Monday, May 3, 2010

A relationship with food

After I read Jenn and Alicia's post last night I honestly had to say I had a hard time sleeping. I didn't want to comment until I had mulled over some of my thoughts. I kept thinking about what I wanted to say. Between that and a rain storm I didn't sleep much. I spent the morning thinking some more and reading everyone elses comments.

I really liked what everyone had to say but I'm going to go a little further.

DISCLAIMER: This may be a long post. I'm sorry but I want to share my journey in hopes to help others. I do not think others may being going through exactly what I did but I feel I need to share the truth. This is kind of scary for me. What I'm about to share, no one who reads this blog is aware of. That's saying a lot since my mother, sister, mother-in-law and three dear sister-in-laws who I have shared much with and love so much are unaware of. This is too heavy for this fun little blog but it's time to dish.

Where to start. I've always been athletic and I did sports and danced from a young age. I've always had super skinny friends but never felt inadequate. The only thing I can remember that was sort of strange was having a picture taken with a friend my Senior year. We were both in short shorts which was very common and I remember looking at her thigh and thinking I'd die if my thighs were ever that big.

When I left for college I decided to major in dance. BYU has a great dance department. It seemed logical because I could do the education route and I had thoroughly enjoyed my dance teacher in working in the schools.

As a dance major there are two things that you have to put up with. Getting your body fat tested every semester and dancing with others skinny women. I always was within the acceptable range and since I wasn't a ballerina or a ballroom dancer I didn't have the pressure of fitting in costumes that were already made. What I did have to deal with was spending 8+ hours in a leotard. There is no hiding there. And, it's very hard not to compare yourself to others.

I still don't remember exactly when it all started but I started struggling with bulimia. It was never super serious and I never had to have treatment. When its a "small" issue it more of what is going on in your mind than what is going in your mouth. I never spend hours just gorging on food only to purge but when I thought I had eating more than I should have I would "take care of it"

I think the subtle internal conversations that I had with myself kept pulling me along. I was a normal woman enjoying dancing but internally I felt I was never as good as another just because they were smaller.

My major breakthrough happened when Chris and I had been married for a few months and he caught me purging. After a long conversation I told him I didn't need help and that I would stop. I had quit other things cold turkey before and this is another I could stop but the damage was done. My relationship with food has been forever changed and although I had stopped purging I had not stopped eating more than I should and I didn't stop thinking that I wanted to purge.

After a few years it became easier. I started exercising more, I graduated so I didn't have to constantly compare myself to other dancers, and I learned to eat healthier.

I can not say that I have never purged again. I am human and have had moments that I've eaten enough to make me sick. But, whenever this happens I take time to reevaluate why I'm at this place.

So, this leads me to last summer/fall. I was going through a stressful time. A lot of things came to a head at one time. I turned to food. I hid what I was eating. I stopped working out...and I slept. But because I'm smarter now I did not purge. Therefore I put on a lot of weight quickly. As I slid into my depression I started evaluating my relationship with not only food but other people. I asked myself what lead me to eat more, why did I think that eating would make things better. It was pretty hard hitting but I needed to get past the how do I eat differently because I knew all the answers to that I needed to understand why my relationship with food was wacked.

I've come a long way since then. I've started to understand some of the reasons I turned to food and things I can do to prevent it. We can talk all we want about tricks to try not to eat when we are "emotional" but until we understand why we think food is the answer and why that's what we turn to it will always be there.

So my plea is to not compare yourself to another. We are all beautiful daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. We all have many wonderful things about each an everyone of us. We need to love ourselves. If we love ourselves it will not be as important as what someone else may think of us. Another reason is someone who may appear to look "healthy" may not be, they may just have the lucky slender genetics gene.

It's important to want to eat because we need to take care of our bodies that we've been given and when we can do that for ourselves then we can help others.

There is actually a physiological reason to purposely overeat once a week-it may help convince your body that it is not starving. Giving yourself a good feed once a week may calm that thousand-year-old encoded alarm inside your brain that goes off every time you begin to burn stored body fat for fuel.

But beyond biological reasons, there are psychological benefits to the free day that are even greater, at least as far as I'm concerned...You don't want to set yourself up for failure. You don't want to create standards you can't meet. If you say, "I'm not going to eat anything I shouldn't for 12 weeks," you've set yourself up for disappointment.

I've also discovered that this free day serves the purpose of reminding you of what you use to feel like when every day was a free day. -Body-for-Life, Bill Phillips, pg. 92

Four years ago Chris and I did this together. It was the lowest weight I've been in years. But, on our free day I gorged. I'm talking all out food fest. But it's what I needed to make it through the other 6 days.

This time around I'm doing things a little different. Sometimes my free days I eat "my new normal" all day and really enjoy a nice meal out. Sometimes I have little indulgences all day. What I don't like to do anymore is feel sick when it's all said and done. And I don't want to feel bad about myself. There is a fine balance between really enjoying and putting yourself in a tail spin. It's trail and error but I promise that this is more like real life. Are you really never going to eat cookies again, eat dessert again, eat yummy bread again. No, you're going to so you need to learn how to incorporate how that works in your healthy living.

If you're saying I'm going to eat "this' way and then when I get to my goal I'll start eating a different way you're in trouble. Reevaluate.

I want you all to succeed. I don't want any on us to feel bad about failures...because it's about learning, progressing and moving forward. More good days than bad.

Alicia, there was lots of good advice given to you today, advice we can all use. I hope that you can learn some tricks so you can continue to enjoy spending time with your family. If they love you they will want to support you. Offer to bring a dish, make it something you like, that way you can have a few choices that won't put you in a tail spin and don't go back for a full plate of seconds. Pick something that you really enjoy and have a little more but then call it quits. If you're good all week you deserve to enjoy but learning what your limit is before you feel bad about yourself is important. Thank you for being so candid. I think we have lots to offer each other!

I love you all! Thank you for being so wonderful.


  1. You have a big, wonderful, brave heart to share this part of your story with all of us. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? No, I shall not. Because comparison is such a slippery slope down and we are all about the inspiring upward climb.

    I'm rooting for you and your healthy relationship with food! Go Audrey!

  2. Thank you for sharing such a deep personal story with us. You have so much to share with us all and I am grateful to have you as a friend.

    Thank you for helping all of us get on the road to success.

  3. You baited me, so I came straight home and read your post. There are things I want to say to you face to face, and I will. But on this blog I will say the following: you have amazed me since the first time I met you. you have always, always been beautiful inside and out to me you have always inspired me with the many healthy choices you do make in your life. and I will always be here to support you as you work to be the person you are trying to be. this blog has been eye opening in so many ways and has reaffirmed to me that we never know what others suffer, but should love, encourage and support one another. love you!

  4. Audrey, your post brought tears to my eyes. Like I've said before I wish I could meet all of you in person and get to know you better on a personal level. Thank you for sharing your trials. I know it took a lot of courage, and a lot of faith to trust us with this information. I don't know you personally, but I know we can support each other in this effort, for I have been through a simialr thing in my own life. That is why Sundays are so challenging. It brings all those emotions right in my face. I LOVE this blog. Sometimes it is the only thing that keeps my relationship with food at a comfortable level during the day. I feel like I can succeed with all of your support. Not only that, but I have noticed a change in my attitude with food. Your comments are inspiring. I'm like a getty school girl when I see new comments.

  5. Thank you Audrey, you are NOT alone in this struggle. I have hidden my overeating for 16 years from my hubby. I do well and then I go through phases of not so well. My depression sets in and it gets worse. I know its because of my overeating. How have you found your why??
    I find that I stuff myself to prove to myself I am not worth being beautiful. When my husband says I am I just laugh inside. I tell him he wears rose colored glasses... Sorry, you have got me on one of my down days. I am trying to snap out of it but it's so hard..
    Thank you for your comments. I love you!!

  6. Audrey, I don't know what to say. I love you and I think you are amazing, brave and beautiful.

  7. Audrey, I'll bet it feels SO GOOD to say everything out loud (well, virtually)! That is a huge burden to carry and only have one person in your inner circle know about. And I imagine you probably didn't want to talk to Chris about it much after he "caught" you. I am humbled that you trusted all of us enough to put things out in the open.

    A wise person once explained to me that guilt and shame are two very different things. Guilt is a tool of God to draw our attention to something that needs to be changed. Shame is a tool of Satan, meant to discourage and beat us down so that we are unable to change. Learning to discern between the two, and choosing to be proactive when we feel guilt rather than hide in our shame, is the key to success. You do not need to be ashamed of your choices. You are moving forward, really trying to learn from your mistakes, and making every effort to conquer this challenge.

    A big Wyoming hug for you! Thanks for spearheading this wonderfully community!

  8. First I just want to say that no matter what you have done, do now or will ever do...I love you. More than you know. You have always been such a HUGE role model to look up to and I am so thankful for your example. We all have our own "problems" and I wish I could have an ounce of your courage and motivation. You have been such an inspiration to me from such a young age and thank you for still being an example to this day of what I can become. Thank you for opening up with me and with all of us here and for starting this all blog to we can be aware of our eating habits. Love you.

  9. Audrey, you are a strong woman. Thank you for sharing some of the struggles you've endured. I've very much enjoyed getting to know you and all the ladies here.

  10. Audrey, after I talked to you this morning, I thought I better check the blog and see if I actually read Mondays posts. I hadn't! Oh my Audrey, I hope you know how amazing you are and how much I love you. You have been such a good friend to me, and I love that you started this blog to help all of us improve. It is so comforting to know that on my bad days, I can always click on my computer and find some encouraging, loving words right here. Good luck on your race! We will be cheering for you!!!!! Go Audrey!!!! ( I am screaming kids are looking at me really weird.)