Freedom Story from Kirsten

I'm not exactly sure how my eating disorder started because I don't remember choosing to restrict or diet at any time when I was younger. I know that after high school I decided I wanted to make healthier choices and be in shape but I never started any particular diet or cut foods out. I was working in the kitchen of a nursing home, surrounded by food and treats all the time. I think I must have decided at one point that I wasn't going to eat the food and snacks that were always so easily available at work because I didn't want it to be a habit and something that I did every day while working.

And for a while maybe I did, because my first "binge" was while I was stocking the small kitchen rooms on each wing of the nursing facility. The kitchen rooms needed to be stocked with snacks, juices, ice creams, ect. for nurses to easily grab at a residents request. All I remember is in a split second deciding that I was going to eat two packages of peanut butter crackers and two fudge cookies as fast as I could before anyone saw me. But in the moment it didn't even feel like a decision it was just like next thing I knew my mouth was stuffed to the brim with crackers and I was just trying to chew and swallow them as fast as I could without even enjoying them. I remember after thinking what the hell just happened and why did I do that in such a rushed manor. I don't remember exactly how things gradually progressed after that but they did, and it seemed extremely quick.

I was thinking about food at work all the time because I was constantly surrounded by it. I was eating little ice cream cups and using pure will power every chance I could to decide not to eat something. This must have been when all the morality around food started because even though I would decide to eat something that I knew was bad for me, like a piece of coffee cake, I would think about it for a long while after and beat myself up for being weak. Eventually, working in that kitchen felt like an alcoholic working in a liquor store... I dreaded going in and having to fight urges every day. Birthday parties for residents became a nightmare because the whole time I would be thinking about what would be left over and how many mini cupcakes I would eat. I was pretty skinny at this time and it was a joke between me and co workers about how much I would eat and not gain weight. I really liked the job and the people I worked with, but I hated how much I would think about food while I was there.

The food thoughts were starting to spill into my everyday life and binges started happening at home. They we're pretty "small" at this point compared to what they would eventually turn into, but would be something like eating a whole sleeve of ritz crackers with peanut butter and then feeling so full after that I would force myself to get up and walk around the neighborhood to feel better. I didn't know why I had this urge to eat until I was too full and it was just a cycle of eating until that point and then swearing to myself that I wouldn't do it again.

Looking back working in that kitchen was nothing like what was ahead for me... I would have done anything to go back to my mindset and small "binges" that started this whole mess.

Eventually, I started a new job in the kitchen of a local hospital because the pay was better. Here, the kitchen was bigger and had a lot more variety of food, and the food was way better than nursing home food surprisingly. The kitchen also stocked the food court at the hospital so the chefs were pretty good.

When I first started I thought I was "safe" from the food because I wasn't as comfortable as I was at my previous job and therefore didn't grab food whenever I wanted. Also, the rules about eating the food there were "stricter", or at least that's how it seemed at the time.

It didn't take long for me to get comfortable there and by the time I had been working there for a year or so, I was eating whatever I wanted while I was there which was all of the bad stuff. Whether I was actually buying it in the food court or stealing it from the stock room I soon became an every day occurrence that I was eating junk. And I hated myself for it and for not being able to have the will power to stop myself. My actions and thoughts around food became 20x worse than when I was working in the nursing home and I felt more out of control than ever.

And NO ONE knew. Everything was a huge secret. It was something I dealt with 100% on my own.

It was also during this time that I moved out of my parents’ house (which was very small and crowded) for the first time, into my grandparents’ house so I could have more space and privacy. I remember making a vow to myself that I would not binge in this house and that everything would be better living here because I would be buying my own food and wouldn't have as much junk around.

Well that backfired completely and the binging and food thoughts were soon again worse than ever. I found myself alone a lot and it was so easy to sneak food into my room without anyone seeing. I would bring home cookies and leftover pizza and fries from work and just binge in my room. I would steal my grandparent’s food and always wondered if they would notice things going missing, because they would never ask. I remember waking up for 6am morning shifts and feeling hungover from the night before... not because of alcohol but because of all the sugar and fat I'd eaten just a few hours prior.

It was hell for me and every day I would vow that I would do something different or change but the cycle continued.

I started dating my now boyfriend of 4 years at this time, and for a short while things got better because I was very cautious of what I would eat around him or even in the days before I knew we were going to hang out. The last thing I wanted was to be bloated and gross feeling when I was trying to impress him.

This was short lived again though since we got very comfortable very quick, and my habits crept back in. He still didn't know about my food issues until about two years into our relationship, and I don't think he really knew the extent of it until I started this program.

I felt so bad about how my eating disorder affected our relationship. I was miserable a lot of the time for what probably seemed to him like no good reason. I wouldn't want to be intimate or even have him touch me because of how bloated and full my stomach would feel. It made me feel that much worse about myself and I hated how unfair it was for him to have what only seemed like half of me.

I felt as though I would be a totally different person if it wasn't for my eating disorder.

I loved my life so much and felt so grateful for everyone and everything that I had but I felt like I could never fully enjoy it because I had this dark cloud of an eating disorder following me with every step I took.

Happy memories were often clouded by food thoughts and I felt like I couldn't be present with family or friends. Holidays were scary and turned into binge fests because of my all or nothing mentality. Working out became a chore because I was always so low on energy and motivation. I remember actually wishing that I was one of those people that would just exercise for hours after a binge to make myself feel better, but never had the motivation or will power to do it.

I tried to throw up many times after binges, all ending in failure and frustration that I couldn’t just “get rid of it all the easy way”.

So many nights were spent binging and telling myself never again. All of a sudden, I had been dealing with this for four years and I couldn't believe my life was "wasting away."

In 2015 I learned a hard lesson on how short life is. My best friend whom I had grown up with was tragically killed in a car accident. I knew that I had to do something about the way I was living my life because if I died tomorrow, I would have so many regrets about the time and energy I wasted on food and food thoughts.

My friend undoubtedly lived her life to the fullest and I wanted to be able to say I did and am doing the same. I wanted to be authentic and truly feel like the health and fitness fanatic my friends and family saw me as.

Throughout all this, I felt like such a fraud because I always talked about my passion for healthy living, yet I was struggling so deeply and no one knew.

I eventually told my doctor about my struggles and never followed through with the nutritionist and therapist she recommended meeting with. Instead, I decided to try some more on my own.

I spent a lot of time researching binge eating disorder and watching Youtube videos on other people’s experiences with it and how they overcame it. Nothing seemed to stop the binges though. Eventually I watched a video with a girl who talked about a book called "Brain Over Binge" and I ordered it right then and there. I read the book and couldn't believe how simple it all was. I couldn't believe how much sense it made and thought it was too good to be true. I thought this was my cure to it all and started just telling myself that they thoughts about food were not me but a part of my brain that just wanted me to survive even though I was doing "fine". After a while nothing was changing and I was left feeling even more stupid that I knew exactly why this was happening to me and I still couldn't just find the will power to not give into the thoughts. I struggled again for another two years on my own.

In these two years nothing changed besides the fact that I was really starting to feel some of the long term adverse effects from binging. In the earlier years of my disorder, I felt like I could bounce back from a binge in just a day or two and then move on for a while, or until the next binge.

More recently, I feel like it takes more than a week to feel normal again, if I could even make it through the week without binging. I was getting bloated and puffy a lot. Sometimes I would wake up in the morning and if I didn’t eat something within 30 minutes or so, I would get extremely nauseous and even dry heave.

With a little research I learned the nausea was from my blood sugar skyrocketing from a binge the night before, and plummeting in the morning. I really thought I was in the beginning stages of type 2 diabetes.

I also was gaining weight which scared the absolute crap out of me. In the first two or even three years of my disorder, it somehow did not seem to affect my weight at all and when I noticed it was, it felt like it was too late and I had gained ten pounds overnight. I was also spending tons of money going to various doctors and getting various tests to figure out why I was so bloated all the time, whether I had binged recently or not. This is something I still struggle with today.

I found Lydia through her podcasts because I decided I wanted to start listening to podcasts and decided to search and see if there were any about eating disorders. I found Lydia's and was addicted because it talked about all the same concepts that made so much sense from the Brain Over Binge book. I quickly listened to all the podcasts and moved onto materials that she had on YouTube and Facebook.

One day while I was at work, I decided what was the worst that could happen, and signed up for the free break though session, NEVER intending to join a program at the end of it all. But that two hour session was exactly what I needed to push myself into the next step.

I has struggled for far too long on my own and knew that if I was ever going to get over this, I was going to have to do something different. I felt like the only thing I had not tried was asking others for help. Despite the incredible anxiety I had over the financial commitment and what my boyfriend would think, I took the plunge. And it was the best thing I ever did.

My story now is one that is changing and different. My thinking isn’t so black and white or all or nothing. I understand exactly why I have binge urges and that the choice is always mine.

I have the tools now to recognize patterns of thoughts that do not serve me and keep me in the cycle of binge eating.

I am allowing with my food and although my relationship with food is still not perfect or completely free, I’m doing things I always said would be impossible in the past.

I buy food that I exiled from my home because I “knew” I couldn’t have them without eating them all. I can go into a grocery store and get excited about all the options I have rather than fearing all of those options.

At work, I don’t fear parties where I’m going to be tempted to eat “bad” food or worry about getting out of control and eating more than a person my size should.

I always used to worry about what others think of the food I’m eating and if that’s what I really eat even though I’m “skinny”. I also no longer despise when someone brings in treats to share and can enjoy them without a worry of thinking about them for the rest of the day or until they’re gone.

I don’t have the urge to sneakily eat them all myself so I just don’t have to worry about them anymore. The other day one of my coworkers surprised with me with a few mini Reese’s cups and instead of instantly worrying about having the will power to not eat them all in one sitting, I used my practice and ended up easily enjoying them throughout the week.

The best part of that whole experience was having the cups in my desk drawer and not even thinking about them! There was no will power involved, if I felt like have one or two I did, and if I didn’t they were out of sight out of mind.

When going out to eat, I feel so much less guilty about my food choices and the anxiety about how much I’m going to eat has disappeared. Now, I can easily decide when I’m full and pack up the leftovers, whereas before it was always a struggle to stop eating (despite being uncomfortably full) and took a lot of will power to put the fork down for good. I also no longer feel the urge to heat up leftovers when I get home or later that night because I didn’t feel like I got the chance to eat how much I truly wanted when I was with company. Or simply because I wanted to binge on them.

There’s been a few instances of me forgetting I have stuff like mini ice cream cones in the freezer, and then being excited that I get to enjoy them again. Snacks that would have been gone in a matter of days can now last weeks or months because I don’t feel compelled to eat them all right then and there.

Again, some days are easier than others and some require more practice than others but it’s still so much better than it used to be.

After the first month of the program I don’t think I binged at all.

The binging had just turned into overeating which I had to constantly remind myself was still much better than binging.

Sometimes I still overeat to the point of being uncomfortable, and I know that every time something like that happens, that I just have more data to look back on. Those instances are actually valuable because I can look at what I did in the past that worked, and figure out what happened and what I can do to make the situation better next time.

My journey to freedom is still ongoing, and may be on going for quite some time. When I have thoughts about where I should be and how long this is taking, I can easily remind myself how far I’ve come. Also that time often heals all, and it may take more than just a few months to solidify these new patterns of though and behavior that I’m developing.

I have the tools to continue on the right path and I know that it’s 100% up to me to continue my practice and change my brain.

Sometimes I have doubts that I’ll ever reach 100% freedom or leave my disordered eating completely in the past, but I know that those thoughts don’t actually matter because if I keep doing my practice consistently and fully, then it will lead me to freedom no matter what.

I’m so grateful that I finally did something for myself and to get back to the person I know I am. To live a full and authentic life that I can be proud of. My freedom to me means my life, and I’m so happy to finally be taking it back.

Freedom Story from Kimberly

My story started out as a 17 year old that decided to eat 'healthier' and ended up losing weight. I never had a weight issue, I was very active in sports and in the student body during high school, no one ever told me I needed to lose weight or commented on it. I was a 5'1" petite cheerleader who grew up in a wonderful household with awesome examples of how to be a normal eater so developing this issue was completely foreign and unintentional.

After I lost a few pounds and began to get positive comments, I thought "if you think this is good, I can really cut back and look even better." I became anorexic during my senior year of high school and was just consumed with food thoughts and my social life began to suffer.

After many months of this, I ended up bingeing. I can still remember the day and what I ate as if I were watching a movie. I didn't even know what bingeing was at the time but once I got a taste and the rush, I was hooked.

The binge/restriction continued throughout college and into my twenties. I knew life was passing me by but I felt hopeless and confused.

I tried therapy, medications, self-help books, religion...nothing worked. I lost relationships, was a recluse during college, had extreme mood swings....life was a blur.

Fast forward several years into my early thirties and I discovered Brain Over Binge. This made sense to me and it took me several reads but it finally stuck in August of 2017. I had a one year old daughter and felt desperate to be a better mother to her.

I was in recovery until I started to overeat/eat compulsively while pregnant with my son and the binge/restrict came back into my life shortly after his birth. I was getting comments about losing the weight so quickly and I wanted to perpetuate this so I began restricting.

I knew about Lydia through YouTube and Podcasts but rediscovered her and her principles at my very lowest point. I scheduled the Breakthrough Session and never looked back :)

My now story is a more free life. I am just out of the program and know that I still have work and practice to do but the changes thus far are amazing.

And if nothing else changed at all my life would still be a million times better. My chatter now is more about overeating than bingeing (yea!) and I don't wake up every morning wondering if I'll binge.

Chatter tries to tell me I'm white-knuckling but I know this isn't true. If I overeat I don't punish myself. I think the resilience is the biggest thing for me.

I can just look at the data and move on. No compensation, no restriction, no dieting... EVER.

I am a better mother, wife, and friend. I am present with my kids and my mood has definitely stabilized. I'm no longer crazy about working out either.

My husband is very grateful for this! I work out if I want to, not because I have to to compensate. I'm leaning into the food neutrality concept and I understand changing my brain takes time. I'm learning to trust myself again. I'm nicer to myself about my body. Being a size 0 was miserable and not sustainable.

I've accepted that my body will get to where it needs to be and I'll have fluctuations along the way. Like I said, I've still got work to do but there is no wagon to fall off of and no timeline to rewire my brain.

I want to enjoy the process and appreciate every nuance along the way. Something that surprised me was how the program helped me with dealing with emotions and just feeling those emotions.

Not having to try and change how I feel has been huge. If I'm frustrated, that's okay. And knowing that I won't feel this way FOREVER and that all I need is time is liberating. Emotional freedom has been life changing in so many ways.

Freedom Story from Amy

I was always a slightly below average build. I spent my entire childhood not having to keep track of or watch what I ate. I was small, active, and healthy. However, in high school I felt the pressure to be perfect.


I had my first boyfriend who was majorly in to health and fitness and we used to work out together a lot. I went on my first diet as a teenager at the age of 15.


I lost weight quickly. I received a lot of attention and soon became obsessed with counting calories and restricting. ALL of my energy went into working out and restricting my calories. At one point I remember tracking my calories and was eating as little as 450/500 calories per day as well as still dancing, playing sports and doing ballet.


I lost so much weight my parents threatened to hospitalize me. I had lost over 25% of my body weight and people became scared. So I was forced to eat.


This led to my first binge and for my whole junior year of high school I spent all of my time bingeing, purging and restricting. I was discovered purging and it forced my parents to take further action.


I began therapy and had "recovered" for my entire senior year. I was still restricting, over exercising and counting and obsessing over every calorie. But I wasn't purging anymore. 


So I went away to college and the binge/purge cycle started again in full effect. I spent the next 6 years in the cycle of restricting and binge/purging. Up to 25 times a day.


Hundreds of dollars a month on binge food, stealing food from roommates, hiding in the cafeteria so I could binge in private and became fully isolated, ashamed, broken.


Still remained in therapy.


After the 6 years I decided I had had enough. I ended a bad relationship and it gave me the new found freedom I had been hoping for.


I remained free from the binge purge cycle for 8 years. Still counted calories and didn't allow myself to enjoy any food the was not permitted. So much effort and energy went into maintaining and controlling my food and body. Thoroughly EXHAUSTING.


Still remained in therapy.


Then I got married and had my first child. On her first birthday I experienced my first binge/purge in 8 years. Scared, out of control, ashamed, embarrassed and began to believe i really was broken and that this food craziness was just a part of my DNA. No matter how long i went without an 'episode' I still couldn't fully recover. Then the cycle began again and lasted for 7 years. 


Alone, private, broken, scared, exhausted. I tried virtually everything to "cure" myself from my "disease". I tried meditation, yoga, more talk therapy, cryotherapy, every supplement know to man to boost my mood or 'fix' me, antidepressants, sleep schedules, every eating disorder podcast ever made, Marc David, Tony Robbins, Holostic healing, Wayne Dyer and the list goes on and on and on......until I found Lydia.


Now this is my life:


FREEDOM!

Real, unedited, non white knuckling FREEDOM.

No FEAR. No RULES. No OBSESSIONS. No RESTRICTIONS. 

AND........sooooooooo much free time! To think freely, to be resent, to be and feel whole again. 

Tools to help me get through wobbly spots and everything I need to recognize when old patterns of thinking come up. I LOVE FREEEDOM!!!!

Captain Marvel VS Wonder Woman

Highly recommend Captain Marvel. So well done in so many ways to give women and girls (finally) some powerful examples of being represented in media.

Although I was thrilled to see Wonder Woman come out a while back, and it was an important step toward challenging sexism, it had some major flaws.

*** spoiler alert...

In Wonder Woman 
- her performance of being a woman was very aligned with patriarchal standards. 
- she was cast as anorexic thin coming from a race of “superior women” that almost totally consisted of anorexic thin white women who show no signs of aging * note, I am not claiming that the actor that played her roll is anorexic. Many women in media are selected because of their extremely rare genetics and natural extreme thinness. And it’s common for women in those industries to have eating disorders. But the question is “what would most women need to do to try to reach that body standard?” And for most it would be attempts at starvation that are physically and mentally damaging. 
- she played dumb for much of the movie needing to be corrected by a white male character 
- the “male gaze” was present with her body and plenty of shots of her breasts, and up her skirt being present through the film 
- and although being a superhero, ultimately found her strength through a white male believing in her 
- a sadness that so many opportunities were missed here 
- it would have been great to see 1) more body diversity 2) independent female strength shown apart from “because a man believes in me”

In Captain Marvel 
- although most female characters were still typically thin, there was more body, age and race diversity 
- her armor was much more functional and protective as opposed to catering to what might be appealing to the male gaze 
- she was not sexualized at all
- in fact there were no romantic love interests in this movie 
- she gained her power from her OWN experiences of bravery, tenacity and strength 
- and the movie made a wonderful point of proving untrue that her powers were given to her by the white male character and could be “taken away” by him. Instead they made it clear that once she realized she had her power all along and didn’t need to ask permission. In that realization she was most powerful. 
- they made it a point multiple times that her motivations were not to “prove anything” to the patriarchal characters 
- her character was not based on pleasing a man (doing something for “love” or to make her father proud or the realization that “he was right all along”) 
- and being packed with 90s anthems of female empowerment, it was a great “call to rise up” feeling 
- so much done well. Not just for an awesome movie, but a great step toward how women are portrayed in the media and the messages we send to women and girls of what is possible for them.

Agree? Disagree?

What would you have liked to see better in either movie?

What would you request of the movie industry to take better steps toward ending sexism?

Ps, I am taking my 9-year-old daughter to see this with me tomorrow

Freedom Story from Mackenzie

Before the Beat the Binge program, I was a hot mess. I had just started another online diet program and couldn't understand why I kept 'blowing it' and instead of losing weight, I was gaining.

All day long all I thought about was food. What I was going to eat, how much, whether the food was 'good' or 'bad'. 

Binges were the worst. Any chance I could get to 'sneak' away and eat massive quantities of food was torture. I hated myself and felt so out of control. I thought I was broken. Instead of living my life, I was a zombie walking around waiting for the next food thought to pop into my head (which didn't take long because that was the majority of my thoughts). The sad part was, that I didn't even consider there might be another way.

I've lived like this for so long, the idea of food freedom didn't even occur to me. 

I decided to join the program on a whim. I've been following Lydia for well over a year (watching her videos, etc). She had sent out openings for her free coaching sessions before but one day as I was walking to the break room at work, I opened her email and scheduled the appointment. I had no clue that my life was going to change forever when I did that one simple thing

As I am writing this, I am so incredibly grateful. I have my life back. I'm doing all of these 'normal' things now that I never thought I could. I've given up restriction and guess what? I haven't had a binge since. I had one episode where the thought popped into my head and just like that I recognized how ridiculous it sounded! Why on earth would I eat massive quantities of food?! 

If you would have told me that would be my reaction to a binge thought 8 weeks ago, I would have laughed (loudly) in your face. I am free to go where I want, eat (or not eat) what I want. My life has normal problems like anyone else's but now I don't lean on binging to 'deal' with things or numb out and avoid my life. I am truly free for the first time since I was 14 years old.

Freedom Story from Rachel

When I was 12 my body started changing as I was going through the natural cycles of maturing as a woman. These hormonal changes resulted in gaining weight in places that I considered unacceptable, as a result I started restricting my food intake so I could maintain a size double zero. I restricted and dieted very effectively from 7th grade until 10th grade, although I was beginning to eat large quantities of food (like icing, zebra cakes, peanut butter, ice cream etc.) after heavily restrictive bouts, but I never put two and two together to see the association between the two. I started becoming friends with girls who were athletes, they ate whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted and still maintained an amazing physique. The end of 10th grade is when my eating started to kick up, I started downing massive quantities of "off-limit" foods that I hadn't allowed myself to have in years. At this time I noticed my sister, mother, and two of my best friends were bulimic and a few other friends were anorexic. I never thought I had an official eating disorder, I thought they did, but once I found myself crying when I was drunk with my friends that I was "gaining weight" and couldn't drink these calories when I was 110 pounds and my new athletic friends said I was crazy, I started questioning the validity of that. 

In college I was introduced to dining halls with all you can eat buffets...I started binge eating. To compensate I'd restrict and starve myself for 1 day at a time, did two-a-days at the gym (got there at 5am and again at 5pm, working out for a minimum of 1 hour each session as hard as I possibly could). My weight caught up to me though. When I was a sophomore in college I gained 40 pounds in 1 semester, I kept binge eating and this time I wasn't trying to starve myself, I couldn't. My metabolism was still in amazing shape so I figured I could keep eating this way and it wasn't "catching up to me" as badly as I imagined it would have given the massive quantities of food I was ingesting. 

When I was 20 years old I panicked about this weight gain (which was gained only over the course of 3 months) and my horrible, obsessive relationship with food and my body. I went on every single diet I could find. I went vegan for 2 years, within that raw vegan for 6 months, week long juice fasts, would "intermittent fast" for 3 days at a time, the "eat only apples for a week" diet, and many more. I was able to lose all of the weight that I had gained and I was an absolute mess. As it came, so it went and I started to gain the weight back, I was losing my grip on myself and food, everything seemed to be spiraling out of control. This is when I remembered what my sister, my mom, my best friend from high school, and now my best friend and roommate of 4 years in college did...purge. I would be on a diet, mix in IF and not eat for 1-3 days to "shrink my stomach", and purge on the days that I would start bingeing or just eating more than I deemed acceptable to maintain my physique. 

Eventually I got so desperate and SO sick (constantly getting strep throat, the flu, you name it) that I joined OA. I didn't think I had a problem with sugar, I believed I had a problem with carbs (bread, pasta, etc.), but everyone told me you have to get a sponsor, you're addicted to sugar you need to give it up and abstain, same as all processed foods. This is when I attempted to "abstain" from these foods. While I'm very grateful for OA because it represented coming to terms with and admitting I had a huge problem and helped me learn to eat after a "binge" to not enter the restriction cycle again, I was unable to "abstain" for anymore than 2 weeks from the time I was 20 until 26. I saw about 10 nutritionists, got so many different food plans and sponsors and I would call them everyday saying I will only eat __ today, and NOTHING in between, nothing other than this. Ultimately I'd fail, I'd lie to my sponsor until I could lie no more. I was wondering what was wrong with me, what did I have to do to change? 

One day I got so desperate lying on my living room floor eating a full jar of peanut butter by myself and not even having the energy to purge and decided I was going to end my life.

The next day I luckily decided to try something different and get a new sponsor rather then end things. The new sponsor I got took me through the steps, which really helped balance things out for me so I wasn't in such a state of panic and despair. She and I went through all of the "red light foods" and I was abstaining from. This list had about 50 things on it and ranged from abstaining from: most fruit, nuts, added sugar in any capacity (including things like sushi, mayo, pretty much anything processed because more things have at least 1 gram of added sugar), all caffeine, artificial sweeteners, wheat, bread, chips, all desserts (cake, brownies, ice cream, candy, etc.). I maintained this for about 4 months, I lost a lot of weight, felt a lot more sanity return (in a way) but I started proselytizing the OA/AA literature, mainly the Big Book. I felt sorry for people who couldn't stop eating "junk food" and viewed myself as extraordinarily lucky that I wasn't succumbing to my "disease" and I was abstaining, anytime I could tell people my story I thought I was saving them from the monster of junk food and compulsive overeating. I was reading every single food label I came across, called restaurants beforehand and asked them to pull out their ingredients list so I could see for myself that there was nothing I "couldn't eat" in the mix. 

At some stage I burned out and decided I was totally out of alignment with the life I was living, decided to quit my job and travel the world for a year. The first month I did that, I met a spiritual teacher who actually teaches concepts very similar to the concepts in the Beat the Binge program. He told me that the relationship I had with food didn't sound like food freedom to him, he recommended letting myself have the things that I wanted and getting in touch with how it made me feel* instead of making decisions based on external rules, shoulds/shouldn'ts. He mentioned the rules were the "thinking mind" (what Lydia calls the "chatter brain") and the "working mind" (the "you brain") was the logical part of our brains, those are the thoughts we can start to trust. With this new message I knew what he was saying was true, but I was absolutely terrified... Anytime I'd have a bite of something with sugar, wheat, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, etc., I would absolutely freak out, panic, do a 10th step inventory on it (part of the process in OA). This wasn't going to work if I was to be traveling on the road out of a backpack for a year. Seeing that madness in myself I decided it was going to be messy but I walked away from OA and decided to learn for myself what freedom would mean for me. 

Throughout my travels I started eating things I hadn't had in 6-7 years...and hadn't truly allowed myself to have without guilt in probably 13 years. I was still restricting heavily, I thought yes I can start experimenting and if it gets "out of control" I can just not eat and skip meals again. At this stage I started reading Brain over Binge and Intuitive Eating but couldn't quite see what was missing. I went down to 110 pounds (which was my weight when I was heavily restricting in 10th grade of HS) and desperately struggled to try to maintain it. I had loads of caffeine, coffee, tea, etc. everyday. I refused to eat breakfast and often lunch as well, believing that once I started eating, the flood gates were open to I should limit it to just eating once a day. At this stage my metabolism dropped, I started gaining weight even though I was hardly eating any food. I was baffled and confused, crying all the time, trying to lose weight and feeling it slip through my fingers. 

When I returned home I felt so crazy around food, started gaining weight again, I decided to go back to OA. This helped calm down many areas of my life, I looked at things that disturbed me and "caused me to eat" (which I believed at the time), I started eating adequately and it was going okay. Suddenly I found myself planning all of my meals again, cutting out major groups of food out of fear, I wasn't bingeing because that would be losing my abstinence but I was overeating everyday and was totally crazed/obsessed, plagued by food and my body, again. Suddenly it hit me that this is the very lack of freedom I was experiencing when I left OA a year prior. No amount of 10th steps were helping me drop my desire to lose weight, the hatred I felt toward my body, no amount of meal planning was making me feel more free...it was making me crazy. Although it resulted in many positive changes for me, I kept looking relentlessly for a real solution until I came across Lydia! 

Wow I don't know where to begin with the freedom I experience now...the insights this program has delivered has been one of hindsight for me, it's easy to forget how completely different things are now as opposed to the way things used to be. Although I have wobbly days on occasion and tendencies can still kick up from time to time, I do not consider myself to have an eating disorder in any capacity, it's simply not true for me anymore. I feel as if I am a normal eater, and becoming more and more so each day. I never imagined the the freedom I experience now would be possible for me. I thought the only freedom I could know was abstinence, I thought I would be a "compulsive overeater" my whole life and it was something I'd have to manage as best I could (which implies rules, many many rules). 

I may struggle to articulate what changed for me, it seems like the whole process has been so magical I can hardly believe it or iterate what happened but I'll emphasize a few key changes I've noticed. My definition of food freedom was this: 

"Food freedom for me is no longer being afraid of, intimidated or discouraged by the presence or absence of food. It’s no longer obsessing about my body weight and size and instead feeling comfortable in my skin and coming to a size that is balanced and easy to maintain without 'control' or 'force.' It’s no longer obsessing about and planning what I’m going to eat vs. what I need to never eat again and abstain from that. On a daily basis this would mean having food and eating be a normal, right-sized part of my day that never takes up too much mental space, it’s a source of enjoyment or just a neutral event, but no longer a shame-laden, demonized opportunity to fail again or succumb to something. On a daily basis this would mean waking up and going to sleep with food not being the first or last thought of the day, and if there are a lot of food thoughts just knowing deep down that they don’t mean anything, and I’m totally fine and free regardless of the content of thoughts. I want to feel totally safe around food, and not worried that I’m going to “lose control” at any moment. I don’t want to believe I’m a food addict, someone that will forever be a compulsive overeater, I don’t want to believe that I need to change every defect about myself in order to be free of food, I want to know I’m always without a doubt free from this crazy compulsion." 

I've experimented with eating almost every previously "off-limit" food, the fear has now gone away almost entirely around those foods, and I don't struggle to control my urges, to not certain things, I don't feel afraid of myself around food because now I'm allowed to have it...and I know that I can if I really want to, there's no crime in having what I want. Food and my body weight are no longer the first thoughts in the morning (unless I wake up hungry) or the last thought of the night. I haven't planned a meal since the 2nd week in the program, my hunger and fullness cues have come in abruptly, they're as obvious and apparent to me as the need to use the restroom and previously I didn't know what it meant to feel hungry or full, it was always a guessing game for me, a shot in the dark. Food can be a source of excitement for me, but I no longer believe there's anything wrong with that. When food feels a little "too exciting" I know it's because I've restricted that food in the past and have some lingering beliefs that I shouldn't have it or it'll go away eventually, I call out the chatter around that, and then move forward. 

I go out to eat and I never worry about what's on the menu, since day 1 of the program I haven't purged, I no longer over-exercise to compensate, since week 5 of the program I haven't binged at all, I may overeat on occasion but I no longer judge it as "overeating" and feel no shame if I do overindulge. I know I can have anything on that menu and it won't hurt me, nothing will make me "spiral out of control", it's just food, it's no longer terrifying. The desire to "control" urges around food, food intake, circumstances, my body, etc. has nearly fallen away, there's nothing to control because nothing is "out of control" unless I start restricting again and denying things that I truly want. It's more and more apparent to me that the natural intelligence of the body isn't leading me astray and it won't. It's only when the fear chatter comes up, the restriction chatter drives up cravings to have MORE immediately that things begin feel untrustworthy. On occasion chatter revs up about my body image and tries to encourage restriction, this is the only aspect that periodically comes up for me, fear of restriction, fear of gaining weight, and sometimes fighting the chatter in this regard. It doesn't take long for me to bounce back to a place of neutrality and see that it's just a habit, it's nothing personal and I don't need to act on it, but it may take up to a day to snap out of the mindset of mental restriction, I don't act on physical restriction anymore. 

As a result of previous programs and other common misconceptions, I heavily associated overeating with emotions, with "character defects", I believed it wasn't because the food that I overate, that the food was a symptom of a larger problem of self-centeredness, "self will run riot." I believed that I needed to address my fears, anxieties, turn the focus of attention off myself and be of service to others instead while facing myself to get in proper alignment. Now I no longer associate an emotional day with a risk for overeating. Just the other day I was extremely sad and a bit anxious, I didn't even think about overeating or bingeing. In the past that would have been my default, the very first thing I would have tried to avoid doing. I no longer believe that I am defective...but rather there are habits in place that are more or less helpful and may cause discomfort within myself. At first I viewed the chatter as something to erase, I demonized it and thought "if I can just get rid of this, then I'd be free." Luckily through the progression of this program I came to see chatter is a beautiful thing...it's a signal, a cue that I'm believing something that simply isn't true. I've come to recognize this feeling that "something is off/wrong" as a gift, that it means something is being believed that's causing some degree of internal conflict and the good new is it isn't true, it's simply chatter, it's only as valid as I make it. 

I feel free so much of the day it amazes...I'm free to eat whatever I want whenever I want it, when I go to restaurants now I share my food and enjoy the person I'm sitting with more than the food, I've stopped obsessing about how much I'm eating, if it's too much or not enough in those environments. I'm free to feel and experience my feelings without condemning them or pushing them away, everyday I have the gift of questioning the idea that there's something wrong with me, the gift of accepting myself and loving myself exactly as I am and being gentle and understanding instead of harsh and condemning. I've recently started dating (which I avoided for years because I thought I needed to be in years of recovery until I could date anyone in a serious capacity), my life is becoming effortlessly more honest and in alignment, I care about people more because I care about myself more, I no longer see people as "defective" and I take what others do less personally because I know it's just their pattern of chatter. On occasion I struggle with body image, the fear of gaining weight especially after a weekend of eating less healthy foods and the resulting bloated feeling for instance, but I no longer hate myself for it, I accept how I feel and try my best to come to terms with it as a temporary truth, I know it will balance out. 

Moving forward I can look forward to applying these principles to the rest of my life! I don't need to maintain such a tiny bubble in order to stay "safe" from myself, from others. I can experiment in life, play and discover what matters to me, I can see all of the other areas where chatter restricts and indulges and slowly but surely come more and more into alignment with a meaningful and worthwhile life. There have been so many surprises from this program, I feel like every single result of the program was a surprise! But one of the biggest surprises was seeing how perfectionism drives so much conflict in my life...I wasn't aware of the harshness of the perfectionism, the need to figure everything out, fix everything, fix myself, don't try something until I can do it perfectly, don't put myself in situation where there is a lot of uncertainty. I never realized how totally controlled and controlling I was as a result of that! It has been the main driver of most issues with food, relationships, self esteem, jobs, etc. and these self-imposed rules of the life I believed I needed to live, the things I felt I had to do. It's an incredible relief to see that it's simply not true and to see how many areas this carries over to! My life was revolved around not wanting to be rejected and seen as a failure, so I would try to avoid that by any means necessary...now that I see it's just chatter's method of maintaining a false sense of security, I'm free to be who I am imperfectly...I'm free from the belief that I'll arrive at some end goal one day, and with the disintegration of that thought I've been given the absolute gift and joy of having a life again, free of self-hatred and trying to constantly be somewhere or someone I'm not. 

I full-heartedly recommend this program to anyone who is struggling with disordered eating and wants to have their life back. I've received more gifts from this program than I could have ever imagined. There may be other programs out there which may provide some degree of relief and freedom, but for anyone who wants to be free for a lifetime, Lydia and the coaches give every participant their all. They give their wisdom, their attention, their patience, and never put themselves above anyone to act as an icon, but rather they teach each person how to put the power back in their own hands again. This is the gift of freedom...freedom of not having an authority over oneself for validation, confirmation. I seek my own guidance, I can finally trust myself rather than externalizing that trust. What an incredible gift this program has been.

Lydia the Lifestyle Coach on "The Marriage Show"

Eating disorders strike a staggering amount of women across the world and have a tremendous impact on marriage and sexual relationship - often times the husband is aware there are marital or sexual issues, but he's clueless that it's actually an eating disorder causing the problems.

Lydia Knight helps women overcome eating disorders using a combination of neuroscience and mindfulness, and she’s here to talk with us about the signs and symptoms of eating disorders, what to do if you suspect your wife or daughter to have an eating disorder, how to create healthy eating habits, and our language regarding our own self image.

Click HERE to listen to the episode

Freedom Story from Kendra

Over a 30 year period, my struggle with food and weight gain gradually worsened until it spiraled out of control and became very damaging to my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

It began with me innocently "needing to lose a few pounds" and ended years later with me frightened to death with how rapidly I regained 45 of the 65 pounds I had worked so hard to lose over a period of a year and a half.

I was completely confused and disheartened because I could not keep the weight off, even though I always promised myself that I would stick to a "sensible eating plan" and not go off the rails again.

In 2016, in desperation, I joined a 12 step program because I had gained so much weight that I had to walk with a cane; my knees couldn't handle it. I truly thought that I had finally, finally found the solution to what ailed me.

I worked it, and it worked.

And then, I was horrified to find myself back into the binge grazing, out of control again. I was constantly telling myself that "I've already blown it, so I might as well continue to eat today, but I'll do better tomorrow" or "I've eaten this sweet, so I need to have something salty to counteract it".

Tomorrow would come and it would bring the same insane cycle with it. Mornings weren't hard, but by the afternoon, I was toast. I was completely worn out and demoralized from the struggle! Coincidentally (maybe not), there had been an interesting convergence of information of late about the power of the brain that I had been absorbing via podcasts and a book.

I believe this brought me to the place where I was ready to hear what Lydia had to say. So, when her video showed up in my Facebook feed, I clicked on it, and the rest is history!

I feel so smart, because, at the age of 62, I was open to learning new skills and I recognized the wisdom of what Lydia has to offer.

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

I am so thankful to be free of the constant anxiety that I suffered around food. Through the power of my own brain, the confusion has disappeared. Now I know why I kept falling back in to my old unhealthy eating patterns even though I didn't want to.

I had been in the habit of grazing on sweets and carbs whenever I was alone, pretty much every afternoon and evening.

That is no longer happening. I no longer have "good" foods and "bad" foods. My body and mind are slowly healing and in the process, my fullness and hunger indicators are returning AND I'm discovering what foods I really enjoy and what I don't.

I am figuring out how I want to eat and my body will eventually reach a comfortable and healthy weight. I am working on accepting my body as it is now and not focusing on forcing it to change like I used to.

In the months and years to come, I look forward to taking the time I used to waste obsessing about food to garden and learn some new hobbies like weaving. I am able to engage more with my family because my mind is more free. I'll always be a work in progress, but now I have peace.

Freedom Story from Mindy

It all started with a difficult Phase in my life when I went through a breakup and thought it was all due to my Body shape and weight.

I developed anorexia and struggled with it for about 7 years. This eating disorder slowly developed into a Kind of bulimia: I would purge by moving and exercising a lot or take laxatives, although I was still restricting and depriving a lot.

One evening I suddenly lost it and ate all the Sweets and Candy I had at my flat in one go. I felt ashamed and was anxious as it this happened repeatedly and I slipped into the Habit of binge eating.

I felt alone and depressed, tried counseling and watched endless Videos on you tube by skinny Girls that said they knew the right way of eating and dieting. I became very unhappy and unsocial, the binge eating made me stop having Hobbies, made me an outsider, made me stop having any interests apart from eating and dieting... it was a vicious cycle.

All in all it kept going on for 5 years until I binged every single night, took Laxatives and restricted during the day just to binge in the evening, Feeling more and more awful and having Panic attacks. I had gained about 15kg by then.

Now I am not as afraid around Food as I used to be. I know that Food, and even Sweets, aren't my enemy and I've learned to slowly trust myself when it Comes to hunger signals.

I overeat and binge from time to time, but I don't beat myself up about it the way I used to, which makes the amount of Food become smaller.

Also as I know that I should and don't have to restrict after a binge, there are more days of normal eating, feeling actual hunger and satisfaction and I can allow myself to have candy when I want to.

I know it might take some more time for me to fully recover, as I've been having the habit for so many years, but ALL the BRILLIANT skills I've learned in this program are all that I Need for the time to come and I'm prepared to be fully recovered.

This program gives you so much strength and Motivation and I've met so many beautiful and authentic People here!

Freedom Story from Erin

Before finding Beat the Binge program, I was obsessed with food, my weight and trying to manipulate my body into a version I could more readily accept. 

Forty-five years of my life was spent in food bondage.

Countless hours, dollars and tears were expended in trying to control, manipulate, change, correct, fix, or accept the “problem.” All the while, believing I was the problem.

I had come to the conclusion there was some essential flaw in my character making me incapable of managing a “right” relationship with food. My relationship with food was so distorted that I lived in terror of certain foods and lacked the ability to move freely in my life.

I had attempted and failed in every program, rehab, therapy, and twelve-step option. My weight fluctuated constantly and the reflected number on the scale dictated my mood. I weighed myself everyday for fifteen years in an attempt to control that number. Constantly believing I could stop it from going higher if I knew what it was! 

There was a constant stream of noise in my brain, tortured obsessive thinking and hateful self-talk ran 24-7. The shame, guilt, frustration and despair were paralyzing. I wasn’t living; I was existing, barely surviving. 

I decided to join the program because what I was doing wasn’t working. I was hooked when Lydia said, “There is nothing wrong with you.”

For some time, I had been considering that my problem was between the ears, however, I didn’t know the solution for my thinking problem.

I watched a number of the success videos on Lydia’s website and realized I was seeing the very thing I was looking for: Freedom from the bondage of food. I signed up the next day and haven’t looked back! 

I am free! This program changed my life. I saw immediate results. I put away my scale, canceled my Weight Watchers membership--after eleven years of faithful attendance and participation--during the first week!

I did really hard things; in the past, I would have numbed myself and gone through it in a fog. I am more hopeful about my future. I feel fully present to each moment--recognizing it's not all butterflies and rainbows. I have so much time now--mentally and physically. Being able to have quiet in my mind and soul is transformative. 

One of the things that surprised me was recognizing what I always called "waking up feeling thin." Midway through week one, I made the connection that the "thin" feeling I was experiencing was nothing more than the absence of a binge hangover! I could have that lean and clean feeling every day!

The other surprise for me was the power of celebration and how quickly my brain adapted to discovering "wins" and finding the evidence to support it!

I realized while reading through my evidence journal--another big surprising thing--I didn't need to heal/recover/deal with/ from any trauma or aspect of my history to get to freedom.

So much of my earlier work revolved around a false connection between my eating and abusive childhood. I'm not only surprised, I am shocked that all of that was a habit and the chatter used it to reinforce the habit! Recognizing what is chatter and separating it from my "critical" mother was one of the nicest surprises of this work for me! 

Neutrality versus managing an eating disorder is different from every other approach I'd used. It's made all the difference. Empowered, aligned, balanced, purposeful, are descriptors I use now. Prior to this, powerless, distorted, broken, flawed, addicted, compulsive, hopeless--and this shift happened in eight weeks--miraculous!! 

Freedom Story from Lynn

Over a 30 year period, my struggle with food and weight gain gradually worsened until it spiraled out of control and became very damaging to my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

It began with me innocently "needing to lose a few pounds" and ended years later with me frightened to death with how rapidly I regained 45 of the 65 pounds I had worked so hard to lose over a period of a year and a half.

I was completely confused and disheartened because I could not keep the weight off, even though I always promised myself that I would stick to a "sensible eating plan" and not go off the rails again.

In 2016, in desperation, I joined a 12 step program because I had gained so much weight that I had to walk with a cane; my knees couldn't handle it. I truly thought that I had finally, finally found the solution to what ailed me. I worked it, and it worked.

And then, I was horrified to find myself back into the binge grazing, out of control again. I was constantly telling myself that "I've already blown it, so I might as well continue to eat today, but I'll do better tomorrow" or "I've eaten this sweet, so I need to have something salty to counteract it". Tomorrow would come and it would bring the same insane cycle with it.

Mornings weren't hard, but by the afternoon, I was toast. I was completely worn out and demoralized from the struggle!

Coincidentally (maybe not), there had been an interesting convergence of information of late about the power of the brain that I had been absorbing via podcasts and a book. I believe this brought me to the place where I was ready to hear what Lydia had to say. So, when her video showed up in my Facebook feed, I clicked on it, and the rest is history!

I feel so smart, because, at the age of 62, I was open to learning new skills and I recognized the wisdom of what Lydia has to offer.

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! I am so thankful to be free of the constant anxiety that I suffered around food. Through the power of my own brain, the confusion has disappeared.

Now I know why I kept falling back in to my old unhealthy eating patterns even though I didn't want to. I had been in the habit of grazing on sweets and carbs whenever I was alone, pretty much every afternoon and evening. That is no longer happening. I no longer have "good" foods and "bad" foods.

My body and mind are slowly healing and in the process, my fullness and hunger indicators are returning AND I'm discovering what foods I really enjoy and what I don't.

I am figuring out how I want to eat and my body will eventually reach a comfortable and healthy weight. I am working on accepting my body as it is now and not focusing on forcing it to change like I used to.

In the months and years to come, I look forward to taking the time I used to waste obsessing about food to garden and learn some new hobbies like weaving. I am able to engage more with my family because my mind is more free. I'll always be a work in progress, but now I have peace.

Freedom Story from Kristina

I don't remember a time when I didn't have a very flawed relationship with food.

As a child I suffered various traumas and reached adulthood before I was diagnosed with ADHD.

I Constantly felt restless and as if I did not have control over my life. I was diagnosed with anorexia at 16 (although looking back I think it may have in fact been bulimia).

For a long time, the ADHD diagnosis and treatment seemed to help with the eating disorder. Possibly because the medication deals with the same part of the brain where the basic animal impulses to binge come from.

But from 2016 through most of 2018 it has been one stressor added on top of another and I found myself bingeing again and again and putting on more and more weight.

Deaths in the family, job insecurity, close friends moving away, health issues, insomnia, an unstable ex sending me vaguely threatening messages - all of these thing weighed on me to the point where I craved the numbness binge eating provided - regardless of how briefly the numbness lasted.

Add to that my constant (failed) attempts to restrict and I was finding myself unable to focus on anything but food and my weight. Which acted as a easy distraction to the grief and anxiety I was trying to ignore.

Eventually, most of the external stressors began to disappear - my job status became guaranteed and my job itself became a less toxic environment for me.

My unhinged ex stopped sending messages and my husband and I put safety measures in place in case it started again. The fog of grief started to lift and I was starting to feel like things were going to be okay.

But I couldn't stop binge eating and it pissed me off.

My life was so great regardless of the things I had endured - I have a loving supportive husband, family I love and can count on, friends who care, a job I love - why couldn't I stop eating? Why couldn't I lose weight? Why did I hate myself when everything that actually mattered was going right for me?

I knew from the very first moment I listened to the Beat The Binge intro webinar that this was my answer.

When Lydia explained it was possible to have freedom from my eating disorder I literally burst into tears. Even during those years when the binge eating was not so rampant, my relationship with food and my body image were still very unhealthy.

I had long ago resigned myself to the probability that I would never be a "normal eater" or have body acceptance. I was so overwhelmed, but I knew Lydia could help me.

I knew I would get to be the person I wanted to be and finally enjoy the life I was given.

Yes, it would require work - but as Lydia often reminds us, you can continue doing the things you've always done - WHICH ARE ALREADY HARD, or try a new approach which might also be hard.

After completing the Beat The Binge program I am free from so many things I never thought possible.

Food doesn't scare me like it used to, I don't spend all day thinking about and planning around and obsessing over and hating it like used to.

I am free not only from disgust regarding my body as well as the body dysmorphia that plagued me my entire life - I actually love my body now and can see it for what it is, not the distorted jumble of flaws I spent too much time hating.

This program taught me how to access parts of my brain and change my thinking in ways that go beyond no longer binge eating - or more importantly no longer having the URGE to binge eat.

The principles Lydia teaches are invaluable in so many areas, I have a better handle on my ADHD without having to constantly up my medication dosage, my anxiety has lessened significantly, I no longer have terrible bouts with insomnia - all because of the very basic principles Lydia lays out in the program.

I even began to grieve properly for the losses I've experienced this last year - I had been trying to power through and not feel them because the hurt was too intense, but knowing I wasn't going to spiral into a binge-monster allowed me to feel the feelings and process them in a more healthy way. 

I know I was probably primed for this level of success with the program due to a number of other factors:

I developed a poor body image after I developed an eating disorder - prior to that I had always found my shape and size to be perfectly acceptable - I believe the capacity for body acceptance was still in there.

I had already felt what freedom from bingeing could be prior to the program thanks to the ADHD treatment, I had been practicing the principles subconsciously in other areas of my life, and so they truly clicked for me regarding my binge eating when I heard them presented in a easy to comprehend manner.

It was only halfway through the program that I realized why I found this method so intuitive and it was a total AHA moment. 

The biggest surprise was that I would gain so much more than freedom from binge eating.

I never would have dreamed how positively this could've changed my life - I just wanted to stop uncontrollably shoving food into my face.

Instead, I've found my tribe in the group of women and men who have shared this journey with me, I've learned how to change the way I view myself, accepted and even come to love what I am both physically and emotionally.

I have a much better relationship with food than I ever imagined possible. I get to enjoy my life now and I have been equipped with invaluable tools to keep changing my life for the better.

Freedom Story from Hannah

Before starting the Beat the Binge program I had 25 years of trying to hide my secret of Bulimia.

During those 25 years the biggest thing Bulimia stole from me was quality time that could have been better spent focusing on my family and friends.

I grew up in a pretty normal house, with loving parents who gave me a great childhood. I remember once in 5th grade, one of my mom’s friends, who was also a teacher at my school, mentioned that I was getting the “5th grade pudge.” This was the first time I remember thinking that other people saw me as being chubby or fat. Looking back at childhood pictures, I was nothing more than an average size, and for the life of me I still have no idea why the lady made that statement.

However, it was forever burned into my memory. I decided that same year that I wanted to be a cheerleader and do gymnastics, so I started classes. This lead me down the next pivotal road in my life. I became a cheerleader and in high school made the competition squad. It was important to be small so you could be a flyer...and look good in the uniform.

The spring of my sophomore year, I decided I really needed to lose weight. I think I was about 5’3” and weighted 115. I went to the store and bought my first diet pills. They made me shaky and feel weird so I decided that wouldn’t work. Then one night after dinner it happened....I became a bulimic.

Over that summer I dropped to 95lbs and Everywhere I went people noticed. Thinking back now, there is no way I looked healthy, but people told me how great I looked and I excelled in cheer. So much I ended up with a college scholarship to cheer at a 4 year anniversary.

But before that, my senior year, my parents found out about my eating disorder. Someone at the school called them and reported me being sick in the bathroom. My mom took me to a pediatrician who told me to eat a healthy diet, and then I was on my way to continuing my disordered eating.

To this day, my mom and I have only spoken about this once since my teenage years. I sometimes wonder if it’s because she too may have an eating disorder. But we have never discussed it.

So back to college, I continued my disordered eating through college and into marriage. My husband knew about the Bulimia when we got married and would encourage me to get help.

However, no counseling or doctor could help with the issue.

They wanted to dredge up other issues about my life, even though many of the things we discussed were just normal life issues. There was one therapist that even decided this whole disordered eating was about sex....I still don’t have a clue what she was talking about.

So, I would research and read, work myself into a panic, end up at a therapists office and drop out within a month because it all felt useless.

Then one day, I found Lydia's facebook page, which led me to some videos, and changed my life forever.

Not only have the principles you taught me changed my eating, they have helped me recover some (not all) of my self esteem that has been lost over 25 years of letting my chatter tell me what “I’m not.” I am forever grateful!

Now, I can eat a normal meal without feeling guilty. My food rules are gone, and I can keep whatever foods in the house I want without fear of a binge.

This has freed up so much time for me to just be present in life with my family and friends.

I am still working on the body image, but it’s one step at a time.

I also recognize chatter across multiple areas of my life, and can call it out for what it is. The biggest surprise is that I can eat normally and my weight did not drastically change!

Freedom Story from Katie Jo

Before Beat the Binge, I had lost all hope. I was convinced that I was never going to solve my food issues, I was going to continue to eat uncontrollably, and I would keep gaining weight until it killed me.

I had tried everything - self help books, online groups, week long retreats, prescription medications, over the counter supplements, every diet program out there, 20 years of counseling, rehashing my past over and over and over, reliving trauma and horrible emotions until I couldn't stand it any more.

Some of these things helped with my mental stability and taught me things about myself that were helpful in my life in general, but nothing seemed to help with the food.

When I signed up, I was bingeing every day. I was never a purger or over-exerciser, or even an extreme restricter. I would overeat or binge, then cut back, or diet, and be able to mostly maintain my weight for many years (even though I was constantly obsessed about the number on the scale and was never happy with how I looked).

Until the last 2 or 3 years... I reached a point where I could no longer diet. I could not stick to any type of food plan AT ALL. Like not even for one day. I felt completely out of control. The weight starting packing on, and I panicked and tried even harder to "do better" but nothing worked. I felt powerless and hopeless as I gained 50 pounds in about 3 years (on top of the extra 20 I was already carrying).

I was desperately looking for a solution. I had bought into the idea that my depression and eating issues were related to past trauma because I had been told that by so many people for so many years.

So I jumped from therapist to therapist, trying to find the one with the right method of treatment that would help me put it behind me once and for all.

I dredged up old memories and old emotions so many times, reliving traumas over and over and over, not understanding what I was doing wrong and why it wasn't helping.

I truly thought I just wasn't trying hard enough even though I was devoting my entire life to it.

My eating disorder and food has taken my entire life from me for the last 20 years.

I stopped expressing myself in any way. I stopped caring about how I looked, quit wearing makeup, didn't care about how I dressed.

I gave up anything and everything that gave me any kind of joy or happiness - I stopped doing the things I enjoyed, gave up hobbies and interests, stopped having opinions about things.

I just drifted along and let other people run my life. I lost all of my friends and became very isolated.

My marriage was in ruins. My daughter was growing up before my eyes and I was missing it. I didn't have a job outside the home for almost 15 years, so I spent nearly all of my time at home, either alone or with only my daughter or husband for company.

My life became a hollow shell of what it once was. I became a hollow shell of what I once was. My whole world was contained in this depressive state that I was trying desperately to get out of, but felt powerless to change.

Every bit of energy I had (which was not much) was spent either obsessing about food or obsessing about how to stop being so miserable.

I spent my days sitting on the couch watching Netflix and eating. It was all I could do to get my daughter to school, take a shower, and maybe run a couple of errands or do some laundry.

I was going through a fast food drive through pretty much every day, sometimes more than once per day. I had lost all trust in myself, in my ability to think clearly, in my ability to make decisions. I felt at times like I was truly losing my mind.

The battle that was going on in my head was almost more than I could take. I felt like the war I was fighting was against myself, and I had no idea how to win because no matter the outcome, somehow I would also lose. 

Through all of this desperation, I could not allow myself to simply give up. I just couldn't believe that there was absolutely no hope for someone like me. So I kept looking, kept trying to be open to new ideas that might be able to help me.

And then I came across Lydia's videos on Facebook. I watched a few of them and they really resonated and made so much sense!

And then there was Beat the Binge. :)

Oh my gosh, how has this program NOT helped me!!?

I am getting my life back.

I am getting my brain back.

I am trusting myself again, learning how to make decisions that serve me, figuring out what I want for what feels like the first time in forever.

Just writing that sentence brings tears to my eyes.

It has given me hope back. Hope that I can have the life I have desperately wanted but felt unable to have for the last 20 years.

It has helped me rediscover my own power, and that I can truly create the life I want to have.

I no longer spend every waking moment obsessively thinking about food. I have food in the cabinet, the pantry, the freezer, my desk at work that has been there for weeks, and this is the same food that wouldn't have lasted a day in the past.

I am allowing myself a freedom with food that I didn't know was possible.

I have so much more mental energy and clarity now.

I just feel lighter in every part of my life and in every way. I know I haven't lost weight since my clothes still fit the same (and that's ok), but I feel a lightness in my body.

The anxiety, the tense feeling of always being on edge has eased. I am sleeping better - I have been having sleep issues for years and had tried pretty much everything to fix that issue as well and nothing has helped until now.

Things just aren't as big of a deal any more. Every little mistake I make doesn't have to be tied to guilt and shame anymore. The things that I eat and the struggles that I have no longer define me and determine my worth. 

After staying at home for 15 years, I went back to work about 4 weeks into the program. I truly believe that would not have been possible without Beat the Binge.

I have wanted to for years, but didn't feel like I could for many reasons. For one, I didn't have the mental capacity. I didn't feel like I would be able to perform the duties of a job because I couldn't think straight, my thinking was so sluggish, and I had no physical energy.

Now, with the principles I have learned and practiced, all of that is changing. 

My relationships are also improving. I am able to be present with my daughter in ways that I never was before.

I can be supportive of her emotionally and allow her to have her feelings. I am also communicating with my husband better and expressing my wants/needs more.

Maybe I may even be able to branch out and make some new friends soon.

This program has impacted me in huge ways. I love the ways it has helped me with food, but what I love even more is the impact in the rest of my life.

Calling out the chatter doesn't just relate to food. And the areas that don't relate to food are even bigger and better.

I used to think that if I could just stop eating uncontrollably, I would be happy.

All I wanted was to end my food obsession. What I didn't realize was that ending that obsession would open so many other doors and opportunities for the rest of my life.

Freedom Story from Lauren

I decided to join the program after seeing the webinar online and watching the video interview with Kathryn Hansen. I was getting desperate.

I was grazing constantly working overnight to get me through work. It felt like I couldn’t stop. I was so full of condemnation and negative thoughts about myself. I started thinking about getting weight loss surgery and going to diet doctors.

Even though I knew I had fix my brain first. If I didn’t fix my brain nothing would be lasting. I was so desperate I didn’t care.

I felt hopeless and thought things will always be this way. A few days after that is when I saw the video for the webinar.

I dealt with my food issues probably my whole life. My mom said she was trying to feed me peas so she added applesauce to the spoon. She said somehow I swished it around in my mouth and spit out the peas but kept the applesauce. I always remember having a fondness for sweets.

My dad killed himself when I was 9 and I’m not sure if that sparked using food for comfort for sure or not. I always was fixated on junk food and sweets. I thought it was what brought me joy and pleasure. The thing that hurt my heart was I’m a Christian and I thought this food issue was me sinning, being a glutton, being rebellious, and just a bad person. I didn’t want to disappoint God, but I sure felt like a failure.


[after participating in the Beat the Binge program ] My brain space is freed up. I don’t have to allow those thoughts about food to stay in my head. I don’t have to believe what the chatter is telling me anymore.

I knew how to work with my thoughts about many other things in life, but I didn’t know how to apply it to the food issues I’ve had.

I can go to the store and I don’t have to buy candy. I can choose to, but I’m not pulled towards the candy aisle like I used to be. I used to think of my freedom from food crazy thoughts would have me stop grazing all the time and I would automatically lose weight.

That’s not the case and I’m learning to be okay with that.

I used to think I was only healthy or beautiful if I was smaller. That has always been the goal in my life. Be smaller. I realized my worth was not in my size. It’s in what God says I am.

I have a wonderful husband and kids, I am kind, encouraging, blessed, and have the most fantastic friends. I can be with them and not stress or feel bad about what I’ve eaten.

Freedom Story from Britney

I was depressed and despairing ever being able to eat normally again. My identity was so wound up in making "healthy" eating choices that there was very little food that I thought was healthy anymore.

I would graze binge on almond butter and nuts and all kind of "healthy foods". I was restricting flour, sugar, dairy, and all my favorite foods at one point.

I was exercising to try to modify my body type from an inverted triangle to a more hourglass shape, I wasn't accepting who I am or how I was made (by God) at all and it was hurting me very badly.

I had read many many books on stored trauma and the therapeutic approach to healing the traumatic memories from my past, and thought I was on the right track thinking I had PTSD from a painful childhood and a traumatic ex-boyfriend who abused me.

I had spent a couple thousand dollars on supplements, trips to the doctor and medical testing, and was looking into doing more special care that would have cost even more to treat the emotional pain and physical pain.

I was extremely depressed and doubtful of my own ability to accomplish anything. I was not recognizing my strengths or taking credit for all I have accomplished. I felt like I was slipping into having the only good moments in my life being those I spent with food and then regretting it moments later because I didn't have the perfect body that I thought I wanted.

I was shackled by my desire to please others with my body (through how I looked) and thought this was the most important thing, that if I could just do this one thing then everything else would come together magically.

After doing Lydia's program, I can see the truth of how my body is not an object for anyone else's pleasure (including viewing pleasure) and that I am much more important than that and that I shouldn't be making my goal to be an object for other people's egos.

I can see how to get out of that mindset. I can view the world through clearer eyes and see how much of this problem is not the result of wounding from my childhood but is actually programmed into us from society.

I can see that the problem is actually not my family, but the social pressures from the world. I can see how habits work and how I don't have to believe my thoughts if I don't want to. It sounds so simple but it was really hard for me to imagine being out of this mental and emotional anguish so quickly.

It's allowed me to feel my feelings, to not feel like an outsider but to feel like I am normal, and it's allowed me to stop shifting the pain of an extremely harmful first relationship to eating and to actually get healing for those pains.

The pain and emotions don't go away, but it helps to be able to process things, and I have gained new tools and a new approach to those old wounds and it has actually helped me to stop viewing myself as a victim!

I find my prayer life has been enriched, I am more able to turn to the Lord with my needs, and I am more equipped to face the challenges of everyday life.

I am inspired to follow the dreams that I had placed on hold while working a deeply unsatisfying day-job that sucked up so much of my creativity that I wasn't able to work on creating anything of value (I am a musician and artist) in the meantime and I am feeling confident to pursue other career options. I even applied to Grad school simply because I wanted to.

Freedom Story from Lindsay

After a few years of restricting and over exercising, I started binging. Slowly they were getting bigger and bigger and becoming more frequent.

I had no idea what was going on and I thought I was crazy! I couldn’t understand what was going on, why my willpower was failing me, why I had done so well before exercising and restricting and it was becoming impossible.

I felt hopeless and ashamed and like I had no way of getting out.

I found Lydia’s videos and read [a book Lydia mentioned on her videos]. I did the [the study course that went along with the book] about a year before [Lydia's program], while it helped me lay the boundaries, I was becoming more frustrated that it wasn’t working for me- continuing to add evidence to the fact I was broken and would live like this forever.

Before [Lydia's program] I had no freedom around food- I thought that because my binges weren’t as bad as they had been in the past then maybe that was as good as it could be.

I would still feel hijacked by food, eating much more than I knew I needed. I feared being hungry and still worried about how much food I would need to eat and where it would come from, each day. I still spent too much time and energy thinking about food and was frustrated that I felt I should be doing better.

I felt lost, hopeless, broken and as if I was living someone else’s life. I didn’t trust myself to know what I wanted to eat or when I would be full. I’d wake up each morning and dread it, as I wouldn’t know what kind of day I was going to have and by the end if I’d feel like I’d have a ‘good day’ or ‘bad day’ and if I’d end up going to sleep that night feeling shame, regret and thinking I could start again tomorrow.

I had no idea how different life would be 8 weeks later [doing Lydia's program], it’s better than I could ever have thought it would be.

I genuinely feel free around food- and I had no idea what that would be like as I couldn’t comprehend it. Food isn’t a big deal anymore, I’m able to eat with much more allowance and am working to accept that this doesn’t mean I’ll eat perfectly.

My relationship with my body has also changed, I hated my body before, and just wanted to get back to the body I thought should have, thoughts that were keeping me trapped in the same cycle. Now, my body hasn’t changed but I accept it- it’s the only one I’ve got. 

I have been able to enjoy loads of different activities and environments that would have caused me so much stress and anxiety- such as weddings, holidays and going away on road trips.

I’ve done them all and food hasn’t even been an issue, I’ve enjoyed the time spent with people I love. I can’t believe how much progress is made in a relatively short space of time and how quickly the principles can start to apply to other areas of my life. As is said in the program - ‘once you see something it can’t be unseen.’ The ideas about perfectionism and giving yourself wagons to fall off can apply to so many things I do.

Freedom Story from Sasha

I have had food issues since I was in middle school. I was NOT overweight, but I was a teenager in the Twiggy days---and compared to her, I was chubby. When I got to college, I decided to go on a reasonably healthy diet--sort of like the diabetic exchange program--or low carbs. Not a specific plan---just 3 meals a day. I felt great and lost 55 pounds. What happened though, was that I didn't know how to maintain that weight---so when I got "too thin" I started to binge on sweets---something I hadn't had in 9 mos. So that started a cycle of binging, restricting, over exercising and other purging. That went on --on and off--for 40 years. My weight was stable--so no one really noticed or knew---which was part of the problem. I looked "normal" but my relationship with food was horrible. Food occupied every free moment I had---I was very able to have a career, be a mom, be a wife---but every other moment was FOOD FOCUSED. Everything revolved around food. 

I instinctively knew that this was not because of this or that stress. Food never made whatever was the stress of the day better--the binging only made the urge go away---everything else was still there. Work wasn't easier---family issues still arose---food didn't help. Binging made it harder to work through issues because I was not focused on the "issue"---rather I was focused on the urges and eating. Binging stole my attention from LIFE. 

I tried therapy, OA, hypnosis, meditation, religion, whatever was available. I found Beat the Binge through Kathryn Hansen's program. After I listened to her book, I looked up programs based on those principles---and I found Lydia. What appealed to me was the one on one program--Kathryn doesn't offer that and I believed I needed the personal relationships to really be accountable and to know that I was like other people in this program. 

As a lawyer, I am a cynical person, so for awhile I wasn't sure that this was working---but I made an investment in myself and I would not give up. This program does work and it's because of the principles and the live support. This program requires work, moment by moment application of the principles--but freedom and recovery is worth the time and effort.

I am clearly more free!!! So many things are different. First, identifying chatter and learning to detach and not believe the stories chatter was spinning. I began to realize that chatter's stories were hooking me and I learned to use my higher brain to make better choices and to use what the chatter was saying was data/information.

By practicing the principles, calling in my celebrations, calling in my wobbly moments, going to Q&A sessions, leaving lots of [messages for my coach]---my relationship with food is so different. I don't believe "you can start tomorrow" any more. I don't believe "you need to wait until after this holiday, this party, this meeting, etc". If I slip, I leave posts and get right back into the program---I don't wait until a better day. If my slip was at lunch---I haven't "blown the whole day". I already knew what I liked to eat---I knew how to eat adequately, but I didn't practice those healthy non-restrictive habits because of a nasty habit. This program has helped me to go back to nourishing my body regularly and allowing myself to have celebrations meals/foods--I can eat what I want--what serves me, my body, my situation. 

I didn't come to this program to lose weight. Weight was not my issue---I was willing to gain some weight to have freedom. I didn't weigh myself during the program--but I did step on the scale today (which I haven't done in 30 years except when I go to the doctors) and I can tell you I didn't gain any weight. I didn't lose any. I stayed where I was and learned how to nourish my body and my mind and my spirit.

Body image issues---I am older so with age, I've learned to be ok with my body and my wrinkles. I have learned to look at peoples faces, hair, clothes, eyes---and listening to WHO they are. I don't look at bodies or color or age. I try to look inside to see who people are. This wonderful program and group of women have reinforced this focus.

I still have to apply these principles. I am going to go back to the milestones and start from the beginning and I know I will see new things each time I listen to the milestones, listen to the stories, share in the grad group.

Freedom Story from Jessica

I remember staying up late at night watching tv in high school, and eating. Later, during and after college, staying up late, watching tv and eating, regardless of whether I was hungry or not, was fun for me. Although I'm not certain how fun it really was...but it was rebellious, and I liked that a lot.

I never purged, and once I didn't live at home with my parents, often I binged just as part of a meal - regularly eating beyond fullness at a meal.

My mother is a restrictive eater, however she has managed to remain quite thin for her entire life; she is now in her early 90s. As I started gaining weight (due to overeating/bingeing) in my 40s, this opened up a whole emotional can of worms between us, as I gained more and more weight and moved further away from the person my mother thought I should be.

During a particularly stressful time in my life - my early 40s - I was single-parenting two school-aged daughters, working part-time and going to university full-time. It took me 5.5 years to get my degree, but it was so worth it, and I did really enjoy the learning. And, almost every day at school I would eat a huge lunch with dessert, and have a large hot chocolate - I felt I deserved it, it was a way of soothing myself thru the stressers of my life.

I can see now that this is where I solidified the habit of turning to food for soothing.

Although many things improved in my life once I had my degree, many stressers remained, and I continued to overeat and binge. Food was a stressful element in my parenting, as I didn't really enjoy preparing food for my kids, but I didn't have money to eat out or buy prepared foods. I feel guilty for all the food craziness I perhaps passed on to my daughters.

I do remember one time going out to a nice restaurant with two close girlfriends, and bingeing right there at the table on the delicious bread and olive oil. When I reached for my fourth piece and drenched it in olive oil, I could sense my friends exchanging a look. I remember feeling all kinds of emotions coming up, and I just stuffed that bread in my mouth, and then ate a huge meal.

During my mid-40s, perhaps as a reaction to all the hot chocolates, I cut out all sugar from my diet. And I really, truly, did - for 4.5 years, I ate no sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc, and I hardly ever used artificial sweeteners. Maybe a diet soda once a month or so. Actually now, I cannot imagine how I succeeded, but I did. But I stuffed myself with bread, pasta, cheese, rice...on and on (it was during this period that I had that dinner with friends, described above). And I gained 35 pounds in those 4.5 years, despite the fact that I was also a fitness instructor, and teaching/working out many times per week. I am now aware that I was burning out, and think I knew it at the time, but did not know how to change or get out of the downward cycle. I eventually gave up teaching fitness when I felt I was just too fat to be a realistic role model for students. And I went back to eating sugar, and have been eating it several times per day ever since (until this program!). And once I gave up teaching, I gave up exercising altogether - that strategy had failed too.

So, it's been 10 years since I last taught an exercise class, and 18 or so years since I started noticeably putting on weight. Just a few days, maybe a week and a half, before I found Lydia's program, I was getting ready to sign up for Brightline Eating, a restrictive eating program based, I think, on some commonly accepted restrictions in Overeaters' Anonymous. I was absolutely dreading starting the program, and couldn't imagine that I would be able to stick to it, but I was desperate and felt I had to try something serious and commit to it for real. I have never dieted, never used a scale, as I always knew that I had to "fix" something about me, or my life, and my eating would take care of itself. I've had YEARS of therapy, self-help, and I spent a few years (and many dollars) on a program that specifically teaches how to question our thoughts (The Work of Byron Katie). But the always hoped-for side effect of losing my eating disorder never materialized. So I thought I had to go back to addressing eating specifically.

Thank goodness I found Lydia's program, as it does specifically address eating, but it addresses our THOUGHTS about eating.

The program helped me to take so much of my mental energy and focus OFF food, and think about and do other things.

I am MUCH more free, I have more mental energy and attention, and I feel like the old me has been uncovered.

I have more physical energy - I have exercised spontaneously several times during the 8 weeks, and I have also done a lot of physical work on a new home I bought. I would have been wiped out by these physical efforts if it were not for the Beat the Binge program.

Food comes in to my mind mostly only when I'm hungry or planning a meal - and that planning is no longer obsessive and crazy. I live alone, so meals can be really anything I want, and since uncovering my restriction chatter, I really have opened up to so much more enjoyment of food, while (maybe paradoxically) thinking about it less.

I have had a few meals where I overate, and I binged a time or two in the last 8 weeks, but the program is so helpful in learning to just MOVE ON. No wagon [to fall off of], just calling out the chatter, allowing, coming back again and again to my desire to be free.

Freedom Story from Mary

I decided to join because I have been struggling for over 20 years with eating disorders. 80% of my brain was busy thinking of food and how to lose weight. I couldn't even imagine starting studying at 35 years old with this obsession going on in my head. I was isolating myself and so ashamed and disgusted of myself.

My body image was absolutely horrible and I felt like I wasn't Worth of being seen and loved with this over weight.

The program helped me to accept my body the way it is right now and I actually enjoy doing shopping and taking care of me now.

My binge crisis are gone and I feel confident that if it happens again some day I would just write down the data and move on. I'm a normal person and I'm working on adding new healthy habits in my mind and everyday life.

I have my joy back and the way I see other women, overweight or not, just with their own body, has totally changed. I literally find each and every woman beautiful.

Today, I feel ready to meet my future husband and be a good mom.

During the process, I could see my habits changing only because of practicing, and I think it is absolutely unbelievable!