As I begin to write the third and final chapter of Breaking Up With Binge Eating, my journey through an eating disorder that I thought would be the death of me, I feel nervous, because this post is unlike the other two. This is the honest, no beating around the bush story. This is as raw, scary and true as I can speak it.
The first two articles, I was still healing. I wasn't through it yet. I wasn't ready to talk about all of the horrible parts of my eating disorder because they were still very real for me. Quite frankly, I didn't want to even identify I had an eating disorder.
It wasn't until I was doing research for a new client I was working with and I was reading the definition of various eating disorders on NEDAs website. I stopped when I saw Binge Eating Disorder and cried.
It makes sense now.
It's not just a "food thing", I have.
"Binge eating disorder (BED) is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. Binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening and treatable eating disorder. Common aspects of BED include functional impairment, suicide risk and a high frequency of co-occurring psychiatric disorders.
Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting 3.5% of women, 2% of men,1 and up to 1.6% of adolescents.2"
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
- Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
- A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).
- The binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
- Eating much more rapidly than normal.
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
- Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.
- Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating.
- Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.
- Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
- The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for 3 months.
Many emotions and thoughts took over me as I read this definition from NEDA.
“I refuse to be a label”
“Oh my god, I’m not alone”
“It’s not just a ‘food thing’
“How could I have not know this”
In the moments afterwards as I was sitting with quite truly, a lot of shame and hurt, I also felt a lightness within my body. A lightness that spoke ‘thank you’. This was the beginning of truly coming to a place of understanding with what was happening and how I could finally come back into my power as a woman.
Before I tell you how I did it though, I want to be real with what this eating disorder looked like for me. Because I lied to you, my friends and family for so long.
I was in a place where I started this beautiful business that’s sole purpose is to teach women how to honor their body through food, movement and self love and I couldn’t keep my shit together. My clients became my closest friends though and so when I needed help, I didn’t want to make myself look like I couldn’t help them.
My brilliant dad was so proud of me for starting SCR and I felt like I should have known better, I shouldn’t have wound up here with this mind numbing, horrible "food thing".
So I was quiet, when I had months of feeling confident and happy, like I was healing, I would share parts of my story. Only to hide the most honest truths.
“What will they think?”
"I am broken"
Here’s what it looked like for me.
The first time I can remember binging, which was different than overeating a bit too much pizza, I was laying on my couch with my then husband and I was shoving tortilla chips down my throat.
“I’ve been so good this week, I’m okay to have all of these”
As we watched Dexter, I could feel my body wanting to stop but I kept going. My stomach started to hurt and now my mind was telling me it wanted to be over but I began to eat faster and more aggressively as I ignored what my body was saying. I wanted to stop though. It felt like a monster has risen from within and told me that I had mission to complete: eat all of this food.
I understand how this sounds, and I know that when you see a beautiful pizza for the first time you’re like: LET ME GET EFFED UP ON PEPPERONI, I WILL DESTROY YOU.
This wasn’t like that.
This was a sick monster consuming my thoughts.
After I ate a family size bag of chips, I had two packages of pop-tarts.
The next day I decided I would begin dieting for my first bikini competition, and that would be the beginning of “fixing my mess”.
Thanksgiving came and I was doing really good. I hadn’t binged in a few months, so I go with my husband to his family dinner and they make a few comments about how I don’t want pie.
*Looks nervously down at the ground* “No, really, I don’t want any”.
30 minutes pass and I have a plate of all of the food I passed on the first time, which follows by 3 slices of pie. Okay, I think, it’s just thanksgiving. You’re fine.
I’m not fine though. For the next 5 days I would eat everything in sight. Including making my husband drive me to the store to buy a pie and ice cream and I would eat the whole thing + copious amounts of food following until I felt so sick I couldn’t move.
This would lead to me telling him: “something is wrong, I need help”
I would say things like:
“Next time I ask to get food, say no. No matter what.”
Then there would be this:
“Hey, can we go to the store. We should have a treat!” I would manipulate him into thinking this was his idea and it benefited him.
His response would be something like “You said to tell you no if you wanted something”.
“I know, but I’m fine” *not fine*
“No, you said no matter what”
“We can have sex if we get a treat”
I need to take a pause from the story. Because my heart feels heavy just writing this. This isn’t something that makes me all giddy to share. The things I did and said during this time came from a place of shame and a deep hate. I was sick. I’m sharing it now because I know I’m not the only woman who was lost like I was, and this, is for you.
Trading sex for food, so I could binge.
If that didn’t work, I would yell at him. I would cry and act as if he told me our dog just died.
Each time one of these moments happened, I could see what was happening.
Growing up my mother was an addict and alcoholic. So I sore off drinking, I didn’t want to turn into her.
Until I realized it wasn’t alcohol that I was addicted to. It was food.
The way I acted with food, was the same way I had seen time and time again, an addict act out when they couldn’t get their drugs/alcohol etc.
I would eat in secret. Plan my binges in hiding so my ex-husband couldn't see me and judge me. I'd wait until he would leave and scoop up all of my food in carry it into the living room, knowing that it was truly like digging my own grave, and I would begin.
Then I would open up the trash can, shove all of my wrappers and cartons to the bottom and would throw trash on top so there was no evidence.
There was a final moment before I left my marriage, where I had again manipulated my husband into thinking we all needed to celebrate something, so we went and got a meat and cheese platter at the store. Cooper and his dad had fallen asleep and I ate 85% of it on my own.
It wasn’t enough, even though I wanted it to be done, I got up and ate a whole box of Coopers cereal.
In the middle of eating my third and final bowl, I started to bawl my eyes out and I couldn’t breathe normally. I was panicking. My whole body hurt and in that moment, I would have rather died than sat with what I just done to myself. Because I was conscious through every moment of it. I wanted to stop, and I couldn't. I didn't trust my own body.
I woke up my ex-husband with my tears and he freaked out. I told him I couldn’t walk and I told him what I had done. He carried me up the stairs, to the bathroom as I held onto my body in complete embarrassment.
I climbed into the shower and sobbed. I hit my body as if to beat out the demons that I felt where consuming me.
As the water fell down my body I remember my thoughts so perfectly. If you can get better, you can help other women do the same. Get better for them.
You are the reason I’m writing this.
I don’t know who you are, or how you found me— but I thought of you everyday. Get better for her, for them. If I could get to a place of empowerment, love and true healing. I knew I could help other women do the same.
The journey after that wasn’t rainbows and butterflies. It wouldn’t be for another six months that I would come across the page on NEDA that would describe a binge eating disorder.
I would go through one last very serious string of binges as I entered a new relationship and decided to stop dieting.
Between the excitement of something new, and having ended competing and dieting, I would go on to struggle here in silence.
I wanted my new boyfriend to think I had my shit together because he was a trainer too. Which led to secretively eating donuts in my car after I left being with him. Sobbing. Again, wanting it to end.
But I had found power and purpose.
On the last binge I had, I felt the most shame that I had in over a year. I ate so much and got so angry this time, because I had been "fine" for months. I went to the bathroom, got down on my knees and I stuck my fingers down my throat to get it out of me. I couldn't do it. I collapsed onto the floor, crying. Knowing I truly can't do this alone.
I called my dad and I told him everything. He had no idea I had ever had an issue at all. I cried and I told him I needed help. That I had an eating disorder and I couldn’t do it all on my own anymore.
I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me, but being the truly amazing man he is—he helped me. He didn’t make me feel worthless. For the first time I felt like I was safe.
Finally, I had the help I needed. He didn’t know exactly how to help me, but he was an ear for me to talk about.
Because that’s where the sickness lived for me. I told myself that I couldn’t tell anyone because it would discredit me as a coach, and to a degree, yes. No one wants someone who is out of control as their coach.
It was the processing it all on my own, no one knew. Therefor I could keep up the game for as long as I wanted.
So where am I now?
I’m binge free. For real.
I know what honoring my body looks like. I know what listening to hunger cues look like. I can eat 1 piece of pizza without shame and guilt. I know what over eating looks like and how it differentiates from binging.
I am happy. I am free.
I am on a fierce mission to help women who are where I was.
Because I know freedom is real. Healing is real. Love is real.
And I want to help you feel it.