Confessions of a Secret Binge Eater...The Dark Side of Competition Dieting

Yes...I am talking about myself. I have been struggling with whether or not to write this post...and finally decided, Damn it...it NEEDS to be written!

No one really talks about the negative effects training and dieting can have on someones mind. I think many people go through it, but no one ever talks about it...why? Out of shame? Maybe...that's why I was struggling with whether I was going to come clean or not with it.

One week out from my next competition and I decide to pull out...WHAT! Yes, I know you are thinking, but you are so close, why would you do that? This brings me to the title of this post.

I actually took notice of very particular habits I was forming and thought for a second..."wait a minute...I think something is wrong here...I think I may be on my way to a serious food addiction and may be developing some body issues..." I say that because I noticed an OVERWHELMING desire to eat all the time...every thought in my head was about food...I constantly looked up food and recipes online, walked up and down the isles in the store looking (and almost drooling) at the different foods I wanted so badly but couldn't have. Now, this probably doesn't sound so bad, right? Maybe a little normal for someone on a competition diet? No, at this point food was controlling my life...and it gets worse...

I'm on a strict eating plan of fish and asparagus...for WEEKS...MONTHS...and I hate fish. Repeat, repeat, repeat....on days I have a craving and want to cheat I don't grab a banana or apple (both of which were NOT on the diet...but would have been a "better" cheat option) I would grab the WORST thing I could find...ice cream...cookies...chocolate...WHATEVER...and eat and eat and eat...until I was feeling guilty...not until I was feeling full...but actually guilty...and I would do it all in secret...yes...this is the part that was a red flag for me...BINGE EATING IN SECRET... HELLO. If that dies not scream "Eating Disorder" then I don't know what does.

I am some what of a "Type - A" personality...I like to be in control...alot...(maybe that's why I became a personal trainer!?!? LOL who knows...) so...when I realized I was totally OUT OF CONTROL in terms of my eating...I knew it was time to put the breaks on...step back...and assess the situation before it went too far.

I have NEVER been one to obsess over food...or even ever had body issues. I've always been pretty happy with my body and never have really dealt with being overweight or hating the way I looked. I had a LOOOONG talk with one of my coaches...many of you know her and/or subscribe to her blog (Lishia Dean) and she really helped me. (What an awesome person she is, I swear.) She told me the story of her competition history...from when she started up until now. I'm not going to go though the whole story, but there was a point in her career where she took some time off and she said it was the best thing she ever did because when she came back she was back 110% and ready to do it. And, many of you know...she is on a journey to get her pro card this year....(which I have no doubt she'll get!!!) So...going from a situation where her head wasn't in it 100% to coming back after a break and now being a contender for an IFBB Pro Card says ALOT about what a break can do for you.

The other thing I thought about was the fact that I am a trainer...I have clients...and I help guide them towards healthy eating...and coach them to have a healthy relationship with food...well how the HELL can I do that if I begin to have a bad relationship with food?!?! I can't...so I decided what was best for me right now was to step back and refocus. If I can mentally wrap my head around doing another contest prep diet in the future WITHOUT having food issues that are out of control...then I will definitely be competing...and for a long time...but if it continues to defeat me and put me in a bad relationship with food and those around me (because I also didn't mention how MISERABLE I was...lying to myself and everyone around me that I was happy when I wasn't...and being annoyed and irritated by stuff that should have never bothered or annoyed me...) then I would rather walk away then struggle with an eating disorder for the rest of my life.

I was very afraid to write this post and come clean. By all my previous posts it looks like I am doing so well...but if you noticed there were DAYS between posts...I only wrote on the days I was kicking ass...but on the bad days....I wasn't writing my struggles...why? I was embarrassed and ashamed....sad, but oh so true.

I will NOT let any of this defeat me. I am taking the steps to regroup and refocus on what I need to do. I will not stop blogging...it's been a great outlet for me so far, and the followers and support from you ladies has been tremendous. I hope to still inspire, even with such a set back as this. I wanted others to know it's OK to step back if you need to. NO COMPETITION AND DIET is worth giving yourself an eating disorder over.


Krissa said...

I have never competed but had/have the same struggles.

You listened to your body and made a very wise decision.

I will say a prayer for you. I know there are a lot of crazy emotions going on right now.

I am glad you wrote about this topic.

Genie said...

Jen, I am so proud of you for writing this post, and more importantly, listening to your body!

You do STILL continue to inspire. And this isn't a setback, just another obstacle. You are right, no competition is worth risking your health!

Greenteagirl said...

Thanks for being so honest. I know it's out there but rarely do people talk about the downside to competing. You are doing the best thing. When you return, you will have a renewed focus!

Ali said...

Jenn, you are definitely something special for posting this and being so honest. I agree with what everyone said, you will continue to inspire and motivate and of course come back when ready even tougher (is that possible)? I struggle with the same....

Mary M said...

Hey girl...you know what...one of the remarks I blog about is how can you fix something in yourself that is broken without HONESTY! KUDOS to you...hey girl we are ALL learning about each other and ourselves EVERY day and we all have mountains to climb and lessons to learn and we are ALL her to inspire and HELP each other! HONESTY is an asset, a strength, it takes courage to write your blog and it WILL help someone, everyone...and most importantly YOU! YOU ROCK girl and you do what needs to be done in order to get yourself where you need to be on the INSIDE...that's one of the blogs I wrote too...you can't fix the OUTSIDE if the INSIDE is broken..our foundations are so important to building a strong individual!
BRAVO girl!

"and the truth will set you free"....isn't a famous saying for nothing!


Tearose said...

I could just hug you! I am dealing with the same dam issue, and if you look at my blog I haven't posted in like a week, same reason. I wanted to take a break as well, but then i tried and found out I don't know how...I only know how to diet or binge it seems.
Take the break! Get your head back were it needs to be, and thanks for writing this post though I know it was very hard. I love honest blogs! I wish you the best! I hope you blog about your break though, I need to know how its done lol.

Fitness Jenn said...

I could hug each and every one of you...THANK YOU FOR THE COMMENTS.

I am still struggling with this...especially knowing I was so close and gave it up...I do want to compete...I love it...but not in the mind frame I was in...I was headed down hill and FAST. I'm glad I still had a little bit of sense left...

I will be updating on my progress and also will promise to write both the GOOD and the BAD so that I can be completely honest with me and with all of you.


*ANA* said...

hi jenn
i too blog only on good days i find i cannot controll my binges food controlls me i have kik ass workouts often fololwed by great diet days and then night time hits and everyone asleep and i seem to think what i eat between midnight and 5 am doesnt count!! thank you for posting!

Bianca Jade said...

Jenn, it was good of you to share all this with both the class and on your blog- I realy appreciated hearing that from you, I am just glad you are one to actually take care of yourself and not keep pushing and developing an eating disorder or anything..I was not so lucky and struggled for MANY years and can relate to every single thing you have said here..it IS embarrassing to admit too..but it is better than having food control your every thought!!

Tanya said...

I am so happy you posted this. I competed in my first show this last March. I would have never thought this would be a problem. I thought I could just go back to eating normally. I dont even know what normal is. I am doing and going through the exact same thing you are! I want to compete again in November, but need to get my head on straight first. Thanks so much for putting this out there. Happy to know i'm not the only one going through this.

dfitnes24 said...

jenn, you are not alone! i have been competing since 1996 and yes after every comp. i struggle with the food. not to mention body image issues. it usually takes me about six months to feel in control of it all! i do always step back before each show and ask myself do i want to go through that again! stay tuned for that answer this year! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Great post. You are not alone in this. I think too many competitors deal with this, you are just the brave one to step out and talk about it. Thank you for sharing.

Rachael said...

Thank you, I haven't competed since 2007 and I am still struggling with my relationship with food. I have been on restricting diets and binging since 2007 and have been able to stay fairly fit looking. However, I have gotten to the point now that my binging is lasting up to a week. For example I am traveling for work right now and because I have no family or friends around I ate fast food, ice cream, cheesecake, cookies, a bagel and a whole small pizza pie TODAY! Because I feel like I "ruined" today anyway I might as well not workout, I'll just start again tomorrow. It's a vicious cycle that I can't get out of. Either I'm going to the gym twice a day kicking ass and eating clean or I'm eating 5,000 calories in a day. I just can't get it together. My life revolves around food.
For another example, someone brought in Oreos to work, most people eat one. I stole 6 cookies and ran into the locker room to eat them where no one could see me. People think I'm this crazy healthy eater and workout all the time. My friends seek my advise for weight loss, if they only knew!

Natalie Pyle said...

I have debated reaching out for help for a while now, but as I sit here (almost sick from eating) I know can't take this lifestyle anymore. I binged AGAIN tonight. Pretzels, PB2, SF syrup and Ice cream, low carb tortillas, cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, bananas and HALLOWEEN CANDY! I have gained about 10 lbs in the last 3 months.
From what I've read, I have the exact same problem as many other people who had BED. I promise myself over and over that it will be the last time but it never is. I'm bingeing every other day now!
I have never been more depressed in my life and I want my old happy, fit self back. Tons of posts I've read speak about emotional eating but I don't know of any emotions that make me eat, I am not an emotional person.
Every time I binge, I feel sick the next day and I have a State Cross country race the day after tomorrow-I am ruining my chances of a scholarship and I'm going to embarrass myself. I can't understand what I'm doing... I've tried eating more, eating less, journaling, counting calories, etc. nothing works! PLEASE help me, I don't know what I'm going to do.
I'm so sorry for begging but I'm on the last straw :(

Natalie Pyle said...

Oh if you would please email me at mpyle50@hotmail.com