What I love about myself:
- I love that I have been binge-free for over two years and feel comfortable in my own skin.
- I love how I feel at the gym – I feel strong, fit and confident. (Sadly, I do not feel confident outside the gym, not sure why that is.)
What I have come to love about myself:
- I love that finally, at the age of 41, I am gaining so many types of awareness about myself, things that are helping me to grow as a person.
- I love that I have started to, for the first time since I was a very young child, tune into my body and listen to what it needs.
What I need to work on:
1. My self-confidence
2. Loving myself as a whole, believing that I bring a lot to the table.
Who is the Compulsive Overeater? I have been drawn to their blog, because sometimes I feel it would be nice just to write and not have a known identity. There’s something pure about the story with they’re sharing below, about how they overcame over-eating, that gives me hope that I to will be able to write a SUCCESS STORY someday. Their words are honest, fresh, and so important to read for anyone who may have disordered eating patterns and/or who may need to reach out for additional help. I think it’s a fabulous testament on how to overcome and succeed with food.
I am utterly honored that Michelle asked me to guest post on her blog. While I am certainly no expert, I would be happy to share my story of how I have been binge-free for over two years, after being a compulsive (over)eater for over three decades, and tell you how I deal with food these days.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN…
Unbeknownst to me, I became a compulsive eater when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Closeness was not fostered in our house between my parents, older brother and I, and I turned to food to find the nurturing and comfort that I needed. In addition, my mother would go food shopping, buy junk food for the family, but she would hide it from me because she knew I would never just eat a “normal” share and leave enough for the rest of the family.
I found out a couple of years ago in therapy that my mom, unknowingly I’m sure, was giving me the message – you cannot be trusted with food. So the bingeing began at a young age with trips to the store to buy junk. I would eat it when no-one was home, stuff the empty bags/containers/wrappers back into the supermarket bag, and then bury that in the trash can. I had low self-esteem and was pretty insecure (as many tweens, teens are.)
As I got older, I continued binging off and on. I thought I just had a sweet tooth. My weight yo-yo’d up and down throughout my life, going from 105 lbs to 172 lbs and everywhere in between. Mind you, I am only 5’3”.
As an adult, at parties my goal was to get back to the dessert table over and over again. How good the party was to me was based upon the foods that they had, not the people or the conversations. I would talk to people, but in the back of my head I would be thinking about a certain food and would ultimately make up some excuse to get away from that person so I could go eat some more.
When I was married and we entertained, I loved to clean up after everyone left so that I could devour the leftover desserts. I have pulled food out of the sink, the trash, you name it. I would shove food into my face without even really tasting it. I would just shovel and shovel until I was sick and sometimes that shoveling didn’t stop even with that horrible bloated feeling. Of course after I was done, I would vow that it would be my last binge and that I would be “good” the next day, but sadly, I was only sometimes able to actually pull that off.
Fortunately, throughout my life, I had always exercised. So I am certain that I would have gotten much heavier if I hadn’t been working out.
THE TURNING POINT…
So one night at the end of December 2007, I was home alone watching TV and somehow the idea of compulsive eating popped into my head. I went to my laptop and started googling. I eventually ended up at the Overeaters Anonymous website. They had something on their site that asked “are you one of us” or something like that, and I answered “yes” to just about every question. This was horrifying, yet thrilling to me at the same time. Being an A-type personality, I was thrilled to finally have a term and a compartment to put this part of my life in. I wrote a long letter to my husband telling him about this new revelation about myself and did a LOT of crying over the next few days. Years of shoved down emotions had finally bubbled to the surface.
So then the real journey began. I embraced the eating disorder, started going to OA meetings, got myself into therapy, continued with my working out and have not gone on a binge ever since.
HOW TO WORK WITH IT…
While I do have a lot of things that I’m still working on, thanks to my therapist (a recovering compulsive eater himself) who has opened my mind to SO many things, I deal much better with food these days.
As most compulsive (over)eaters do, I have control issues. I weigh and measure my food, and I have been a calorie counter since I was a teenager even though sometimes the calorie counts were astronomically high. I have also been getting on the scale every day for decades, but have recently gone cold turkey on that. That was my first step in letting go of some of my white knuckle control. I hope one day to be able to stop the weighing/measuring/calorie counting, but I can only take one baby step at a time.
I have a food plan that I follow pretty strictly, although I’m finally to the point where I do allow myself some slack and realize that going over my calories a couple times of month is not going to make 10 lbs automatically fly onto my body. This food plan allows me the freedom of not having to worry what I’ll be eating that day. It’s quite freeing and comforting.
The newest thing I’m working is on tuning in to my body to listen to its hunger cues. This is so new to me as I have always been very regimented with my eating, i.e. eating a snack at 2pm simply because it’s 2pm, whether I’m hungry or not.
I do not deprive myself. The foods that I eat have been tested and chosen over the past couple of years and I really love to eat them. I eat chocolate every single day without fail.
Also, I’m a big planner. I try to leave very little to chance when it comes to food. If I know I’m going to be out of the house doing errands or something, I always pack a water bottle and a healthy snack. I don’t want to be caught starving and have to be faced with making choices between things I know aren’t good for me that will leave me hungry (and feeling bad) five minutes later.
STAYING ON TRACK…
I have definitely had a few slips here and there, but the have never led to me tossing all my hard work out the window, saying – screw it, then eating everything in the house that wasn’t nailed down as I was prone to doing in the past.
I have this great bracelet that I wear, that is a constant reminder of my abstinence. When I first started wearing it, I first used it to mark the days, then weeks, then months and now years of my abstinence. It is a silly thing of black string and beads I bought at a craft store, but it means the world to me.
I still have my struggles, but most of those times are when I’m at an event or party and am faced with foods that are enticing and that I know are triggers for me. But with my therapist, I’m working that. He tells me that if I expand other things in my life, my obsession with food will get less and less. He’s right. He has also told me that how I frame certain foods is very important. For example, I have often said something like – brownies are my kryptonite. He has shown me that by framing the brownies in that manner, I’m already setting up a tense and often losing situation for myself.
So, slowly but surely I am learning how to deal better with my food addiction/obsession/compulsion. I weigh the least amount I have ever weighed in my adult life and have maintained this loss for over a year now. It feels wonderful to look in the mirror and like what I see. It feels great to be comfortable in my own skin, something that was foreign to me for TOO many years.
WHO AM I?
Happily married with two kids, I feel like discovering that I was a compulsive overeater almost two years ago was a giant stepping stone in my personal growth as a woman. OA and therapy have been invaluable to me. Every day is a struggle, but I do think it’s getting a bit easier as time goes on. My gym workouts help to keep me sane and give me balance.
If you would like to read more about my daily struggles of being a compulsive eater, I invite you to check out my blog at www.confessionsofacompulsiveeater.com