Halloween Bingeing

I’ve only enjoyed dressing up for Halloween a few times in my life but I’ve always loved theHalloween-candy candy! In fact, the overabundance of candy was Halloween’s only redeeming quality as far as I was concerned. It was always an “acceptable” excuse to indulge in candy that was off-limits the rest of the year. So, like most people, I engaged in Halloween bingeing…even on candy I didn’t like.

But, what if we didn’t have to binge on candy on Halloween? What if we could eat our favorite candy in celebration of Halloween and not feel guilty about it? You absolutely can and here’s how:

  1. Give yourself permission to eat candy not only during Halloween but during the rest of the year too. Once the “off limits” label is taken off candy, it loses its allure. When it sheds its allure, you will miraculously lose the urge to binge on it. I know, it seems impossible but, after some practice, you’ll notice that you won’t crave it as much and can leave it in the cupboard.
  2. Yay, we can have candy! Not so fast…slow down and eat the candy mindfully. Pick out only your very favorites, sit down with 3 pieces, take 5 deep breathes, slowly peel off the wrapper, savor its scent and then eat it bite by bite allowing your taste buds to register the flavor. You’ll be amazed that 3 pieces will be more than enough to satiate your craving and you may even eat less than 3.
  3. Once you have eaten your delicious candy mindfully, check in with how your body feels. Did you enjoy the candy as much as you thought you would? Did it agree with your stomach? Could you do without it? Did it taste funny because you’ve been eating “clean” and the candy you chose wasn’t “clean”? Identifying how your body feels is important in understanding if you received pleasure from the candy itself or because it’s been declared off limits. The next time you reach for the candy, remember how you answered. You may be surprised that you don’t want the candy after all.
  4. Buy higher quality candy. Whole Foods Market has a great selection of chocolate and other goodies that don’t contain high fructose corn syrup or other ingredients that perpetuate sugar cravings. I LOVE the Justin’s brand dark chocolate peanut butter cups and you can get them in individually wrapped packages à la Halloween style. Although a bit more expensive than traditional candy, it’s healthier and more satisfying because you usually have to eat less to become satiated.  

Dealing with the overindulgence on candy is the easy part. Deciding on the Halloween costume is much harder so good luck and….Happy Halloween!

Binge-Eating Can Be Beautiful

When I tell people I’m an Emotional Eating Coach and transformed Binge-Eating Disorder sufferer most respond that they are binge eaters too! The truth is that we all binge eat at one time or another, usually during the holidays or when celebrating special occasions, but not everyone takes it to the extreme and makes it a habit.

So, what’s the distinction? When do we cross the line from normal eating behavior images(bingeing at the holidays) into disordered eating and what can we do about it? Let’s start with the definition of binge eating, also called compulsive overeating. Binge eating is defined as consuming an excessive amount of food in a short period of time and can become a disorder when feelings of shame, guilt or embarrassment follow the binge. Click here to read the criteria used to diagnose Binge-Eating Disorder. Please be aware that only licensed professionals can diagnose a Binge-Eating Disorder so if you think you may suffer from it, please contact your healthcare provider.

Although some form of bingeing may be considered “normal” eating, it is a behavior that most people want to stop or avoid all together. In order to do that, it’s important to understand what factors are occurring simultaneously during a binge:

  1. Difficult emotions are present that aren’t being acknowledged
  2. There’s a deep, intense need for excess (in this case food)
  3. There’s a tight control that needs to be loosened (i.e. loosening of severe fat or calorie restriction or control over someone else)

What most people don’t know is that bingeing is a symptom of bigger issues in life that don’t involve food. They are telling us to look deeper into our relationships, work, intimacy and spirituality. What isn’t aligning with our deepest desires? This is where the true work of healing the binge is done.

The traditional approaches to binge eating have labeled it as a “bad behavioral problem,” something to be “fixed” or willed away.  However, labels and diets don’t uncover the root cause of WHY the binge occurs so the behavior persists. No amount of dieting or restriction will “cure” anyone from bingeing.

All behavior tells us something and it’s up to us to choose whether we’re listening to the positive message or the negative message. If you’d like to listen to the positive message, here are a few ways to tune in to your binge:

  1. The key to decreasing, stopping and understanding a binge is to relax and be present for it. This is hard because binges throw us into a frenzied mode where the need to eat is so strong that we are blinded to everything else. Therefore, some kind of alert is needed to bring awareness back to what we’re doing. When I was recovering from my binge-eating disorder, I learned to recognize the physical feelings of my “frenzied mode” and realized that this was my cue to slow down, check in and determine why I was feeling the need to eat. Try to identify your alert and head here to let me know what you discover!
  2. Once you’ve identified and listened to your “alert”, it’s important to determine WHY you’re having the binge urge. If you can identify the underlying reason, strive to “nourish” it without food. If you’re truly hungry, eat but do so slowly and mindfully. If you’re lonely, call a friend instead of eating. If you’re stressed from work, how can you release tension without eating? Doing this consistently will uncover patterns that can clue you in to what needs to be enhanced in your life.
  3. Ensure that you are getting the proper nutrition throughout the day. In many cases, restriction (for weight loss purposes, not disease prevention purposes) will cause a binge. If the body’s need for macronutrients (protein, healthy fat and healthy carbohydrates) has been denied, a craving for sugar, salt or other non-nutritious food rears its ugly head later in the day. Re-evaluating your meal plan can uncover a treasure trove of body image issues and toxic nutritional beliefs that need to be understood and released!

Binge-Eating can be beautiful when it is embraced and used as a clue to evolve. If you’re doing it, why fight it? Learn from it, have faith that you won’t do it forever and be grateful that bingeing has been placed in your life because it WILL lead you on a beautiful journey to joy, love and inner peace.

 

 

 

Love Affair With Food

People use food to cope with life for many reasons. One of the ways I used food to cope, when I was in the throes of my Binge-Eating Disorder, was as a substitute for love and intimacy. There was no way I would entertain the idea of dating (due to my physical and emotional state) so I binged instead. It wasn’t until I began my transformation that I realized I was substituting food for intimacy. The best way I can describe this similarity is to compare having a date night with a binge.

DATE NIGHT

  1. Your love interest asks you out on a date and you’re flattered and excited.spice-up-marriage-date-night-800X800
  2. After your acceptance, you immediately begin to plan what to wear because you must have the perfect outfit!
  3. You envision the outfit but nothing in the closet matches the vision so you go shopping to buy the perfect ensemble.
  4. Date night is here and, as you primp, the anticipation builds to an excited frenzy.
  5. Your date arrives and the evening is underway! You’re having fun, the conversation flows and you think the potential for a 2nd date is high.
  6. You’re back on your doorstep, there’s a good night kiss and the promise of 2nd date. 
  7. The excitement of the evening turns into contentment, fulfillment and the possibility of a great relationship.

BINGE NIGHT

  1. You’ve had a particularly stressful day and decide a date with bingeing is in order to release some tension.
  2. Planning for the binge starts and the menu includes delicious comfort food.
  3. You don’t have the food in the house for the perfect binge so you go shopping (sometimes to multiple stores so you’re not embarrassed buying all the food in one place).
  4. You arrive home and start preparing the food or opening packages and work yourself into an excited frenzy.
  5. The food is ready, you start eating and the day’s stress melts away. You can’t get enough so you continue to eat for a few hours or until the food is gone.
  6. After the binge, your excited frenzy gets a reality check and turns into disgust and uncomfortable fullness. That’s when the feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment start to surface.

Do you see how someone can substitute a binge for a date? The steps are eerily similar but the outcomes are very different. In the date scenario, the possibility exists to have a healthy, meaningful and intimate relationship. The binge night almost always ends in guilt, shame and embarrassment with no possibility of a healthy relationship with food or a significant other.

Both scenarios are inherently scary. What if date night ends in disaster and reinforces the belief that I’ll be alone forever? Binge night will provide feelings of comfort, love and false relaxation in the short term but deteriorating physical and emotional well-being in the long term. The fundamental difference is that the opportunity for a positive outcome only exists in the date night scenario. There is greater risk for rejection but the reward is so much greater.

Taking food as your lover ends up being a poor substitute for the real thing. If you’re missing companionship, intimacy, a partner or soul-mate, face your fear and go on a quest for the real thing because a love affair with food is a recipe for disaster!

Finances and Weight Loss Go Together?

How are finances and weight loss related?  Can addressing discombobulated or neglected finances have an effect on your relationship with food or keep you from weight loss? Absolutely, because disorganized finances create stress. We all know that stress can shut down digestion and decrease metabolism causing us to hold extra weight (for a more detailed description of how stress affects the body, click here). The self-inflicted stress caused by sloppy finances is so common because we are either intimidated by managing our money or don’t have enough of it.  But, it’s not as hard or as intimidating as you may think as our guest blogger, Susan Glusica, Financial Representative with Wealth Advisory Group LLC in New York, shares a few tips on how to take control of your financial future.

Since most people in America today spend more time planning vacation, which is pleasurable and immediately rewarding, than they do on planning for retirement [Source: “American’s Spend More Time Planning Vacations Than Retirement” June 23, 2014, www.businessinsider.com/americans-plan-vacations-over-retirement-2014-6]—which is ironic because the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be—here are the top three uncommon ways I seek to help my clients overcome financial stress:

  1. As an experienced professional, who also is a coach, I consistently seek to inject Money Tree Blog imageawareness and transparency around money. This means being able to see your financial picture or snapshot virtually anytime or anywhere you are. Because, let’s face it, unless you know exactly where you are today, and understand how you got there, you are likely unable to improve your ability and potential to build wealth. And sure, money isn’t everything, but it sure helps your stress level if you are growing yours smartly!
  2. Another important part of our process is helping clients prioritize, or “chunk,” their financial plan actions. In order to best set oneself up for success and help reduce financial stress, we encourage clients to share what their dreams, goals, and aspirations are, so we can help them set up a custom, prioritized and optimal way forward to help ensure those are met, which automatically includes their needs. Think about it. Wouldn’t you be more likely to stay on track financially if you knew that your plan would work no matter what, to the extent possible, and if there were attainable milestones or stages along the way?
  3. We teach our clients about three types of leverage which their financial plan should strive to engage for optimal results. One of these is leveraging other people’s time (or OPT). When you collaborate with an experienced resource, it typically leads to more optimal results because you enhance your efficiencies and don’t have to go it alone, thus giving you potentially greater results than you would have or could have achieved on your own. What if you knew you could access this leverage with no obligation and little to no out-of-pocket cost? What if that way, you could learn and apply some of the wealth building approaches of the affluent?

Obviously, we have just scratched the surface, so I look forward to becoming an additional financial resource to your readers and help you begin to overcome financial stress!

The first and hardest step in unraveling the quagmire of your finances is asking for help.  But that step is worth it because you stand to gain financial security and a better metabolism. Having more money AND losing weight? What could be better than that?

Susan Glusica is Financial Representative, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Wealth Advisory Group LLC is not an affiliate or subsidiary of Guardian.

2014-11994 Exp. 9/2016

Beautiful Body Image

I’m delving into the dreaded body image discussion because I spend a lot of time thinking about it for myself and for my clients.  Body image is such a painful thing for most women and men because we have such unrealistic and unforgiving expectations about what our bodies “should” look like. We focus on the size and shape of our bodies instead of celebrating the fact that they create life, give us pleasure and allow us to walk this Earth.

In my experience, negative body image thoughts throw us in to dark moods even when we’re thin or have the perfect body.  These thoughts turn into deep-rooted toxic beliefs that we’re not good enough because of how we look. This practice of negative body image has thrown us into binges, held us back from fully living life and helped to build walls around our hearts. They’ve made us sad, unloved and undeserving…all because of the way we look on the outside.

As I’ve lived through the transformation from my Binge-Eating Disorder, I realize that I want more from my life than the isolation and bad moods that negative body image thoughts provide. I want to live vibrantly and, in order to do that, I know I need to heal my negative body image.  Don’t you want that for yourself?  Of course you do!

It’s easier said than done though, right? So, how do we heal body image and find that vibrant life? Here’s a groundbreaking thought…what if I told you that negative body image isn’t really about how your body looks? What if I told you that your body serves as a scapegoat for a deeper dissatisfaction with your inner Self?

As with everything I preach, it’s a practice, not a perfect so here are a few things you can practice to attain a loving relationship with your body:

Embodiment.  To embody means to become a body or part of a body according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Most of us go through the motions in life without giving thought as to HOW we accomplish them. How do we take in oxygen? Through the breath that we take for granted. For those of us who are chronic dieters or binge-eaters, we don’t eat according to our bodies’ needs, we deprive based on the new diet craze and then binge because of that deprivation. Not once do we check in with the body to see if what and how much we’re eating truly nourishes us. What about the person who hurts their knees during the first training session for a marathon but keeps at it despite the pain? What about the person who denies themselves pleasure from sex because of religious dogma? These are all examples of disembodiment. In order to truly heal our body image, we need to live, feel and observe the nuances, desires and sensations in the body. If we’re not in tune with these things, we have no frame of reference to transform negative body image because there is no way we can appreciate and know the body AS IT IS NOW. Embodiment can be achieved through simple joys like dancing, eating nourishing food and experiencing pleasure.

Self-Discovery. We often hate on our bodies when we are unhappy with our true Self. What do you want to improve about yourself that isn’t body related? Be brutally honest (but kind) because this provides a starting point on what to explore in your life that may not be working. A negative body image isn’t transformed when you attain the perfect body but when your journey of self-discovery leads to peace and joy.

Avoid Feeling Avoidance. Focusing on negative body image thoughts distracts you from feeling painful emotions. No human can escape feeling uncomfortable emotions without undesirable consequences. If your negative body image thoughts are particularly loud, ask what feelings you are trying to avoid. Feel your feelings…this is embodiment!

Remember.  Remember what those negative body image thoughts have gotten you. Did those thoughts serve a positive purpose in your life? Did they get you closer to living a fulfilled life or experiencing your deepest desire? Or were they a distraction from what was REALLY bothering you?

Acceptance.  Sometimes, when you aren’t at the weight you desire or have just binged, you have to decide that you are OK just as you are now.  In the words of Marc David, “Love What Is.” Ask yourself if these negative thoughts still hold true for you or are you bored with thinking the same things which only lead to misery? I love this quote from Gabby Sidibe:

Sidibe

Gabby Sidibe

“One day I had to sit down with myself and decide that I loved myself no matter what my body looked like and what other people thought about my body…I got tired of feeling bad all the time.”     ~Gabby Sidibe

Simplicity.  Sometimes healing body image is as easy as looking in the mirror, smiling and saying “I love you” to the beautiful person looking back at you.

 “My main beauty tip is don’t say that negative thing when you look in the mirror. It just isn’t healthy…That lack of beating up on ourselves — that’s my new mantra. Happiness is the best makeup; a smile is better than any lipstick you’ll put on.”  ~Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore

 

Ultimately, healing negative body image isn’t about achieving the ideal body but is about looking inward to achieve a nourished and peaceful mind, heart and soul.

Heart Hunger

Mindful Eating BookI am covering the last of the 7 Hungers that Jan Chozen Bays, MD describes in her book, Mindful Eating, which is heart hunger.  Dr. Bays defines heart hunger as “the hunger for food that arises from the desire to be loved and cared for.”  She goes on to say, “it was clear that the particular foods were not as important as the mood or emotion they evoked.”

How many times have we endured a difficult meeting at work, a cancellation notice or a tough break up and just “needed” that pint of ice cream or {insert your preferred comfort food here}?  I have…many, many times.  In fact, a lot of my bingeing resulted from an extreme sense of loneliness but I never knew that until I started to become mindful of my feelings and why I binged.  However, “…we must understand that food put into the stomach will never ease the emptiness, the ache in the heart.”

It wasn’t until I started to ease the many aches in my heart and my life that I could even comprehend the thought of not binge-eating any longer.  Identifying the aches that need to be soothed isn’t limited to loneliness but branches out to exploring how much self-imposed stress you inflict, the job you head to each day, financial worries (stay tuned next week for a great finance and food blog featuring a special guest!), bruises to sexuality and intimacy and a severed relationship with spirituality (whatever that may be for you).  There are so many aspects that affect your relationship with food and, interestingly enough, it isn’t about the actual food you eat but about the feelings you think that food soothes.

Once awareness is brought to these aches, the pain begins to lessen and the need for food decreases.  Sometimes action is necessary to further soothe the aches which decreases the need for food even more.

Dr. Bays says, “We cannot depend upon food to fill the empty place in our heart.  Ultimately what must nourish our heart is intimacy with this very moment.  We can experience this intimacy with anything that presents itself to us, people or plants, rocks, rice, or raisins.  This is what being present brings us to, the sweet and poignant taste of true presence.  When this presence fills us, all hungers vanish.  All things, just as they are, are perfect satisfaction.”

Or maybe, no action is necessary except the simple practice of being mindful in any given moment.

 

 

Tennis, Anyone?

Mom & Michelle won 1st Place!

Mom & Michelle won 1st Place!

As I it here watching the US Open, the last Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year, I am longing to get out on the tennis court. I received my first tennis racquet as a gift when I was 7 and was instantly enamored. Shortly thereafter, I started tennis lessons and was hooked. I played all year round, indoor in the winter and outdoors in the summer, I went to tennis camp, I played in mother-daughter tournaments and attended the US Open often.

Why am I writing about this? It’s because, as I sit here watching others play, I am reminded that I have to stop making excuses to avoid doing something I’ve loved since I can remember. After many years of not playing, I finally got back out on the court in 2007 but stopped in 2010. It got too hard with my work schedule and significant weight gain. I could have made the time but my weight deterred me because I was embarrassed that I didn’t have a comfortable outfit to play in and was afraid I couldn’t move well on the court. So, I haven’t played in over 4 years and I’m sad about it. I miss playing tennis. Tennis is the movement I need to keep my body healthy while doing what I truly love.

Michelle at 16 High School Tennis Photo

Michelle at 16
High School Tennis Photo

Exercise has become a dirty word to many of us. It has become a thing we should do to lose weight instead of a thing to do because we love it or it makes us feel good or keeps our body strong. So, what happens? We exercise for a while and then stop because we hate it and do it only because we’re told we “should.” To avoid this type of burn out, choose movement over exercise. Choose an activity you love, invigorates you and makes you FEEL good. If you don’t know what that is for you, try a few things and see if you like them. This can be a really fun way to meet people with like interests and have a healthy social outlet. Easier said than done, right? Well, I’m going to clear the way for you right now.

 

  1. I can’t or I’m intimidated. You absolutely can! If you don’t know how to do the movement you choose, get a teacher/coach, look up a group on meetup.com, visit the activities’ online website, get a video from the library or enlist a friend/family member who can teach you or try it out with you. You’re feeling uncomfortable because you think you don’t have the body, outfit, etc. to do it? Get out of your comfort zone and do it anyway. Be honest with whom you’re doing the activity…if you’re feeling doubts, voice them. People will respect that you’re out there doing it and not on the couch thinking about it (if this isn’t your experience, you’re not in the right place). Get creative  – you don’t have to hit the gym just because others do.  If you don’t like the gym, don’t join a gym…it’s OK to not like the gym!  There are alternatives and it might be fun to find them.  Here’s the caveat: it’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before you start any movement activity.
  2. I don’t have enough money. This is a real issue for a lot of us but cannot be an excuse to avoid movement. There are plenty of activities that don’t cost a thing…walking, free basketball and tennis courts, public parks, free online videos and library videos. Be realistic – if you live in Florida and want to try skiing, rethinking that plan may be a good idea because you’ll really run up the credit card bill! Many places offer free first classes which is a great way to try a new activity without a cash outlay. Find something you like that costs money? Skip the designer coffee and you’ll have an extra $25 a week. The point is, you can make it work.
  3. There isn’t enough time. Really? I beg to differ, start out with 10 minutes a day. Incorporate movement in to your daily routine…you know the drill…take the stairs, park farther from the store, play with your kids or go for a walk after dinner. If you have a home gym and must watch TV, do so while walking on the treadmill. Once you start small, movement will become as important in your life as eating or sleeping. I know you don’t believe me because I didn’t believe it myself but now I’m converted…if I don’t move each day, my mood is awful. I’ve become “one of those people” who like to move and you will too!

The most important thing is to choose or try an activity that you love or love watching. If you do what you love, you’ll want to keep doing it and gain tremendous benefits in the process. Your health will improve, you’ll get those endorphins (the brain’s feel good transmitters) flowing, your mood will improve and you’ll make friends, all while having fun. Best of all, you’ll be living life instead of watching it pass you by on television. So, get out there and move!

I’d love to hear what you’re doing to move this week…click here to comment on my new Facebook page, Michelle Wilson Eating Psychology Coaching!