Friday, November 30, 2007

Thanksgiving - A Time to Wake Up

"There are 4 steps to getting well….but before climbing, you must be willing to wake up from your deep sleep and to pay close attention".... Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht

Thanksgiving is a time when we give thanks for everything we have received..... and let the eating/stuffing begin. If you could crawl inside your body and experience the stress of over-eating and indulging in poor choices, you might think differently. Yes, Thanksgiving is only one day, but it doesn't take much awareness to know that disorderly eating and other addictions have taken a large toll on all of our lives, for under a microscope, few of us are squeeky clean. So, when you sit down on Thursday and give thanks, remember your own body and think about what you can do, not only during the holidays, but as a permanent lifestyle change. How will you give thanks to yourself?

As my gift to the followers of my blog, here is a track from one of my most popular mp3 programs, Emotional Eating. This program is also part of my Sugar...the Hidden Eating Disorder & How to Lick It book/workbook & CD Series.

When I teach or write about the four steps to getting well, everyone is in a hurry to climb them, and why not. Most of us are sick and tired of our problems and we want to be free of them. Many are heavy, interfering with our life as a whole. Others prove to be an annoyance, perhaps a mystery at the same time. How is it that one can be so successful in one part of life, and be such a complete failure at things that appear so simple on the surface?

Have you ever considered that perhaps these things are not as simple as they appear? Disorderly eating and bingeing fall into this group. Addictions are the same. And to make matters even more different, your problem will not be exactly the same as that of someone else. All problems are colored by personal experience, as well as gained expertise at managing different aspects of them. We talk about our problems “as if” they were singular, but indeed, they are not. They all are all multi-faceted and here sits the reason for failure in most of us. We have a tendency to rush into solutions without first studying the facets or assessing our own strengths and weaknesses. We begin our climb far too soon, while we are still asleep. So now you are beginning to awaken. You can see the steps, but you must be patient if you want to climb well and not fall back.

I’m no different from you. I woke up many years ago, and as the days pass, I wake even more. I know what it is to binge. I know what it is to have disorderly eating & to live a life of disorder. I know what it is to feel anxiety and depression. I know what it is to have & live an addiction. I also know what it feels like to be free of all of these and what has to happen on a daily basis to earn this freedom. I also know why I have these problems and I do know that it is not my fault. And while I have no guilt or shame, I do accept that I am totally self-responsible for keeping myself healthy, at optimum health and high performance levels. I like it this way and you will as well.

Disorderly eating, addictions & binge behaviors are pervasive in our country and most other industrialized nations, so we are far from alone in having these issues. We wake up from our preoccupation with these disorders at different times of our lives. I was a long sleeper. As the decades passed, I often thought I was awake, but I wasn’t. Something always seemed to be tripping me, keeping me out of balance. I wanted to feel whole, but the brass ring on the merry go round seemed out of reach. I would wake up with good intentions, but before sunset I would take two steps backward. I remained the optimist; hopeful that I would live long enough to experience what is called optimum health and performance. One day I would be my healthy weight. One day I would be free of anxiety & panic attacks. One day I would sense my pure creativity from morning to night and know that it was mine to keep, but as the years passed, I came to doubt this would ever happen.

I was invited to my very first emotional binge eating experience at the age of 3. My father had died in an automobile accident. It was my birthday. In those years the deceased were waked or viewed from the home, and so I found my father “asleep” in the living room. I still remember everyone screaming to take me away. Whenever I asked “why he didn’t go up to bed”, someone gave me a cookie and sat me in the garden by myself to watch the birds. I don’t know how many cookies I ate that day, but this was my first remembered association of great-tasting cookies with sadness and being alone. There are times when I still can connect with that very early negative food experience.

Once an emotional food pattern is placed, the subconscious mind will look to find more opportunities for releasing stress, often choosing particular foods. These then take on the job as binge trigger foods. As years pass and more stressful situations present themselves, one can understand how very easy it is to become a disorderly or binge eater. As the child becomes become older, other addictions join in. Some children start smoking, drinking and experimenting with drugs in elementary school. In addition, children often follow the habits, behaviors or addictions of the parents. If the parents cannot teach the child to release emotions in a healthy fashion, the child is left with few options for managing their internal stress other than the addiction of choice. The purpose of the addiction is to help the child feel safe and to release the stress.

My addiction of choice was food-related, especially junk and sugar in just about any form. Regular meals held little interest for me. Healthy foods were not my first choice. To make matters worse, the more sugar I ingested, the less healthy foods I would eat. My taste buds were now programmed towards sugar and salt. My mother was busy with the many trials and tribulations of widow-hood and being a single parent in a society that, at that time, did not support this. And so, I became invisible, free to keep my disorderly eating, as long as there was still some cake for my brothers.. As the years moved along, I graduated to caffeine and smoking, then exploring diet pills with my nursing student colleagues. It was normal to skip breakfast, have a liquid diet lunch and then binge at dinner. No one thought anything about it, nor what might be happening inside our bodies and our minds. There was never a thought of a consequence, short or long term. We were totally invincible. As long as there was enough money for donuts and beer, it was a great time, or so I thought then.

My first wake-up call came in my senior year when I fainted in class. I was sent home to recover, but no one knew what I was supposed to be recovering from, not even the family physician. Stress, sugar addiction or disorderly eating was not part of the medical vocabulary.. No one ever questioned my nutritional intake, or if I was taking drugs or smoking. Looking back, I can certainly appreciate my body and mind trying to get my attention, but it would be many decades before that would come to pass. I had no idea that my body was over-producing insulin and building insulin resistance, the precursors to the major killers. I was already on the road to diabetes, heart disease and circulatory disease. I was building tendencies towards other chronic medical conditions and a compulsive personality that would come to plague me for years to come. Yet, I believed I was having a good time.

We meet helping angels along the way. Mine came in the form of my husband-to-be who insisted that I stop smoking. Although resisting every step of the way, I did so, but replaced that release mechanism with more sugar, junk and caffeine. Remember, I had never learned to release my emotions in a healthy way and so my addictions were all I had. My body was busy responding to my lack of nutrition and other negatives that were ingested everyday. The body is like a bank, busy recording and responding to both positives and negatives. In those days there was mainly a negative balance. Keep in mind that we do not sense all of these, some only presenting themselves when it is too late to change. Of course, I wasn’t awake for that gem of knowledge during those years. To quote an old saying, but appropriate nevertheless, I always wonder how different life would have been if I knew then what I know now.

Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, President & Program Designer for Sarasota Medical & Sports Hypnosis Institute located in Sarasota, FL & online at She is the author of Sugar....the Hidden Eating Disorder & How to Lick It & Beyond Disorderly Eating...The Truth About Sugar, Bingeing & How to Stop. She has also written & produced +350 audio CD's & mp3's. The websites include moderated discussion groups, ezines, library & a host of other educational tools for learning Interactive Self-Hypnosis.