Hi this is Monica – I love running, eating & sharing the best tips and strategies to help you run your best life. It’s time to get inspired, do the work and be brave so you can chase down your goals!
Today I’m sharing a trick that really helped me stop binge eating – and along the way I realized it’s a tool you can use to change a bad habit or something about yourself that you want to stop or improve.
Oh and – Diego almost drowned this weekend. Let’s talk about that while we warm up.
2 Dog Stories
1st I thought I was being attacked!!
2nd Diego Almost Drowned!!!
Pictures from Diego’s near drowning drama…
This is the plastic tarp that helps keep the pool water warm. It’s a Solar Pool Cover – meant to help heat the pool water stay warmer with the heat from the sun & prevent evaporation.
Listen to the podcast for the story!
I want to pass on a life-changing hack that I learned when I was battling with binge eating in college. And what’s magical about this trick is that it’s helpful to deal with a lot of different bad habits or self destructive behaviors that you want to work on.
First a disclaimer: Eating disorders and mental health are very important. If you’re struggling with something – get professional help. This is serious.
You don’t have to be diagnosed with a specific eating disorder or mental health issue to need help. You deserve to live your best life and if your relationship with food, your body image or self esteem are negatively impacting your life – get help to change that.
I’ll put resources in the show notes for information on where to get help for mental health and eating disorders. I’m not a doctor or therapist and this show is not advice or guidance on your health.
Resources for Mental Health, Eating Disorders, Disordered Eating and more:
How I Stopped Binge Eating
First a little backstory on me… I started dieting in high school and ironically ended up gaining more and more weight In college I tried every diet I could – high protein / low carb, weight watchers, cabbage soup diet, pre-portioned meals and more.
And the one that I kept going back to was basically a very low calorie diet, barely eating anything all day.
I was busy – so I’d exercise, go to class, my part-time job, another class or do homework, hang out with my boyfriend… it was often a long day … on probably half as many calories as my body needed.
So I’d come home and eat dinner, then dessert, then 13 other random snacks and treats because my body was hungry and thought food was scarce.
Eventually I started to binge eat when no one was around. Then, I’d wake up feeling like complete shit about myself both physically and mentally. I’d ‘punish’ myself by trying to barely eat anything the next day… which would lead to another binge and repeat.
I was constantly thinking about food. Every second I was obsessed with if I ate too much at my last meal or when I could eat again. It was miserable – and sad.
I realized I had a problem because my boyfriend at the time wanted to do normal things like go to Disneyland or his friend’s BBQ and I wouldn’t want to go because I was too self conscious about how I looked or was stressed about the food they’d have there.
The concept of the book is that we’re born knowing when we’re hungry and how much to eat. But that signal can be put on mute for various reasons like…
You’re forced to eat all your food when you’re not hungry
You’re rushed to eat over and over for a long time
You didn’t have enough food at one point
You were told (or told yourself) a certain food was ‘bad’
You used food to distract yourself, as a friend, to keep you company, numb feelings, etc.
You dieted or restricted food
You overate (or binged)
Or a lot of other reasons. The point is – you can’t tell when you’re hungry. But the good news is you can get back to intuitive eating – you just need to rebuild those signals.
But – this is extra hard for someone who has body image issues, wants to lose weight or uses food as a coping mechanism.
When you judge yourself for when you eat, when you eat, how much you eat or how you look – it’s hard to change bad habits because they’re not just habits – they’re emotional.
For example… Let’s say I want to lose weight. I don’t like how I look and believe I really need to lose 20 pounds.
So I’m going to go on the keto diet to lose weight. And I’ll keep running 6 days a week – that way I’ll lose weight fast!
And I start the diet, it goes great at first. I stick to it the first few days. But then I start to get hungry and I feel like I’ve been denying myself… so I end up standing in front of the freezer at midnight eating an entire gallon of ice cream and half a box of cookies.
My reaction would be to feel like shit, feel fat, hate myself, be so discouraged and stressed that I just ruined any progress I made!! I’d be mean to myself and decide to start over.
But that isn’t really helpful, right?
I found myself with an empty gallon of ice cream for a reason – and I’m not learning about what really got me there by being mean or negative.
So finally we get to the hack:
How to Stop a Bad Habit or behavior that isn’t good for you
Imagine you’re an anthropologist... You’re assigned to study the behavior of one human in different situations. (In case you’re not familiar anthropologists study humans, human behavior and societies.)
Your task is to quietly and carefully watch this human and take notes when they’re in certain stressful situations.
Note the action and anything that may be relevant. [Ex. Time of day, stress, blood sugar, fatigue, preceding events, upcoming events, previous social interactions, future social interactions, etc]
Do not make any judgement or conclusions about what you see.
Keep all your notes neutral, but sensitive to their emotions and mental health.
Be kind and curious at all times.
Use the information to list 3-5 factors that may have led to this situation.
List 3-5 things that may help this human avoid this behavior in the future.
The human you’re assigned to is YOU.
And if you truly do this with an open mind and open heart – you can get to a place where you just see yourself as an imperfect human making mistakes and question why you’re making those mistakes.
The thing is shame, judgement or defensiveness can get in your way. It’s not helpful so nothing is going to improve.
If I think about how I binged last night and just think about how much I hate myself and am frustrated with myself and should punish myself today… I’m not learning anything.
So I do it over and over without slowing down to question – why am I doing this??
If you can’t imagine yourself as an anthropologist – you can try this exercise by just being KIND and CURIOUS.
Be kind and curious towards yourself when you’re trying to overcome harmful or unhealthy habits.
Be kind and curious towards others when you’re trying to figure out why they say or do something you feel is wrong.
This is directly relevant to Run Eat Repeat and I also want to point out that this exercise is helpful in life.
If you are automatically defensive when someone tries to tell you something… it shuts the conversation down.
If you’re dismissive when people talk about racism or sexism then you might miss an opportunity to learn and grow.
Be kind and curious towards yourself and everyone around you when there’s a teachable moment. And definitely teach when you can!
I’m not saying kindness = quiet.
You can be firm in your beliefs and convictions, lead by example and not tolerate racism or hate.
It would be great if we all got really good at speaking in such a way that people didn’t get defensive, so they were able to listen and learn.
But if you can’t even do that with yourself – if you can’t watch yourself do something crappy and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? What happened that made you want to say that or do that?’
How do you expect to understand someone else? It has to start with you. Lead by example. Be kind and curious towards yourself. Work on yourself. Be kind and curious towards others. And keep going.
It took me years to really ‘get it’ but maybe that’s for the best because I’ve realized one of the key things I learned in trying to stop my out of control binge eating cycle is advice that’s helped me work on other issues that were taking me down.
It’s a kind of a self-awareness exercise that’s helped me feel more comfortable looking at unhealthy and self-harming behaviors.
And being able to actually pause and look at these things for even a second without being overwhelmed with embarrassment or shame helped me see it in a different way and made me more able to address it.
Because if you’re doing something really crappy, either to yourself or to someone else – and someone points it out to you… the default reaction is often to be defensive or deny it.
So nothing gets better! You keep doing that crappy thing and being defensive about it if you’re confronted – even if you try to confront yourself.
I originally adapted this from the book Intuitive Eating when I was years into a binge / restrict cycle that I wanted desperately to stop – but couldn’t. And since it’s a tool in my lil tool belt of coping mechanisms, I realized it’s helpful related to other negative traits I want to work on.
All the dogs in the world for being amazing. I love you boo.
Disclaimer: All the information on this show and the corresponding website and social media are intended for entertainment use only and are not medical advice. This podcast, website and social media are the opinions of the show host and guests. Always check with your doctor before trying any diet or exercise routine.