Fitness, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach

My Struggle With Binge Eating

So today is the day I write my very first blog post. It is something I have been meaning to do for quite some time. I really would like to share my story and how I have overcome a binge eating disorder so that I may inspire or shed some hope for those currently struggling.

Let me start from the beginning. I have always been physically active since as long as I can remember. I was a competitive gymnast at a very young age but after several injuries I could no longer participate by the age of 10 due to the pain I experienced in my ankles and knees. After some time off from gymnastics I had gained some weight and I felt like something was missing. What was missing was the physical activity so I started playing soccer and eventually got accepted onto a competitive travelling team. I also did at-home exercise DVDs to keep myself busy and maintain the level of fitness I had but with much less jumping and pounding on my joints. Years went by and I remained fairly fit, ate quite healthy and wasn’t concerned much with the food I put into my mouth. It wasn’t until I endured an abusive relationship with a partner that I had any type of physical or emotional issues with food.

At the age of 17 I could no longer tolerate certain foods such as gluten or dairy due to the stress and fear that I always felt inside of me. I began to have constant anxiety and debilitating panic attacks. I even developed shingles at the young age of 18 which just goes to show you how much stress my mind and body was under. All these issues lead me to study holistic nutrition and natural health in order to help myself heal and get through everything that had been going on. The only thing on my mind about food at that point was simply avoiding gluten, dairy and anything artificial.

Fast forward a few more years and I was introduced to fitness competitions. I absolutely loved how the girls on stage looked and decided that I could do that too. I hired a coach and began training to build some more muscle and change my body composition. I trained from mid February 2012 until my competition on July 7, 2012. I started out weighing approx. 122 lbs and two days before the competition I weighed 113.8 lbs. I was so busy by that point I didn’t even check my weight the day of the competition. As I watched my body change over several months I was so excited to finally see areas I always wished would be tighter actually get tighter! I remember crying tears of joy in the change room when I fit into a size 3 and looked good in it! During the whole preparation the exercise for me was fun but I had a strict “clean eating” meal plan to follow that I didn’t realize how much would affect my perception of and relationship with food until it was all over. During the competition prep I remember blowing off plans and avoiding social situations because I wasn’t “allowed” to eat any of the food that would be there. I also remember telling people we could totally go out for lunch but it could only be after my competition was over. I stuck to my plan and ate my tilapia and asparagus and my tiny portions. I kept thinking about how amazing it would be when I could eat more food again and I could eat my coconut ice cream and my cookies, etc. I started to fixate on what I would be eating once this was all over.

Competition day came, I got on stage in a little bikini and strutted my stuff! I had put in a lot of work but unfortunately I didn’t make the top 5 placement. That night I went out for a post-competition dinner that tasted like heaven! I was so excited to also eat a piece of glutinous, dairy and sugar filled cake for dessert too! I even took a few more pieces home with me. Once I got home I continued to eat and eat and eat until I was hunched over in the kitchen in the worst pain I had ever been. This didn’t stop… I continued to eat whatever I wanted in whatever quantity until I made myself ill every single day. It felt so euphoric in the moment being on those sugar highs. Once I saw how my body looked in the mirror only a few days later I was mortified. I looked like a blown up balloon! What had happened to all my muscles and definition?! I thought for sure I had gained all fat (I know now it was probably mostly water retention but knew none of this at the time). I freaked out and said I gotta get back onto my meal plan because in my mind then I thought that was the only way to have the body I wanted.

I could no longer stick to any strict meal plan. I never felt satisfied when I ate, I was frustrated all the time because I couldn’t go out for food with family or friends because I’d have to eat out of my Tupperware so that I could look a certain way. I fell on and off of this plan over and over again with extreme binges. I gained almost 40 lbs in the course of two months. I had to buy all new clothing and I cried and cried and cried because I had never been so heavy in my life (150+lbs). I again started avoiding social gatherings because I was so embarrassed by how I looked. I hid food and ate boxes of cookies when others were not around. I was always the “fit chick”, I had people look up to me, I helped others lose weight but now what had happened to me? I was huge! I completely lost myself for a good solid two and a half years. I was worried every time I ate, heaven forbid I ate white potatoes any other time than after a leg workout. I also wouldn’t be caught dead eating starchy carbohydrates with my last two meals! It was hell.

Over all this time I had studied my butt off about nutrition and tried several different eating methods and cleanses. I tried everything from the master cleanse to the ketogenic diet to the alternate day diet – nothing seemed to work. I would make some progress but then it would all be reversed as I binged my heart out until I could hardly move. I took some serious time off and focused more of my energy on the mental/emotional plane. I had to get to the route of why I was sabotaging all my efforts. I had to find out what I was filling in my life with food… what I was soothing. I’ve done a lot of self reflection, I’ve done the Emotional Freedom Technique to help break my binge eating habits, and I have been drinking an amazing superfood shake daily that has helped me reset my hunger signals and curb my overwhelming cravings. When I found IIFYM it put all of the pieces together for me. Check out my post on IIFYM for more information. 🙂

This way of eating allows me to essentially eat whatever I would like as long as I hit my target macro-nutrient requirements for the day. This doesn’t mean I eat pizza and ice cream all day but if I want to have ice cream I can make it fit. I am losing weight eating “forbidden foods” and I feel fantastic! Who knew I could eat cookies and still lose weight? A box of cookies in my house now lasts an entire week as opposed to me scarfing down two boxes in one sitting. I can go out with my family and friends and not worry about what I am eating or that I am going to get “fat”. This has been the most freeing lifestyle that I could ever imagine. I am so happy about this. Some might say “well isn’t tracking your food being obsessive?” and I say no, it is simply a way of self monitoring. I have so much freedom now and I’ve learned about moderation but more importantly I’ve learned to love myself. I now know some awesome tricks to help satisfy myself and also keep my sanity.

I know I am not alone out there with this and I can tell you I’ve been there and I know what it’s like to struggle. With a little work you can get past this too just like me. There is hope.

In good health,

Jessica



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