Saturday, May 26, 2012

Coming Out (of the pantry)

This is for you if you're the constantly cheerful face with the journal tucked under your bed that says otherwise. This is for you if you've always been the straight-A student, the people-pleaser, the perfectionist, the successful one who is afraid to admit you're unhappy or that you don't have it all figured out. Because being unhappy and not knowing the answers is the opposite of success, right? This is for you if you ever feel alone in the world you've created to be so wonderful. This is for you if you work too hard and give too much and can't seem to find time to give back to yourself.

So this is me. My real coming out story. I've figured this much out so far.
I graduated from IIN as a certified Health Coach in 2010 and began teaching people how to eat to feel energized, alive and light so they could make the most out of every day. I was working really hard to get my dream career off the ground and it was super exciting!

I was a health nut - eating my greens every day, all my whole grains, shopping at farmers' markets, and cooking up delicious meals. I was eating great, my sugar cravings were more under control and I was showing other people my tricks. Success!

...On the surface. The reality wasn't as peachy...
I was working too hard and giving too much without taking any time to care for myself. I was STRESSED.

My shoulders and neck were one giant knot. I couldn't sleep well because my mind was bouncing around and I could never seem to get comfortable. I caught four or five colds this past winter, and it's rare for me to get sick more than once a year.

But I told myself I was now this Health Goddess Guru Expert Coach Superwoman. I had to keep my happy, healthy face on! I've always prided myself and been praised for keeping my cool, my upbeat positive attitude. So, as usual, I kept smiling, I kept showing up even when I should have stayed home.

It was during that time that I found myself hiding out in the pantry almost every night.
Lights off. Eating all of the cereal, the raisins, the granola, the dark chocolate, the peanut butter, the whole grain bread... every morsel of sugar and all of the healthy options I was stocking for myself and beyond.  And when I'd eaten all of that, I'd raid the fridge, I'd steal my housemate's food. If I heard someone coming, I'd pretend I was just walking through. I couldn't bare to been found out, even by my partner, Evan. Anything with sugar was like crack, it was comforting, it was sweeeet.

Using food to deal with my feelings wasn't new to me. In fact, I have a history of bottled-away depression, low self-esteem, distorted body image and binging since middle school. Consoling myself with comfort foods was just what I did when I was feeling anxious, disappointed, lonely, frustrated...

But now I was a Health Goddess Guru Expert Coach Superwoman, wasn't I?
I was supposed to have overcome all of that stuff! I kept asking myself why and how I could be failing like this. I knew why I was eating. I knew I was stuffed. But I couldn't stop. And I couldn't stop the barrage of guilt and shame and frustration. I felt so defeated, I just ate on. I put on weight, I was bloated and uncomfortable most of the time.

Mostly, I was devastated that I could not control - or help - myself.
I was completely consumed in this loop: Wake up promising myself that today would be different. Today I was done with sugar and binging! I'd eat healthy all day and feel good. At night everything would shift: other people would bring food over, maybe I'd have a drink, dessert would appear, the late-night munchies would strike... and I'd be worse off than where I started, making promises about tomorrow.

I finally reached out for help. I told Evan. I went to see a coach. I cried a lot. And I slowly got better. Still, I didn't really tell anyone because I didn't want anyone to know I was struggling. I didn't want to be seen as flawed. I didn't want to be a burden that someone had to take care of.

And then a man came for a consultation with me about emotional eating and binging - and I couldn't have been more anxious. We agreed to work together. I knew I had the tools to help him, just not yet the confidence. I felt like I still didn't have it all together and worked out for myself. But the decision to commit to what we both wanted turned out to dramatically change both of our lives. (Joaquin will be sharing his own story soon!)

My mentors, Carey Peters and Stacey Morgenstern, always say your greatest challenge is your greatest gift. It's been staring me down for most of my life. It's been about learning how to trust, love and honor myself and my body, my temple. How to take care of myself so that I can have the energy to really show up for my life and for others in the capacity I want to.

Now, it's about coming out of the pantry and telling my story. I know I'm not the only one to put on the cheerful, brave happy face every day while another dark, shamed and guilty part lurks underneath or comes out at night.

It is time to live an opened and authentic life. I'm not perfect and that's perfect. Welcome to my real, beautiful world.


  1. You are amazing. I knew you were the day I met you. Thank you for having the confidence to share this with the world.... it's ok to not be "perfect" or to "have it all figured out". Aren't we all works in progress? Your clients will be so lucky to work with someone who truly gets it, and is willing to admit it and then work on getting back on track.

  2. This is Alex from RU Salsa 05-09. I proud of your honesty in this blog post. Your definitely right: Coming into your own and loving yourself are one of the most satisfying moments in your life. Take care, and stay classy out there in Cali !! B-)

  3. Alex,
    What a powerful and authentic sharing. It speaks to the place in all of us that knows those identical habits. I own them for myself as well. I believe that this blog/sharing will be a significant marker on your journey toward doing the kind of transformational work you desire. The first client in all of the transformational work we hope to offer to "others" is done first and most deeply with ourselves. Courageous sharing!