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I Binge Ate For 4 Days: Here’s What I Learned

Danny Franchini | | 0 comments

I Binge Ate For 4 Days: Here’s What I Learned

When Danny and I originally spoke about me writing a blog for him, my initial attempts were garbage – garbled, stream-of-consciousness writing with no clear start or end, boastful, back-handedly prideful and completely unreflective of the way God has worked in me and my life. I started off with several long-winded paragraphs of “me then and me now,” of the trails I had been through, the discipline God has taught me along the way, how I’m still “becoming.” Cliché drivel that – as I barely glanced at it before deleting it all and starting THIS blog – honestly made me ashamed of myself and reflected back on me how deeply I still desire acceptance and struggle with my ego.

 

Instead, I’m going to be real. I’m going to be raw. I’m going to – above all – write what God is leading me to say, and that is this: I confess that binge ate for the last four days…and the things it revealed to me about my own character, my truest desires, deepest pains and my own internal battles have been quite astounding. I have so much growing still to do…but praise God I’m not where I used to be and have come a long way.

 

WARNING: If you have struggled with an eating disorder in the past or are currently battling with the devil on this, I urge you to use caution and discernment on whether you should read on. I’m going to be completely honest in all that I write as far as what I did as well as what I learned.

 

Little bit of context: I’ve been on a fitness journey to eventually show in bodybuilding for the past 2 years. I’ve worked with an incredible nutritionist who really and truly cares about my well-being (both physically and mentally). I have been on a very strict, monitored diet for pretty much the entirety of those two years – I’ve had probably 4-6 REAL “cheat” meals that weren’t just more of what I usually eat (which is a very low-fat, high-carb diet). I’m down 50 lbs (not anymore lol) and have learned how to meal prep, how to diet, how to work out, etc along the way.

 

But this year has been tough. I went through a stint of binge-eating fruit on the weekends, then got over that. I’ve been cutting pretty steadily the entire year – through all the ups and downs of 2020 and the most bananas blessed year at work. I’ve travelled and stuck to plan, denied myself all kinds of things and stuck to the discipline I had worked so hard to cultivate. I went and visited my family in early November and didn’t even eat out – but I gave myself one day…one day to cheat.

 

And I think that’s where it started.

I spent HOURS searching for the “perfect recipe.” I had it planned – everything – that I wanted to eat that day, which ended up being my mom’s Pica Dillo (my comfort food – Cuban Chili), apples, and pumpkin chocolate chip bread. I counted down the hours….I wasted time I could have been spending being present with my family and instead fixated on my fix. I ate the whole loaf. Throughout the day, I ate it all…to the point where I felt so sick I just laid in bed and sweated….and then ate some more because I felt so stressed that I didn’t know when I would have another cheat meal. I ate until I felt sick enough to not desire it anymore. But the next morning, I was back on plan and had no issues “getting back on the train.” I am grateful for my all-or-nothing mentality sometimes (and especially for times like this).

 

Fast forward to my birthday – I turned 30 this year. I wanted to do it big – have the most epic cheat day ever. I, once again, spent HOURS upon hours researching local restaurants, planning what baked goods I’d eat, going to farmer’s markets and spending entirely too much money buying crap I didn’t need just to satisfy what I thought I was “missing out on.” It became an obsession. I was consumed to the point I was looking at restaurants and Yelp reviews while I was supposed to be doing work, researching recipes while driving, looking up Instagram recipes while at the gym.

 

And then the day came. I ate an entire loaf of sourdough bread, a pound of barbeque turkey, a whole pan of pumpkin protein chocolate chip bread, a pan of blueberry muffins, and I honestly don’t even remember what else. I was so bloated I could barely move…full, but still shoveling it in because “I only had one day – I had to get it all in, and besides, I want it.”

 

That was scary for me…really, really scary – I feared I had developed an eating disorder. The next day, however, I was able to flip the switch and go right back to eating on plan. But after that, my resentment and anger and fear grew – I just wanted to be “normal,” to be able to go out and eat, to not have to feel hungry for once. I talked to my coach about it – and with no clearly defined show plans in 2021 (because the world is bonkers), I told him I was taking a break from my diet for a few days or weeks and I’d let him know when/if I was ready to continue because of everything that happened on my birthday and I just “wanted to enjoy the holidays.”

 

It took a LOT for me to tell coach this. He told me everyone was taking a break, but recommended that I stay away from high-inflammation foods (chocolate, peanut butter, gluten, fried foods or anything else high-fat) and try to stick to eating more of what I normally eat. If only I had listened. I know it probably seems like I have an unhealthy view of myself and am hard on myself – I assure you; I very much am aware that balance is good and that to indulge every once in a while as a reward is fine – but what I did was willingly give into my sin of idolizing food (when I know this is a slippery slope for me) and I very much said in my head, “I don’t care. I just want to eat. I’m going to eat until I feel sick because I DO NOT CARE.” This, friends, is not ok.

 

I, once again, spent hours, days, researching what I wanted to eat throughout the week.

I, once again, gorged myself every day until I couldn’t move, didn’t work out at all, went on a lot of hikes.

I, once again, seemed incapable of just eating one piece and leaving some for later, and justified it by saying, “It’s been forever. It’ll be fine. I gotta get it out of my system. It’s only one week out of the year.” 

I, once again, spent entirely too much money, spent entirely too much time researching and coveting food and way, way too much time cooking, cleaning and being in my kitchen in general.

I, once again, woke up every day feeling worse than the day before, not getting restful sleep, feeling sluggish, with brain-fog, my joints hurting, my stomach distended, constipated, broken-out and overall just BLAH.

I, once again, heard the Holy Spirit telling me, ever-so-gently and mercifully – to stop this foolishness. “Man cannot live on bread alone” (Matthew 4:4) and “food was made for the body, not the body for food” (1 Corinthians 6:13). All of the scriptures I was lead to and listened to on shuffle had something to do with food. He was calling to me, and I didn’t want to listen.

 

So here I am. Christmas Day. And I have to tell you – I’ve been about 95% on plan today. Why? Not because I can’t see my abs anymore, or because all the definition I worked so hard for is gone, not because I feel fat or guilty (it’s definitely one of my best/worst traits that I’m as hard-headed as I am – I don’t think I would have learned these lessons any other way), not because I don’t want anything else (I have had to CONSCIOUSLY stop myself from eating more today), but because I don’t want to feel like this anymore – out of alignment spiritually, emotionally and physically. I don’t want to not be able to move, to feel brain fog, to feel out of control. I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit. I want to go back to feeling peace.

 

So last night, I decided to stick to plan today, and to trust God to give me strength to overcome. I prayed He would strengthen me with a strength I clearly didn’t have. I prayed He would help me to deny myself and take up my cross – not out of spite or punishment against myself, but as an act of worship to He who is worthy, and to help put food back in its place (not to be idolized).

 

Just as He was faithful to His promise to redeem the world through forgiveness of sins by Jesus Christ, born on this day to fulfill ALL prophesy; His faithful love endures and He has been gracious to strengthen me. I’m not 100% on plan, but I haven’t eaten anything today that’s not “ok” and have mainly stuck to my measurements.

 

I have to tell ya’ll – I INSTANTLY feel better. Every time I ate today, I had a stomachache because I’m pretty sure my body was just bracing for the pain of fat or gluten or whatever else I was indulging in. God moved in a BIG, BIG WAY. Each time I obsessively started to think about what I wanted to make, or had a craving for something, He lifted it off of my heart. Every time I started to get too full and felt I was eating just to eat…He stopped me. My “panic” is gone. Do I still have cravings? ABSOLUTELY. Do I still think about where I want to eat out? Yes. Maybe I will one more time before New Year’s…maybe I won’t. But, as promised, here’s a quick list of things that this foray in foraging taught me.

 

  1. My obsession, gluttony and seeming inability to be able to save some for later is reflective of my struggle with men and love in general.
    - I feel starved of it, so when I get an inch, I take a mile. I don’t believe God will bring someone into my life until I can get a hold on this. It’s kind of like exactly what happened the last time I got on a dating app. I told myself I’d just “download to see what/who was out there,” which quickly devolved into me swiping for hours and then hanging onto my phone to see who would match up with me, getting matches (instant gratification like eating) and the eventual let-down when they didn’t message me, didn’t respond or it fizzled out (much of what I ate wasn’t as good as I thought it was in my head before actually eating it, and even then the stuff I have enjoyed the most is the stuff I’ve made myself as healthier versions or the healthier things that I got). I am seeking something that cannot be found in this world – completeness. I very much will be praying on this subject, and if you’re a Believer, I ask you to pray for me as well.
  2. I don’t have to act on my compulsions.
    - In fact, when I pray or distract myself with something else, there comes a critical time point where all of the sudden, the compulsion goes away. God has His hand over me in this, but I have to meet Him halfway. I can’t just expect Him to fight all my battles – how will that make me grow? If you have someone always change your tires…and you get a flat tire…how will you be able to get back on the road again? Give a man fish or teach him.
  3. The grass isn’t always greener.
    - I thought I was missing out on so many things – and don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed a lot of what I had…but overall…the number of times I was let down far outweighed the number of times I was like, “Wow, I really, really enjoy this.” I really just prefer to make stuff myself, too.
  4. More breaks, more often.
    - I think that if I had taken a “break” more often and sooner, it really would be easier to do what a “cheat” is intended to do, which is give a reward. I need to work on my 0 or 100 mentality and realize there is beauty and goodness in the 50. I need to speak up and talk with my coach more about when I am feeling mentally and emotionally drained and let myself have a meal every once in a while, to curb cravings, then go back to my plan.
  5. Loving myself through this journey.
    - One of the biggest and most surprising aspects of the past four days is how much I DO NOT hate myself. I really thought I would…given the bloating and the pain and the gorging and the guilt…but honestly, I just want to love myself through this. I know there’s some deeper-seeded things that are coming out (as mentioned above) and shaming myself for this instead of being patient and gracious with myself through this process will benefit no one. Praise God for HIS mercy that has shown me how to be merciful with myself.
  6. Being “On Plan” isn’t me denying myself – it’s me fueling myself with what my body needs.
    - Another HUGE lesson learned is just how much food fuels me. While a lot of the things I crave are delicious – chocolate and peanut butter specifically – the way that they impact my body isn’t worth the short-lived gratification. Every once in a while, – sure! But I by no means ever want to wreck my body this way again. Lesson learned – no negativity – just lesson learned.
  7. Learn how to make healthy options of what I crave, but eating what I want sometimes, too.
    - Will it be the same? No, but it’ll be good to me. Once again, learning balance!
  8. Grace, grace, grace.
    - I am forever in need of it. When I was eating and eating, I could hear the Holy Spirit gently beckoning me to put down this idol. I turned my back every single time…Lord forgive me of this sin…but HE is gracious in ways we will never deserve. I could not have overcome this hump on my own.
  9. My journey isn’t your journey.
    - I am not downplaying eating disorders or the struggles that so many face each day. I know I still have a long way to go, and just because He has strengthened me to overcome today doesn’t mean I won’t be tempted tomorrow. I have a lot of work to do – and a lot more introspection to complete…but I am encouraged in taking the first steps.

He refines me like silver and tests me like gold (Zechariah 13:9). I am grateful to have learned this lesson, to have experienced all the ups and downs of the past few weeks in this area of my life and to have a renewed mind and outlook going forward. I still plan on competing at some point, and I look forward to that day. I will continue working on my relationship with food – it is a daily discipline.

 

Love ya’ll…keep going.

Gabi


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