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Extreme Hunger Update + What's Coming in 2023!

autism recovery

Hello my friend and welcome back to another episode of the Liv Label Free podcast and HAPPY NEW YEAR! I used to be one of those people that got all intentional about setting new year’s resolutions, but now I’m totally the opposite. If I want to achieve a goal, why would I wait until the arbitrary flipping of a calendar? I honestly feel this is the reason why so many people quit their new year’s resolutions so soon, because they don’t have enough inner motivation to make the change – if they did, why else would they have waited for an external circumstance? If you are struggling with motivation, I actually recorded an episode this time last year titled How to Stay Motivated in Eating Disorder Recovery in which I share three tangible tips for actually staying motivated! You’ll also hear a bit more of a deep dive into my perspective on new year’s resolutions and how I approach goal setting at this point in time.

In this episode, I’m going to be sharing another update on my life and everything that’s been going on with me, as I received such incredible feedback on my Honest Update episode a few weeks back. I was truly surprised by the amount of messages I received about that episode and how many of you resonated with it, that it really opened my eyes to how interested you all are in me! I’m always so focused on you as a listener, constantly thinking about what you may be struggling with so I can come up with content to help you, but the positive feedback on my last update episode made me realize that maybe I should make these podcast updates a more regular thing!

If you follow me on Instagram @livlabelfree, you know I had a period of doing weekly updates on Sunday, but I’ve stopped doing those and honestly have just been spending less time on Instagram in general. That’s something I’ll be getting into later in this episode because it’s all part of the bigger picture of my envisionment for the future of Liv Label Free! So speaking of the future, that’s what I’ll be updating you on today: how’s it been being back in The Netherlands, and what are my plans longer term? How will this affect my business and coaching? Will it affect my business and coaching at all? I’ll also share all the things I’m currently working on including upcoming book projects, and of course, I’ll be sharing an extreme hunger update as I just know you’re probably dying to hear where I’m at now in terms of that journey!

Alright, so where do we start? I’m trying to think back to how I left my last update, and I believe it was along the lines of me moving back to the Netherlands to be with my family and being smack dab in the middle of going through extreme hunger. I guess we’ll start there!

So, on November 29th I flew back to the Netherlands and I was honestly so excited and relieved to be on that plane that day, as the days and weeks leading up to it were just so stressful. I had to figure out where to store all my things and you know, you have to time everything perfectly in terms of laundry, finishing food, leaving the apartment clean all while being packed and prepped for a big international flight! Because I don’t know exactly how long I’ll be here in The Netherlands, I did decide to store most of my stuff in crates which one of my friends in Boston was kind enough to help me out with. She even allowed me to use space in her basement to do so!

On the day I’m recording this, I’ve been back in the Netherlands for a few weeks and the best way to describe the way I feel is absolutely phenomenal. Like seriously, the way I feel now vs just half a year ago is truly insane! As I described in my previous update episode: when I was in San Francisco, I felt lonely, anxious, overworked, and couldn’t eat anything without throwing it up. I was at an extremely low weight – which now, looking back, I realize I probably could have died – and I just felt so stuck in the whole situation.

When I realized I needed to start putting my health first, I made plans to move back to my hometown of Boston and finally felt hope again. But when the stress didn’t subside in Boston and I still felt lonely as I yearned to be closer to my loved ones, that’s when I decided to make the decision to move closer to them, a move I’d sworn I’d never make again. Yet here I am, with an entirely new perspective, because I’ve chosen to take on a new perspective.

I’d sworn I’d never live in the Netherlands again due to the trauma I endured here while suffering from my eating disorder, but I was giving so much power to an external circumstance! Ultimately, this was making me a victim of a location, and since when did a location get the permission to decide how happy or sad I felt? I completely opened up my mind to the possibility of flourishing in the Netherlands, and that’s exactly what I’m doing!

I’ve eaten SO much good food including the incredible Dutch bread and endless toppings, pannenkoeken and poffertjes (which are pancakes and mini pancake puffs), classic Dutch cookies and pastries, cheese, and much more than I can even recall. I’ve even just drank straight Dutch pancake syrup, polished off entire packs of Stroopwafel cookies in one sitting, and eaten entire chocolate letters in a couple bites. Which brings me to my next point in this update-iful (update-iful?) story and that is my extreme hunger!

I would have to check my journal for exactly which day it was, but it was one day in early October – uncoincidentally the day I decided to move back home and be closer to my family – that I experienced my first extreme hunger episode. I was absolutely shell-shocked at first, and almost a surreal experience compared to my lack of appetite and the constant vomiting I’d been experiencing for almost a year leading up to it. It was like 4pm and I’d already eaten my breakfast and lunch and some snacks and all of a sudden, I just got hit by what I often describe as a wave of hunger that sweeps you up and won’t put you down until you’ve surfed it alllll the way down the coast.

And damn, that day, I surfed that wave alright. And ever since that day, I continued to surf that wave and gained weight exponentially fast. For basically the entire month of October and November, not a day went by without feeling like I was bingeing my brains out. My body was in full-on healing mode, begging me to eat and eat and eat until I felt so stuffed that literally couldn’t do anything else besides sit on my bed until the nausea passed. It was while I sat on my bed for hours at a time, though, that I actually started writing my second book! Can you guess what it’s about? Yep, all about extreme hunger!

My memoir is currently in the hands of my editor until mid-February 2023, and because I was in the middle of experiencing extreme hunger all over again all these years later, the words just came pouring out of me. I’m currently halfway through writing the book and am blocking out time each week to hit another few thousand words, so I’m actually hoping that it’ll be finished by the time I get my edited memoir back!

I had a handful of amazing beta readers give feedback on my memoir, so if you’d like to be a beta reader for my upcoming extreme hunger book, be sure to email me [email protected] and you can be one of the very first people to read it! If you sign up for my book waitlist over at livlabelfree.com/book, you’ll also be the first one to receive updates on all my books, and you’ll receive exclusive pre-launch bonuses that I won’t be giving anywhere else! And speaking of books, I am also almost finished with my recipe book, so yes, we’ve got a lot going on! For that too, you can be a beta reader and feedback-giver if you like – just shoot me an email and I’ll be in touch!

Now before moving on to answer the common question, “How do you do it all?” I want to share where I’m currently at on my extreme hunger journey, as I know what I’m about to share will be so reassuring for anyone currently fearful of the extreme hunger process. For starters, I just shared that I basically binged every single day for two months straight, and I mean I binged hard. I barely ate a vegetable and 99% of my daily intake consisted of foods that were high in carbs, sugar, and fat. My body was constantly screaming for sweet food, so that’s exactly what I gave it. Looking back, I must have gone through dozens of jars of Nutella and Cinnamon Toast Crunch every week…

The best part of the whole process though, has been how peaceful and at ease I felt each and every day. Unlike when I went through extreme hunger 5 years ago, when I was afraid I would never stop eating, that I would gain weight forever, and that I’d become addicted to sugar and get diabetes, I now have so much trust in my body and the process. I know there will come a point where my body is in energy balance again, that it won’t need as much food. I know there will come a point where my body will settle at a weight that is healthy for it. I know there will come a point where my body won’t want to eat an entire pack of cookies slathered in an entire jar of peanut butter in one sitting because it simply no longer needs that.

In fact, I’m already living it! In 2 months time, I’d gained all the weight back that I lost and shortly thereafter, I started craving more vegetables and “healthy” food again. And I say “healthy” in air quotes because I believe that health is subjective and for me, eating mostly sugar and carbs and processed food was the healthiest thing for my body to come out of energy deficit! I mean, there’s a reason your body craves all those foods when you’re going through extreme hunger – high-calorie, nutrient-dense food is simply the most efficient way for your body to come back to a place of energy balance! I no longer feel the urgency around food that I did every day during October and November, and I most definitely don’t feel the need to keep eating until I am so full and nauseous that I can barely move. This is all because my body feels safe. It knows food is abundant, so it no longer feels the need to act as if we’re in a famine!

I do want to note that I am still requiring a high amount of food and I’d definitely say I’m still experiencing extreme hunger episodes from time to time, but it’s gradually been decreasing and I’m fully surrendering to the process. I may continue to gain weight and go into overshoot again, and if so, so be it! Our bodies are sooo freaking smart and the more we try and manipulate and micromanage them, the more confused and messed up they’ll get. I’m also still waiting on my period to come back after a year of not having it, so even just for that reason I’m like, “body, do yo thing!” What has been really positive, even though it kinda sucks, is that I’m definitely noticing the hormones working alright because I’ve been getting pimples left and right!

I also wanted to answer some questions I’ve been receiving about this process, including how I’m dealing with weight gain and just the EH process overall. Let’s start with weight gain. Personally, I’ve never been someone who feared weight gain. And what I mean by that is, I never feared weight gain in the sense that I feared being in a larger body or being at a higher weight.

Even when I was at my lowest weight, I knew how skeletal I looked and was even ashamed of it! For many years, I truly did want to gain weight, but the reason it took me so long, was because I feared taking the actions necessary to do so. I always remember saying that if I could wave a magic wand and be at a higher weight, I would! I just didn’t want to have to go through the discomfort and drastic changes that come with gaining weight, like the bloating, clothes not feeling right, and having to buy new clothes.

When I discovered I am autistic at the age of 20, the entire course of my eating disorder journey made sense to me, including this strong aversion to taking the necessary recovery actions. One of my core autistic traits is difficulty with change, and still today, I absolutely HATE clothes shopping. I’m very very very particular about the way clothes fit me, and honestly am totally comparable to Goldilocks in that sense; the best way to describe how I need my clothes to feel is “just right!” Of course, you can’t stay stuck in an eating disorder just because you don’t want to outgrow old clothes, just like you can’t stay a little kid forever because you don’t want to go to work.

The only guarantee in life is that everything is constantly changing, whether we like it or not. We cannot control the things we cannot control such as the external world or the weight our body feels best at, but we can always control our mindset. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase pain is inevitable, yet suffering is optional. Yes, digestive issues in recovery are painful and neurally rewiring your brain will bring up a lot of anxiety, but the more you try and resist these parts of the process, the more suffering you create for yourself! Because I believe mindset is at the very core of not only full recovery from an eating disorder, but also to unlocking your full potential in life, the first module of my course Extremely Hungry to Completely Satisfied is all about how to shift your mindset to go from a place of fear and limitation to a place of abundance and empowerment. It’s owning this very mindset, that I believe made going through extreme hunger this second time around so much easier for me.

Although last year was straining in every way possible, I’m actually very grateful for the lessons last year taught me. Losing all that weight and then needing to gain it back proved to be a testament to how my mindset has shifted more than I ever thought possible just a few years ago. I no longer held the same fears that I did when I went through EH the first time around, including the fear that I would never stop eating, that I would become addicted to sugary foods, or that I would gain weight forever and swing to the other side and develop BED. Instead of trying to delay the extreme hunger process which actually just made it more painful and extreme, I was able to give myself permission to jump right in. And because I did that, because my mindset is in such a place of trust and abundance, the process went by so quick and I’m doing better than ever as quickly as 2 months later!

How much better could your life be if you could just get this process over and done with in 2 months? I just want you to take a moment to imagine that. What could your life look like if you no longer suffered from extreme mental hunger? Well, you CAN be living that life in 2 months! My course Extremely Hungry to Completely Satisfied is an 8-week program that guides you step-by-step through the process, providing you with knowledge and tangible action steps to go from where you are now to where you want to go. All of the mindset shifts that I have made over the years that made this recent extreme hunger journey almost effortless, are explained in my course, so I have no doubt it’s the exact resource you need to bEAT extreme hunger once and for all! You can learn more about my course my visiting the link livlabelfree.com/extreme-hunger-course and ahhh I’m just so excited for you to join me on this journey to freedom, because I swear, life is so much more full when you’re not obsessed with food!

And speaking of guidance and making the extreme hunger process easier, something else I struggled with a lot less this second time around was the unpredictability aspect of extreme hunger. If you’re autistic, you know that alongside difficulty with change, difficulty with unpredictability is a very common autistic trait. The reason autistic people have so many rituals and routines in place is to avoid change and make life more predictable. I believe this comes down to trust, as the only reason we fear unpredictability is because we don’t trust what will happen! Rituals and routines give us something to rely on, they give us knowledge of the outcome. Because in the end, that’s all trust really is: knowing the outcome!

Extreme hunger, along with it being a process that comes with endless change, is also a very unpredictable process. Not knowing when an extreme hunger episode would hit, not knowing which specific cravings I would have that day, not knowing how much I would need to eat to feel satisfied, not to mention the unpredictability of how much weight you’ll gain or when you’ll get a digestive flare-up! All of these are factors that can cause you to come up with all those “what if worst case scenario happens.” Due to the fear, which is the opposite of trust – not knowing the outcome and then imagining the worst – you try to avoid honoring the EH at all costs…but all this is doing, is keeping you extremely hungry! It’s true, you don’t know the outcome of what honoring your EH will bring, but what you DO know is that constantly not feeling satisfied isn't making you happy! So what do you really have to lose? The only way to KNOW what will happen when you honor your extreme hunger, is to honor your extreme hunger!

And because I do want to move on to tell you all about what’s coming in 2023, that’s all I’m going to say about extreme hunger for now. Thanks to my new mindset, the past 2 months of extreme hunger were monumentally easier to go through, and I want to help make it monumentally easier for you by inviting you to enroll in my course. You know where to find more info because I just shared the link, but here it is again: livlabelfree.com/extreme-hunger-course. Now, let’s talk about what you can expect in 2023!

So I’ll start with an update on my memoir, as that’s the most significant project that will finally be released in 2023! As much as I wish I did, I don’t yet have a publishing date because this process is definitely proving to have a lot more aspects to it than I originally thought, but hey, enjoy the journey, right? I’ve already learned SO much about the steps necessary to write and self-publish a book, and continue to learn more as I move forward!

Currently, the manuscript is in the hands of a professional editor until mid-February. Some of the steps that will follow include formatting the book, designing the cover, recording the audiobook version, and then publishing and distributing! I also plan on translating the book to Dutch in the near future, which I’m very excited for because a lot of the events in the story take place in The Netherlands and it was definitely interesting translating Dutch conversations into English for the first version!

I so appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm and support around my upcoming book already, I’m just so darn excited for the day you can finally get your hands on it! Transparently, the process of publishing a book is very expensive, so if you want to be one of the founding members of my memoir and help get it into the world faster, I want to invite you to become a Liv Label Free Patron. My patrons will all get a free copy of the book as well as any of the pre-launch bonuses I will be gifting before the book officially releases! To support me on Patreon, simply head over to livlabelfree.com/patreon.

Two other big projects I’m currently working on and aspire to finish in 2023 are two other books! As I mentioned, one of them is all about how to bEAT Extreme Hunger and the other book is going to be a recipe book for neurodivergent individuals as well as those who are recovered or in recovery from disordered eating. Learning to nourish my body in a way that made me feel my best was a critical aspect of recovery from my eating disorder, so I really hope this book will empower and inspire people like you to do the same!

As you can imagine, writing and publishing three books (and counting, because I’m going to spare you the details of the 20+ other book ideas I have!) on top of coaching, this podcast, my YouTube channel, Instagram, and the demands of everyday life is a big time and energy investment, one that literally almost killed me last year. In an effort to embrace the journey and protect my mental health and overall well-being, I’ve accepted that I simply can no longer do everything at once, and I do need to be intentional with where I focus my energy and spend my time. I’ve found that writing, working on my books, and being fully present with my clients and course students bring me the most joy. These are the activities that I know are making the biggest impact and changing the most lives, so that’s where I choose to focus most of my energy. 

After literally surviving 2022, I’ve been craving a slower pace of life, one in which I actually feel present, one in which I’m prioritizing my health, one in which I’m prioritizing my family and relationships…basically, one in which I’m actually ENJOYING the process of living! Because isn’t that what we’re all striving for in the end? For this reason, I have made the intentional decision to spend less time in other places. One of those places is Instagram.

I think I can speak on behalf of many when I say that Instagram has become a really frustrating place to be, not only because it’s all a highlight reel and is a breeding ground for comparison, but also because of the ever-changing app itself. Instagram is simply no longer what it used to be, a platform to connect with like-minded individuals. The algorithm keeps changing, it’s infested with ads, and I can spend hours creating a valuable post or reels video just to have like 2 people see it.

Don’t get me wrong – I still love connecting with people on Instagram and I’ll definitely still be present on there, but no longer as much as I used to be. My books and clients deserve my energy, and I refuse to be a slave to some social media app! So if you’re currently frustrated by Instagram or other forms of social media, here’s your reminder that you get to choose how you engage and if this app feels like it’s controlling your life, you get to choose to take that control back!

In the same vein, I also plan on doing more shortie podcast episodes and may release podcasts bi-weekly once in a while rather than each week. Podcasting is a massive time commitment, and the length of the final episode definitely does not do the behind-the-scenes process proper justice! To create one single episode, I need to come up with an idea, script the episode, record the episode, edit the episode, go back and edit the original script so that it reads nicely for the blog, create graphics to use as the thumbnail and for YouTube, and I haven’t even gotten to the part of the time spent creating a reels or post to share the podcast on Instagram or the time spent writing the email to share the podcast with my email list! So yes, even a podcast episode of 5 minutes can take over 5 hours to create.

I do love podcasting and sharing massive free value with you, but I don’t get paid an hourly rate or anything, so the hours I spend creating that free value need to be compensated in some way! Of course my clients and course students support me as a creator while receiving even more value, but if you’re just a listener of the podcast and aren’t in any of my paid programs, I really would appreciate if you could make a small donation to support Liv Label Free by joining me on Patreon. I know I’ve mentioned this before and I hate to sound salesy, but in order to keep making the biggest impact I can make, I need to support myself and donations from generous souls like you will help me to do that! Again, you can join me on Patreon by visiting the link livlabelfree.com/patreon, and I really do want you to know how much I appreciate your support!

Phew! I think that’s all I have to share! Well, at least for now, as everything is constantly changing! If you enjoy these update episodes or even have any ideas for how I can support you even more for becoming a Liv Label Free patron, please do let me know by sending me an email [email protected]! I’m thinking of maybe doing weekly Q&A’s and more exclusive BTS value. You can also send me a DM on IG, but for the reasons I just mentioned, I’m much more likely to see and respond to emails! I look forward to hearing from you soon, and as always, I look forward to having you hear from me again soon in the next episode! Bye bye for now!

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