I am continually grateful to my clients who teach me on a daily basis. Their intelligence, compassion, and drive never cease to amaze me. And I’m also grateful that they are willing to share their stories with my blog readers. I can’t tell you the number of people who say that the client spotlights are their favorite part about my blog! So here is another inspiring story of a client who (through a lot of hard work and help) has found a much happier place in life with food, weight, and her body. Thank you for sharing and enjoy.
My obsession with food and dieting saved my life. Now I am ready to let go.
Let me explain.
After over 15 years of anguish, I am free from the obsession. I never thought life could be this good. I am recovering from an eating disorder. Binging and restricting. Gaining and losing. What appeared to be years of yo-yo dieting was in fact, an all-consuming obsession with food and with hating my body and myself for what I thought was a lack of willpower. Food was my weakness and I hated it, so the cycle perpetuated.
In reality, food was my mechanism for coping. That was perhaps the biggest revelation that came out of my treatment. I had never before thought of food as a tool that I used to cope with the trauma I had experienced in my life. I knew food was a comfort, sure. But I didn’t realize that my obsession with food and body image was a way for me to divert my attention and focus on something I thought I could control when everything else was in turmoil. Rather than let certain, unbearable traumas consume me, I focused my thoughts and feelings on food and my physical appearance. It was how I was able to get through. It was all I could do to survive.
The eating disorder saved my life at one time, but it ran rampant and nearly destroyed me. The obsession with food served its purpose. I don’t need it anymore. It feels like I miracle, but it is in fact quite real and achievable.
When I came to Marci, I was skeptical to say the least. I didn’t trust nutritionists. I didn’t need their help. I knew which foods were healthy and which foods were not. Though I didn’t think I needed Marci’s help, I went to my first session so as to comply with my treatment program at an eating disorder center. A fellow patient had just started with Marci and gave her a glowing recommendation.
With Marci, no foods were off limits. She was gentle and she really listened. I felt comfortable divulging the details of my disordered eating. There is so much shame involved in binging on food. It was such a relief to be able to confide in her and seek help in untangling the emotions.
In just a few months, I have completely changed my life. I’m finally happy – no, ecstatic! Sometimes I cry just thinking about how far I’ve come. Now I eat whichever foods I am in the mood for at each meal. I enjoy food without the feelings of guilt. By allowing myself what I want, I don’t feel deprived and so I don’t feel the need to binge. The food thoughts and obsessions dissipate. I find myself satisfied. When I’m done eating, my mind moves on to something else instead of lingering and haunting me for what I did or didn’t eat. By experimenting, by trial and error and by falling down and picking myself back up every time, I have been able to achieve balanced eating.
It’s hard to describe what this kind of freedom feels like. Food is fuel, but it is so much more than that. Food is social; it is one of the most pleasurable enjoyments in life. Now that I am allowing myself these pleasures, I am truly enjoying my life. I had been depressed for longer than I could remember and was convinced that I would never escape this nightmare. But it is possible.
Now I have the pleasure of enjoying an egg and cheese sandwich in the mornings with two, whole eggs (instead of egg whites) and cheese (!), on an everything bagel, which is flavorful compared to the dry, wheat toast I might have allowed myself to eat before. Sometimes I eat pizza for lunch and sometimes I have fish and brown rice with a salad. Sometimes I eat pasta with cream sauce for dinner and sometimes I eat lighter fare. I allow myself to go out for ice cream with friends and I don’t feel the need to binge on pints of it later when I’m alone at night. I’m no longer ashamed to eat certain foods. I enjoy all foods – veggies and ice cream alike. I still can’t believe this is my life!
I don’t mean to make it sound like this was easy. I have been in intensive therapy for months to work on the underlying sources of pain that led me to use food as a coping skill. I learned new ways of coping. I have a support system. I learned to ask for help and I learned how brave it is to do so.
While I have made a breakthrough on balanced eating, I still have a lot of work to do on my self esteem and body image. I used to think I would be happy if I was thin enough. Even though I’d still like to be thinner, I’m enjoying my life right now – at the size that I am! That was the biggest surprise of all. I’m not sure yet if I will always want to be thinner or if at some point, I will be able to accept myself no matter how I look. Although, it does feel like I’m on my way to making peace with my body as I did with food.
Marci assures me that my body will reach the weight it’s supposed to be as I continue. I trust her and I’m beginning to trust my body. But even if I never lose another pound or even if I gain weight, I will NEVER restrict food again. I refuse to waste one more day making myself miserable. I thought I would spend my entire life fighting this battle. In the end, I won by giving up the fight and letting go. I let go of everything. I couldn’t do it anymore. I let go of the control and of the fear. I’m finally free. No matter how hopeless it may feel, believe me, it really is possible.