The Journey to Food Freedom

It’s funny how the minute I have some time to think (ie: being sick in bed all day) is when I want to pour all these words out of my soul and onto paper. I just wrote about 5 pages in my journal and realized I needed to blog about this message and get a little vulnerable with you guys.

Recently I’ve been struggling a little bit. I reached this huge goal of getting my own studio, and it didn’t feel as fulfilling as I though it would. I’ve been feeling lost, what is next? What can I reach for? What am I working towards? What is the point?

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what my mission & vision in life is. After all, what is the point if you don’t know where you are heading? I find I really need that overall goal or idea to keep pushing myself forward.

During a meditation a month or so ago, a sentence actually brought me to tears with happiness for what I realized. I want to be a light for all women to discover peace and happiness with food and their bodies. I want to guide people out of the darkness.

HOW can I achieve this? Body Mind & Soul has helped immensely, but I’ve found it a lot harder than I thought. I can’t just give people the information and they will magically cure themselves. I think I forgot about my journey to this point. I’ve kind of glossed over recovery in blog posts and how dark it really was.

I want to help women find this happiness, but I’m stuck as to how. How can I inspire people to get really vulnerable and ready to get out of the dieting cycle? I can give them all the tools and information in the world but if they aren’t ready to use them, what good am I doing?

Thinking about myself being the inspiration, I think it would be apt to connect with you guys on a deeper level. I’m terrible at doing this in person because typically I’ll start to cry, or get shy when I try to get vulnerable in person. I get embarrassed by my emotions.  But I truly feel called to get this out there into the world and hopefully I can help one women’s perception of themselves and get them started on their intuitive eating journey on a new foot.

So, where it all began. I think I actually forgot about how bad it was. I forgot how completely lost and helpless I felt around food and my body. I HATED my body and myself, and wished I could literally just cut the fat off my stomach. Food consumed my every thought. I would spend days binge eating and purging and avoiding all reality. It’s here where I really felt like there was no hope. I would watch other people’s stories on how they “beat” binge eating but I didn’t relate to them at all. They were talking about sightly over-eating and they were thin & lead seemingly perfect lives. They didn’t understand what I was going through and the compulsions I had to eat every single thing in sight. I would avoid everyone and everything (shut off my phone) and eat, and eat and eat. Entire 2L’s of ice-cream with an entire bag of chocolate chips, entire jar of nutella, and syrup was truly just a warm-up. I could spend an entire day having massive binges, and then purging, and then starting the whole cycle over again. I would go to several different grocery stores to buy all my binge food in order to avoid seeing anyone I know or receiving any judgement from the cashier. I would need to buy a few chocolate bars just to tide me over till I got home. It would always be a game to see if I could make it home without starting the binge, but I never could. I was so ashamed bringing all this food into my house, and my worst fear was running into my landlords and having to talk to them or have them see what I just bought. I was secretive, and never thought I would get out of this cycle.

After a really bad binge day, I would SWEAR I would start fresh the next day. I would pack all my healthy foods, do whatever it took to avoid binging- and sometimes I would make it but I knew it was short lived. I knew deep down I loved the feeling of losing all abandon and shutting off everything and everyone. I wanted to escape reality and food was my drug. It calmed me, it distracted me, it stuffed down uncomfortable feelings. It did everything I needed it to. It seemed I always came back to it now matter how much therapy I did, drugs I took, journalling I did.

How the hell did I get out of that cycle? It seemed so dark and hopeless at the time. I remember crying to my boyfriend on the phone just wanting someone to understand this crazy compulsion I had to eat and eat and eat. Nobody GOT IT. Well, I’m here to tell you that I do get it. and if you feel even a little bit like I did; there IS a way out. I truly believe that if I can beat this thing, you can too.

It really is crazy to me now, because now even when I have off days, or think I could binge, it just doesn’t happen anymore. I don’t have the same urges these days (which I am so thankful for). I don’t know if I just grew out of it, or something finally clicked for me. I like to think that all the work I’ve done on creating this life of mine had something to do with it. I want to help MORE people get this feeling. I want you to feel happy, calm, and great about the food you eat and the body you live in. I want you to be able to eat whatever you want without guilt, or chastising yourself. I want you to exercise for the mental health benefits and enjoy getting stronger.

I want people to know that if you are stuck in the darkness you can find your way out. It takes time, and it’s certainly not easy- but it’s POSSIBLE. And it’s so so worth it. I promise that you can be that carefree, happy healthy person that doesn’t think about or worry about food- and live at your goal weight.

So how can you get there? That is a lengthy question, but it truly does start with you and your thoughts. Figuring out WHY you are using food is the biggest thing. Starting to allow yourself to feel negative feelings, or feel anxious, or get uncomfortable is huge. The more you can do this, the more you realize that nothing bad is going to happen to you. It’s all a big wave of life that just keeps going. Sometimes we are up, and sometimes we are down- and we need to get through the down phases with feeling the emotions– instead of using food. This was the biggest step in my recovery. Of course- I still don’t love to feel emotions and have also found alternative coping mechanisms that are more productive for me. It’s not fun to feel uncomfortable, but it’s also not fun to feel like you have no control over food.

I’m here to tell you that you do. You have all the control in the world and the more you can start recognizing those thoughts that are leading you to binge, the more you can stop those urges in their tracks. It’s totally possible to STOP a binge- which is something I never though I could do. You need to be willing to get uncomfortable, get scared, do something different.

I’m going to leave you with this question- what are you hiding from? Why are you avoiding your emotions with food? (and it doesn’t need to be binge eating. It could be dieting, being healthy, vegan, paleo, weight loss, restriction). What are these emotions that you are unable to really dig into? Figuring out the answer to these questions may lead you down a whole new path of your life. Let yourself feel the fear, and then go do what you are being called to do!

With love,

Tara

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Why you should emotionally eat

lose-weight-hypnosis-how-can-hypnotherapy-help-you-lose-weight.png

It has consistently been known as a bad thing to be a emotional eater. People identify themselves as an “emotional eater” as if it’s a secret shameful society where only us weak willed dieters cave into food as an emotional crutch.

It’s collectively viewed as a “good” habit to exercise when going through emotional times, or to practice meditation and yoga.

Here’s what I believe: Emotional eating is not a bad thing. EVERY SINGLE PERSON EATS EMOTIONALLY SOMETIMES. People celebrate with food, commiserate with food, and console with food. It’s fucking normal.
Emotional eating (or any kind of eating) only becomes a problem when we associate it with guilt and shame. It would just be “eating” if you didn’t attach some sort of meaning or shame behind it. So WHAT if you eat ice-cream when you’re sad. You aren’t mainlining heroin people!

We live in an extremely fat-phobic society. Recently the HAES (Health At Every Size) movement has been gaining momentum, which is amazing. It’s showing up that your size does certainly not determine your health- in any way (google the studies).
The ONLY reasonwe feel shame around emotional eating is because we live in a fear of fatness. We are scared of gaining weight. This is SOCIETAL problem, not a “you” problem.

If fat was viewed as a good thing- emotional eating wouldn’t exist. It would just be.. eating. It would be applauded just as weight loss is celebrated today- imagine THAT!

So stop viewing any form of eating as “bad” or “good”. We need to collectively end the stigma around weight and food- where weight is just weight. No size is better. No size is healthier. No coping mechanisms are better. We are all humans just trying to figure this life thing out, and get through it as pain free as possible. So if a little ice-cream can soothe you; please stop feeling guilty and move ON with your life!

I’m writing this post because I think the more we can smash through these stupid dieting “rules” of good and bad, the less people will struggle with food. If you just ate when you wanted and stopped CARING so much, you could just live your life as the best version of you possible. I know for me personally, the only time I “binge” is when I attach emotional or shame around what I’ve eaten that day, or attempt to restrict. I start feeling guilty that I coped with ice-cream and that leads to even more coping with ice-cream. If I had just viewed everything I ate as neutral–I wouldn’t ever binge.

What are your thoughts? Would love to hear your opinions. I hope this can help someone today realize that food isn’t bad, you are not bad for eating food, and the more we can take away these stigma’s- the better off we all will be.

 

Tara

 

 

Why do all diets fail?

Did you know that at least 95% of dieters gain all their weight back? And in most cases, you gain it back with INTEREST… ie: worse off than you were before you started the diet!

I’m not even talking about your typical fad diets. I’m talking about meal plans,  reasonable diets, clean eating, etc. Anything that tells you when to eat, or what to do and imposes certain rules can be considered a diet. (Yes… even my nutrition packages– although I try hard to keep ALL rules out of them and keep it about creating new habits around meal prep). If you lose 5-10% of your weight on it; you have an EXTREMELY SLIM chance of keeping it off long term. By long term, I mean for life. Not just 6 months, or a year, or 5 years. And isn’t that the point? When you aim to reach a certain goal, don’t you want to stay there?

Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough willpower, or motivation, or discipline to follow through with a healthy eating plan or a diet? Do you feel like there is something wrong with you? That you can’t stay consistent long term?

I’m here to tell you definitively that that is NOT the case. There is absolutely nothing wrong you, and EVERYTHING wrong with the “health” and fitness industry. This industry is worth billions of dollars because it’s designed to keep you coming back for more. Can you say that you have gone on ONE diet, met your goal, and then stayed there forever.. period? Do you know anything that has? Or have you lost and gained the weight over and over again trying new diets, exercise gadgets, fitness regimes.. etc?

I’ve been noticing more and more how prevalent failure is in the dieting industry, and I really want to change that. I know why we aren’t succeeding, because it’s where I still struggle too. 

We don’t address our actual issues such as dependency on food for comfort, coping or emotional reasons.

If you experience any of the following issues with food, there is more going on than just “not being able to stick to a diet”:

-feel out of control around food
-feel guilt or shame around eating certain things
-have periods of binging or restricting
-have an obsession with clean or healthy eating 
-have intense cravings for certain foods
-eat to numb out
-eat when you aren’t hungry
-eat past fullness the majority of the time
restrict yourself when you are hun
gry
-eat when you are sad, bored, happy
-feel the need to “work off” food
-label foods “good” or “bad” 
-count calories, macro’s or feel the need to control your intake of food 
-constantly on a new diet or exercise regime
never feel satisfied or happy with your current body

and many more.

Guess what. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD, OR THE DIET, OR YOUR EXERCISE. You aren’t failing because of lack of willpower, or because you aren’t on the right plan for you.

You are failing because you aren’t addressing the emotional reasons behind your eating.

I know the dieting industry will have you believe that if you just go vegan, or cut out dairy, or try whole30, or go paleo… You will lose all the sugar cravings! Never need to diet again! Lose weight effortlessly! Every new diet will fill you with hope and promise.

It’s simply. NOT. TRUE. 

As much as you don’t want to hear it, you will gain the weight back if you don’t address what’s going on in the inside. That little voice inside your head is going to rebel at some point. When you go through a stressful time, when you go through a life transition, when you just can’t stand eating chicken and broccoli any more. Some people can last longer than others before their “Inner Rebel” starts getting louder and louder. Have you ever reached a certain breaking point on a diet/meal plan/etc where you just want to say FUCK THIS I’m tired of the arbitrary rules!? Then you finally go eat whatever you like and find yourself right back where you started?

This is so so normal. You are normal. You are human. We are not meant to tell our bodies when to eat, what not to eat, and let an app tell us how many calories we should be eating.

We are meant to enjoy and love food and our bodies.. and eat when we are hungry for food. It sound so simple, yet it’s the most difficult thing in the world. With hyper-palatable foods (ie: manufactured foods full of sugar, fat, anything addictive) increasing cravings and fake food everywhere we turn, it’s no wonder we are confused. We are bombarded with messaging EVERY SINGLE DAY, about how to change our bodies, what to cut out, the new “evil” food to avoid and what new exercise fad to try.

If we put all that time, attention and effort into figuring out WHY we are drawn to the food in the first place, and healing our relationship with food and body we would NEVER gain the weight back. We would finally have a healthy relationship with food. If we exercised for enjoyment instead of fat burn, we would all move way more often.

Have you experienced the yo-yo dieting cycle? Are you sick and tired of it? I am as well, which is why I’m working on an intuitive eating program to help heal your relationship with food- so please stay tuned! It will hopefully be launched for June!

Please let me know your thoughts on this topic, I am interested to hear!

 

5,4,3,2,1… GO

Ok, so I can’t take credit for this idea because it is from Mel Robbins, check out her TedTalk here and the podcast that I learned this from here. Seriously guys, LIFE. CHANGING.

I’m discovering that I can apply this rule to absolutely anything in my life and it’s supremely helpful. Getting stuff done, working on binge eating, making plans, stopping pressing snooze.. You name it!

Here is the essence of the rule broken down:
When you know you need to do something (ie: make a phone call, go workout, get out of bed, reply to that e-mail, write a blog post..) you simply count down in your head or aloud 5,4,3,2,1– AND GO DO IT. No second guessing, no debating with yourself. You just fucking do IT! (excuse my language).

In her book she describes the science behind it including interrupting those thought patterns that typically send you into procrastination, or a binging, or anxiety. You are able to essentially re-wire your brain and start training yourself to develop new habits- namely being a badass go getter.

I know this sounds incredibly simple. It is. But that doesn’t make it easy. It’s all about ignoring how you “feel” about the said thing you need to do and just doing it. Once I learned that it really changed the game. I realized I was really holding myself back from only doing things when I “felt” like doing them. Of course I don’t feel like working out most days, or making doctors appointments, or hopping out of bed when my alarm goes off. But put aside your feelings, count down from 5- and GO!

I recognize that feelings are important and we should always notice them, but that doesn’t mean that even though you “feel” like staying in bed all day that you should. And just because you don’t “feel” like working out, means that you just let yourself off the hook and sit on the couch all night. When you have goals, and things you want to achieve- you are going to have to do things when you don’t feel like doing them! 

This can also work in reverse for when you find yourself doing something you “shouldn’t” be doing. (I tend to avoid using statements like should, and shouldn’t.. but you know what I mean). Let’s say you are about to drive to the store for all out out binge-fest. Buy everything you’ve been craving. Deep down, you know that this isn’t really going to help anything. What’s been working for me has been counting 5,4,3,2,1- BREATHE. And just try to relax my body, because when I get wound up and ready to go into “binge mode” I’m usually not deep breathing or relaxing at all. So I breathe, listen to my thoughts and go do something else instead.

So, take a listen to the podcast, and read the book because she is amazing! It is the simplest tip in the world, which is why I think it works so well. Try out it out today on that thing you’ve been avoiding. Deep breathe– 5,4,3,2,1— GO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growth & Comfort Zones

I had a bit of an eye-opening week this past week, with moving out of my home (essentially homeless right now) and into the new gym, my life has been anything but routine.

I am such a creature of habit. I love having my meals prepped, my food ready to go, my “stuff” organized and in one spot. Currently I have a selection of clothes at Jordans, a pile of laundry at my Mom’s, the rest of my closet in my car, 20 boxes at the gym, and all my pantry items at Jordan’s. AH!! I thought my head was going to explode this week trying to eat healthy. I did my best, but eating out everyday definitely takes a toll, and not having my regular snacks available at work (and being there 14 hours a day) I found myself getting starving and binging on junk (specifically a bag of chocolate chips I kept in my car.. whoops). This totally reminded my about the importance of meal prep!  Get food READY so you don’t need to stress- you’ll save time, money, and energy by eating better foods. 

Anyway, I wanted to talk about growth and why it’s so important to push yourself out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. When I think about pushing out of my comfort zone, I think about doing big scary things- but that’s not actually what’s helped me improve in life.
how-to-expand-my-comfort-zone.jpg
Pushing out of your comfort zone is a series of baby tiny step
s that eventually lead to something GREAT. Looking back on now starting this studio, I realize all the tiny steps it took to get here.

First, I dared to dream. I knew what would be the ultimate goal and I didn’t let nay-sayers bring me down- I knew what I wanted to achieve, but did I even really think I could do it? Umm.. hell no!
Then, a whole lot of time passed but this studio was always on my mind. It started with just starting a Facebook page for my training business which took some guts for me. I still was slightly ashamed of my “fitnessy” posts and didn’t want to annoy my friends with it.
After I finally bit the bullet and made it one afternoon, I realized it wasn’t that hard.

Then, I started training people in my bedroom (yep) and outdoors in the park. (In fact, one of my clients that trained with me at a random park late at night in the dark is still with me, every single week.. 3 years later!)

It started growing with a small series of things.. I had an idea for the nutrition packages and even though I didn’t feel experienced enough, confident enough or ANYTHING enough to launch it- I did! And the response has been amazing ever since.

That led me into the 12 week challenge- a small idea that has helped a lot of people, and when I think about it I get a little teary eyed.

These series of small steps like starting an fitness instagram, going out on a limb and doing the “Fitmas” Challenge has slowly built my confidence up enough to realize- hey I can get a studio space!

It started so small, and the more I pushed myself out of my comfort zone the more you realize you can do.

The amazing part- is even once you reach that goal you thought was so unattainable at the time, there’s always more growth that can happen. I want to do so much more and that’s going to take more pushing out of the comfort zone.

Also, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment this week when it comes to motivation and “feeling like it”. YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO FEEL LIKE IT! I was always waiting for motivation to strike, or the “get up and go” feeling which is let’s face it.. rare. Once I realized I’m probably only going to “feel like it” about 5% of the time- I realized I need to PUSH MYSELF out of my comfort zone the other 95% of the time. To making those tough phones calls, to tackling anxiety, to replying to e-mails, to meeting new clients, to working out, to getting up early and not pressing snooze. As Nike would say- JUST DO IT.

The momentum you create from just doing it anyway- even if you don’t feel like – builds upon itself. It creates confidence, self efficacy, and most importantly growth. Then before you know it- your comfort “zone” just keeps getting bigger and keep doing more.

So, dare to dream about what you want.. and then start taking those tiny steps out of your comfort zone to get there. EVERYDAY try to do something that you don’t “feel like” doing. I certainly didn’t feel working out this afternoon or cooking dinner tonight, but I still did it and that feels pretty awesome.

Health at EVERY Size?

Have you heard of the health at every size movement? Health at Every Size (HAES) is a movement that claims to “support people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control).” Proponents aim to improve the standard of living for people who are overweight or obese by promoting healthy lifestyles and anti-discrimination efforts.

haes.png

This has recently been coming up a lot in my daily conversations and life, and especially today with a more recently disturbing conversation. A lovely friend and past client of mine is currently in training to become a personal trainer. After working out with me and learning to love the process she wanted to help people herself, which is AMAZING. What’s not amazing is the attitude she was subjected to in class. While taking the first course you need to become a trainer, fitness instructor, or ANYONE in the fitness industry (ie: all of us in the industry have been through it) she was immediately horrified that the instructor put a photo of an average size women up on the screen – and said that the “world is turning in mutants, and gross”. He didn’t blur out the women’s face or anything. Then the whole class (about 25-30 people) all said chimed in, “gross and ewww”. The instructor PUBLICLY FAT SHAMED a completely random women while knowing nothing about her health history.

This absolutely sickens me to my core. I thought that the world was turning a corner in the health and fitness movement, but when I hear something like this I feel like absolutely nothing has changed. This instructor is teaching all future fitness instructors, personal trainers and fitness professionals to ridicule and fat shame anyone that is struggling with their weight. How horrifying is that??

As fitness professionals we should be absolutely following and supporting the health at every size movement. Size has basically zero indication of a persons overall health. I for one was a whole lot UNHEALTHIER when I was thinner.  Did you know that on average “overweight” people live longer than “normal weight” people? And that no study has ever shown that weight loss prolongs life? And that biology dictates that most people  will gain back the weight even if they stick to their diet and exercise. Fat isn’t the problem- dieting is the problem. We need to kick diets to the curb and stop shaming different bodies. The fact that 67% of women are “plus sized” (another term that we should do away with.. how about normal sized?) and are shamed for it is mind boggling to me. No body should be shamed- fat, thin or otherwise.

cactus.jpg

Why do we constantly put “thinness” on a pedestal and try constantly to change ourselves? Society has created this belief that thinness = happiness but it is simply UNTRUE. Happiness comes from doing what you love, making connections with people, loving your body (regardless of size). Imagine what a better place the world would be if we started to respect all different body types in the media?

I feel sad that my friend has now quit this course due to the attitude in it and has put her dream of helping other women on the side. We need more body positive role models, especially in the fitness industry! S0 lets start encouraging trainers to get their facts straight- your clients don’t need to lose weight, they don’t need to go on a diet and they don’t need to look like you. They need to find happiness and confidence within themselves. I hope that I help my clients feel more confident, strong, and happy in daily life by realizing how much you can do- not like they need to lose weight to “succeed”. I don’t even care if you never work out, and eat whatever the heck you want. Are you HAPPY? Energized? Living your best life? Sleeping well? Connected with those around you? Loving yourself? Free of injuries / aches and pains? That’s what I want everyone around me to find. Exercise because you love your body; not because you hate it!

 

 

Living with Intention

Are you one of those people that get excited about the prospect of a new year, a fresh start, a clean slate? Or are you of the variety that thinks it is a little ridiculous to treat the end of 2016 any different than the beginning of 2017?

I definitely fall into the former. I love setting weekly, monthly, yearly goals anyway- so the beginning of a new year for me bring so much gratitude and growth. Since I keep a journal almost daily- it’s very interesting for me to look back to last year and see where I was mentally. I definitely think we have the capacity to completely change our lives in one short year. If you think back to how quickly 2016 flew past, you can probably agree. Imagine if we lived every single day of 365 days with intention? Imagine what you can accomplish!

I’ve personally found that starting each day with “intention” to be an amazing way to begin my morning, and has created a lot of change within my life; taking it one day at a time. If you could create one new habit this year- I highly recommend this one. Basically, when you get up in the morning set aside 10-20 minutes to write out your intention for that day. Now- I definitely don’t mean a “to-do” list that causes you anxiety the minute you wake up. I mean think about how you want to feel today. An example of my morning intention would be “Throughout today I feel joy with each passing moment. I’m full of gratitude for my clients and ready to inspire change. I’m full of energy, and feel a calming peace throughout my mood and my day”.
And then I’ll take that intention and visualize my day for about 5-10 minutes. We all have a rough estimate of how our days are going to look- so I take myself from beginning to end of each hour of my day and how it’s going to feel to realize my intention from start to finish. (This is basically a form of mediation). By already living your day with your intention through your head- you really set yourself up for success.

This little trick has helped me really expand my business, fall in love, strengthen friendships, create mental change, and find a new zest for life and get past those fears that you can hold you back.

Do you live each day with intention towards your goals? Or are you letting your day run you? Take back your personal power with this exercise and watch your life start to unfold- just how you want it to.

Any thoughts? Do you guys meditate or visualize or journal?

Do you “guilt” eat?

This is part of my new series of helping you to overcome binge eating and find a happy balance with food. I’ve written a lot about this on my blog because it is definitely the biggest thing I’ve had to deal with and I remember how helpless I felt. I just wanted hope that there was a way out. Perhaps you aren’t as deep into it as I was and you just struggle with the occasional binge here and there; but I hope this helps anyone and everyone who has ever struggled with overeating and guilt around food.

healthy-grocery-shopping

The very first thing that I have to mention, is that if you aren’t eating enough; your body is automatically going to be craving food and leading you towards EATING whatever you can get- so none of the stuff below is going to work until you are getting your nutrition in check. To start, aim for at least 2000 calories/ day and getting in 3 balanced meals and 2-3 snacks in. You should feel satisfied and energized and NOT starving! For some people who have past or current eating disorders; 2000 calories may seem like a lot. I challenge you to add up how many calories you eat in the course of a binge (for me it was usually at least 3,000) and then divide that up over every few days or how often you binge. When I realized that the calories I was taking in during a binge COMPLETELY negated any low calorie days in between I realized I need to up my calories majorly to keep me full and HAPPY. As soon as I upped my calories and ate more, I binged less and ending up losing weight. (Not that this is about weight loss, but I know for some of you this may be motivation and if it gets you to eat more, that makes me happy!) Secondly, I don’t want calories to be the focus here and have only used these numbers as a rough estimate.

brain

Once you start eating enough and getting in all your nutrients- you need to start focussing on your BRAIN. In my opinion, the main cause of binge eating has NOTHING to do with self control, willpower or being a “sugar addict”. It has to do with the thoughts swirling around in your head that control everything! Once you start changing your thoughts about food and your body- you truly change your life.
Step 1: Get in tune with those thoughts. You can’t start changing them until you know they are there! Ever find yourself midway through a massive binge and you had no idea how you even got there? That used to happen to me all the time. Once I started practicing more mindfulness I could start to see the triggers. Whenever I was feeling tired or overwhelmed I noticed I tended towards all or nothing thinking. It was either “sit here and focus and do all your work” or “fuck it I’m going to buy chocolate and sit in bed and hide”. Once I had the option to say “fuck it!” you can guess what I did 90% of the time. Now I’m learning to recognize those thoughts and find a better balance. I now shift towards more grey thinking as in “Ok, I’m not really feeling motivated right now, so why don’t I give myself an hour to read my book and relax guilt free, perhaps have some chocolate mindfully and then come back to it?” Listening to your thoughts can allow you to create more options that you didn’t see before. This also comes in handy if you are one of those people that as soon as they “slip up” on a diet- you just figure that day is ruined and eat everything in sight so it’s gone. When you think about this logically it’s actually so NUTS that we do this! A good analogy is if you get one flat tire- instead of changing it and moving on down the road- you slash the other four and end up stuck on the side of the road all day! So if you find yourself labelling foods “good” or “bad” and when you eat “bad” foods you just want to eat them all- challenge your thinking. Is that what you really truly want? To sit on the side of the road all day with 4 flat tires? Or do you want to ENJOY that delicious dessert and move on with your day without obsessing over food? I think all or nothing thinking is extremely common in people that struggle with addiction or eating disorders. Here is the thing- perhaps with other addictions such as drugs/etc you can be “all or nothing” when recovering. With food- you are never going to have that option- so you might as well learn to live in harmony with it, rather than constantly fighting with your brain and cravings. You are going to spend the rest of your life eating, so lets make it joyful and satisfying shall we?

quotes-for-the-food-loving-soul-in-all-of-us-intent-blog

This brings me to my next suggestion… Erasing GUILT around food. I have gotten so much better at this, but I definitely still find myself berating myself for wanting dairy queen or feeling bad if I want 2 servings of dessert. We need to take the GUILT AND SHAME out of eating. Here is the cycle when guilt & shame are included:

Wake up and have a “healthy” breakfast (again- labelling good and bad foods.. which we want to avoid). You feel pride, a sense of control. 
Getting hungry an hour later- you’re feeling annoyed and like you already had enough food so why are you hungry again? (judging yourself, and your hunger signals is never good)
You force yourself to wait till lunch because you think you don’t need more food (deprivation)
You forgot your healthy lunch at home and go out- you are starving by now so pizza looks amazing. You know you “shouldn’t” but it just looks so good…
Wolf down two slices of pizza while barely tasting them- and continue to feel guilt around your lunch “that wasn’t the most nutritious option, I should have had a salad, ugh why did I do that, I feel sick..”
Feeling hungry mid-afternoon but since you ate pizza you don’t think you should be snacking on anything.
You get to the end of the day after feeling like garbage all afternoon and decide “Screw this! What’s the point in going home and making myself a nice dinner? I don’t deserve it. I already ruined things by eating that pizza. I’ll just pick up something on the way home and start again tomorrow. “

o-dieting-facebook

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Now imagine if we took the guilt and judgement and shame OUT of this equation:

Wake up and have what you are craving for breakfast. Two slices of toast, 2 eggs, avocado, yum! You eat till satisfied and go on with your day. No judgement over how big or little the breakfast was. 
Getting hungry an hour later- oh! Well guess I’ll have an apple right now, that sounds good. I’ll enjoy this nice juicy apple. 
Lunch time rolls around- You forgot your healthy lunch at home and go out- you are starving by now so pizza looks amazing. You eat pizza. That’s all. 
Afternoon- feeling pretty hungry again and need a pick me up- I think I’ll have a handful of nuts, and ooh a latte sounds delicious! (No judgement, just enjoyment) 
Dinnertime: I am craving that healthy lunch I left at home, perhaps I’ll have that and a nice glass of wine to go with it! Feel satisfied and enjoyed every bite.

barack_food
Can you imagine being person #2? Where you just eat what you like? Enjoy it? Don’t obsess over food all day? Well, the first step in becoming person #2 is to start actually recognizing your thoughts. Trust me- no matter how crazy you feel around food right now- it is possible for you to be able to simplify eating and enjoy every bite.

I’ll leave you with this, start listening to your thoughts and identifying triggers. This does take time and I’m not saying you are magically going to become someone who barely thinks about food all day and “forgets to eat”. (Who are you people??) but, you will start noticing patterns, thoughts, and perhaps this will help you with the next step of enjoying all foods guilt-free. Try not to place restrictions on yourself. The more you give yourself UNLIMITED FREEDOM the less pull any food has on you. It’s pretty crazy but the best feeling in the world when you realize the food doesn’t control you!

Comment below any questions, or thoughts you have with this- I would love to hear it!

Tara

 

Food: Then & Now

This post is somewhat of a reflection on my past eating disorder and hatred towards myself. I actually forgot how bad it truly was until I found one of my old journals and read some entries from a few years ago. Here’s a small sample…

September 2013

It’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m WIDE awake and my mind is racing and I’m super anxious and feeling so panicked. I don’t know what’s going on but all I want to do is cry.  I feel all fucked up about my body (I hate it, and none of my clothes fit and I feel like a fat disgusting COW) and I hate that I have no one to talk about it with. I can’t remember the last time I actually felt good in my body. My self esteem feels like it’s at complete rock bottom. I wish I had someone to just grab my face, look me in the eye and tell me I’m beautiful and wonderful. I’m crying just thinking about it. Will that ever happen?

October 2013

I’m feeling super down lately, I just don’t feel happy because I can’t get my nutrition in line. (Read: nice way of saying I can’t stick to the diet of the week). Obviously my binge eating is a bigger problem than just diet, it just keeps getting worse and worse. I don’t know if I should be more strict with myself? Or the complete opposite? I feel so lost. I feel like I have an inkling of what I want my life to look like but no idea how to make it happen anymore. I really just want to feel happiness again and not have binging and purging control my life. I threw up over 20x today – I feel completely out of control around food and in life. I just binged today because I could. It’s habit. No other reason. (Read: I didn’t see the reasons because I was binging to push the emotions and feelings away). How can I stop? Will I ever stop? What if this is my life forever? I just keep thinking one thing will come along and cure me, but I’m realizing its a combination of things. It’s just so much WORK it is exhausting. I want to snap my fingers and be recovered.

Basically my journal was a mixture of one day of depression as above and then another day full of hope and excitement because I found a new “diet” or “meal plan” or “cure” and I’m going to be great! I will be skinny and happy and confident again! I look back and it fills me with such sadness. They are filled with measurements, the food I ate that day, what I weighed, what I will do when I’m skinny.. etc. They are not filled with memories, vacations, fun times, friendships, or memorable moments. It’s food, diet, body and constantly trying to change myself.

I am not writing this post to garner sympathy from people. I am writing this post because I want people to see that they are NOT ALONE. I know so many people experience hating their bodies and maybe they think I don’t understand because I’m generally pretty happy and confident these days. Trust me, I know what it feels like to grab your stomach and literally want to cut it off. To cry when you look in the mirror. To be filled with such hopelessness and feel so lost in what “to do” that you can’t even face it and it just turns you right back towards the food again. To avoid friends, family and social situations because you don’t want to face the food. To secretly binge and purge at parties and dinners, to eat until you feel so sick you cannot even move. To be filled with such disgust for yourself you don’t know how you could ever be deserving of the life you want to live.

But here is what I also know: I know what it feels like on the other side. I know what it feels like you never weigh yourself again, to go days without even thinking about dieting, exercise, or how you look. To check yourself out in the mirror and think “damn! I am look fucking great!” (ps.. I weigh the same now as I did when I hated myself.. ironic much?) I know how it feels to eat without guilt, to not constantly second guess yourself, to forget how many calories are in things, to not even worry about the nutrition label. I know how it feels to just straight up love yourself and skin you’re in, UNCONDITIONALLY.

I remember I had a therapy session one day and she asked me what I thought life looked like without my eating disorder. I still have the image in my mind. I described to her that I woke up and wore whatever I wanted, without fussing about how I looked, and spending hours to find the perfect outfit to make me look “thinner”. I would be out for lunch with all my best friends and having a glass of wine, eating a burger and fries and laughing so loud and with so much joy that people turned around to look at who this radiant, happy confident person is. I glowed.

I’m here to tell you that this life can come true. You can lead your life without an eating disorder. You can be radiant, and happy and not worry about food or your body. You can just be. You can be free from the restrictions of dieting, and can find your own self worth through so many other things than shaping your body. You can have your dream career, you can leave chocolate in the house without being worried about eating it all, and you can live the life you’ve always thought was out of reach.

So how do you get there? Well, there are many things… and I hate to tell you that the biggest thing you are going to have to do is learn for yourself. We are all different and different things may speak to you vs. what spoke to me. I know I spent years searching for the “answer” to stop binging. I’ve learned it’s a cumulative effect that takes time. You probably don’t want to hear that, but I believe its true. It takes hard work, self-reflection, self-improvement, mindfulness and a lotta tears. I can tell you it’s so fucking worth it though. Everything that I had to go through led me to this wonderful life; and now I want to help anyone and everyone that ever felt as hopeless as I did.

On that note, I am going to start a blog series of all the things I did that helped me find my happiness, stop my self-loathing, and end binge eating for good.

Follow along and maybe these tips can help you find your dream life too!

Tara

 

The Set Point Theory

scale1
Have you ever heard of the set point theory? A lot of people have trouble accepting this theory because it seems like a “cop out” to weight loss. The Set Point Theory states that “Everyone has a  [weight] set point and, just as you have no control over your height, eye colour or hair colour, you also have no control over what your set point will be. Your body is biologically and genetically determined to weigh within a certain weight range.”

How do you feel when you read this statement? I can tell you that when I learned this when I was in the midst of my eating disorder I was outraged. Stay at the same weight forever? There is no way I’m accepting myself at this weight!! My goal ever since I can remember was to weigh 125lbs and I think I achieved that for possibly a day before binging my way back up to my original weight and then some.

Now I’m fascinated by the set point theory because it’s been proven to me time and time again. Do you know where you body naturally feels most comfortable? Usually it is a range within 10-20lbs. I can tell you mine exactly. It’s about 136-140lbs. How do I know this? When I was obsessed with weighing myself I would write it in my journal every single day. I look back over years and years of journals- and EVERY TIME I would go on another mission to lose weight- that’s exactly where I was. From Grade 9 to the age of 27. That’s almost 14 years of being in the same weight range while starving myself, over exercising, purging, being happy, letting go of dieting, dieting again.. and so on and so forth. All to end up at the exact same weight I was unhappy at years ago. Isn’t that madness? I wish I could go back in time and tell myself- YOU ARE PERFECT AS YOU ARE. Start loving and accepting your body now and you won’t waste 15 years of your life on this STUPID fucking goal of weighing 125lbs. My weight goes up and down if I try to force it or if I’m binging a lot, naturally. But it always settles around the same number when I normalize my eating habits. Have you ever noticed this happening to you? I think I really learned this when I went travelling and really stopped trying to diet. I went for a few runs while I was away, drank (a lot) almost every single night, ate out for every single meal.. And in 3 months I ended up gaining.. 3 whole pounds. WHAT!? Turns out when you just listen to your hunger, and fullness and enjoy living each day your body just does it’s thing and regulates your weight perfectly! I ended up at 136lbs after that trip after starving myself down to 133. My set point is right here.

I believe everyone has a healthy weight range set point where they feel their best. Where they eat lots of nutritionally dense foods and enjoy working out- and also enjoy wine and chocolate whenever they want to, without guilt. Since we are conditioned as a society to constantly be “dieting” or improving our bodies or being a “work in progress” this can be hard to accept. But the truth is, 95% of every dieter gains the weight back and then some.  So what if you started accepting your body right now. Accept that it will end up naturally where it is supposed to be when you stop viewing food as the enemy? How would you start living your life differently?

Here are the facts behind set point. When you go on a diet and start you lose weight- your body automatically lowers your metabolism, produces the urge to binge, & your appetite will increase over time. (For some this may take a lot of time and why it is quite common for Anorexics in recovery to swing over to binge eating disorder once they start eating again). It will conserve energy, and do whatever it can to stall the weight loss process. The body is so good at slowing down metabolism that you will need to continue eating the same low amount of calories just to stay where you are- and the set point will still make your weight go up! This is a fight that a dieter can never win at.

This also goes the opposite way! When you gain weight- your metabolism increases in attempts to normalize weight. Your body is brilliant at this process. You may also find when you are listening to your body your hunger decreases when you gain weight past your set point.
There is one thing that I know to be absolutely true- your set point is much stronger than your willpower. So why keep fighting? Put all that energy towards love and acceptance to where you are. Finding a way of eating that feels amazing. Take weight loss out of it and let your body settle where it will. Imagine this- you go on “just one more” diet- lose 30lbs through sheer willpower and then a year later you are right back exactly where you were and then some? I’ve seen this happen many times. Now imagine if you just let yourself be for the next year and you ended up at a perfectly healthy, happy weight as a result- without even TRYING. Doesn’t this sound more appealing?

Let me know what you think about the set point theory, and here are some resources for you to check out if you are interested!

https://medical.mit.edu/sites/default/files/set_point_theory.pdf

Understanding Weight Set Point Theory (and diet-induced metabolic damage)