I started binging when I was 18 years old (and I'm now almost 34!). I was spending a year abroad after high school and I started putting on weight. Up until this point I had never worried about my weight or the food I ate as I had always been slim and athletic. I decided that restricting my food would be a good idea, and I started to severely restrict what food I was eating, as well as my calorie intake. I also began going to a gym for the first time in my life. And then I started binge eating.
At first it started out more like comfort eating, a cookie here, a chocolate bar there, a couple of extra pieces of cake at lunchtime. But before long I was eating huge quantities of food in secret and then restricting and exercising super hard the next day in order to compensate. I even tried to purge, but thankfully that was something I was never able to do.
I thought that when I got back home and back to normal life, my eating and weight would go back to normal too, but if anything it just got worse. I had become a totally different person too - I was withdrawn, moody, controlling, selfish, secretive and just down right mean a lot of the time. I didn't like who I had become and I didn't really know this person. So much had changed in just one year.
Over the years I continued to battle with the restrict / binge cycle. I would lose weight through concerted effort and then before I knew it I would be binging and putting on all the weight I had lost.
I can't even say how many times I repeated this cycle, each time feeling more hopeless and despondent than the last. It affected my whole life, I didn't want to socialize with friends or family, I shut myself off, I stayed in a bad relationship for years because I didn't think I was worthy of anyone better, food and exercise and being in control was my whole life.
I couldn't do anything spontaneous as that was not part of my routine, eating slightly off plan would spiral me into a binge. I certainly couldn't go away for weekends or on holidays without feeling incredibly anxious or binging.
I am incredibly ashamed to say that I stole food from my flatmates, ate food out of a rubbish bin, drove like a mad women because I was more concerned about stuffing my face with food when I was driving, missed out on important social events because I had either binged or felt fat and worthless and let friendships deteriorate - but this was the reality of what my life was like as a binge eater.
There were definitely times where I thought I can't do this anymore, I don't care if I get fat, I just can't continue in this cycle. So I would loosen the control and eat in a way I thought was normal, but I was still emotionally restricting and feeling guilty about everything I ate and before long I was feeling so uncomfortable with my body that I would fall back into restrictive behaviours, ramp up the exercise and was back in a diet and restrict mindset.
Through this whole period of dieting / restricting / over exercising and binging I sought help, I was desperate to find a solution and end my disorder. I spent so much time and money on therapy, personal trainers, homeopathy, naturopathy, colonic hydrotherapy, self help books, hypnotherapy, regression therapy, meal plans, exercise plans.....you name it I tried it.
And none of it worked.
I really had lost all hope that I would ever find a way out of this awful cycle. I really believed that I would have to live with this for the rest of my life.
But I guess part of me was not willing to give up hope, I kept doing google searches on how to recover from binge eating. It was a couple of years ago that I came across Brain over Binge. I bought the book and read it in a couple of days. It gave me renewed hope and it really resonated with me.
I intellectually understand what Katherine was talking about but when it came to putting her principles into practice it just wasn't clicking for me.
I can't even recall how I came across Lydia, but as soon as I did and started watching her videos I just knew that this was the right thing for me. It was at least a year before I really thought ok, I want to do this.
I put off signing up for a breakthrough session countless times because I was scared or came up with excuses that it wasn't the right time for me to commit to something like this. I think part of me was also petrified of letting go of a habit I'd had for the past 15 years. It was a part of me, part of my identity and if I wasn't a binge eater, then who was I?
When I found out I was pregnant, that was when I made the decision that I had to do this. It was time to take another leap of faith and find my freedom. It wasn't just me anymore who would be seriously affected by my eating disorder if I didn't deal with it find a solution.
I did not want my child to grow up learning bad habits or seeing their mum obsess over food and exercise or wonder why their mum didn't eat the same meals as they did. The future health and well-being of my child was so paramount and was the final push I needed to make the decision to be free of this for good and to take that plunge. I wanted to be able to be an amazing role model for my child and to be someone they could look up to.
Scheduling that breakthrough session and joining the program was the best decision I have ever made and I can truly say that with my hand on my heart. It hasn't been easy, there have been days where the thoughts of restriction and binging have been overwhelmingly strong, and there have been times where I have binged.
But after 8 weeks I know I will never go back to the way I was. I don't want to. There are still things I have to work on and there are aspects of my eating I'd like to keep improving, but binging has lost its appeal.
The desire to binge is no longer there. I now eat the same meals as my husband, I allow myself to eat whatever I want and I have been surprised at my natural desire to eat well, to eat fresh food, but to eat normal food.
I have always had a sweet food but I can embrace that now and know that it's ok for me to eat something sweet every day if that's what I enjoy doing. There is no punishment, no deprivation, no obsessing and no meal plans.
I've completely relaxed around exercise as well. I've found what I enjoy doing and what works for me and I probably exercise more consistently now than I did when I had a rigid exercise routine and was forcing myself to exercise in a way that I thought I had to, but that only depleted my energy and left me feeling drained and lethargic.
My journey is by no means over. This is just the beginning, but in 8 weeks I feel like I have found my true self again, I have gotten my life back, I have regained energy and enthusiasm and I feel optimistic about my future.
Lydia, I honestly cannot thank you enough for being you, for creating a program that results in true freedom, for your honesty, your positivity, your quirky videos, your understanding, your wisdom and your encouragement and for creating a community of like minded and inspiring women. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!!!