Half a chocolate and other Christmas Miracles!

Coffee cup and half of a chocolate on a table
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It’s a Christmas Eve Miracle! I only ate half of this chocolate, and I even like it. It was just that one bite was enough.

A Different Kind of Christmas

This my dears, is the true Christmas story of Laurie, Mark, and the impact of Intuititve Eating. Mark and I made a different kind of Christmas for ourselves this year. No family or friends were on our horizon, so we decided to turn our solitude into an adventure opportunity. We took off in our convertible up the coast to the Danish town of Solvang. Here’s just one of the incredible views we saw on the way.

Sunset by the coast.

One of the many beautiful vistas we saw driving up to Solvang.

As you can see from the very first photo in this story, I had some amazing Intuititve Eating success and progress. I also had some challenges. Intutitive Eating for me is more than about how much food I eat. It’s also about accepting myself with kindness and love, and making decisions that allow me to have the most authentic and relationship-primary life I can. What a weird phrase I just coined, ‘Relationship-primary’. But it IS one of my goals, because frankly, my food and my body concerns have been my top concern over everything and everybody else for most of my life. That’s what disordered eating is. Just like any addiction, not only does it mess with you with physical consequences, it messes with your life in the form of off-kilter choices in how you deal with people and events.

A Dawn of a New Day

Dawn streaked clouds in blue sky

Amazing dawn greets me from the terrace of our room. I get to have coffee with this view.

This amazing photo was taken at the same time as I ate half of a chocolate, the dawn of Christmas Eve. A wonderful chance gave us one of the few rooms in this hotel that has a terrace outside of its sliding door. I took advantage to relax and take in my surroundings. To observe the beauty of nature, somewhat privately, yet hearing the hotel-piped Christmas music is a relaxing and gratitude inducing experience. At this moment, all was right with my world.

The Good

When I went down to get my coffee, I was greeted with a winter wonderland and an explosion of holiday decorations. I LOVED it. I felt festive and happy.

Laurie in front of the character, Olaf from Frozen

Olaf and I have a tender moment. The hotel has a whole area dedicated to photo ops from the movie, Frozen. Fun to watch the kids get excited here.

Another fun thing I love here is the chance to play ‘Bad Cats’ – my favorite pinball machine. It brings me back to my youth when there was no digital anything. When cameras had film, phone had cords, and teen hangouts had pinball wizards. Sadly, I wasn’t a wizard, but I LOVED to play. Pinball takes me outside of my body and all concentration is on those buzzers and bells. The machines are physical in how you gain feedback in a way video games are not. I love to play pinball. Mark and I had fun taking turns and laughing as much when we quickly lost our ball as when we made all of the buzzers sound and heard the exciting cry of ‘Bad Cats’.

Laurie in front of pinball machine - Bad Cats

One of my favorite things to do at this property. They have old style pinball – Bad Cats! It meows, hisses and makes me laugh.

Solvang – More Good – Mostly

Horse drawn trolley with Belgium Draft horses

Mark wants to go on the horse trolley tour of the Danish style town of Solvang. We did, it was awesome!

Solvang is a Danish style town up in the wine country of Santa Ynez. It was depicted well in the male-mid-life-crisis-buddy picture, Sideways. Mark and I in fact, ate dinner the night before Christmas Eve at the Hitching Post, the restaurant featured in Sideways. Delish! We ate for hours, drank a fine pinot, and I had no feeling of fear or of being overstuffed. I ate just enough for me and enjoyed it throughly. It was a good memory and enjoying our meal and each other was the focus of our night. Relationship-Primary Success!

Next day, at Solvang, Mark broke character and bought me a Christmas gift. This is what he used to do early in our marriage. But because we are such savers, we haven’t done something like this for a long time. Usually, we just window shop, if at all, not wanting more stuff to clean or to spend our money unwisely. We tend to go for exerience over things. But this cat pin feels like both. More of a souvenir of a great day, proof of Mark’s thoughtful knowlege of what I like, and a trinket I can hold rather than just another dust collector.

Close up of a gold cat pin with blue shell in center

Mark picked out and bought me this stylish cat pin in Solvang. I LOVE when he finds me gifts – we don’t do this as much as we used to, being retired and having tons of stuff. But this was special.

We also laughed and drank at the beer garden some dunkel bier (dark beer) in memory of my dad, who would have LOVED to be in a beer garden – not because he ever drank much (I inherit my low tolerance from him) but because of his love of all things German.

Laurie seated across a table raises a small beer with a huge glass of beer in the foreground

Mark enjoyed the contrast between my small and his large beer at the beer garden.

The Bad

As you can imagine from our ‘horsing around’, trinket shopping and beer garden adventures, we were feeling very jolly. We danced in a gazebo in a park and spied a Santa House and chair. We laughed and decided to grab a ‘Santa Selfie’ for fun. Enter the samaritan who insists on taking our photo for us to ‘include’ everything.

All of a sudden I’m not having fun. I’m feeling anxious, puffy, fat, out of control and this slender, kind, woman (bitch) is taking forever to snap many full body shots of a scene I don’t want to see. In it, I look strained, because I am not SITTING on Mark’s lap, I am perching holding my own weight. We thought our selfie to take 3 seconds. This went on and on and on. Again, she was being kind, and wanted a photo of hersef in return.

Here’s the evil (in my mind) result.

Laurie sites on Mark's lap at the Santa house

I’m being brave here. A lady took this photo, and not being prepared, I now get the chance to see what we look like at this angle. Normally, I’d discard or crop this result. But it was such a fun moment, I’m learning to accept ALL of myself, unflattering angles or not.

Between my murderous rage, and the maturity to write the miraculous caption above for the Santa photo, much went down.

Feeling Ugly

After the none-too-soon exit of the kind photo snapping stranger, Mark reviewed the photos on his phone and stealed himself for the question, he knew was coming.

‘Honey, is this a bad picture or do I look this way?’

‘Er…uh…Sorry, Hon, you look this way.’

‘WHAT?! When did THAT happen?’

‘Er I think with all of our going out and all…”


‘I think you’ve been puting on some weight the last 3 weeks’ (This was said all in a rush).

I collapse in a puddle of tears, embarrassment and disgrace.I’m speechless with self-deceit, disappointment in my size, and remorse for my ‘food sin’ that obviously got me to this state of woe but WORSE is that I feel these painful emoitions. Aren’t I doing well with Intuitive Eating? Aren’t I self-accepting? How the hell have I been wearing the same size and putting on 10 pounds at least? How? How? HOW? And HOW COME I FEEL THESE OLD SHAME FEELINGS ON CHRISTMAS!

More Miracles

Now as we have discussed many times, Mark is wonderful, but emotional discusions are not his strong suit. This time, he simply held me and let me cry. His shirt was soaked, he kissed my hair – he NEVER kisses my hair, and said, we’ve been eating out a lot. We haven’t been exercising as much, and you are still you – remember?

Still me?

He’s right! It’s ok to feel all of my feelings. I DID feel all of those bad feelings. I didn’t ask for more beer, or chocolate, or pastry. I cried on Mark’s shirt.

We went on to celebrate our hotel Christmas Eve with a music box we fell in love with.

Then on Christmas we caught a movie

Laurie by Into the Woods movie poster

Me by the Into the Woods movie poster. We saw the first show on Christmas Day.

Mark decided to be a photographer all day to take photos that celebrate how much fun I have and how good it feels to be me, no matter what I weigh.

Laurie in a red convertible with bikes leaned against it

Mark thought it woud be cute to show me in our red car with our red bikes in my red helmut. I’m ALWAYS happy in my car.

Then a Christmas bike ride – Mark made the effort to show me how strong I am.

Finally, back to the hotel after a long day of fun, hugs and feeling glad to be me.

Laurie leans on a white bridge with characters from Frozen and white Christmas trees in the background

I’m feeling like a princess in the photo place where you can meet up with Elsa, Olaf and other characters from Frozen. Mark has been MY prince this day.

Intutitive Eating

Intuitive Eating for me is a way to connect with my body and my feelings. It isn’t a magic pill. It doesn’t guarentee to make you thinner. It doesn’t wipe out all of the negative thought patterns built up over a life time. But my practice of it, did lead to true communication with my husband, true looks at myself, inside and out, and a true appreciation for all of my life, body, mind and soul. If that’s not a Christmas miracle, what is? Hope your holidays were wonderful BCs, but if you had some struggles, feel free to share. I understand.

If you would like to see more photos and videos of our trip, check me out on Instagram at LaurieDreamWeaver and look for the hashtag #ChristmasInCalifornia
Comments box:

15 thoughts on “Half a chocolate and other Christmas Miracles!

  1. Fionna

    Wow Laurie, this is wonderful! Thank you for sharing both the good and the bad. It helps me to remember that my weight matters 0% (outside of its effect on my health) to the people who love me. Plus or minus 10 lbs. doesn’t change my admiration of you one bit!

    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Thanks Fionna! I have to admit, I almost fell back into my diet cycle for about a second. But nope, I’ve come too far to step back on that disordered treadmill. (for me anyway, dieting IS one half of my binge eating cycle). I notice, even today, I’m much less puffy, so the bike ride did some good. Also, at dinner, I was not very hungry, so one bowl of the famous Andersen pea soup was enough. I have faith that in a month or so, this will most likely come off. If not, well, that’s too darn bad. But really, thanks for the support. It is hard to explain to most people that this weight gain is a bit of a victory and just another lesson in my journey. xoxoxox

  2. Dawny

    Thanks laurie. You ROCK!

    I’m sorry for your moments, but in the end it seems to have worked itself out and was beneficial to feel the feelings you did =~}

    I too am thankful for your sharing the good bad and fugly

    I envy your spirit and your lovely adventures

    You have a WONDERFUL husband and great marital relations!!!! Fantabulous just sayin…….

    I too think that you have an up and coming bravery report posting for this posting lol you are VERY brave and awwwwee inspiring.

    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      You have a WONDERFUL husband and great marital relations!!!! Fantabulous just sayin…….

      I thank you for this, Dawny! I read it to Mark, but he doesn’t believe it. He CAN be a pain, just as all of us can, but overall, he is a special guy. This time out, he could not have supported me better, and also did great at not trying to ‘fix it’. It was wonderful and allowed me to move on at my own pace. I really think that when we ‘fix’ each other, it does more harm than good. But that being said, I am all for giving and considering advice when asked. It’s a lot to ponder since *I*, myself have been a queen-bee fixer for most of my life. These lessons are sure hard to experience, but the results are like gold. Hugs to you and I hope your holidays have been fun. xoxoxoxox

  3. Cheryl

    What a wonderful Christmas story. Laurie, never doubt that you are the WHOLE package. What you’ve been looking for beyond the food is honesty and self-acceptance, and girl, I think you’ve found it. That was an excellent post! And Mark’s comment about eating out is SO true. If you gained anything while you were away, no doubt it was the salt in the bloody food. Don’t fret over it. As soon as your routine shifts into gear again that water will fall right back off.

    And if it helps, when I went with HL to see the nutritionist and he talked to her about the holidays, she told him that no one should be expected to forgo the special holiday food, only be moderate in his eating habits. Sounds to me like you did an excellent job of that! Dawny’s right. You rock!

    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      This is SO well said Cheryl that I’m going to put it on the fridge.

      What you’ve been looking for beyond the food is honesty and self-acceptance,

      This is so true. Why have I been SO DRIVEN to the extent of all else to have a different (smaller) body size? Because I equate THAT attribute for getting me love e.g., “good girl syndrome”. But it isn’t true. What gets me love, from myself and others, is being authentically caring. Not people pleasing, not isolating, not making everything about me and my food. Once food is food, I can consider its health value, its flavor, how physically hungry I am. I’m just now seeing that my disordered food relationship runs so deeply that I had no chance for lasting change by any diet or program. But as I move through all of these painful and freeing layers of who I am and what I want I am discovering my true emotional needs and doing my best to meet them without demonizing or holy-fiying different foods. Each in its time and place. I’m hoping I may be getting to where I can consider my diet (in the broadest sense of the word) attributes for better energy, sleep and health without triggering my deprivation diet/binge cycle. This will be awesome, because I will feel physically great as well as emotionally great – most of the time. But this is the scariest step yet as it is dangerously close to my diet mentality. But it is also a natural outgrowth of my legalizing every single food in the world. I’m tired of treats and my body is wanting me to go back to cooking. So treats may be treats again and my regular food closer to what it once was. The difference is I feel excited and not deprived as I truly know I can have without guilt anything. It is a very odd feeling….

      1. Dawny

        Oh my goodness! I love this. This says it better than anything I’ve ever read. Thank you for this. I needed to read this. This is it right here. I believe this is so true I’m so thankful that you found this place. I aspire to one day be there. I know I will be it’s just a matter of time. I’ve got to start peeling back the layers in an honest way as you have. I will get there I believe that. Thank you so much for sharing this Laurie. Thank you so much for letting us share in this very personal intimate journey with you

        1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

          I’m so glad Dawny! I’m hoping my next steps forward will be beneficial for me and not getting me ready to fall back into old habits. But right now, I don’t think so. I just now spent a couple of hours making some amazing lentil burgers. It took time to shop, time to chop, time to clean up as I went. But I tasted my burger mix and it is AMAZING tasting. It is also very heart healthy and right now I need to bring down my LDL just a bit. I don’t feel upset by this. I notice I’ve been eating quite a bit of dairy lately, since I have a break from singing and voice acting lessons. I don’t eat much meat already, as I am super picky and don’t like much of it. But when I DO each meat it is usually beef or pork, so time to find some delish new veggie based proteins to add to my diet. I’m really happy to cook. I’m so lucky I LOVE to cook and it literally feels like I’m loving myself by doing so. Like I’m finally taking the time for me. Keep on keeping on Dawny. Sometimes progress LOOKS like backsliding. But I think you can tell if it truly is, or if you are just processing a lesson. xoxoxoxox
          PS, even though I’m going to try thinking about health attributes I’m not going to weigh, measure or count anything. (except for recipe purposes)

          1. Dawny

            you truly inspire me so much.. I know I just have been eating too much food, as in volume etc. but im working on being mindfully aware, Im proud of me today, I didn’t go to the dessert bar at lunch, my mom went and picked up 3 desserts, and I tasted some of hers (lord knows she did NOT NEED 3 to herself) but I didn’t even go to the temptation! this is HUGE in itself, BUT the fact that I was able to stay VERY portion controlled by doing this i left lunch feeling A: Successful and B: NOT over-stuffed and C: no GUILT or eaters remorse

  4. Cassie

    Laurie, thank you so much for being so open. That post was raw and vulnerable. All of the things you felt ring so true to me. I’m humbled by your courage in posting something so troubling to you. I’ll Be listening to Brene” Brown all night now. All the shame I feel about my own body haunts me. You inspire me with every post. Love and hugs and kisses. You’re awesome and beautiful. You’re my hero!

    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Thanks dear Cassie, for this wonderful emotional support. As I replied to Cheryl and Dawny too, my husband Mark’s letting me go through my feelings and not ‘fixing’ them for me, was so key in me feeling ok with them. It isn’t fun to post a ‘fat’ photo or to admit negative feelings, but it is not nearly so painful as it once was. Just like I have legalized food to neutralize it from binary thinking, I am doing the same with my feelings. We ALL have negative as well as positive feelings. It is natural and expressing the negative in a healthy way, like sharing them here, sharing with a trusted friend, writing in a journal, or talking on a podcast, helps to let them go. To hide them and dwell on them make those negative feelings and thoughts the focus of our life. Dear Cassie, I try to focus as much as I can on the positive. It is so hard. I AM an Eeyore – born and bred, but for me, this change of focus is so vitally important to any change that I do to improve my relationships and my life. I now look for the best in Mark, in myself, in the annoying sales clerk. Almost anything has an upside. And if I can’t find it, Mark and I have a new saying, ‘Disappointment is not devastation’. Disappointment is a blip. Your body has many wonderful attributes as does mine. Our shame comes from our buying into what our bodies ‘should be’, not what they are. Even if we exercise or choose to eat more veggies etc., it is easier to do that from a place of love and appreciation for our bodies. I know it is difficult when we are used to seeing ourselves cloaked in self-hatred and despair. But I can even look at the dreaded santa chair photo now and laugh. What a fun day that was. How annoyingly nice that woman who took the photo was. What a victory that I can stand to see myself in the non-perfect way that others see me all of the time. To most others that is just a fun shot of Laurie and Mark at Solvang at Christmas. To those who would judge me for my looks in it, well screw them! I choose to be with those who celebrate me and wish me well. The rest are chaff. You are such a wonderful, thoughtful, caring person to post this to me. Take a minute and soak that in. xoxoxoxoxox
      PS, hope you enjoyed your Brene day 🙂

      1. Cassie

        Thank you. I need to read this many more times to get that there’s somebody out there who gets me. I can’t tell you how much this means!

  5. Dawny

    I just had to come back and re-visit all of this, what an amazing post/thread..

    Laurie, you are TRULY onto something here with your thinklings, that are giving me things to think..

    Thank you for the Christmas miracle


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