Overcoming Binge Eating: One Woman’s Story

By Lisa Christie
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We are pleased to present a new blog series by Green Mountain alum Jacki Monaco on her experience with binge eating disorder. We hope you’ll follow Jacki as she shares the discoveries she’s made on her journey to health and happiness.

It’s been nine months since my mother drove a very scared, unhealthy, depressed version of me up Fox Lane. It was the longest, most anxiety-ridden ½ mile that I’d ever driven.

“Here goes nothing, here goes everything, here goes the beginning of the hardest breakup of my 22 years on this planet,” I thought, knowing I was about to say goodbye to my best friend, the “thing” I’d been in love with for the past two years of my life – binge eating.

Today, I call that person who drove up Fox Lane the “Old Me.” Although my new self is healthier and carrying around a lot less weight (literally and figuratively) than Old Me, I do not use a mirror to tell the difference. “New Me” measures success not in pounds, but in moments. In this moment, I’m introducing both my new and old self to you.

My name is Jacki, or Jace as Darla and I came up with during our sessions at Green Mountain. I wanted a nickname for the parts of myself that needed compassion, recognition and strength in order for me to love myself more than my relationship with food.

I have not had a binge eating episode since I arrived at what I call “The Place That Changed My Life.” I’ve overeaten at times and I’ve had the emotional piece of candy here or there. I’ve eaten fast food, snacks after 8 p.m, and even high fructose corn syrup! But the difference between then and now is that it’s ok. These days I don’t feel guilty about having the things I truly want. No longer does it have to be “pure indulgence” vs. “utter perfection.” There are grey areas with food, like there are with everything else.

When the grey area no longer felt scary, I knew I was changing. I stopped bouncing between gluttony in the privacy of my own room and starvation in public. I was just eating… eating because that’s what humans do.

The two of us can never be divorced, food and me, and we’re actually a healthy couple now. There is no more abuse in the relationship, just food for thought, food for fun, and food for hunger.

In the coming months, I’d love to share with you what I’ve learned, how I’ve felt, and how I got to this moment right here, with food by my side but no longer weighing me down.

I’d also love to talk to you in the comments below.  Do you have any questions for me?

19 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Great post Jace :-) You’ve gotten to what I consider to be the sweet spot: food doesn’t control you and you don’t have to control food. This is my nirvana and I’ve come a long way. I am not always there 100% but I know what it looks and feels like now so it’s not hard to bring myself back. I look forward to reading your posts!

  • Julia says:

    Jace/Jacki, wonder woman warrior! I am so grateful to have met the Old You and to learn more about the New You. You were beautiful inside and out even during those first scary days at GM. You taught me to look at myself. Through watching you change, I’ve gotten courage to bet vulnerable, to feel raw and exposed. I’m so proud of you. I’m so happy to have you on my team!

  • Jace says:

    Karen- Thank you so much for reading my words today. I love the idea of calling it “the sweet spot,” as that’s exactly what it feels like on the days when I let food do it’s job to nourish me, not frighten me. I can’t say that I’m at 100% either, or if I’ll ever feel in perfect control, because as life keeps reminding me, there is no perfection …but there is something close, being at “95%” and that feeling, imperfect number and all, well…it’s pretty darn good! As you said, once you know what it feels and looks like, you want that control because it feels so powerful. I look forward to writing for you again!

    Julia- It was so wonderful to meet you as well! I really enjoyed our time together. I feel truly honored by the kind words you said about me and I thank you for saying them. I really hope to keep in touch and hope you are doing well. Thank you for reading my post today!

  • Cindy says:

    Hi Jace,
    I am looking forward to reading your blog. I too spent some time at Green Mountain and loved it. Unfortunately I had to leave before conquoring my binge eating. I am currently working on this again. You have inspired me already!
    Cindy

  • Jace says:

    Cindy- It is so hard to find the time to pull away from “real life” to help yourself, but you did it! This has been and will continue to be the hardest challenge of my life, but I take it day by day and if necessary on the hard days- meal by meal. Congratulations on making the VERY hard first steps- the realization and the action. All of us who conjure the courage to make this change- we are the definition of strong women. I hope to share more with you and thank you for taking the time to share with me.

  • John Monaco says:

    Jacki… I couldn’t be Any Prouder of you or Happier for you, you faced your Demon and Kicked it’s Butt!! You will always be an inspiration to All that are fortunate enough to come into contact with you. Enjoy Your Moments in Life!! Luv Always…. Dad

  • Nancy says:

    Jackie — So good to hear how you are doing, an inspiration we can all use. Looking forward to your posts. We’ve all been that scared woman headed up Fox Lane for the first time. It’s terrifying. Then we find out it’s a safe place, a great place, and that something special happens to us — we rediscover ourselves. We find the strong chick inside and she can kick butt! :-)

  • Jace says:

    Dad- Thank you for being a part of my very important support system throughout this time. Your ears and heart were always open and I will forever be thankful for that. I love you.

    Nancy- Thank you for your comment. Yes, those moments of the last leg of the journey to get there are some of the most intense I’ve ever experienced but that fear seemed so far away once we realized that Green Mountain is, as you said, a great and safe place. Something does happen to all of us there, that strong inside chick sure does come full throttle to kick our own butt! You go girl :-)

  • Deborah says:

    Jace

    I’m grappling with some eating issues myself – trying to morph from my world of binging or dieting; to some sort of normality (even though I still need to lose quite a bit of weight to be in a healthy weight range).

    I’ve just written a post about getting back to basics and have another half-written about ‘normal’ eating – as a commenter reminded me that I no longer really know what ‘normal’ eating is.

    What I loved about your post is that I think you’ve reached that point. You know you can have less-than-healthy things without them being part of a binge; and that it’s okay not to eat perfectly healthily 100% of the time. I mean, does anyone do that? (And if so, how boring their life must be!)

    I’m looking forward to reading more! (And thanks to Karen for pointing me in the direction of this blog!)

    Deb

  • Claire says:

    Hi Jace,

    How did you arrive at the place that changed your life?

    Cheers

  • Jace says:

    Hello Claire!
    I “literally” arrived at Green Mountain through a good old google search. I was trying to find a place that was focused on health, not weight loss and that’s just what Green Mountain’s mission is all about.

    I “emotionally” arrived at the place that changed my life by listening to myself when enough was enough. For me that moment involved the scale and the realization I could no longer walk up a flight of stairs without becoming winded. I was tired and I felt heavy in each and every way. For two years others tried to convince me that I maybe had a problem, but I’m the one who needed to realize it order to make a positive change, on my own time, in my own way.

    Does this answer your question? :-) Feel free to ask others if you’d like, thank you Claire.

  • Jeanine Hudson says:

    Jacki, you are a courageous woman for sharing your “relationship” with food. I think a lot of us have experienced this to some level. Good luck on your journey! :)

  • Jace says:

    Jeanine- Thank you so much for your comment. I absolutely agree that food is in some ways a struggle or frustration for a good majority of people at given times throughout their lives. Thank you for your luck, it never hurts to wrap the hard work in a shiny package of luck, faith, and strength!

  • Brooke says:

    Hey there,
    All I can say is that I was so inspired by you when I was there in January and having you step out is salve for the soul. We all have lots to learn from you and you are a force. You remind me to stay on course with gentle reminders and a soft heart.

  • Thomas says:

    its great that you took the step to change your life its just like me when i first took a mindfulness course where i totally changed my view for people and myself i really learned to accept other human beings :).

  • Jace says:

    Brooke- Thank you so much for all of your kind words. I’m truly left a little speechless by them. I feel we all have so much to learn from each other and this blog is such a wonderful outlet for that. Thank you so much for reading :-)

    Thomas- Thank you! and congratulations on taking your own steps toward mindfulness! It’s such a wonderful feeling to accept and enjoy the company of others. I know that along with my many changes, I too have become more open, accepting, and loving and it feels…well, wonderful. Thank you for reading!

  • Mary says:

    hi to all my fellow friends that share so many of the same things that I am perplexed over, every day I begin again, and every day I slip as if there were this ‘goopy’ oil on the bottom of my shoes, I get up and start again and say it’s OK, I have been dropping the pieces of me I no longer want and leaving them behind, but I’ll tell you it must leave a trail because it seems to find me again and stick to that ‘goop’ again… someone please help me, let me know what you do to ‘not give up’, thank you dear friends so much

  • Jace says:

    Mary-
    I’m so sorry it took me a couple of days to reply! There is no formula for staying put together and not giving up. It is hard every single day. You are a strong woman for getting up each day and “dropping pieces of yourself you no longer want.” Little by little that is a great description of how I started my process of change. I am reminded every day that there are layers of me that I’ve left behind and layers that I still wish to peel. I focus a lot of my attention on the little things that make me happy- What can I look forward to within the next hour, the end of the day, week, month?…that does not revolve around food- it may include food as so many things do, but events that aren’t completely consumed by the idea of well, consuming.

    I was loathing my workouts until I bought a few personal training sessions and got pumped up about working out again. And as you can see, I started doing some writing for myself and for others. Finding a hobby that means as much or more than food.

    Sometimes when I need a really good cry, I listen to the following song- it reminds me that it’s ok to hurt, that I just have to breathe, and that the next moment will be better. I’m not sure if it will resonate with you, but music can be a powerful tool to rid ourselves of negative feelings, have our emotional moments, but not eat to feel relief.

    Ingrid Michaelson “Keep Breathing”

    Feel free to ask anything else, I hope maybe this helped a little. Thank you Mary.
    -Jace

  • April Begosh says:

    Hey Jacki,

    Your mom posted about this and I finally found it. It has been so long since we have connected. I had no idea of your struggles with food and body image. I am so glad to read that you are doing well and that you have learned to love yourself. You are and always have been a beautiful girl. I am so proud of you for taking this journey and for using it to help others connect with their authentic selves. You are an inspiration.

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