As a coach that helps other women stop compulsive eating, there are two things I wish to share today: 1) the imposter syndrome is very real if I ever slip back into binge eating and 2) it’s extremely important for me to share those moments with you when they happen.
Authenticity means everything to me. Among other amazing things, it helps me avoid or overcome imposter syndrome, because it’s hard to feel like an imposter when you have no doubt in your mind that you’re being true to yourself.
So, here goes a very important update.
My “Gradual Binge Bender of 2018”
I first gave up dieting on August 8th, 2016. That date will go down in history for me. It was the year that I was so fed up with gaining and losing the same 15 pounds that I decided to see what happened if I stopped dieting altogether — while paying excruciating attention to my emotions.
I got into a groove with everything during the first year and the second. But I distinctly remember struggling with a long-term (2 week) period of slight binge eating. I say “slight” because I wasn’t going all-out, but I was definitely eating more than my body wanted, and I was doing it for many consecutive days.
The thing that got me through it was practicing what I preach: the Stop, Drop, & Feel. And boy, was it hard to use that tool in the thick of both imposter syndrome and a difficult period in life. But that’s the point. The moment that we most do not want to do the Stop, Drop, & Feel is the moment when we need it the most.
Now, let’s fast forward 5 years.
The “Gradual Binge Bender” of 2023 That Had an Undercurrent of Self-Acceptance
First, a super important tangent: Do you ever avoid talking about a potential job because you don’t want to “jynx” it? Like, if you talk about it before it happens, it won’t happen at all?
I’m like that. I believe in the jynx, and I try to avoid it.
And ohhhh boy, did I jynx myself by posting about my success 1 year later with AYNW. Even though I waited of over a year to share and “brag” about my success, I still jynxed myself. (I think.)
Here’s what happened:
I was experimenting with a new Psycho-Spiritual Wellness-friendly weight loss approach in the winter of 2021. It was so effective that I lost an entire pant size for the first time in my entire life. A few months later, taught a live workshop for it.
The reason why I haven’t taught it since (although I eventually plan to) is because it really requires an exceptional foundation with the Stop, Drop, & Feel and other pillars of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness. (You can find the entire process outlined in my mother of all online courses: Food Normal.)
Anyways, I lost an entire pant size for the first time in my entire life. It was really cool, but I also didn’t want to jynx myself — for many reasons, too. First, I didn’t want to set you guys up for failure if it didn’t actually work long-term, and second, because I really, really didn’t want to jynx myself.
Then, that bit me in the a$$ 🙂
A 15 Month Update on ‘Gentle Weight Loss’
Ok, now that you have the backstory, here’s what actually happened:
In February of 2023, I quit a job that I held for 8 years. It was my first job out of college, and I loved it. (Why else would I stay for so long?) But near the end, things became toxic, so I quit.
But can you imagine how hard that was? Can you imagine how much it pushes up against people pleasing tendencies to tell your employer, “You let me down, and so I quit.” It was so freaking hard.
And at the same time, I also wanted something when I left. I wrote a book on company time called Healing & Happiness After Stroke. And because I wrote it on company time, my old company owned it.
But I wanted it!
So I spent two weeks negotiating a deal where I would exchange time doing contracting work for 3 months in exchange for ownership of that book (that I freaking wrote).
Because my book means so much to me, this was incredibly stressful. Like, really, really stressful. Negotiation involves confrontation, and all of that (the stress, negotiation, and unwanted confrontation) created the worst concoction of emotions.
Ohhhh yes, food food food. I would say it was another “gradual binge bender” where I never binged a ton of food, but I definitely ate more than my body wanted, and I did it for many consecutive days in a row — about 2 weeks, the same amount of time as 2018, actually.
So those size 6 pants that I have been wearing for all of 2022 after dropping down from a size 8 due to AYNW… yeah, those pants still “fit,” but they were tight. Too tight. Like, I don’t want to wear them because they are uncomfortable, kind of tight.
And again, this is where I had to practice what I preach. But also! This time something really cool happened: I never panicked. In 2018, I definitely panicked. I wrote about this part too.
But this time, no panic. 😀
Panic-Free Troubleshooting for Binge Eating?!
Yes, it sucked for my size 6 pants to grow tight. No doubt about it. But I was really, really pleased that I never panicked. And I definitely never thought about abandoning my practice and jumping into a diet.
There was this amazing undercurrent of peace and contentment (sitting underneath the “uggghhh” feeling of being bloated and puffy) where I knew deep within my heart that things would work out.
I got to practice first-hand something that I believe in, which is that if it took you two days to get bloated, it will probably take about two days for your body to bounce back. And if you took two weeks to get bloated, it will probably take another two weeks to bounce back.
The reason why dieting is so seductive is because it promises to shortcut the bounce back time. Instead of waiting for two weeks, a diet would promise to get me back to “normal” tomorrow. (Right.)
And I was SO curious to see if it would take two weeks to bounce back.
And sure enough: I am writing this post at the two week mark almost to the T, and those size 6 pants fit almost like normal again. They’re still a bit tighter than before, but they’re comfortable enough to wear, and that’s freaking amazing.
Dieting didn’t get me back there. Listening to my body did.
What I Did to “Bounce Back” Slowly but Surely
The slow but steady path is not a sexy path. (And this is why I have an entire lesson in Food Normal on all-or-nothing eating.) It took years of practice to get to a place where I could do it without panicking.
And when I say “it” I am referring to eating exactly what appeals to me when I’m hungry, stopping when I’m full, and dealing with the mountain of emotion rumbling around underneath then I want to eat when I’m not hungry (aka, the Psycho-Spiritual Wellness eating guidelines).
During those 2 weeks of “recovery,” I didn’t eat out very much. Not because I labeled that as “unhealthy” or bad, but because it really didn’t sound good. I was bloated, and my appetite was also small (because our bodies are self-regulating!!!) so it felt the best to eat home-cooked meals.
(Mind you – this recovery phase happened after I quit the toxic job and started a new one. The decrease in stress is key here!)
So really, I was focused on relaxing and eating what appealed to me. And I was really obsessed with steamed (not raw!) kale during this time. I really am forever amazed at how our bodies self-regulate!
When I was stressed during those last 2 weeks at my old job, I was craving vegan donuts (which are soooo good by the way). And when I was done with the stress, I was honest-to-God craving steamed kale.
Going through this period taught me a lot, and I’d like to summarize a few of the juicy nuggets for you:
Our bodies are incredibly adaptive.
When we’re stressed, we will crave high-calorie foods on a physiological level. And we will crave high quantities of food on an emotional level. This is where the Stop, Drop, & Feel really comes into play. Because we need to honor our craving for those delicious high-calorie foods (aka, Permission to Eat) so that we don’t trigger the restrict-binge cycle.
Stress is the absolute worst.
I know this. And it’s why I quit my old job. I even took a pay cut to do so. Because my mental and physical health are worth the difference. This is something that I often see with my coaching clients: they’re working too hard to make really good money, when they would be better off working less and making less money, because it means less stress!
And I know this is a privileged thing to say. It is incredibly privileged that I am able to make less money and still make ends meet. Not everyone is in the same boat.
I also know that many people are in the same boat, and it could be life-changing to sit down and truly look at the opportunity cost between making mo’ money and feeling relaxed and good in your skin.
What I Learned & Hope It Helps You Too
In conclusion, I lost a pant size through my not-yet-taught-but-eventually-will-be-taught program Gentle Weight Loss. I kept that weight off for over a year, then I wrote about it. No doubt because of that (maybe) I jynxed myself, and it bit me in the a$$; because shortly after, I overate steadily for almost 2 weeks straight.
Unlike the last time I overate for 2 weeks straight, this time I was not tempted to diet again, and I had this sense of deep knowingness that it would all work out.
I practiced what I preach — aka, I stop-drop-and-feel’ed like it was nobody’s business and I ate exactly what appealed to me — and in the exact same amount of time that it took to put the “weight” on, I released it. Two weeks to put it on, two weeks to take most of it off.
And having peace of mind though all of that… well that, to me, is success.