Posts Tagged With: binge eating

Take What You Need

Hi everyone! I apologize in advance if this post is a little heavy, but it’s something important. It’s about you, and getting help whenever you need it.

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But let me backtrack a moment. First, I’ve seriously had some of the most amazing few weeks lately. I learned that I’m going to Peru on a service trip in May – to teach workshops on nutrition, no less! I’ve started class on how to be a Rice Health Advisor (RHA). And I’m a coordinator for Rice’s O-Week, on a team with two amazing co-coordinators and a campus-wide team of actually WONDERFUL people!! I can’t even begin to express how blessed I am. Yet, I still feel like part of me is struggling.

Unfortunately, when I start feeling down, some harmful behaviors start to surface that only make me feel worse:

  • Eating makes me anxious. I feel this especially in public, where I feel pressure to both eat what I want but also to eat what is considered “healthy” in my mind. In private, the feeling gets worse.
  • Exercise is a punishment. Rather than exercising for personal fitness reasons, it becomes a way to justify binges.
  • I obsess over food. It dominates my thoughts before, during, and after meals, when I plan what to eat for the next day, when I try to count calories, and even when I consider exercise plans. It’s a constant presence.
  • My self-perception turns negative. I think of every bad or negative aspect of my body, personality, or situation, and I start to spiral into a general sadness and discontent..

There are others, but the overall feeling I get is a sense of overwhelming suffocation. It is a feeling that keeps me from enjoying my life to the fullest, and I know I want to take steps to make myself happy.

We are all on a journey, and that means that there will be many ups and downs and twists and turns that we weren’t expecting and aren’t prepared for. But life doesn’t put itself on pause for us, and we need to consciously make choices that help our happiness and our well-being.

 One of those choices is asking for help.

I think it is incredibly difficult to admit we need help, much less seek it out. This is applicable to eating disorders, but also to all general well-being obstacles. I’m going to speak to my own difficulties, but know that no matter what hardships you face — you are not alone.

Hugs-l

Endless love and hugs.

The absolute best advice I can give is to reach out and talk to someone. Some people include:

  • friends
  • roommates/suitemates
  • family
  • RAs or other college leadership teams
  • counselors
  • doctors

There are a plethora of people that care about you and your health. Please talk to them! Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. I don’t know why such a stigma exists for mental and physical health issues, but trust me when I say that there is nothing embarrassing about getting the support you need.

In the past when I started feeling this sense of sadness and anxiety, I called our university’s counseling center. I know that I cope better with outside opinions, and so individual counseling sessions are what I needed. After different rounds of counseling, I got better at reading my emotional signs and being able to preemptively mitigate my harmful behaviors. Last time I felt this upset and stressed, I reached out to our general wellbeing advisors (essentially a milder form of counseling) and they helped talk me through a plan to work through my struggles. At this point in time, I feel able to turn to my friends and family for support and advice, and I can see more clearly than had I never reached out at all in the past.

Think about your personal needs and what would help you best, and then go for it!

You are beautiful, inside and out. You deserve to feel that way. It’s scary to open up and take that leap of faith, but you can do it. Someone will catch you. Someone will help you. But you have to take that first step.

As always, I am here if you need anything, even if it’s just someone to talk to. Please feel free to leave a comment on my blog, send me an email at headedhealthy@gmail.com, or track me down on Facebook! I am here to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Much love, my friends!

Some Rice-Specific Resources:

Wellbeing Center: (713) 348-3311 or wellbeing@rice.edu

Rice Counseling Center: (713) 348-4867, 24/7 hotline available for emergencies

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After a Binge

When does the battle of a bingeing episode end? Is it when the food is all gone? Is it after your stomach is full to the point of sickness?

If only!

In reality, the aftermath of binge eating can last much longer than the episode itself, especially when coupled with another eating disorder. If left unchecked, the habit of bingeing creates a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult for a person to break.

First, let me backtrack and define “binge eating”:

Binge eating is an eating disorder in which a person eats a much larger amount of food in a shorter period of time than he or she normally would. During binge eating, the person also feels a loss of control.

(From U.S. National Library of Medicine)

Binge eating can be a single disorder, or it can be paired with others (such as bulimia or anorexia). For bulimia in particular, the compulsion to purge – via vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise – can be entirely overwhelming.

The desire to get rid of the food, or to punish ourselves for the indulgence, can override logic. It’s when we succumb to these feelings that we give the food and the disorder more power, and effectively continue to perpetuate the harmful cycle.

I confess: last Saturday (it’s a Wednesday as I write this), I had my first true “binge” in months. Of course, there were days in-between where I overate at parties or exercised more than usual, but this day was different. It was planned, and it was immediately followed by compulsion.

Days later, I’m still fighting – but on the bright side, this is the best I’ve ever done when it comes to coping. I say this to put my following thoughts into some sort of context. My strategies are gathered from personal experience and personal research, and what I do (or strive to do) may not work for everyone. But I want to share it with you all in case it can help.

http://www.cognitivetherapynyc.com/eating-disorders.aspx

WHAT TO DO AFTER A BINGE:

  • First and foremost, we need to forgive ourselves. A binge should not define us as a person – it was an event, not a comment on our personality, talents, or skills. What’s done is done, and we can only move forward.

After a binge, I typically turned to things that made me feel worse, like talking to an ex and further berating my self-image. This time around, I sat in my room with a friend and helped her look up ideas for tattoos.

  • Choose healthy foods for the following snacks or meals, versus skipping or restricting meals. It’s tempting to try and compensate for a binge by not eating anything else for the day, but if you are hungry, then you NEED to eat.

Putting healthy foods into our bodies feels much better than 1) calling the day a waste and further bingeing or 2) starving ourselves. Those methods only lead to more negative feelings and cravings, and another binge is more likely to follow.

  • Stay hydrated. Our bodies need water, and staying hydrated helps us to better evaluate our hunger levels.
  • Exercise in moderation. It’s important to stay active post-bingeing, rather than letting guilt and sadness ruin our workout plans. But it is even more important to make sure we don’t use the gym as a way to beat ourselves up.

Don’t go workout-crazy after a binge. It’s okay to push yourself, but not to the point of complete exhaustion or to where your net calories for the day are significantly low. This was my method in the past, and after binge eating itself, it has been the most difficult habit to break.

http://daily.undergradsuccess.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/success-failure-not-final-grad-student-success.jpg

Personally, I’ve always been a person who looks at things in terms of failure versus success. It is easier for me to see the “failure” of my binge, rather than realize the “success” that has been all the days before and after. For instance, I promised myself that I would catch up on my reading that weekend, and I did do it. In these past few days, I also decided to do 30-45 minutes of cardio per day, and so far that has also gone well.

There might always be a small voice inside us that says we should just give up, or that we don’t deserve the good things in our lives. But you know what? We don’t have to listen to it.

Change the tune inside our minds, and our whole lives can be made better.

Even if we experience a relapse – we binge, we lose control, we purge, we tear ourselves down – we can always, ALWAYS take steps to improve. Maybe this time we binged, we purged, but we didn’t go overboard at the gym. That’s a step in the right direction. If there’s another challenge in the future, know that you are strong and can choose to not purge after. And eventually, maybe there won’t be a bingeing episode anymore.

Does this all make sense? I sure hope it does. There’s so much more to life than what an eating disorder will try to make you believe.

As always, I’m never never more than a message away (or if my Rice friends are reading, you know where to find me).

Stay strong! This journey isn’t an easy one, but it is worth it.

OTHER GOOD ARTICLES:

What to Do After a Binge

How to Cope After a Food Binge

How to Recover From a Food Binge

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What Are You Afraid Of?

During Academic Decathlon, I felt perpetually stressed. Any time I got into a complaining or worrying mode, some teammates would joke and say, “Ariel…you’re happy when you’re unhappy!” Darn those boys – in a way, they were right.

I always think about this story when I find myself in a rut.

Some weeks are better than others, and this past week was unfortunately a bad one. On the surface, it should have been a great time: it included a lovely message from a lovely friend, opportunities to network with awesome lawyers, coffee outings with my dad, chances to journal, a fun intern lunch, and generally a lot of good things happening all over the place.

So why, despite the abundance of happiness, was I feeling sad?

I think honesty is key, and if I’m being honest with myself (and with you), then the answer is clear. I was afraid.

What am I afraid of, you ask? Well, here’s small a list to start.

I’m afraid of…

  • Gaining weight
  • Losing friends
  • Eating
  • Bingeing
  • Feeling depressed
  • Dating
  • Bad grades
  • Setting a bad example
  • Failing
  • Succeeding
  • Change

Let me explain some of these more in-depth.

  • I’m afraid of change – for better or worse – because it’s unfamiliar. For example, feeling upset isn’t fun, but I’m also used to it.
  • Failing scares me, but so does succeeding. Failing means others are better than I am, but succeeding sets the expectation that I am good at something. (What a shocker!)
  • Gaining weight from bingeing, and bingeing because I’m eating, and eating because I’m sad, and being sad because I failed, and failing because of a bad grade…everything runs together.

I just get scared sometimes. While the fact remains that I am very lucky to have so many great things in my life, a small part of me feels like I don’t deserve it at all.

I’m pretty sure that’s why last week, I stopped doing INSANITY, Zumba, or any exercise. It’s why I decided to not only eat things I didn’t want, but to eat A LOT of it. (Seriously, I’ve had so much ice cream and sweets in one week that it’s a little bit ridiculous.)

I was scared that I was too happy, that the good in my life wouldn’t last – and I was scared about what that would mean for the future. What if I lost weight, but gained it back during the semester? What if I started a fun friendship, but ruined it by dating? What if I shared these thoughts with my friends, but they thought I was a drama queen?

What if, what if, what if…?

So what if I gained weight again? I could lose it again. So what if I dated a guy and we broke up? It just wasn’t meant to be. So what if my friends thought I was dramatic? I’d find out which friends truly loved me.

I’ve got a lot of random, contradictory, sometimes senseless fears. I’m afraid of a lot of things people might find silly – myself included! That doesn’t make those fears any less real, or less important. It does make them manageable though, if we’re willing to recognize them.

When I feel this way, I get introspective. Here’s a quote I found while attempting to sort my thoughts.

Turn on the faucet. Wash yourself with the emotion. It won’t hurt you. It will only help. If you let the fear inside, if you pull it on like a familiar shirt, then you can say to yourself, “All right, it’s just fear, I don’t have to let it control me. I see it for what it is”.

– From Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom

A week went by, and I spent it dawdling in fear. I think I would prefer to spend this week more productively – maybe biking at the YMCA, cooking with my mom, or cleaning my room (I’ve been saying that ever since I came home for the summer).

Regardless, I have a lot more fun when I do things I enjoy, and I look a lot prettier when I’m not crying all the time. I’m going to make a conscious effort to embrace the daily blessings in my life, rather than being afraid of them. Accept the good, and cherish it; times will be tough enough, without us being so tough on ourselves! I deserve the good things that come my way, and so do you.

Now it’s your turn: what are you afraid of? Better yet, what are you going to do to fight those fears?

As always, it’s a daily battle. But I’m right here with you!

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Fight for Progress

PNFO

Alright, so no – I didn’t eat a whole person. But sometimes, it sort of feels that way.

**This post will have some mention of calorie calculations and numbers – if you think that might trigger something, please be wary! I’m writing this to help, not to hurt.

At the time I’m writing this, I am currently at a point where I feel uncomfortable eating anything over 200 calories or so. Yesterday is a good example. After work, I had about 20 minutes before we needed to head out to the YMCA to workout. In that time-frame, I had a serving of peanuts and maybe an ounce of leftover chicken from the night before.

I was in tears on the way to the gym, simply because I had a snack that was maybe 250 calories, if that.

After the YMCA, we returned home. Then came a dinner of eggs, sausage, cheese, and green beans. Again, not bad, and probably just a little bit over that self-imposed 200 calorie limit. But then, here comes the kicker: I had half of a muffin I made earlier, and a fourth-cup of sugar-free ice cream with whipped cream.

And it felt like all hell broke loose.

20 minutes later, I drank a cup of soy milk, and had half of a low-carb tortilla with half a tablespoon of peanut-butter. And then I just had to high-tail it out of the kitchen, because I could feel a binge in the making.

That’s how it always starts for me, at least. It doesn’t matter if I’ve had an entire day of indulgence, or if it was a day of balanced eating – give me one meal over a certain number of calories, a bit of self-doubt or frustration (or any negative emotion, honestly), and BAM. Just like that, and I’m not in control anymore. It’s that easy.

I can’t tell you how many times this happens. Once during the school year, I felt overwhelmingly lonely, so I sat in my room and ate bowl after bowl of cereal. Another time, at home, I was so mad at myself for a reason I don’t even remember, that I decided to fill up on those packaged, cream-filled cupcakes. Those are just two examples.

Let me take you into the the mind of someone still fighting the urge to binge and purge. It’s a place where logic takes a backseat to emotions. It’s an all-or-nothing mentality – and it is hard to break.

Spock-logic

You must bring logic back into the picture. For instance, just looking purely at the numbers – my overall caloric intake, minus exercise, was a little over 1200. That is essentially the bare-minimum recommendation for calorie intake, given the fact that your body needs energy to function properly. (You can see an quick explanation here.)

What I had eaten, on the whole, was good for me – plenty of fiber, protein, good fats, and even carbohydrates (gasp!). I had plenty of water, well above the often quoted “8 glasses a day”. And I had gotten a nice dose of exercise (Body Combat and cycling, if you’re curious).

So why was I having a meltdown?

I estimate my food intake high, and my exercise burn low. I use the math to make myself feel guilty, crunching the numbers until I feel hopeless. In the past, I might have gone back to the gym to burn another 400-600 calories, in addition to the 300-400 I had already done. I might have taken some laxatives, or tried to force up what I had taken in. Yes, even as I showered, I felt sick to my stomach, wishing I could get rid of what I eaten.

That’s how bad my relationship with food is right now.

I suppose it’s not seriously about the food, though. It never has been. For me, really and truly, it has always been about punishment. It’s for failing to eat below an arbitrary number I calculated on a website. It’s for not working out. It’s for being shallow, feeling lonely, making a bad grade, fighting with my brother. Anything and everything. All of these worries, and nearly every single one is self-imposed.

The binge and purge cycle is a means of self-sabotage – to make my body look as bad as I feel.

For those of you fighting similar struggles, take heart – you are not alone. But we’ve got to keep fighting, one day at a time.

Here’s what I did to get through the evening:

Slow down. Once you get into “the zone”, where making and eating food becomes methodical and almost second-nature, it’s tough to stop. Try to figure out if you’re hungry, or if something just upset you. PLEASE eat if you’re physically hungry! But realize that food won’t help at all if you’re craving something emotionally.

Push back against that negative self-talk. Always remember how much people love you – and why they love you – even when you feel like you don’t like yourself at all. I promise you, I PROMISE – someone out there looks at you in wonder, wishing they could be like you. Yes, they think you’re that amazing. And you ARE that amazing. You can do it.

Forgive yourself. I still track my food, but up until last night – I was doing it without qualms. It’s alright to eat. We HAVE to eat. If you eat a little too much, don’t beat yourself up for it. Same thing goes if you have something deemed as a “bad” food. The world isn’t going to end, and you’re not a terrible person. We’re only human, you know?

Last night was rough. I wasn’t kidding when I said everyday is a battle.

But being healthy? That is something worth fighting for.

Don’t hesitate to comment or contact me if you want to talk or need support. Much love to y’all!

Categories: Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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