I am Leora Fulvio, a San Francisco based Psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of Binge Eating Disorder and I'm the author of Reclaiming Yourself From Binge Eating: A Step-by-Step Guide to Healing. I have had a specialization in treating Binge Eating Disorder since 2005 - even before it was considered an eating disorder!
I created this program to help people get the support, community and strength that they need to heal from Binge Eating Disorder on their own. My goal was to make treatment accessible to everyone who needed it. I had been working as a therapist in intensive outpatient treatment centers. While working in treatment, I realized how life-changing it could be, and I wanted to make it available to everyone, not just people who had the ability to do it. With lot of support, psychoeducation, tools and everyday accountability, people could have treatment without going into a typical treatment center or therapy.
One of the main tenets of recovery is support and accountability. I wanted to make sure that everyone who needed that could have it. I wanted people to be able to check in with a group every day with their intentions and their goals so that the group could support them through it. I wanted them to be able to check in with a group to talk about whatever pain they were going through so that they could get the support and the strength of the group. But most of all, I wanted to give people the tools that they needed to recover without having to go to treatment.
My goal was to create the most thorough and complete program that included all the tools one would get in treatment plus all the support they could get. Only I wanted to give it to them for a lifetime so they always had a hand up if they ever needed it. Treatment usually ends in 8 weeks. This is forever.
Don't get me wrong, treatment is fantastic. But not everyone can afford the money or the time that treatment takes. Typical intensive treatment can cost around $20,000 for an 8 week outpatient program and inpatient treatment costs $60,000 for 8 weeks. Most people cannot take that time off from work or away from their families and many people don't have insurance that will cover that. And, according to several studies, self guided treatment has the same rates of success as inpatient treatment. This is why I created this program, which is lifelong, where people can have access for their whole lives. And I made it affordable by creating several different pricing structures.
It took me more than 10 years to create this program. I began developing this program in 2005 and now-- I'm happy to have the ability to make it attainable online.
MY RECOVERY STORY
Recovery from Binge Eating Disorder is possible. I know because not only have I helped thousands of people to heal, but I have also recovered. Like many women, I come from a long line of people who have an extremely complicated relationship with food.
My mother herself was a chronic restrictor and a secret binge eater. Growing up, snacks and chocolate and treats weren’t allowed in my house ever. A big treat was a piece of diet bread toasted, with non-fat cottage cheese smeared on it and sweet & low sprinkled on top. That was called “cheesecake.” Believe me -- that was no cheesecake. Once in a while I’d get a carob covered rice cake. Also, not so much of a treat.
I grew up in New York City and if you are familiar with NYC in the 1980’s you’ll understand the store I’m about to describe. It was a stationary store/candy store/newspaper stand. Each morning before bringing me to school, my Mom would stop in to grab the paper. Next to the paper stand though, there was a gigantic candy counter. I mean it was HUGE-- it started at my feet and was at least three feet above my head. In my mind, I remember it taking over the whole wall. Candy was stacked and organized beautifully and temptingly from floor to ceiling.
Each morning I’d stand there dazed, staring at the gigantic candy counter and dream of the day when I could eat everything there. And at night when I was falling asleep, I’d lay in bed and fantasize about the candy wall… I was obsessed. In fact, in first grade, when we had to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up, I said I wanted to be a candy store owner and drew a picture of myself sitting in front of the candy display.
My mom was a single working Mom and she was super busy. I came home from school alone to an empty apartment from the time I was six years old. I was definitely both scared and lonely. I didn’t like to be alone in the apartment. So, in order to comfort myself and calm myself, I’d sit in front of the television, watch cartoons and I'd eat whatever I could find. I’d tackle giant bowls of cheerios doused in skim milk and sweet and low or I’d toast diet bread and smear it with margarine, and I'd do this again and again until my Mom came home. It helped the time pass and it helped me to forget that I was alone.
A few months before I turned eleven, my Mom began to notice that I was developing hips and thighs. She was not happy about it.
I’m not sure if my curves or impending womanhood was frightening to her for reasons that I can understand or if she was just afraid of me being curvy but whatever it was, she didn’t like it and started me in Weight Watchers. She promised that she’d buy me a Benetton rugby for my 11th birthday if I lost 6 pounds. And if you weren’t a tween in the mid-1980’s you wouldn’t know this- but that was like THE THING to wear, and I REALLY wanted one. So I was compliant. I was always a super compliant kid. I lost the weight that she wanted me to and I got my shirt and I was happy and my mother was pleased.
But as I got older and puberty threatened, my curves wanted badly to break through. I was becoming a teenager and I wanted to do what my friends were doing. I wanted to go out and eat pizza and candy bars.
So I rebelled against my mother’s strict health food regime and decide to eat what I wanted. But my mother was none so happy with my weight inching back up and so again, at age 13, I wound up in Weight Watchers. But this time I was less compliant- I figured out that I could starve all day and then eat 2 candy bars at night and stay within my food allotment for the day. I convinced my mom I was eating my cottage cheese and tuna on diet bread in the day time, but really I was eating nothing except for an occasional diet coke and at night I told her I’d be going to the diner with my friends for salads but I wasn’t. I’d eat a couple of candy bars at night and that was the way I lost weight, still kept my mother happy, and did what I wanted. Unfortunately, this set off years and years of a very intense cycle of bingeing and starving.
I hated bingeing. But I loved it too. It was inner conflict that felt like it was tearing me a part from the inside. I had wars being battled inside my body and my soul. It became more and more intense until it spun out of control. High school was a mess. I’d skip breakfast and lunch and come home from school so starving that I’d eat anything I could get my hands on. I’d use my lunch money for ice cream and French fries or pizza or whatever was available. I put on weight – a good amount of it and my Mom was not happy. She tried more diets on me- we became vegetarian and vegan – which created even more bingeing for me. I wasn’t getting any real nutrition, subsisting on things like cheese-less pizza and diet coke and chips and salsa. I was dizzy, tired and couldn’t concentrate. And this lasted years, all through high school and definitely all through college. I would starve for days until I couldn’t take it anymore and then I would binge.
Every binge, I promised myself was my last. It was the very last time because tomorrow I’d be back to eating nothing except lettuce and tofu or whatever it was. It got worse and worse. Food was both my best friend and of course my worst enemy. And bingeing was so opportunistic. I binged even when I didn’t want to – just because I could, because the house was empty, my roommates weren’t home, I had an afternoon to myself.
In my early 20’s when I first moved to San Francisco, I remember nights when I’d order food late, late at night, lots of food – I’d put music on in the background and pretend that I was having a party so the delivery guy wouldn’t know that I was planning on eating that whole Indian meal for 4 or a large vegan pizza all by myself.
I did everything I could to compensate. I starved myself for days on end, I exercised myself into the ground- running miles and miles, swimming miles and miles, doing hours on the elliptical. I felt like a mess. My bingeing was so out of control and I was out of control. I was depressed. My self care was totally absent, my body felt awful, uncomfortable, I had no energy, I was literally dizzy and anxious all the time. I just wanted out. I would pray at night so hard that this would be my last binge- that I could turn over a new leaf, that I could have the life that I wanted where I felt good about myself, that I could just stick to a diet for good and finally look the way I wanted so I could feel confident and have a good life, a good relationship, have what I wanted.
But things started to change. It was the late 1990’s, I was in my early 20’s and I desperately needed things to be different. I started working on myself spiritually. I quit my Silicon Valley job, I started working with a therapist, and I began an intense meditation practice. I worked on healing my relationship with my Mom, I learned to be kinder and gentler to myself and I took a year-long class in hypnotherapy.
Things opened up for me. I loved working with the mind and I was especially drawn to working with women who were dealing with binge eating and compulsive eating. At the same time, I came to a deep place of healing with my own disordered eating. I couldn’t get enough of this work and went back to graduate school to get my Masters of Counseling Psychology – I devoured everything I could about psychology, the brain, neuropsychology, addiction and how people change and grow and heal from trauma and pain. I interned and worked in Eating Disorder clinics and saw so much recovery.
I loved helping others who were dealing with Bulimia, Anorexia and Binge Eating Disorder. My life came together in ways that I can’t even describe. I just all of a sudden became myself. I didn’t change myself, I became myself. I became comfortable in my skin. I became okay with who I was. It wasn’t a diet that changed me, it wasn’t weight loss, it was letting myself be who I was and feeling my worth, my value in the world.
At the same time, as I was evolving and changing and healing, my Mom became very ill. And in 2002- - when she was 54 years old, I lost her. It was the most painful time of my life.
Up until she got ill, her body was fine, it was curvy, healthy and beautiful. But then it wasn’t. It was sick and it was very skinny and she couldn’t put on weight. At that point, she would have done anything to have her curves back.
I thought to myself, “Was this worth it? Were all these years of dieting worth it?” My mom didn’t die from her eating disorder, but she did die without solving it, without really embracing who she naturally was. Her life was spent fighting against herself and her natural beauty and curves.
I can’t tell you when my very last binge was- I really can’t. But one day I realized, I haven’t binged in months. My recovery just snuck up on me. I noticed that I had no desire to binge. My feelings were accessible to me and I was able to manage feelings like anxiety, sadness, excitement, desire… things that before had been elusive to me. It’s not that I never had these feelings anymore, of course I did and I do -- I’m human. But my ability to manage my feelings and to feel safe with them and know that they were just feelings, thoughts, energy impulses helped me to move through them more easily, without turning to food to forget or diets to gain control. Even when I had the opportunity to binge and the desire came up, it wasn’t even a deep desire- it was just a noticing- a phantom urge.
Binge eating disorder is so opportunistic and although the opportunistic side of bingeing still presented itself, I didn’t feel like I had to binge the way I did in the past when the opportunity was available. It was so liberating.
So… utilizing all the knowledge that I’ve gotten over the years with not just my personal experience, but also with my own studies, my own research, my time spent working in the eating disorder field and having seen thousands of clients recover from eating disorder, I created this step-by- step program for you so that you can come out on the other side of this, so that you can feel at peace with yourself and around food, so that you can come to a place where your body, mind and spirit all feel peaceful more of the time than not, so that you can manage your emotions instead of using food to manage them, so that you can handle urges with proven, evidence-based clinical interventions.
Healing from binge eating is certainly about stopping binge eating behaviors, but it’s so much more than that-- it’s also about returning to yourself. You are changing your default behaviors, you are changing the way you look at the world, the way you feel and react to problems and issues and the way you respond to stress- your whole outlook on life changes -- both inside and out.
So let me tell you about this program. I began creating this program back in 2005 while I was working at an Intensive Outpatient eating disorder clinic.
Working there, I saw the transformative power of intense treatment for people struggling with eating disorders. They received both the education to understand how their brains and bodies worked but also the support that they needed from others going through recovery at the same time.
However, intense inpatient or outpatient treatment can’t work for everyone for a variety of reasons: The cost is usually prohibitive, people work, people have families, most people can’t spend all day sitting in group therapy and with a therapist. Yet so many people- MILLIONS of people need this treatment and have no access to it. So I decided to create self guided treatment for people that would be both affordable and accessible. I worked on it for years and years, and I’m so happy that I had so many years to build it, work with clients and continue learning- because now I have a complete program that has helped so many people.
Let me tell you about the program:
This is a five week class divided into 28 days. However, you have LIFETIME access to it-- so you can take as long as you need.
There are 28 psycho-educational videos to help you learn the basics of using your mind to deal with cravings. This mindfulness based education helps you to understand how hunger and your body work, helps you to create nutritional patterns that will help you beat binge eating, teaches you about how to utilize neuroplasticity (which is the way the brain makes changes) to help you integrate new habits and behaviors as well as complete instruction on mindful eating and intuitive eating.
There are 18 self-guided meditation sessions to help your unconscious mind see you making the changes. As you probably know, meditation significantly lowers your stress level, regulates your blood pressure, reduces anxiety, helps manages depression, strengthens your relationships, improves sleep, increases your day-to-day happiness, decreases stress… I mean it really creates significant healing for your brain!
However, there is a certain type of meditation that actually changes your behaviors. Some people call it hypnotherapy, other people call it movies of the mind. Multiple studies have shown that this meditation is the most effective in helping people permanently change habits and change their brain. This is because when you are able to deeply visualize yourself doing something and feel it, your brain believes you actually experienced it. For example, when you go into a deep meditation and visualize yourself seeing your binge foods and actively making the choice not to binge, your brain actually experiences that as a real. You then strengthen that part of your brain that chooses not to binge when you have the desire to.
I’ve created safe, calming and empowering pictures for you via deep meditation so that in your mind, you will actually decide that you are not a binge eater, that you don’t have to binge eat, that you have all the tools and the choices available to you to act and react toward food and stress in a way that doesn’t involve bingeing. You will feel confident, loved, at peace and empowered.
You also get worksheets and homework to help you dive deeper into yourself to learn more about your behaviors and your motivations. This will help to uncover your unconscious motivations for acting out in behaviors that aren’t for your highest good and help you to make different choices.
You also get the support of the community of others who are in the program. There is support in both a Secret Facebook Group or if you’d prefer to just get support right there within the program-- you have both options available to you. You can check in every day- multiple times a day with others who are in the exact same position as you- you can talk about how your day was, what your challenges were or any up and coming challenges that you might need support with.
Although the program is separated into 28 day intervals, you don’t have to let your perfectionism trick you into thinking that you have to complete each day every day—if some days you have only a couple of minutes to spend and can’t do more than check in or see how others are doing, that’s fine! If some days you have an hour to work on recovery activities, that’s fine too! The most important thing is that you’re either spending just a teeny bit of time doing self care daily or even just thinking about recovery daily -- that is what’s going to get you to the other side! Take the perfectionism out of this, do as much or as little as you want each day. This isn’t a race, this is a complete transformation and healing of self- healing takes love,time, and patience.
So come and join us right now. Just click here to enroll-- you can choose the payment plan that works best for you.
I look forward to seeing you on the inside!