I just spent seven days at Green Mountain at Fox Run, and my shoulders have never been more relaxed or my mind so still.
Well…at least not since I became a mom nearly five years ago and life got wild. When my second daughter was born, I’d had about eight solid years of recovery from binge eating disorder.
But about a year ago I found myself slipping back into emotional overeating as a main source of pleasure and comfort. In the swirl of the everyday, I had let go of so many other tools I used to use to keep me healthy and balanced – like guided meditation, inspirational reading, and regular exercise.
I got worried that the increasingly frequent bouts of emotional overeating would morph into binges, and that the binges would slip once again into the binge eating disorder I fought so hard during my teens and twenties. That’s what brought me to Green Mountain and its PathwayTM program for binge and emotional eating.
The opportunity to quiet my mind and focus on and connect with myself and my body for an entire week was a dream, and I learned things that will change my life—and my family’s lives—for the better.
Here are just three key lessons I’m taking back home.
Mindful Eating Makes Food Taste Soooooo Good
I’ve done mindful eating exercises at conferences and events before, but it never quite clicked for me.
Now, after seven days of staying present while I eat, of taking in the sights, smells, textures, and every last flavor of the food, I never want to eat any other way. Food is so much better than it was before!
When you shove it down because of time, or eat it with a little side dish of shame or guilt, that saps the pleasure out of it. I rediscovered my love of good ice cream and chocolate at Green Mountain, and the fact that I could be satisfied with entirely normal, if not smaller than “normal,” portions of them.
Not only that, I realized that I may not like a few foods I was convinced that I did (shrimp and calamari— the texture, gah!).
Eating mindfully, you naturally slow down and notice things, and the sense of satisfaction and contented fullness after a mindful meal is something I want to feel again and again.
Your Pace is THE Pace
I try so hard to be good and do things the right way, whether it’s at my job, at mothering, at…whatever. And that can translate into the way I move my body, too.
In a group class setting, I want to be able to do everything the instructor does just right, and can be hard on myself for BEING “not as good at it” as other people in the room.
But one of the mantras of Green Mountain fitness manager LynnAnn Covell is “Your Pace is THE Pace.” Whatever pace feels good to you, whatever dumbbell size, whatever leg angle in Pilates, whatever stride doesn’t hurt your knees—that’s the right one.
Emotional Eating is Normal
Not everyone eats emotionally, but a lot of people do. And a lot of people emotionally overeat, and many binge, and many more than you probably think have binge eating disorder.
But—as I learned this from Shiri Macri, lead therapist at Green Mountain—there’s a continuum. On one end, the healthy end, is normal emotional eating. The kind you might do if you have had a bad day and decide after texting a friend and taking a hot bath, that you also want to have a bowl of your favorite ice cream, she says.
Emotional overeating is when that serving of ice cream is the only relaxation tool you employ, and suddenly the one bowl isn’t enough.
A binge is when you eat a very large amount of food, usually quickly, and feel out of control.
Binge eating disorder (B.E.D.) is when you do that frequently, feel horrible about it, and it starts to make your life miserable.
I’ve long believed that using food as a small part of your emotional toolbox is okay. But during this last year of emotional overeating that truth has gotten lost. I’m glad to have found it—and my sincere belief that I can and will be happy, healthy, and free—again.