EMOTIONAL

Ep 062: My Battle with Emotional Eating + Food Addiction

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Emotional eating and food addiction are just like any other addictions. But the biggest difference is that food is placed in front of us multiple times a day, because our body needs food as fuel. I admit I struggled with emotional eating, emotional bingeing and food addiction. I used food to fill a gap in my heart and in my life. I idolized food and it started to run my life. But now i can confidently tell you that I am winning this battle with emotional eating and food addiction. Everybody has struggles. This is mine. And if this is yours, I’m right there with you. So, let’s talk about it because if we don’t we feel alone and feel like we can’t conquer this thing but I know we can!

 
 

In This Episode, Allie Discusses:

  • What emotional eating is and how it differs from food addiction.

  • How emotional eating is like any other addiction, only it is something placed in front of you multiple times a day (food is everywhere and your body needs it).

  • What she does to win the battle over her emotional eating and food addiction (and how you can too!)

  • The power of adjusting your relationship with food as something that is needed to fuel your body, not an obsession.

Mentioned in this Episode:

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The Simplified Grocery Shopping List is something I have created (for free!) that will help you simplify the process of grocery shopping, planning your meals, food prepping, all that good stuff because we do have to eat so often during the day and it can be really complicated. So, if you're looking to make some healthy changes and simplify this area of your life, kind of take a minimalist approach to all of that, I've got you! 


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Reviews are everything on iTunes! Would you take a minute and click here to leave a review? Email hello@alliecasazza.com with a screenshot of your review on iTunes. You'll be entered to win one of Allie's amazing courses for FREE!  

If you have a question, comment or a suggestion about today’s episode, or the podcast in general, send me an email at hello@alliecasazza.com or connect with me over on Facebook & Instagram


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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is                   The Purpose Show.

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Hey friends! Today I want to talk about something that's kind of heavy, definitely raw and vulnerable and might be difficult to hear.

I think a few months ago it would've been difficult to share too, but today it's not. I'm ready. I feel peaceful. I even feel excited to let you in on this part of my life. I'm really hopeful that it'll help somebody out there listening.

But before I dive in, I want to let you know that we're going to be talking about emotional eating, emotional bingeing and food addiction.

This has been a struggle for me pretty much my entire adult life. I think this can be a really sensitive topic and I want you to know that I do not mean to point the finger at anyone or make you feel awful about yourself. If your health or your weight has been something that you've struggled with in your life, please know that this isn't directed at you.

I want you to know that this episode is just me sitting at my desk in front of my microphone sharing and opening up about a very private struggle in my life, something that has been a part of most of my life and has totally ruled me at many different points in my life.

This episode is about me and my struggle and I want you to know as the listener that you can do whatever you choose to do with this episode. You could take it to heart and make changes if that's where you feel led, if that's what you want to do after listening. You could turn it off right now and not listen to the rest of it. You could listen and do nothing because you don't struggle with this area of your life or you do struggle with it and you're not there yet. You're not ready to change.

My hope for this episode is that it would bring a light and shine it on this problem area that not a lot of people are talking about in our world and that it would uplift somebody. I don't want it to bring anyone down. I want it to be really open and honest and I want it to be a help to somebody.

A few months ago, I was doing a live stream in one of my Facebook groups and this topic came up. I casually shared a little bit about my history with emotional eating and food addiction and the response was so overwhelming. Even now, I get messages and emails from the women who happen to catch that live on a regular basis asking if I would ever consider opening up more, doing an episode about it, or a blog post, or even write a book or something.

I honestly had never really thought about it. I think I was so caught up in the battle, of actively fighting this battle in my life that I didn't really think about, “Oh, this is something that I'm dealing with. This is something that I could share about.”

But now I can confidently tell you that I'm winning this battle with emotional eating and food addiction. And I'm happy to open up and share now that I have a little bit of hindsight. It’s still very present. It's kind of like yelling. It's still something that I struggle with and I will probably always struggle with, but I know who I am, where I stand, and I know what I should and shouldn't do. I've got a good grip on this. So much has been done in my life in this area that I'm ready to share.

And so, I just want you to know what my intent is with this episode. I know that things like anorexia, bulimia, a negative body image and all those things are very, very real things. I just want to be really clear that my intent is simply to open up, kind of peel the curtain back on my own life. This episode is about me and my struggle.

So, let's first start with going over, what is emotional eating and what does it look like when it's lived out? I've read in the past that emotional eating is unavoidable, that it's just something that we do no matter what. And I would have to very strongly disagree that it's unavoidable.

I think that we absolutely have the choice of what we put into our bodies. I think that's a very hopeless statement. I remember reading that at a difficult time in my life when I was struggling with this, and feeling like I used it as an excuse, like, “See, even science says that it's unavoidable, so it's okay,” and it's not okay.

I was using food to fill a gap in my heart and in my life. I was basically idolizing food and it started to run my life. I would have a hard day or we would be going through something. This was  really prominent in the time of me and Brian's life when we were really broke. (If you haven't listened to Episode 6, you can get that story there.) Things were just really hard. It was a constant struggle and food was kind of my sanctuary. It was an escape.

Junk food is cheap. Having sugar and having junk food releases hormones and chemicals in you and it gives you a reaction. It is addictive. It gives you a high. And I was actively seeking out food - fast food, junk food like Oreos, candy, sweet, salty - all different types of food that was not good for me and was binge eating it.  

For a long time, it was pretty much every night. I'd go through little bouts where I would stop and then I'd come back to it. Maybe I'd stop for a few days, maybe a few weeks, maybe even a couple months. And then I would come back to it. It was an addiction and it absolutely had a hold on my life.

This is something that is embarrassing to me. It's embarrassing to admit that I binge ate food, when my closest friends are fit, skinny, health-minded and they've never struggled with this. I always felt like the only one. But I know I'm not.

And so, if you're listening to my voice right now and you struggle with this, please know that I wish with everything that I have right now that I could just hold onto your hand and look at you and tell you that you shouldn't be embarrassed.

Everybody has struggles. And this is ours and I'm right there with you.

So, going back to the source of the problem, it was using foods that taste good and are terrible for me, to cope with what I was feeling emotionally. That's kind of like the definition of emotional eating. That's what it looked like for me - actively seeking it out and going and getting junk to act like a salve to myself because I was feeling emotions that were difficult or not positive and fixing it “with food.”

What I have struggled with goes beyond a little bit of stress-eating. It was full on “pigging out” to avoid dealing with something that felt too big for me.

Side note: I have a really good metabolism. From what I can tell, it's great. I did emotional eating for most of my adult life and didn't really start to gain a lot of weight until after I got married, especially after I had kids. But for how badly I was eating and how much I was eating, I feel like I should have been much heavier. And because I wasn't, it was easy to just keep going.

I am not one of those people that has a slice of pizza and then you can see it on me the next day. Actually, my husband is like that and it really sucks and I feel so bad for him. He works so hard and he eats really well and he just has the hardest time losing weight. He has had tests done, doesn't have any thyroid issues or anything like that, but it's just his metabolism. It's just the way his body is. I don't have that, so it takes a lot for me to gain weight.

Having said that, I gained over 50 pounds at one point very quickly purely because I chose to be inactive, and I ate my emotions on a daily basis. I would wake up in the morning and decide today I'm done. Today I'm going to “be good.”

And then that night after dinner I'd be hungry. I didn’t want to make a mess in the kitchen again. The day was hard, there were stresses. I didn't want tomorrow to come because my life was so difficult at one point that I would just cave and get food.

I would actively seek out going and getting food. Brian would enable that and go and get it for me. We kind of just tag-teamed this unhealthiness. It was so, so bad and even as I'm saying it I'm embarrassed, but that's the reality and that's what addiction looks like. And we need to stop pretending that it doesn't exist, or that none of us have any of that.

Maybe you don't, but not everybody is like you and some of us have actual addictions. I want to address food addiction because it is one of the only, if not the only addiction where your vice is placed in front of you multiple times a day. You have to eat multiple times a day. There's no getting around it.

It's not like with alcohol that you have to drink alcohol multiple times a day and you just have to control how much you drink of it. It's not like with heroin that you have to get a certain amount of heroin every day to live a healthy life and you just have an addiction and you have to watch how much of it you take in.

Even with things like pornography, it's just not that way. Yes, temptation is there, it can be addictive and it's there all the time, but food is really the only addiction where you have to take in what you're addicted to on a regular basis and just control how much and what kind you put into your body.

And that is what makes it so incredibly addictive and difficult to overcome. And I think that's also what makes it not a big deal in our culture. Nobody really is talking about this.

I used food to avoid my problems for a long time. Specifically, when things got really hard. When we were in Arkansas, we had moved away from all of our friends and family. (Again, reference Episode 6 if you don't know this part of our story. It's very powerful and very real. And this kind of ties in with that.)

We were super broke. I didn't know why God had moved us out to Arkansas. I was angry with Him and was giving Him the silent treatment. Things were just really difficult. We had no friends and family. It was so hard. This is when I gained 50 pounds. Things just got so hard that at a lot of points there really was no solution. It was just a waiting game to see what the heck we were supposed to do.

Especially at night it got very difficult. It was just so much easier to eat than to deal with things and come up with solutions. The brain has a reward system that hard wires us to want to engage in behaviors that we find pleasurable, like eating tasty foods. So, when we eat junk foods, the reward circuits within our brains activate and release the chemical dopamine. Our brains can become overwhelmed by the pleasure from these rewarding foods. In response, the brain adapts and makes more receptors for dopamine. I hope this is making sense.

What this means is that a greater amount of junk food is needed to get the same kick, making us eat more and more, in the same way that an addict develops a tolerance to drugs and has to continue to increase the amount of drugs they're taking. So, our brains are hardwired to seek out and want rewarding foods making us crave and desire sweet and fatty foods.

I had to realize that I had a problem and as embarrassing as it was to admit what that problem was, that was my reality and it was owning me. Food had become this idol in my life. I started to plan my day around it. Everywhere I went, food was at the front of my mind.

I remember this one time I had to go to the mall to get something. I don't know what it was. I walked into the mall and I was in the Food Court. Just the sights and smells of the Food Court overwhelmed my senses. I had been trying to again “be good and be healthy” and I wasn't dealing with the heart issue.

It wasn't a self-control issue. I had an addiction that I was sweeping under the rug. You can't just decide to be healthy. You have to deal with the heart and the root problem which is addiction and addiction is serious.

I remember walking into that Food Court and just being so overwhelmed with all the smells. I started to act like an addict, the addict that I was. I got really hyped up and excited. “Oh my gosh, what can I eat? What am I going to eat for lunch? Okay. It's 11. I’m definitely going to be here at lunchtime, what am I going to eat?” And I started planning out my food, being obsessive about how I was to get to eat something really bad and really good.

And again, this is embarrassing for me to share. I don't like to sound like a cow, you know? I don't like to sound obsessed and food driven like that. It's unfeminine. It's embarrassing. It's humbling. But this is the reality and this is addiction.

Listen to the way that I'm talking about this. Listen to the way I'm talking about how I felt and how I reacted. That's addiction. That's what addicts act like. Just because it's food, it doesn't mean that I'm dramatic, “Stop calling yourself an addict, Allie. It's not what it is.” Yes, it is!

It's just that my addiction is something “normal.” It's not heroin. You know, it's not pot. It’s not sex. It's this thing that is normal every day that I have to deal with, and put in my body every day and I'm having a hard time. Everywhere I went food was at the front of my mind.

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So that gives you a really good idea of where I was at, what was going through my brain, what I mean by saying food addiction and emotional bingeing. That's where I was and that's where I stayed for years.

I bounced back and forth between doing good and stopping my habits, eating really healthy, not eating late at night, and then I would come right back to it. I flip-flopped between these habits. It made me just stay the same size and so no one really noticed that I had a problem.

It wasn't until in Arkansas when we moved away that I really gained a ton of weight because I just took it to a whole new level. I didn't have any of my family and friends around me, so nobody really knew. It was just really bad.

There is a photo. I have one photo of myself during this time and it's so hard for me to look at. I have one pair of jeans. I actually gave them to my mom because she is a sewer and she uses denim. She hasn't used the jeans yet, so sometimes when I'm over there I'll go into her sewing room and pull out those jeans and just hold them up and want to cry.

Not because, “Oh my God, I was so huge and I just looked so terrible!” But because I made my body alter its state so dramatically because I was addicted and I was seeking out food instead of Jesus and it was so hard. So, that's kind of where I was. That's the truth of this struggle and what food addiction looked like for me.

I want to talk about the process of coming out of this and how I'm winning this battle. I'm not getting into all the history because I don't want this episode to be five hours long, but there's little things from me growing up and to being a teenager, to being a young adult, to being married, and being broke and married, and then having kids, that all ties into how I got there. But that doesn't really matter. What matters is the struggle, the battle, the realization and how I got over that.

I had to take a hard look at my relationship with food and put it in its place. It's to be enjoyed. You can't look at the foods that God gave us and tell me that He didn't intend for food to be enjoyed, but it's supposed to fuel your body and not be an obsession. Anything that's taken like the way I took food is an idol, and it's not supposed to be that way.

And so, kind of summarizing this, basically we were going to move back. The business had started. The business had taken off. We were going to buy a camper and start traveling the country and come back to California to see our friends and family after being away for two years. And I panicked because I knew I was bigger. I knew no one had seen me and I didn't want to go back like that.

And so, I started to look into what are the ways that I could drop this healthfully but quickly. And I knew because I had gained so much weight that it would probably come off pretty quickly because, you know, typically if you're a pretty overweight for your normal self and you make like immediate dramatic changes, you'll drop the weight pretty quickly in the beginning.

And so, I started to research. Whole30 was becoming a really big thing at this time, but I hadn't done it yet. I looked up the Whole30. If you aren't familiar with it, it was created by Melissa Hartwig, co-created by her. Basically, it’s a way of eating where you're really just eating clean, whole foods. Vegetables. Meats that are not processed, meats that are organic, free-range and grass-fed finished. Really high quality good foods.

Thankfully at this time we were newly able to afford to eat this way. Brian and I did Whole30 together. I actually did it twice in a row and the weight just fell off. This is not about looking good, being thin and losing weight. That was my original intent and I'm just being honest with you about that.

The main drive for me, making this change in my life, was my appearance. My skin was awful. It was so broken out. I had gained over 50 pounds. I was multiple sizes bigger than I was when I left California. And here I was about to go back. I'm a blogger. Taking photos was a part of my job. I was embarrassed.

As you know the camera already adds weight, it really does. I still have goals and I have work that I'd like to do. I would like to continue to get healthy and hopefully, you know, smaller and fitter. But even now I will get photos done and I'm like, “That's not what I look like.” Just your posture or the angle, it’s so many different things. The last thing I needed was to truly be much bigger than I normally was. I just didn't feel good.

So, my original intent was definitely appearance-driven. I was just so embarrassed to go back that way, so I did the Whole30. I did it twice in a row, but I think we headed back from Arkansas about halfway through my second round, so it was like the Whole 60, I guess.

About halfway through my second round I felt much better. I had lost almost all the weight. It went very quickly. I was definitely working out too. We came back and nobody noticed anything. In fact, the first time that I saw everybody, my mom and then I saw my best friend, and every time I saw somebody new when we got back they commented that I looked really great and that felt really good.

But in the process of doing Whole30 twice in between leaving Arkansas and coming back to California, something had happened. My heart had shifted.

I went into this with the intent to look better and not let people know my embarrassing secret - that I was addicted to food and I had gone way off the deep end with that. Totally idolized it and let it take over my life. That I had gained so much weight. Let my skin get like that. Let my body get like that. That I just looked so different. I felt awful, you guys. I just felt so awful about myself.

And so that was the original intent. But through the process of this, my heart changed and the Lord really used Whole30 to get ahold of me.

The Whole30 is the opposite of how I was eating. It's clean vegetables, fruits, no sweetener of any kind, not even honey. It's basically created to help you revamp your relationship with food and realize if there's anything bothering you. Getting everything out so you can see, “Wow! Not having gluten, I feel so much better. I think I might have a gluten sensitivity.” It's kind of like almost an elimination diet of sorts. It's really clean and really wholesome and really good for you.

It was really hard coming off of eating Taco Bell every night and Oreos and “Hey, I really want some hot tamales. Let's go get some.” And binge eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

Coming from that to Whole30 is really difficult. But I'm competitive. I cared about how I looked and I was determined to change.

As I went into this process, I started to have withdrawals. I remember many nights screaming and crying into my pillow because I wanted sugar and my body was aching. I was having a headache. I had fevers and chills. This is how bad I had let my food addiction get. This is how I was reacting from not eating the way I normally was. I would cry because I was embarrassed in front of my own self, in front of Brian, in front of God, that I was so addicted that this is my reaction to eating healthy, eating the way that He designed us to eat.

What happened in those couple of months was I realized that I had idolized food so much and Whole30 became an act of worship. It became me laying this idol down and giving it to the Lord and realizing that it was my everything. That I wasn't going and thinking through my problems, brainstorming, being a proactive person and coming up with new ideas. “How can we fix this? Okay, how can we make this better for ourselves?” I was just avoiding all of my problems and going to food.

I wasn't praying. I wasn't reading my Bible. I wasn't reading books. I am such a big reader. I had just gone all in with food.

Whole30 really taught me to lay that down and to give that up. It taught me how to be a person without being obsessive about my next meal, without going somewhere because of the food that's there like the mall situation that I told you guys about.

Now I do Whole30 every once in a while. I'm actually doing it right now. I'm in my last week and it is such an act of worship for me. Whole30 is kind of how I eat all the time now. This last round that I'm doing right now that I'm finishing up, I really decided you know what? I'm just gonna eat this way.

I'm not going to be crazy and not have honey. I like turmeric milk in the evenings and there's a little bit of honey in that and turmeric milk is incredibly beneficial for you. It really helps my skin and my gut. I need to put a little teaspoon of honey in there to make it drinkable, so I'm not going to do things like that.

But in general, I want to live on a clean, whole diet like Whole30 and Paleo because this is keeping my addiction in check. I needed to realize that I have an addiction, that I have a problem, that I can't mess around with food. I can't be like everybody else and just eat whatever and be okay. That if I'm choosing to go ahead and have a slice of pizza at a graduation party, I'm mentally having to work through like, “Okay, I'm going to have one slice and that's it because I can't handle having any more.” Or I don’t have any at all.  

Recently we did go to a graduation party (that’s where that example came from) and there was pizza from a restaurant that is new in our area that I have heard everybody that I know just raving about it. I had been dying to try this pizza. There was also cake and soda and beer. Those are all my favorite things basically. And I was doing the Whole30 and that night was so difficult for me, even now after overcoming this.

This is just the way that I am. I know it'll get easier as time goes on. As you know, a lot of people who overcome addiction say that. But this is the reality and I can't feel stupid about that and ignore it and shove it under the rug like it's not a problem because no one talks about that and I'm just being dramatic. This is me. This is where I've been and this is my struggle.

And so, I have to just be different. I love food. I enjoy food so much. Cheeseburgers are my favorite thing. I enjoy the things that I love in moderation. I try to eat Whole30 about 90 percent of the time. I'll have a little bit of honey. When I'm making dinners and stuff I always get Whole30 recipes, and for my lunches and my breakfast and stuff. When I'm at home I'm eating Whole30 all the time because my body just does so well eating that way.

There will be times where I will do an actual real Whole30 with no honey, no turmeric milk, no sweeteners of any kind and I will really do Whole30 again as a reminder of who I serve, as an act of worship, as a reminder to myself that “You're strong. You can do this.” And just kind of keeping myself in check in that way. And I really enjoy it.

So, I had just finished up another round of Whole30 and I was going to do it again, but I had a week in between where I was eating normal, just eating really clean and healthy, but you know, I'd have honey, be normal.

It was Sunday after church and we went to this place called Burger Lounge where I can get a Paleo Burger. It’s no cheese, no sauces. It's layered over Zucchini. It's really healthy and really good. But I was just in such a mood for a regular cheeseburger. That is my favorite food, hands down. I got a giant regular cheeseburger on a gluten-free bun because I didn't want it to bother my stomach. Sometimes a lot of gluten will bother my stomach.

It was a great quality, grass-fed burger with cheese and sauce and I devoured that thing and it was awesome. But it wasn't an obsession where my addiction was flaring up and I was like obsessive. Like, “I gotta get the cheeseburger. I'm going to leave at 10:30 PM and go and drive and get a cheeseburger because I just can't deal with these emotions. I can't go to sleep until I get that rush of dopamine.” It wasn't like that. It was just a girl who loves cheeseburgers, enjoying a nice big cheeseburger and that was it. I was satisfied. I was happy. I didn't have a soda with it or anything. I just enjoyed my lemon water with it and I was good. I didn't have fries or anything. I just enjoyed my burger and that was it.

It's about balance and practicing healthfulness, mindfulness, and self-control. I would encourage you to also go back and listen to my episode with Robin Long on this show because I love the way she talks about this. It's about balance. It’s not about punishing yourself or never having anything again. It's about balance and knowing yourself. Knowing when you can have a little bit and when you can't handle that.

Whole30 really taught me that. It really taught me to take care of my body as an act of worship and as an act of self-care. Laying down my flesh and my obsession and just saying, “This is hard, this is real, this is my struggle. This is really hard, but I don't have to live this way and this isn't going to own me. I'm going to take control back and at the same time give control over to God and have him help me through this addiction problem.”

I hope that's helpful. I know I didn't go over so many details of this is exactly what I did and exactly what I do now, but I just wanted to open up the door to this dark part of my life. Be honest and say this is something that I've struggled with. It's been really humbling and really difficult and this is what I learned and what I did to get control of it.

Now my life is very different. I'm actively getting healthier, losing weight. I'm learning to love to exercise. Because I eat so clean all the time, exercise is much easier for me. I think that was a big problem. I can handle little bits of gluten and dairy, but I don't do well when I am eating either of those things all the time. And so, when I'm eating Whole30 and I'm eating this way and I'm barely having anything like that my body functions way better and running is so much easier.

I think the problem was I never liked exercising because it was so difficult for me because I was eating so terribly. I felt like there was always a brick in my stomach and I just couldn't perform. And now I love to go for walks and runs. I love Pilates and Yoga. I do Pilates every single day. Yoga occasionally. I'll give you guys the link to where I do Pilates. It's at home, it's online. It's awesome. Robin is amazing. She's an incredible teacher. I'll give you guys that link.

I love kickboxing. I do that in my garage because we have a garage gym now. I'm active. I'm happy. I'm getting healthier and in turn getting smaller and fitter and noticing things like my strong arms. I’m loving my body better even though it has its imperfections and I wished it would go faster. I wish it was already smaller. I don't focus on those things anymore.

I love myself. I take care of myself and every time I'm going to make a meal, I think to myself, this is an act of worship. I used to be so different than this. I'm treating my body well because I have a job to do and I cannot live my purpose, take care of my kids, run my business, show up for you guys, show up in my marriage, be happy and healthy, go to speaking engagements, do all of these podcast interviews, if I don't feel good. That's a big deal to me.

So, that's my journey. That's what I have learned in this area of my life. That's how I used to be and where things are kind of at now. Oh my gosh, you guys. I hope that this was just a huge encouragement to somebody out there and if that's you, please, please let me know. I would love to hear from you.

Okay. There is a freebie for you guys that goes with this episode. It's the Simplified Grocery and Meal Planning pdf. It's a fan favorite. It's been floating around on the Internet for a few months. People really like it and it's something that will help you simplify the process of grocery shopping, planning your meals, food prepping, all that good stuff because we do have to eat so often during the day and it can be really complicated. So, if you're looking to make some healthy changes and simplify this area of your life, kind of take a minimalist approach to all of that, go get it. It's totally free. You can find it at alliecasazza.com/shownotes/062.


_______________________________________________________________

This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.

Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.  

I am always rooting for you, friend!

See ya next time!

Hey mama! Just a quick note, this post may contain affiliate links.

 

EP 043: ADD/ADHD + Motherhood with Chelsea Reinking

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Minimalism has so many benefits. You hear me talk about them all the time! But one of the benefits that I haven’t talked about yet is the positive impact minimalism can have on ADD. Living with ADD amplifies the feeling of being overwhelmed by a never-ending to do list and expecting perfection 100% of the time. But when you clear your space, you free your mind of striving too hard. Believe it or not, physical clutter adds to the struggle of being able to focus!

This issue is super close to my heart and it was a true honor to sit and talk with fellow-mama Chelsea Reinking. Her journey with ADD and motherhood  is empowering! Whether you struggle with ADD or not, I believe you will find great value in listening to this episode.

 
 

In This Episode, Allie Discusses:

  • How ADD or ADHD can affect you as a mother.

  • The difference you will see in your quality of life when you clear your space of physical clutter.

  • The correlation between physical clutter and your ability to focus properly.

  • Things you can do to immediately break the mental cycle that ADD traps you in.

  • Tactical tips to help you refocus when you feel overwhelmed.

Mentioned in this Episode:

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WANT TO DECLUTTER YOUR HOME?

You buy stuff with your time, not just your money. Less clutter equals less stress and more time. It's as simple as that! Your Uncluttered Home is my most popular, globally-praised decluttering course, designed for moms who want to live their lives more than they clean up after it. It's truly the A-Z of minimalism - every room, every area of your house, totally uncluttered. This super extensive, extremely detailed course is literally everything you need to become a minimalist mama who's able to be a lot more present for what matters most. This truly is the ultimate when it comes to my philosophy and implementing it into your own life.


who doesn't love a GIVEAWAY?

Reviews are everything on iTunes! Would you take a minute and click here to leave a review? Email hello@alliecasazza.com with a screenshot of your review on iTunes. You'll be entered to win one of Allie's amazing courses for FREE!  

If you have a question, comment or a suggestion about today’s episode, or the podcast in general, send me an email at hello@alliecasazza.com or connect with me over on Facebook & Instagram


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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to.  I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days.  I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it.  Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and i know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood.  I’m Allie Casazza and this is the The Purpose Show.

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ALLIE: Hey friends. Welcome to another episode of The Purpose Show!

I'm extra excited and really honored to be coming to you with this episode. We're talking about some pretty serious stuff here today with Chelsea Reinking.

She is kind of an amazing mama. She's just finished writing and is about to submit a paper for college on the effects of minimalism on people who struggle with ADD. This issue is close to my heart as my mom struggles with ADD, so I'm really excited to dive in and talk to Chelsea about this topic. Thank you so much Chelsea, for taking time to talk with us.

CHELSEA: Well thank you Allie. I really appreciate it.

ALLIE: You are diagnosed with ADD, correct? And you wrote your paper on the effects of minimalism and ADD. So, we want to hear from you. Can you start with a little bit of a background of your story, what made you want to get into this topic, how ADD has affected you?

CHELSEA: Right. So, I have struggled with learning. I went to public school throughout my whole life. In third grade, I remember having such a hard time with spelling tests. My mom noticed this as well and would seek to get help for me. My teacher said, “Oh, she's fine. She doesn't need any assistance and we'll work through it.” And through that came a diagnosis of a learning disability, which actually didn't get really diagnosed till 2014, when I went back to college when I met with my doctor. It was just labeled as a learning disability and wasn't titled ADHD. With that came not really getting help in the public school system until I got to college. So, it has been such a struggle.

It beats you down as a person when you fail over and over and over again. That is another thing with ADHD emotions, that frontal lobe comes into play when it’s talking about emotional things. You are more likely to feel all the “feels” and cry, so I will try and hold it together.

ALLIE: Do whatever you need to. I don't know if you've listened to a lot of episodes, but I have cried a couple of times on my show. I ended up sobbing during a live stream in my Purpose Society Group last month. What we're doing is important and it's important to us. When I'm talking about my story or depression or PPD or whatever, I get super emotional. I totally understand. It's all good. I think it also helps people understand the importance of this, and anybody who maybe is diagnosed with ADD or ADHD thinks they might have that issue, this is going to communicate in such a powerful way to them that it's okay and there are things they can do to lighten that load.

That's where I want to go with this episode, is just like, “Okay, if this is speaking to you, how can we lighten your load?”

Chelsea, I would love to hear from you. How does ADD or ADHD affect you as a mother specifically?

CHELSEA: Oh, that's a loaded question. For example, when I'm making dinner. My daughter is two years old and she loves her mama. Making dinner for me is a struggle. Following a recipe, getting everything out on the counter and following through with it, finishing the task at hand without burning anything.

But then when you have a toddler or an infant needing you and being called in that other direction, you will completely just want to crack and break and cry and scream. And then especially if you have a spouse at home, maybe doing their self-caring because they just got done with a hard day's work and trying to respect that. All of that anger builds.

So it’s really learning to work through those moments, being able to calm yourself down and have positive self-talk and say, “You know what? If for the next 20 minutes Melanie is crying at my feet, that's okay. Can I encourage her to go get a different toy or something?”

Having minimalism worked in with this as she's getting older, I see how beneficial it is because now when I say “Can you go get a toy or a book,” she knows exactly which one she wants because she doesn't have a million toys to choose from.

And the other thing going back to the kitchen is now I have set it up to work for me instead of against me. For example, a utensil, like a spatula, I only have two maybe, where you could have way more than that. I would grab a spatula that I don’t really like and that one would go in the sink, because I only used it once and decided I wanted another one. So, definitely pairing down on what you have around you eliminates those overwhelming factors.

ALLIE:  Since you brought it up and that's where I wanted to go next, let’s talk about the idea of minimalism and this philosophy of less clutter physically. We talked about this when you interviewed me for your paper - how you were repeating what I'm always trying to get across and I love how you said it - that it's not just about having a clean space, having an uncluttered space.

Everyone always says this to me and it drives me crazy. I know that they mean well, but it drives me crazy when they say it - being organized. It is not about that at all. I'm actually a really disorganized person. I'm a really busy person with a lot going on and you have the same thing and you have the ADD struggle. It's not about wanting to be super organized. It's a fight for survival. It’s a means to a simpler, more abundant life in the middle of chaos.

Can you maybe focus on an area aside from your kitchen, since you already shared that, where minimalism has profoundly impacted you? How have you seen such a difference from clearing your physical clutter to improve your quality of life?

CHELSEA: Right. This one’s very personal. My birth mother died when I was 9-months-old. I was given a lot of items of hers later on in my life. Of course, I wanted to keep all of them, because her mother, my grandmother, had saved these things.  

In 2017, after joining the group that you had on Facebook, I really thought about pairing down more. I went through all the items, worked through all the “feels” and I got rid of a lot of it. Number one, it's not my birth mom. It’s not going to bring her back. It doesn't really keep her memory alive because those memories that are given to me are storytelling from other people, so they are still there.

I did actually keep something longer. This last Christmas, Christmas 2017, I was going through the box of Christmas items and I found the stocking she had made. She passed away in December. She made stockings for us. Her name was Melanie, which is my daughter's name. I'm going to call her Grandma Melanie. Grandma Melanie made stockings with our names on them. I asked myself, “Is this giving me joy or does it just really made me feel sad?” It really made me feel sad, so I took a picture of the two stockings and got rid of them. So not only has that freed space in my home, but it also freed space in my heart. That made sense.

That emotional attachment to things is really just holding people back. And once you can let go of those things, it totally frees you to fill yourself up with all the good in this world.

ALLIE: I love that you used that example. That was so amazing and so personal. I think that it's really good that you did that because there are so many different types of emotional attachment to items.

Personally, we have come through such a difficult time as a family, Brian and I as a couple, from going through poverty and real financial scarcity. Now that we're on the other of that, I will find myself struggling with holding onto things “just in case.”

There's that and then there's widows and people who have struggled with loss, and then your loss of your mom when you were so young. There's so many different avenues of sadness or fear-based keeping things. Everybody has some version of that. I haven't had anyone on the show that has shared that “Oh my gosh, I need to keep this just because.”

Also, I think it's really empowering. You didn't really know your mother because she died when you were so young, and it's almost like out of everybody that I've ever talked to, it seems like you would be the one to really understand that struggle. You overcame that and I think you're amazing for that. That's so, so incredible.

So, you realized the physical clutter was adding to your struggle with focusing. Focusing on what matters. Focusing on what you need to get done right now. It was distractions. Then there’s the emotional level with your mother. Those things were keeping you sad, keeping you back, instead of being able to move forward and be open to the positive emotions of the things that are happening in your life right now.

I was texting my mom about you after we had spoken for your interview with me and preparation for this one. And my mom was like, “Oh my gosh, I'm so overwhelmed. I have so many things I would want to say about that or want to say to her and she sent me this text I'm going to read you.

CHELSEA: Is it going to make me cry?

ALLIE:  I don't know, but it made me really emotional for sure. I was texting her, “I'm crying right now. I'm so sad.” I wanted to read it because it gets the point across. As a person that doesn't struggle with ADD, I think that this gets the point across. If anyone is ADD, it would give them that validation that this is something that can be very normal and common, but you might not even realize you're dealing with.

My Mom said, “I think when you're in the throes of this season of life that you're in right now (talking about raising kids) and you are scattered like I was, you get caught in this vicious cycle of surviving in your daily life, perpetual disorganization, being overwhelmed and then beating yourself up for not being able to get your (I'll say crap) together. So, it's a horrific cycle. I'm just coming off that crazy cycle even though I haven't really been in the complete throes of raising kids for some time because really the struggle is internal, not just external.”

I thought the end of that was really eye-opening for me. Yeah, raising kids is chaotic externally, sure. But that she's feeling like she's just coming off of it…

Some background…I'm sorry, I'm jumping around. I'm the oldest of four and I'm way older than my siblings. My parents had me a few years into their marriage. My mom was struggling with some serious internal stuff from the way that she was raised and so there was a big gap. My parents didn't have any more kids for a while, so my siblings are much younger than I am. My youngest sibling is about to graduate from high school and I'm 31, so there's a pretty big gap there.

I thought it was so interesting that even though she's been out of “the thick of it” for years, that she feels like she's just now coming out of it, because the chaos is internal. She continued to say you make it up in your own head. You can’t focus, so there's extra chaos internally when really on the outside, it should be pretty manageable. Do the laundry, make dinner, spend time with your kids, help them with their homework, get them in bed. But inside it's this mess of distractions and brain clutter.

So, would you agree with what she was like? What would you say to what she's saying?

CHELSEA: 100 percent! It was amazing. Actually, it really reminded me of part of my paper in the introduction. I say living with ADHD amplifies that overwhelmed feeling of the never-ending to do list and expecting perfection 100% of the time. I feel like our brains are just beating us down over and over and over again.

Allie and I actually have very similar stories with our background. My youngest sibling is 9 and I am 30.

ALLIE: Okay. Wow. Even bigger gap. So, you get the big gap thing.

CHELSEA: Totally. It is exactly what she says. For someone that struggles with ADHD

that method of, “Okay, what needs to be done right now? What needs to be done later? And what doesn’t really matter.” We don't have that, because everything feels like “It has to happen now, or else, I'm failing.” It is expecting perfection.

Everyone needs to listen to episode 29, where Allie talks about perfection. I have listened to it now a couple times. With ADHD, it is a struggle of delegating tasks in our mind and really thinking in the moment, “Why am I here? Why did I come into this room? What was I going to do and do I really need to be here?”

Definitely adopting having less around you to distract you when you do that is good.

ALLIE: Yeah. This was eye-opening for me, talking to my mom, and in a couple of ways. First of all, the burden, the way that my mom described how she felt like this, I felt the burden of “if I struggled with that, I mean really, I don't know if I would have been able to have four kids.”

So then in turn that would have directly impacted what I'm doing as a person, my life choices.  My first thought was, “Oh my gosh, I simply could not handle that every minute, that burden, and also have four children.” We probably would have had fewer kids unless I had found some solutions with it. I was so burdened just by hearing her talk about it.

People who are struggling with this it is affecting their lives in profound ways that they may not realize because that's all you know. That's the way that your brain works. If that's all you know, you only know you.

I'm just tearing up as I was listening to you talk because it’s this realization of, “Oh my gosh, my mom did such an amazing job!” I didn't even know that she struggled with that until she told me when I was older, and she was figuring it out when I was in high school.

To encourage you and anybody listening who's falling into this camp, the kids - we think you're doing great. We don't even notice. We don’t think, “Seems like mom can't focus like other moms can.” I never noticed or knew anything. My mom did a phenomenal job; she's the best mom ever. I never knew.

Also, to give hope to you and to anyone listening that has this issue, that I think it is all internal, just like my mom said. It is internal and even your doubts and your fears about what this is doing to you as a mom and your family is very internal.

Sure. There are things that you notice, how mom was a little scattered or she seemed really stressed out, but every mom has that in some way. It’s just a little different for you.

_______________________________________________________________

When you buy something, you buy it with your time. With minutes from your life. Not just with your money. Studies show us that less clutter equals less stress and more time. It is really as simple as that.

This was the founding reason that I created Your Uncluttered Home. It has become my most popular, globally-praised, decluttering course that I designed for moms who want to live their lives more than they want to clean up after it.

It is truly the A-Z of minimalism. Every room. Every area. Every nook and cranny of your house totally uncluttered. This super extensive, extremely detailed course is literally everything you need to become a minimalist momma who is able to be a lot more present for what matters most.

To learn more about the course, go to alliecasazza.com/allcourses.

This really is the short-cut version. The exact journey that I took as a mom, 5-6 years ago, that got me to this point of an uncluttered, minimalistic motherhood where I am spending the least amount of time on my house every day.

Motherhood is just way too sweet a time to be spent struggling so hard and living in survival mode day in and day out.  Our stuff is really the cause of that.

If you want to start this lifestyle, if you want to simplify your life… I believe that it all starts at home.

Simplify your life.  alliecasazza.com/allcourses.

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ALLIE: Okay. Getting back on topic. From that text from my mom, we were texting through and trying to come up with one question that she would want to ask you, just to be a voice for somebody who's struggling with ADD. This is what we came up with: What are some things a person struggling with chronic overwhelm can do to immediately improve their life or to break the mental cycle that ADD traps you in?

I feel like we talked about simplifying and minimalism being that thing, but I wanted to ask you anyway, to open the floor to anything else you want to say or to branch off of that even more.

CHELSEA: You definitely talk about this. In every single episode you congratulate the women listeners that they're taking time for themselves or you say, “Good morning, Beautiful Mama!” and that is the first thing that every single person struggling with this needs to sit down and say, “I am enough.”

The number one thing I think that needs to be done is you need to set yourself down and say these words out loud. Truly intake them. Say, “I am enough. I am beautiful inside and out. I am loved by the Lord. This is my life and I have control over my life. I do have control.”

And then start generating, “What is your goal?” Even taking the simple steps for that day, “What is my goal for today? What will make me feel accomplished?” Work that in. If it is during making coffee. If it is during nap time or during a shower. Making time for yourself.

I listen to this podcast while I'm in the shower because that is really the only time I have for me. Designate that time.

So, there we go. First, identifying a goal. Second, identifying a time and making yourself do it and stick with it. And if you get distracted, that is OK. Refocus your mind.  

ALLIE: Do you have anything tactical or more practical that helps you with that? Like does it help you to write it down and look back at that piece of paper? What was I going to do today? Is there anything that helps you refocus or is it a total mental thing for you?

CHELSEA:  Initially it does start with paper, but that paper is not in your hands all the time. Or your phone is not. Or your calendar is not. So, it really does become a mental game. Especially when I get stressed or overwhelmed, I feel myself side tracking.

This morning for example, we're getting ready. I went into my room three times from the bathroom. I have no idea why. I had to go in there and I had to say this out loud, “What am I doing?” and redirect myself back into the bathroom to finish getting ready. I don't know why I went into the bedroom. That sounds so weird, but for some reason I wanted to stop and do something and go into the bedroom. But I had to realize, “okay, why did I come in here? There’s no real reason, so go back into the bathroom and finish getting ready.”

It does really help to say these things out loud. Just say, “Why am I here? What is my focus, what is my goal?” And then identify those things and then follow through. I think when we hold ourselves to the expectation of making a list every day, it won't always happen. Knowing that you can refocus your brain and tackle what is needed to be done at that time is really amazing.

ALLIE: I just love that so much. I'm trying to sound super smart and add to it and I have nothing to say because I love what you said. It was so encouraging and also practical at the same time. It's easy to talk about grace or talk about giving yourself space and not really give practical advice and you just did both so well.

Oh my gosh, that was so good. I can't wait for my mom to listen to this.

Thank you so much for your time.

Is there anything anywhere that you want to link to or anything you want to say to wrap this episode up? I feel like that was just so good. I just want to end there. Is there anything you want to add?

CHELSEA: Just be kind to yourself today. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Thank you so much for having me here.

I'm actually taking a detox from social media right now. A lot of things that are coming due so I need to stay focused.

I would love to give you my paper after it is completely done and have that available for people to read.

ALLIE: Yeah, we can link to it in the show notes. Definitely.

CHELSEA: Okay, perfect. If anyone has any questions I would love for them to feel free to email me.

ALLIE: We’ll put that in the show notes. Thank you so much for making yourself available. You can just tell you exude passion about this. I think it's very overlooked for mothers specifically, and maybe that's just because I'm not in it and looking for things, but I have never come across anybody who has as much passion, knowledge, care and grace for people who are struggling with this.

I really applaud you for what you're doing and the way you speak on this topic. I'm really honored to have you.  

I hope that this episode gets into all the ears that need it so, so badly.

So, thank you so much again. This was really, really great.

CHELSEA: Thank you Allie. I really appreciate it.

ALLIE: Okay guys, we will link to Chelsea's email if you're struggling and you just want to reach out to her or to thank her for this. Whatever it is, we’ll link to her email address. We'll definitely link to her paper that she wrote when she's finished with. We'll link to all of that so you can get more of Chelsea and all the work she's been doing on this after this episode.

And as always, if this episode was impactful for you, tell us. Leave a review on itunes. Reviews are everything and I always appreciate it.

I’ll talk to you guys next time.

_______________________________________________________________

This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.

Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.  

I am always rooting for you, friend!

See ya next time!

Hey mama! Just a quick note, this post may contain affiliate links.