“The Binge Eating Diaries” is a series by Green Mountain alum Jacki Monaco on her experience with binge eating disorder. Follow Jacki every other Thursday as she shares discoveries, challenges and successes on her journey to health and happiness.
In previous posts, I’ve discussed my positive changes and success over the last year overcoming binge eating. I think for us to connect on a deeper level as writer and reader, it’s even more important that you read about my struggles along the way, that you see the raindrops along with the sunshine, that I become more of a real person to you than just a success story. What’s important for you to know is that my successes are not engraved in stone and fluctuate day to day.
As I’ve mentioned before, all-or-nothing thinking patterns take time to adjust. You either do something full throttle or not at all when you think the way I do. When it comes to food, we have to find a balance because a person cannot live a happy, healthy life by consuming everything in sight nor by starving herself. I’ve spent the last year learning how to not deprive myself of any foods or harmfully overindulge. But everything I thought I knew was a harsh slap to the face when I smoked my last cigarette on April 21st.
Unfortunately, I tried to take the route that I perceived others thought was best for me, not the strategy that I knew would work best for me. Quitting a second habit, smoking, that was so complexly intertwined with my first habit, overeating, drove me to what felt like my breaking point.
For the first two days I cried, I yelled, I verbally abused the ones who stood by me and I became terrified of food once again. When I spoke up about my quit date (prior to it) at work, a co-worker who was on month two of quitting, started venting about his 15-pound weight gain because his doctor suggested replacing cigarettes with food. What if that became me? What if bettering myself in one way completely ruined the progress I’d made with food?
After two days of misery, I called my Green Mountain therapist, Darla. We decided that because of the way I’m wired and what I’d recently been through, I couldn’t have gone about it a worse way – total deprivation with no safety net. I went out and bought an electronic cigarette and for the next 2 weeks, I had a few puffs a day until I decided I could go without. I still carry it with me everywhere I go, because knowing it’s there – but that I’m in control and CAN take a puff whenever I want – actually makes it easier not to. It’s the same with food – if I take the total deprivation route that I used to – I’d be obsessing about it constantly, wanting to overindulge at the first opportunity.
Cigarettes and binging still visit my daily thoughts, but they don’t control my actions any longer. Somedays I still feel like I’ve lost my two best friends, but in reality I know I’ve gained so much more. Self-love can go a long way and make us stronger each day if we let it. Thank yourself today for any moment that wanting to take care of “me, myself, and I” was stronger than a trigger, a negative emotion, or hurtful action.