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Analysis of a Binge

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For the first time, I didn't spiral down in self hate after a binge. Instead, using techniques I learned (links at the bottom), I decided to analyze what happened. I feel knowledge will help prevent other binges, but if I just let myself fill with self loathing and recrimination, it's going to feed into more binges. It always does. I want to stop the cycle dead in its tracks.

I was hungry at work so I ate some cereal and almond milk late in the afternoon. I managed to stop myself from eating past fullness, but the urge to keep eating was tickling the edges of my consciousness. I felt guilty and anxious about eating, since I hadn't planned to eat a snack (I always plan my meals in my diary ahead of time). It didn't matter I was genuinely hungry and was listening to my body--the guilt was there.

I came home and went on my computer. I use several online programs to track my habits, and one of them allows me to visually see every day I reinforce a habit. There is a little chain, which is related to Jerry Seinfeld's practice to not "break the chain." There are also nice big green checkmarks for every day I succeed and a calendar that shows my streak. I set up the habit not to binge. I had 7 days. I checked off another day and marveled I had not broken the chain for 8 days. Another tickle hit me, though. I felt anxious about possibly self sabotaging, about not continuing the positive streak.

I had resisted binging by using the techniques found in the book Brain Over Binge (there is a link below that describes the steps). When urges to binge arise, I simply watch them with detachment. I don't act on my urge, I just watch the thoughts cooly until the urge passes. Over the course of the 8 days, though, the urges became violently present. I could almost see a little kid kicking and punching walls as hard as she could because she wanted to binge and I wasn't letting her. So I was a little fatigued by my brain bombardments. It was getting harder as I showed my brain that I wasn't going to let it run the show when it came to binges.

And then the urge came to eat dinner. I wasn't that hungry, but I ate anyway. Then I ate more. Then the binge began.

Afterwards, the self hatred and castigation began, but I intervened and showed self compassion. Instead, I asked myself, what happened? Why? Let's look at this intellectually.

I binged because I first got anxious about eating an unplanned meal; god forbid I go off plan when I'm genuinely hungry. I had eaten two helpings (calorie wise I was fine for the day including these servings) a little urgently, and that triggered the binge mindset. Feeling the "binge mind" made me more anxious. And uncomfortable feelings feed greatly into my urge to binge.

When I reflected on my success, the self sabotage desire arose. Success makes me anxious--what if I can't keep it up? What if I fail? I looked at my successful streak of 8 days without a binge and along with pride came fear. I know it's silly to have so much anxiety about things, but it's been a sort of crippling factor in my life. Binging and purging (when I was actively bulimic) gave me an overwhelming sense of relief. My current self still fights hard to sit with uncomfortable feelings and let them pass through, rather than stuffing food in my mouth until my belly hurts and I am distracted by my resulting self shame.

I binge because I get overwhelmingly anxious by many things. I binge because the urges to binge hurt, and I give in to make the urges quiet down.

In the end, I make the choice to binge, and I can make the choice not to. With self compassion, I can work through why I binge and come up with a plan to prevent it the next time. And if there is a next time, I just pull out the compassion again and keep trying to work it out. I'm here to say: never give up. Success can be slow and take many turns, but as long as I keep doing the intellectual and emotional work I need to, I will turn "try" into "do."

Sorry this is so long. I thought it might help others like me. Thank you for reading, those who took the time. It makes me feel less alone and ugly.

The two links that helped me a lot:

Brain Over Binge Steps: brainoverbinge.com/?p=197

Fitness is a Skill Not a Talent: lifehacker.com/fitness-is-a-skill-not-a-talent-heres-how-to-develop-1651281013
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Replies

  • Jeneba
    Jeneba Posts: 699 Member
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    Thanks, OE! You are a Wise Woman!!! Do you know the acronym "H.A.L.T.?" This for Too: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired = Urge to Binge.... Since I learned about this, I am better able to forgive myself when I need self-care but NOTHING but a HUGE LOT OF FOOD will "help." Sending Love.
  • oedipa_maas
    oedipa_maas Posts: 577 Member
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    Thank you so much for reading and responding, Jeneba. H.A.L.T. sounds very helpful! Sending love back!
  • Sheseeksstrength
    Sheseeksstrength Posts: 138 Member
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    Thank you so much for sharing!! :) Best of luck to you.
  • 2wise4u
    2wise4u Posts: 229 Member
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    Jeneba wrote: »
    "H.A.L.T.?" This for Too: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired = Urge to Binge.... Since I learned about this, I am better able to forgive myself when I need self-care but NOTHING but a HUGE LOT OF FOOD will "help."

    THAT! ^^

    Some things in life are truly memorable and this will stay with me. Thanks for posting.
  • Need2Exerc1se
    Need2Exerc1se Posts: 13,575 Member
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    Wow, that is a powerful post. You are truly gaining control. Not only that you are helping others by sharing your story. Awesome!
  • Jeneba
    Jeneba Posts: 699 Member
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    <3
  • girlviernes
    girlviernes Posts: 2,402 Member
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    The compassionate way of learning... feel the guilt for a few seconds, it is a natural signal of actions not in line with what you want for your life, get curious about what happened (investigate), and then move forward. Rinse and repeat :)
  • WBB55
    WBB55 Posts: 4,131 Member
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    thank you for sharing
  • JdoubleJ
    JdoubleJ Posts: 37 Member
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    Really helpful, thank you x
  • beth0277
    beth0277 Posts: 217 Member
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    I have had a lot of issues with binging in the past, so I can relate. Have you considered the "chain" you are keeping track of could sabotage you? You talked about fear of failure and not keeping up with your success, perhaps taking it day by day instead of looking at the big picture could help? Not sure if it would, but it's an idea. Best of luck!
  • msharrington315
    msharrington315 Posts: 199 Member
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    Your post could not have come at a better time for me. I have been struggling with my self-control over the past few months. I have lost 209 pounds and worked very hard to get here.

    Your story gives me hope because I have felt so alone in this. My wife does not understand why I would want to stuff myself with hundreds, sometimes thousands of calories after getting to where I am today. Being in the weight loss category that I am is a lonely place and there are a lot of expectations on me.

    I have been scared to death of "going back"... being fat again. Having been obese the majority of my adulthood and peaking over 400 pounds was a nightmare. I hated myself. I had given up on life and wanted to die in my sleep before I finally decided to take on the challenge... and lost over 200 pounds in about 11 months.

    So, why, why, why would I want to sabotage that? I certainly do not ever want to go back to the hell I was living.
    Trust me, I wasn't going to give up, so your part about getting back up and doing it again was something I have been doing, but I needed something different. A better tactic.

    Thank you so much for posting this. It was such a relief to have someone else out there who can relate to my struggles.
  • jgnatca
    jgnatca Posts: 14,464 Member
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    So very helpful to record this and what worked.
  • girlviernes
    girlviernes Posts: 2,402 Member
    edited August 2015
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    Your post could not have come at a better time for me. I have been struggling with my self-control over the past few months. I have lost 209 pounds and worked very hard to get here.

    Your story gives me hope because I have felt so alone in this. My wife does not understand why I would want to stuff myself with hundreds, sometimes thousands of calories after getting to where I am today. Being in the weight loss category that I am is a lonely place and there are a lot of expectations on me.

    I have been scared to death of "going back"... being fat again. Having been obese the majority of my adulthood and peaking over 400 pounds was a nightmare. I hated myself. I had given up on life and wanted to die in my sleep before I finally decided to take on the challenge... and lost over 200 pounds in about 11 months.

    So, why, why, why would I want to sabotage that? I certainly do not ever want to go back to the hell I was living.
    Trust me, I wasn't going to give up, so your part about getting back up and doing it again was something I have been doing, but I needed something different. A better tactic.

    Thank you so much for posting this. It was such a relief to have someone else out there who can relate to my struggles.

    Also consider that there are physiological consequences to the (amazing) extreme and rapid weight loss you have undergone. Your physiology right now is priming you to binge eat (what I mean is that it's not merely psychological or self-sabotage). I would highly recommend finding a professional who has a lot of experience helping people with similar issues (e.g., an eating disorder or bariatric psychologist, dietitian or doctor with a good handle on the biology as well). This way you can develop a plan for maintenance that will help you manage the physiological and mental aspects :) Congratulations on your transformation!!
  • msharrington315
    msharrington315 Posts: 199 Member
    edited August 2015
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    Also consider that there are also physiological consequences to the (amazing) extreme and rapid weight loss you have undergone. Your physiology right now is priming you to binge eat (what I mean is that it's not merely psychological or self-sabotage). I would highly recommend finding a professional who has a lot of experience helping people with similar issues (e.g., an eating disorder or bariatric psychologist, dietitian or doctor with a good handle on the biology as well). This way you can develop a plan for maintenance that will help you manage the physiological and mental aspects :) Congratulations on your transformation!!

    I hadn't really considered the physiological aspects as I am never hungry when I do this. I had thought of it as the food addiction I always had when I was super obese as the behavior is still the same.

    I was talking to my mom last night (she's an R.N.) and she reminded me that she struggles from binging and bulemia from time to time. I remembered her telling me that long ago, but we didn't talk about it a lot as she kept it hidden from us.

    I don't purge, but I often wish that I could. I just don't have the guts to do it afterwards, so I suffer through the self-loathing. Then I go out and do a bunch of exercise to compensate. Not ideal, but it has been keeping my weight down.

    I have a lot of great information here to look into for helping me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

    Thanks!
  • lalahos
    lalahos Posts: 8 Member
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    You have just described mindful meditation! If you can find some classes nearby they are an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety. Aren't you brilliant for doing it without any training!
  • oedipa_maas
    oedipa_maas Posts: 577 Member
    Options
    Your post could not have come at a better time for me. I have been struggling with my self-control over the past few months. I have lost 209 pounds and worked very hard to get here.

    Your story gives me hope because I have felt so alone in this. My wife does not understand why I would want to stuff myself with hundreds, sometimes thousands of calories after getting to where I am today. Being in the weight loss category that I am is a lonely place and there are a lot of expectations on me.

    I have been scared to death of "going back"... being fat again. Having been obese the majority of my adulthood and peaking over 400 pounds was a nightmare. I hated myself. I had given up on life and wanted to die in my sleep before I finally decided to take on the challenge... and lost over 200 pounds in about 11 months.

    So, why, why, why would I want to sabotage that? I certainly do not ever want to go back to the hell I was living.
    Trust me, I wasn't going to give up, so your part about getting back up and doing it again was something I have been doing, but I needed something different. A better tactic.

    Thank you so much for posting this. It was such a relief to have someone else out there who can relate to my struggles.

    You are amazing for what you've accomplished, but I so understand your pain. Thank you for the friend request, I'm honored to have you on my list of friends. Please write anytime you need support!
  • oedipa_maas
    oedipa_maas Posts: 577 Member
    edited August 2015
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    Thank you everyone for reading and your kind, helpful words. MFP is such a fantastic place to connect. I feel a lot better.
  • flosoup38
    flosoup38 Posts: 71 Member
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    Really, really appreciate this post! Thank you
  • girlviernes
    girlviernes Posts: 2,402 Member
    Options
    Also consider that there are also physiological consequences to the (amazing) extreme and rapid weight loss you have undergone. Your physiology right now is priming you to binge eat (what I mean is that it's not merely psychological or self-sabotage). I would highly recommend finding a professional who has a lot of experience helping people with similar issues (e.g., an eating disorder or bariatric psychologist, dietitian or doctor with a good handle on the biology as well). This way you can develop a plan for maintenance that will help you manage the physiological and mental aspects :) Congratulations on your transformation!!

    I hadn't really considered the physiological aspects as I am never hungry when I do this. I had thought of it as the food addiction I always had when I was super obese as the behavior is still the same.

    I was talking to my mom last night (she's an R.N.) and she reminded me that she struggles from binging and bulemia from time to time. I remembered her telling me that long ago, but we didn't talk about it a lot as she kept it hidden from us.

    I don't purge, but I often wish that I could. I just don't have the guts to do it afterwards, so I suffer through the self-loathing. Then I go out and do a bunch of exercise to compensate. Not ideal, but it has been keeping my weight down.

    I have a lot of great information here to look into for helping me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

    Thanks!

    Wanting to purge, self-loathing, and compensatory exercise are signs of problematic eating patterns. I think an eating disorder specialist (or specialty team) will be very familiar with these issues and able to help you with the transitional period. Good luck :)
  • oedipa_maas
    oedipa_maas Posts: 577 Member
    Options
    girlviernes really has an excellent idea. I went through ED treatment for 3 years, and it made all the difference msharrington. ANAD helped me a lot too. Check out their web site.