As many people rush out to get the best deals possible today on Black Friday, there are some who are unable to get out of bed this morning. There are some who feel sicker than they’ve ever felt either from eating too much or from the resulting depression and shame of not being able to stop eating no matter how hard they tried.
These are the people who promised themselves that they would only have one cookie or piece of cake, that they absolutely, swear to God, wouldn’t eat everything in sight no matter what. These people are the ones who hate themselves more than they ever felt possible, the ones who wonder why they want to go on living.
They are the ones whose family members tried to subtly, or even not so subtly, monitor every bite that went into their mouths. These are the people who struggled to climb a flight of stairs or who looked carefully around for the largest chair in the room to be sure they won’t break it.
These people are food addicts and this is what it feels like the morning after a binge.
After our 3 Days with SHiFT program in New Jersey, I spent this past weekend in New York City. While the City is always beautiful, for me, this time being there was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. As I walked through Central Park (that’s where these photos were taken), I felt so alive with excitement and so connected to my surroundings.
The last time I visited New York City in 2012, my trip was all about food and eating. I weighed over 300 pounds and every part of my life was out of control because of my food addiction. I was in financial bankruptcy. I couldn’t afford where I was living so I was madly trying to find a new home. My career was in shambles and all I could think about was what I was going to eat next, how fat I was, what people thought of me and how could I sneak away to be in “peace with my food.” Even though I was surrounded by beautiful scenery and visited historic locations, I didn’t see or experience any of it.
This time not only has my life completely changed for the better, but I was able to enjoy walking through Central Park where I actually saw the beautiful changing leaves and the historic landmarks. In addition to being able to walk comfortably and move freely around, I truly enjoyed the Broadway shows, the museums, and observing the sights and sounds of the biggest U.S. City.
All of this reminded me of the miracle of my recovery and I am grateful for that. Even more, I am blessed to have a life I could never have imagined. All the other times when I went to New York City, I didn’t even know that the life I have today existed. All I knew was that I was desperately miserable and deeply depressed.
Today, my life is a miracle. I invite you to IMAGINE the miracles in your life!
It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S. next week, that means it’s back to basics time! If you’re a food addict who’s in recovery, take a few minutes to remember how confused you were in the beginning. Think about how many diets and weight loss methods you tried. Remember the humiliation you felt each time something didn’t work.
And, most importantly, remember how incredibly relieved you felt once your ideas about overeating SHiFTed to include the concept of food addiction.
What is a food addict?
How do I know if I am a food addict?
If I am a food addict, how do I get help?
All of these questions were answered within a few hours of your first Acorn Intensive and even though you didn’t know it at the time, your life would change forever.
If you haven’t yet found recovery and don’t know exactly what a food addict is, I invite you to sign up for our newsletter. When you do, you’ll be given three links to videos that describe the differences between a normal eater who is overweight, an emotional eater, and a food addict.
If you’re already a subscriber to our newsletter and are interested in seeing the videos, like us on Facebook. We’ll be posting the video there at the end of the month.
Wherever you are in your recovery journey, I wish you the peace of knowing how to SHiFT your ideas about overeating to include food addiction.
For food addicts in recovery, remembering where they came from is an important relapse prevention technique. Thinking about how demoralizing it felt to run to the refrigerator every few minutes to eat is sometimes all the motivation a recovering food addict needs to continue in recovery.
During emotionally-challenging times, it may take a little more remembering to prevent a relapse. This can almost always be done by reviewing a first step writing or taking a few minutes to journal about the food addict’s last binge, specifically what it felt like before, during and after bingeing.
Many recovering food addicts find that thinking about the negative feelings around bingeing reminds them of exactly the reasons why they never want to experience overeating again. For others, it can be remembering the physical consequences associated with being overweight that puts them back on track.
To begin, it’s helpful to make a list of the physical consequences of food addiction. Questions such as: How did it feel to walk up a flight of stairs when I was overweight? How was my health affected from being overweight? What was it like to wear clothes that were too tight? Did my energy level allow me to do the things I wanted to? If not, how did that feel?
Preventing a relapse is far easier than working to find recovery again. At SHiFT, we witness each day how much more difficult it is to come back from a relapse than it is to prevent one.
Take a few minutes to think about these questions as a way to help you maintain a strong recovery and prevent a relapse.
As we prepare for a very busy November with our Acorn Intensive, Alumni Weekend and 3-Days with SHiFT events, I’ve been thinking a lot about staying in the moment and being present for other people.
Before recovery, most food addicts were overwhelmed by thoughts of food and eating. Entire days were lost to thinking about bingeing. In recovery, food addicts almost always discover that they have a lot more free time. While some of this time is used to create new behaviors – attending support group meetings, preparing and shopping for abstinent food and things like that – there’s also more free time for connecting with friends and loved ones.
For me, that means spending more time with my niece Georgia – that’s us together in the photo above. Not only do I appreciate being with her even more now that I’m abstinent, more importantly, I can be present in her life. Once in recovery, many food addicts discover that even though they were physically next to a person, they were so preoccupied with thinking about food when they were in their disease that they were unable to spend quality time with anyone.
Being present in someone’s life can be something as simple as listening rather than thinking about what you’ll say next or letting things happen spontaneously in the moment rather than trying to control them.
This upcoming week, take a few minutes to practice being present in life, first with yourself then with your loved ones. Enjoy the good feelings that come with that!
I’m thinking about beauty this week…and I don’t mean the physical appearance type. I mean the beauty that takes place in nature at this time of the year. I recently returned home to Vancouver after being away at our Orlando Acorn Primary Intensive and I was once again reminded of how beautiful this time of the year is. As you can see from the pictures I took above…this is what my street looks like right now..stunning!
Before recovery, most food addicts never took the time to appreciate nature or the beauty around them. Instead, each and every minute was filled with overwhelming thoughts about food. No matter how hard food addicts try or how much willpower they think they have, the obsession with food is always stronger.
Add to this, the physical addiction to sugar, flour, high fat, high salt, certain grains, or a combination of these, and it’s easy to see why it’s just not possible for a food addict to think about anything besides eating and food.
Once in recovery, food addicts are able to look around and appreciate the beauty in their lives. For many, connecting with nature provides a sense of peace and serenity that is unlike any other.
So, take a few minutes today to stand outside and breathe in the beauty around you! I know I’m going to!