Sunny view of the hiking trail.

Advice Wanted

Usually, we make it a request NOT to give each other unsolicited advice. But now and again, Brave Companions WANT some advice. So here’s a place to ask if you want input outside of the show or blog topics. Post away and it’s fair game to give your helpful opinions on these posts since BCs who post here would LIKE to have your advice.

Also, if you post your advice request here, I will try to feature it on an upcoming episode so you will have more exposure to the BCs who mostly listen so they will know about your issue and request.

Any advice given here is the personal opinion of the poster and is not intended to replace professional consultation.

20 thoughts on “Advice Wanted

  1. Dawny

    Dearest Laurie, and my Fellow Brave companions, i know we’ve had discussions amongst not ‘offering unsolicited advice’ however at this point, your opinion, advice and/or input will NOT be unsolicited, as im asking for some guidance, and I guess more so ‘input’ This is long, and i summarized it in fast forward fashion as best as I can I lost a LOT of weight on weight watchers, as some know, some don’t, a lot being 260.2#, at first I was pretty ‘normal’ with my eating and living and going thru life, and at some point, over time, I became very rigid in my ‘diet’ and choices, stopped enjoying life, became all about exercise, health, micromanaging my ‘diet’, living very reclused, and cutting out of life/living to where I was not participating in any life events/happenings etc. for fear of straying ‘off-plan’. I was creating some great concoctions of food, I was substituting veggies whenever/wherever possible (cauliflower rice, zuchini shredded into ‘hash-browns’, cauli-tatoes, I would eat HUGE portions/amounts of foods, after-all it was veggies, and well although healthy, they aren’t very ‘nutrient dense’ and don’t have a lot of satiating power. I feared anything with FAT in it, I would only eat the leanest cuts of meat, I micromanaged meticulously every food/drink I consumed, I had rituals that I followed daily, EVERY Wednesday for example I ate the EXACT same thing.. I would make desserts out of things that weren’t ‘dessert’ and close my eyes really tight, and pretend I was eating something wonderful, I basically took the enjoyment out of life and living, I was eating things that I later found to not be tasty at all, but I was so deprived, that I taught myself they were good. I reached my goal weight, and then white knuckled it for 2 years to stay there, feeling very deprived, miserable, I became totally fixated on food, eating, my days revolved around planning meticulously what I could/would eat and when/how, planning my life around eating/food, activity etc. very rigid plans, and rules, there was NO changing or flexibility either. I got to a VERY unhealthy place physically and mentally. Due to how much weight I lost, I carry about 15-20# of skin/connected fatty tissues, and maintaining the weight I was taking that into consideration (which I wasn’t at the time) was causing me to be of very ill health, my dr. found it not to be in my best interest, she recommended I should gain 10-20#, to which I did very rapidly, in-fact more rapidly than she anticipated. I felt amazing, I got pep back into my step, I started ‘living’ again, enjoying food, life, living, things calmed down, I began to ‘normalize’ my relationship to/with food and eating. It was weird, but I started to reclaim life, and with that, I also realized I’d reclaimed an eating disorder, I have a real problem, I border on ‘binge eating disorder’ I believe, and suffer extremely from compulsive over-eating and just compulsive eating in general. I called my state of life and living diet hell prison, I wanted out so bad. I would eat foods soley based on the value of them, if I had points I would eat hungry or not, if I was hungry and didn’t have points i may not eat. iF something was lower points thats what I would eat. I convinced myself I was happy, and life was good, after-all I was at a goal weight that weight watchers deemed acceptable. in reality I was miserable.. Diet hell prison miserable I chose to make a ‘change’ and start the process of intuitive eating, I gained more weight (than my dr. suggested, but she was thrilled), and kind of fast. I started getting freaked out, I felt like I was eating intuitively, eating what i really wanted, I legalized ALL foods, and found myself gravitating towards sweet treats a LOT, and eating larger portions of things like meats, and peanut butter, things I basically forbade myself from ever having. I never really fit the definition of ‘binge eating disorder’ but i have what I like to call ‘binge eating tendencies’ where I forage for food, never a LOT of food, or eaten so fast I don’t realize it etc. but it’s almost a ‘robot alien type foraging’ where im consciously unconscious consuming random foods, and kind of in an out of control I can’t want to stop manner. i had no idea how to listen to my body, I had no clue what my body was saying to me, I hadn’t listened to it for years, I instead listened to a points plus points target and a weight watchers leader, that may not have been looking out for my best interest as much as her own ‘merit awards’. I started to get this under control, I started to listen to my body, I started to really like not feeling ‘too full’ the obsession with food started to dissipate, the constant thinking, planning, rigidness it was all subsiding, foods started to lose their ‘power’ over me, however, I was still gaining a little weight, and i saw a number on the scale that kind of freaked me out, im terrified of going back, ive lived my life obese, and i fear going back, I know the statistics aren’t in my favor. I wasn’t ready to accept gaining weight, or more weight etc. I gave intuitive eating a lot of energy, i REALLY REALLY like it, I like the principals, I know that there is something to it, I liked the freedom. It helped bring life back to me. BUT the weight gain got the best of me, so about 3 weeks ago, i started counting weight watchers points again, In doing that I quickly realized how my intuitive eating adventures led me to weight gain, I realized quickly some areas that I wasn’t doing things too well to support my goals, that I could ‘tighten’ or ‘tidy’ things up, it was great eye opening information for me. im thankful for that information. HOWEVER in ONLY 3 SHORT weeks, the diet hell prison is coming back, and in full force, the last days ive thought about nothing but food/eating, starting to strategically plan what I could/should eat so my points last me thru the day, ive seen my portion sizes increase dramatically, finding myself eating or not based on how many points I have left, or don’t have, not taking note of my hunger/satiety. Im finding myself increasing my vegetable consumption again, Ive started re-introducing low point processed crap food, starting to lean heavily on artificial sweeteners again, no sugar added products, creating desserts, and meals of things that are not healthy, or in line with the health style I want to live and uphold. I felt like I had come so far, I was doing so well, I was kicking the artificial stuff, eating a lot more nutrient dense WHOLE REAL foods, and things were going well, but the scale was going up. I am finding myself constantly thinking about food, thinking about when I can/will eat again, and what, not eating ham because canadian bacon is lower points when I really want ham.. weighing the pancake, and tearing off some of it so it’s less points it’s coming back so fast Im looking for some advice, or support, or some input or something, maybe just to be told im okay, and im going to be okay I think in my heart I know what to do, what I need to do, what I want to do, but I want to know what an outside view may hold maybe? just thoughts, thinkings.. I know only I can make this decision, but your input matters to me and at this time, would probably help me a lot.

    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      You’re so welcome. And I think maybe just having it in a place where you can read it may help you sort through some of these issues. I do think some professional support might be a great thing for you since there are just so many complex emotions here. One thing that stands out to me might be trust issues. You tried Intuitive Eating as best as you could, and it didn’t work out the way you wanted. So it seems you didn’t trust yourself with this method and so went back to tried and true, WW. Makes sense since you DID lose such a whoppin’ load of weight with them and you KNOW WW inside and out. Trouble is, you did WW with a straightjacket on. (I did too, in my day). The description of diet hell is so valuable for other BCs to read too, because I think many with disordered food issues, whichever face they present, can relate to the fear and need to control eating because we feel we CANNOT TRUST OURSELVES around food. Part of the Robot Aliens, in my theory, is us trying to soothe and protect us. The results just don’t last as we don’t like the feeling of weight gain and being stuffed and self-blame that results.
      Another thought Dawny, is it doesn’t sound as if you were legalizing food all of the way. The first step in legalizing is in letting yourself have any food and getting rid of the judgement about it. You allowed yourself the sweets etc. And this is part of why it is typical for weight gain. After years, or a lifetime, of deprivation and saying “No” to ourselves, we literally feel like ‘Kids in the Candy Store’ when we get to eat these forbidden treats. So we eat them fast, (in case they will go away), we eat them in big quantities (since we don’t trust ourselves to allow them later – need to have them NOW) and we eat them often (we hope to make up for all of the times we didn’t get these foods in the past). The reason I legalize one food at a time, as I described in the potato chip episode, is that it takes time. And I am not done with that food until I can literally take it or leave it. This is now true for potato chips. I haven’t had any for over a week. Yesterday, I was hungry so I ate 2 chips while I cooked my dinner. Two! Chips! Not two bags, not two handfuls. You must combine all of the tools of Intuitive Eating to get through all of the past baggage around food. And that takes a long time for most people. When you decided to return to WW, it triggered that lack of self-trust, I’m betting, though I am NOT A THERAPIST. And the less you trust yourself, the tighter the food-straight jacket you will employ. The tighter the jacket, the more you will resent it, and the bigger the binge will build to break out of it. My two cents my dear. I am so very sorry you are struggling right now. Try to remember that any moment you can make a decision to treat yourself with respect. No matter what. Every moment of your life you can decide to forgive yourself. Every moment of your life you can decide to ask yourself what you want. Every moment is a new opportunity to learn, even like I had to learn at my voice lesson lately. Not every lesson is warm and fuzzy, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. xoxoxoxoxox

  2. Dawny

    This is FANTABULOUS!!!! And I think your right! I think I jumped the gun too fast. The only food I think I REALLY legalized was pancakes. Wow
    You’ve given me some GREAT food for thought.
    I too said to myself very recently that i think these ‘binge like episodes’ are my body/brain challenging me to see if I REALLY am still going to have WHATEVER it wants and….. Unfortunately…. By jumping the gun…. I reiterated…. To my body/brain that ha….. Diet rebel lives on. The good thing I’m not starting at square one. I’ve kept a lot of tools close.
    I know for me… Today.. Thru the tears… I realized…. It’s time to make peace with food. REALLY make peace with food. Let go of the power that food holds over me.
    I struggle with self trust. I don’t know why. I have to ponder it and over think it before I validate im worthy of trust in each situation.
    One of my ‘frustrations’ with myself is honoring my physical hunger by eating when it presents ( not waiting not questioning not fighting doubting) eating when I’m hungry. And then stopping when I’ve had enough. Despite tastyness.
    I have learned what these things are in my body now i know I’m able to honor it I’ve taught myself that. I tend to fight and/or ignore it some tho. I’ve also learned that more often than not im not hungry for food! That’s been awesome to learn. Now I’m going to make it awesome to honor it

    Thank you Laurie. I hope you understand the sincerity in my thanks b

  3. Stéfanie

    Hi Dawny,
    the thing that struck me about your letter is that the two methods you have tried out are complete opposites. No wonder you are having a hard time to shift! You went from a very controled, planned, rigid method to intuitiveness, unprecision, unprediction.

    I think you are aiming for the right goal. Intuitiveness is the way to go. But how about if you would take a more slow road to get there? Those are major behavioral changes and taking your time to get used to them might be the key here. Baby steps! For example, maybe breakfast could be intuitive. Or maybe exercise can be intuitive. Or maybe hours in a day. Or maybe certain foods? You choose. Integrate the concepts ASAP (as SLOW as possible lol) and let yourself adapt for a looong period.

    Good luck xxx

  4. Dawny

    Im sooo very thankful for your insight and input..

    I came to this same kind of realization myself…

    SOOOOO, the decision Ive made is to eat intuitively, however track my food in my journal, and to be honest, I am assigning a weight watchers points plus value to the foods, but I am NOT keeping a ‘tally’ if you will, so that I am not driving my eating/choices/decisions/foods etc based on the number of points ive used, have not used etc. BUT the data will be there, should things not start to make a turn around some-time soon, I can utilize the data Im collecting to help me move forward.
    this is what i deemed the “dawny weight watchers hybrid plan” and it worked pretty good for me, something about taking the ‘pressure’ off of micromanaging everything, I was eating the approrpriate amount of ‘points plus’ without much thought/effort when I did it before.

    as of lately Ive really reigned in my ‘sweet treat’ eating, not because im ‘restricting’ myself for say, but more so because Im using common sense in know what they do to my mind/body and sould, and that they should be used as ‘treats’ not a food group LOL, PLUS I realized how out of tune I was, okay, I was LYING to myself about the size of the serving of said sweet treat vs. it’s caloric value, ALSO Ive reduced my eating out adventures too, both of things in themselves will surely help me, next up, getting back to drinking more water again.. oooops LOL

    Again thank you for your feed-back, it’s VERY valuable to me

  5. Cheryl

    Oh, Stéfanie, I think you hit the nail on the head for me as well with one of your comments. You said: “You went from a very controled, planned, rigid method to intuitiveness, unprecision, unprediction.”

    I am so guilty of that as well. Three different times since 2005 I’ve dropped over 40 lbs. by method #1. Each time I gained most of it back. Then two years ago I made a real effort to eat a balanced diet, not restricting foods, and realizing that social eating was always going to be a part of our relational life with friends. That was more like method #2. And it worked. I was within 17 lbs. of my goal weight. I thought I had finally stumbled on the right way to take the extra weight off and keep it off.

    Then life threw me a curve ball and I went back to work — for just four months. And that began the slippery slide right down the rabbit hole again. So here I am having gained back more than 20 lbs. of what I lost and wondering where in the world that middle ground is. Your comment certainly brought my extremes to my attention. Thank you for posting that. Now I just have to figure out what the compromise for me might be. It’s a bit complicated since I’m diabetic. But you’ve sure given me something to think about.

  6. Dawny

    I learned a valuable lesson again yesterday.. I keep learning stuff, I like being ‘in-tune’ with my body, this is something that i have always believed I couldn’t do, like understand how foods effect me etc. anyway, yesterday I had a ‘later start’ to my morning routine, since I wanted to weigh in, that meant no food/drink before, and by the time I got to wi, and had some coffee and water, it was a bit of time til i was ‘hungry’ for my food, and I ate my eggs/meat scramble, there wasn’t any ‘carbs’ just veggies, meat and eggs, it was tasty, and filling, but ive gotten to where I kind of like ‘carbs’ as a balance, it holds me longer, and makes my food ‘sit’ better, so I usually have oats, or a pancake, or cream of wheat, or some kind of bread/wrap etc. with my food, I had prepared a bowl of cream of wheat with chopped banana and a yogurt, but i felt ‘kind of satiated’ enough so I didn’t eat it.. when I started to ‘feel’ a bit ‘hungry’ I was busy enough, and drank my coffee, and some water, and then finally just ate my salad, with meat, beans, nuts and olive oil with greek yogurt ranch dressing.. (again no carb, tho this was not intentional it just happened) then I started to feel what I ‘thought’ was ‘snacky’ but brushed it off, knowing i was going out to dinner with mom in only 2 hours, but I had a grapefruit to hold me over..

    Dinner was equipped bread, so I didn’t get a potato, I had meat, salad, veggies, and a bowl of steak soup that had barley in it, well remember last night, I started to feel the eating attacking me, and I had the cream of wheat with yogurt and banana for ‘dessert’ and a later night snack, since dinner was early, and not having had much for density throughout the day, it really was starting to ‘take over me’ with a bite of this, and a taste of that, so I went to bed, and when I got woke up ala firework at midnight, I felt sure almost ‘hungry’ and found myself ‘grazing’ a bit… fortunately I stopped myself again and got back to bed before too much ‘damage’…..

    well it occurred to me today, after pondering my menu from yesterday, that my body was talking to me, it was telling me it was needing something, I should have had the popcorn I really wanted, but talked myself out of,thinking it was just the ‘snackity’ monster.. I know now, I need to pay better attention to balance, and maybe not be so ‘quick’ to ‘brush’ off them hunger pangs,and listen up LOL and make sure that I am ‘balancing’ things proportionately protein, fat, carbs =-)

    I feel really strong and awesome being able to pin-point this stuff =-)

    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Well done Dawny for figuring out what you body might be telling you. Sometimes it is a small, quiet voice. Sometimes it is a cranky feeling. The signs can be subtle, but once you tune in it all gets easier. For me, I can tell now most times, but since I’m still dealing with old emotional habits I can often override what my body wants. The difference is I can’t numb out as much since I’m so aware of my fullness level. The old Robot Alien binges just aren’t possible for me. Robot Alien extra serving of chips though… 😉

  7. Dawny

    thanks friend..
    I do notice too that when im beyond hungry I get really tired and irritable, then I get the mental stuff going on and have over-eaten so I really got to be careful, there sure is a journey in itself just finding the way and the balance..

  8. Dawny

    I know I had a bit of ‘guesstimating’ my food this week as in ppv,

    But it’s exciting and kinda weird to me at the same time how much less I eat on a ‘normal’ basis when I’m NOT meticulously micromanaging how/what/when I eat lol.

    Having undereaten my ‘allotted’ total weekly points plus allotment by around 20-ish Ppv (2 weeks in a row) is amazing. When I’m trying not to i stress out n struggle with it. Interesting. Just saying…. And this is with just mindfulness and common sense. Not ‘restricting’ for say but accepting and acknowledging. Things like dessert isn’t a food group lol

    And in three weeks I also lost 4.4#.
    I’m eating meals out quite a bit less, surely that alone is helping

  9. Shannon

    Hello my name is Shannon and I am 33 years old and have been a compulsive overeater almost my whole life, ever since I can remember anyhow. I have been a binge eater since university (college) and a compulsive overeater. I have maintained at least a 55lb loss of weight for about 8 years, yay! I should be so proud….I am so proud. I have been listening to Laurie’s podcast and I listened to the early ones but had to stop because they would sometimes trigger binge eating. I really enjoy listening to the new episodes and listen to the older ones when I can. I also have some perfectionist qualities and listening to the episodes out of order drives me nuts!! It feels like reading a book randomly. I will say I can really notice a difference in Laurie’s attitude, voice, demeanor everything from the start to the current podcasts. She sounds so much happier, positive and hopeful.
    I am really posting today because I understand and accept now that I need to stop trying (key word here) losing weight but the more I focus on quitting binge eating and compulsive food behaviours the worse it gets and the more my weight creeps up and the more panicky I feel. So the more I read/listen/talk about binge eating/compulsive overeating/eating the more I want to do it!!! Somewhere within the cobwebs of my brain I hear well this is who you are so what the heck! I listen to the brave companions and I feel safe posing the question to such a group. So I just felt that this would be the place to put forward the question: Has anyone else felt this way and what did you do to get through it? Thank you, Shannon

    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Hi Shannon and welcome to the BCs! I’m so glad you feel free to post your stories and questions here, because it is a very safe, understanding and nonjudgmental group. You write:

      the more I focus on quitting binge eating and compulsive food behaviors the worse it gets and the more my weight creeps up and the more panicky I feel.

      I’m going to say, and remember, we aren’t experts, but I felt pretty much the same way. One difference between my current shows and the early episodes is that as I went through my process of figuring it out for myself, I began to focus less on eating and food and more on my feelings and living my life. This is different than, ‘Oh just get out there and distract yourself’. As I went to therapy and uncovered more and more of my inner doubt, fear and lack of worth, I ALSO uncovered more of my actual dreams and wishes. Baby step by baby step I started working on THOSE dream goals and enjoying those processes instead of ruling every day by weight, how tight or loose my pants were, or my inner evaluation of how I ate. My latest shows are much more focused on life, bravery and how I choose to react than on losing or even maintaining weight loss.

      So for me, even though I still wish I could drop some weight, I’m so much happier in this life on the path I’m on, I’m not willing to re-enter my diet/binge cycle again to do it.

      However, that isn’t true for each and every person. We are ALL different. Another approach is in a book, recommended by Brave Companion, Happy. Kathryn Hansen’s Brain Over Binge. This technique treats the habit as separate from any underlying cause, and helps you (for some) get rid of the bingeing itself. It’s more focused on the brain and neural pathway change. Some people have HUGE success with this. Another halfway book between these approaches is one I liked reading called How to Have Your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too: Stop Binge Eating, Overeating and Dieting For Good, Get the Naturally Thin Body You Crave From the Inside Out by Josie Spinardi.

      Dear Shannon, I firmly believe that you are more than any eating disorder voice in your head, AND that those voices think they are helping you. One way or another, what I hear you saying is that you want the bingeing to stop. If you can, I also recommend finding a therapist who you feel REALLY comfortable with to work with you, whichever approach you try. Because having that kind ear in real life for me has been such a help and a blessing.

      I’ll read your letter on the next show and see if we can get some more advice for you, as all BCs have their own ideas and thoughts. But please, please, please, feel free and welcome to come back anytime you want to express your thoughts and get a virtual hug, or if you find, like I do, that it also helps to support someone else in their journey.


      1. Shannon

        Thank you so much for responding Laurie. I am very excited to hear you say my name on your podcast! The funny thing is, since I posted that I have felt better, I am two days binge free today and feeling positive. I did read Kathryn Hansen’s book and it really spoke to me. The only issue is that if I continue to act on bingeing urges it seems to really put me into a downward spiral. I like you, am just trying to find my way in this journey and I finally understand that I have to figure out what works for me. I find it very helpful to listen to other people who know what it is like to live with an eating disorder. I also just finally told my doctor about my disordered eating, I was so nervous! She was great and also recommended a therapist, but one who is familiar with eating disorders. I am not a writer or anything and I really wish I could put into words how thrilled I am to have reached out and have someone respond. I am on the verge of tears, so thank you, it means the world to me.

        1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

          Hi Shannon, you are on the BRAVERY report in so many ways. For sure your post will be part of day 113. It is great that you told your Dr. Isn’t it a big relief to speak the ‘dreaded’ secret out loud? There are so many of us, all across the world who have some very similar issues. Some of us carry our weight as part of the disorder, some of us, look from the outside, perfect, but all have some similar themes that run through the disordered thinking about food, body, and how to become happy with ourselves. And as you’ve so clearly written, the path that accomplishes our goals for a healthier life vary. So while one BC’s ideas may resonate, other BCs’ ideas may not. Or part of their path sounds good. You never know until you try or allow yourself to consider possibilities. That is the strength of our sharing. Bringing up possibilities as well as respectful support. It is an awesome combo! And thanks sooooo much for bringing your thoughts to the mix. Well done!

  10. Dawny

    I too tend to be easily swayed by whatever’s going on. If someone’s dieting and losing weight I aspired to be the same. If someone’s intuitively eating sometimes it triggers me to want to try that. I’m in a place right now but I’m working really hard on finding my own way. It’s not easy. But keep on keeping on it’s what we do. We will all get there together.
    Great to meet you and looking forward to learning More along side you.

    1. Shannon

      Thank you for your kind words. It is so true, I don’t think we would be here if we didn’t keep on keeping on. That is one thing that I have going for me, for the last 8 years I have never truly given up on changing.


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