binge food, stop for 60 seconds and breathe.  This mindfulness integration will give you a bit more time to make the choice as to whether or not you want to binge rather than the binge choosing you.

Try adding a little extra protein at each meal. This can help your digestion slow down and help keep your blood sugar stable and your belly fuller longer to keep your urges/cravings a little bit more controlled.

The following  websites have online support groups:

http://www.pale-reflections.com/register.asp

http://www.recoveryourlife.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=31

http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Eating-Disorders/support-group

http://binge-eating.supportgroups.com/#

By discussing what you are going through with other people, you won’t feel alone, and you will learn different recovery techniques. You can also use the forums as a place to turn when you’re wanting to binge, it can be your support and your distraction as well.

Compare and Despair

Goodtherapy shared this photo on facebook today. Wow. It’s so true isn’t it? That feeling that you get about yourself when you start to compare yourself to someone else… it’s just painful. There’s so much that we’re not — but what we are– when we focus on that– it can be pretty amazing.

Exercise for the minute: Quick 5 things that you are that are great.

Some adjectives for help– compassionate, kind, helpful, smart, interested, cuddly, stylish, well read, funny, thoughtful, considerate, silly, snarky, sarcastic, witty, good listener, punctual, organized, artistic, creative, active, laid back, colorful, energetic— anything there fit? What about you? I’ll be you can name  5 things about you that are uniquely you and wonderful.

 

Tips on How to Stop Binge Eating Quickly

I’ve been a therapist treating eating disorders since 2005 and I’ve been keeping this blog since 2007, and I continue to get emails from people, almost daily asking how to stop binge eating.  All I can say is that I have so much compassion and empathy for you. And I share in your frustration. I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave at you that would cure you from your binge eating. I wish I had a cure that was easy. I wish it were as simple as taking a pill or doing one thing differently.

But it’s not. It’s a process of mindfulness, self care, and patience. Lots of patience.  Let’s think about this, if you wanted to run a marathon, but you’d never run before, you wouldn’t expect that you could wake up one morning and run the Boston Marathon. You’d have to start by running a block, then two blocks, eventually a mile, then each week you’d do more and more and more. After 4-6 months, you might have the endurance to do it. That’s what healing from binge eating disorder is like. It takes endurance and strength and you have to build that.

That being said, there are a few things that you can do to help this process go a little bit quicker. There are some props that you can use to help you. Start by looking at the calendar and pick a day to quit bingeing and dieting. Know that even though you’ve picked this day, even if you binge again, you’re going to be kind and patient with yourself and remind yourself that this is a process.

1. Add a little more protein to your diet.  If you find that you are about to binge or that you want to eat something that you’re going to binge on, try to eat something with some protein in it first, like a hard boiled egg or two, or or some Greek yogurt.

2. Don’t go on a no-carb diet, but try to keep your carbohydrates low by eating unprocessed and whole carbs (beans, fruits, dairy with fat in it). Let yourself eat something like 1-2 squares of chocolate or cookies each day, but not until after you’ve had a full meal with lots of protein in it and not in the morning.

3. Eat 3 meals a day no matter what. This is so important!  So many binge eaters skip breakfast and lunch or skip other meals. Try it for one week at least to see how much of a change it makes. If you can’t commit to that, try to at least eat a good healthy breakfast every morning. Something like spinach and eggs, or whole fruit in plain yogurt. Then, try to give yourself at least three or four hours between meals.

4. Consider Amino Acid and mineral supplements: Ask your doctor or nutritionist before following this advice. That said, taking 500- 1500 milligrams of  L-gulutamine a few hours after you wake up, and then later in the afternoon (like around 2-3pm) and taking 200 mg of Chromium with each meal and before bedtime can help with decreasing binge cravings. Chromium is supposed to help stabilize your blood sugar levels which will keep your cravings for sugar and carbohydrates at bay.  Glutamine is an amino acid that  squelchs sugar cravings quickly. It gives your brain quick energy which can help you calm down a bit when you’re feeling like you REALLY need to binge. If you open the capsule and put the powder under your tongue, you might find that the urge to binge just stops. Taking GABA can help your mind and body find some peace so that you have the ability to let go of the binge.

5.Try hypnotherapy for quitting binge eating.  Listen to it more than once, listen to it often. It helps your body and mind relax and it helps you to remember and become conscious of what you’re doing. Binge eating is a largely unconscious act and this brings mindfulness to the process. It really does work!

7. Start an endurance training exercise program such as Team in Training or AIDS Lifecycle. Doing these training programs will help with black and white thinking around exercise.

10 Ways to Like Yourself More

Lucy (not her real name) came into my office telling me that she really just didn’t like herself and she never had. No matter what she did, she couldn’t find any sort of compassion or fondness for who she was. She worked really hard all through school, she was an excellent employee, she was the best party hostess and the best friend, but no matter what she did, she still felt that she wasn’t good enough.  She had an overwhelming sense of total worthlessness. Every time she reached a specific goal, lost a certain amount of weight, fit into a certain size, made a certain amount of money, she would ask herself, “can I like myself now?” And the answer was always the same, “no, you’re still not good enough, you’re totally unworthy.”  In her book Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach refers to this as the Trance of Unworthiness— the belief that you don’t belong in the world, that you are not good enough to exist.

We have a road map that we create that tells us how to be, feel, and live our lives, and there are ways to reroute that map. The following are things that you can do to help you like yourself more and reroute those behaviors that perpetuate self disdain.

1. Give up the belief that you need to change in order to like yourself. The trick is to accept who you are at this very moment. Telling yourself that you can like yourself when you are different or better will never work because there will always be more work to do. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have goals, but isn’t it easier to meet those goals and you will be happier when you do when you start off by feeling good about yourself. You are perfect, whole and complete right now at this very moment. Take a breath, be still and just for 30 seconds be with the essence of who you are. You can accept that person without changing. Meeting goals and evolving is what we naturally do as humans, that won’t change if you self-accept. In fact, you might find that you are more efficient because you are not bogged down by thoughts of worthlessness.

2. Take care of yourself. Make simple changes to help you to be more healthy. Floss your teeth, take your vitamins, groom your nails.  Do things that help you to feel valued by yourself. Show yourself that you are worthy.

3. Put yourself first. When someone asks you to do something, rather than instantly saying yes, tell them that you’ll give them an answer in 24 hours. That way you can think about whether or not this infringes on your boundaries. It helps you to understand whether or not you are sacrificing your own needs for someone else. So often people who don’t like themselves try to be indispensable for others. In the process though, they completely lose themselves. Keep yourself whole by being there for you first.

4. Forgive yourself. You have made mistakes. Of course you have. You are human. We all make mistakes. But being able to say, “okay, I messed up, but I can’t go back, I can’t stay in the past, I can only go forward…” is the way to move on with your life.

5. Let yourself do the things that you want to do. Think about what it is that makes you tick, the things that make you feel alive! Is it knitting? Is it martial arts? Is it cooking? Is it painting? Writing? Gardening? Whatever it is, even if it’s just something that you do as a hobby, allow yourself to follow your passion. When you do, you will find more joy in being you.

6.Let go of wanting. It’s okay to have desires. But when what you want equates to whether or not you are happy, you will never feel satisfied with who you are. When who you are is equal to what you have, you will never like yourself because you can always want and always have more. When you are grateful for what you do have, you can truly find peace. Try making a gratitude list. This is like counting your blessings. Just write down everything that you are grateful for and read it over and over. Feel it. Believe it. When you focus on that rather than what you don’t have, you will find a lightness like never before.

7. Let yourself be totally silly. See what it’s like to let down your guard. Try to let go of what other people are thinking. If you can’t, go into a room by yourself and just do the dumbest dance that you can possibly do, just to let off some steam and find some playfulness within. This is a way to enjoy your own company and just like being with yourself a bit more.

8. Don’t judge other people. Take a day to think of one nice thing about each person you come into contact with. You will feel lighter in your body. Letting go of judgment of others is one of the best ways to stop judging yourself.

9. Spend some time just being. Sit and try to follow your breath. Don’t force yourself to take deep breaths. Just close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and feel the way your breath. Do this for 1-5 minutes. You will find that your mind and body begin to relax. Your thoughts of having to do, do, do will fade and you will just be with you. This is another way to just accept who you are in this very moment.

10. Get help for self-destructive behavior. If you’re dealing with binge eating, bulimia, cutting, alcoholism, compulsive or unsafe sex, anorexia, or whatever behaviors you’re doing that make you feel bad about yourself – get help! Seek therapy or a 12-step group, or a support group, or all three. When you like yourself, you try not to destroy yourself.



Friday Q & A- I think I have Binge Eating Disorder- Help!

Question:

I think I have a binge eating addiction I don’t know who to talk to about this I currently suffer from depression and anxiety I don’t think I am worth anything at all I hate looking at myself in the mirror I am living in a Women’s recovery program for almost a year I’ve been clean from alcohol and opiates for over 15months, praise god!! I struggle with smoking cigarettes and I go from one compulsive act to another I am currently in a relationship for almost a year I don’t know if I really love him or if I am co-depending on  him but eating excessive amounts has always been apart of my life since I was 14yrs old. I eat differently from when I am around people versus being alone just please help me tell me what to do anybody!! I am hurting inside. One of my roommates, who is an ex drug addict realized my weakness for food and she is now disrespecting me and belittling me more than I already feel about myself if this gets to somebody please don’t take my cry for help lightly get back to me as soon as you can I am afraid to talk to anybody else about it.

 

Answer:

I am so, so, so very sorry that you are going through this. First of all, congratulations on 15 months sober from drugs and alcohol, that’s amazing!

I would like to see you really start to find safe people to talk to about this. It seems like you are living in a place of suffering alone, and it doesn’t have to be that way. You are beating yourself for all the things you believe that you’re doing wrong, when you’ve being doing so much right for more than a year.   It also seems like you  believe you have to tackle everything that’s going on all at once and immediately.  Though I think that taking action and taking responsibility for what’s going on in your life with be empowering,  I’m of the mindset that you should slowly tackle things one-by-one. For instance, the most pressing issue at this time is your abusive roommate, so it might behoove you to leave that situation and find a more stable one. Next, I’d probably start to talk to your therapist about your food issues. Because you say that you have no one to talk to, it would be a good idea for you to join a group like EDA or OA. As you begin to gain strength with a core group of women who can help you to feel more stable and more strong, you might be in more of a position to fairly evaluate your relationship. And then, when you are ready, you might want to work on quitting smoking.

Most of all, I hope that you are talking to people about what you are going through. You sound so very lonely and my bet is that if you look around you will find at least one or two supportive people who are willing to listen and be supportive.

 

Good Luck to you.

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.

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!

diet concept. woman mouth sealed with duct tape with bunsThis 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

101 Positive Body Affirmations

Positive Body Affirmations

Affirmations are statements that you repeat over and over in attempt to change your unconscious beliefs. Pick a few that you like and look in the mirror and repeat several times each day! If you can find some of these positive body affirmations that resonate for you and really allow yourself to see them, hear them and feel them, you might find some shifts in the way you think about yourself and your body.

101 Positive Body Affirmations

1. My body deserves love

2. I am perfect, whole, and complete just the way I am

3. I feed my body healthy nourishing food and give it healthy nourishing exercise because it deserves to be taken care of

4. I love and respect myself

5. It’s okay to love myself now as I continue to evolve

6. My body is a temple. I want to treat it with love and respect.

7. My body is a gift.

8. Food doesn’t have to be the enemy, it can be nurturing and healing.

9. Life is too short and too precious to waste time obsessing about my body. I am going to take care of it to the best of my ability and get out of my head and into the world.

10. I will not give in to the voices of my eating disorder that tell me I’m not okay. I will listen to the healthy voices that I do have, even if they are very quiet so that I can understand that I am fine. I am fine.

11. Food doesn’t make me feel better, it just temporarily stops me from feeling what I’m feeling.

12. I have everything inside of me that I need to take care of myself without using food.

13. A goal weight is an arbitrary number, how I feel is what’s important.

14. I am worthy of love

15. As long as I am good, kind, and hold myself with integrity, it doesn’t matter what other people think of me.

16. Other people are too busy thinking about themselves to care what my weight is

17. When I compare myself to others, I destroy myself, I don’t want to destroy myself so I’ll just continue on my journey, not worrying about other people’s journeys.

18. I am blessed to be aging. The only alternative to aging is death.

19. It’s okay for me to like myself. It’s okay for me to love myself.

20. I have to be an advocate for me. I can’t rely on anyone else to do that for me.

21. A “perfect” body is one that works, no matter what that means for you personally.

22. It’s okay for me to trust the wisdom of my body.

23. Just because someone looks perfect on the outside, doesn’t mean they have a perfect life. No one has a perfect life, we all struggle. That’s just what being human is.

24. If I spend too much time trying to be and look like someone else, I cease to pay attention to myself, my virtues, my path, and my journey.

25. When I look to others to dictate who I should be or how I should look, I reject who I am.

26. The last thing I should be doing is rejecting myself. Accepting myself as I am right now is the first step in changing, growing and evolving. When I reject myself, I cannot grow.

27. Self respect is underrated.

28. I can only go forward, so although I can learn from it, I refuse to dwell on the past.

29. ALL images in magazines are airbrushed, photoshopped, and distorted.

30. If people actively judge or insult me, it’s because they feel badly about themselves. No one who feels good about themselves has the need to put someone down to elevate themselves- they have better things to do with their time.

31. I have no need to put someone down to elevate myself.

32. I can be a good person if I choose to be.

33. It’s my life, I can choose the way I want to live it.

34. When I smile, I actually make other people happy.

35. Balance is the most important.

36. If I binge today, I can still love and accept myself, I don’t have to beat, berate and starve myself right afterwards, and I still have the very next moment to jump right back into recovery.

37. Recovery is an ongoing process that is not linear in fashion. If I slip up, I’ll take the opportunity as a learning experience and get right back to my recovery goals/program.

38. Progress is not linear. It’s normal for me to go forward and then backward, and then forward again.

39. I enjoy feeling good. It’s okay for me to feel good.

40. Having an eating disorder is not my identity.

41. Being skinny or fat is not my identity. I am identified by who I am on the inside, a loving, wonderful person.

42. I choose health and healing over diets and punishing myself.

43. My opinion of myself is the only one I truly know and it’s the only one that counts. I can choose my opinion of myself.

44. When I am in my head too much, I can return to my breath, just breath and be okay. There is only this moment.

45. It’s okay to let others love me, why wouldn’t they?

46. I am good stuff.

47. I am compassionate and warm. My presence is delightful to people.

48. My very existence makes the world a better place.

49. It’s okay to pay someone to rub my feet every once in a while.

50. If I am hungry, I am supposed to let myself eat. Food is what keeps me alive.

51. Getting older makes me smarter.

52. It’s okay not to be the best all the time.

53. My well-being is the most important thing to me. I am responsible for taking care of me. We are each responsible for ourselves.

54. No one has the power to make me feel bad about myself without my permission.

55. My feet are cute. Even if they’re ugly.

56. I eat for energy and nourishment.

57. Chocolate is not the enemy. It’s not my friend either. It’s just chocolate, it has no power over me.

58. I can be conscious in my choices.

59. I am stronger than the urge to binge.

60. I am healthier than the urge to purge.

61. Restricting my food doesn’t make me a better person, being kind to myself and to others makes me a better person.

62. Being skinny doesn’t make me good. Being fat doesn’t make me bad.

63. I can be healthy at any size.

64. Life doesn’t start 10 pounds from now, it’s already started. I can make the choice to include myself in it.

65. Food, drugs, and alcohol are not the solution. But they might seem like it at times, but using these things can make more problems. I have what I need inside of me as the solution.

66. There is a guide inside of me who is wise and will always be there to help me on my journey.

67. Sometimes sitting around and doing nothing is just what the doctor ordered. It’s okay to let myself relax.

68. I am a human being, not a human doing. It’s okay to just be sometimes. I don’t always have to be doing.

69. My brain is my sexiest body part.

70. Looks last about five minutes– or until someone opens their mouth.

71. My life is what I make of it. I have all the power here.

72. My body is a vessel for my awesomeness.

73. My body can do awesome things.

74. If I am healthy, I am so very blessed.

75. I won’t let magazines or the media tell me what I should look like. I look exactly the way I’m supposed to. I know because this is the way god made me!

76. What is supposedly pleasing to the eye is not always what is pleasing to the touch. Cuddly is good!

77. I can trust my intuition. It’s here to guide me.

78. Just because I am taking care of myself and being an advocate for myself doesn’t mean I’m selfish.

79. Not everyone has to like me. I just have to like me.

80. It’s not about working on myself it’s about being okay with who I already am.

81. My needs are just as important as anyone else.

82. Body, if you can love me for who I am, I promise to love you for who you are– no one is responsible for changing anyone else.

83. I will make peace with my body, it doesn’t do anything but keep me alive and all I do is insult it and hurt it. I’m sorry body, you’ve tried to be good to me and care for me, it’s time for me to try to be good back.

84. Thighs, thank you for carrying me.

85. Belly, thank you for holding in all my organs and helping me digest.

86. Skin, thank you for shielding and protecting me.

87. Other people don’t dictate my choices for me, I know what’s best for myself.

88. I feed my body life affirming foods so that I can be healthy and vital.

89. Taking care of myself feels good.

90. I can eat a variety of foods for health and wellness without bingeing.

91. There is more to life that losing weight. I’m ready to experience it.

92. If I let go of my obsession with food and my body weight, there is a whole world waiting for me to explore.

93. The numbers on the scale are irrelevant to who I am as a human.

94. Food is not good or bad. It has no moral significance. I can choose to be good or bad and it has nothing to do with the amount of calories or carbohydrates I eat.

95. I am still beautiful when I’m having a bad hair day.

96. My nose gives me the ability to breathe. Breath gives me the ability to be an amazingly grounded, solid person.

97. Being grounded and whole is what makes me beautiful. If I don’t feel grounded and whole, I can get there just by being still, breathing, listening to my intuition, and doing what I can to be kind to myself and others.

98. I am not bad and I don’t deserve to be punished, not by myself and not by others.

99. I deserve to be treated with love and respect and so do you. I choose to do and say kind things for and about myself and for and about others.

100. Even if I don’t see how pretty I am, there is someone who does. I am loved and admired. REALLY!

101. Beauty?… To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to. ~Pablo Picasso

You might also find some use with:

Guided Meditation Download for Positive Body Image

Meditation Download to Find Your Inner Wisdom

*Photo credit to A Merry Life