How to Recover From a Binge

Let's forget about it. It doesn’t matter.

What we did. How much we ate. It’s not a big deal.

Can we pretend it never happened?

After a food binge, the aftermath of our struggle carries a heavy weight from shame and guilt. So heavy, that we just want to be free from it. Facing it is too much.

Flashes from last night’s extra Oreos, ice cream and chocolate are painful. We wonder why we can't have more self control. 

Why did we go back for more? We knew we weren’t hungry. Why couldn’t we stop ourselves? Did we think more food would take the discomfort away?

Now, our belly feels so bloated we are afraid to touch it. Feeling the roundness is confirmation that we did eat too much. Our body did absorb each bite. There’s evidence to prove it.

The hangover from a night of overeating can be absurdly difficult when we use guilt and shame to dictate how we feel and what we do next.  All we want to do is cover up our bloated belly in an oversized sweatshirt and try our best to have a “good” day. We try our best to pretend it never happened.

But it did.  Now we will pay for the mess we made. 

An extra long workout. More water. Smoothie for lunch. Salad for dinner.  We pray that a whole lot of sweat and a strict diet plan will be like magic and make everything okay. 

How we react to our binges keeps the binge cycle in place. 

Recovery is absolutely possible. But trying harder to doing more of the same isn't the path. You don't need to be stricter. You don't need more will power. You don't need more time at the gym. 

Stopping the binge cycle starts the moment the binge is over.  

Stop pretending. Pretending takes so much work and effort. Stop hiding and fighting with yourself. Instead of thrashing around your arms and legs, putting a ton of energy into fixing your “so called mistake”, let go of the shame you feel. There is no need to run or hide. 

To stop struggling, you need courage, compassion and curiosity.

  • Be willing to try a new approach.
  • Be willing to explore all parts of yourself with a loving heart.
  • Be willing to look at your actions, thoughts and beliefs with great interest. Be a dispassionate observer.

If you overate or binged last night, today is a brand new day. Allow yourself to be where you are. You're okay. Let your next choice be a new one, one that you haven't taken before. when you do, recovery is one step closer. 



 

Don't Be Tricked By the Treats; 5 Easy Steps to Not Binge or Overeat Halloween Candy

Halloween is just a few short days away. Costumes are ready, the decorations are out and the pumpkins are carved.  Did you buy some of your favorite snack sized candy bars for the little Treaters, hoping you can just enjoy one or two pieces for yourself? Or,  does having all of that Halloween candy around the house feel so stressful, like a cruel trick?

In the past, to me Halloween candy seemed like a supernatural being that possessed multiple powers. It would act like a magnet pulling me in that I couldn’t resist no matter how hard I tried. Or, it would act like burning coals and I knew if I touched it I would get burned. Or, if somehow I forgot it was there, it disguised itself into something friendly and kind.  I would be tricked me into having just one piece, that ultimately turned into two, or five, or 10 or countless more.

Halloween candy doesn’t have to have that kind of power over you. You can breeze through this upcoming holiday without the worry that those bite sized Snickers bars may get the best of you. You don’t have to go to bed on October 31st with remorse and a bloated belly.

For starters, make the choice to eat the candy when you truly want it and are actually hungry. I realize how basic this advice sounds: eat when you are hungry and eat the food you desire. However many chronic dieters do not follow these simple guidelines. A few years ago, when I looked through my daughter’s trick or treating bag, the Peanut M&M’s jumped out at me. I was hungry and they were exactly what I wanted.

Now that you made your candy choice, give the candy your full attention. Sit down. Get away from the TV and the laptop. Shut down your Facebook and Instagram. Notice the taste and the consistency and experience the whole eating process. When I was eating the Peanut M&M’s, I did notice how much I liked the crunch but not the taste. They were too sweet to me and the peanuts were tasteless.

After you had one piece, you may want a second. Check in and ask yourself some questions. Are you still hungry? Are you still enjoying the taste? Knowing you can eat this candy without guilt, how do you want to feel after you have eaten it?

If the answer is- I’m not sure (often my answer), then make a choice to leave the candy where it is for 20 minutes and go do something else. Give yourself full permission to eat another piece in 20 minutes if you still want it. This step is not about not eating the candy but about giving yourself the space to eat with intention.

After I had the Peanut M&M’s, I noticed that my belly felt bloated. Assess how your body feels, so that next time you can make a powerful and informed choice. I can choose to eat Peanut M&M’s again, but if I do, I may be choosing to not feel my best.

Changing your relationship with food is a process and a practice. Certain foods don’t need to be bad or forbidden. You can trust yourself around all foods and build confidence in yourself that you can be in charge of your own choices. Halloween candy is a great place to start.

Now, I enjoy the little ones in their costumes that come to the front door. The Halloween candy is there if I choose to have a piece or two. I don’t give it much thought or concern. You can have that same freedom, which is one amazing treat. 

5 Ways to Make Permanent Change in Your Life

My bookshelf is filled with books offering the best, life-altering diets, the cure for overeating, and the secret to making peace with food. I bought my first Geneen Roth book in college, and from there, I was insatiable. I couldn’t get enough information.

I wanted to know. How could lose weight? Why was I overeating and how could I stop?

One would think that because I knew so much and I was so well read, that I must have been able to solve all of my eating problems.

Far from it. I was really good at collecting information, but I had a very hard time making a permanent change and following what the books told me to do.

If we KNOW how to make the change we need to make, why don’t we do it?

What I have come to find out for myself is that knowing just doesn’t matter. Having the information is only one small ingredient in the recipe of everlasting change. But many of us stop there and think reading that “miracle, end all be all” book will be our quick fix. You know that you feel better when you work out at least five days a week. But unless you get off your duff and get to the gym or lace up your running shoes, knowing that doesn't make any difference. 

“We first make our habits and then our habits make us.” John Dryden, 1631-1700

This is the key. We must repeatedly take action until that change is who we are.

> Stop seeking and start doing. Spending time reading and following the latest fad and what others are doing can be a distraction. If you already know what to do, take one step in the direction you want to go in right now.

> Keep the change you want to make top of mind. A daily reminder and a plan in your weekly schedule will certainly help. Keep a sticky on your laptop or bathroom mirror or a reminder on your calendar.

> Drop the idea that it’s hard, painful or it’s going to take a lot of work. I’m in the process of kicking my caffeine habit. Initially, I assumed that when I’m no longer drinking my caffeinated tea or coffee that I will have a big brain fog, get a caffeine withdrawal headache, and simply feel miserable. My idea of what would happen when I kicked the caffeine habit was initially keeping me from making any change at all. Letting go of that idea made it much easier for me to begin making the switch to decaf.  

> Connect the dots between the change you want to make and how it impacts your life. When I drink more water, I just feel better. I have more energy. When I sleep more, I have so much more patience with my family, and it feels so great to have more energy to do the things I love. Take a careful look at why this change you want to make matters so much to you.

> Replace perfect with your best. It doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Many of us want to do things perfectly or exactly as planned, but that may keep us from doing anything. Your ideal workout may be 45 or 60 minutes, but if you only have 15 minutes, that is better than nothing at all.

There will come a point when the change you want to make is no longer a change you want to make, it will be the fabric of your being. If you are not doing what you know to do, you just won’t feel like yourself. You have changed yourself forever. And you will know that for sure.

With Love and Inspiration~

Tara

How to Eat Mindfully

I’ve made this amazing shift in how I eat most of my meals. For the most part, I no longer eating frantically, standing up, on the run, and without paying any attention to what I eat or how much of it shove in my mouth. I’ve embraced a new way that has brought me so much connection and vitality. Eating for me is now like moving through a yoga class. Now, I eat with intention. I make the choice to eat. I choose what I eat based on what I want and know will serve me well.

I give eating my full attention. I sit down and take a few deep breaths. My body relaxes. I put my cell phone away and turn my laptop and IPad off. I am here to eat.

With every bite, I spend the time to notice. With all of my attention on what I am eating, the tastes and textures are sometimes big and complex and sometimes so simple.

Like a beautifully timed child’s pose, I naturally take a few breaths in between bites. These are moments I take time to check back in and notice my body.

I naturally stop eating. Sometimes there is nothing left on my plate. Sometimes a few bites remain. My body simply says “just enough”.

Sometimes, my mind wants more and my body says stop. There may be a bit of a wrestling match. I notice that too. There is no perfect answer. With awareness, I consciously make a choice; continue to eat or stop. I practice keeping it simple.

I have finished eating, but I stay seated and invite in a few deep breaths. It’s like shavasana; a time for my body to integrate with the food I just nourished it with. These are the sweetest and most tender moments.

I spent years eating too much or not eating enough. I was lost without a diet or a set of rules to offer me the answers. Thankfully, the power of my yoga practice has opened my mind and guided me to a new way that focuses around being intentional and mindful. Eating now is an opportunity for connection instead of a process filled with uncertainty and numbing. I am so grateful for my practice. Namaste.

Where to Look

In the past I looked outside of myself for the answers. If I wanted to lose weight, I looked for a program or diet to follow. If I wanted to run faster, I searched for a book to read. If I felt anxious and sad, I sought out a therapist. Surely, someone or something else had the answers and I was going to find them. At the time, I wanted to improve myself and I thought someone else knew better than me. Researchers, scientists, health professionals, even the government spread a wide range of valuable information around how we should live based on averages. They share what foods to avoid and which ones we can’t eat enough of. They know how much sleep on average we should get and on average the right amount of water we should drink to keep hydrated. For a long time, I put much of my unquestionable faith in these experts. After all, they did research, studied and had all sorts of average solutions for people who were sort of like me. I didn’t realize there was a different approach.

Then I started connecting and listening to my own body. I am now noticing how my body reacts to certain foods. Do they make me tired and bloated, or light and alive? I notice what workouts leave me feeling energized. And more importantly, when I feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious; I can stop, breath, experience and observe all of the sensations in my body and learn from them. The uncomfortable disappears.

This has been an imperfect process. It’s been filled with miracles, frustrations, and also big insights into who I am and what works for me. I am waking up to my own body and my own spirit. Sometimes I listen and sometimes I don’t care to. That is also part of connecting. I can see when I’m connected and see when I’m not. Before, I didn’t see any other options but to look somewhere else. Now, I realize there is only one option. I am my own best health professional. I can be open to the valuable information coming from the outside, but now I try it on for myself first. I am trusting and curious. I am fully responsible for me. After all, the answers lie within me. They always have.

New Girl, New Habit

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I have a confession to make.  It may make you laugh. My family thinks it’s hysterical. Over the past 2 ½ weeks, I’ve been obsessed with the TV show “New Girl”. I sat down to watch the pilot on Netflix and after a few shorts weeks, I’m already in the middle of Season 3. I’ve been watching the show religiously every night, averaging about 2.5 shows an evening. This is a big change for me as I typically only watch TV  a few times week. But now, I sit down to watch it with a glass of red wine or a cup of tea (depending on the night), curl up on the couch and let myself be thoroughly and mindlessly entertained. A habit is supposedly formed by consistently doing the same thing every day for 28, 30, or even 40 days (depending on who you ask and where you look). So you may not call my "New Girl" routine a habit just yet, but it did get me thinking about habits and how some habits can be so easily formed and some habits can be so hard to break.

People spend a good deal of time and money trying to create positive habits and to break negative ones. They often look at the action of the habit itself, for example, smoking, running every morning, or flossing before bedtime. But there are a few other pieces to the habit puzzle that are more critical than the action itself. A habit also includes the desire we crave before we move into action and the outcome that immediately follows. Take my “New Girl” routine. It started with me looking for relaxation, which is the desire I craved. While I watched the first 4 episodes of Season 1, I laughed, gave my mind and body a break sitting on the couch and afterward felt renewed. Immediately, my mind drew the connection. Desire to relax > "New Girl"> Feel Better. It didn’t take more than a few days for me to realize that when I wanted to feel better; I sat to watch "New Girl".

One habit that I’m familiar with is around binge eating, as it started for me in my early teens. At the time, food was the only coping mechanism I knew to help me deal with overwhelming feelings.  Even though I wasn't aware of it at the time, my desire was to not feel the intensity of my sadness, frustration, anxiety or anger. When I stuffed myself with food (maybe girl-scout cookies or M&M’s) I went numb and didn’t feel anything. The outcome of my binge eating habit was to take away the immediate discomfort (even though it was fleeting and ultimately I felt worse). This habit continued over the years by eating uncontrollably in response to stress, overwhelm or anything else that I wanted an escape from. I would try desperately to change this habit by trying to stop binge eating, like it was the cause and effect of my problems. The more I fought with the binge eating, the more energy I was giving to the one thing I desperately wanted to change. I realized, with mindfulness, awareness and compassion that acknowledging and not reacting to the the emotion was at the heart of dismantling this habit. It was then that I began to replace binge eating with a more loving habit.

Here is the thing. We make our habits and then our habits make us. The action of the habit can define us if we let it. We start to smoke and we become a smoker. We train for our first 5k and we become a runner. We stop eating meat and become a vegetarian. Look at your habits carefully; are they reflecting who you want to be and how you want to live? If not, look at the desire and the outcome of the habit itself.  Is watching "New Girl" every night a reflection of how I want to live? Maybe not. But let me put it another way, is relaxing and laughing every evening how I want to live? Absolutely.

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