Our Functional Lies

Recovering from binge eating is not unlike recovering from an addiction.  Even though I don’t believe binge eating falls into the addiction category (here’s why), I do recognize that there are underlying beliefs and attitudes common to both.  The one I want to focus on today is truth.  Or rather lying.  It’s not truth that is the problem, it’s the lies we tell to cover up the truth, to disguise ourselves from reality.

Some of us, myself included, believe our own lies.  We become so adept at telling them, we forget there is a truth.  Lying becomes a thing we must do to make ourselves more valuable or at least less shameful.  You may impress someone with a lie, but once you speak it, trust is broken down.  You can’t build a relationship on lies or half-truths.  And you can’t trust yourself when you don’t know what the truth really is. So, how do we get out of this maze?

You must first recognize you have a problem.  I’m not talking about your overeating problem.  You already recognized that or your wouldn’t be reading this blog.  But think about the kind of lies you tell others or yourself, not just deceitful lies, but your functional lies.  These can be lies about your feelings, needs and desires.  They can be lies about your past or even about not being hungry and pushing your plate away when you really want to finish that pasta.  We use these lies to prevent shame or enhance our standing in someone else’s eyes.  We use them to trick ourselves into believing we are okay or are doing the right thing.

I used to tell the story that I learned how to swim because my dad pushed me off a dock into a deep lake when I was seven years old.  In reality, I took swimming lessons the summer I was seven.  I also used to tell people that I went to Catholic school from first through twelfth grade.  Actually, I only went to parochial school for a few years.  But, to me, it just sounded more impressive to say otherwise.

These lies were innocuous. They were not bad or dangerous, but they reinforced a sense in me that I was not enough as I was.  I had to constantly think of enhancements to my story to keep people interested.  And the more I told these lies, the easier it was to weave a tapestry of a false life.

 Once you start this, it eventually becomes second nature to hide events and thoughts and feelings from others.  You may even be convinced that you are protecting them.  But this is an arrogant position to function from, as if you think you are smarter or have a greater depth of being than everyone around you. You convince yourself you must lie so that others will not make false assumptions about you, because they would never understand and accept you if you told them the truth, right?

In this type of existence, you may feel lost and empty, you don’t know what you want out of life because you cannot accept yourself for who you are.  In my case, this led to harsh scrutiny of my body.  I didn’t have very close relationships with other stable people and instead of examining my interactions with them, I blamed my outward appearance. I looked for diets and food plans to keep me on track and when these failed, I became bulimic.  Even after overcoming bulimia, I was still obsessed with food and body issues, for many years, to a point of malfunction.

And really, all the suffering I put myself through over the years was only caused because I believed the biggest lie of all – that I was not good enough just the way I was.

 

“I am not concerned what others think about me, I am concerned what God thinks about me.” MDcut out advanced

Do You Have What It Takes?

If you’ve read any other posts from this blog, you know I believe anyone can cultivate any trait they desire. You may not believe it just yet, but you were born with the characteristics of integrity, persistence, a positive outlook, a thankful spirit, self-confidence, and many more.  You didn’t miss the boat if you had a crappy childhood or made bad decisions in the past.  You don’t have a character flaw or some defect in your brain. You can cultivate characteristics you desire to be successful in any endeavor you choose.  All you must realize is that you don’t need to DO anything to earn these traits. You possess them already, they are just waiting to be acknowledged.

Success can be defined in many ways.  To some, it’s a great paying job, to others its completion of a creative endeavor, to someone else it may be getting healthy or overcoming a setback.  For me, overcoming binge eating was a huge hurdle. And I’ve had days, in the past, where getting out of bed meant I had a successful day.  But whatever you call success, we all have some common characteristics that make it happen.  It could be hard work, determination, persistence, confidence or desire.  It could be changing a process or creating a daily habit.

Whatever you think it requires to be successful, there is one underlying belief which is the foundation for any positive trait you desire.  This is a knowledge that you are valuable. And I’m not talking about a value that comes from prior successes and accolades from others.  I’m talking about a belief in the core of your being that you are okay, that no matter what happens, you have everything you need to do what you want to do.

You may say, “How can I believe I’m valuable if I feel so unworthy?” or “I feel like I have a hole inside that can’t be filled with anything.”  Well, here’s the revelation- just because you don’t feel worthy or significant doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy or significant.  Your feelings don’t reflect your value.  They only reflect the thoughts and beliefs you have learned during your experience of life.  And no action on your part, good or bad, will change your inherent value.  You are a valuable human being whether you believe and feel it, or not.

What Happened?

We all start out with confidence as kids, but life happens, and we end up second guessing ourselves.  I remember, in seventh grade, being chosen to represent my school in an oratory contest. I had a month to practice and knew I could win.  I was so excited, I ran home that Friday afternoon and read the speech to my mom.  She promptly told me I would have stage fright.  I know she didn’t mean to quench my enthusiasm, she just meant to warn me that it would be different up on the stage.  But that word ‘stage fright’ stayed with me.  By Monday morning, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t possibly get up in front of hundreds of people because I would have stage fright.  So, when I got to school, I found myself explaining to the nuns why I couldn’t do this.  They quickly dismissed me and found someone else to represent the school.  I was heartbroken and ashamed.

I wouldn’t say this event was the cause for my struggles throughout life, but it was one of a myriad of events that made me question my value.  I found myself thriving on the encouragement and positive feedback from others.  The problem is, when you look for the approval of others, you end up doing things you think they want you to do and not what you were really meant to do.  It took a long time to realize my confidence had to come from inside me, that it was a direct reflection of my inherent value.  All I had to do was see it.

Applying this to my eating disorders, I came to terms that my exterior body was just a fraction of the totality of me.  And my complete persona is different than anyone else on this earth.  I don’t have to fit into anyone else’s idea of beauty or goodness to be a valuable person.  I don’t have to eat what everyone else thinks I should eat.  I just need to eat what I think I want and need and go from there.  Sometimes I eat too much or too little or the wrong things, but I am confident that my body and I will get it right in the long run and I keep chugging away each day.  And whatever happens, I remember this…..I am a child of God. I don’t have to do anything to earn the grace that God offers me. All I have to do is reach out and accept it.

For more information on how to start the binge free process click here

“Confidence may not be what you think it is.  It may not be the self-assurance that you have talent or that everything is going to work out, it may just be the willingness to take a first step and see what happens.” MDphilbeach

Perpetual Motivation?

Just like it’s easier to clean your house when someone is coming to visit, its easier to eat normally when you are properly motivated. But continual motivation does not come from wanting to lose weight or fit into smaller clothes. Appetite overrides those reasons easily. And motivation doesn’t come from disliking your own body or being disgusted with yourself. (why would you want to help someone you don’t like?) Lasting motivation doesn’t even really come from wanting to be healthier or be your best self.

All these things may inspire you to change something in your life. But when there is no substance to back up the initial surge of motivation, each time you start a diet or make a change in your food or exercise habits, something inside you thwarts your attempts. When you feel stressed or things just don’t turn out like you planned, you lose your mojo.

So how do you ‘stay motivated’ to do the right thing?

The truth about motivation is that it is inconsistent. Its very nature is fleeting and unfaithful. We look at others who accomplish what we only dream of and wonder how they stay so motivated. But it isn’t motivation that keeps them going. It isn’t even their routines and habits. It’s much more basic than that. Motivation is just the key that starts the engine, but your beliefs are the fuel that keep that engine running.

Imagine you know a person that gets on your nerves. Maybe they’ve said unkind things to you or kicked your dog, or they burp in public. For whatever reason, you don’t like or respect them. Now imagine they asked you for a really big favor that would benefit them and puts you in an uncomfortable position. Would you be inclined to help them? Probably not.  Someone being mean to you is not a very good motivator for you to do them a favor.  If they had not been mean to you and treated you with dignity and respect, would you be more willing to help them?

It’s the same for yourself, even if you desperately want to change, you will find it difficult to help yourself if you don’t already like who you are here and now. When you are busy berating yourself and feeling guilty for eating or being overweight, you want to change because you are anxious to be a better person. But this anxiety can blind you to the fact that you already ARE an awesome person. You are already one hundred percent good just the way you are. Getting thinner and healthier will make you thinner and healthier, it will not make you any more valuable than you are now.

So, the secret to staying ‘motivated’ is self-acceptance, self-respect and self-love. No amount of eating right or weight loss can give you these things. But if you can realize them now, as you are, you will be able to do the things you set out to do.

Once you stop the guilt and shame, you will be immune to fast food marketers and food pushers. You will be able to walk into a buffet and eat only what you want and not crave anything else. You will be able to walk into the supermarket with a list of foods and not come out with two boxes of donuts that you will demolish on the way home. You will be able to keep cookies and other treats in your panty without being afraid of eating them all at one sitting.

This is a miraculous feeling and it is within your grasp, no matter how abnormal you think you are, no matter what you have eaten in the past and no matter what anyone has told you. It IS possible to eat well without trying to restrict certain foods, without counting calories and without using sugar free and fat free substitutes. When you accept that you are a valuable person just the way you are, you will find you will naturally have what it takes to take care of yourself and your body.

For  more on Binge Free Living click here

 

Be bold. Don’t beg God for favors. Ask once and thank him that it is already on its way. WIN_20180226_10_11_05_Pro

How To Surrender… And Win

After yo-yo dieting and binge eating most of your adult life, eating whatever you want may seem impossible.  When I first began my binge free journey,  I told myself I would eat what I wanted, when I wanted, where I wanted.  I took all restrictions off food.  In case you are wondering, I did not picture myself eating ten thousand calories worth of chocolate cake every day and not gaining a pound, but I did picture myself eating meals I liked and food I wanted, including chocolate cake, with no restrictions on type of food or portion sizes.

Somehow, I knew this was the right thing to do.  I was overeating at almost every meal and bingeing in times of stress. I  know, it doesn’t make sense.  If you want to stop eating too much, you should be able to say to yourself, “Stop eating so much.”  And poof…you stop eating so much.  I tried this for 25 years and it never worked, and it never will work, so why do we keep doing it?  I finally gave up dieting to save my sanity and maybe even my life.

When I say the words ‘gave up,’ I don’t mean I considered myself a failure and started eating because I’ll never lose weight anyway or that food defeated me.  It’s quite the opposite.  I took control of my eating by allowing myself to eat what I thought my body wanted at any given time.  Instead of succumbing to the food I used to restrict, I now eat my fill and it doesn’t rule me anymore.

I didn’t throw all my knowledge about nutrition out the window, but I did buy and eat foods I never allowed myself to eat in the past.  It seems ironic that I eat less of those foods now than when they were restricted.

When you restrict food or even have thoughts of not eating in the future, like starting a diet on Monday, your body gets a stress signal – ‘food will be scarce.’  So, it encourages you, rather compels, you to eat more now.  How many ‘last suppers’ have you had?  If you do happen to thwart the compulsion and reduce your calories for any period of time, your body slows down your metabolism to conserve energy.  At some point, you will give in to hunger for more calories and go off your diet, which causes you to feel guilty and eat more.  There you are, back in the vicious cycle.

To stop this cycle forever is not difficult if you really want to do it.  The hardest part is to be faithful to it.  As with any change, you must make a concerted effort to stick with the program.  This means eating cookies when you have a taste for them and not thinking of ways to make up for it later.  It means telling yourself you can still eat whatever you want the next time you are hungry, regardless of what or how much you just ate.  It means taking the guilt out of the eating process entirely.

Once you get used to this process and quit second guessing your decision to not diet, your body and your psyche will stop being at odds with each other.  And once they get on the same side, you will feel a peace that you may have not experienced in a long time.

For tips on Motivation click here.

“I used to ask the question -Why do I always do stuff that makes me feel guilty? When the real question is -Why do I feel guilty for the stuff I do?” MD

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The Binge Is Gone, Now What?

The thrill is gone.  The food police have left the building. The scale is broken.  The party is over.  But it’s not an ending, its just a beginning.

All this doesn’t mean I don’t overeat sometimes or that I lost tons of weight or that I eat exactly what I want all the time.  In fact,  the first few months of binge free living, I found myself eating just because I could.

But truthfully, food just doesn’t turn me on that much anymore.  I still love to eat, but my tastes have changed.  It’s almost depressing, knowing that a piece of homemade chocolate cake won’t send me over the moon.  If I don’t have cravings, why do I still eat those things?

One reason is that I am still proving to myself I can eat whatever I choose.  And if I have to work too hard to eat something healthy over junk food, many times, I’ll choose the junk food.  It seems obvious how to change this.  Just make it easier to eat healthy food.  But in reality, you have to work with what you have, play the cards you were dealt, make lemonade out of  lemons… you get the idea.

I’m not making excuses, but I live with my husband, my mother in law and my son.  My son is 24, a college graduate and has a great job, but he also has student loans, so we told him he could live here for awhile after he graduated to get a handle on the loans.  And after my husband’s dad died, it became pretty clear his mom couldn’t live alone, so we made room for her in our home.  That leaves my husband and I in the classic position that characterizes our generation, sandwiched between our progeny and our parentage.  All who eat completely different than me.

I’ve often pictured how I would eat if I lived alone, or with people whose palate was more akin to mine and I always prefer to be with my current family than alone or with someone who shared my dietary likes.  So, yes, I AM using my family as an excuse to eat less than the best I know and want to eat.

I want to eat colorful veggies at every meal, they all want meat, cheese and starch. I don’t typically care about snacks; my hubby snacks throughout the day.  I can’t complain about my son because he’s not here half the time for meals, and when he is, he’ll eat just about anything that isn’t nailed down.

So, how do you eat what you really want at any given meal without cooking three different entrees?
I could just cook for myself, but in my household, I do the cooking for everyone and mother washes up the kitchen.  I like this state of affairs, it keeps her feeling like she has a responsibility and it keeps me from cleaning (win-win).  I also figure that if I cooked exactly what I wanted all the time, everyone in the house would eat bologna sandwiches.

I’ve given up trying to change their eating patterns and help them eat healthier because, well…because it doesn’t work.  I realized this the day my husband chose to make a sandwich over a balanced meal I had prepared.   I can’t make them eat any differently than they have always eaten just because I am eating differently.  I can encourage them, but decided this is not good either since it puts me in a position where I am trying to control the behavior of other adults and I don’t want to be in that position.   I just got OUT of that mindset!

I could make this another dilemma in my life, but I don’t focus on it.  Somehow, we get through each day.  We have ‘fend for yourself’ days, we go out to eat some days and sometimes, I do cook two different meals, but I keep it simple.  That mindset seems to work for me.

To read how I thwarted a binge and never went back, click here.

 

“Take care of itself, the outcome will, if you focus on the process more.” MD105_0403

 

Do I HAVE To Like Myself?

While in college, I once met a guy at a bar.  I know…first mistake, right?  In my defense, the bar was mostly grad students blowing off steam.

This guy was a post grad in engineering and was leaving the next day for a focused study group in another city.  We hit it off with interesting and funny conversation, so we made a date for a Saturday night in two weeks, when he would be back in town.

I lived alone at the time, was struggling with school, being chubby, eating, and life in general.  When we made the date, I figured I could lose at least ten pounds in the two weeks, so the next time he saw me I would look better.  It didn’t occur to me that he must have been attracted to the way I looked that night, but that’s the story of the chronic dieter, right?  I set out the next day to go on the most restrictive diet I could find.

Two weeks later, and ten pounds heavier, I met my new friend for our date.  I was nervous as he approached my car in the parking lot of the restaurant we were supposed to meet.  My pants were so tight, it was hard to breath, and I wore the highest heels I could find, to look taller.  He smiled at me and we went into the restaurant.

During the dinner, I was mortified he would think I was disgusting since it was obvious I had gained weight since we met.  I stammered through conversation that didn’t flow as easily as the first time.  But I thought there was still some kind of spark and wanted to explore it further.  We didn’t go out as a couple after that, but became close friends.

One day, while sitting in the student center, he asked, “Why do you do this to yourself?”
“What,” I asked.
“You know, keep people at a distance. Try not get close to anyone- put up this sort of, wall.”
I decided to be truthful with him.  “Well, for one thing, I was interested in you romantically the first time we met and wanted to get to know you better, but when you saw me the second time and saw how fat I was, you backed off and only wanted to be friends.  It kinda hurt.  Why should I put myself out there to be rejected?”
“That’s, funny,” he quipped, “I thought you were the one who backed off, so I backed off too.”
We looked at each other and laughed.  We never did date but remained close friends.

Sometimes relationships just go like this. And sometimes we make relationships go like this.

After that conversation I began to realize I was ‘doing this’ to myself.  I was the one who thought I was fat and unattractive, so I was giving that information to myself and sending it out to the world.  I wanted to change my outside appearance, not realizing I needed to change my inside appearance.

Fast forward a few decades…one year into learning how to accept myself and my body exactly the way I am. I am beginning to appreciate my value because I am a human being.  Yes, I have accomplishments that I am proud of.  But if I use them as the basis for my self-esteem, I will constantly go through life worried that I must top what I’ve already done.

Don’t get me wrong, striving to be a better person is a good thing.  But when you accept your inherent value and like yourself regardless of what you look like or act like now, becoming a better person is a natural and straightforward process.

Think about it – Do you like to help people you don’t respect or those who don’t like you? It’s the same with yourself… If you don’t like yourself, you will find it difficult to help yourself or do the right thing.

How do you learn how to like yourself?
Know this – You are human. You overeat or binge to quell anxiety and stress.  And even when you are not stressed, you may overeat due to habit.  But your body is doing the best it can for the information you are giving itTake the badness out of this behavior and it becomes manageable in ways that you never even thought of.

With this new understanding, I gave up trying to mold my body and my personality to fit into what I thought others wanted me to be.  I used affirmations and any positive encouragement I could find. After 15 months of this practice, I am still learning new things.  I am happier and healthier in mind and body than I was a year ago.  If I can do this, you can do this too.

 What To Do

Stop using all your effort to berate and criticize yourself and put that same effort into telling yourself  how good you are.  It won’t take long for you to begin to believe in yourself and change your life.

Actions

Say positive affirmations about your worth, out loud, a few times a day.
Read inspirational books and articles.
Listen to encouraging messages.  I recommend  Joel Osteen podcasts (also available on Sirius XM.
Find upbeat people to be around.
Question your motives.                                                                                                                          Practice seeing the positive in every situation.

You CAN do this!

“You are not defective or bad, you do not lack willpower.  You do not have a character flaw or a bad attitude.  You do not have a past or a genetic flaw that you cannot overcome.  You are significant and hold a special place on this earth just like each person does.” MD

stmarysedited

 

 

The Anti-Binge

No one wants to be told what to do, especially a stressed person who is actively binging. They feel the need to have everything under control themselves.  If one thing goes wrong, like eating some cookies, getting an urge to eat chocolate cake, or even if the weather isn’t what you wanted today,  the binge is on.

This mentality gets you stuck in, what I call, shamedom.  You either hide what you are doing so no one will know, or you eat in public, with a chip on your shoulder, daring anyone to even look at you funny. No wonder food never seems to satisfy!

The goal of my writing is not necessarily to commiserate about how difficult this journey is or to tell about the unpleasant things I have been through. The goal is to help people, who are actively learning how to eat normally, accept themselves and get some kind of dignity back in their lives.

With that in mind, I want to share the story of the first time I actively thwarted a binge. This was also the last time I ever had an uncontrollable craving, and that was over a year ago.  It would be easier to just write a list of things you should do to stop bingeing and eat normally, and in some posts I may do that.  But lists of things look a lot like rules.  And let’s face it, none of us likes to follow rules.  If we did, we wouldn’t be in this situation, right?

Here’s my story:

Its been three days since I started telling myself I could eat anything I want, any where I want, anytime I want.  I am walking through the grocery store and spot a package of Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip muffins.  I try to remain calm as I pick them up and look at the nutrition label.  Before I remember that I don’t need to do this anymore, I see the information- Calories 360, Total Fat 18g, Total Carbs 46g.

I put them down and think to myself, “I want something sweet, I am allowed to eat something sweet. So I will find something sweet and chocolate that is not as bad as these muffins.”

I rush over to the bakery department and as soon as I turn the corner on the last isle, I see tables full of cakes, cookies, pies and muffins.  They ALL call to me.  I am overwhelmed at how much I want to eat every single chocolate baked good I see.

I start to wonder if I could eat a whole cake in the car and hide the evidence before I get home.  I am disappointed.  My cravings seemed under control when I decided to eat what I want, and now I’m planning a car binge. Why?

Just then, a thought emerged,

“If you can eat anything you want, why do you think you have to settle for the low fat, low calorie or low sugar stuff?  If you want the Otis Spunkmeyer muffins, eat the dam muffins, eat a hundred of them if you want. You REALLY are allowed to eat ANYTHING you want. It’s okay”

I go back and pick up the muffins, thinking they will be good with a cold glass of milk when I get home, if I am still in the mood.

Those muffins stayed on my counter for three days before I even opened the pack.  And not because I forced myself to stay away from them, but because I allowed myself to eat them whenever I wanted.  This permission took the urgency to eat them away, and I didn’t open them until I felt like it.  I ate two in the next week and had to throw the last one away.

In my experience, if I had continued on the path of trying to find something to replace the muffins and trying to fight the urge to eat all the other sweets I saw, I would have bought a couple boxes of the bakery muffins and gobbled them down on the way home -all the while berating myself and telling myself how terrible of a person I was.

In the beginning of my journey, any thought of restriction or limitation was fuel for a craving. Once I decided to take off the restriction,  It took several days to realize that I did not have to actively try to limit my portions, and I did not have to find alternative foods for things I wanted.  Of course, it took me several years of therapy, reading and striving to be a better person to even get to the point where I could say, “I can eat whatever I want.”

But, after practicing this for over a year, my thought now is, “Why would I NOT eat exactly what I want?”

A list of tips and advice on how to Take Action to stop bingeing Click here

“I live the life I want to live.  There is no need to struggle if my actions are in line with my needs and desires. When my own needs and desires are met, I can help care for others with an open and honest heart.” MD

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