Stuffed With Emptiness: The Finale

by tinareale on March 1, 2012

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week. A week where I should have been heading to speak on a panel at the Binge Eating Disorder Association conference.

I like bringing awareness to the evil monsters of disordered eating. And since I can’t blab about my experience in Philadelphia this weekend , I think today calls for my final installment of the Stuffed With Emptiness series. Let’s take a not so pretty look at my final binge…and where I’ve ended up since that day 2.5 years ago.

My Final Binge and Where Am I Now?

I remember a lot about my binge eating journey. It made such a huge impact on my life that I vividly recall many details. I can feel the shame, guilt, and nausea in the pit of my stomach as I think back to my first binge. I can feel the determination that set in me after the final one.

I started binge eating in March of 2005. I finally began taking steps to truly move past it in the fall of 2007, after that fateful day in a public bathroom. I got pregnant in February of 2008. I learned balance and loving my body even more during the pregnancy and afterwards. I reached a truly happy place for my body by summer of 2009. I hadn’t binged since getting pregnant, for over a year and a half.

Then, I competed in the fitness competition.

The intense workouts and required low caloric intake to reach the body fat levels for the show took their toll on my body. The stress and fatigue took their toll on my emotions. The entire week following my competition was one huge binge. Not simply eating more because I was “allowed” again. I stuffed myself sick all day every day. I snuck to stores to buy whatever looked good in the bakery section (cream cheese brownies, donuts, and icing cookies I know were consumed). My show was a week after Halloween, so I stocked up on the clearance bags of fun-sized Halloween candy. I ate three full bags in one day.

Friday, November 13th 2009. My last full binge. << you think I’m joking it was Friday the 13th??

November 2009 Calendar – United States - Google Chrome 2292012 24504 PM

That day, I rushed to the store with my palms sweaty and my heart racing. I was like an addict looking for her drug. I had Makenzie with me…just over a year old. I ripped into a bag on my way home with shame filling me as I saw Makenzie staring at me in the rear view mirror. With the most innocent smile on her face.

I still couldn’t stop myself.  I brought her home, set her in her high chair with some sort of healthy snack while I proceeded to eat eat eat. And there she was just staring and smiling. The thought sickens me even now. I felt like a failure more than I ever had in my entire life at that moment. I hadn’t binged in so long…and feared I wouldn’t be able to crawl back out now that I had slipped back into the habit. I had a beautiful baby girl who I loved and wanted to set an example, yet even that couldn’t keep me from eating.

At that moment, it hit me.

I was not immune to my previous struggles. But I also was not defined by them.

I still binge ate the rest of that day. Then, I cried myself to sleep in Peter’s arms pouring out all my fears and desperation to him. I think he even took off that following Monday from work to be right by my side for a few days helping me get back into a healthier routine. I knew the challenge, but I knew the pain of living in binges outweighed the pain of pushing past those urges.

I have not binged since then.

Does that mean I’m immune now? Over two years later? No. No. No. No. No.

I still have very strong urges to emotionally eat when I get stressed or overwhelmed. Heck, I even still emotionally eat at times in the sense that I choose certain foods solely for comfort despite a lack of true hunger. I don’t classify them as binges since I don’t lose control nor do I eat way past the point of comfort to punish or numb myself.  But I will be honest. There are times even now that I want to. That I want to get completely lost in an entire pan of brownies to stuff my emotions and have the “freedom of not giving a damn” that I used to equate with binges. Yes. I still do have that desire at times.

I still fear that I will find myself in a place like before. That I won’t be strong enough to keep saying “no” every time the call hits. If I drive past certain stores or see certain foods, it’s still like a Pavlovian response to want to grab said food or visit said store to hit up a binge. I still have times I call out to Peter and need him to hold me more accountable because I feel myself on a slippery slope.

But I do all I dang well can to limit those urges.

I focus on balance and not what I “can’t or shouldn’t” eat. I honor cravings with reasonable portions. I follow passions and interests that help me feel strong and encouraged and love myself. I admit when I’m struggling. I call on God. I forgive myself when I do have minor slip-ups, so I don’t feel like a failure and say “to heck with it”. I open myself to all of you. I share my story.

I can’t say I will never binge again…despite the 2.5 year distance between me and my last one. But I can say I will live my life with the passion to help keep myself from that destruction and hopefully play even the smallest role in helping another do the same. That, my friends, is the end of this series…but just the beginning of the rest of my life. It never ends, but it never has to end my joy again either. That is all I need to know.


1 Glenneth March 1, 2012 at 6:31 am

Thanks so much for sharing your story Tina.

2 CJ March 1, 2012 at 6:58 am

Thanks again for sharing! I finally feel some progress in moving in the right direction with my binge eating. Yesterday, after a long day at work, I came home just wanting to stuff myself. I stopped myself and thought… “am I truly hungry?”… No…. “am I angry then?”… No… “am I lonely?”… No … “am I tired?”…. Yes…. (H.A.L.T.)…. Is so easy to disregard the truth behind our emotional eating but when I take the time to really think about it; I’m starting to catch myself prior to a binge. Thanks for all you share!

3 tinareale March 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm

That’s an awesome accomplishment!

4 Eliza March 1, 2012 at 7:00 am

Definitely an inspirational post for others who struggle with disordered eating. Glad you are in a good place.

5 Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile March 1, 2012 at 7:10 am

You are such a strong woman Tina, thank you so much for sharing this! I’m happy you are in a better place now and by sharing your story you will be sure to help someone out :)

6 Nicole March 1, 2012 at 7:22 am

you are amazing. Thank you for sharing your story. I know it helps many to read this!

7 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 1, 2012 at 7:27 am

Beautiful post and series, my dear! I would have felt the same way with that sweet face smiling at me – and it’s so wonderful Peter is such a great support system to you!

8 Tara Burner March 1, 2012 at 7:37 am

Thanks for your story and so true that those of us who had eating disorders still deal with them –never endingly — but you’re rocking it and you’re kicking butt!!

9 Rebecca March 1, 2012 at 7:43 am

This was powerful. Thank you so much for sharing your story — your struggles, your strength, your courage. God is using you to encourage so many others. Just yesterday, my mom and I were talking about how though I have come so far from ny restrictive obsessive ED days, it is still a battle I wil probably always be fighting. What I’m learning is that victory is when I keep fighting and don’t give in or give up. Balance and health aren’t easy, but the fight makes it worth it. Keep pressing on, beautiful lady!

10 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean March 1, 2012 at 7:56 am

you’re an inspiration to many. thanks for sharing your story and congrats on how far you’ve come.

11 Kelly March 1, 2012 at 8:08 am

You’re a good person Tina. :)

12 jobo March 1, 2012 at 8:11 am

Wow, this is such a powerful last post on this series, Tina. The message that there are still urge, the ‘i don’t give a damn’ feeling of the past still rear up. I struggle with this in a smaller extent, in terms of wanting to go ‘hog wild’ sometimes but that doesn’t actually make me happier, it actually does the reverse. But the pull is still there sometimes, and it’s a mental battle to walk away. ((hug)) I respect you immensely for putting this out there. XOXO.

13 Lee March 1, 2012 at 8:16 am

I feel like those of us who have had struggles with food are sort of always going to struggle with it, at least to an extent. I think that acknowledging that and not expecting to be 100% cured all the time, helps us deal with it, if that makes sense. But just knowing how you’ve overcome your desires to binge in the past, makes it easier to do it again.

I don’t know if what I’m trying to say is making any sense.

14 tinareale March 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm

It makes perfect sense to me!

15 Lori Lynn March 1, 2012 at 8:24 am

Thank you also for this post. I have struggled with binge eating for a really long time now, and it’s the feelings that seem to get me. The amount has gotten better for me, but letting my emotions/feelings over-run me still gets me. It’s nice to know it is possible to get through it. :-)

16 Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots March 1, 2012 at 8:30 am

you are such an amazing person! Thanks for sharing your story, I am sure you are helping some many women who can relate to you. You are so strong and motivated that I know you wont allow yourself to fall into the spiral again!

17 Paige @ Running Around Normal March 1, 2012 at 8:39 am

How fitting and timely with NEDA being this month. I’m so glad you overcame this and are the amazing person you are today, Tina <3
Thanks for sharing this huge struggle with everyone!

18 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health March 1, 2012 at 8:45 am

You are beautiful Tina! On the inside and outside…thank you so so much for sharing your story! You are such an inspiration and I hope that when people are struggling they are able to read your words and take comfort knowing they aren’t alone and that they can get through it!

19 Laura March 1, 2012 at 8:52 am

tina this is so interesting for me to read. while i feel i will always struggle with bits of anorexia, i can truly so i have conquered bulimia — bingeing is a HUGE part of that disorder. i relate to all of the feelings you have described here. i felt like the biggest failure in the world when i was frantically driving from fast food restaurant to grocery store – sometimes at 1 in the morning. i turned into a monster and cared about nothing and no one. bingeing is one of the hardest things to experience and i am SO proud of you for overcoming this.

20 Diana March 1, 2012 at 8:58 am

I love this series of yours and you’ve wrapped it up beautifully. Congratulations on continually facing your demons and overcoming them!

21 Elisabeth March 1, 2012 at 9:10 am

This post was like a much needed punch in the gut for me — every last detail. I’m still working to overcome my binge eating habits and your story has truly been an inspiration for me. Thank you again for sharing with us.

22 tinareale March 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Just know that you CAN! It’s a day by day thing. :)

23 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries March 1, 2012 at 9:35 am

i loved this post and series… wonderfully written! thank you for opening up to us and being real. i can definitely relate! i appreciate you and your inspiration to others so much! thanks tina! :)

24 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers March 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

This sounds crazy, but I wish my hubby could read this. I wish he could understand the pain and mindlessness of it all without me ever having to actually put it into words myself. Oh well… at least I enjoyed reading it. :) Thanks for sharing; I know it wasn’t easy.

25 tinareale March 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Well, Peter is always there for me but he in no way understands completely. There have been times where we have fought bec he would say things like “well just dont do it” because he didn’t fully understand. He does more now, but not always…and still not fully

26 Ari @ Ari's Menu March 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

I have love, love, loved this series! Thank you so much for your bravery and sharing your story! You inspire me, and I hope to one day have the same courage to share the deeper parts of my story on my blog as well. Congratulations on overcoming one of the most challenging struggles a person can face! You’re an inspiration!

27 Karen March 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

You are such a brave woman for sharing your story! This series of posts was always something I enjoyed reading – I even bookmarked many of the posts for future reading on days when I need a little encouragement. Thanks Tina!!

28 Cat @ Breakfast to Bed March 1, 2012 at 10:15 am

powerful post. amazing progress you’ve made. you should be so proud.

29 Yellow Haired Girl March 1, 2012 at 10:16 am

Tina, wow. Thank you SO much for sharing.

30 Heather @ Better With Veggies March 1, 2012 at 10:23 am

Thank you for sharing your story and being so open about your struggles and how you have come so far, it’s inspirational and I’m sure it will be a source of strength for someone struggling with this – helping them to see they are not alone and they can get past it. Stay strong!

31 Sara March 1, 2012 at 10:33 am

Thank you for sharing. This post is inspiring, beautiful, raw and honest.

You are a beautiful and admirable woman. Thank you for being so real! :)

32 Wendy March 1, 2012 at 10:40 am

This is a great post. Proud of you for handling it all so well and being open with us.

33 Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life March 1, 2012 at 10:50 am

You are an amazing and beautiful person on the inside & out! Using your struggles and being honest about your feelings in the hopes of helping others to overcome their battles is an incredible sacrifice. I adore your Christian values, and I believe we all struggle, but we our able to overcome them with help from God! Thank you for being a light to others! :-)

34 Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt March 1, 2012 at 10:57 am

Thank-you for sharing. Your honesty has helped so many people, I read the comments people have left over the entire series and I can see how your story has touched their lives all while healing your own. Bravo Tina.

35 Jess March 1, 2012 at 11:00 am

Such a beautiful and powerful conclusion to this series. Again, totally amazed by your journey to where you are today. You talked about binging not defining you. And you’re absolutely right. BUT – now I’d say “balance” defines you, and that balance comes from this long road that it took you to get to where you are today. So in a way, binging doesn’t (and didn’t ) define you, but it helped you (in a weird way) get where you are today, the absolute definition of living a beautiful, healthy, balanced and HAPPY life.

36 tinareale March 1, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I don’t regret where I came from and my experiences for a second. I’m with you on them shaping me today and I love where I am today. :)

37 [email protected] March 1, 2012 at 11:07 am

Thank you for always being so honest. While I have never “binged” per se, I have struggled with binge like, all or nothing tendencies in my past. Since having my daughter I have really tried to stay mindful of when I can feel my emotions rushing in and that feeling of uncontrol pulling me eat, because I really want to be a positive role model for how you can eat and enjoy food while still being healthy. You just keep it all in perspective for me, how we are never fully immune of how our emotions can creep in unexpectedly, thank you again!!

38 Marcia March 1, 2012 at 11:12 am

Tina this was powerful. I’d recently read an article in Runners World about disordered eating and the many shades of gray in it. Thank you for sharing your journey.

39 Danica @ It's Progression Not Perfection March 1, 2012 at 11:38 am

This is a beautiful post. Your strength is inspirational and I appreciate that you’re honest about this being something that may never truly be over.

40 Calee March 1, 2012 at 11:46 am

I am SOOO glad you posted this. I’m going to go through and re-read the other posts. I’m at the point that I thought I’d fully recovered from my eating disorder. Or at least 95% of the time recovered — about once or twice a year have a purge (usually by over-exercising) or I will do something crazy like fast for 24 hours.

In fact, there is such a stigma attached to certain eating disorder s(anorexia, bulimia) that my friends who are overweight give me the “eye” when I eat healthy (ie. no binge/purge), but they don’t realize that CONSTANTLY binge eating is also an eating disorder. And some of them have more trouble with binging than I ever did with my purging/restricting food.

Anyway — it’s been slowly getting better, but now it’s BINGE part is the part I cannot shake. I need help with this. My binges have slowly tapered off, but I definitely do the “just one more bite” thing, but end up eating a lot more than I wanted.

41 tinareale March 2, 2012 at 9:26 am

I’m here if you ever need anything!

42 Alyssa @ fit and fun in third March 1, 2012 at 11:53 am

Beautifully written post, thank you so much for sharing your struggles.

43 Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning March 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I love, love, love that you are SO honest and the way that you write and tell your story. It might sound weird, but I feel like you’re telling this story to me personally when I read the words (and your previous posts on the topic as well). You have no idea how many people you are helping by sharing your own experiences!
There was a brief time in my life that I struggled with binge eating- but I haven’t had a full-blown episode in about 6 years. There are still times when I eat too much and feel horribly afterwards, but even those are few and far between now (and not done in secret- it usually happens when I’m at a social event where everyone is eating and not paying attention to calories!)

44 Jane March 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Thank you so much for your honesty and openness in sharing this. I love your last phrase “It never ends, but it never has to end my joy again either”. So true!

45 janetha March 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm

YOU are fabulous. Thank you for opening and sharing your story, and here’s to many more years binge-free.

46 Megan @ Fiterature March 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm

There is so much passion and power behind your words. You’ve worked hard to get where you are. Congratulations.

47 [email protected] March 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm

For people with any kind of weight issues, the battle is a life long one. It seems like you recognize what you’ve done wrong in the past and how you slipped up, and you are now in a more stage and accepting place to acknowledge just how you can approach the situations that you drowned in before. I’m jelous of those who will never have to feel what it’s like to be disappointed in yourself after such a binge (I definitely do), but I also think it makes us stronger people to have the self-assurance that we can persevere through even the hardest internal struggles. Thanks so much for this post, I’m sure it will inspire many.

48 tinareale March 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Agree whole heartedly with this. It’s tough…but knowing I’ve pushed through before keeps me going and lets me know just how strong I am in all ways. :)

49 Amanda @ Click. The Good News March 1, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Thanks again for sharing your story- so honest & inspiring.

50 [email protected] March 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Wow, this post brought tears to my eyes. I have never struggled with binge eating, but I have struggled with other forms of addiction and I really understood every feeling you described. It is a lonely and shameful place but you can come out of it and have it not define the person you are today. It will always be a part of you, but it is not who you are. Congratulations on making it 2.5 years, I am at just over 2 years of kicking my addiction…it is a wonderful feeling!!

51 [email protected] March 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Thanks for sharing! Binge eating is NOT fun, and so many people suffer from it (plus all those who have disordered eating habits such as emotional eating….) SO sad! I too try to share my story in hopes to help others. Thank YOU for sharing yours! You’re stronger because of it, and that is something remarkable!

52 kristy March 1, 2012 at 1:18 pm

This is a great post Tina! Thanks for sharing. Emotional eating is such a hard habit to break.

53 Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut March 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm

As always, I love your story! And your willingness to share your struggles with everyone (and where your strength comes from!).

I KNOW you are changing lives with your words. (How cool is that??)

Thanks for sharing this post today, Tina!! :-)

You also make me both excited and afraid of parenthood lol! Those little ones are always watching!!

54 Krystie March 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm

You are so brave to share your story, thank you! Your awesome girly :)

55 Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef March 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm

thank you for sharing your story, tina!

56 Heather @ Run Eat Play March 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Thank you for being so honest and sharing your story, Tina! You are amazing and an inspiration!
You are lucky to have such a supportive husband!

57 Heather @ For the Love of Kale March 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm

This is so beautiful. I love how heartfelt and honest this post is. Recovery is so strange…some days, the “urge” is strong and some days, the “urge” is absent. The key is to fight it….to shift your thoughts and tell your ED “No!” I am seriously so proud of you!!! It is amazingly difficult to achieve. You are a total ROCK STAR. :-)

58 Carol @ Lucky Zucca March 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm

You are such an inspiration Tina. Your honesty and open vulnerability help showcase your strength even more. I have loved this series despite never having suffered in an eating disordered manner before. You prove that with a strong will anyone can do anything to improve themselves. I really admire you.

59 Jocelyn @ Peace Love Nutrition March 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Thank you for this…

As someone who has also struggled with Binge Eating I can completely relate. I still feel a bit of that ‘emptiness’ but I have made a lot of progress and will continue to improve and care about myself.

I’ve been a big fan of your blog for the past few years. Thanks for the continued inspiration.



60 Ali March 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Thank you for such honest inspiration!

61 Caitlin March 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm

This is so inspiring! I have and still am dealing with an ED and it is comforting to me to know that the fact that it’s taking so long to recover is NOT abnormal. I am so proud of you for being brave enough to share your story (I don’t discuss anything openly on my blog, I’m too nervous to call attention to myself by writing a post about it) and I truly will remember you and your journey the next time I have the urge to manipulate my hunger levels to make myself “feel better”.

62 Deborah (Schmiet) March 1, 2012 at 6:14 pm


I’ve loved the series and your honesty. I saw a therapist for the first time in ages this week… and the post I’m publishing today is about the fact that she said – after 30 years of eating issues – I may not ever be ‘all-better’. Reading your post reconfirmed that for me… the feelings / beliefs / thoughts (re binge-eating and what causes it) may always be there, but hopefully I’ll be better able to respond and control them.


63 tinareale March 2, 2012 at 9:29 am

It’s about learning to recognize our struggles and react to them accordingly. If I can, then you most certainly can too. :)

64 Claire March 1, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again THANK YOU SO MUCH for this series. You’ve helped me so so much and I know you’ve helped so many others.
Its been months since I’ve binged or even over-eaten and the fact that you honestly and openly said that when you’re emotional you still struggle is so comforting. It’s ok to keep working at it, it’s ok to still need a hand & it’s ok to ask for help.
Thank you xxx

65 Maggie March 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Thanks for sharing this Tina! It’s so comforting to hear that others struggle with and still struggle to some degree with eating habits..they can be one of the hardest things to find balance with, for me at least.

I can’t wait for bootcamp to start :D

66 Cheryl @ Happy is the new healthy March 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm

THANK YOU for this and for your honesty. Hearing that you still get urges but are able to fight them just makes me realize that it is possible to stay recovered/sane with food and even to promote healthy lifestyles without being obsessive! I totally look up to you and this post just further confirmed that you’re a role model worth having.

” But I can say I will live my life with the passion to help keep myself from that destruction and hopefully play even the smallest role in helping another do the same. ” … this is HUGE. Living with passion and finding your calling and being connected is so key, in my mind. Thanks for summing it up.

You rock.

67 Stephanie @itrainthereforeieat March 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm

What an amazingly honest and beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing!!

68 JJ March 1, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Hey Tina,

I think this is my first comment on your new site, but I’ve been with you for the change and want to say congrats!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing such honest posts about your binge eating. I honestly do think of you often because you inspire me. You’ve been in the trenches, and you’re now trying to stay focused on living a full life where the need to binge is over shadowed by the great life you’re creating.

I also have to say the support Peter showed you…taking time to stay with you to get you out of the binge monster’s claws…that is just incredible.

anyway, I’m blabbing on now. Thanks for sharing your story and your life!

69 tinareale March 2, 2012 at 9:30 am

And thank YOU for reading and your support. :)

70 Jen March 2, 2012 at 12:41 am

Beautiful post, Tina! I believe that you are playing a BIG role in helping MANY others…thank you so much for your honesty and for just being you! You are truly a beautiful person, inside and out!

71 Sara @ Nourish and Flourish March 2, 2012 at 2:39 am

This was beautiful and REAL, Tina. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I know that so many of us can relate on so many levels. By sharing our experiences we support one another and help each other grow. Thank you for being a source of that for me. <3

72 Lindsey @ Cardio Pizza March 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I can completely relate to the post competition training binges – I had plenty of them! I also ate for emotional reasons, but I think it had a LOT to do with the physiological stress that comes with extreme dieting. I never want to feel that way again and I don’t have those goals of competing because of it.

73 Christien March 14, 2012 at 10:18 am

Thanks so much for sharing your story. I just stumble upon your blog while I’m in my lunch break at work and I’m trying to fight my tears. As I’m reading I recognise a lot you’re saying. I struggle with binge eating too. One time I’m totally in control (read: obsessed), another time I’m eating like crazy. It’s encouraging to see that it IS possible to overcome the addiction.

Do you have any advise on how to deal with the urge to binge the moment you feel it? There’s that thin line between saying ‘no’ and giving in to the urge. What exactly do you do to stay on the right side of that line?

74 tinareale March 14, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hi, Christien! Sorry to hear that you are dealing with this. I know the emotional and physical distress it causes.

For me, personally, I have found that prayer (or any positive “mantra” so to speak) helps realign my thoughts. Then…distraction! I find any way to distract myself from the urge. Usually that means cleaning (for me) or getting lost in a book or in work.

I’m here if you ever need anything!

75 Amy September 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm

thank you. seriously, all i can say is thank you. you have given me so much hope.

76 tinareale September 8, 2012 at 6:36 am

I wish you all the best, Amy, and feel free to reach out whenever you need any support. Hugs!

77 Maureen @ Breaking Free & Finding Me April 13, 2013 at 8:29 pm

thank you. thank you. thank you . thank you. just read your entire binge series. as a recovering binger, I feel so lost all the time. To see someone like you, who’s succeeded and made it to the other side gives me so much hope!!! THANK YOUU again!!

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