The Consequence of Changing your Relationship with Food.

It Doesn't Have to be All or Nothing

I heard on the radio that the odds of winning this lottery, this multi, multi million dollar lottery, are less than the odds of getting struck by lightening.

Imagine if...
Yet in my office Patty talked about how winning this bundle of money would change her life, how she wouldn't be able to stay in the same place she's at. People would expect things from her, and in many ways it would add some stress. She spoke as if this change could happen, as if it were real enough to taste.

What would happen if you had a life-changing relationship with food? If you had fully recovered from your anorexia, your bulimia, your binge eating disorder? If you had healthily lost weight to a normal range? 

In some ways, this is so thrilling, so liberating, so refreshing. Like winning millions, it may certainly change things for better. You're likely to feel better, physically and psychologically. It may resolve some stress, allowing you to feel lighter. And it may open up some options. You may be less preoccupied with food and eating, freeing up your mental energy for more appealing thoughts. You may become less isolated, allowing yourself to socialize, with or without food.

Can you allow yourself to enjoy the benefits of change
without fearing the consequences?
Yet in other ways, it's rather frightening. What will I lose if I let go of food, my best friend, as my means of coping?What will be expected of me—by my friends or family members? Will they support me or be threatened by my progress? Will I have to take steps to move on in life, or can I hover where I'm at?

But you're not obligated to change; the choice remains yours and yours alone. If you don't want to move up professionally, that's your choice. No interest in dating? Again your prerogative. Change can be scary, but you can be selective about what you change; you can enjoy the benefits of  feeling better, while staying put in every other area of your life—if you should choose to.

Here's an update on several of my patients you've read about, to make this point.

Ready to tackle whatever comes his way!
Remember Maggie, with her history of emotional and compulsive overeating, unhappy with her climbing weight, her newly diagnosed diabetes and her chronic knee problems? She had struggled with disordered thoughts and behaviors for several decades.  By changing her relationship with food and without disordered behaviors Maggie's weight is down over 152 lbs. Now she chooses to step out of her house more than she had before. Knee surgery is now an option, but she's not quite ready to deal with surgery.

Always fearful of being in a body of water, she decided to get past her fears with the aid of her therapist, and now goes to water aerobics several times weekly. In the past, she could neither face her fears of the water nor of donning a bathing suit.

She's finally content and able to speak her mind.
How about ErinShe's the one who was subjected to the rudeness of clueless, assuming strangers—one in particular, who had the audacity to comment on her eating while she mindfully sat in her parked car, eating her snack when she was hungry—simply following my recommendation to respect her body's signals. She recently brought a giant grin to my face, as she related this story:

“That’ll teach me to eat while driving”, she told the dry cleaner last week, handing him her  food-splattered jacket. Struggling with a recent GI issue, she had some reflux after she had consumed her meal at home, before heading to my office. And while driving, the food decided to revisit. No fault of hers. And so she made a stop at the cleaners and playfully commented about her “inappropriate” eating.

To even be able to joke, to not feel ashamed of her eating, to have the confidence and to choose to speak up—now that's the result of a shift in thinking.

Like Maggie, she too has lost a large percentage of her weight, a total of 101 lbs as of today, yet she remains overweight. She is still not comfortable traveling in planes (the seats are just not comfortable for her) and she doesn't like the uncomfortable feeling of being in Europe where the cars and most people are smaller. But now she has set her sight on a trip, a chance to visit relatives abroad—when she feels she can better manage it physically.  But she's definitely not waiting to start speaking up and sharing her thoughts!

I heard from Daniel after several years—he had worked with me and successfully recovered from his anorexia. He spoke about finding his passions—currently theater and track—and is now applying to colleges. His life is no longer filled with medical appointments, nor with thoughts about calories, “good” foods versus “bad” foods. He finally chooses  to fully enjoy life.

Laura could have fallen back on her binge eating during this stressful time. Dealing with her recent divorce, and the chronic lack of support from her husband, overeating held a lot of appeal. Yet somehow she hasn't slipped. She's gone through challenges for sure. Yet she's well aware that binge eating is a choice, and the risks and consequences are much greater than any short term benefit. She continues to impress me with her awareness and her ability to put fear aside and face her many challenges.

Change doesn't have to be so scary!
I could go on, really I could. There are many, many clients with similar successes. Why share? Because at some point they were all petrified of change. Because in spite of knowing that where you are at is not a place you want to stay, the fear of change can feel paralyzing.

You have choices. And as long as you're in a safe place, medically stable, you can make change one small step at a time. Maybe it's time to take the first step?

You are safe to share your thoughts here! I'd love to hear from you.

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