Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Filled with Gratitude!

Ellen Shuman and Mary Beth Zolik

BFFs 35 Years; Ellen and Mary Beth

This same time last year, three of my friends were in the very early stages of chemotherapy; one for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, another for Leukemia, a third is being treated for two different cancer diagnoses.  Today, I am filled with gratitude. Mary Beth and Frieda are in full remission and Jennifer is in great hands with the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Yesterday, Mary Beth, my BFF for thirty-five years, had a surgery that we hope is the very last needed. It was a procedure recommended to reduce the chances that her cancer will come back. All went perfectly!  She gets to leave the hospital in about an hour. So, she’ll be home for Thanksgiving.  (When her sister-in-law heard that Mary Beth had scheduled the surgery for the day before Thanksgiving, she said, “Wow Mary Beth. You’ll do anything to get out of making a turkey!”)

Actually, her husband Terry is making the turkey for the second year in a row. He did a great job last year, with one exception. When we were cleaning up and putting away the leftovers, we discovered he had cooked the turkey with the giblets-filled plastic bag inside (an easy mistake for a rookie). We did some research on the internet and decided it was best to throw away the remaining turkey. This morning I got an email from Mary Beth, from the hospital. She wrote, “Whole family is pitching in for dinner. Should be interesting. I did remind Terry to remove the giblets this year! He said he had already made a mental note!”

Filled with gratitude, I wish my friends, my family, and all of you a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving…and a Happy Hanukkah!

Warmly,

Ellen

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Ellen Shuman is a pioneer in the field of Binge Eating Disorder; a Life Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), A Founding Member and Past President of BEDA; The Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. For information about Coaching Services, contact ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Does Worry about a Binge Eating Problem Keep You Up at Night?

Offering a hand up to a anyone struggling with a binge eating problem

Ready to Explore What You Need to Stop a Binge Eating Problem?

When I first start working with a Coaching Client, and he or she reports feeling “stuck”, I offer a series of  homework questions .  The answers often leads to clarity about where the focus of our work needs to be.

People also report that this marked the very beginning of a shift —from constant struggle —to feeling much more empowered to make the changes they’d been talking about making for a years.

So, today, I thought I’d share some of those questions with you.  I highly recommend carving out some quiet time to answer these. You may be surprised by what you learn about yourself.

1. What keeps you up at night, regarding your binge eating problem?

2. When you think about changing your relationship with food, what’s the biggest struggle or obstacle you face?

3. Name the one goal around stopping emotional or binge eating that feels unobtainable? Why do you think it’s unobtainable?

4. If you could learn one thing that could help you stop emotional or binge eating, what do you think that would be?

5. Name the changes you’d like to make.

6. What would be better in your life if you could accomplish those changes? For example, would making those changes make you happier, more content, healthier, more social, have more energy, etc.?

7. Are you willing to dive in and do the work on your own?  If not, do you need support, like a Coach or a Therapist? What’s keeping you from asking for that help?

When it comes to #7, often, the first thing I hear people say is, “I can’t afford to get help.” Sometimes, people who say that truly are in dire financial straights. But often, when we dig a little deeper, the true obstacle is fear; fear of change, fear of giving up food as a way to self-soothe or to go numb, fear of feeling like you’ve failed, yet again…

If you’d like to learn more about recovery from a binge eating problem, you’re welcome to join me for one of my Sunday TeleSeminars about overcoming an emotional or binge eating problem. Just Click Here.  My TeleSeminar is FREE!  No obstacle to joining in!

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Ellen Shuman is a pioneer in the field of Binge Eating Disorder; a Life Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), A Founding Member and Past President of BEDA; The Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. For information about Coaching Services, contact ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Binge Eating Used to be a Problem. Now, Was I Bingeing on Something Else?

People joining with others with binge eatingFor a while now, I have been trying to learn more about online marketing. How can I more effectively use the web to reach even more people who struggle with emotional and binge eating?

I’ve been listening to a lot of teleseminars, one after another, about how to increase traffic to my website, put podcasts on itunes, do webinars, organize my emails, set up systems. Whew! While listening, I take copious notes. Then, I feel overwhelmed by the suggestions. I file the notes away…and do nothing…except listen to another teleseminar.

I’m feeling stuck! So, today I had an introductory call with a highly recommended business coach, Nancy Marmolejo; someone I’m considering hiring.

Minutes into our call, she hit the nail on the head, “I think you’re bingeing on information, always feeling like you don’t have enough, feeling like something is missing, just like a binge eater binges on food.” OMG! I knew instantly she was right!

In my binge eating days, whenever I was having trouble tolerating something in my life; like starting a challenging task or conversation… or just being alone with my own thoughts and feelings, I’d have a food thought. Then I’d binge. And before long, I’d feel the urge to binge again. There was never enough food to make me OK…at least not for long. Food helped me go mindless whenever I wanted to disconnect, not face a task or situation, but it never addressed the issue that triggered the desire to binge in the first place.

I often felt like there was this empty space that I needed to be fill…with something. So, I ate junk food and sweets. I was afraid if I didn’t binge (whether it be on food or, more recently, on information), I’d be missing out on something. And I wouldn’t be able to tolerate how that felt.

My new obsession with gathering information does feel similar to having constant food thoughts. I have been bingeing on information, seminar after seminar, PDF after PDF, because I’m having trouble tolerating my feelings about all the work that lay ahead. Today, I realized I’m anxious about all the additional work that will come as the membership gets bigger. Today, I understand that staying focused on finding more information, not missing out on that next “perfect” teleseminar, was just like looking for the perfect binge foods to help me make it through the night.

And as long as I kept looking for that perfect “whatever”, I didn’t have to feel my feelings or do the actual work…I was avoiding being connected to my fears…but I was also blocking my own dream of helping more people…

I know I’m not alone here. I was telling my friend and colleague, psychologist Sandy Matthews, about today’s revelation and she starting laughing. She says her husband can always tell when she’s feeling resistant to starting something new,“For days, I’ll be obsessed about getting EVERYTHING done, everything except what I need to do. I totally reorganize my work space. I create a new set of folders and label every folder, perfectly. I clean the kitchen, really clean the kitchen! I obsess about what my husband is wearing. I research the task to death— and I justify this all by saying to myself and everyone else, ‘But once I start it, I will be soooooo ready’. And everybody around me is praying, ‘Please, let that be soon’.” (Be sure to listen to Dr. Sandy’s TeleSeminar on Relationships and Binge Eating. In it, she talks about how she used compulsive shopping the way others use compulsive eating.)

So, what am I willing to do to get unstuck; to stop avoiding my life by bingeing on teleseminars? I’m going to apply all of my emotional regulation tools to my recent information obsession. The tools helped me stop binge eating. I’m sure they’ll work on teleseminars 🙂 . When I start to feel anxious or fearful about the work ahead, I’ll remind myself of all I have built, successfully, to date.  Right now, I don’t need to gather any more information. And, I’ve decided to hire Nancy as my business coach. Even Coaches need support from coaches!

I feel better already!

How about you? Are you habitually focused on something OTHER than what really needs to be addressed? Are you bingeing, as a result? Have you thought about what you might be willing to do to get unstuck?

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Ellen Shuman is a pioneer in the field of Binge Eating Disorder; a Life Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), A Founding Member and Past President of BEDA; The Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. For information about Coaching Services, contact ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Dad Gets Things Done in A Different Way than Mom

Father's Time Machine

How to Reduce Binge Eating; Through Better Organization? Huh?

Reduce binge eating by organizing my homeOK.  So what does organizing my home have to do with reducing binge eating? Let me tell you, A LOT!

I woke up this morning and was so happy when I looked around. I was the only thing on my bed; no piles of papers, no catalogs, no unopened mail.  As I started my day, I was confident I was NOT going to see chaos everywhere I looked. I felt calm, even proud. I had eliminated one of my most common binge eating triggers; a messy house.

But yesterday was a different story! Yesterday, my house was a mindless mess. For the past two weeks I had been preoccupied with my mom’s health issues and a busy work schedule.  Yesterday, Don, my handyman, was coming over to do a handful of small tasks. He was going to be in many rooms in my house. Panic! So I  set my alarm early to do a clean sweep. I knew I needed about one hour to make the house presentable (organize, dust, sweep the dog hairballs off my wood floors).

In years past, it would have taken me days to accomplish what now takes me 30 minutes to an hour, and I would have been binge eating through it all. 30 minutes to 1 hour to get my house ready for company is a miracle. It’s also a sign of how far I have come toward being mindful; keeping things more organized as I go…and toward practicing self-care.

How is keeping a clean, organized house self-care you might ask? Because when I like what I see around me, when I’m not scared someone is going to ring my doorbell, when I can find what I need easily, I don’t have to turn to binge thoughts to avoid or stuff feelings of frustration and/or shame.

Now, in the name of full disclosure…the green couch in my office, which tends to be a repository for everything that needs to be filed, was the one exception to my de-cluttering success story yesterday. But I’m OK with that. I like not being perfect!  It’s so much less stressful knowing I’m not, nor do I need to be, perfect :-)!

Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands

Balloon Smile

Could Stress and “Drama” be a Habit?

AbsenceStressStressful-toon_98

Emotional Eaters Need the Right Tools

Perfect ToolsIn the last five years I have managed to drop a wide variety of stuff off my desk into a small space between my desk and a wall; highlighters, pens, a cradle for my portable phone. Due to the configuration of this large desk and location of a file cabinet, my arms would have to be 6 feet long to retrieve those lost items. I’d curse and pull my hair out every time something I needed fell into that abyss. Several times I tried putting a whole bunch of sticky tape at the very end of a long wooden stick…didn’t work.

Then, last week I was mindlessly  flipping through a catalog and I saw the perfect tool!  It’s called an “Ergonomic Reacher” ; a fancy name for a long stick with a gripper at one end and a handle that moves the gripper at the other.  It cost $4.99. I ordered it. It arrived yesterday. In less than a minute, I had retrieved every single lost item. I was so happy, you would have thought someone had just given me the crown jewels!

Got me thinking about how important it is to find the right tools, whether addressing items that fall off a desk or overcoming emotional eating.  For so many years I tried the wrong tools. I bought tools to help me restrict my eating,. i.e. dieting books and diet programs…and I bought new exercise equipment for my basement. (Yes, I fell for more infomercials than I care to admit—anyone want to buy a barely used Total Gym?)  But none of those tools fit the problem.

I was an emotional eater. I needed tools to help me handle, better tolerate, uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, situations, and tasks I wanted to avoid. I needed tools to help me self-soothe when I felt stirred up and was having food thoughts to avoid thinking about– or doing anything . What’s dieting got to do with that? Nothing! What does the exercise equipment in my basement have to do with being afraid to be alone with my thoughts and feelings? Nothing!

What I really needed were tools to help me tolerate my emotions. I needed tools to help me recognize when I was catastrophizing, creating drama in relationships, distorting the facts of a situation to fit how I felt about that situation. I needed tools to use when I was bored, or angry, or lonely. Using food was a tool…it was just not a healthy one for me.

Only when I found the tools that fit the job did I finally find ways to accomplish the task at hand; an end to emotional eating and weight obsession. If you want to learn more, a good place to start is my Free Phone Seminar, ” 5 Steps to Free Yourself from Emotional Eating”. I invite you to attend and learn more about tools that work better than food thoughts, emotional or binge eating…so much better!

 

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Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in empowering people who are working on emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Immediate Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com

Emotional Eating and Holiday Stress Collide

Mom is at her worst. Uncle Fred has had one too many cups of cheer.

Imagine…if every day stress sends you in the direction of food and emotional eating, then it makes perfect sense that food could become your go-to strategy for shutting down all emotional intensity during the holiday season.

When intense emotions hit, you might be especially at risk for emotional or compulsive eating, if you’re lacking other skills for self-soothing.

We’re already well into this year’s holiday season. So, if you are not already a Member and in the process of learning and practicing A Weigh Out’s 52 Empowerment Tools, here are a few things I suggest trying, in the meantime.

If you’re using thoughts of food and mindless eating to disconnect from moments of emotional stress, try using “mindfulness” as an antidote.

  • Before the event or a likely interaction with Mom or an obnoxious brother-in-law, anticipate when and where the stress is likely to hit (most of us know when we’re likely to feel our buttons being pushed). In advance, think through the high risk scenarios and decide on your alternate plan of action. So, the moment your mother starts complaining, you’ll already have your exit strategy. Look at your watch and say, “Oh sorry Mom, I told Jackie I would call her right at 1pm. I’ll be back.” There’s something very empowering about planning to handle emotional stress well!
  • Empowerment is an amazing tool! I recommend a brief visualization in the tub or shower the morning of an event. See it going well. Feel empowered to create the day you want rather than expecting to feel victim to a family member or friend’s bad behavior—or maybe even your own.
  • I also suggest people envision eating well at each event, enjoying holiday food, but in a way that leaves them feeling great, not restricted, over stuffed, or guilty. If your family cooks and bakes only high calories dishes, consider bringing a dish or two of food you’d rather fill up on…but don’t set up any feelings of deprivation because those are likely to backfire and result in more emotional eating when emotions increase.
  • Set clear intentions about how you want your holiday experiences to be. Rethink holiday obligations and traditions that typically leave you feeling stressed. Can you eliminate some or all of those this year? What could you do to make your holiday more fun…your plans less stressful, so less likely to be filled with stress eating and regret?

If you’re ready for a whole new set of emotional regulation and Empowerment Tools in 2013, consider joining us on the journey.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in empowering people who are working on emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com

Size-ism is Alive and Well

Health at Every Size; The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, By Linda Bacon, PhDI had dinner with a close friend last Tuesday night. A conversation took place about weight and health. It’s not the first time this subject has come up. We talk about everything, openly, and agree to “cuss and discuss”.

I’m an advocate of Health at Every Size®. She is not. The Health at Every Size® movement advocates making no assumptions about a person based on what they happen to weigh…and if the focus shifts to healthy behavior rather than weight loss efforts, chances are better that the person will get healthier, whatever they weigh.

As the conversation with my friend heated up, it became clear that my friend makes all sorts of assumptions about people’s level of health and fitness based on weight. She and her husband are very fit…very fit! They regularly hike in the Grand Tetons. She is a smart, highly educated woman who relies heavily on research in her role as a consultant. So, what’s her evidence that fat people are not as healthy as thinner people? Here’s her argument, “When I go hiking I don’t see large people hiking the trails.”

Really? Really? Isn’t that size-ism. Let’s substitute “black people” for “large people” in that argument. If she doesn’t happen to see black people hiking when she’s hiking, does that mean all black people are less healthy than she?  Wouldn’t that make her a racist? Is it just possible a large percentage of people, under weight, average weight, and obese, in general, don’t happen to like hiking? I hate hiking! Over the course of my life, I’ve tried it, at several different body weights and fitness levels. It bores the heck out of me.

My friend is not alone in her prejudice and her lack of knowledge about newer research that says when it comes to health, fitness levels are more important that fatness…and what you see and assume does not indicate anything; especially fitness levels, or degree of health, or health risk .

“The top researcher in the fitness-versus-fatness debate is the Cooper Institute’s Dr. Steven Blair, whose extensive research has convinced him that peoples’ heft needn’t necessarily weigh them down. Blair wrote for the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports that “active obese individuals actually have lower morbidity and mortality than normal weight individuals who are sedentary.”  (Read more about this argument in a “Fitness vs. Fatness” post from The Center for Consumer Freedom.)

Read more about the science in Dr. Linda Bacon’s groundbreaking book, Health at Every Size; The Surprising Truth About Your Weight.

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