Binge Eating - What's Really Causing Yours?

Binge eating is a common struggle for many, but the root cause isn’t always the same.

It can be caused by physiological or emotional factors, but it’s often a combination of both.

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Physiological Drivers

Excessive dieting and restriction, via overall caloric density or a specific macronutrient, can lead to the body’s physiological response to counter this deprivation—bingeing.

As we know, our bodies are smart, and they’re going to find a way to get what they need to survive. We tend to resent this quality and perceive our bodies as the enemy, but this is a gift! We literally wouldn’t be here today without this.

Furthermore, restriction elicits a mental battle.

This often comes back to the discussion about Moderators vs. Abstainers—those who can enjoy all foods without going off the rails, and those who believe they have to follow strict rules or they’ll go off the deep end (i.e. binge).

I have witnessed many self-proclaimed Abstainers—even those with very addictive personalities—become Moderators by simply easing up on their rules and restrictive behaviors.

With a newly developed self-trust and relaxation around food, the urge to binge on “bad” foods lessens significantly.

As someone who formerly subscribed to the label of Abstainer, I can attest to this personally as well.

If you’re struggling with binge eating, and you believe it’s due to excessive restriction, slowly add more foods into your diet. This might be overall food quantity (i.e. calories), a specific macronutrient (i.e. carbs), or allowing yourself to enjoy more processed or “bad” foods.

I completely understand the fear this process invokes if you’re in this situation.  

Leveraging a coach can be extremely helpful, and commitment is essential. You may find yourself continuing to binge throughout the healing process, so it will be tempting to throw in the towel and accept that you’re destined to live a life of deprivation and bingeing.

I promise this urge will dissipate as you get more wins under your belt and your confidence grows. It’s a practice, just like anything else.

Emotional Drivers

The emotional component can be more complex, as there are often several factors at play, but it’s often driven by the need to fill a void or to serve as a distraction for something deeper.

  • Loneliness and lack of deep connection in relationships.

  • Feeling trapped in a relationship that’s no longer serving us.

  • Lacking inspiration in our careers and/or being on a career path that stifles our souls.

  • Pretending to be someone we’re not in front of others due to a lack of acceptance of ourselves or fear of the outcome.

  • Not speaking our minds or setting boundaries with others, so we’re left feeling like shells of our true selves.

  • Making choices in life rooted in fear.

  • Not trusting our intuition.

  • And the list goes on.

There is no shortage of reasons why we use food to circumvent addressing a deeper concern.  

We’ve become so accustomed to deflecting our emotions and believing that anything that resembles discomfort or pain doesn’t have a seat at the table.

That happiness and exhilaration are the only acceptable ways to show up in the world.

As a result, we use food to numb these feelings rather than address them—similarly to using drugs, alcohol, attention, or shopping.

Furthermore, many of us may find ourselves living our lives from a place of fear. 

  • Fear of being unlovable if we show our true selves.

  • Fear of failure if we decide to quit the jobs we hate and try something new.

  • Fear of saying something that may upset someone else.

  • Fear of rejection if we make the first move.

This fear leads to playing small, becoming condensed versions of our true selves, and living lives that are completely unfulfilling.

Eventually, discontentment becomes our standard mode of operation.

This discontentment leads us to self-medication via food, as we believe this to be our only “escape” from our misery. For some, it’s the only source of happiness experienced throughout the day.

As I noted previously, you can apply this concept to some of society’s more widely accepted forms of distraction and superficial medication—booze, drugs, sex, attention from others, gambling, shopping—as they provide a quick hit of exhilaration that distracts us from everything else.

The same level of understanding and acceptance is not usually applied to food.

There are additional layers of complexity with food, too.

We HAVE to eat to survive—there’s no getting around this fact. We can go “cold turkey” with the others, but we have to engage with food on a regular basis.

Additionally, in most Western cultures and societies, food is widely available, making it incredibly difficult to avoid. If food is a person’s “drug of choice”, they’re fighting an uphill battle right out of the gate.

These challenges don’t mean it’s impossible to overcome them, but I do believe they (hopefully) foster additional understanding for those using food as a coping mechanism.  It’s complicated.

What To Do

As we can see, the emotional layers associated with food run deep for many, so the healing or unraveling process is equally as nuanced. There’s no “one size fits all” approach.

However, every single person benefits from introspection, honesty with themselves, and a willingness to address the root cause. 

1.     Introspection—meditation and journaling are widely available to almost everyone, so this is a great place to start. Dedicate yourself to becoming familiar with your internal landscape to better confront and understand what’s going on beneath the hood.

2.     Honesty—when following Step 1 above, you may find yourself wanting to justify or neglect whatever bubbles to the surface. This is common! And very understandable. However, it doesn’t serve any of us in the long-run. Commit to being radically honest with yourself, but ensure you’re being equally as compassionate with yourself too.

3.     Address the Root Cause—it might take several iterations of the first two steps to arrive at the root cause, or there may be several (which is common). The awareness itself is a huge help, but action also needs to be taken to address it (them). Don’t let yourself off the hook by telling yourself, “I don’t know how or what to change though”, or some other fear-based narrative. The faster you begin to take action, the faster you’ll uncover what does or doesn’t work for you!

Binge eating isn’t a surface level issue, and it certainly isn’t one derived from a lack of willpower.

The causes are layered and nuanced, so the remedy is equally so.

The introspective path may not sound as sexy as a cookie-cutter program that promises to teach you how to finally stick to its diet rules, but it’s the only way to experience lasting change that will actually improve—not only your relationship with food—but the way you interact with life, too. 

How Would Life Be Different With The Dream Body?

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I used to spend all of my time and energy thinking about food, exercise, and how amazing I would feel when I finally achieved my ideal, dream body.

I imagined that:

  • I’d finally wear the clothes I believed were only reserved for those with abs.

  • I’d confidently walk around in a bikini and shorts.

  • I would develop a slew of hobbies, like rock climbing, wakeboarding, backpacking, painting, or photography.

  • I would spend my weekends fully enjoying social activities, where I wasn’t constantly fearful of the tempting food and drinks that would be present.

  • I would feel confident with the guys I liked. In fact, I would feel confident all the time.

  • I would be able to eat foods that weren’t on my “good” list without stress and without going off the deep end—making myself sick.

  • I would spend my time learning about something other than nutrition and fitness.

  • I would finally be free to start living.

As the years ticked by, and I eventually became sick of my own internal dialogue and lifestyle, I saw a glimmer of what my life could look like if I didn’t spend all of my time and energy on food and my body.

I asked myself if I could really become the woman I envisioned—with the life I dreamt about for myself—despite not having the body I had been hustling for.

Was it possible?

Of course! Logically, we know this to be true. 

My list above may look differently than yours, but we can look at each one of those items and understand that none of them are dependent on the appearance of my body.

Not one.

And the same is true for your list.

Rather, each one is fully dependent on our mindsets and the actions we employ in tandem.

Upon reflection, it dawned on me that I had been playing the victim for almost a decade. I had convinced myself that I needed permission by way of my appearance to live the life I envisioned for myself.  

A clever way of playing small and keeping myself safe, no? 

I see this ALL the time with clients and friends alike, too. Waiting until everything about ourselves is “perfect” before we make the leap. Before we step outside of our comfort zones and go after the things we want in life.

This all comes back to a lack of belief in ourselves.

Rather than focusing on developing our own self-worth, we outsource this to others.

We believe that we need the permission of others (friends, family, society at large) to go after what we truly want and that our bodies hold the ticket to what we’re really seeking.

I call bullshit.

Everything we want is available to us RIGHT NOW. But we have to be bold enough to prove this to be true. 

  • By wearing the clothes we don’t believe we’re worthy of wearing yet.

  • By putting on the bikini and shorts and realizing that—we’re still alive and well.

  • By signing up for the hobbies and saying “yes” to the next opportunity.

  • By attending the social events and giving ourselves permission to simply be present without overanalyzing our food and beverage choices.

  • By developing confidence in ourselves on a deep, internal level, which is the only form of true confidence anyways.

  • By slowly adding in foods we’ve been avoiding and fearful of and developing trust in ourselves around them.

  • By reading the books, watching the movies, and reading the articles that have nothing to do with nutrition and fitness.

These things take time, to be sure, and you’ll likely feel like an imposter at first. We don’t reframe our narratives and belief systems overnight. 

However, all we need is one win—just one—that proves our stories to be false. To prove that everything we long for can be ours, regardless of our appearance.

If this sounds like a lot of work—it is. There’s no way around it.

But time is going to pass regardless, and if you’ve been caught up in the same patterns for years with no change in outcome, then I’d argue that the work is absolutely worth it.

Your dream life actually depends on it (not your body).

Behaviors Over Outcomes

Outcomes are fun to fantasize about.

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We envision ourselves with the bodies we want, the money we’ll have, the relationships we’ll be a part of, and the freedom we’ll experience when we’re no longer obsessing about food and exercise.

Honing in on our visions is important—absolutely. We won’t know how to get “there” if we don’t know where we’re going.

However, we also need to focus on the action that will lead to those goals. And, more often than not, these are actions that we apply consistently over time.

Otherwise known as habits.

The foundation of a healthy relationship with food, fitness, and mindset is determined by our behaviors.

Yet, the vast majority of people are spending all of their time obsessing about the outcome. 

It’s a colossal waste of time, and it makes us feel like we’re making progress, when in reality, we’re often not moving the dial at all. 

We’re caught up in the fantasies and vision boards in our minds, and it’s easy—tempting even—to believe that one day, our vision will magically become a reality.

This is a common misconception associated with manifestation, which is a very popular concept these days.

I adore this concept when it’s fully encapsulated, as it involves getting crystal clear on what we want to call into our lives and then taking aligned action towards those visions.

Doesn’t sounds like rocket science, but it can be incredibly impactful.

However, most of us spend our time shooting fish in a barrel and hope our dreams will magically come to fruition, but that’s not how it works.

Our actions and behaviors—aligned with a clear vision—make our dreams a reality.

 Developing a sound foundation based on impactful and consistent behaviors doesn’t sounds as sexy as the dream body or the relationship with food you envision in your head, but it’s the only way “there”.  

I know it sounds overwhelming—and like a shit-ton of work—to start from scratch and completely rebuild your relationship with food and exercise, but there truly isn’t another way.

The process, the behaviors, and the consistently applied actions are what dictate our future outcomes.

Once we accept this truth and settle into the process, the outcome we’re seeking will arrive with significantly less stress.

Every single time I’ve lost weight in the last several years, my focus was never the outcome, but rather my behaviors and mindset associated with food and exercise.

Conversely, whenever I gain weight, it’s because I’m not grounded in my mindset and behaviors.

And this is the case with my clients, too.

While it’s important to understand where we’re going, we can’t neglect the process of getting there. It is EVERYTHING!

It’s the key to making these changes last long-term, to loving ourselves along the way, and to actually enjoying the process.

Try shifting your focus to the process rather than your goals, and see how that changes the game for you!

Afraid of Freedom? You're Lacking Self-Trust

 The look I give when I’m feeling skeptical AF. Can I really trust myself?

The look I give when I’m feeling skeptical AF. Can I really trust myself?

Freedom can be a really scary concept for people, and not just when it comes to food.

As I’ve mentioned before, the rest of our lives are VERY intertwined with our relationships to both food and our bodies. 

A recent theme with clients, myself, and my social circle is the concept of self-trust when it comes to freedom.  

Oftentimes, we have either convinced ourselves or have been convinced by others that we don’t have the capacity or ability to self-regulate.

That we aren’t to be trusted.

That we need rigid rules and guidelines to dictate our behavior.

That we’ll go off the deep end and find ourselves in a dark hole of destructive behavior if we’re not ruled by an iron fist (or list of dietary rules).

But will we?

The short answer is no.

We have the capacity to tune into our own intuition, to reflect on our behavior and motivations, to be honest with ourselves, and to adjust our actions and decisions based on the outcomes of previous ones.

In order to accomplish this, we first have to be open to the idea that we can, in fact, trust ourselves.

Note that this doesn’t mean we immediately trust ourselves, but we start by accepting the idea that we can trust ourselves.

You know, that whole “open mind” thing.

Sure, the beginning is rocky, and self-awareness is absolutely essential, but the end result is a solid understanding of:

  • our own motivations

  • our own hierarchy of values

  • what we’re willing to sacrifice (or not)

  • what we’re willing to accept for ourselves

  • if the goals we believe to be ours are truly our goals

  • and much more

In order to be open to the idea of regulating our own behavior and trusting ourselves, despite our primal instincts and ego-driven thoughts, we have to reject the notion that we should fear ourselves.

Many of us have been told from every angle that we must defer to others to make important decisions for ourselves, so it’s no great surprise that our faith in our own decision-making has eroded.

As you read this, you may not be thinking of rigid diet and food rules—at least not in isolation.

Perhaps you’re thinking of how you’ve outsourced your decision-making related to:

  • The path and timing of major life events (marriage, children, buying a house, etc.)

  • Your religious or political values

  • Your sexual preferences

  • Where you live

  • Your career path

  • How you choose to spend your free time

  • What your relationship looks like to others

This is all valuable information!

As I stated above, our relationships to food are often a reflection of other areas of our lives.

In order to develop greater trust with food, we need to develop greater trust with ourselves everywhere in life.

It all works in tandem.

So—let’s say this this hits home for you, you realize that you have a pattern of deferring to others when it comes to making decisions in your life, and you realize that you’ve subscribed to the false notion that you can’t trust yourself to make the best decision for yourself.

How do you start unraveling this narrative? 

By purposefully and intentionally granting yourself more freedom.  

The only way to develop self-trust is to throw ourselves into the arena, gather feedback and data, self-reflect, come up with another strategy, and go back in with another attempt.

We just need one small win to get the ball rolling—we need inertia to begin the process of believing that we’re capable.

Examples of Turning into Your Own Intuition

If you typically read articles, magazines, Instagram, or ask others what foods are best to eat, commit to answering this question for yourself.

What feels best to YOU in this moment? How much of this food does my body truly want?

 If you typically ask your family what you should do when it comes to your career, tune into what your own intuition is telling you.

Which decision feels the most light and peaceful in your own body?

If you don’t believe you’re capable of choosing the right relationships in your life, ask yourself how you feel when you’re around this person/people.

Are you having to convince yourself they’re right for you, despite feeling uneasy or insecure? Or do they feel aligned with who you are and where you’re going on a deeper level?

If everyone in your social circle is drinking alcohol at an upcoming event, you don’t want to partake (or at least not heavily), and you doubt your ability to practice moderation or abstain—challenge yourself to make the best choice for your own well-being.

Am I making this choice to please myself or to please others? Will this cause myself harm in order to mitigate some brief discomfort? Which decision puts my well-being at the forefront?

These may seem small, or they may seem like monumental challenges.

Either way, they’re proof that you can trust yourself to make decisions about your own life and your own body.

And if you “fail” your first few attempts, commit to stepping up to the plate again and again.

Every single one of us is capable of developing trust within ourselves, and the importance of this can’t be overstated.

There is absolutely a time and place for expert and external advice, but this should be coupled with a strong sense of self and personal intuition as our foundation.

Trust that you know so much more about what’s best for you than you think you do.

How to Have Your Cake & Eat It Too During Fall & Winter

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Fall is in full swing for most of us, and there are so many seasonal foods, drinks, and traditions to enjoy throughout the next few months. I LOVE it!

However, years ago, despite my love for the seasons, the months would pass without me allowing myself to enjoy the full experience. 

Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, mulled wine, hearty casseroles—they weren’t on my list of approved foods, and I hadn’t developed the skills of enjoying the things I wanted without going overboard.

So, I didn’t enjoy them at all.

I deemed them completely off limits, and once Spring rolled around, I would be filled with regret and sadness that I didn’t give myself permission to live in the moment (or season). 

What a damn shame!

Looking back, I meet my former self with compassion and understanding.

After being told for years that so many delicious foods and beverages were poison that would lead to rapid weight gain and/or deteriorating health, it’s no great surprise I acted the way I did.

If this sounds familiar to you today—cut yourself some serious slack!

You’ve been told that everything in your midst is either “good” or “bad”, and you likely haven’t been given the tools to improve your mindset and behaviors around food—the essence of food freedom.

Today, so many of my clients come to me distraught, depleted, and disappointed by their inability to experience life while also keeping their goals and well-being in mind. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s entirely possible with a few strategies.

Pick and choose what you really enjoy

  • Eating everything you might have the slightest craving for will leave you feeling physically unwell, so focus on what is REALLY good to you. I.e. “Is it worth it?”

  • Ask yourself if you’re eating or drinking things simply because they’re in front of you (i.e. stale, run-of-the-mill pumpkin bread vs. a bomb-ass homemade variety).

  • Simply eating whatever is in front of us is typically a byproduct of feeling deprived. In reality, you can choose to eat these foods whenever you want, so you’ll want to raise the bar with your food standards. You deserve the best!

  • Note that this can take time after years of being disconnected with our bodies and preferences, so we’ll need to constantly reassess our experiences.

How do those foods make you feel?

  • In response to the first point, you might be asking yourself, “well what if everything in sight IS really delicious and amazing?” Fair question.

  • We have access to so many enticing things in today’s world, so we need to be mindful of how our choices are going to affect us physically, emotionally, and energetically.

  • I love pumpkin beer, but it gives me a serious headache, so I stay away from it. Pumpkin spice lattes and other seasonal beverages are delicious, but the sugar doesn’t make me feel great if I drink a whole one.

  • Sometimes it’s worth it to accept the trade-off of feeling subpar to enjoy something delicious, and that’s a completely valid choice. Just ensure you’re being mindful and aware enough to be the one deciding!  Food isn’t in the driver’s seat—you are. 

Adjust the Dose As Needed

  • This is one of the most important tools to be aware of: simple portion control. I understand that this concept seems simple enough, but it’s often difficult to execute for many (and it once seemed utterly impossible for me).

  • This is often due to the all-or-nothing mentality with food, so the thought of only having a couple bites or sips seems completely unrealistic. This takes PRACTICE.

  • Practice will lead to wins, where you witness yourself only have a few bites, enjoying yourself, and still feeling physically well.

  • Wins lead to self-trust, and you’ll develop the confidence to know you’re the one in the driver’s seat.

Put It All Together

  • Using self-awareness before making decisions regarding food and asking ourselves:

  • “Do I really want to eat this, or am I simply eating it because it’s in front of me?”

  • “Does this actually taste as good as I want it to?”

  • “If I eat this, how will I feel later?”

  • “If it won’t make me feel great, am I willing to accept the trade-off?”

  • “Will a few bites satisfy me?”

  • “How much can I eat/drink of this while still keeping my physical and emotional well-being in mind?” I.e. “What’s my balance point in this situation?”

Enjoying the seasons fully is a testament to how we’re enjoying our lives at large, and this doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing situation like restrictive ways of eating lead us to believe.

Choosing to dedicate ourselves to finding our own version of moderation when it comes to seasonal experiences takes just that: dedication. Especially in the beginning—but it gets MUCH easier over time. 

We tend to be so afraid of freedom due to lack of self-trust, but the only way to build this is through practice and dedicated consistency.

You absolutely can enjoy everything these amazing months have to offer, and you don’t have to sacrifice your well-being in the process.

The Dreaded Boomerang Effect

One of the primary concerns when considering the concept of giving up control around food is the boomerang effect—eating everything in sight and in massive quantities.

The truth is that yes, it’s common to feel the urge to eat a lot of these foods, and it’s also very common to act on this impulse. This can be a necessary part of the process for many people.

 Going to town on these brownies

Going to town on these brownies

However, it doesn’t last forever, because with a newly formed sense of awareness and connection to our bodies, the desire to eat in a way that isn’t uplifting—emotionally or physically—isn’t enticing.  

The allure of these foods quickly diminishes when we realize and accept how they make us feel, and we also become aware of why we’re making the choices we do. This includes overeating in general, too.

These foods are typically processed foods that have been on our “bad” list for years, but I often see clients fearing fruit, rice, and other natural carb sources too (as I once did) or foods that are higher in fat if they’re coming from a low-fat background. Everyone’s food rules are different, so the roads to unlearning vary accordingly.

 It can be incredibly helpful to be aware of the boomerang effect prior to embarking on a more intuitive way of eating in an effort to reduce the fear of it occurring, as it’s nothing to be afraid of!

It can propel us towards healing much more quickly than “dipping our toes in while still holding on to our controlling ways” ever will.

The caveat here is the necessity of presence, awareness, and connection.

Without these elements, we’re simply acting on the opposite side of the same coin: treating our bodies disrespectfully and allowing our egos to run the show while not learning anything about ourselves in the process.

However, it can take time to develop these skills after years of neglect.

The goal is to learn how to effectively and consistently implement the practices of presence, awareness, and connection while simultaneously unlearning the rules we’ve been told about our own bodies.  

Sound complicated?  It really isn’t once you have an idea of how and where to start! 

Meditation: This is the simplest, fastest, and most widely available way to develop a sense of presence and awareness of both our physical bodies and our internal landscapes.

When we sit in silent meditation, we’re forced to bear witness to our thoughts and any discomfort that arises. As a result, we become aware of our thoughts, emotions, and urges related to food and our bodies. This is absolutely essential to the process.

Pause before, during, and after eating: meditation will naturally lead to greater awareness during daily activities, but making a concerted effort to check in with our physical bodies and our emotions to understand what we really want and need in that moment is extremely important.

It takes time for this to become a habit, so be patient with yourself! Start by checking in before eating, especially snacking, and once you’re consistently implementing this at least 80% of the time, you can then add “during” and “after” to your practice.

Journal: We can evaluate the choices we’re making and their short-term and long-term effects much more effectively and quickly when we write them down and put our thoughts on paper. This enables us to connect the dots and really get clear on how our choices are affecting our bodies (energy levels, digestion, menstrual cycles, workout performance, skin, etc.).

Additionally, and often more importantly, we need to write about how our emotional and internal states are contributing to the choices we’re making. Does stress lead to overeating and eating foods that don’t make you feel well? Are you using food to cope when you feel lonely? Do you tend to eat highly processed foods during the work week because you’re miserable at your job? These are a few of the REALLY important things to understand about ourselves, and even bringing awareness to them is often enough to change our behavior.

Keep an open mind: this may seem obvious, but it’s impossible to “unlearn” rules if we’re convinced that we already know everything there is to learn. I certainly fell into this trap when I first began my journey, as I was all-in on eating according to hunger and satiety signals, but I wasn’t willing to let go of my dogmatic low-carb and paleo approach.

It wasn’t until I accepted that I may have more to learn that I was finally able to fully connect with my body and listen to what it was telling (read: screaming at) me.

The process isn’t black-and-white

The outcomes of these steps aren’t necessarily prescriptive, rigid, or black-and-white, and this can cause a sense of unease with many former dieters due to the freedom involved. And I get it! I’ve been there.

However, while it’s human nature to crave certainty, most things in life don’t fall into this category, and our relationships with food are no exception. This stuff is layered and nuanced—cultural ties, personal memories and emotions, forms of celebration, fuel for performance, personal preferences, suitability to lifestyles, effects on cognitive abilities, type and duration of activity, and many more. 

It will take time to discover how all of these layers stack up and align for YOU, but the beauty of this tailored approach is that it’s created by you, for you—with your own body and intuition as your guide.

The boomerang effect might be part of your journey, but it certainly isn’t the last stop. It’s merely a byproduct of unlearning everything you’ve assumed over the years, and freedom is surely on the other side.

We Can Use Our Past Extremes to Our Advantage (Before & After & After & After Pics)

The exploration of our edges and living in extremes can be incredibly valuable. For most who struggle with their relationships with food and their bodies, they’ve inhabited one or both ends of the spectrum. I sure have spent my fair share of time on both ends. 

Swearing not to eat until I felt faint, vomiting, insane amounts of exercise to burn off and earn my food, only eating foods from a specific list, intermittent fasting on top of an already restrictive diet, swearing off all coffee and alcohol, and trying every diet known to man.

 Around 2006 - Before my weight was brought to my attention for the first time in high school.

Around 2006 - Before my weight was brought to my attention for the first time in high school.

 2007 - After several months of restriction, I was LOST. Zero period & absolutely miserable.

2007 - After several months of restriction, I was LOST. Zero period & absolutely miserable.

 Circa 2008. I went up and down several times per year in weight during college, which the highest being 15-20 lbs. more than today.

Circa 2008. I went up and down several times per year in weight during college, which the highest being 15-20 lbs. more than today.

Binging until I physically couldn’t move and was in so much pain, eating in secrecy, anxiously eating while hungover or drunk after days of restriction, eating chocolate chip cookies every time I passed through the kitchen every Thanksgiving break, stuffing myself with food—didn’t matter the type—and eating well beyond what my body wanted, binge drinking until I blacked out multiple times per week, drinking so much coffee I nearly induced panic attacks, and not moving my body for days.

 Post college 2012-2013! Still boozing until I blacked out a couple times per week, eating garbage all weekend, and being incredibly strict during the week.

Post college 2012-2013! Still boozing until I blacked out a couple times per week, eating garbage all weekend, and being incredibly strict during the week.

 After returning from three months abroad in Asia in 2014. My body dropped weight without giving it a second thought after I committed to only listening to my body and doing what FELT good and true to me. Major turning point for me.

After returning from three months abroad in Asia in 2014. My body dropped weight without giving it a second thought after I committed to only listening to my body and doing what FELT good and true to me. Major turning point for me.

 Last weekend! Letting my intuition guide my choices, which aligns with the season of life I’m in.

Last weekend! Letting my intuition guide my choices, which aligns with the season of life I’m in.

Like a pendulum, I swung from one extreme to the other, and looking back, I learned a lot while I inhabited both.

  • Restriction and living according to rigid rules are soul-sucking.

  • My body doesn’t subscribe to a playbook, as it doesn’t have the same needs day-in and day-out. I need flexibility with how I eat and move.

  • Someone providing me with rules about how to live instantly makes me anxious. I hate nothing more than being told what to do, especially arbitrarily.

  • Overdoing it on things that are “pleasurable”—like processed foods, booze, significant amounts of food, sitting on my ass for too long—makes those things unenjoyable. In fact, it makes me resentful of them.

  • Spending all of my time thinking about food, either how little or how much I’m able to eat, is a substitute for feeling something deeper; a distraction.

  • Inhabiting one end of the spectrum for too long will—without a doubt—force me to the other end.

  • My body doesn’t feel alive, energetic, or like it’s my own when I’m under or overdoing it with food or exercise.

  • It’s nearly impossible to overdo it with too little or too much when I’m present. Disconnection—both mind and body—is necessary for us to live in extremes.

  • I’m most myself energetically, physically, emotionally, and mentally when I’m balancing pleasure and discipline, and these two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • Going to extremes on rare occasions can be nourishing for the soul, although rarely for the body. It’s OK to make this sacrifice when I’m actively choosing this, and the choice is coming from a present, centered, and grounded place. I.e. I’m not using it as a distraction.

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, and I wouldn’t have been able to discover these valuable nuggets of information without exploring the edges of extreme behaviors and states of being. 

Does everyone need extremes to live in balance? No. But if you have a personality type similar to mine, where you “have to touch the stove to know it’s hot”, as my dad used to say to describe me, then it may be best to view these experiences with gratitude.

They teach us our limits, and they allow us to know ourselves on a much deeper level. The facilitate our growth, and they put us on the fast track to self-discovery.

This is all contingent upon us being ready to accept the lessons by establishing a foundation of self-worth and respect, of course, otherwise the motivation to cease the cycle of self-harm won’t exist.

However, sometimes the birth of this foundation is derived from hitting rock bottom. From being so obsessed and controlled by food and our inner demons that we have no other choice but to make changes.

Regardless of where you are in your journey, don’t be afraid to reframe your “negative” experiences and use them to your advantage. Make a list of everything you learned, the things you’ll no longer tolerate, and how those moments will benefit you going forward.

Perspective is a magical thing, and the lens through which we’re viewing ourselves, our past, and our future is everything. How can you use your past to inform your present and future?