Twelve Step Recovery from Food Addiction in U.S. News & World Report

By Laura Moncur @ 12:14 pm — Filed under:

U.S. News I'm an Addict from Starling FitnessI was happy to see this article in U.S. News & World Report:

They didn’t do much research about the science of food addiction, because there have been MANY studies showing the similarities of brains addicted to drugs and brains addicted to sugar. Aside from that, they did a good job of talking about Overeater’s Anonymous and other twelve step programs for food addiction.

I especially liked this paragraph:

One component that’s controversial? Abstinence, since considering certain foods off-limits can backfire if it causes people to feel guilty about indulging. One 2012 study, for instance, found dieters who ate high-calorie breakfasts that included a dessert like chocolate cake lost nearly 40 pounds? more on average over eight months than those with low-calorie and treat-less breakfasts, who initially lost weight but then regained it. ?The bigger breakfast group also reported being less hungry and more satisfied.

That is one study I hadn’t heard about, but for me, restricting particular foods makes me want to eat them all the more. Letting myself have the freedom to eat them, paradoxically helps me to NOT eat them.

All I know, is that I struggled for TEN years, right here on this website without any lifting of the obsession to eat. Now, after a year and a half in Overeater’s Anonymous, I have been free of the compulsion. There are days when it comes back, but it’s always because I have something emotionally that I need to deal with and the program helps me to do just that without resorting to food. I have had a year and a half without a single binge, which was IMPOSSIBLE before the program. I have lost 70 pounds so far and am more productive and MUCH happier. It’s good to see Overeater’s Anonymous get the press they deserve.

Overeater’s Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog. I speak only of my personal experience and not for OA as a whole.


One Year Chip

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

Last weekend, I got my one year abstinence chip in my Overeater’s Anonymous meeting.

OA Abstinence Chips from Starling Fitness

Before I came to OA, I had no hope. ZERO hope. I was managing my eating by counting the minutes between my alarms on my phone.

I had no hope for a cure for my brain, and honestly, there IS NO CURE for a broken brain. There is, however, a treatment and it takes everything you have to follow it. Fortunately, I haven’t had to sweat has hard as I did in the past, but I did have to learn how to be humble.

In fact, just writing this entry makes me worried that I’m not being humble, but as a recovering binge-eater, it’s my responsibility to share my hope, strength and experience.

In October 2013, I couldn’t go more than an hour without bingeing. I would eat ALL DAY LONG and I felt hungry all the time. Now, I hold in my hand, a one year chip. It has been over a YEAR since I have binged. There is hope. If you thought that you would start the new year right and are disgusted with yourself because you just cannot follow your program, get yourself to an Overeater’s Anonymous meeting.

Overeater’s Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog. I speak only of my personal experience and not for OA as a whole.


Punch Laziness In The Face

By Laura Moncur @ 8:36 am — Filed under:

I saw this motivational poster on Funeral for my Fat:

Punch laziness in the face from Starling Fitness

It reads:

Now punch that laziness in the face and have a great day!

I started thinking about punching laziness and it seemed like such a weird concept. I kept envisioning a lazy cat and I didn’t want to punch it in the face at all.

Lazy cat from Starling Fitness

When I did an image search for laziness, I mostly saw people SLEEPING. Men, women and kittens sleeping. Maybe you’re not lazy. Maybe you’re TIRED. Make sure your workout routine isn’t too strenuous. If it is, then you won’t want to exercise because you’re TIRED, not because of laziness.

If the thought of working out today sounds horrible and you are feeling lazy, try this. Give yourself permission to do an EASY workout. Tell yourself that you’ll go slow and easy for twenty minutes. That’s it. That’s all you have to do.

If you get into your workout and want to do more, then go for it. If all you can do is that easy twenty minutes, then you are TIRED, not lazy. Quit insulting yourself. It turns out that most of the time, when you try to punch laziness in the face, you just end up punching yourself…

Lazy cat image via: Dry Skin Saviours for Lazy Girls


American Medical Review Profile of Overeaters Anonymous

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

This video is a profile of Overeater’s Anonymous by American Medical Review in 2010. It is a good introduction into the program. Fast forward to the 1:10 minute mark to skip past the cheesy graphics and announcer.

This video isn’t a replacement for attending meetings. It’s just an introduction. Nothing can replace the fellowship of other people with eating disorders. If this gave you hope, find a meeting here:

If the idea that your eating disorder is a spiritual problem (not just a physical and emotional one) bothers you, read this series of entries about how I found recovery without believing in God.

There is hope for you. You just need to be brave enough to get yourself to a meeting.

Overeater’s Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog. I speak only of my personal experience and not for OA as a whole.


Overeaters Anonymous Public Service Announcement

By Laura Moncur @ 10:58 am — Filed under:

I just saw this little public Service Announcement for Overeater’s Anonymous. It’s a really good depiction of what it felt like to be powerless over food. It wasn’t dramatic, it just was THERE ALL THE TIME. I NEEDED to be eating everywhere: at work, at home, at the park, in the car, EVERYWHERE.

Overeater’s Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog. I speak only of my personal experience and not for OA as a whole.


Excess Fabric

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

Board Shorts from Starling FitnessBoard shorts. If you’ve never seen them, they’re like regular shorts, but they are made of material that works well with swimming. They dry quickly and they don’t chafe as much when they are wet. They’re shorts for when you are surfing the waves or kayaking the lake. You’re gonna get wet, but you don’t want to do it in a skimpy bikini.

They’re also kind of hard to find if you’re over weight and IMPOSSIBLE to find in the early Fall.

So, when I pulled on my board shorts Labor Day weekend to go boating, I panicked because they were so big that they were falling off my body. I had no idea my body had changed so much since I had last put them on (which was June 2012). I cinched them up with a couple of safety pins and the quick fix worked for the day.

So, when it came time to go boating the next weekend, I planned ahead. I went to the local stores in search of some new board shorts. I could find many swimming suits on clearance, but no board shorts in plus sizes. They’re rare at the beginning of the season, but NON-EXISTENT in early Fall. So, I did what my grand-momma taught me and I took them in.

Excess Fabric from Starling Fitness

I ended up removing a full three inches. THREE INCHES!

That seems like a HUGE amount, and that doesn’t even account for the seams, so I probably took it in a total of three and a half inches. I just measured and on the shorts that I haven’t altered the waist measures 40 inches. On the altered shorts it’s 35 1/2 inches. FOUR AND A HALF INCHES!

How Much I Had To Take Them In from Starling Fitness

Now, a 35 1/2 inch waist is nothing to brag about. It’s a LONG way from anything anyone would write a song about, but there is progress.

Progress that I just CAN’T see. When I look in the mirror, I still feel super fat. Honestly, I AM super fat. I weigh 179.7 lbs. On a 5’2″ frame, that is a lot of bulk. Sure, I used to weigh 231.1 lbs. BOTH of them are obese. Not only that, I feel the exact same as I did 52 pounds ago. I’m sure I could compare pictures, if there were any, but I FEEL the same.

Okay, that’s a lie. I DON’T feel the same, but all the changes that I can feel are inner changes. I’m less likely to bite someone’s head off. I’m more apt to apologize quickly. I’m calmer when someone is rude to me. And I don’t need to eat over any of those things. THOSE are the changes that I can feel.

Until I was confronted with that excess fabric I had shorn from my board shorts, I was unable to see any physical changes. All the changes I had experienced were of the emotional kind. It’s amazing how a few inches of excess fabric can show me what mirrors can’t.


Anorexia Knows No Age

By Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am — Filed under:

This postcard from PostSecret reminded me how hard eating disorders can be.

Anorexia knows no age

It reads:

Anorexia does not discriminate and it knows no age.

People assume that anorexia is a young person’s disease because that’s all we see in the media, but it can hit people at any age. The same is true with bulimia, binge-eating and exercise bulimia. You’re not “safe” once you hit a milestone in your age. You’re not even “safe” if you used to suffer from an eating disorder and have been in recovery for many years.

In fact, when you have a relapse, it usually hits you HARDER and STRONGER the second time. If you have been recovered and you fall back into your eating disorder, it will be that much harder to get back out. Your brain is pre-disposed to being addicted to these behaviors, so if you give it that crazy hit of dopamine again, then you are playing with fire.

I HATE the fact that I will never be free from binge-eating. I haven’t had a binge for over seven months, but I am not safe. I will never be safe and every day, I need to meditate and get my “hit” of those brain chemicals that are released when I have a spiritual experience in order to hold off the eating.

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.


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.


Death Fries by PacSun

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

So, a crazy woman bought out PacSun store’s ‘indecent’ T-shirts in Orem, Utah this week. Since I live in Utah, this sort of embarrassment is appalling to me and I wanted to see exactly HOW indecent they were. I went to the PacSun website. They weren’t indecent, but that’s another story.

Utah Crazy Woman Protests PacSun By Buying Out All The Indecent Shirts from Starling Fitness

I wanted to buy some clothes from them just in a sort of counter-protest to the crazy Utah woman, but they don’t sell any in my size right now. But that’s yet another story.

Today’s story is about this tshirt that I found while looking for the “indecent” ones.

Death Fries by PacSun on Starling Fitness

It just shows a drawing of french fries with the word, “death” under it. Is it true? Does every fast food restaurant serve Death Fries with that?

Part of me railed against the idea. It’s an over-simplification that just perpetuates the idea of “good” food and “bad” food. It makes the french fries feel forbidden and makes them a tad more appealing in the process. A serving of french fries every once and a while will not kill you. Our bodies are extremely adaptive and can recover from the greasy, salty and starchy combination.

Then again, for me, french fries DO represent death in some respects. I only eat them when I’m in the middle of a binge. I only crave them when I am feeling emotionally damaged and slightly suicidal. So, are they Death Fries? For me, yes.

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