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losing weight after trauma-induced binge eating disorder

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Old 07-20-2014, 10:25 PM   #1
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Unhappy losing weight after trauma-induced binge eating disorder

Hi there, I've come to this forum searching for some glimmer of hope, support, and help. I'm struggling more than I ever have, and I really don't know what to do. I apologize for the long-winded post, but I hope someone reads this and can offer some advice...

I'm 32 years old. I was overweight for all of my life, until autumn 2010, when, after moving to Los Angeles and getting into a new relationship, I decided it was time to do something about my weight, once and for all. I started eating healthier, started exercising, and over a few years, I lost 50 pounds, and completely transformed my body. I felt amazing and looked fantastic.

Then, this past autumn 2013, when I was at the height of my physical fitness, I suffered a horrible trauma. My then-boyfriend, who I'd been with for 3 years, attacked me in a violent rage and threatened my life. I had to abruptly leave where I was living with him in LA, leave my job, my gyms where I'd work out 6-8 times a week, and move back home to the San Francisco Bay Area, completely heartbroken and emotionally and financially drained. In late February, I had a horrible relapse (I'm a compulsive overeater), and I developed binge-eating disorder and went into a major depression because of what happened to me. I sought out therapy in April, but I'm still suffering depression, which is exacerbated by the weight I've gained from binge eating.

I've put on 20+ pounds due to the binging--I'm not sure of the exact # of pounds, b/c I'm too scared to weigh myself, but I just know that none of my clothes fit me, and I don't recognize myself in the mirror. I tried on jeans today that used to be loose on me last summer, and they wouldn't even button up. Needless to say, I have spent a lot of today crying. I've spent a lot of the past few months crying. It's been one of the most scary, horrible, dark things I've ever gone through.

Here's my problem: I haven't binged in almost 90 days, and I've been working out regularly and trying to eat healthier, but I haven't seen a change in the weight I put on. I'm starting to feel that weight loss a second time around is completely hopeless. I am PETRIFIED that I can't lose weight again and get back to the body I had last year, and that seems like basically a death sentence to me. I can't live being fat the rest of my life. I'm sure a lot of you understand. That's just not me--I don't feel like myself in this body.

Has anyone ever experienced anything along these lines? I am suffering so horribly. I feel like a prisoner in my body. Not being able to wear any of my clothes has really taken a toll on me, and I think about suicide because I'm so scared that I'm never going to lose weight again. I'm seeing a therapist, who specializes in eating disorders, but she discourages calorie counting. I still do it, though, in my head, because it's almost impossible for me to not do it.

Also of note--I have an active job. I'm a server at a bar, and I work from 8pm - 2 or 3am, usually, so my schedule is a bit off, and I'm not sure if that has to do with lack of weight loss or not. I don't drink very much - only 1-2 drinks a couple of times a week. I am not eating much differently from back when I was at my most physically fit last summer...so I'm just completely baffled, discouraged, and terrified because I don't know why I'm not losing weight like I was before. ANY help is so incredibly appreciated. I feel like I completely destroyed my body and health and I'm just destined to be fat.

tldr: I lost 50 pounds a few years ago, but after suffering a violent trauma, I've gained 20+ pounds back from binge eating disorder/binging for 2 months, and even though I haven't binged in almost 3 months, I haven't seen any weight loss or progress and I'm terrified that I've ruined my body for life.
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Old 07-20-2014, 11:24 PM   #2
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What do you eat? You might be able to speed it up by cutting out foods that hinder fat loss.
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Old 07-21-2014, 12:47 AM   #3
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Hi! I am really sorry to hear what happened to you. I also have binge eating disorder (for 14 yrs now) that started kind of similarly (but there was no violence). I was in a relationship with a very controlling personality and after I finally got myself together to end it (which also involved moving to another city), I started binge eating. I've learned that as psychotic as it sounds, eating large amounts of food somehow helped me feel in control after years of someone else controlling me. I've also learned that I found comfort in how the sugar and wheat affected my body. I pretty much did ruin my body - I became prediabetic from the way I overworked my pancreas, constantly needing more and more insulin to counter the amount of glucose in my bloodstream - but I have now taken back some of the damage through eating low carb high fat. My fasting results are now normal and my hemoglobin A1c is coming down. I've lost 31 lbs. in less than 4 mths so far. Over the past 14 yrs I have gained quite a bit of weight - everytime I tried to lose it through any means of calorie counting/tracking the binge eating would get worse and over time I realized that silly as it is, I was binge eating as a form of taking back control from something that I felt was controlling me (in this case, the counting). I tried this approach many many times with the same result. Cutting carbs without actually counting is the only method I have been able to use to lose weight that does not result in increased binge eating. I also find that without the sugar and wheat in my system, my cravings and the urges to binge are largely suppressed or even absent. What is working for me will not work for everyone but I just wanted to share my story with you. I have also been through a great deal of therapy including a week away from home at a counseling center and a twelve step program but it mostly just helped me to identify my feelings at the times of binges, what triggered my binges, etc - it never actually helped me stop binge eating. Anyway, I truly do know what it is like to be betrayed and controlled by another person and then to use unhealthy coping mechanisms. Feel free to contact me in private message as well. Best wishes!!
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Old 07-21-2014, 03:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by LePetitPapillon View Post
What do you eat? You might be able to speed it up by cutting out foods that hinder fat loss.
I'm a compulsive overeater, so I know I probably eat a bit too much sugar, but I used to eat this stuff when I was at my fittest, and I still maintained. However, I guess that maybe since I have to LOSE weight, again, that I need to cut back.

I usually eat homemade "overnight oats" for breakfast, along with a large iced coffee with cream and vanilla syrup for sweetener. I've been drinking this forever, so I don't think it's a problem in terms of weight loss. For snacks I usually have coconut Greek yogurt, a protein bar, or a banana or apple with peanut butter. For meals I eat things like chicken, fish, lavash and hummus wraps, veggies, egg white omelets, etc. I do "graze" on sugary things sometimes--like cinnamon pita chips, or chocolate pretzels, or lowfat Skinny Cow ice cream bars--those are just examples of things I've eaten lately. But I never eat a lot of it, usually just a serving...sometimes I wonder if I'm not eating ENOUGH, and maybe my body is holding onto fat, considering I not only workout regularly, but also have a job where I'm on my feet for 5-7 hours at a time...but I just don't know. I need to get a BodyLink armband to see how many calories I'm actually burning. Maybe that would help, so I wouldn't feel so in-the-dark about all of this...

Oh, I forgot to add--the past few months I've still been indulging in my "red light" foods--meaning ice cream, cookies, cake, candy, pastries, all that stuff. Not all of the time, but enough to where it made me crazy. I've been attempting to cut out those foods for the most part, and it's been about a week with not eating that stuff on a regular basis, so maybe it's going to take a lot more time to lose weight since I was still indulging in those foods...? I don't know.
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:06 AM   #5
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Give it time! Slow and steady progress is still progress! Sorry for your pain.
Continue your counciling! This will help.

Try and trim the obvious calorie dense culprits in your diet for now.
I would start with Alcohol...it is a huge source of empty calories plus it's just not good for you...I would limit it to 1 drink a week.
Stick with lower carb choices and increase your protein. For me, trimming bread/ rice/ pasta helped me get the biggest results. I eat these about 2 times a week instead of every day.

slow incremental changes are ok. Hang in there!
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:12 AM   #6
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I would talk to your therapist about it. That is what she is there for. Tell her what you wrote in this post, even bring it in to her. This isn't about being fat, its the traumatic aftermath of what you went through. Counting calories or losing weight isn't what it going to make you feel safe again. Ask your therapist about medications, too, as those can help. .
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:20 AM   #7
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I would talk to your therapist as well. Also, an interesting book to read may be Brain over Binge. It has been very enlightening.
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:49 AM   #8
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It sounds like you aren't getting enough to eat at breakfast to me. Maybe instead of oatmeal, some bacon and scrambled eggs with a cooked veggie of your choice would fill you up better and help you avoid the sweets during the day. I don't know about the iced coffee drink... it might be setting you up for a sugar crash very early in the day. If it were me, I would replace it with water, and if really craving a sweet, a piece of fruit too. Start with a good breakfast and work your way throughout the day.
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Old 07-21-2014, 08:27 AM   #9
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I would talk to your therapist as well. Also, an interesting book to read may be Brain over Binge. It has been very enlightening.
I second this, emphatically! More than anything you really, really need to speak to a therapist who works with people with eating disorders and maybe has some experience with trauma/PTSD.

Get your head right and losing the weight won't seem so overwhelming.
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Old 07-21-2014, 08:40 AM   #10
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My heart goes out to you.

Maybe writing down everything that goes into your mouth and how you are feeling at the time and giving that to your therapist. Maybe between the two of you, maybe the answer can be found.

Good luck to you and welcome here where you will find the greatest people and support.
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:01 AM   #11
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Very sorry to hear about your situation. It must be very disorienting to find out that the person you loved is dramatically different from who you thought he was.

To me it seems sad and horrifying that you would think about suicide because of your weight (or what you perceive as your weight destiny). You have so much to live for! You're obviously bright and articulate, and you don't know what wonderful things await you around the corner. Please remind yourself that your current state of mind is TEMPORARY. You WILL feel better. You just have to ride it out, with all the support you need.

As for your weight, I don't believe anyone is destined to be fat or overweight. I've lost the same 30 to 50 pounds about 6 or 7 times. The last time I was 54. The weight came off a little more slowly than when I was 16, but it still came off relatively easily. And I've maintained the loss for over two and a half years without depriving myself of anything but gluttony.

Eating healthy will make you healthier, not necessarily slimmer. To lose weight you need to eat less food than your body uses for energy. If you eat 1,200 to 1,500 cals per day and exercise regularly, the weight will come off. You just need some patience, which admittedly is hard to summon.

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Old 07-21-2014, 02:26 PM   #12
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Some things you said really jumped out at me, because I used to feel the same way:

"I feel like a prisoner in my own body."

"I feel like I completely destroyed my body/health and am destined to be fat."

I developed a binge eating disorder in elementary school after a trauma (orphaned) and have struggled with it my entire life. It's only been through therapy, a good support network, and a sustainable food/exercise plan that I've been able to pull through. I still have an occasional binge, but just 2 or 3 times a year. What I want to say is: you CAN lose weight and you CAN live a normal life! I think you're taking the right steps (counseling). Do you have a sustainable food plan? I will tell you that when I'm experiencing great stress, I hang onto weight for some reason. Keep going to counseling, work your plan, and be kind to yourself. If you are doing the right things, the scale WILL begin to move.
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Old 07-21-2014, 03:07 PM   #13
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I would talk to your therapist about it. That is what she is there for. Tell her what you wrote in this post, even bring it in to her. This isn't about being fat, its the traumatic aftermath of what you went through. Counting calories or losing weight isn't what it going to make you feel safe again. Ask your therapist about medications, too, as those can help. .
Hi, I do talk to my therapist about it. She suggested medication because I don't seem to be getting better, but I was on anti-depressants from when I was 14 until I was 29, and I don't want to go back on them. I was extremely overweight on them, and only when I stopped anti-depressants was I able to lose weight...so it's just not an option for me. I feel that this is a major depression brought on by the trauma and life changes that occurred, so I'm hoping that it will get better with therapy and 12 step work, which I'm doing...but so far, after 3 months, it hasn't...but I'm still holding out hope, however small that may be...
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Old 07-21-2014, 03:14 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by dstalksalot View Post
Try and trim the obvious calorie dense culprits in your diet for now.
I would start with Alcohol...it is a huge source of empty calories plus it's just not good for you...I would limit it to 1 drink a week.
Stick with lower carb choices and increase your protein. For me, trimming bread/ rice/ pasta helped me get the biggest results. I eat these about 2 times a week instead of every day.

slow incremental changes are ok. Hang in there!
Hey there, thank you. Yeah I haven't been drinking much, besides on special social occasions...I do work at a bar, so the temptation to drink is high, but if I do it, it's usually only 1 (ONCE in a while 2 drinks) a few nights a week. I should make an effort to just stay away from it for the most part right now. And I try to avoid bread, but I consume too much other carbs, probably, so I'll continue to try to avoid those...I'm a carb-addict, of course, so it's difficult. Ugh.
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Old 07-21-2014, 03:18 PM   #15
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Do you have a sustainable food plan? I will tell you that when I'm experiencing great stress, I hang onto weight for some reason. Keep going to counseling, work your plan, and be kind to yourself. If you are doing the right things, the scale WILL begin to move.
Thank you for sharing your experience with me. What do you mean by sustainable food plan? If you mean something I can stick to long-term, then yes, I think so. I also had the thought that maybe it's because of stress that I've kept the weight on...I've been under immense financial stress this entire year. It's finally going to be eased, though, because I'm moving closer to work and will no longer be commuting and couch-surfing (I lived 40 miles away from work and had to stay with friends on nights I worked, which really started to take a toll on me, living out of a suitcase and driving all the time). Anyway, I'm hoping that by finally having a place to settle down close to work, and taking those other stressors out of the equation, that the stress will ease and maybe this extra weight will start to come off.
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