Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I had a two and a half hour session with a therapist this week. We focused directly on the triggers and the thoughts associated with my emotional eating. It was extremely insightful.

The therapist counsels from a Buddhist perspective. We talked at great length about the ego and how much the ego hates change. She stressed that it's important not to "freak the ego out" by introducing drastic change, such as, "I'm not going to eat unless I'm hungry, never again." Rather, she suggested adding TO my current thought patterns with such statements as, "It's OK to have this cookie, that cracker, whatever...but I'm going to pause for a moment, before eating the whole package, and check in to see what my ego really wants here." (By the way, she told me that I have a very "clever" ego which might seem like a compliment but in actuality, creates even more confusion between my thoughts and my actions.)

A huge "take away" for me was the notion that people can do whatever they want to soothe their ego. I'm quick to judge my mother, for instance, for watching too much television. But, as the therapist gently pointed out, "Who is doing a better job of self-soothing? Your mother? Watching television to self-soothe? Or you? Eating beyond what you need and feeling terrible about it?"


Lastly (and there were many points, but these were just what I had time to post now), I admitted to her that I sometimes, no, all the time, feel like I am unqualified to "teach" people about how to be healthy since I myself struggle so significantly with my own boundaries on eating. She reminded me, and this is something that I've always held near and dear to my heart, that I am indeed perfect as I am; that God does not create anything less than perfection.

It's very affirming to walk through the day thinking of yourself in the light of perfection. I've been trying "perfect" on all week and I kinda like how it makes me feel. Much less like eating, I can tell you that for sure.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I spent the last couple of days in Reno going through training sessions. It was brutally hard, on every level...physical, emotional, mental. Hard to go through five Pilates classes, nearly back-to-back. Hard to realize that I don't have nearly the training I need to move forward in this career in the way that I want to. Hard because I still don't "get" how the abdominal muscles are supposed to work in a true pilates sense. You get the point.

My lunch yesterday didn't occur until 1:30pm, hours after breakfast and several sessions already completed. I was starving.

I went to a deli and ordered a large salad. With extra chicken. And a cookie. The salad could have fed half of Sacramento and the cookie was big enough for three children and possibly two adults to share. I devoured the whole thing.

The drive home took too long, the errands I had to do when I came home were endless and it was hot. My belly wasn't happy and neither was I. I felt like all the energy that I needed to focus on the drive and the tasks at hand was being diverted to my stomach. Which I'm quite sure it was.

I think it says quite a lot that if you're still stuffed at 8:00pm from a 1:30pm lunch, regardless of how much you've exercised your ass off, you have eaten way way way way way too much.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


It's been a good three days. I haven't had any paralyzing moments, where I find myself eating to fill a void that can't be filled by food. Instead, I've downloaded pictures, called friends, spent time with a guy I like, and I've even taken a nap. Or two.

Wednesday was my really, really horrific day. It was also the day that Ben graduated and left with his dad for a nine day stint. I felt like I was re-defining every level of sadness on that day. And by nighttime, it was all over...the full-blown binge was well underway.

I'm still sad that Ben is gone but the difference, I think, is that I'm letting myself feel the sadness without masking it with food.

The other major trigger, for me, is my mother. We've spent less time together and during the time we have been in the house at the same time, I've tried to take a deep breath, instead of a big bite, when she says or does something that annoys me.

Three days might not seem like much of a stretch but in my world, it's a very long time. What I find amazing is that in such a short amount of time, I can feel so much better...physically, emotionally, spiritually.

I don't know what my next trigger will be but it helps to know that my main two - Ben's absence and my mom's lack-of-absence, can be alive and well yet controlled in a way that is healthy and appropriate.

Three days. It's not three weeks, three months, or three years. But it will be. Someday.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I originally called this post "Self Loathing" but that seemed a little harsh and I think that the current title is a little more palatable. To be blunt, right now, I can't stand weight, my eating habits, even my hair. I feel like a stranger in my own skin.

I'm beginning to realize that when there are so many things that I dislike about myself, it's nearly impossible to accept people into my life unconditionally. I'm feeling like I'm missing out on times with my son, romantic opportunities, and situations where I can practice loving kindness toward others (particularly my mother) because I am so mired in taking apart my own self-worth.

A friend recently said to me, "Fear blocks love. And love blocks fear."

I am afraid of my weight. I am fearful of my own behavior and actions. I live in a constant state of anxiety over the next episode, and even, at times, the next calorie. So how can I expect to create space for any kind of love...parental, romantic, friendship, etc when there is so much fear that gets in the way?

Conversely, I want to love the way that I know that I can. And for me, that means removing the fear, the worry, the apprehension. At times, fear feels like a huge wedge against my heart, to the point where I can't let any love in. That, in itself, creates more anxiety for me.

This week, I'm trying to lessen the vice-grip that fear has on my life. And letting my heart crack open, one tiny crevasse at a time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


One of my favorite quotes is: "If not now, when?"

I think it's great. Succinct. Thought-provoking. To the point.

So, why can't I get the message of my beloved quote? Why is it so easy for me to push my favorite saying onto others, then not hold myself to the same accountability?

Becoming aware of my "triggers" as they relate to eating, has brought up some yucky stuff this week. Like, how the fuck am I going to live with my mom indefinitely? Since she won't consider her anxiety as being an undercurrent of stress in our household, am I going to need medication to survive this living arrangement?

As the stress mounts, so does my food intake. Then the guilt and the shame.

The reality is, she's not going anywhere soon unless I plan to leave my home. Which I'm not, so that leaves me with one option: cope.

It has to be now. It can't be another day. "When" has been haunting me for days, months, years and I won't let it take another moment away from me. Wish me luck.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Why do we always need a scapegoat? Having someone, anyone, to blame our problems on makes it oh-so-easy to to hide from our deepest and darkest issues. I should know.

Last night I heard my mom on the phone with her brother. They hadn't talked in quite a while and she was bringing him up to speed on life in our household. I was folding laundry, trying not to eavesdrop, and genuinely out of earshot of what was being said. My mom could have told him anything. But what she said is this:

"I am so proud of Janeen. With work, with parenting, with everything...she always rises to the occasion.

My mom went on about how much I've grown spiritually, how I'm trying with all my sanity to do damage control on some of Ben's "spoilage" and generally, how great a daughter I've turned out to be.

And she kept using the word "proud."

I think all along I've known that she and I are way past the struggles we had when I was very overweight. So we're beyond all that, well into forgiving and forgetting, yet I am still eating.

What gives?

My best guess is that my eating is very closely tied to stress. Having my mom live with me IS stressful. A lot of the time. Being a single mom IS stressful. Having clients come in and out of my home IS stressful. Wondering if I'll ever be in a healthy romantic relationship again is BEYOND stressful. Hoping that Ben will grow up to be respectful and kind is brain-numbing. You get the point. But who isn't stressed?

I've got a girlfriend with three boys under the age of five and no help whatsoever. She says that her kids bring her no joy; they're too busy driving her crazy. Another friend is in an extremely unhappy marriage, with a husband who resents her, ironically, for being overweight. I know way too many moms who are juggling full-time careers, along with their mommy duties, and who are feeling the tugs of mounting responsibilities and increasing guilt. The point is, we're all stressed.

My mom and I will always have our issues but I know, deep in my heart, that this is my cross to bear. It's time to take on some accountability, to re-assign the blame and, as my mom said, "to rise to the occasion."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

In Treatment

So I'm at the "Treatment" part in the book I'm reading about emotional/binge eating. I say, Bring It!

Since I can't afford to check myself into an eating disorder clinic (nor do I want to), I am attempting to find my coping resources in the book.

One thing I did yesterday and today was to completely let go of my "structured" eating. I had a big piece of cake at a party last night (no way was I going to pass up a chocolate dessert from Sacramento's famed Ettore's) and I made homemade ice cream tonight, with yogurt, albeit a LOT of chocolate chips, followed by an avocado and some crackers. Strange snack for 8:30pm? Maybe, but at least I stopped with only TWO handfuls of crackers and HALF of the avocado (these being after dinner and dessert, of course). It could have been a lot worse. Is it my imagination or am I hungrier today? Now that nothing is off limits, everything is sounding pretty darn good.

Tomorrow, I'm watching for triggers. Generally, those start for me as early as 5:30am with the dog and the child, alternating turns out of bed.

I'm also observing this debate occur between my body and my mind, something like: "You need to go to spinning class tomorrow," says my mind. "No way," counters my body. "You've done that to me three times already this week. I'm tired. Let me rest. Put less food in me. I don't want to work so hard at burning calories and then at processing all the food you'll throw my way."

I'd love to go back to the kitchen now and finish off the ice cream but I would also love a good night's sleep which I know I have no chance of getting if I return to the kitchen. And as far as spin class goes, I don't know who will win tomorrow.

But I guess I don't need to know until then, anyway.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

History Repeating

I had huge issues with my mother while growing up. I was overweight, by about 40 or 50 pounds, and she told me, repeatedly, that she could not love an overweight daughter. Ouch. She put me on a diet early on. I can't remember a time when I wasn't dieting. So I snuck food. And therein lies the origin of my food struggles.

We've since made amends, my mother and I. She has apologized profusely for the way that she treated me when I was younger. She tells me all the time how good I look. I genuinely think that she is very, very regretful of her words and actions and I have tried to forgive her.

She's living with me now, my mother, and I'm amazed at what is re-surfacing. I don't feel like she respects my work. It's not so much of what she says, rather, it's what she doesn't say. I've tried, many times, to tell her that a small business can take several years to get off the ground and that I am so lucky to have quickly established myself in the fitness community and to actually be making money. I crave her approval and I don't feel like I have it at all.

I know that my mother empathizes with my struggles as a single mom and she often says to me, "Your life is SO HARD." And yes, it is, at times. But oftentimes, it isn't and those are the times that she doesn't talk about. Mostly, I feel like I'm her charity case...that without her, my mortgage wouldn't get paid, Ben wouldn't have a good sitter, the dog wouldn't be walked, the milk carton would always be nearly empty and so on.

Her energy in my home makes me restless. It makes me a little crazy, admittedly. She's here a lot. I don't have much quiet time in my house anymore.

So I eat. A lot.

She'll look at my food choices, as she did when I was a child, and often inquire as to what I am eating.

It's easier to eat away from her, at night, and that I do.

We had a nice moment, my mom and me, last weekend. I was trying on dresses for a big party and was borrowing the full length mirror in her room. I put on several dresses and she weighed in on my choices. She actually helped me to decide on the final cut...and told me that I looked "sexy." She even saved me a last minute run to Macys by providing some jewelry to wear with the dress.

I'd like to have some more of those moments with her. I didn't turn to the refrigerator, the freezer, or the cupboard that night.


I have a problem. I struggle with food and emotional eating. I might not present like I have a weight problem but I'm one cupcake away from an all-out eating binge. Because, with me, one cupcake can't just BE one cupcake. Oh no. It might be an organic and wheat-free cupcake, but you can be certain that there will be several to follow, and perhaps, or likely, a raid on anything and everything salty.

This admission is going to be a surprise to anyone who reads this.

The problem with working in the fitness industry is that people look at you, or in my case, they look at me, and naturally assume that I don't have any issues with food or weight. And much of that is my fault. I maintain a healthy living blog, I cram my cupboards with organic and pure groceries and I have a well-rounded and active lifestyle.

I've done a good job, possibly a great job, of fooling a lot of people.

The real deal is that I have big issues around food and emotional eating. There, I said it. It's something that I've struggled with for years, in fact, I don't remember a time when food wasn't an escape for me.

Certainly there have been times in my life when the situation is better, more under control, and I find that I feel lighter, not just from a physical spirit actually feels like less of a load.

Then there are the times like now when I feel like the cycle is viciously churning, way out of my control, and there is no possible way of stopping it.

Recently, I picked up a book from Borders, having just been on an emotional eating binge, and I found out that emotional eating is a direct cause of insomnia. I guess if you cram 1,000 or more calories into your belly late at night that the digestive tract is going to be a bit busy overnight, thus, sleep becomes interrupted in a major way. It actually makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Since I've struggled with sleep for so many years, this point definitely caused me to sit up and take notice. But it didn't make me stay out of the kitchen.

Someone told me this week, "You look really stressed." I thought to myself, "Why am I stressed? For the first time since my divorce, work is somewhat stable, Ben is growing up to be a (relatively) good kid, I am dating, I'm cultivating my spirituality, I think I'm gaining (some) respect as a single, working mom...WHAT GIVES?" But I knew the answer and I knew it well. I can't get off the emotional eating treadmill. After 20 some odd years. And it's tearing me up.

I know I can't go on like this. I have an example to set to my child and I want it to be a good one. I want that lighthearted spirit back. I want to sleep at night and wake up refreshed and not with an aching stomach and a hurting heart. I want to stop living in the past - beating myself up for eating to cope - and I want to stop living in the future - worrying about my next episode and what impact it will have. I want to be in the moment - enjoying the many blessings that I do have and letting food do its job of nourishing my body, one meal and snack at a time.

The author of the book suggests that writing is an incredibly effective tool in the fight to overcome emotional eating. In her book, she actually advocates maintaining a blog; in fact, a public blog, shared among friends can be beneficial on so many levels...accountability, empathy, sharing, etc. But we bloggers already know that, don't we?o

So here I am. Ready to write. I hope that by sharing this publicly, that someone can relate to, and possibly, become encouraged by the battle I'm waging against myself. Oprah did it. I know I can too.