Total Health in Midlife Episode #180: Overcoming Binge Eating: Brenda’s Story

binge eating Brenda's story

In this inspiring episode of the Total Health in Midlife Podcast, Elizabeth interviews Brenda, a dedicated client who shares her journey to overcoming health challenges in her late 60s. Brenda’s story is a testament to the power of personalized coaching and mindset shifts. She discusses her struggles with weight gain, and binge eating, and how Elizabeth’s coaching helped her develop a healthier relationship with food and regain control of her health. Tune in to learn about the transformative journey Brenda embarked on and the valuable lessons she learned along the way.

Chapter Summaries:

Transformation Through Resilience and Mindful Eating (0:00:04)

Brenda shares her journey from farm life to retirement, discussing weight gain during menopause, binge eating, and embracing mindful eating.

Active Retirement and Coaching Program (0:16:10) 

Retirement, American Dream, group coaching, shared experiences, and sidecar coaching are discussed in this episode.

Understanding and Overcoming Binging Behavior (0:21:45) 

Breaking free from food binges by understanding internal dialogue, emotional/physical needs, and strategies to combat cravings.

Mindset and Habits in Healthy Eating (0:25:46) 

Self-judgment, societal pressures, and the myth of ‘calories in, calories out’ impact our food choices and body image.

Finding Balance and Self-Acceptance (0:38:27) 

Reshaping mindset around health and weight loss, focusing on sustainable habits and empowerment with age.

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my group coaching program for women in midlife who are done with dieting, but still want to feel good! The Feel Good Sisterhood is open for enrollment, so click here to discover if group coaching is a right fit for you and your goals.

I am so excited to hear what you all think about the podcast – if you have any feedback, please let me know! You can leave me a rating and review in Apple Podcasts, which helps me create an excellent show and helps other women who want to get off the diet roller coaster find it, too.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode

  • Uncover how menopause and leaving the dairy industry led to unexpected weight struggles and a journey of rediscovery.
  • Discover the surprising link between menopause, a sedentary job, and an unexpected weight gain fueled by a chocolate-filled workplace.
  • Explore the shared dreams and unexpected realities of post-retirement life in Canada and the U.S., challenging the idyllic vision of retirement.
  • Uncover the power of group coaching through “sidecar coaching,” where shared insights and solutions reveal surprising parallels in personal struggles and breakthroughs.
  • Embark on Brenda’s inspiring journey, from farm life to newfound balance, showcasing the power of resilience, support, and the courage to seek help, offering hope and lessons for anyone facing their own challenges.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

 So, I would go to the grocery store. And before I even got in the door, the voices would start like, are you going to buy a chocolate bar? Are you going to get bag of chips? What do you really feel like having today? Do we need something crunchy or do we need something sweet or do we need something salty today?

Hmm. I wonder what it’s going to be. Ooh, I can hardly wait to get down the aisle and see what I pick. And maybe not just one, maybe we’ll get one of everything.

Welcome to Total Health and Midlife, the podcast for women embracing the pivotal transformation from the daily grind to the dawn of a new chapter. I’m Elizabeth, your host and fellow traveler on this journey.

As a Life and Health Coach, I am intimately familiar with the changes and challenges we face during this stage. Shifting careers, changing relationships, our new bodies, and redefining goals and needs as we start to look to the future and ask, what do I want?

In this podcast, we’ll explore physical, mental, and emotional wellness, offering insights and strategies to achieve optimal health through these transformative years.

Yes, it’s totally possible.

Join me in this amazing journey of body, mind, and spirit, where we’re not just improving our health, but transforming our entire lives.

Hey everyone, welcome back to the Total Health in Midlife Podcast. I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. And today, I am diving into a story that I think is going to really resonate with you. My guest is a woman whose story started out pretty dark, but she had belief in herself, just a glimmer, and through taking action, emerged stronger, wiser, and with a love for life that’s truly infectious, you are going to love her.

Have you ever felt that life, with all its twists and turns, seems like it takes a toll on your health and habits? Well, if you do, you’re not alone. Brenda’s story is a testament to the power of resilience and the beauty of transformation. It’s a story that takes us from farm life to enjoying the freedom in retirement.

But it doesn’t stop just there. Brenda’s story also tackles the tough topic of binge eating, sharing the strategies and insights that led her to break free and embrace mindful eating. In today’s episode, I’m uncovering the raw and real struggles that many people face with weight, the unexpected challenges of life transitions, and the triumph of self-improvement.

Brenda’s candid conversation with me will leave you with a renewed sense of hope and practical advice that you can apply in your own life. So, if you’re curious of how to manage your weight or if you’ve ever battled with food and want to find your way to the version of you that you know exists, you just haven’t seen her in a while. This is an episode that you are not going to want to miss.

So, join me as Brenda shares her journey and let’s discover together how we can make those small, consistent steps towards a life brimming with health and joy.

Elizabeth: All right, everyone, welcome Brenda to the Total Health and Midlife Podcast. Brenda, I am so excited that you are here sharing your story with us. So, let’s start with who you are, tell everyone anything that you want to share about yourself with the listeners.

Brenda: Okay. First of all, thank you very much, Elizabeth for inviting me to do this. I’m quite honored. My name is Brenda. I live in Ontario, Canada. I’m, In my late 60s, born and raised on a dairy farm, married a dairy farmer. So, I spent my whole life as a farmer. I have a diploma in agriculture, and we have three children, two girls and a boy, and five grandsons.

Elizabeth: Wow.

Brenda: Yeah, we live on a rural property here in Ontario and still are pretty active.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, and what I love about my work is that I get to connect with such amazing, smart, accomplished women just like you. Like, it’s just such a treat because there’s so many women out there who are so accomplished and it’s frustrating for me because we’re just focused on our weight.

Brenda: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Let’s start with we’ve finished our work together; we’ve been working together for a while. And this is the second time that we’ve worked together. We met each other over seven years ago, which is pretty exciting. And we are connected online. And so, what motivated you to reach out to me and start this work together? So, let’s think about like where you were before we started our work together most recently.

Brenda: Yeah. Okay. Well, even at my age, I was not ready to give up. And I knew that because I have struggled with my weight for the last 15, 20 years, I guess. I never had a weight issue while I was farming. But yeah, I hit menopause, and then we got out of the dairy industry. So, the weight started to come on.

And I knew that I needed the consistency and support. And as you said, I already knew you from a previous connections. I knew that I had to make a big commitment and follow it through. Yeah, that’s when I discovered you again and thought, yeah, let’s do this.

Elizabeth: Yeah. So, you said that I never had a weight problem until I hit menopause. Let’s talk a little bit about that because a couple different things happened at the same time that caused that weight to happen, right? What were some of those things that led to that weight gain for you?

Brenda: After the menopause, then there was getting out of the dairy industry, which meant I wasn’t heading to the barn and forking insulage and it’s all that kind of stuff. On a daily basis, I got a part time job off the farm, which had easy access to a variety store. And I had a boss who was I’m not going to blame this on her, but it has to be somebody’s fault.

She was always pregnant, and I became her gopher to get her some chocolate at the variety store and get yourself some at the same time, which I indulge. I’d always had a sweet tooth, as we like to refer to it, but I didn’t have the access. So, having that part time job off the farm gave me that access to the junk food.

And yeah, it wasn’t a once a week to the grocery store to stock up thing, it was that I was there several times a week with it right beside the parking lot where I was parked, the variety store. So, yeah, it was accessibility, the time, the lack of physical activity, and the menopause. So, it all kind of hit at once.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And what I’m thinking about right now is you said, I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but you had learned through childhood about I don’t want to say the negative aspect of chocolate but talk about how you were raised around sweets and your mom’s relationship with sweets.

Brenda: Yes, we all blame mom for our sweet tooth, but she had the habit of relieving her stress, or depression, or anxiety, or tiredness, anything like that by eating chocolate. And I remember when they had retired off the farm and I was living with them in town at the time.

And if she be the middle of the afternoon and it was like Brenda run down to the variety store and get me a couple chocolate bars. Like I was raised that that was her way of coping with whether she was bored or tired or didn’t know what to do with herself. She would eat chocolate. And I have told you that even when she was in a nursing home in a room by herself, she had chocolate hidden around the room as if somebody cared.

But there was that stigma of this isn’t right, it’s my dirty little secret and I have to hide it. And I definitely adapted that and adopted that way of thinking that this was my dirty little secret. It was yes, I would have it hidden around like even on the farm, I would have some hidden, but I didn’t have that ready access to it, buying it on a regular basis.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And so, when you say you had it hidden on the farm, this is when you were actively working on the farm. And so, you were really active during the day, but it didn’t really matter. Is that what you’re saying?

Brenda: Yeah, like it hadn’t developed the habit really of hiding it, but once in a while the kids would like, they’d have that chocolate almond sale for fundraising. And I would actually buy the boxes and give them away to somebody for free because I would eat and eat and eat and eat them.

So, that type of thing that I knew that that little worm in my brain would go absolutely nuts with this kind of stuff available. Which I did not normally have available. Plus, you’re working that hard, it didn’t really show up on the scale or anything so I could get away with it.

Elizabeth: Yeah. What I hear you saying is that as you hit menopause, as you moved out of the reproductive years and your hormones started shifting, you couldn’t get away with it anymore through working it off during the day and moving. Plus, adding to that was working in a sedentary job where you had a boss who was feeding you more chocolate.

And so, you have this calorie balance, which then exacerbated the symptoms of menopause with weight gain. Yeah.

Brenda: Total imbalance.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Brenda: Yeah. Because I was consuming this chocolate without the exercise and the hard work that went along with it before. So, it was a calorie imbalance for sure.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Interesting. So then, what came out of that? You had this influx of sugar in your diet, and you left that job. Yeah?

Brenda: I was there for 12 years.

Elizabeth: Okay. Okay.

Brenda: Yeah.

Elizabeth: And so, what happened after that?

Brenda: It was set in stone. By that time, what happened was the search for the solution to my weight issue. Starting with the weight watchers and like running the whole gamut of trying to figure out, okay, now what do I do? I packed on the pounds and then the search began.

Elizabeth: And so, had you dieted as a younger woman?

Brenda: Never.

Elizabeth: Never. Okay. So, not until menopause had you started dieting?

Brenda: Yep. Cause I was the envy like, Oh, how do you stay so slim as well? First of all, if I know that if I eat that extra piece of pie for supper, I got to go and get under the cows. And it’s like it was didn’t make sense and I was just working hard. So, I never had to worry. I was, you know, one of those people that we all hate that, oh, I can eat anything I want until I couldn’t.

Elizabeth: Yeah. You just said something that was really curious, which was when you were working on the dairy farm, do you feel like you were able to manage your sweet tooth more because of having to be in a smaller body and be able to do your work? Do you think that that was in the back of your mind?

Brenda: I remember saying that to someone that yeah, if I eat too much, then I’m going to suffer when I have to go out and milk cows. But I don’t think it was conscious. Yeah, I didn’t have the accessibility to it. So, the occasional time we would like go out for supper or something, it wasn’t an issue because it wasn’t happening every day.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Brenda: It was a rarity.

Elizabeth: Interesting. Okay. So then, talk a little bit about once you left that job. So, you were eating chocolate like multiple times a day for 12 years. You said she was always pregnant. I’m assuming that she wasn’t always pregnant.

Brenda: There were several bosses. No, and like I said, it was only part time. So, it was two or three days a week. And it wasn’t like I was constantly eating, but I definitely started putting on weight about that time. So, no, I had just developed that need for it and having the accessibility, certainly changed things.

Elizabeth: Okay. So, let’s talk about what your situation was immediately before working together. You started working with me because of what? Like, what was your real need?

Brenda: I don’t want to say you were my last resort, but you did get to be truth for that. But I knew that putting hard earned money on the line was one way of getting me to pay attention and to give it my all. Because I grew up, well, my parents had lived through the depression, so they didn’t splurge on things.

My husband definitely does not splurge on things. And raising three kids and having our own business and paying all of that. You kind of guard your money. So, I knew that by making the commitment was going to make me pay attention and take it seriously.

Elizabeth: And what result were you looking to have? Was it just weight loss or anything?

Brenda: That was my major motive to get started because my doctor says, Oh, you’re just not used to being this weight. Well, why do I want to get used to being this weight? Like that didn’t make sense to me. You know, she wanted me to accept the fact that I had hit menopause and I wasn’t dealing with the same body, I wasn’t dealing with the same exercise and work that I should just get used to being 40 pounds overweight or whatever.

But I thought, you know what? That’s just going to shorten my life or make me less independent as I get older. And that was not something that I was willing to accept.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Cause you’re pretty active. You travel a lot.

Brenda: Yeah. Yeah, we like to travel, and so I didn’t want to be it’s pretty hard to travel if you’re in a wheelchair, or have a walker, or have an oxygen tank, or any of those kind of things where I have seen elderly people go down that path and my husband and I had worked too long and too hard to just sit and do nothing. We wanted to see the world and we have done a lot of traveling and really enjoy it.

Elizabeth: I love that. Let’s talk a little bit more about your retirement and what your health supports you to do in your retirement. So, other than traveling, what other things do you like to do because you have an amazing set of like skills and interests.

Brenda: I’ve done a lot of volunteer work and like from everything from 4 H leader to helping to build a basketball court and outdoor washrooms in Guatemala to four years being a volunteer with Victim Services. So, I like to be active and do those kind of things. We sold our dairy farm and bought another farm and built a house.

So, we went from 100 acres to 200 acres. We don’t farm at those so to speak, but I have a horse. I ride all over the property. We have snowmobiles. We have ATVs. Yeah, we do live a pretty active life. And now, I’ve discovered yoga and Pilates, so I’m doing that several times a week. Just did a Pilates class last night, so my butt actually, hurts today.

We did a lot of that kind of stuff. So, yeah, I like to stay active. I have friends that we like to get together and do silly things and have fun. So, yeah, I’m definitely, don’t want to be sedentary.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Cause I don’t think that most people, I know that you’re from Canada. I’m from the U S and I feel like, we’re sister nations, right? We have a lot of the same mindset. And in the U. S., we talk about the American dream, which I think is pretty similar in Canada, that you work hard, you save for retirement, and then you get to live this dream life. And no one thinks about their dream life as going to doctor’s appointments and spending it on medications and watching TV at home, right?

Brenda: That’s right, yes. Yeah. Going to physio and the chiropractor, massage therapy and all that kind of stuff. Yeah. That wasn’t what I had pictured as our life.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And you have four grandsons, right?

Brenda: Five grandsons.

Elizabeth: Wow. So yeah, they keep you on your toes too. Like you have to…

Brenda: Busy boys. Yeah.

Elizabeth: So, I think that what you’re living right now is like the ideal American Dream retirement.

Brenda: Yeah. And I don’t feel guilty about that because we worked darn hard. Farmers are hard workers and we feed a lot of people. So, I had a cousin who was a teacher, and her husband was the principal and she always thought that, Oh, Brenda should have gone on to university. She could have done this. She could have. And I thought, I have fed millions of people. I think that’s not too bad of life.

Yeah, we love that. I’m proud of our life and our lifestyle and our kids are all successful. So, yes, if I want to spend a lot of money and go to Peru and see Machu Picchu, which we did last year, that was amazing.

Elizabeth: Terrific. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s like the pinnacle of retirement, right? Going to Machu Picchu and not taking the train.

Brenda: We took the train. I said, there was a train. Sign me up.

Elizabeth: Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about our work together. So, you joined my group coaching program and then we also did a little bit of one on one on top of that. Talk a little bit about your experience in working with me, what we did and how we approach that together.

Brenda: As far as the group coaching?

Elizabeth: Sure.

Brenda: Because I really enjoyed the group, coaching sessions. And I knew because we had some private ones, or that I could always reach out to you if there’s something that I wanted to talk about. Maybe not in front of the other women. I knew that you were always available to reach out to. So, that was always in the back of my mind. But it’s amazing what you learn from other women and what they’ve gone through, what has worked, what hasn’t worked, little tips, and just the encouragement.

Because I suffer from that seasonal disorder, the sad in the wintertime. And we apparently had one of the worst winters as far as lack of sunshine, this past winter. And I definitely felt it. So, just that constant encouragement and knowing that somebody’s got your back is really, really great. And such amazing women from all different walks of life. I really enjoy that part of it.

Yes. I know some people think, Oh, I don’t want to talk in front of other people, but your groups were small. So, you really got to know each other, you know? So, it was like, Hi; how are you? How was your week? And it’s not like you’re sitting in an AA group with 50 people that you don’t know. So, I enjoy the group sessions.

Elizabeth: One of the things that I love about group coaching is the concept called, ‘sidecar coaching.’ Which is when someone else is getting coached, and it might not be your specific situation, but you’re like, Oh, I can see where I do that too. Or I can apply this to my situation.

Brenda: Yes.

Elizabeth: Did you find help with that?

Brenda: Yes, for sure. Because as much as we think that our situation is different and unique and worse than everybody else’s, really, we end up having a lot of the same issues, a lot of the same struggles. And so, what one person learns can definitely apply to yourself or somebody else too. Yeah, that’s always works.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And the other thing that I really love is like, I really think that it enriches the coaching experience because you can think about like, Oh, I never thought to bring that up. But now that it’s being coached on, I can see where that gets in my way.

Brenda: Yes, for sure. And like you said, things might be brought up that you never even crossed your mind to even ask about or think about or like, and you go, Oh, that just might be what my issue is. Yeah.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And so, going back to your specific needs coming into coaching, can we talk about your binging?

Brenda: Yes, for sure.

Elizabeth: Okay. So, you had already set the stage that you were getting the cravings through 12 years of conditioning with the candy, right? And so, now when you weren’t working there anymore, talk about the binges that you were having.

Brenda: Yes. So, I would go to the grocery store. And before I even got in the door, the voices would start like, are you going to buy a chocolate bar? Are you going to get bag of chips? What do you really feel like having today? Do we need something crunchy or do we need something sweet or do we need something salty today?

Hmm. I wonder what it’s going to be. Ooh, I can hardly wait to get down the aisle and see what I pick. And maybe not just one, maybe we’ll get one of everything.

So, we’ll solve the sweet, we’ll solve the crunchy, we’ll solve the salty because I’m not sure what I want, so let’s just buy it all. And that voice would just never shut up. And that was what I was dealing with. It seemed like I was just bombarded by this inner voice that was trying to turn me into a wreck.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And how often was that happening?

Brenda: I’d say, sometimes every week, sometimes more than once a week. It depended on whether I had eaten before I went into the grocery store, that really does help. Don’t go into the grocery store on an empty stomach. That’s actually good advice. And be hydrated too because that kind of drowns the little voice a bit.

But yeah, it was way too often. That’s for sure. And then, of course, you know what follows that. I hate myself. I’m stupid. Why can’t you control this? All of that. Shame, regret, just terrible.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And how long were these episodes lasting?

Brenda: It would depend on what was going on in my life. It would depend on what the weather was like. I was kind of a slave to the weather, sometimes. Yeah, it would depend on whether my husband was going to be home and might catch me because it was always on the down low. Sometimes I would eat the stuff on the way home before I got home so that I could find a garbage can and shove it all in there and hide the evidence.

Elizabeth: I totally relate to that. That’s something that I used to do as well. So, what did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about your binges? What did you learn about your relationship with food?

Brenda: Yes. With the binges, the biggest thing I learned from you was to be curious. To start to ask myself while I’m looking at that stuff on the shelf in the grocery store, why am I drawn to this? What is it that’s lacking in my day? Am I tired? Am I thirsty? Am I mad? Am I just feeling lost or unloved or whatever.

So, to get curious and start to ask the questions. And then, to take the time to remind myself of how I have felt the last time I did this. And I have told you that story about looking at the bag of Cadbury mini eggs and thinking, yes, I know how good they taste. The crunch and the chocolate. They’re so good.

And then, I remember how I felt after I ate the entire bag, because there’s no way if I open it, that I’m leaving half a bag sitting around. I will eat it until it’s empty, and then I feel like crap, and I hate myself. So, do we really want to go down that road again? Is that solving anything? Is it getting me anywhere? Is it getting me to my goal? Is it giving me an answer to any of my whys?

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Brenda: And the answer is absolutely, positively, no! So, let’s move on. Let’s go buy some apples.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And I think that that’s actually, you know, one of the things that I teach is that when we’re sitting there and judging ourselves, that is going to block any curiosity. And the other thing that you just talked about was having your own back or your future selves back, right? And really thinking about those next steps, not just how is it going to taste right now, but how am I going to feel afterwards. Because everything that we do is because of how we feel or how we think we’re going to feel when we do it.

And so, eating whatever it is, Cadbury eggs or chips or whatever. It tastes good in the moment, we feel good in the moment but then afterwards, it’s so temporary, right? And then, afterwards we feel terrible, not only about that but then whatever we were eating in response to is still there. And then, there’s the judgment on top of that.

Brenda: And plus, getting that sugar rush makes you want to do it again, and again, and again. By giving in the first time, we’re making it 10 times harder to say no the next time, and the next time. By stopping, and I have picked up a bag of candy or whatever in one aisle, and left it in the soup aisle or something, you know, three aisles over. Because I’ve had taken the time as I’ve walked around the store to think, why did I buy that? Do I really want to do this?

And it’s taking the time to question your motives and to remember how good you feel about yourself when you don’t eat it. When you’ve said no, or you’ve just like kick that stupid little voice to the curb and just gotten the groceries that you wrote down on the list. And yeah, and you come out, you think, way to go girl.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I love that. I love that. Yeah. Like celebrating even just those small successes because that’s something that we do in the program, right? We celebrate little wins. We don’t do that as women enough.

Brenda: No, I know. And that’s one of the things like that book, Tiny Habits, where he talks about like, give yourself a high five, look yourself in the mirror and say, good for you girl. Those kind of things like you have to celebrate the moment and just remember how good that feels over how crappy you feel when you’ve eaten the whole bag of chips or the whole bag of candy or whatever. And you like are so disappointed in yourself. Why do you want to feel like that rather than the smiling, strong, confident woman that can walk out of that grocery store and say, yeah, I bought vegetables. I’m so good.

Elizabeth: Yeah. You know, one of the things that I think people question is, well, we’ve been sold this lie that ‘all you have to do is,’ right? And I’m putting that in quotes for those of you who can’t see me, which is everyone. That all you have to do is eat vegetables, eat lean meats, do all of these things and exercise, right? Just diet and exercise, and then you’ll lose weight. Why is that feedback or that advice not great advice?

Brenda: The old calories in, calories out is a myth. And I think lots of scientists and experts have proven that. But it’s like to me, it’s the whole thing of it’s what you eat, regardless of how much you exercise, there isn’t that payoff. You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.

I actually had a doctor tell me that, Oh, well, if you just log everything you eat, then maybe by the end of the day, you’ll have enough calories left over that you can eat a little mini chocolate bar. And thinking, what kind of advice is that? So, some of the experts do not have the answers. And like to read and listen to information on, because as they say, science changes if it’s not evolving, then there’s something wrong.

So, I think we’ve learned so much over the years, like from the old, don’t eat fat, don’t eat salt days. Like I said, you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I think another question that I have as you were talking is thinking about the mindset that we have cause you started out talking about the mindset that your mom had towards chocolate, right? And the shame that we experience when we eat too much, which is kind of interesting because as young women, even a little bit sometimes is too much. And so, it sends us into that shame spiral.

Like, we know cognitively that we should be able to eat chocolate whenever we want to, but then when we have it, we feel guilty about it. And then, that creates this shame spiral, right?

Brenda: Yeah. Yeah. Which doesn’t make sense. Like women are so bombarded with shame and how you should look and how you should act and what you should wear. It’s gets sickening after a while. And I feel sorry for young women and girls like dieting. But at the age of 10, it’s crazy.

So, I think that was one of the other things as far as what you’ve taught me with my binging. I felt that every time I binged, I was a loser and why can I not get my act together and stuff. But you encouraged me to keep track of how often I binged, and how long the binges last.

And those are the two main ingredients on trying to improve what I was doing in my life. Like, okay, is this happening three times a week? Is it lasting once a week or like happening once a week? And then, because I go from, if I did it one day, then I was going to do it several more days. Now, if I binge, it doesn’t last very long. It doesn’t happen very often. I can get out of it, you know, within immediately.

And I don’t throw the shame on me. I don’t pile that on. It’s like, okay, that happened, let’s clean it up and get back on plan. And by not burying myself in that guilt and shame and self-loathing, I’m able to come out of it faster because that kind of stuff actually makes you feel like doing it again. As much as you think it will stop me from doing it. If I kick my own ass a few times, it actually makes you do it more often because now you feel like crap and you hate yourself. So, what the hell? I might as well eat more.

It’s a vicious cycle. But now I can just brush it off and say, okay, that happened. What was I thinking? What did I need? Like, was I feeling lonely? Should I call somebody? Should I reach out? You know, like call a friend, something like that. Or written it out. Trying to think of, okay, am I feeling lonely? Was I tired? What was going on in my brain?

And then, sometimes it’s like, okay, I just let my guard down and it happened and don’t analyze it. Just move on. So, there’s a time and a place for both. And I think that I’ve learned from this past year with you, when and how to do those things, which has made a huge difference, for sure.

Elizabeth: Yeah. What I love about what you said is I think that for many of us, when we think about overeating recovery or being whatever ideal that we have in the back of our minds. That we think that we are then going to always eat quote unquote perfectly, whatever that means.

Brenda: On plan.

Elizabeth: Exactly. Exactly. Not only eat a beautiful variety of foods, but then also never overeat. And I just want to say to everyone listening right now that even today, I sometimes overeat. But it’s not at the extent to what it was when I started. Like when I overeat today, it might like my body, the way that I overeat today, I feel it within like two or 300 calories.

So, I think for you, the same thing is going to happen, right? You’re still going to have periods where you might, I don’t want to say overeat, but eat quote unquote too many, which might be more than a socially acceptable amount of Cadbury cream eggs. But it’s not going to be to the extent of what it was when we started. Right?

Brenda: Yeah, for sure. Yes. And a lot of it is just being more aware of what and why.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Brenda: And to question yourself and think, what is going on? Why am I feeling this way? Why do I think this will answer my needs or fill my needs and answer my questions. Overeating is not being brilliant, so you have to question it. Why are you thinking this way?

Elizabeth: Yeah. Because overeating is just one habit loop. And so, like really investigating why did that happen and how can I prevent it from happening again? So, I love that you answered.

Brenda: Without beating yourself up.

Elizabeth: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cause it’s just food. Right? But we have such a stigma.

Brenda: Yeah. Cause I really found that the beating myself up for it was making it worse. Because I felt so bad about myself that I figured what the hell and you know, just eat more because nobody cares, nobody’s going to know. You know, it’s our little secret. But now I know that I deserve better.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Now, here’s something that I want to ask. How long into the program was it before you actually made that connection? Cause it was a while, wasn’t it?

Brenda: Oh, yeah. Because there’s always setbacks and challenges, right? And honestly, there were a few times that within minutes of getting off of a Zoom meeting with you and the group coaching that I would go and eat something off plan. Because it was not sinking in and it wasn’t resonating with me, but I honestly do not know when it clicked in. But it did.

And I think it was when you got me to start taking note of how often I was binging and how long the binges were lasting. That it became a conscious thing of recognizing what I considered a binge. And then, questioning it. That’s when it started to make a difference and when I started to say, Oh, well, I haven’t binge for two weeks. And then, if I do then, it was like, by the end of the day, I had thrown the stuff out or whatever and moving on.

So, it was a while, like, some of us aren’t that bright, apparently. No, I’m kidding. It’s just, it wasn’t syncing, I wasn’t hearing it, because I wasn’t allowing myself to hear it.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And I think that for many folks, we’ve been so conditioned to do the 30 day detox or the three month plan and thinking that that’s all I need. That I don’t need six months, or I don’t need a year. But that’s only because those programs give you just like the, eat this, don’t eat this, exercise this way, don’t exercise that way. And they don’t address the mindset, which is so much slower to change.

Brenda: Oh, yes. Like, you know, if I’ve been doing this for years, why would I think that I could get over it in 30 days? That’s not practical. And that’s why the program when I signed up for it. Okay. This is a year. Surely to God, I can make some changes within that time. And they crept up on me and it was like, Oh, wow.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Brenda: Yeah. Lovely surprises. Because so many of us have been there, done that, tried every program there is. And maybe it’s worked, and then you get off the program, and you’re right back to doing what you were doing before. And then you go back to that same program because you think, oh, well, it worked for me the first time, and it never works the second time.

I don’t know, but we’ve locked that door or something. And our mind isn’t going to go back there. So, this being more of a mental, psychological habit thing, not just to do this, don’t do that. Made more sense to me and it definitely has made a difference in my life that other programs have not. And I’m not saying I’ve lost 40 pounds in the year. I haven’t, but my mindset is so much better that I feel like I have so many better tools.

And one of the big things is to not hate myself because I know a lot of us women, we hate ourselves for being who we are. Well, where does that get us in life? Like this is who we are, and yeah, we can tweak it, and we can make some changes, and we can develop some new habits or lose some habits but we’re still who we are.

So, it’s not worth beating ourselves up. It’s worth taking those baby steps and finding our path.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I love that because you are such an amazing woman, and everyone listening is an amazing woman. And your weight and how you eat is like one of the least interesting things about you.

Brenda: Yes, that’s true. Yeah.

Elizabeth: Something that I wanted to go back to just for a second was I remember at one point, we were talking about taking weight loss off of the table. I know that your goal in the program was to lose weight, but we really focused. And I think that this is when things changed for you. I was like, let’s take weight loss off of the table and only focus on the binges. Right?

Brenda: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Because you were able to pinpoint the binges as being the thing that was getting in your way of the losing weight. And so, it seemed like an easier, like back door to the weight loss, right?

Brenda: Yeah. It was also the thing that was making me not a complete and happy person because I judged myself on that alone.

Elizabeth: So, talk about where you are today with the binges.

Brenda: Thankfully, few and far between. If I do eat something off plan, I can get right back on plan. I don’t beat myself up about it. If I’m going to a birthday party, I feel perfectly comfortable when saying, I just want a little sliver and I find that I’m not the only one anymore in our group.

Like, we’ve all hit that stage where like, geez, I really can’t afford all those calories, especially, or I can say, you know what? It’s past my eating window. I don’t like to eat this close to supper. I won’t be able to serve this close to going to bed. I won’t be able to sleep. And a lot of people have said, yeah, you know, that’s right.

And yeah, so I’m still social, that I don’t feel like I have to go along with everybody or eat the same as everybody. I don’t feel like if I go to a restaurant, I’m not worried about saying, instead of having the French fries, can I have an extra vegetable or something like that?

So, yeah, just finding my path and it’s amazing how the world is changing too, like even our trip down to Florida, like you stop at a gas station and you can get hard boiled eggs, things like that, that are in the cooler, that it’s like, okay, it’s not a choice between a candy bar or a bag of chips. I can have a stick of cheese and a pepper Ette or a hot, cold, hard-boiled egg.

And yeah, I think that a lot has changed in people’s thinking and in their level of understanding of what food is and support us not just make us feel happy. It’s got more to it than that.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, and what I love about what you just said was you’re talking about how food makes you feel like not being able to eat certain things before you go to bed because you know, it’s going to disrupt your sleep. And so, really, again, having your own back and eating in a way that supports feeling good and being able to accomplish things. I love that.

Brenda: Yeah. Being able to keep up with five grandchildren.

Elizabeth: Right. Right.

Brenda: Yeah. And being able to keep up with my husband and able to walk when go on trips and stuff cause a lot of these trips are a lot of walking in them. And yeah, it feels good to be able to participate and like last night I was by far the oldest one in that Pilates class. And it didn’t intimidate me. It was like, watch me girls.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Being an example of what’s possible. That’s amazing. And you are.

Brenda: Well, and I’m never shy about telling people that I’m about to turn 68. So, yeah, I feel good about what I’m doing, and I feel proud of myself.

Elizabeth: You should!

Brenda: Well, you’ve helped me to do that, that’s for sure. The group and your coaching have helped me feel like I’ve accomplished something, and I should feel proud of myself.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Awesome. Is there anything else that you want to share with the listeners?

Brenda: I don’t think so. I know one of the questions you had suggested here. What advice would you give to someone considering a similar path?

Elizabeth: Yep.

Brenda: I’d say, the first thing is that you’re worth it. And we are never too old or too far gone to learn how to make better choices and to improve our lives. Actually, the lives of the people we love, like to be there for them, that was a big thing for me as I’m getting older, I don’t want to be a burden. I know so many people say that but okay, well then, don’t be bedridden. Live until you don’t anymore, like not just survive and stuff.

So, don’t give up on yourself. Like even at my age, I thought, well, I can still improve my life. My life’s not over, so I can still make improvements. And to make that list of ‘WHYs,’ and to dig deep as to what those ‘WHYs’ are. And like, write them on a list and put them on your bathroom mirror or something.

So that you’re always saying, Yep, that’s why I’m getting up, that’s why I’m hydrating, that’s why I’m eating good, healthy foods, that’s why I’m getting outside and exercising. Because of all these things that are important to me and important to the ones around me. And yeah, I still got a lot to live and to do.

Elizabeth: Yes, you do.

Brenda: Yeah. This journey has given me the confidence in my life and the choices that I make around what I will and will not do, and eat, and react to. So, whether that’s in my fitness or my willingness to tell my friends that no, I’m not eating cake tonight, or I’m not drinking tonight, or something. And it’s helped me to see how much happier I feel when I eat right, and I exercise, and I sleep better. So, all those things are connected.

If you take out the sleep aspect, then the other two aren’t going to be as easy. If you don’t eat properly and healthy foods, then you don’t sleep and you don’t feel like exercising. So, everything’s connected. And by keeping those three cores events working for you. It makes everything else a lot easier and it comes more naturally too. So, yeah, that’s what I’ve gained from this year is how to mesh those pieces together and feel happier and healthier.

Elizabeth: Awesome. Thank you for sharing all that.

Brenda: Thank you for sharing all that you have learned and passing that on. It’s been a great year. I’ve come to understand myself a lot better and that was a big part of it.

Elizabeth: Yeah. That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing this with the listeners. And I hope that everyone who’s listening right now, just finds inspiration from Brenda because Brenda is just amazing and one of the people that I love.

Brenda: Thanks, Elizabeth. I love you too.

Elizabeth: I want to say a huge thank you for joining us. Brenda showed us that it’s never too late to change, no matter how tough things get. From farm life to finding balance, she is a shining example of what’s possible. We learned how important it is to have support to cheer us on, and to be brave enough to look for help when we need it.

And isn’t it something, how asking the question why can help us stop eating so much. Brenda’s story is a powerful one that reminds us of all to take small steps every single day to be healthier and to be happier. And that when you don’t think that you’re making progress, you actually might be. Don’t give up.

If you know someone who’s having a hard time with their health, maybe they’re eating too much or they just want to feel better. Do them a huge favor and share this episode with them. It might just be what they need to hear. And hey, if you’re sitting there thinking, you know, I think I need to get my health back on track. Don’t wait. Reach out to me.

Coaching could be the helping hand that you need. We can work together on making you feel good and ready for all the fun stuff that you want to do tomorrow and in retirement. Thank you again for listening. Have an amazing day. I’ll see you all next time. Bye-bye.

Thank you for tuning in today. Now, if you enjoy the podcast and are ready to take the next step in addressing your health concerns, I would love to invite you to schedule an I Know What To Do, I’m Just Not Doing It strategy call.

In this 60 minute session, we will explore what’s holding you back and create a personalized action plan. You will gain clarity, support, and practical steps to move you forward. Visit to book your call now. You can transform your health and I would love to be there to help.

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Overcoming Binge Eating: Brenda's Story
Overcoming Binge Eating: Brenda's Story