Jane Pilger overcame 25-plus years of binge eating. This is her story, and she is resilient.
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Trigger Warning: The Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult. The listener’s discretion is advised.
About the Guest:
Jane is the host of the Binge Breakthrough podcast. She empowers women who feel out of control around food to develop food freedom and body trust. She helps women who have been struggling, often for decades, to find the missing link to go from fighting with their bodies to working with them.
Whether you are a binge eater, someone who doesn’t trust themselves with certain foods, or someone who just doesn’t understand why they behave the way they do sometimes, she’s got you. She will teach you how to understand your behavior, how to develop trust with yourself and how to cultivate the safety that you need to navigate life. Her approach is rooted in the science of the brain and body, trauma informed, and filled with compassion.
Jane’s other passions include spending time with family and friends, triathlon training and racing, and planning the next adventure. She strives to make a difference in the lives of those around her while living a life of love, trust, adventure and growth.
Facebook & Instagram: @janepilgercoaching
trigger warning, the Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult, the listeners discretion is advised.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Hello friends, welcome to radical resilience, a weekly show where I Blair Kaplan Venables have inspirational conversations with people who have survived life's most challenging times. We all have the ability to be resilient and bounce forward from a difficult experience. And these conversations prove just that, get ready to dive into these life changing moments while strengthening your resilience muscle and getting raw and real.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Welcome back to another episode of radical resilience. It's me Blair Kaplan. Venables coming into you from Kamloops. I'm excited because today's guest is a new friend. When I say new I mean, real new. But Jane Pilger is the host of the binge breakthrough podcast, she empowers women who feel out of control around food to develop food freedom and Body Trust. She helps women who have been struggling often for decades to find the missing link to go from fighting with their bodies to working with them. This is such an important topic. And this is something that I know I struggle with, and that a lot of women in my life do struggle with. So I would love to welcome Jane to the mic. Hello, Jane.Jane Pilger:
Hello, thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited just to be here. And yes, we are just brand new friends. But I'm just, I'm so in awe of what you are doing with your work in the world. And I'm just excited to be a small part of it.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Thank you so much. Oh, okay. So I'm gonna start with a little story. And then I want you to tell your story. And the reason why I think like, I'm someone who, like I'm not sporty, but I've always worked out I loved working out like from when I was maybe 12, like grade six, seven. And I've never really like struggled with food until I was older, you know, metabolism slowing down and years ago, I actually like changed the way I ate I ate to fuel my body, I cut out a lot of the junk food. I was in the best shape of my life hiking every day, and I was struggling with fertility. But while I stopped trying to get pregnant, and I was like hiking and really healthy, I got pregnant. But after the miscarriage because I suffered the loss of the baby and my hormones were out of whack. And then my father in law died right away. And then my mom, things went out of control. And not just that I'm sober. I'm four years sober. And so because I have an addictive personality, I turned to food for comfort throughout that loss. And there was a period of time where I was ordering a cookie dough Blizzard from Dairy Queen to get delivered to my face, especially because it was like height of COVID couldn't leave the house. But I was eating almost every day at least one cookie dough Blizzard for weeks, maybe even a month. And it's only recently that I was finally able to change my habits and like focus on my health because I've been trying and not doing anything but it's been a real mind twist a mindfuck for me, because I would never identify to someone who had issues with my body. And I guess I do and so I would love for you to share your story. Yeah,Jane Pilger:
yeah, so my my struggles with food. It's always so interesting to hear about peep. I don't know that There literally is a woman on the planet who does not have some sort of has not at some point in their life experienced some sort of challenge struggle with their with their body and with food. I think it happens on a lot of different levels. And it can happen for so many different reasons. And one of the things that is so fascinating to me is to hear people's stories, because I'm always listening for the lens of how does it make sense, you know, I listened to your story and like, it makes so much sense. Everything that you were going through emotionally, hormonally, all of that it makes so much sense to me. And when I look at my own story I can now of course I couldn't in the in the moment but now I can see how my story made so much sense to and so i i I would say my kind of struggles with food really started in high school I went away to a kind of like a little mini P score type of thing for eight weeks in one summer and I gained a significant amount of weight in a short period of time and I had stretch marks all over my thighs all over my breasts. I played volleyball and we were these little button huggers and we you could see your thighs and there were my stretch marks and that really was kind of for me kind of that first indicator of like, my body's not okay it needs to change and need to lose weight and I went on a pretty restrictive diet, went to the gym started counting all the calories. And then I went to college. And so when I was in college, I really didn't grow up knowing how to deal with emotions, how to process emotions, we just when there were arguments, or anybody was upset in my family, we would just leave and like, I would just go to my room and slam the door. So it didn't really learn how to deal with my emotions. And so I went to college. And here I am away from all of my people. I'm experiencing a lot of emotions, but I don't know what to do with them. And my very first binge was my first semester in college. And it was on a care package that was sent to me that was full of just little mini candy bars. And I don't remember the binge itself. But I remember afterwards sitting on the floor, being surrounded by this empty box, and just empty wrapper wrappers all around me. And I was just like, What have I done, I was so embarrassed, I was so ashamed. And I went on this journey to fix this terrible thing that I was doing. But I was I wouldn't tell anybody about it. I was so ashamed. I did not want anybody to know that I was doing this terrible thing. And so I was hiding from everybody. I was not getting any help. And all I wanted to do was stop binging. But I also wanted to change my body lose weight, I still didn't know how to deal with my emotions. So I look back and I'm like, Oh, of course, you know, you're on this restrictive diet, you don't know how to deal with your emotions, you're away from all of your kind of normal people. And, like, of course, it makes so much sense. But I didn't I didn't know it at the time. Plus, I was mired in shame and judgment. So that was really kind of the start. And I was on a journey for probably it was probably over 25 years of binging, I would have periods of time where I thought, I've figured this out, I have solved my problems. And then something else would happen, I would start binging again, been on all the diets, all the various things. And for me, what really came down to kind of mind missing piece was really discovering work around the nervous system, creating safety for myself, safety and trust, I did not really have safety with myself, I didn't have safety with my body. I didn't have trust by any means. And so for me, it was like that last piece was kind of bringing in the safety, the trust, understanding the nervous system, understanding how to really work with myself, instead of trying to just control myself, which is kind of what I had done for over 20 years, I tried to take this very controlling path to to try to fix myself. Wow.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Thank you for sharing. So from when you had that moment of shame, the you know, the candy bars, to working on yourself on the healing path. Like how long was that period of time? And like, how did you do it? Walk us through that?Jane Pilger:when I first got certified in:Blair Kaplan Venables:
So you were certified and helping people but then you started binging Yes. Are you still binging? Are you started again?Jane Pilger:
I had well, I started again. Yeah, yeah, it started again. Wow. And so again, I was like, I didn't want anybody to know. And then I thought, you know, that's silly. Like, I don't have to hide this. So I started sharing here's, I started becoming much more vulnerable. Here's what's happening. Here I am on the journey. And even with the people I was helping, I was sharing, I basically just stopped hiding. I think a lot of it for me was this decision, like, I'm not gonna hide anymore, I'm not gonna hide. I'm not gonna hide the wrappers. When I go drive around town. I'm not gonna hide what I'm doing from other people like this. This is what's happening. So if I don't deny it, like I can learn from this. This is happening. Because there's something else there's still something going on. That is creating this this binging. Symptom I see binging as a symptom, it's like a light on the dashboard. It shows us that something is going on under the hood. So so many people, they end up looking at the light, it's like, okay, well, let's look at the food. What are you eating? How often are you eating? What types of food are you eating? And they're trying to like diagnose it from the, from just the light. But I say let's look good. Oh, go under the hood, and look under the hood to see what's causing that light to come on in the first place. And so I've identified really eight reasons why people binge. And so it's not a it's never just Oh, it's just a habit. Oh, it's just because you can't deal with emotions. There are a lot of different reasons why somebody binges and I think that's why it can feel challenging to overcome, because there are a lot of different layers. There are different things that can make that light. Come on. It's so it's not just like, Oh, it's here. Here's the quick fix. Here's the you know, easy button, we just flip a switch, and then you never binge again. That's just, that's not how it works.Blair Kaplan Venables:
No, oh, this is so good. Okay, well, it's not good, but it's good information. What let's go into the eight different.Jane Pilger:
Yes, please. The eight different reasons. So the eight reasons why you binge, let's see if I can come up with them off the top of my head. So number one, yes. So number one. So number one is shame and judgment. So just shame and judgment about the behavior. And the reason that one is number one is because when you're in shame, like me wouldn't tell anybody about it. When you're in shame, or when you're in judgment, you don't have access to anything else. You can't connect with yourself, you can't understand yourself. It's like, if we're talking about the analogy of looking under the hood to see what's going on. Shame and judgment is like putting a 50 pound block on top of the hood. We just can't even look under the hood, if you're in shame and judgment. So reason number one is shame and judgment. Reason number two is restriction. So and that can be physical restriction. So eliminating certain foods or food groups. There's also mental restriction. So mental restriction sounds like I better not eat too much. Oh, I can't have I can't have too much of that. Oh, okay. Well, I'm gonna have that but I won't eat it again, until next week, or next month or whatever. It's where we're mentally restricting in our minds. And that, you know, a lot of people will think, Oh, I'm not really restricting. But in their minds, they're still a form of mental restriction going on. Number three is your nervous system. So a dysregulated nervous system. So just there's so much to be understood about the nervous system and And when we are younger, and we don't really know our nervous systems we don't, we may not have certain calming or coping soothing strategies, we very brilliantly learn that food can regulate us. And so we kind of use in turn to use that. So understanding your nervous system, one of the reasons is disconnection from your body. So we're just disconnected, our bodies are always speaking to us. The problem is we have stopped listening. So how many of us ignore our hunger signals, signals, right? Like, oh, I'm just gonna, like, drink some more coffee, so that I don't have to eat or even how many of us have been so busy doing something working on a project, we ignore our need to use the bathroom? Right? We're like, I'm just going to hold it. So how often we get so disconnected from our body. And so that is a number. That's another reason. So I think that's for one of them. Ooh, let's see, what are my other reasons. Disconnection don't have my list in front of me. There's also your the way you talk to yourself, the way that you speak to yourself about yourself. So your internal dialogue has a huge impact on the way that the way that you respond is just the way that you talk to yourself about what you're doing. And then there is one very key reason is habit, when you do something over and over at the same time, or with the same foods, we do kind of wire in that connection of that habit. So that is a part of it. But what happens is, a lot of times people just look at it as a habit only. But ignore all the other reasons like well, if we're not looking at all the other reasons than just focusing on the habit isn't going to address the other things. But if we look at all the other things, there's still this habit in place. So it is a very important reason. But we can't look at it in a vacuum. And then the last reason is your emotional capacity. So just difficulty coping with emotions. So it really is a skill, the ability to be with big uncomfortable emotions. And so I call that expanding your emotional capacity. So each of the reasons why has a corresponding solution as to the things then that you can do to help work on each of kind of each of these areas. And to be clear, none of them have to be it's not like you have to like, figure out every single component of all eight of these reasons, because that might feel a little overwhelming. But it just helps to understand like, there are a lot of layers. And if we can just make a little bit of progress in each of these layers, it has this compound effect so greatly that then the binging just kind of falls away. We don't have to focus so much on the behavior itself. It's like when we start working under the dashboard, the light will just go off.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yes. Okay. So Jane, let's just use a case study. Okay, let's walk people through this because those reasons are all very powerful. And I know I'm like, okay, that makes sense for me. What were your reasons? Like, do you have all eight? Were they only a few? I want to know, part one, what were your reasons? And then there's a part two, how did you fix them? Or how did you heal them?Jane Pilger:
Yes, so part one, I would say my reasons. Number one, for sure. Shame and judgment, I had so much shame and judgment. And I think that's got to be like the number one is shame and judgment, and also the number one step in terms of fixing for me my emotional capacity, I had such a small emotional capacity. So I had to learn how to deal with my emotions. So even just from the basics of rather than saying, I'm good, I'm bad, like actually being able to name what are you feeling in this moment? How does that feel in your body? Am I able to be with that emotion for more of an extended period of time? That was for sure a big one. my nervous system I definitely had a dysregulated nervous system I operated a lot in fight or flight. And so for that was really learning to understand it learning my signals, my own kind of internal barometer signals, like I can know when my nervous system is nice and calm and grounded, when it is getting activated and then what to do like Okay, now, you kind of gathering my toolbox for what to do when, when that happens. The internal dialogue for sure, that kind of goes along with shame and judgment, the internal dialogue, they really kind of go together but really teaching myself how to really talk to myself relate to myself become more of more encouraging more I mean, the way that I am with everybody else in the world except for myself, connection with my body for sure I was so disconnected. The way I fixed that was really just again, tuning, tuning in trusting. I went from this place of oh, that's the last thing I ever had missed one, which is developing to a trust. So the reason why is an attempt to control I was trying to control so tightly, what I weighed what I ate all of the things that then I really had to learn what does it mean to trust through connecting with myself through all of these other things, then I could get that trust back. So they all really do kind of like they fit they fit together as pieces of,Blair Kaplan Venables:
of a puzzle. Yeah, and that's, that's really interesting. So was there one specific, or like, a few specific things that you found helped you that, you know, will help other people? Like I would, I think there's going to be people listening who find this extremely relatable. Yeah. And even like, they don't even know that. It's something that's going on like to them? It's normal.Jane Pilger:
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I would say something that is really a couple of things that are super helpful. Number one, I would say after, like after a binge, after an eating experience, where it feels like, oh, my gosh, I just felt out of control or what just happened to me. One thing there is to really just get very curious that the the ideas of curiosity and compassion are so important curious, like, what what's going on here? How does this make sense? How does it make sense? If I know these eight reasons? How does it make sense that that happened? Was there anything else going on? What else was going on under the hood? Did I have other needs? What happens is a lot of us end up trying to use food to meet needs, that food was really never designed to meet. So if we can just get curious. What's going on? Are there other needs there? What How else could I meet my needs? So rather than making it about the food itself, or, or, or being in shame and judgment, getting curious, asking questions, how does this make sense? What else do I really need? How else can I take care of my needs? If I'm getting those needs met elsewhere? Then maybe I won't be so pulled to the food to try to meet those needs. SoBlair Kaplan Venables:
yeah, I think that's so important. Like now I'm just thinking back to what I shared. Like, for me, it was comfort, right? And like, Why was I? Like, I guess is it still considered a binge? If I'm ordering like something like a cookie dough Blizzard every day? Like, is it a binge, something where you sit down in one session and do it? I feel like mine was like a prolonged binge?Jane Pilger:
Yeah, so it's a great question. So so we can look at binging and overeating. I would say what you were doing in that case is like really, you were over eating right, but you were eating for comfort. You were definitely eating to kind of soothe a need to kind of fill something that felt like was kind of missing for you is based on what I heard. Yeah. So binging is binging is often defined without getting into like the technical definition. The way that I define a binge typically is eating large amounts of food, typically more than somebody would eat in one, one sitting. Often very quickly, typically, with a usually in secret. And there's typically a lot of shame involved. So we're talking I mean, I would eat half gallon of ice cream, I would eat many, many doughnuts, I might eat a box of cereal, a box of macaroni and cheese, like significant, just more than one would typically eat at any given time. But I will say everything that I am talking about also is very applicable for eating for emotional reasons, right eating for some reason, other than, you know, kind of just fueling your body for a physical reason or feeling like I just have this kind of compulsion, this need to eat something kind of where it feels like you're compelled to eat rather than you're choosing to eat something.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yeah. Oh, wow. Okay, I've so many questions, but we're sort of wrapping up. So I have a couple more we're going to I just feel like we can talk about this for a long time. So I'm someone who has binged like, I'm someone who like, like, I will eat a whole big bag of something like that I could probably only like handfuls of Serving as and I'll eat all the things. I'm a sucker for salty. I'm a sucker for sweet. I'm a sucker for chocolate. I'm doing like, you know, like, I have to work really hard at that. But some of us might be listening thinking, wow, that sounds a lot like what I do from time to time or what I find myself doing. What's something that they can do? Like, what's an easy step that they can take? Next time they catch themselves? binging?Jane Pilger:
Hmm. So if you are in them, I will say this in the moment of a binge, if you are in the moment of a binge, this is probably the most challenging for lack of a better word, the most challenging time to bring in awareness to bring in connection, many people use binging to dissociate to the way that I term it is I use, I would say that I would like use it to slam the door on myself, or to turn the lights off. So if you are in the middle of a binge, you actually notice, the thing you can do that can be super powerful is how much awareness consciousness can you bring to the experience? So can you just turn the lights on a little bit? A little bit of the experience? What are you noticing in terms of how are you speaking to yourself? What are you saying to yourself? Do you What are you even noticing about the foods? Do you like these foods? Are you even paying attention? Are you eating I would eat to the point where I would have sores in my mouth, it would hurt so much it was not an enjoyable experience. But I was so disconnected from myself. So how much connection and kind of consciousness can you bring to it? Can you turn the lights on just a little bit. And if you are able to do that, now, this is not everybody is able to do that. So if you're not able to do it, it's okay. But if you can become aware in that moment, if you can turn the lights on a little bit, then you can also ask the question, what else? What else is there? Like? What am I looking for this food to do for me right now. And just knowing that, just knowing that just bringing a little bit of consciousness into the situation, can be can be eye opening can be enlightening, we can't change what we're not aware of. And so the way that change happens is we have to first start with awareness, we have to be aware what's going on for you in those moments. And most of us are so closed, lights are off. We're so dissociated, we don't even know. So it's may seem like why would I want to do that? It's because you can't change what you're not aware of. So you have to start with awareness.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yes, start with awareness. So good, Jane. Oh, so if someone wants to, you know, listen to your podcast, or dive into your world or have questions, or, you know, want to work with you, how can people find you? Yeah, soJane Pilger:
my podcast is probably is a great way for people to kind of just get familiar with me my concepts, those types of things binge break through the podcast is called binge breakthrough. You can also find me at binge breakthrough.com is a great place to do that. And if you want to know your reason, like what is okay, so you talked about these eight reasons. If you want to know your reason, you can actually take a quiz at binge breakthrough.com forward slash quiz. And that can just kind of give you a little bit of insight as to your specific reason. And then also give I will give you kind of three steps you can take right away knowing what your kind of primary reason is.Blair Kaplan Venables:
That's yeah, I love that. Everyone go check her out. This is like it's fascinating to me. And I feel like if this doesn't land with you, maybe someone you know is going through this and yeah, you know, like, let's, let's help each other out. What advice do you have for someone who is walking a few steps behind you going through something similar? Who is in the cycle of binging? Like what advice do you have for them?Jane Pilger:
My advice is don't give up. Just don't give up. You never know. There is a future available for you where you can trust yourself where that food freedom, food freedom and Body Trust are possible. Just don't give up.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yes, don't give up. Brilliant, brilliant Jane. Well, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, your experience your vulnerability with our community.Jane Pilger:
Absolutely. Thank you for the work you were doing and bringing these stories just out into the world. It's just it's such such powerful, powerful, powerful healing work.Blair Kaplan Venables:
I love that you are welcome. And thank you for everyone who tuned in to another episode. We do this every Friday we drop into your ears, but you could listen anytime you want. Because we're everywhere. Podcast players, websites beyond. You know, just remember, it is okay to not be okay. Life is full of beautiful moments, but it's also full of very hard moments. You're gonna get through the hard times and know that you are not alone. You have people you have us to support you. Let us be that lighthouse in a storm that light at the end of the tunnel. We are here to help. Remember, you are resilient.