Jane was a high performer at a very important non-profit agency. She collected funds from donors and served as the middle man between the teams completing the funded worked. Donation collection was her least favorite, yet most important, part of her job. Everyday was a demanding day with no mindless tasks. What she disliked most, was the rejection. Her vice was food. It had been for a long time. It was very affective. Yet, it had come with great costs to her health over the years via wt gain. She feared losing the vice because it had gotten her so far. But the shame and guilty associated with the emotional eating tool was crushing. The triad was a good tool for her to live her future dream. Yet, giving thanks and taking a moment to say, “thank you”, to the emotional eating is what truly set her free. It had helped her succeed in life. It had helped thousands of lives. And like everything it had come with a cost. Wt gain. She didn’t feel the cost was worth the benefit any longer but she didn’t know how to change it. The first step to changing was truly acknowledging thanks. And it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of her shoulders.
Through exploration, she discovered that rejection was the biggest emotion that led her to binge eat. And that food served as her abundance. The rejection at her work and certain challenging admin tasks made her feel like she wasn’t enough. Overeating, sometimes on 2 entrees, made her feel like there was more than enough. And the pain resulting from the binge was a welcomed distraction that eliminated the feeling of inadequacy. Yet, the shame and guilt that followed was inevitable. The same food that she used to feel like she had more than enough was also what stripped her of her life’s abundances. She wanted something different. She wanted to change. She wanted to feel in control, confident, free and explorative. She wanted more than anything to feel proud. And so the journey began of managing her triggers of feeling like she was not enough and distracting herself long enough to decide to choose a different mechanism of feeling that way.
Carmen, like many, had obsessed over the scale for years. Decades even. All she ever did was in the name of weight loss and never in the true name of health. But being a slave to the scale was exhausting for Carmen. She was never enough. She never saw the light that was within her all along. It was dimmed by the suffocating darkness of the gravity’s looming judgement. Until July of 2020. In a time so full of tension she felt more free than ever. She had an epiphany that freed her mind and spirit. Gravity was not the goal. It was how she felt.
For the first time in her life Carmen decided to focus on how she felt and the actions that affected how she felt. No longer was she enslaved by the concept of weight and gravity. She had been freed. She started with yoga as exercise. She loved feeling more flexible. Being able to tie her shoes without pain. Holding a plank for 30 seconds had become a joy of her increasing freedom and ability. She felt great and loved feeling her progress along the way. Nutritionally, the pursuit of feeling great overflowed into choosing foods that also made her feel great.
Carmen’s progress in the feeling of health had become the beautifully overwhelming. So, she decided to keep a journal of them all. Noting each day the things she was thankful for in relation to how she felt. It was a biography of her progress, her journey, her legend. Her keyword had become “MOVE FREELY”.
Andrea had realized a while ago that she had to lose weight, had to change how she ate, and she knew the effort was worth it. However, she felt she needed motivation because it was so much effort all the time. Change was challenging. But she didn’t feel like it was making a difference because the scale wasn’t moving at all. Not down and not up either. It was starting to nag at her, like she wasn’t doing enough or that she couldn’t succeed. Yet, before she embarked on her weight loss journey she was on a trajectory of weight gain, steadily. And on vacations, forget about it because she’d gain 5-6 lbs easy. Thankfully, because of her increased awareness to eating this past vacation, she didn’t gain a single pound. She had also realized recently just how much room for progress she really had regarding eating veggies throughout the day consistently. At first, she thought she was already doing it all the time but by tuning in she was shocked at her typical eating trends when reviewing them. Her awareness to choices and habits was drastically increasing. What Andrea didn’t realize was that since starting, she hadn’t loss, but she also hadn’t gained, which was a big net loss overall. On top of that, she was starting to realize the areas she felt ready to address and was able to identify the opportunities for improvement, such as eating veggies at each meal. Change is challenging initially but every effort makes it that much easier in the future. Little by little the constant challenge of effort becomes easy and second nature. She decided she was going to be patient with herself because she had made lots of progress in very important areas for sustainable change. The challenge isn’t to lose weight, it’s to make sustainable change to keep it off. And Andrea was beginning to realize that it was all about awareness to her choices each day. Day after day. Knowing that over time it would get easier. Lastly, remember the goal is to maintain weight, not continuing losing it.
Negative comments were super damaging to Donna. Especially from people she cares about and who care about her. They made her feel alone and unsupported. As a result, a comment from her husband like, “are you really sure that’s your size? Don’t you need an extra large” or her son like “please don’t try to squeeze into a small bathing suit when we’re on vacation” would send her into a downward spiral. All her energy that typically was focused on healthy eating and exercise was completely drained. Instead, she had to figure out a way to pick herself back up but usually after a long stint of emotional eating. Luckily, her keyword of “thank you” and the forgiveness it brought about helped her begin to recover more quickly. Then, we worked together to ask her son, husband, and other family, for help. The goals that were developed went like: Ask my husband and my kids, for positive and loving encouragement about my progress because it would mean so much to me, AND, I need their help.
Rehearse a support phrase such as, “husband I love you and I know you love me too, but what you just said hurts me and I know that’s not your intention. Would you please help me by…”
When Donna found herself triggered to emotionally eat saying, “thank you but I’m going to choose another approach that fits my future health” really helped her out. It eventually turned into a more simple thank you. Then, it even starting applying to I forgive you, when people upset her. It worked wonders. When she did eat outside her typical healthier eating habits, she got right back on track rather than binging for 4 days. She didn’t feel guilty about having a frozen strawberry margarita on the rare occasion either. These rare occasions of eating atypically on the minority of the time helped her feel normal and not like an outsider or someone who was limited and restricted. The thank you statement was empowering in many ways. It released things for me and helped dismantle the negative patterns of thinking that I am so prone to. It helps me forgive myself, and others.
Barb was a respiratory therapist during the COVID pandemic. Work was stressful, as an understatement. If that weren’t enough, she got little respect from her colleagues. At first, she qualified it as just stress eating. But after exploring the word “stress” it developed into feelings of disrupted, disrespected, unappreciated, regretful, lack of control.
And so the journey began for recognizing her emotion eating triggers and how to manage them.
Claire was a survivor. But as an above knee amputee, the battle with cancer hadn’t left her unchanged. Metabolic. As result, she stated she couldn’t follow any diet for more than 1 day. She’d throw her hands up on day two proclaiming, “what’s the point? I know it’s not going to work anyway.” She craved sweets tremendously b/c sweets were a form of love for herself and others as well. Celebrations, mourning, events, you name it she used it to show love in the moment. Especially through baking.
After eating sweets she felt satisfied short term. Then regretful b/c so many calories were overconsumed. She felt like sugar is bad for my health, my skin and my energy.
It was meant to be a reward however it had become more of a punishment.
It’s served me well. But not anymore. I want a different future. And I have a choice. I have control. It’s ok to do when eating the sugar is truly worth it but now at least I have the choice to choose.
Donna found herself mindlessly eating entire bags of chips and M&Ms, not even realizing what she was doing until it was gone. Usually, it was in response to feeling bored or frustrated but after a bit of talking it through it turned out to be when she felt lack of control. The solution ever since she was a kid being abused by her parents, was to escape and distract herself with food. Temporary yet affective. Not until 10 years ago did the behavior start developing into the consequences of weight gain. And with the weight gain, came the guilt and verbal self abuse afterwards. She had even explored that this was happening with a therapist, but sadly the therapy was discontinued prior to finding techniques to manage it. Luckily, after working together she found the way forward.
Karen found herself in lonely times during the COVID pandemic. She typically was a bit of a hermit anyway but this was way too much alone time. No husband. No friends. She found herself turning to food as a dependable method of friendship, love, attention, and feeling special. During childhood she had the most fond memories of her father when getting to spend the very rare 1on1 time with him at ice cream and hotdog stands. Today, she finds herself seeking those associated feelings through the food that was tied in memory. However, now that has all changed for the better and she's losing weight happily.
Jane was in HR and had to lay off hundreds of people during the COVID pandemic. Before that when her spouse got a new job, she gave up her life in Jacksonville, FL for a move to IL. Her family, friends, memories and home left behind. Her budget for personal training was quickly given up when her kids wanted to pursue more costly after school activities. She had always been willing to deprive herself for her family. But it didn’t come without challenges of feeling sad, aggravated, overwhelmed. The one thing she wasn’t willing to deprive herself of, was food. Food was the gift she could always give herself. It was her comfort. It was her dependable. Whether chocolate from the vending machine or ordering out at restaurants.
But, the food gifts for the past four years were also causing self-deprivation. She didn’t like her reflection in the mirror, being the heaviest she had ever been, and feeling so heavy when she worked out.
Her first of many goals was to ask, "When I’m choosing foods ask myself, is this the gift I want to give myself?"
Jane worked as a CPA and it required so much decision making and constant thought. At the end of her days she was mentally, but not physically, exhausted. Treadmill in garage used 5d/wk for 30-60minutes. But then began boredom eating at night. Starts around 6-7pm. Don’t want to make effort on doing anything. Food is: easy; happy; stress relief; a reward; doesn’t require effort, thought; an easy feel good that doesn’t require thinking;
She was addicted to sugar and over time had learned both consciously and subconciously that sugar checked all the boxes for her after work priority. She thought it was easy. And her brain had learned to seek the mildy euphoric state of sugar’s affects on dopamine. The same drug pathway as heroine. Certainly not to the same extent but the same pathway. And over time, the amount needed for a fix got larger. 1 after work candy became 2, became 4, became 6.
She knew the nightime sweets eating was a problem but her underlying priority made it too hard to stop. It checked all the boxes, right? Upon questions her motivations were to: Avoid Diabetes because she had Pre-Diabetes already; Avoid need for additional meds; Ease the difficulty of exercises I enjoy like hiking the godly mountains of Colorado, and running; I always want to be able to run but lately I can’t and I’m still too young for that; To lessen my joint pain; Enjoy the outdoors; Be there for my kids; Not be restricted in my clothes; To be more in control. What Jane hadn’t considered was how hard the sugar was making her life, not easy. It was restricting her, causing far more troublesome thinking and destroying her quality of life, even in that moment of eating, not just far in the future. It was causing unease right NOW!
After thinking about it, she hadn’t been weighing the costs and benefits of action vs inaction properly. She also found that there are many other things in life that she enjoys after work and don’t require intense thought, mainly mindless before and after tasks like pulling weeds. It’s not that she was lazy. She just didn’t want to do any more thinking. But pulling weeds, puttering around on the house and other tasks still offered that. Like many, she loved the satisfaction of completing a task and seeing the completed work she did when it was finished. They also didn’t come with the deleterious cost to her health that made life much harder.
Her goals were:
1. Keep foods in the house that truly make my life easier.
2. Choose the foods that truly make my life easier.
3. Find new easy feel goods for my evenings such as mindless before and after tasks.