“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” - Dr. SeussFor many years I have been ashamed to tell my story I have been ashamed for anyone to find out “my big secret”. Even now I have a hard time telling people that I am a recovering food addict and compulsive eater. I don’t want anyone to know how much food consumes every part of my life. How much I think about what to eat and what not to eat. I don’t want anyone to know that I used to make batches of chocolate chip cookies from scratch just to eat the raw cookie dough. I don’t want anyone to know how much I love to eat food.
Recently I have come to realize that what makes me most vulnerable is in fact my biggest strength. I am learning that in order to help heal myself from my compulsion to eat I need to expose my truth. Sharing my story can be difficult. It takes me back to a place that makes me uncomfortable. When I reflect back on my past and the person I used to be I am reminded of that scared and lonely fat girl who is hiding from the world. I am reminded of a girl who is self-conscious and insecure. I am reminded of a girl who I never want to be again. What I remind myself of is that when I expose my story and share my truth I don’t feel alone anymore. I know that through the sharing of my story I make it possible for others to share their own stories. I hope that in the sharing of this story you will feel inspired to share your own.
My “weight issue” has been with me for as long as I can remember. When I was seven, I went on my first diet. I was “not allowed” to eat certain foods and believed I was “good” when I ate what I was supposed to. By the time I was ten years old, I was sneaking cookies up to my room and eating them in secret under the bed. Before becoming a teenager I had been on weight watchers twice, seen a nutritionist, and been in a special program recommended by the doctor for overweight kids.
Dieting continued way into High school. I tried many forms of therapy and support groups for compulsive over eaters. For so long I felt like people were judging me based on what I ate. I began to judge myself in the same way. I was “good” when I ate what I was “supposed to” and “bad" when I didn’t follow the rules. After seeing that nothing seemed to be working my parents relinquished control over my eating habits. For the first time in my life I felt free and in control. I was finally “allowed” to eat whatever I wanted. I began to eat without thinking of the consequences. Without thinking about what I was doing to my body or myself. I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted and once I did I couldn’t stop. I left High School weighing almost 300 lbs.
I stayed obese for a long time. I was not ready to let go of my unhealthy habits, nor did I want to. It was nice to have control over my eating and I wanted to remain in control. I didn’t like the feeling of other people controlling what I was “allowed” to do. Control is something that I still struggle with. Even now that I have lost 150 lbs and I am not binging on food I struggle with finding the right balance. I don’t want to restrict my eating habits too much because I am afraid that will lead to binge eating. I also don’t want to give myself permission to eat whatever I want because I am afraid I won’t be able to stop. I still feel like it's not fair that I always have to “watch what I eat” and at times I get frustrated with my healing process, but I do know that I am making tremendous progress.
Over the past ten years I have gained tremendous strength and wisdom. I know that being in control is something I need to learn to let go of and that if I do start to get “out of control” with my eating habits I now have the tools to be able to stop. Learning to love myself and heal my spirit is a daily practice. I am honored to be able to share my most important tools with you.
Focus On Feeling Good
Focus on what you can change, not what you can’t. This also translates into focus on feeling good on the inside. I challenge you to count how many times you think something negative about yourself throughout the day. When I first did this I stopped counting after a few hours because the number became too overwhelming. Once I realized how much I was putting myself down I understood why I felt so insecure. I decided that I needed to change the way I thought. I began to flip that negative self-talk into positive talk.
Each time you catch yourself saying something negative, turn it into something positive. Negative self-talk: "I hate myself, I am so fat":: Positive self-talk: "I choose to love my body today no matter what." Say this positive affirmation as often as you need. Post it in a place around your house where you’ll see it all of the time, or program it like a reminder into your smart phone.
Learn To Let Go
“Wisdom comes with what you let go of, not what you hold onto.” -UnknownIf we start to sweat the small stuff we create anxiety. When we hold onto anxiety we can never truly learn to live within the moment. Allow yourself to be angry, sad, depressed, or lonely. Then allow yourself to let it go. When we hold onto to our past too much we can never truly experience the here and now. Once I began to let go of “my weight issue” I was finally able to change the way I thought and felt about myself. What are you holding onto? Usually those are the very same things you need to learn to let go of.
This is something that takes daily practice. Moment by moment we have the power to change the way we think, believe, and feel about ourselves. We have the power to re-create our thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Every time you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself, acknowledge it, observe it, and then challenge it. Begin your day with a positive affirmation: “I am getting better and better every day in every way.” Repeat throughout the day as needed. You don’t need to say it aloud, just changing your thinking can have powerful results on your actions.
Erica Trestyn, MA, HHCErica is the owner of Cultivate Nourishment LLC. Her personal story has provided tremendous inspiration. She healed herself from morbid obesity, loosing over 150 lbs, and changed her life. After a career as a New York City public school art teacher for 6 years she enrolled in the Institute For Integrative Nutrition in 2012 and received her certification as a Holistic Health Counselor. This allowed her to pursue her passion for educating others about health and wellness. Everyday she strives to cultivate more joy, peace, and love into her life by empowering others to nourish themselves.
Holistic Health Counselor. Soft Spoken Teacher. Powerfully Passionate Motivator. Creative Spiritual Being.