Eating Disorder Recovery – Tips That Helped Me Take My Life Back

So here’s the thing about eating disorder recovery.

It is so freaking hard to write about.

I’ve started out posts multiple times with some tips or some techniques I’ve learned but then I realize that it’s impossible to describe how I’ve implemented them into my life because some of them have only worked once and some of them work always but I ignore them on purpose because I’m kind of messed up in the head like that and I don’t want to lead anyone astray.

But now I’m just kind of like, fuck it.

As long as you know that the information below is only my personal experience, and I’m certainly no doctah, and what you read could also trigger you into a binge or a relapse, then I’ll write it. Read at your discretion and know that I’m not here with any concrete answers, only the things that have worked for moi.

So here goes.

First of all – let me just fill you in on what I’m actually recovering from. I started secretly bingeing at age fifteen. I hit puberty at age fourteen on a family cruise to Alaska where I was too afraid to try tampons and thus spent the entire week staying out of the hot tub. It was fantastic.

At fifteen, I was no longer wearing cute little size three flares and tube tops from Wal-mart. I ballooned to a size nine within minutes it seemed. My dance teacher was less than thrilled with my “pooch pouch” that was forming below my belly button because it meant that two piece costumes at competition were out of the question. While the older girls in class were still able to wear low-cut jazz pants and sports bras to class, I was stuffing myself into leotards and covering them up with jazz pants and then another shirt on top of that. I guess “thick” would be a good word to describe my fifteen-year-old self. Dancing twenty hours a week in front of mirrors made it impossible for me to deny that that my body was changing rapidly.

I was just so sad that this was all happening. I didn’t know what to do about my expanding hips and my soft back fat and my stretch marked thighs, so I ate to forget. My parents would leave me home alone because I was old enough and I would eat all the Ritz crackers with jelly. All the chocolate peanut butter chips – straight from the bag. All the cheese, all the ice cream, all the pickles. Oh my God and the Better Cheddars. We were ALWAYS out of Better Cheddars. Sorry.

Take this story all over the east coast – from Pennsylvania to Virginia (college) to New York City (auditioning) to New Jersey (boyfriend) to Hilton Head (performing job) to Albany to Fort Lauderdale and all the way back to Washington Heights, NYC where everything came crashing down around me, finally, a decade after I first learned how to eat myself into a coma.

I came to find that I was an emotional eater. A compulsive eater. A secret eater. A food addict. And an extremely disordered eating female with depression and anxiety and no way to get help through my measly health insurance.

So I read. I read and read and read and read and read. Geneen Roth mainly, and addiction books, and Marianne Williamson, and all the things on Renfrew’s site.

And through reading and my own tweaks and my own journaling, this is what I’ve learned.

  1. I have to keep all the food in the house. Fuck this Weight Watchers “keep your environment safe” bullshit. I need to have the Nutella and the ice cream and the cheese and the pesto and the cookies and the pizza and the beer in the house. For ten years I kept it all OUT of the house and spent nearly $40,000  on binges where I’d go and get it anyway, bring it in, eat it all up, and throw the containers in the garbage outside so that in my mind I could say “it was never inside”. For me to feel safe, I need all of it IN my environment. Now when I started doing this, yea, the ice cream disappeared within hours. But a month into it, I kept a carton of cookies ‘n’ cream in the house for an entire two weeks. Six months later, and I kept it in the freezer so long I forgot about it (community housing – it got hidden behind everyone else’s stuff and I totally forgot it was there). A year later, and I can bring multiple flavors into the house and they can be in there anywhere between one day and one month. It depends on my PMS and how hot it is outside, but it no longer scares me to have it in there. I need to know it’s there for my convenience at any time, and all of a sudden, it doesn’t consume my thoughts anymore. Hence why we’ve had two monstrous containers of Nutella from Costco in our pantry for over a month and I’ve only eaten an eighth of one jar. (I was going to show a picture but HELLO triggers – not appropriate today.)
  1. When I’m hungry, I need to eat NOW. I spent ten years ignoring hunger signals and only eating carbs for breakfast but never dinner and always before 7pm and every three hours and not at all and counting points and when I finally hit that rock bottom, I learned to listen to my body. My beautiful intuitive body that I never gave any credit to. My body tells me when I’m hungry and I listen now. It took me a year to figure out exactly what those signals are – the hunger signals and the full signals and the “i need protein” signals – but it was worth all the listening because I’m not one of those people that wakes up every day at the same time and can eat oatmeal for breakfast for the rest of my life. I need change and I need options and I need to eat when my body is ready – not before or after. Diets never taught me any of these things, and it was only after I stopped dieting that I could really spend time with my own body and learn the way it speaks. And it took me A YEAR y’all. As in, TWELVE MONTHS. As in, A WHILE. It did not, I repeat, IT DID NOT happen overnight.
  2. Oh my God the triggers. None of this “Healthy is the new skinny” shit on Facebook and no recipes. Nooooo recipes. No Women’s Health, no Glamour, no Cosmo. Twitter is a constant trigger no matter who I unfollow so I just stay off it altogether unless I post. Facebook has a mind of it’s own so I choose to follow Astrology writers and Ram Dass and “I Fucking Love Science” instead of all this Mind Body Green shit. I can’t see lists of things to eat and things not to eat and not be triggered. Know your triggers. Does seeing a list of things to do with chia seeds trigger you? Unfollow. Do ads for beer or weight loss or life coaching trigger you? Unfollow. Unfriend. Unlike. Immediately. Like it or not, social media is a humungous part of our lives. It’s how I’ve reached all of you. Thank God. I fucking love you and would not trade this for the world. But know your triggers – even if it’s me and my page – and cut them out.
  3. Friendship/Significant Others/Family: Be straight up. Don’t tiptoe. This might not be your style, so perhaps emailing them one of these articles could be helpful as well.*

Table for Three: You, Me and My Eating Disorder (a straight up guide for friends and loved ones)

Tips for Family (from the Renfrew site)

*There are many many many like TOO MANY articles on how to stage an intervention and how to try to get help for a person with an eating disorder but not nearly enough articles on what to do once they are in recovery and are seeking help. Especially for significant others. This is something I am determined to work on and will post as soon as it comes. If you know of one, please post it in the comments below so we can spread it far and wide. Mahalo.

With friends, family, and loved ones, do not be afraid to tell them exactly what you need. My family, well, those who understand anyway (grandparents don’t count – they forget and they don’t understand and they really just want to “fatten” us all up with cookies and how can you get mad at that?), knows to not say a word about my eating choices. When I eat, what I eat, and how I eat it (yes, mom, sometimes I wrap cheese around a pickle like a pregnant woman and put sriracha on it and I don’t even have an answer for why) is off the table for comments. It took them a few years to fully commit to this but this summer with my seven weeks home really helped them understand. Not eating at dinner because I’m not hungry? Sorry mom, that pasta looks delicous, but I might not be ready to eat it til 9pm tonight when you’ve already cleaned up. And I say, that’s okay because of where I’m at on my journey.

When it comes to loved ones, ask and you shall receive, for the most part. My mom was amazing and understanding and never once pushed me this summer when I ate at weird times with weird condiments. My dad is still learning, but he’ll get there and he’s aware and that’s what matters. Talk to your friends and your cousins and your girlfriend and your hubby and be as straight up as possible.

“I need to keep this nine dollar jar of organic pecan butter in the house and I need you to not comment on it’s price, it’s size, or it’s taste. It is my choice right now and it’s part of my recovery and I need you to support me.”

“I need you to pick the place for dinner tonight, and if you say it and I wrinkle up my nose because it doesn’t sound good to me, I need you to not get frustrated. I realize that I am frustrating you but I am not in a place to make decisions because I don’t know what I want and I would really appreciate your patience in this decision making process tonight.”

Okay, whatever it is, there is no harm in asking. And if your friend/boy/mom can’t understand why this is, I ask you to also be patient with them. They may accidentally make a judgemental face that they have no control over when they see you pouring animal crackers on top of a bowl of ice cream and they may accidentally ask you why you need to order pizza AND pasta AND salad AND dessert and the more patient you are with them, the more patient they will get with you. It’s a give give situation here. No one is perfect and this is a touchy subject that needs care and compassion from all sides – including yours.

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5. Know your other “vices”. Cigarettes and TV are mine. When I am emotional and want to binge, I don’t reach for the beer so much as I crave a smoke and an SVU marathon. And you know what, I fully accept that laying on the couch on a beautiful beach day and choosing Olivia and Elliot over the sunshine is absolutely part of my healing process and a choice that I make when I don’t have the energy to go live life in the sand today. It’s a distraction, it’s a simple comfort, but you know what? It’s not a jar of Nutella and as long as I’m aware of it, I carry on with my marathon and do my best to forgive myself. The cigarettes – not so much, because I’m a role model for my students and I had such a hard time quitting that buying a pack would just send me into hardcore reverse. But occasionally I’ll bum one and feel satisfied and I do my best not to feel shitty about that too. I’m in recovery from an addictive habit – and most disordered eating is addictive if you really think about it – so knowing what you are using instead of eating/refraining from eating as your new vice is super crucial to your recovery and a healthy life. Forgive yourself for the replacements and give yourself a little credit for being aware and just do your best today. That’s all you, or anyone else, can ask for.

6. Therapy. Finding a therapist isn’t easy. Depending on where you live, you might be lucky enough to have an eating disorder clinic in your area that offers outpatient therapy. If you’re not so lucky, and you live in Hawaii like me and there is absolutely NOTHING pertaining to eating disorders at all (on the Big Island anyway), ask your health care provider for a list of counselors in your community and buck up and give them a call. I called around today, yes literally today before typing this up, and talked to some “therapists” that didn’t even ask my full name or what I was looking to get out of counseling. NEXT PLEASE. Then, when I was about to give up, I called a woman that has a PhD and asked appropriate questions and has already sent me forms to fill out so I can show up and just have a relaxing appointment. Shopping around is clutch – it’s like finding an agent as an actress – they are working for you, not the other way around. Trying them on for size takes time and is a real pain in the ass, but at the end, the payoff is something healthy for YOU. You get to take away the benefits of therapy and apply it towards a happier healthier life.

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Holy shit, my arm hurts from typing this so fast. But you know, it’s been calling to be written for months now and I can’t keep putting it off until I find the right pictures or the right title or the right statistics to offer you. Please, for the love of all things healthy, pick up a copy of When Food is Love by Geneen Roth and allow yourself to become aware of your patterns. Or start from the very beginning and find solace in others like you in Feeding The Hungry Heart. I don’t love Geneen so much anymore because she charges you for everything and doesn’t really like to communicate with her fans but you know what the bitch can write and she writes it all and she helped me and I can’t deny that for a second.

Body love is a whole nother topic in this whole recovery thing and I’ll be on it very soon. It’s actually a huge gigantic amazing fabulous component that deserves a post all of its own.

I hope this list helps and I hope you find something here that sheds some light. Share it with someone who needs it. Print it out and put it in an inspiring place. YOU CAN DO THIS. I HAVE FAITH IN YOU. YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU REALIZE. YOUR LIFE IS YOURS AND YOURS ALONE. I AM YELLING AND I AM SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I BELIEVE ALL THESE THINGS TO BE TRUE. YOU ARE FUCKING AMAZING AND YOU DESERVE RECOVERY AND THERAPY AND LIGHT AND BREATH AND SANITY AND FEELINGS OF SAFETY AND CONTENT.

AND, last but not least, you know you can always email me at roarmovement@gmail.com with questions and concerns.

All my love and support and congratulations for being open to help and doing what you can to recover –

Trusty

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Using Mindful Eating in Eating Disorder Recovery

Silence.

The most deafening fucking sound in the world.

When was the last time you were alone somewhere with yourself?

I don’t mean right now, when you’re reading this waiting for last night’s OkCupid date to text even though you didn’t even think he was that cute.

And I don’t mean while you’re laying in bed listening to Sara Bareilles trying to find the motivation to go sign up for the Mamma Mia ECC.

I mean you – sans headphones, books, music, phone, computer, people. I mean you…and your thoughts.

Alone. Silent.

AHHHH! FUCKING SCARY, EH?

Welcome to the healing process.

In one week, I have gone from pretty low (re: last week’s post) to feeling pretty free.

I don’t mean entirely free from binging. Or entirely free from anxiety.

But I feel more free than I did last week when I think binging took over my life for a few days all over again.

My boss, Annalisa, actually instilled a new practice here at the yoga retreat where I’m volunteering.

Silent Sundays.

Coming from a background with Vipassana retreats (10 days of silent meditation), Annalisa started offering us a chance to wear a white sash that alerts the community that we are taking a silent day. No one bothers us, looks us in the eye, or tries us to get to talk. The rules are simple. No communication. No electronics. Minimal reading and writing.

The point? To get to know yourself. To feel shit. To allow thoughts to come and go, observe them, but not dwell on them. To feel your breath. Hell, just to feel your heartbeat. When was the last time you gave your heart some credit for beating? Too busy beating yourself up for putting mayo on your burger? We have to stop that. Put your damn hands on your heart and give yourself a fucking break. Everyone puts mayo on shit, man. And if they don’t, they totally have an obsession with barbeque sauce instead. It’s always something.

Regardless of your condiment choice, you’ll find that you’re still breathing. Your heart is still beating. And your brain still works.

From Silent Sundays came all kinds of revelations for me. To share them would be selling them short, because some of them are special enough to me to just hold on to for now, but they created a safe space for me where I know that everything’s gonna be okay. I sure do forget sometimes, but if I take a minute, and close my eyes, and put my hands on my heart, and calm the fuck down, I can go back to that place where I remember I live in Hawaii. I’m healing. I’m tan. On the surface, life is pretty stress-free, considering.

I offer you all of this recent personal experience with silence in order to get to my main point.

Mindful eating.

Yea. Those people you see sometimes who eat a bite of food, sit back in their chair, put their fork down, and enjoy the bite?

I hate them too.

They look so pretentious. I literally want to rip the fork out of their hand and shove their plate in their face.

And now I’m one of them.

I learned about mindful eating from Annalisa on my first Silent Sunday. I totally didn’t do it. Like, I think I did the opposite and ate even faster.

But after last week’s relapse I decided to go back to basics and give it a fucking try.

Oh, my loves.

I have already completely revolutionized my attack on bingeing by eating at the silent table we have here for every meal in just one week. At the silent table, I practice mindful eating.

Now, I can’t take credit for any of this, okay? I’m just sharing what’s working for me. And I feel like I need to do so because you know my dirty binging habits, and I feel like if I tell you something is working for me, there’s a chance you will try it.

Because if you read that someone who was as out of control as I was, has found something that is helping everything come back to neutral, maybe you will feel inspired.

At the bottom of this week’s blog post you will find a link to Headspace.com’s tips for Mindful Eating. I find them to be the simplest, and the most sensible. It’s worth a read, my dearies.

To put it simply, it’s this concept where you breathe before you eat, appreciate your food, focus on each bite, actually taste the food, rest between bites, and notice your body’s reaction to all of it. I eat way less because I sometimes just need one taste of the cheesy noodles or the macadamia nut caramel bar. (Still haven’t gotten to that place with chocolate, but I mean seriously, baby steps, am I right?) When I pay attention to one bite, it means so much more than the shoveling action I’m used to. I also notice when my body is actually hungry, and then when it is actually comfortable and satisfied. That bloated feeling when you eat fast and you’re full and you can’t suck it in? Ain’t no thang no more with this mindful eating crap. It’s like, so cool.

I’ve only been doing this for one week, okay? I don’t know if I follow the rules correctly. I can only tell you what I’ve been doing. Very simply, let me just say, if you get overwhelmed by reading the article, just try eating one meal this week silently. Slowly. Putting your fork down between bites, and stopping eating when you take that big breath where you’re like, satisfied but not full. You know that breath. If you’re like me, you ignore it and just eat faster normally. But it’s something to be valued. And if you just try it once this week, your body might just love you for it.

So there’s that. That whole actually breathing and tasting your food thing. And it comes along with silence dude. Like, no TV while you eat. No book. No music. No social eating.

Silence.

Besides the mindful eating, I encourage you to take the time off for yourself to have a silent day in the next week or so. No, really! Listen to me. It is so much worth your time. No TV. No texting. No…music. Shut your mouth, and find some courage deep within you that I totally know is there, and try it.

It would be so nice of you to take the time to listen to your body. Is it tired? Thirsty? Hungry? Or is it just fucking content the way it is?

Are you bored? Or are you just scared to hear what is gonna pop up?

Are you over it? Or are you totally not down with getting to know your innermost thoughts and fears right now?

Look. If you’re reading this, there’s a 65% chance you live in New York City. I understand that there is no such thing as silence there. But I’m not asking you to find a silent spot where you live. I’m asking you to take silence into your own hands and create it yourself by being the silence.

Make sure you have a journal handy. You’re gonna wanna write your revelations down. So much shit came up for me. Some joyous, and some not so joyous. It’s not all pretty. But like Annalisa says, it’s actually really pretty. Because you’re giving yourself time and space to feel pain or joy and really feel it and then let it go. And that’s really beautiful.

Turn your damn phone on airplane mode. Let the laundry go just one day. Don’t look in the mirror for the first half of the day. Then, maybe take some time and look at yourself and really take it in. Figure out what you love about what you see. Then maybe next week, you can join me on this quest where I look at the parts of me that I avoid with my eyes in order to find what I can love and accept about it. IT’S GONNA BE GREAT FUN YOU GUYS SERIOUSLY I JUST CAN’T WAIT TO LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS I’VE AVOIDED FOR ALL THIS TIME SERIOUSLY IT’S GONNA BE SO GREAT. Just. So. Great.

Anyways. Can I just end on one more positive, inspiring note?

I have a new habit.

Even when I found myself out to dinner this week celebrating a month of amazingness with a beautiful man here in Hawaii, I still put my fork down between each bite. I learned that from mindful eating at the silent table this week and it stuck.

For once, good things are sticking. This is EVERYTHING. Good things are sticking!

Everything’s gonna be okay. I’m just so happy to be living proof for the “baby steps” mantra.

Baby fucking steps. You got this. I got this. One baby step at a time.

Here is the article that puts Mindful Eating quite simply: Mindful Eating by Headspace

Next week’s posting:

Forgiveness


On Dating and Dieting in Show Business

Dating.

Actually, the combination of dating and eating. Sometimes, it doubly affects those of us in the entertainment industry.

Isn’t it crazy how…

When you date a person who could care less about food, all you do is wish they understood your love for food – whether you’re eating in their absence, or as you eat in right in front of them?

So that when you say, “baby, let’s go get ice cream”, and they say, “nah, i’m not hungry”, something inside of you clenches up. You feel guilty, embarrassed, sad, and mad all at the same time. Guilty and embarrassed for asking and wanting ice cream. Sad that they aren’t just like you when it comes to food. Mad that it even matters.

But THEN…

When you date a person who loves food, you’re half pissed and half happy that it gives you an excuse to eat more food. And you feel guilty and embarrassed for loving the person even more because they want to eat when you want to eat. You’re sad that it matters to you so much. Maybe even mad that this is such an important thing to you when you look for a partner.

So the good news is, when it comes to dating, you’re damned if you find someone who’s hungry and you’re damned if you find someone who’s not.

AMAZING.

A prime example is when I first met Stallion last year. My 37-year-old, very sexy, very funny, emotionally unavailable Italian-American boyfriend of 8 months. I wrote this about him in a file I had started on my laptop named “My Fucking Memoirs”:

October 9th, 2012

I met a man who eats ice cream out of the actual half gallon container and lets me put sprinkles and whipped cream on it. He eats it with a fork. I love him. He understands sleeping in and not showering and clothes on the floor. Like seriously thank you for your time. It’s about time. I have never seen him in a shirt and tie and I don’t really want to because his jersey shore wife beater style is so much better for me. I hate businessman. I don’t want to date businessman. They don’t know anything about girls like me and I have no interest in hearing about their lives. Like their lives are not anything I want a part of except their money and even then I just don’t want to have to unbutton that many buttons just to thank them for the expensive dinner I shouldn’t have eaten cuz it was covered in truffle oil and special fucking sheep cheese and shit that I now have deduct from my Weight Watchers points that are strictly meant for Nutella.

You may notice I was going through a phase where I just didn’t like to use punctuation.

You may also notice that I felt so comfortable around Stallion because he loved food. He would never turn me down when I wanted to eat. He could eat and eat and eat just like I could. You see how much I fell for this man just because he was the kind known to eat dollar pizza as an appetizer before we even went for dinner?

Food links us to people. It is a social activity, especially in New York. And especially in what we do for a living. You audition all day – you go to happy hour. Your friend returns from a year on the road – you go for dinner. You had a great callback – you celebrate with a cupcake. You had a bad callback – you treat yourself to a cupcake. We convene over coffee, lunches, and drinks whenever there is a birthday, engagement, or good-bye party. It’s what we do.

The most social eating of all though, comes with dating. The first date is normally some drinks. Dinner if it goes well. And this happens for a few dates because let’s be honest here – I live in New York City. Here, we have to be extra careful when we meet these people out on dates – we have no idea what level of crazy we might be dealing with. We’ve seen Law & Order: SVU and we aren’t trying to bring homeboy back to the apartment right away. It might be cheaper to grab a bottle of wine and a Trader Joe’s Penne Arrabiata and cook for two at home, but honey, I am a starving artist who doesn’t always have the opportunity to go to the fancy places. Why would I not want someone to take me to the 90 dollar dinner, with drinks, at the newest, darkest cocktail bar below 14th Street? It might be the only time we get to try said cocktail bar before it’s turned over into a new hookah bar featuring Spanish/Chinese/African/American Bistro fusion food with a Thai Mexican flair.

And so, if you’re on any sort of diet regimen during all of this time when you’re trying very hard to figure out if this OkCupid situation is a bust or not, you’re also counting calories, only drinking clear liquor, and turning down the most delicious chocolate cake you’re ever fucking seen during your dates because, surprise, surprise, you have to be in a leotard and tights for A CHORUS LINE call at 10am tomorrow.

That’s a lot of things to focus on when all you really should be doing is going for drinks with someone who might make you laugh, or tell you’re beautiful, if you could just get out of your head for a few minutes and enjoy the moment.

When I was watching my weight, aka, what I’ve been doing every day since I’m 16, I was so fucking concerned about the fact that if I wanted more than one beer on a date, I’d have to pay for it at the gym the whole next day. This automatically made me focus on all the beers I couldn’t have, instead of the cold, frothy one right in front of me. So I missed out on the great conversation, and the taste of that nine dollar beer that this gorgeous dude was buying me, because my mind was pre-occupied. I was racing to come up with excuses as to why I wouldn’t want an order of fries in a few minutes, or why I was about to switch to Bud Light for 99 calories.

And people wonder why my ring finger is naked.

HELLO. I’VE NEVER GIVEN ANYONE THE TIME OF DAY BECAUSE I’VE BEEN TOO WORRIED ABOUT THE CALORIES IN A FUCKING BEER ON A DATE.

But listen! In this career, sometimes that’s life.

Where do we draw the line between going out and meeting Mr. Comedian With The Blue Eyes for some drinks and tapas, or going home and going to bed, knowing that we have to be in shape for an audition every day in March? Because the summer season is fast approaching and this is the month that determines whether we have to wait tables for a summer or if we get wigged and costumed for a summer. 

At what point do we get to stop going crazy about having dessert on our third date with Mr. English Accent With The Tattoos but then feeling like we should say no to a nightcap because we have to take ballet at 9am with that teacher who is also choreographing HELLO DOLLY in July?

It’s so hard to say.

Do I have all of the answers? Well. Kind of.

First of all, obsessing over it is definitely not the answer.

But how the fuck are we NOT supposed to obsess over it?

As my gay husband, B, is always telling me, we have to live in the moment.

However, as I used to constantly whine back to him, dieting does not ALLOW us to live in the moment. Because we are always planning, planning, planning the next thing we can or cannot have.

Soooo, what am I telling you to do exactly?

Stop dieting?

Well, I mean, that’s what I’ve done. That’s what has gotten me here. But you don’t have to. Live your life and take what I say and use it in whatever capacity you want to as you continue your own journey.

But in regards to living in the moment, let me say this.

If you go on a date this week, or next week, or if you are already dating someone wonderful, or even mediocre, could you please try just this once, to go out with them and simply…have a beer? Sit and listen to them while you sip that beer, and really focus on what they are saying.  This will actually keep you from thinking about the next beer, or the french fries, or the pizza you want to binge on when you get home from this date, that you have already assumed won’t end well, even though you don’t even know that yet. Because guess what? You just sat down to the FIRST beer. And he JUST started telling you the whereabouts of his apartment in Brooklyn. And you’re trying to figure out what the hell he means when he says he takes the “G Train”. And if you engage with him as he lights up about his rescued dog and his orange bike that he’s had since college, and you continue to ask questions to really find out a little more about him, you might notice that the first beer disappears a little less quickly. And the second beer might just come along because you’re having a really nice time. And it might take an extra long time to finish the second beer because now he’s asking YOU a bunch of questions. You’re so busy telling him about how much you love to sing covers of Amy Winehouse with your band that breaks up once a month that rehearses in Brooklyn (nowhere near the G train obviously), that you haven’t even had time to finish your second beer before you both realize this has been really nice, and it’s getting late, but perhaps you can do it again another time when you both don’t have early mornings. And you might just find yourself smiling on that very local train ride home. And you might not even remember that the pizza is in the fridge, and you might even just go to bed, perfectly content – not hating yourself (or your diet, or your career choice) for the amount of beers you had on the date with Mr. G Train.

Just try it.

It could be just the thing you need to re-vamp everything that you’ve trained yourself to do for all these years.

It could be a small attempt at living in the moment.

And it could be really awesome.

 


What Does Binge-Eating Disorder Really Look Like?

When my parents first started leaving me home alone, I would sneak into the pantry and open bags of chocolate chips that my mother used for baking and pour them into my mouth. The real jackpot would be when she would also have peanut butter chips and I would hold both bags up to my mouth and “drink” them, per se. Just like an alcoholic “can’t put the bottle down”, it turned out, I couldn’t put food down, and over the past ten years, using food as a drug became a lifestyle as easy to hide as vodka in a water bottle.

Over 4 million Americans, 60% of them women, suffer from binge-eating disorder. For years, binging has only been associated with bulimia, an eating disorder where one binges on food only to throw it back up again, or purge. No one, however, has addressed the binge-eating dilemma that is happening without the purging, until much more recently.

Let me pose a question to you.

Have you ever gotten out of bed at 7am or earlier on a rainy Thursday and…

(if you’re not a performer) packed your gym bag full of Luna Bars and sneakers, a change of clothes for happy hour, a healthy lunch, and a book you don’t have time to read? And drove to work for a full day of business, meetings, and doing your best to avoid those damn bagels in the break room because you are ABSOLUTELY GOING TO THE FUCKING GYM LATER TODAY. Okay well, forgive me for the specific NY audition references below but I have some real treats for you too, okay? Some reeeeeeeal treats. I would never leave you out of my filthy stories.

OR, if you’re in my biz, have you ever gotten out of bed at 7am or earlier on a rainy Thursday and…

(if you’re a woman) packed your purple polka-dotted roll-behind suitcase full of every dance shoe, two leotards (do they want cleavage? do they not want cleavage?), your book, your dress, your heels, your straightener, a healthy lunch, your makeup, your wallet, gym clothes, sneakers, work clothes, work shoes, and a book to read?

(if you’re a man) packed your bookbag or man-purse full of every dance shoe, three and a half changes of clothes (because you guys get SO SWEATY WHEN YOU DANCE), your book, your dress shoes, your non-wrinkle button down, a protein shake, a jar of peanut butter, your gym clothes, sneakers, work clothes, work shoes, and a book to read?

And you trucked your ass to midtown for a long day of auditions varying from an Ogunquit EPA at Chelsea to a Fireside Dance ECC at Nola? And after all, you get called back every year for both of those theatres so obviously your day is going to be packed and you definitely won’t make it home before work so it’s gonna be a loooooong day.

Until you get cut.

Well, what the fuck? Like, what the fuck. You packed all this shit and now it’s only 2pm and you don’t work til 6pm.

I, personally, don’t want to go to the damn gym at this point. I mean, DEAR LORD, everyone knows I just packed that gym shit to make it look like I’m a good, little, healthy actor. Keyword: little. Well, there I am, just freshly cut from the audition. My best friend got kept. And the boys call just started so I have no one to go to lunch with. So, I guess I’ll go home.

On my way home, I smell pizza. I hear the ice cream truck. I walk by Chipotle. And I have no where to be until 6pm. And now I’m home and I don’t know what to do.

So I binge.

Okay.

Binging.

There are two types of people reading this.

  1. people who have binged before
  2. people who have never binged before (but probably have friends who have binged and don’t quite understand it.)

Binge-eaters, man, we know how to hide. How to sneak. How to get a pack of Tasty-Kakes down from one stop light to the next. How to devour a brownie while our roommate is in the bathroom for mere seconds. How to stand at the buffet table at our happily married friend’s party for the entire night and manage to eat half of everything displayed while most people fill a small plate and go back to their company.

So, if you’ve never binged but has a friend who might, this entry is for you to understand what’s happening here.

If you’re the binger, I offer you my own treasures below.

I would sit in our apartment on 44th and 9th when Christine was out of town and binge on all the “Weight Watchers” friendly food in the apartment. I was on summer vacation from the musical theatre conservatory I was attending in NYC. It was 2007. On any given Thursday, WHILE reading the Weight Watchers message boards, yep, take that one in for a sec, I could finish off a box of All-Bran Crackers, known as a great snack!!! on Weight Watchers!!!! because of the high fiber content!!!!! with Smucker’s Sugar Free Strawberry Jam. And then three or four Weight Watchers Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Bars. And a bowl of Frosted Flakes with skim milk, topped with a bag of 100 Calorie M&M’s. And a few 100 Calorie string cheese sticks. Oh, wait, I mentioned that I had already eaten a normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the day right? Oh. Right. Cuz, I did.

A few hours later I would help myself to a small bowl of Sugar-Free Jello – my favorite flavor was the strawberry, man, I loved that shit – and it was 10 calories, but zero Weight Watchers points. So I would throw on a dollop or four of Fat Free Cool Whip (also 0 points…per serving…which is a tablespoon…which is about half the size of a…dollop…) And then I would have another bowl. And another.

And sometimes we also made sugar free pudding and that would be in the fridge for when the Jell-O ran out.

So no one was starving in the Hell’s Kitchen apartment okay?

Point being, roomie – gone. Me – alone. Binging – perfectly secret.

It was secret, and no one knew about it, so it was comforting. It was mine to have. No teacher, parent, or auditioner could take it away from me.

The best part is, every night, I’d sit on the WeightWatchers.com message boards reading about NEW recipes for low calorie versions of high calorie things and NEW products with double the fiber that would make the Weight Watchers points lower. WHILE EATING THIS SHIT. And I would vow to start counting points again the next day.

I would even put the cereal bowl down long enough to post about how I had made an apple in the microwave earlier that day with cinnamon and it was like fat free apple pie! And people would praise my ideas. Mushing up a banana and putting it on a rice cake with cinnamon. How creative! They loved me, loveableditz711. Don’t be jealous of that username okay?

And so, a summer went by full of “good” days and “bad” days. My weight ranged from 148 – 160 during any two week period.

There’s the teeniest, tiniest, most minuscule possibility that perhaps that wasn’t the healthiest thing for my body to go through.

You might be nodding right now. You might be disgusted right now. You might be nodding while being disgusted right now.

Listen, I mean when I put it out there like that, it makes me nod and be disgusted too.

See, I told you that you wouldn’t feel alone while you’re here.

Let’s go for a note of positivity here shall we?

I beat it.

Oh, shit. Just typing that made me well up with tears.

YO. I BEAT THAT SHIT.

Actually, I’m beating it. Present tense. Slowly, but surely.

And I want to share with you how I’m doing it. While I’m doing it.

You deserve a life loaded with full, rich moments that have nothing to do with food and calories and what a roll of cookie dough will do to your thighs.

You deserve to go to Broadway Bares, as I did last night (a strip-a-thon we hold in NYC to benefit BROADWAY CARES/EQUITY FIGHTS AIDS) and be totally okay with where you are right now regardless of if you would look good in pasties at the moment.

And so do I.

And maybe by the time I complete MY journey, this journey I’M taking to break free from bingeing and self-loathing, pasties will be able to shoot laser beams out of them. And the Second Avenue subway will be done. Well, at least from 96th St. to 77th St. But I say, better late than never baby.

On my journey, I’ve learned so much already. Give me a few days here and I have a book list coming for you. Diets I’ve tried. Men I’ve dated and how it’s affected me. How growing up in a dance studio has affected me. Things most of you can relate to. And what it all really comes down to. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD, DUDE. IT’S NOT.

It’s about what we’re using the food to do – fill in empty space, comfort ourselves, forget bad things.

It’s not. About. The food.