Eating Disorder to a Smile
By Chris Shah
“At least I’m not sticking my finger down my throat.”
Recalling this story seems like a past life. This was me rationalizing my eating disorder not being as bad as someone who purges on purpose.
A few weeks later in a dark, cold garage, my finger down my throat began the next stage, referred to as “purging bulimia.”
I would routinely fluctuate between excessive working out and eating my prepared food to overeating both healthy and unhealthy food. After the overeating, I would starve myself for 8-12 hours, then that graduated to purging after overeating.
I spent countless hours looking into the mirror to find the perfect view of my muscular body. Most people watched TV shows, I watched myself and adventured on an endless pursuit to find the perfect clothes to make me look muscularly big.
This consumed virtually every living second of my day. I was a see-saw of extreme emotional highs followed by downward spirals that seemed darker than the previous.
Catching a glance of myself in the mirror that didn't look big consumed my whole being.
In this mindset you only identify with your body image and eating. That means all my eggs were in one basket. If those eggs broke, I had nothing left to defend my emotional well-being.
If my current clients saw me during this stage of my life, they would have zero doubt they could conquer any emotional eating issues. Now, I’m known to my clients as “super positive and motivational.”.
Turning It All Around.
This disorder become my identity and the lens I saw the world through. I allowed it to selfishly push away a happy life from me. I had to get out.
It finally got to the point that staying the same seemed more painful than changing.
It was not a single event or breakthrough that changed it all around. Similar to any woman, I have fallen in love with it’s a combination of factors. The following breakthroughs broke the chains forever.
Breakthrough one is feeling present to become the watcher of any emotional disturbance.
Breakthrough two is diversifying your identities to provide you with multiple emotional lives.
Breakthrough three is relying on the process to be your GPS guide.
I discovered the power of presence, which helped dissolve my ego and attachment to excessively judging myself.
It was like a prisoner getting his first taste of freedom and fresh air. This was another world I discovered, I was enthralled with it. I started on a quest to see what it would take to stay free.
Some ways you too can experience present energy is to simply watch a bird or a plant in nature. Just watch and put your focus on it, and you will experience a taste of presence. Meditation is a verified way to also become more present, and incorporating it into your life is a great investment in yourself.
The single greatest power you gain from present energy (mindfulness and meditation) is that you become “the watcher” of your emotions. This breaks the illusion that you are your body image. You lose attachment, and ultimately you gain freedom and greater peace of mind.
A common response when I bring up meditation is “I’m no good at it, I can’t stop thinking” to explain why they don’t do it. They have unconsciously set up rules against themselves.
If your rules are “I can’t think” and “I must always maintain concentration” to be successful at meditation, how often will you be successful? Very rarely.
The cool thing about life is that you can make up your own rules. Here are my rules in order to be successful at meditation. Rule one: Schedule it, Rule two: Start with two minutes, Rule three: Focus on your breathing, Rule four: Don’t judge your performance.
When you do those things, you are successful at meditation, and the amount of time and benefit you will gain starts to increase.
What other identities must I value? I’m also a father, business owner, world traveler and friend. I started to pour more focus into those other areas of my life.
What must I do as a business owner? What must I do to show my son I love him? What must I do as a boyfriend? Where do I want to travel next?
When I diversified my focus on many identities, the stranglehold of the “bulimia” started to loosen its grip on me. I would no longer put all my eggs in one identity.
If my abs didn't look exactly the way I wished “No big deal. They will soon, but I have other shit to do.” If I occasionally ate some chocolate, it was no longer “I’m so bad, “my veins will disappear.” It was, “That was so good,. I earned it.”
I was no longer fully identified with the image of my body. The feedback loops from hell no longer terrorized my mind.
Life happens, and when it does we need something to keep us calm, Inspired and confident we can make it though.
Relying on a process can guide us when many get lost in stormy emotions.
The process gives me the power to be the director of events in my life. Without a process to navigate the world, most will be in constant emotional reaction to events and results.
This is commonly the thought pattern that rules over yo-yo dieters. ( also known as the feedback loop from hell).
I wake up between 3:15 and 4 a.m. to start my director process. I want to tell life what I’m expecting out of it, not wait to see what happens.
It starts with 10-20 minutes of meditation, followed by a few minutes of gratitude, to excite my inner cheerleaders, reviewing my focus for the day, and incantations (mantra’s loudly vocalized) to literally program my subconscious mind. I want my subconscious mind to go to work for me so I don’t rely just on will power.
What will be your process? What process will fit into your unique lifestyle?
Through this whole journey life and I have taught each other everything is a choice. When you are at rock bottom it’s a choice to continue to look down or up in a new direction. It’s a choice to feed the pain or reach out to hope and help. Once you realize we have the power of choice life will never be the same again.
This is how I went from a eating disorder to a smile.
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