PostSecret: Obsessive Cravings

By Laura Moncur @ 12:52 pm — Filed under:

This postcard from PostSecret reminded me of how I white-knuckled my way down to 150 pounds.

PostSecret: Obsessive Cravings from Starling Fitness

It reads:

My diet makes me obsess about food to the point where I google image search my cravings in an attempt to stave them off…

Just a note to this person and anyone else in this situation: IT DOESN’T WORK. I have done many crazy things to keep myself from eating food, which just fed my obsession.

Once I realized that I had no control over food, I saw how silly all these activities were and how they actually made my food obsession worse. I also felt a huge wave of grief and self-pity because I felt completely and utterly doomed. I was fully aware that there was nothing I could do to control the biological urge to overeat. My hunger response was so broken and I felt as if I could never get past this.

And then I found this awesome other part of my brain. It had been there all along, but I never had been able to access it before. Now, I let it control all my eating and it does a better job than I have ever been able to do on my own.

If you are feeling hopeless over your eating behaviors, there is a way out. Get yourself into an OA meeting. Get a sponsor, do what your sponsor tells you to do, and learn to access that powerful part of your brain that can handle your hunger more than you could ever do it.

PostSecret‘s beneficiary is the National Hopeline Network. It is a 24-hour hotline (1 (800) SUICIDE) for anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows someone who is considering it.


Sardines – What Was I Afraid Of?

By Laura Moncur @ 8:20 am — Filed under:

Sardines - What Was I Afraid Of? from Starling FitnessA friend on Lose It! had recommended sardines. He said that they are great for protein and they were healthier for me than tuna fish. According to Wikipedia, he’s right:

Sardines are rich in vitamins and minerals. A small serving of sardines once a day can provide 13 percent of vitamin B2; roughly one-quarter of niacin; and about 150 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin B12. All B vitamins help to support proper nervous system function and are used for energy metabolism, or converting food into energy. Also, sardines are high in the major minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and some trace minerals including iron and selenium. Sardines are also a natural source of marine omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. Recent studies suggest that regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids reduces the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. These fatty acids can also lower blood sugar levels. They are also a good source of vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B12, and protein.

Because they are low in the food chain sardines are very low in contaminants such as mercury, relative to other fish commonly eaten by humans.

Cool, I thought, but a vivid memory hindered me. My grandpa used to love sardines, but my grandma wouldn’t allow them in the house. If he wanted to eat them, he had to sit out on the porch with a fork and the tin. The can wasn’t even allowed in the house. He had to throw away the tin in the outside garbage bin.

If she thought they were that terrible, how good could they be?

Sardines - What Was I Afraid Of? from Starling Fitness

It took me over a month, but I finally bought a can and tried them. Now, I feel like an idiot. They taste great. Just like tuna in oil, in fact, and no smellier. The next time I’m feeling like tuna, I’m just going to buy sardines instead. Less mercury than tuna, better for the environment and tastes the same as tuna fish. I’m sold!



By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I adore this animated GIF I found on work sweat achieve!

Give Me My Broccoli from Starling Fitness

That first cat is all, “I’m not eating THAT!” The second cat is like, “Give me my BROCCOLI!!”

I want to be like the second cat. I want to love broccoli so much that I am willing to fight for it.

This image is from this YouTube video. You can see it in full here:

The last time I had broccoli was at Sizzler last Friday. I ordered the steak and had it with blue cheese crumbles and mushrooms. I moved the mushrooms and blue cheese off my steak onto my broccoli to make it more palatable.

Why can’t I just love it for the cruciferous veggie that it is? It’s supposed to make my brain more healthy so I can enjoy life with less hits of dopamine. When am I going to start CRAVING it like the kitty in that video?


It’s Supposed To Be Hard

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I love this motivational poster:

It's Supposed To Be Hard from Starling Fitness

It reads:

It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.

It’s from A League of Their Own in this scene:

I love that movie and it makes me tear up every time I hear that line. The next time you’re thinking about throwing in the towel and giving up, remember this. It’s SUPPOSED to be hard. Getting past the hard is what will make you great.

I don’t know where this motivational poster came from. I got it here:

If you know who made this image, please leave a comment below so I can give proper credit.


Lakitu’s Final Lap at a Race

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

When I saw this photograph on Fit, Fast, and Furious I laughed so hard!

Lakitu's Final Lap at a Race from Starling Fitness

Lakitu from Mario Kart from Starling FitnessIt took me a few seconds to realize that this guy was dressed up as Lakitu, who is the nice koopa who tells you which lap you’re on in Mario Kart and pulls you out of the lava, sand or water when you go off the track.

I immediately wanted to run that race. I wanted to throw green shells at the other runners and drop banana peels for the people pulling too close behind me. I wanted to get the Star so I could whiz past everyone else at super speed. I wanted to watch the other runners go off the track and get stuck in the water.

I want to go to there.


Keeping My Dopamine Levels High

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Keeping My Dopamine Levels High from Starling FitnessI don’t know about other people who are overweight, but the reason I overate was because it made me FEEL good. It gave me a high. More specifically, it gave me a dopamine surge every time I binged.

Now, eating a healthy diet can get tedious. Unless I am careful, I will get bored of my food and routines. I need to keep my levels of dopamine high without bingeing. Learning how to do that has been difficult for me, but here are a few things I’ve learned.

Change My Food Regularly

Dopamine levels out with healthy food from Starling FitnessAs I learned in How Sugar Affects The Brain, a healthy meal will give me a boost of dopamine. Not as good as sugar, but pleasurable nonetheless. If I KEEP eating that same meal every day, however, I won’t get that same dopamine rush as I did before.

So, I have to keep changing my daily meals. About every two weeks, I choose something completely different for my snacks, breakfasts and lunches so that I don’t get mind-numbingly bored of my food.

Run Like My Life Depends On It, Every Once And A While

Wii BoxingI’ve talked about this idea before. If you do a workout where you feel as if your life depended on it, you get a surge of feel good hormones.

The only problem is if you do this kind of workout every day. Your brain will get bored and used to being chased by dogs, zombies or punching out the scruffy-looking Mii on your boxing game. You have to use these workouts sparingly or they won’t give you those feel-good chemicals.

Eat Foods With The Good Stuff

Clandestine Clementines by Laura Moncur 04-15-06There are foods that make your brain more sensitive to the smaller amounts of dopamine that you will be giving it, so you want to load up on them.

  • Tyrosine: Your body needs it to make dopamine and you get it from meat, dairy, legumes, avocados, bananas and almonds.
  • Beta-carotene: Prevents dopamine from oxidizing and you get it from fruits and veggies that are dark green and orange.
  • Vitamin E: Also prevents dopamine from oxidizing and you get it from nuts, cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower) and carrots.
  • Vitamin C: Another anti-oxidant that helps dopamine stay “fresh” and you get it from citrus fruits, strawberries and cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower).

Also, avoiding binge foods keeps your brain from becoming numb to dopamine. Whatever food is your drug, avoid it.

Set Tiny, Obtainable Goals and Achieve Them Every Day

Give Yourself A Dopamine Boost With A To-Do List from Starling FitnessBenjamin Franklin worked on this technique and it’s the whole idea behind the Franklin Covey planners. This year, I bought myself a planner and just listing the tiny and seemingly inconsequential things I do every day has brought great joy. I can write more than one entry a day, but setting my goal low gives me the feel-good chemicals I need. I actually read for fun, but putting it on the list forces me to take time for myself. Set a goal, no matter how easy it seems and achieve it. You’ll get a chemical reward from your own physiology.

I Get Plenty of Sleep

Don't Forget To Sleep from Starling FitnessYour brain needs to recharge. I talked about this before here:

When I am exercising hard, eating less calories and working on the emotional reasons I want to binge, I NEED extra sleep. This is HARD work and my body needs that extra time to recharge my dopamine levels.

I Listen To Some Good Tunes

Music Is My Higher Power from Starling FitnessThere have been scientific studies that listening to music that is pleasurable to the subject lights up the pleasure centers in the brain. Whatever music makes me happy, I listen to it. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said:

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.

When I give myself time to just enjoy music, I get a dopamine high without the calories. My biggest problem is not letting myself just sit and enjoy music. Sometimes I have to put it on my to-do list just so I can get that benefit.

I Meditate

Twelve Step Meditations for Atheists by Laura M. at Amazon.comI spend 15 minutes every day meditating. The longer I do it, the better I am at making those feelings of peace and transcendence come. If you have the luxury of believing in God, make sure you take time EVERY day to pray and talk to that all-powerful being. If you are an atheist like me, you can still access those good feelings. I just access that part of my mind that lets me feel “The Other.” It was hard to do at first, but with practice, I am able to get a small dopamine rush that has started to rival my favorite binge foods.

Update 12-18-14: I’ve written a meditation book for atheists that you can see here: Twelve Step Meditations for Atheists by Laura M. at Amazon.com

What Else Is There?

There actually is a huge list of ways to get a good dopamine high without food:

  • Read a good book
  • Get a manicure and pedicure
  • Get a massage
  • Take my dog for a walk
  • Snuggle with my cat
  • Have some great sex
  • Call a friend on the phone
  • Enjoy time with my family
  • Watch a funny or romantic movie
  • Organize something in my house
  • Clean up some clutter
  • Do some crafty thing like crochet or going crazy with my hot glue gun
  • Read a magazine
  • Play a video game
  • Write in my journal
  • Take pretty pictures
  • Sit on the heat vent with a blanket over my legs
  • Take a warm bath
  • Color in a coloring book
  • Do some yard work
  • Lay out in the sun
  • Go to a thrift shop and look for strange treasures
  • Draw pictures
  • Write letters, email or texts to friends

What have I missed? What do you do to make yourself feel better without bingeing? The next time you are tempted to overeat, return to this page and start doing something ELSE to make your dopamine centers light up. You don’t have to overeat. It may be the simplest way to get that sort of reward, but it is also damaging to your body. Find another way to make yourself feel good.

Brain image via: Studio3Music – The #1 Kindermusik Studio | Music is as Enjoyable as Sex « Studio3Music – The #1 Kindermusik Studio


Don’t Forget To Sleep

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Don't Forget To Sleep from Starling Fitness

I have been TIRED. I’ve needed to go to bed early. I’ve needed naps in the middle of the day. I’ve felt so insanely tired that I have worried that I was getting sick. And then I remembered…

I’m losing weight.

For the first time in a LONG time, I’m actually losing weight. I have been working with a sponsor with Overeaters Anonymous and it’s really emotional work. I wrote out my Step Four Inventory and the next day, I slept the whole day. Going over all of those things from my past is draining.

Not to mention all the eating less and exercising more.

Working through the steps makes eating less and exercising more easier. So much easier that I forget that I’m doing it. And then I wonder why I’m so dang tired.

So, don’t forget to SLEEP. Losing weight is hard work and it will make you tired, so make sure you go to bed early and steal a nap every now and then.


Just Do It? What? Run on Water?!

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I saw this Nike ad on Do it | We Heart It and it really confused me.

Just Do It? What? Run On Water?! from Starling Fitness

The first thing I thought was,

Just do it? What? Run on water?!

And then I got a little angry at Nike, thinking,

Yeah, they think they’re God. They think they can run on water.

All of this shuffled through my head so quickly that it almost immediately reverted to what it was meant to be, inspirational, but that thought about God, still irked me.

Honestly, I’ve acted like I’m Queen of the World for so long that I almost thought I was God. I thought I could run on water.


I CAN run on water, as long as it’s less than 32 degrees outside and I’m really, really careful…

Anyway, I’ve been working on my humility lately. I’m trying not to think that I am God. I’m trying to keep myself humble. It’s super hard and I pretty much screw up every, stupid day. Seeing this poster just made me think that I’ve been a little too proud of every single workout I do.


Make Yourself A God Box

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I HATE the name. I just want to say right up front that I absolutely HATE the name. My sponsor told me to make a God Box. She said she used a lock box, but I could make mine out of anything. I told her I would do it because I decided that I would just do whatever my sponsor said because obviously I had NO idea how to keep my eating under control. If she said I needed to make a God Box, I would.

But I procrastinated. Instead of just making my God Box like she asked me to, I looked at God Boxes on the Internet.

Pinterest God Box from Starling Fitness

Pinterest God Box from Starling Fitness

Pinterest God Box from Starling Fitness

Pinterest God Box from Starling Fitness

Pinterest God Box from Starling Fitness

They all turned my stomach a bit until I realized I didn’t like the name. It’s supposed to be a box for things that you just can’t change. You write on a tiny slip of paper the problem that you have no control over and put it into the box to let “God” take care of it. I don’t believe in God, but “Higher Power Box” sounded stupid. “Part of my brain that I haven’t used for so long that it feels like it’s another presence box” sounds stupid, too. So I clung to the name God Box just because it was two syllables.

And I finally made one.

Make Yourself A God Box from Starling Fitness

As much as I railed against the name and even the idea of it, it has been incredibly helpful. Every time I feel myself ruminating about something that I can’t control, I just write it on a post-it-note and put it into the box. Somehow, just stuffing it away in that Pringles can helps me.

Inside my God Box from Starling Fitness

I hate the name, but the concept and the execution has been something I’ve quickly become thankful for. Every time something irritating or upsetting crosses my mind, I can just stuff it into that can instead of stuffing my face with food. I can’t stress enough how grateful I am for that simple Pringles can.

If you have found yourself ruminating about things or felt the need to eat in order to ease your feelings about something, make yourself a God Box. Create a place to contain your worries and fears so they don’t consume you and, in turn, make you consume more food than you should.


PostSecret: Throw It Up

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

This postcard from PostSecret reminded me of my worst of days suffering with my compulsive eating.

Throw It Up from Starling Fitness

It reads:

I only eat fast food if I’m near a place to throw it up.

I never was bulimic. I could never make myself throw up my huge binges. For some reason, that made me think that I wasn’t THAT bad. “Sure, I ate over 4000 calories in one sitting, but at least I didn’t throw it up,” I would think to myself. I knew I had a problem because eating that much food made me feel sick, yet I felt like I couldn’t stop.

But at least I wasn’t barfing. I wasn’t ruining my teeth. I wasn’t THAT sick.

I now know that my compulsive eating was just as dangerous and harmful as bulimia. Bingeing and purging is bad. Bingeing all by itself is just as bad. BOTH of them hurt the victims of these diseases.

And don’t fool yourself. It IS a disease. It is just as damaging as a disease. It leaves its victims just as powerless over it. It is a physiologic response to food that makes you need more and more. I’ve talked about this before here:

Watch this video if you don’t believe that compulsive overeating is not a disease:

This is the most important quote:

No one can exert willpower over a biochemical drive that goes on every minute of every day of every year.

If you are telling yourself that you’re not THAT sick because at least you don’t make yourself barf after your binges, you are WRONG. Get some help. For me, I found help at Overeater’s Anonymous, but there are mental health professionals who might also be able to nurture you back to health. The most important thing is realizing that you have a problem and getting some help for it.

PostSecret‘s beneficiary is the National Hopeline Network. It is a 24-hour hotline (1 (800) SUICIDE) for anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows someone who is considering it.

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