A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Weight Loss Wednesday: Outing myself as a binge eater

on April 29, 2015
In Monday’s wrap-up post, I alluded to some personal upheaval last week and struggles with binge-eating for a while thereafter. I’ve struggled with how much to say because it isn’t just my story to tell, but thought I’d share at least some of the important lessons I learned in my ongoing struggles with binge-eating. Last week, a friend said something inappropriate to me, suggesting that I didn’t deserve to get pregnant when I did because “[I] wasn’t even taking care of [my]self then.” Rationally, I know that she can’t have meant that the way it sounded and it reflects her ongoing issues (as reflected by more things than I’ll say here for privacy reasons) more than it does anything about me, but it hurt. A lot. There is no standard by which I didn’t deserve to have my child, even if I did weigh around 280-ish pounds at the time I got pregnant, and suggesting otherwise is over the line. Admittedly, it’s a sensitive topic because I feel like a lot of overweight people get trapped thinking that we don’t deserve good things in our lives and the idea that someone else would actually say that out loud and reinforce that was a real anger trigger for me.

I didn’t respond in the moment because there wasn’t a nice thing I could think of to say (although I could think of A LOT of not-nice things). I did a lot of mental talking to myself about how that was about her, not about me, but it didn’t help much. I still fell into this spiral of remembering how guilty and ashamed I felt as I dealt with complications of my pregnancy that were potentially related to my obesity, like placental insufficiency and gestational diabetes. No amount of logically telling myself back then or now that those things happened for reasons other than obesity and that I took EXCELLENT care of myself when I was pregnant could really reassure that secret dark spot of doubt . I confess to you guys that I ate all three “emergency snack” granola bars in the car on the hour ride I had back home after this encounter. There’s victory in the fact that I did not stop at any fast food places or gas stations or anywhere else along the way to load up on more and totally go off the rails, although it felt like I was hanging on by my fingernails. I am getting better.

How am I getting better? I’m getting better at asking for help.

– As soon as I got home, I talked to my husband about the whole thing. He listened, he asked what he needed to do to help me stay out of the pantry. He rocks.

– I paced my bedroom during this ranting to Darrell, to help me distract myself from the knowledge of all of the things I could be eating in the pantry.

– I reminded myself that this is not about me. It’s about her and frankly, the part of me that was not consumed with trying to survive the binge or not thoroughly ticked off was and is worried about her.

I reached out. I reached out in ways I never do. I emailed my oldest and best friend and told her the whole thing. I reached out to the absolutely fabulous Lovely Ladies Losing It Facebook group and they were lifesavers, as a safe place to have some very hard and honest conversations about tough topics.

The biggest thing, though, was reaching out to people who didn’t know about the binge eating. For the first time, when people asked on Thursday how I was doing (it took about 24 hours for the impending-binge feeling to fade away), I told them. I told them about the binge eating and that I was struggling that day. In so many ways, it can feel like admitting weakness to own up to mental illness of any kind and binge eating is a particularly lovely secret shame kind of thing. Even my husband didn’t know and we were married for years before I clued him in. Like so many mental illnesses, it’s something you hide. The people I shared with this week were a couple of professional women friends who are peers and good friends but also important mentors and role models for me in working-wife-motherhood and it felt so good and freeing to tell them a little more of my truth and my struggle. I loved their responses, including one who said: “You know you have better friends than that right?” and another who said “I’m so proud of you.” That last one makes me teary even now.

Thanks to the advice of all of these lovely people and the support I’ve gotten and my own inner work (which I’ve got to start acknowledging more – I’m working hard here) , I’m doing better. I felt a little binge-hang over for a few days. I confess that I fell off the no-soda wagon and started drinking Coke Zero and Diet Dr. Pepper again for a few days, but I haven’t had any since Monday morning. I also fell back into the bad habit of stacking up multiple snacks at night (although the scale only showed a 0.2 gain yesterday at weigh in, happily) but I didn’t binge and I didn’t stop tracking or exercising. I’d toyed with the idea of not tracking this week before the Lincoln Half Marathon, to focus on eating healthy foods and as much as my body felt like it needed to fuel appropriately, but I’m not in that mindspace yet where I can trust myself to do that. That’s okay. I’ll eat all of my calories and still focus on increasing the carbs and maybe by Friday be in a place where I can let myself eat the calories I know I need to run a good race Sunday.

I confess that while I needed the own the feelings I had by writing this letter, I also need to let myself have some space from the whole thing and didn't want the confrontation of calling her instead as a distraction when I'm trying to get my brain in the right space for my race.

I confess that while I needed the own the feelings I had by writing this letter, I also need to let myself have some space from the whole thing and didn’t want the confrontation of calling her instead as a distraction when I’m trying to get my brain in the right space for my race.

I also wrote a letter to her about this and owned my feelings. Being brave enough to “out” myself and my binge eating also made me realize it’s time to be brave enough to own my feelings. So many binge episodes in the past have been triggered by suppressing my feelings, feeling like I was being “oversensitive” or that I didn’t deserve to be upset or worse, that I deserved having that kind of thing said to me and that’s crap. It’s time that I learn to own my feelings. It’s okay to feel hurt. It’s okay to feel angry. It’s okay to feel like I deserve to be treated better. I’m allowed those things.  We all are.

A family good deed this week: Sorting O's piggy bank for quarters to give to the school food drive. I'm proud that this was O's idea!

A family good deed this week: Sorting O’s piggy bank for quarters to give to the school food drive. I’m proud that this was O’s idea!

She was a little bit right though – I have no idea how I deserved to be Oliver’s mom. He’s such a great little soul. 🙂

I don’t pretend to know all there is to know about binge eating or how to survive it, but I feel like this was a definite step forward in my progress. This was the biggest binge-trigger period I’ve had in ages and the biggest I’ve ever resisted. I feel like my tool kit for dealing with this is getting better established. I accept that this will likely never go away, but I’m also starting to accept that I will win this battle more often than I lose it so long as I continue to reach out for help when I need it.

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21 responses to “Weight Loss Wednesday: Outing myself as a binge eater

  1. I am proud of you. It’s amazing how after so many years of failed diets that we take on a failure complex and condemnation from both ourselves and others.
    I’m shaking my head at the comment of another.
    But does t victory feel great. Yes, you are victorious and I’m proud to know you. You go, girl. You rock.
    http://www.talkingtomyweightlosscounselor.wordpress.com

  2. deianarnaudov says:

    Binge eating comes primarily from food deprivation. The more deprivation, the more the binge. There is no way around it. Try not to deprive yourself from eating, especially, when you are hungry. Your body will always win the battle in the long run.

    • While I agree that deprivation is never a good idea for a healthy eating strategy because it is not something most people could maintain long term, I have to disagree that it is the primary factor in binge eating. Extensive and growing medical research shows that binge eating disorder is multifactorial, with multiple genetic and neurobiologic factors (with some fascinating new functional MRI and other anatomic studies) contributing to it. Oversimplifying such a complex disorder does a disservice to the many people struggling with this. For my personal journey, and the vast majority of patients reported in the medical literature, deprivation had nothing to do with the onset of this eating disorder, nor has it ever been one of my triggers (then again, I’m not a fan of depriving myself of anything so that doesn’t come up much).

      • deianarnaudov says:

        Yes I agree that for deprivation is not the problem, but for many people it is. And if you notice, I mentioned that it is a primary cause of binge eating, and I am talking mainly about people who have deprived themselves, by various diets, as the most powerful weapon for most diets, is exactly the various ways of deprivation from eating.

      • Absolutely- I just wanted to clarify for anyone else reading that binge eating disorders are different and much more complicated things. Thanks for the interesting thoughts!

  3. Sam says:

    Great post. I could feel your pain and also your strength. You are not alone, many of us struggle with binge/emotional eating. I love the strategies for not binging!

    • Thanks! It’s always a little hard to share these things, but that’s partly why I do because I know there are others out there who feel the same way. We’re never alone in this. 🙂

  4. You know my feelings on that “friend”. Ridiculous to say the least. You are also much more restrained than me, I would have let the not so nice stuff fly, so maybe that’s why I have a very limited group of friends. 😉 But in all seriousness I am so glad that you are talking about it and feeling better. Don’t focus on whether you “deserve” the things and people you’ve got. Just appreciate and enjoy them!

    • You guys were lifesavers for me. Limited groups of friends are perfectly fine when they’re good friends. 🙂 Thanks for being part of such a stellar group of women. Last week might not have ended so well without you!

  5. This entire post makes me want to hug you. Food has such a strong mental hold and it’s incredibly hard to admit that and fight it. The fact that you can start being open is huge and brave. As for that friend, I think it’s awesome that you wrote her a letter. It’s only fair that if you should be understanding of where she is coming from that she should have the same respect for you. And I LOVE that our group is such a safe space to discuss things. It was a difficult topic and I think everyone handles it wonderfully and respectfully.

    • We are a really fantastic group of women. 🙂 I’m so glad to have that space to discuss things with people who really get it. You’re right – the more we’re open about these things, the more we admit it, the more we can fight it.

  6. Anna says:

    Great post Jessica. I appreciate you sharing on such an intimate topic. Bravery like yours is going to help shed the shame and stigma of binge eating so that people will get the help they need. You gave great examples of how reaching out can help to avoid a binge. It is so easy to get caught up in what we deserve or don’t deserve and it can be devastating to our weight loss efforts and our lives.

    • It’s always scary to talk about things like this, because you worry people will think you are crazy or weak or doing it to yourself any of those other ridiculous things and none of those are true. The more speak out, the more people will realize that they aren’t alone and that makes it worth the scary step of opening up.

      On Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 4:01 PM, A Little More Each Day wrote:

      >

  7. d20girl says:

    Fantastic post and I’m really inspired by how you handled such a difficult situation. Well done!

  8. […] Weight Loss Wednesday: Outing myself as a binge eater Apr […]

  9. […] Drink 64 oz of water a day: I had been doing great with this goal and then got off track with binge-trigger-period a little while ago. Time to get back on track! What I’d really like is to drink less soda, but […]

  10. […] weirdly glad to see that “Outing myself as a binge eater” was also high up on the list, because that was a particularly meaningful post for me and […]

  11. […] first time in ages. (Whew! They fit!) Also, I talked to the friend that triggered the whole “Outing myself as a binge eater” episode earlier this summer and didn’t binge even though I’d been dreading that […]

  12. […] disclosure, this is the same friend who said something insensitive that triggered the whole “outing myself as a binge eater” thing) because she wanted to avoid future missteps. At the time, my oh-so-complicated advice […]

  13. […] with others when I’m struggling with the big stressors that put me in binge territory, like this one. I’ve also gotten better at recognizing the little red flags that I’m entering slippery […]

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