Friday, April 30, 2010


Sometimes a person with huge ears or a giant nose...gets a nose job or their ears pinned back...and reports higher levels of self esteem and higher levels of positive interaction with the public. This is an example of an external change improving one's internal feelings.

Sometimes a person changes their diet and loses weight...and they end up feeling better about themselves, higher self esteem, higher self worth, higher self respect, as well as much more positive interactions with the public. This is another example of an external change improving one's internal feelings.

Sometimes a person gets some help reorganizing their house, or cleaning their basement...and they end up feeling better about themselves, better about how they see themselves and how others perceive them and the way they live. This is another example of an external change improving one's internal feelings.

On the flip side...

Let's say a person goes to therapy for years and ends up purging a lot of pain, and throughout that whole process, their behaviors begin to change on their own - their diet improves, their house gets cleaner, they accept their flawed face. This is an example of an internal change that improves one's external life.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

When you're having a problem, how do you KNOW how to tackle it? Do you reach in...and do the internal work...usually a long, slow, very slow process? Or do you make quick external changes to kind of PUSH yourself in the right direction?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Which came first, the chicken, or the egg?

Do we FEEL BAD....and then EAT?

Or do we EAT BADLY and then FEEL BAD?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I was a raw vegan for 3 years. I lost 175 lbs.

I began to eat cooked food again. Suddenly, life is stressful. Suddenly, I have trouble coping. Suddenly, everything overwhelms me.

Is it all the STUFF in my life sending my FOOD out of control? OR is it MY OUT OF CONTROL FOOD sending my LIFE out of control?

_ _ _ _ _ _

Am i a FOOD ADDICT who should look at COOKED FOOD like POISON, HEROIN or ALCOHOL? Am i really just caught in the throws of a powerfully addictive drug....COOKED FOOD? And i should just STOP...COLD TURKEY?

Or should i learn HOW TO LIVE WITH COOKED FOOD....Go to therapy, heal my inner child, learn how to control myself, learn how to live with cooked food, just learn how to cope?

_ _ _ _ _

I'm sorry to FAT and OUT OF CONTROL as I am....i'm sure i'm over 300 now...i still am not 100% sure of the answer.

Everytime i eat cooked, it snowballs out of control.

Why? Because i need to learn SELF CONTROL and SELF TRUST and KEEP it in my life?

Or because i'm an addict and CAN'T control it...and should RUN FROM IT like FIRE?

_ _ _ _ _

Every binge eating book would say i need to learn to eat cooked.

Yet my history would prove that in 42 years of therapy, Weight Watchers, 5,001 diets, i STILL never learned to control myself.

Does THE RAW FOOD diet make BINGE EATING WORSE, ultimately?

OR is it my SALVATION?

- - - - - -

All i know is: I have never recently felt so utterly BAD about myself, so utterly out of control, so ashamed of my weakness, of my weight gain, of my failure. I feel badly about ME, about how i look, about my life, my lack of accomplishments, my relationship, my family, my house, my finances.

NOTHING has changed SO drastically in my life that i should suddenly FEEL so AWFUL about me, except....MY DIET.

When i was raw for 3 years, my mother went through surgery. I lived in this old house that needs renovation. I had the same job. I was still with Cliff and not married yet. My family was still nuts. I was still in debt.

YET, I felt GOOD about me.

NOW, i feel HORRENDOUS about me.

Plus, now with cooked food, i'm smelly. My feet burn. I'm so fat i feel tighter in the tub, feel tighter in the kitchen chairs, in the car. My clothes feel tight. My bras feel tight.

Each experience of "external" dissatisfaction with where I'm at makes me feel HORRID. So, i eat MORE to make myself FEEL better...momentarily.

Or is it really ALL of the STRESSORS in my life: my mom's upcoming surgery, my family's depression, the 2 enormous catering jobs that feel like they are spinning out of this all DRIVING the eating?

Or is the EATING driving the STRESS???

All i know is this: I sang at the raw wedding last summer and was blissfully calm flying across the country to sing for strangers.

The only thing that's my diet.

xoxo michelle joy

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Hot dang, I should KNOW about MUSCLE MEMORY from being a singer AND a singing TEACHER, but i had a huge 'AHHA' moment today regarding my eating disorder, which curiously relates to my singing!!!!

OK, so, when you take singing lessons, you learn new ways to sing and use your muscles, and the OLD ways begin to feel uncomfortable. You recognize they just don't function as well as the new new correct ways. With the new way, you have better tone, better volume, less strain, more ease.

But, it's a PROCESS of TRAINING and AWARENESS that takes TIME...sometimes alot of time, sometimes change can come suddenly. You just keep working on it.

The more you do something CORRECTLY, the more the muscles MEMORIZE the new way. For example, the more I relax my soft palate, the easier it is to do it the next time. Soon, the technique becomes habit. Correct vocal habit.

And, if you practice the new way, enough, correctly, the next time you go to perform, the more likely you are to slip into the new groove...due to MUSCLE MEMORY. All of that work you did at home...was not for naught.

The more and more you sing correctly, consistently, the MORE comfortable singing the new way is.....
The more you practice the right way at home, the easier and easier it is to accomplish, in public....

Sure, sometimes old habits pop up from time to time...usually when you're under stress, but, you work them out again.

MUSCLE MEMORY is the KEY to singing better.

Am i making sense??? I think i am.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~'s the SAME with EATING!!!!!!!

Oh, man, this is HUGE for me.

Just like singing technique, there are proper ways to eat. EATING TECHNIQUE!

Here are some of my ideas!

- Eat When You're Hungry
- Eat What You Want (for me, as long as it's raw)
- Make Healthy Choices
- Eat Slowly and Savor Your Food
- Stop When You've Had Enough

The more and more I practice these proper eating techniques, the more "muscle memory" I will develop for these behaviors, the easier and easier they will be to accomplish EVERY time i eat, and the more likely i will be to eat properly in times of stress.


Man, that is ENORMOUS!!!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Developing new habits all start with AWARENESS and is a process of TRAINING...just like vocal training. But, how can you change something unless you recognize it first?

Today I went to Arnold's Way, where i work, for lunch. I got a banana whip (to go) and a "cheeze steak" sandwhich (to go).

After i finished my whip, i noticed that i was NOT hungry for the steak. I said to myself, "Wow, this is a new opportunity. You can wait until LATER to eat...when you're hungry. Think how much more you'll enjoy it!"

Yet, within a few minutes, i was munching away on the steak.

Discouraged by my own failure to wait for hunger, i tried, nevertheless, to analyze...instead of judge myself.

The steak was delicious, but would have been even MORE SCRUMPTIOUS had i been truly hungry for it and DELAYED GRATIFICATION. But, woooooooo......, since the MUSCLE MEMORY for this type of activity (ALWAYS EATING WHEN I'M HUNGRY...and delaying gratification) isn't really developed at all, it's NO WONDER i fall into old habits. It's no wonder i chose to eat compulsively. My muscles for eating correctly and following proper eating technique...ARE NOT DEVELOPED!

Hey, so why feel bad??? Every opportunity to EAT is an opportunity to strengthen a muscle. Which muscle am i going to strengthen????

Basically, when i fall into OLD compulsive eating habits, i fall into old habits....because I JUST FELL INTO OLD HABITS!!! The "muscles" for these compulsive eating habits are really, really, well developed and the more and more I practice them, the stronger they become.

If i WANT to learn to eat when i'm hungry only (and not when i'm not), I need to start eating when i'm hungry and not when i'm not...!!!

When i do that consistently....each eating episode will be EASIER and easier to eat when i'm hungry and not when i'm not, and the next time i face a stressful situation, muscle memory will take over and (hopefully), and i'll choose to eat when i'm hungry, and not when i'm not!

The more i practice proper eating technique...the more MUSCLE MEMORY I develop for it, and the stronger and stronger those new habits will become.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Heck, I suppose the same MUSCLE MEMORY THEORY works for maintaining FAULTY behaviors.

My compulsive eating habits are deeply grooved and ingrained. And the more I practice eating compulsively, the more I will eat compulsively.

Maybe that's how binge eating is. Maybe binge eating is just a freakin' bad HABIT that i just DO, because i just keep doing it, due to MUSCLE MEMORY!!!!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Just keep on the positive groove, like a record needle stays in the right groove on the record and do the right thing, practice the new healthy eating technique and my muscle memory for it will develop!!! Soon, anything else...will feel uncomfortable!!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last night I "wanted" a bag of Brad's chips to munch on while watching a movie.

But....i knew better now. I had an opportunity here. I asked myself, "Michelle, are you actually HUNGRY for it?" When i realized i WASN'T hungry for it, THIS TIME, i decided to EXERCISE MY DELAYING GRATIFICATION MUSCLE, and I told myself "NO."

Suddenly, saying NO was easy.


I'm in a process of training my muscles....and I feel SO hopeful!!!

xoxo michelle joy


Good morning, all,

Last night I had my concert at the Jewish Heritage Club, yay! One more thing to scratch off of my to-do list!!! This is a pic from our concert 2 summers ago.

The biggest hits of the night were the songs, "Be My Love," "Till There Was You," the selections from Yentl, and "Hava Nagila." The opera and foreign language stuff didn't go over as well as it has other places. Every audience is different!!! Discouragingly different... But, i'm just grateful everyone enjoyed what they did.

In fact, people came up to me crying after the concert, that they were so moved by my singing and by our music making. That's a delight to hear and certainly makes me feel that all of my hard work was not for naught! Many people said I need an agent and to pursue singing professionally. That's very encouraging to hear.

Does anyone know an agent???!!!! How do you DO that? I don't even have a clue.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So, today is another raw day in the neighborhood, yay! Just had some green smoothie, and some cacao smoothie, and feeling desirous of a walk outside. I'm feeling relieved and happy to be back on raw, and not experiencing too many cooked food thoughts.

Honestly, I've been doing myself a favor and haven't been watching The Food Network, which is like food PORN for me. Hot dang, when they take the bite at the end of the segment, holy crap, it's like the orgasm shot for me, my mouth starts to water, I'm like swallowing and dribbling saliva...yeah, baby, take that bite, ummm, yeah!!!!

Last night, watching a movie with Cliffy in bed, the scene switched to a restaurant, and i realized i was getting hungry watching the characters eating a sandwhich at a deli. pastrami. corned beef. God, that looked good. BREAD! Ding, ding, ding!

No, i didn't eat any!!!!! But, i could have, if i would have allowed myself.

Instead, i disconnected emotionally from the hungry-making scene on the screen and felt more in control. I restored control. It's in my control. Wow. That's big.

It's hard to explain how to do this, it's something i learned in meditation. If you don't know how, i'll explain.

You know how sometimes when you watch a movie, you feel like you're THERE in the scene, you're so "into it?" Like if you watch spiders, you feel like they're crawling on you and you're screaming and shaking them off of you? Well, instead of allowing yourself to get sucked in, you widen your focus, you pull back, and realize the TELEVISION is only a big block that is part of the room you're in, and it's just a PICTURE on the screen. And all of a sudden, you're not in the picture any more, you're in the MOMENT, you're an objective viewer again, instead of being sucked in, and there's really no spiders, and you're only in your living room.

This could easily be applied to hamburgers. Or pizza. Say, everyone is eating hamburgers in a movie, or whatever looks good, and all of a sudden you want one. Well, if you're into spiders, you might get hungry for them, too...

When you disconnect, you can watch people eat and not feel involved or feel any sort of reaction. Actually, this is how we're supposed to live life. NON REACTIVELY.

Well, that's not exactly what the food network wants, for you to be non-reactive...they WANT you to react, they want to suck you in, want you to keep hooked on the show, on the network, keep you watching through to the commercials, keep you buying their products.

I guess if you're a FOOD ADDICT like me, this is what the DEVIL wants from you, too, keep you HOOKED!!!! Gotta outsmart that rascal!

You see, TV, TV commercials, especially, aim to suck us in. They show sizzling food and skinny happy people eating stringy dripping hot mozzarella... It's all meant to suck you in, influence you, and make you go out and buy a Papa John's pizza.

If you disconnect emotionally from the commercial, all of a sudden, you don't FEEL hungry from the ad, it's just a picture.

When you're involved emotionally and "sucked in," you know you are, because your mouth is watering and you can kinda smell pizza and the next thing you know, you're rading the freezer for frozen pizza. PAVLOV'S THEORY.

(Here's one of Pavlov's dogs with a surgically implanted instrument to measure his level of salivation!!!!)

God forbid if they would implant one of those things on my cheek when i'm watching food network. They'd need a bucket for all of the saliva i'd produce!!!! Oookey.

Advertisers know about conditioning you. McDonald's knows about conditioning us, and actually brainwashing us to BELIEVE that those shit burgers actually TASTE good, when they don't. They taste like liver.

Well, i like liver, but that's besides the point.

McDonald's has the WORST tasting burgers in the world. The only reason they're successful if because of brain washing. NOT because of taste. ADVERTISING!

Anyway, people like me, who allow themselves to get sucked in, and react emotionally to food stimulus, stimulii, have to be careful...every minute of the DAY!!!!

Are you one of those people? That can easily set off a binge. It's set off MANY a binge for me. You see it, you want it. Ding!

Pavlov's theory.

The more you react, the better chance the NEXT time you'll react.


And, heck, you don't even have to SEE it on the TV screen to react emotionally to it and get sucked in. Our MINDS are like TV screens. Have a food thought? Ding! Ding! Time to eat!

We can learn turn that off. Here's the meditation i learned from the Foundation of Human Understading.

xoxo michelle joy

Friday, April 23, 2010


Well, after lots of thinking, praying, meditating, reading, sharing, talking, counseling.... with Susan Aman (my new coach), my own higher and lower selves, my eating disorder books, my family, friends, my coworkers, my loving partner, Cliff, etc..., going back in history and seeing my many, many, many, many failures - I realized trying to "legalize" cooked food was a losing battle.

I've been raw again for 2 days and am committed. It feels RIGHT. No stress, no strain. I've surrendered. [ahhhh! feels good!] Wavin' the white flag 'o surrender!!!! Woo hoo!

I remember years ago, I went to see an Eating Disorders Therapist, who informed me that it would take 5 years to learn to "legalize" food, and yes, weight gain, to overcome my binge eating disorder. Well, I'm not really up for that right now.

So, with no other hope in sight, i've returned to raw. Why?

The raw diet is:
- the only diet I have ever MAINTAINED ANY weight loss on
- the only diet i ever felt a more significant amount of control on
- the only diet i have been able to maintain for longer than...a WEEK!
- the only diet that relieves my fast food obsession
- the only diet that takes away my snoring
- the only diet that relieves my reflux laryngitis

I've been reading all of my old eating disorder books, and this "legalization" process that they all suggest in order to overcome an eating disorder - seems hopeless to me. One is to take every possible binge food into the house and basically just learn to eat it until you're comfortable with it and process your emotions.

Well, if i had a therapist WHO LIVED WITH ME, maybe i could accomplish that. As i don't, the stimulation from cooked food is just too intense for me. It just tastes too good. I just eat myself silly.

I have come to terms with the fact that the amount of discipline needed to CONTROL COOKED FOOD for actually HIGHER than just saying GOODBYE to it. It's easier for me to have NONE, than just a little...

I'm preferring to see myself today as a COOKED FOOD ADDICT.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

No, raw food didn't take away all of my binge eating. I binged on raw gourmet food sometimes DAILY as a raw foodist. But, binge eating on raw food is BETTER for me than binge eating on cooked. For one, cooked is everywhere. The pits of despair you can fall to are much greater. There's pizza on every corner. Raw food is just more satiating and you don't need as much.

Plus, I never did the emotional work to work myself out of that.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I really felt like i was NOT alone when i heard from "Sunny." Thank you, "Sunny!"

Thanks for your last blog entry, to which I can soooooo relate.

For me, legalizing foods doesn't work. If I binged on conventional junk food I would be dead by now, from suicide, if not obesity. I prefer to binge on fabulous gourmet and dehydrated raw foods because I want top quality, not crappy junk.

But in Los Angeles, I was starting to go for grains and bread and butter, trying to at lease keep it gluten free, but getting closer to not caring about that either. I almost made toast one day, and toast with butter for me would be like shooting heroin for a drug addict. I started up with the yogurt and cottage cheese too.

That's why [this upcoming] trip....scares me - I don't think I'll be able to avoid wheat and dairy.

Well, actually that's not true - I could avoid them if I was willing to speak my needs to my family. I told them I don't eat meat, but that I eat fish. I am too cowardly to really voice my needs and preferences because I'm afraid they'll think I'm weird, and it will inconvenience the people we are visiting with and staying with.

I'm also afraid of being hungry..., because I can't carry around my stash of raw food supplies for 4 weeks, so that's my excuse for giving in and eating food that I know is not in my best interest.

I tell myself that the trip is not about the food and what I eat, it's about spending time with relatives I either have never met or haven't seen in years and visiting...

The food in a way is irrelevant, but it's also not, because if I'm eating lots of trigger foods it'll diminish the trip.

It is so true that an eating disorder makes one's life small. I have not done so many things because I was afraid I wouldn't have access to food when I wanted it, and the bingeing has kept me from dealing with the fear, which really is behind most of the behavior and the feelings, as you wrote.

Food is fabulous for numbing out, it works really really well for me for a few minutes - so brief but oh so effective.

Food is the cruelest addiction because one has to eat to live.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Big Hugs out to my new friend, "Sunny." We'll be talking more about her upcoming trip and how she can best take care of herself.

And, as for binge eating? Obviously, NO binge eating is the BEST binge eating, but...I think she's right. Binge eating gourmet RAW food - vs. - binge eating cooked junk? There is no comparison. YOU JUST GAIN FASTER & EASIER on cooked food. AND, bread and butter ARE like heroin. I agree.

ADVICE: You know what? If you're like US...just don't pick it up. If you're, like, normal...i think you can have it all. If you're not, you need to make sacrifices. Hell, I'd love to be a Nigella Lawson and adore food and have small portions and eat what i want...

But for today? I'm not there. I have to ACCEPT MY LIMITATIONS. How many times can you fall into the same hole? Soon enough you have to say to yourself, "I'm avoiding the hole..."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My weight yesterday was 292. I did NOT go over 300, which i am elated about, and I INTEND to stay raw and lose the rest of my excess weight. i think i have turned an emotional corner. I'm ready to let go.

As of today, i have maintained a 133 lb weight loss. That's freakin' fabulous.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I really like how all of the eating disorder books I have collected over the years delve into the emotional aspects of binge and overeating. There is some powerful stuff there, and I plan to work on these books....just as a raw foodist.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I met with Susan twice since i last wrote. Once on the phone and once in person. Susan has graciously listened to me as I flip flop desires (I want to eat cooked I can't eat cooked food anymore....) and has been with me every step of the way, listening, hearing me, loving me.

On our last meeting, she created a wonderful plan for my new raw diet...which includes luscious green smoothies, so many inspired salads and low fat raw meals, lots of sunshine and walking and loving and empowering myself. I feel really super hopeful.

Last summer was a joyous summer for me. I was doing 80-10-10, walking daily, reporting daily my triumphant walks all over manayunk. I have the most wonderful feelings about last summer. And you know what? This summer will be EVEN BETTER!!!!

No food tastes as good as EMPOWERMENT feels.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tonight i have a new concert and lots to do to get ready today.

Much love,
xoxo michelle joy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Possible RAW SPA In The Planning!!!

You never know how God will make things work out...but I'm beginning to really believe He does!

You know, Susan Aman, my catering partner, and I, have talked extensively about wanting to open an upscale raw food establishment. What that would look like, we had many ideas, but no funding.

So, last week, I spoke to a good friend of my mother's, Bonnie, on the phone who told me a friend of hers, Trudy, had enjoyed a lunch I made for her so much at Arnold's Way, that she wanted to talk to me about possibly opening up a business together, with me as the raw chef! I didn't hesitate when I said, "Tell Trudy to give me a call!"

Well, Trudy called!

Trudy wants to open up a SPA, with an upscale raw cafe, with me as Chef, which would also offer massages, foot reflexology, meditation, etc...

She would like to offer raw diet/nutritional counseling. That is NOT my forte, but luckily, it IS Susan's!!!! She is the most wonderful teacher and nutritional counselor. She is a Registered Nurse afterall and would be a must to get on board.

I just like to make people happy. My strengths are customer service, attractive presentation of food, and blending flavors/seasoning, especially with raw food. I'll leave the counseling to Susan!!!!

But, I would love to run a raw cafe! I have to admit, i am really excited about the possibility, and incredulous how God works.

I'd like it to be mostly raw, but I'd be open to offering some cooked vegan dishes, as well. And I've always wanted to offer a raw cheese plate with fresh raw berry compote and flax crackers with a tartly dressed mixed salad. And luscious raw nut pate's, a small scoop on attractive flax crackers, would be welcome. Of course, fresh salads, some amazing raw pies, naturally, whips and smoothies and juices and green smoothies, yum! Broccoli salad, seaweed salad, kale salad, kelp noodle salad are all contenders! We'll see what Trudy has in mind.

I'd want everything organic, as local as possible, and incredibly FRESH. I'd like the menu to change daily, but with standards always available. I'd like to have a chest high refrigerated glass covered display case that showcases salads and desserts for quick meals.

I'd like the cafe' to seat 12-20. I'd need the cafe to include a full kitchen with raw AND cooked appliances WITH walk in refrigerator and freezer. That way the "Mostly Raw Catering" that i run with Susan will operate out of the Spa. And someday soon I can begin packaging and selling my raw "toona" out of Whole foods. Heck, if Brad's Raw Chips can do it, I can.

Trudy has alot of connections and the funds and desire to make something like this happen.

She expressed the desire to do this in a very ritzy area, "someplace where the women have a lot of money." Sounds good to me!

Trudy and I and her daughter in law are going to meet over lunch next week. I will bring Susan. My father even said he would help back it financially. I've already heard from Trudy twice, and her daughter once.

I think this is FOR REAL!

Wish me luck on this possible endeavor and I'll keep you posted!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

[I wrote this yesterday]

Today i had my eye on doing whatever would give me PLEASURE. I had a luscious bath and scrubbed all over. I feel fresh and clean and good about me today. I can't help it, i'm a pleasure gal.

For brunch, I chose to eat a raw lunch of fresh colorful salad with mixed greens and shredded orange carrots and green peas and red onion and multi-color peppers. On the side, I sliced a few slices of fresh raw cow's milk cheese from France on Awesome Foods flax crackers, and slurped a Papaya Kombucha. This is living!

I paid attention, ate out in the open, no more hiding, savored and enjoyed. Eating like this will diminish binge eating. Pleasure, pleasure, pleasure were the key words today.

For an early dinner, i made a cooked vegan one, more out of necessity than anything. I didn't have any dressing for a salad, or enough interesting fruit, nor my equipment here at home to make an interesting pleasurable raw meal. (We've taken a vacation from mommy for a few days and it's rejuvenating.)

So, a cooked one it was. With an eye towards health and pleasure, I whipped up a butternut squash mash (steamed squash, salt, pepper) and topped it with an earthy italian veggie saute' of eggplant, mushroom, garlic, tomato and onion, with some roasted broccoli and asparagus on the side. For dessert, i had a few tiny bites of raw fontina and grapes. I felt like i was in Paris with my cheese and fruit dessert! Most enjoyable!

I think i'll have some wine now to make complete my Parisian pleasure fest!

I ate outside, enjoyed the cool breeze and the sun, paid attention to the flavors, tried to eat slowly (hard for me), recognized I was pleasantly satisfied...and that was that. JUST HOW EATING SHOULD BE. No compulsions, no insanity.

I didn't know what i was going to do today about cooked or raw. I got out of my head and I just took it a meal at a time and let intuition rule the day. I ended up making healthy choices today and I'm good with them. I'm in a GOOD place today, so cooked food didn't set me off. All i can say is: ONE DAY AT A TIME.

When i get hungry later, i'll make some more healthy choices and remember pleasure, pleasure, pleasure!!!!!!

Life feels good today.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Today's Update

I ended up having a huge binge last night, despite my best intentions and much nurturing of myself. I ate up all of the beans and rice, enough for 4 people, lots of bread and butter.

I woke up...surrendered.

I ate all raw today and have not binged. And I am going to bed in just a few minutes.

I spoke with Susan on the phone today, and reported how discouraged and hopeless I feel to control cooked food. I've been reading several books on how to overcome binge eating from my library upstairs - it's amazing what a collection I've amassed over the years - and I've tried numerous times to "legalize" food and learn to eat in moderation, each time, to no avail, in an effort to eradicate binge eating. I can't get it to work. Still.

When i went raw 3.5 years ago, and maintained a 150 lb weight loss for 3 years, that was the FIRST time in my life as an adult OR a child that i actually KEPT weight off that i'd lost.

Raw didn't take binge eating away, but it was the diet that helped me BEST manage my eating disorder AND my weight.

I told Susan our idea for pizza weekly, etc... sounded good in theory, but it wasn't going to work for me. I'd finally gotten beaten down one too many times. Every night I've binged. Eating rice, or beans or roasted broccoli....somehow my mind can't cope with healthy cooked and not healthy cooked. Every night without fail, i fall into bread and butter and more bread and butter no matter how healthfully i try to eat cooked. I can polish off a stick of butter a day. I am sure i'm over 300 lbs today, and my reflux layrngitis was horrible today.

When i draw a solid line in the sand between cooked and raw, suddenly i feel safe, like i do right now. Maybe that's denial, maybe i'm just feeding into my eating disorder, but it feels like i've finally made peace with my limitations. I am a cooked food addict.

When the line is iffy, some cooked foods, some are good, some are bad, it just doesn't work for me. I can't stop.

That's not true. It's possible i could stop, but it would take a LOT of work and alot of weight gain to do that.

Every eating disorder book would say that eating raw is "dieting," and that it will exacerbate my binge eating when I go "off" of it. Well, may be, but it's my only option at this point. Perhaps when i am stronger and able to legalize cooked foods I can revisit that idea, but it feels pointless today. I just can't keep going on testing myself and failing every night. How fat do i have to get to realize this is just not working. For now, i feel incredibly clear, finally, that raw food just works for me. It might just be that because I believe it does, it does. Whatever it is, I need to do it for me.

I'd like to take the wisdom from the eating disorder books and apply it to my raw diet and learn to eat more intuitively and more from hunger than from stress.

xoxo michelle joy


It's a bright, sunny day here in our lovely little neighborhood of Manayunk, in good old Philly-delphia, PA.

I woke up with music on my mind....going mentally through some of the numbers I'll be singing this Friday at a new concert my accompanist, Alex, and I are doing for the Jewish Heritage Club in Warwick, PA. We were invited to entertain at their season concluding dinner.

Alex and I met last night and went over all of the peices. We'll be putting together a little mixed program called, "Alex and Michelle at the Movies," which features songs and arias heard in movies, many of them sung by the great old-time singing stars such as Mario Lanza, Kathryn Greyson, Deborah Kerr, Grace Moore, Al Jolson, Shirley Jones, and our program concludes with a little nod to the Jewish theme with Barbra Streisand's, "Yentl."

Our first number is an enchanting Waltz called, "Il Bacio" (the kiss) made popular by the 16 year old sensation, Deanna Durbin, in the musical comedy from 1936, "Three Smart Girls."

We'll then do the romantic aria, "O mio babbino caro," made popular in the 1985 Merchant-Ivory film, "A Room With A View", and Carmen's "Habanera" heard (in English, but i'll be singing the French) in the 1954 American musical film, "Carmen Jones".

We then go onto a little spanish inspired section with nods to Mario Lanza, Kathryn Greyson and Grace Moore with songs like, "Be My Love," from the 1950 film, "The Toast of New Orleans", starring Kathryn Greyson and Mario Lanza, "Siboney," from the 1937 musical film, "When You're In Love," starring Grace Moore and Cary Grant, "Granada" from the 1952 musical comedy, "Because You're Mine," starring Mario Lanza.

Alex will delight the audience with a piano solo of Gershwin tunes such as: "The Man I Love," touchingly and memorably featured in the 2006 Isreali film, "The Bubble", "Someone To Watch Over Me," heard recently in 1995 drama film,"Mr. Holland's Opus", and "Swanee," made popular by Al Jolson in several of his 1940's musical films.

I'll follow with a tribute to musical movies, singing from: the 1951 MGM musical film, "An American In Paris," starring Gene Kelly, "I've Got Rhythm"; the 1962 musical film, "The Music Man", "Til There Was You," originally sung by Shirley Jones; and the 1956 musical film, "The King and I", "I Could Have Danced All Night" originally sung by Marni Nixon (dubbed for Deborah Kerr).

Three songs from Barbra Streisand's, "Yentl", are featured next, all music written by the incomparable master, Michel LeGrand, "Where Is It Written," where the feminist yeshiva "boy" Yentl asks why it isn't possible for girls to learn Torah as well as boys, "Papa, Can You Hear Me," where Yentl speaks to her father, who recently passed away, and "The Way He Makes Me Feel," where we hear Yentl's true feelings for her Torah study partner, Avigdor.

We end the concert with a lively "Hava Nagila."

It feels good to write about the concert. It calms the nerves to really be present, involved and acknowledge with every breath the concert in the days before it. I need to stay right here with it, allow myself to feel my feelings, really be my lyrics, inhabit the charcters, plan everything out.

It's way too easy for me to just eat to calm my nerves.

I'm especially nervous about this program because the Yentl peices are new. But, they are so beautiful, I know everyone who's ever seen Yentl will enjoy listening to the songs again.

If you'd like to hear Babs and see scenes from Yentl, click here:

- Where Is It Written: (funny video...the dialogue begins in spanish, but Babs sings in english)

- Papa, Can You Hear Me:

- The Way He Makes Me Feel:

Barbra is a BIG hero of mine. Talk about a powerful woman. She envisions a project she wants to do, and bam, it's done. Talk about high achieving. Talk about sheer TALENT. Talk about the OPPOSITE of a SMALL LIFE.

Yet, Babs, also a singing Taurus, like me, suffers from terrible nerves, like me, so I kinda feel like we're connected in a way.

Taurus rules the THROAT. It certainly rules Barbra's throat!!! The throat is the area of my greatest strength...and also my weakest area. I'll always get sick in the throat very sensitive there to sore throats, scratchy throats, reflux laryngitis, allergy swelling, hoarseness, tightness in the throat, tensions and emotions stored/stuck in the thoat, etc...

But, if i treat myself kindly, take care of myself with healthy good eating, allow my creative energies to flow and not get bolluxed up with fear and bad behavior, luscious waves of sound are able to emit.

And what a joy it is for me to sing well. What a joy it is for me to share beautiful music with people, to communicate with them, to share with them wonderful feelings, actually move their chakras with sound!, share wonderful memories with them from beloved films, share beloved musical memories. Music is so POWERFUL and makes us feel so good, not only physically uplifting us, but emotionally uplifting us, and it's an honor to be able to bring that to people. It's a gift I gladly my highest place.

It's when my "lowest part of myself" takes over that screws me up.

Last night's my rehearsal went decently. It was okay enough that I think i'll feel confident this Friday night, so long as i do my work....

Keep in touch with me...stay in my highest place....

And improve my diet....

I have a nasty case of hoarseness brought on by reflux this morning from a binge I had last night. I wasn't exactly working out of my 'highest place,' then, but....I feel like i'm more hooked into it today and i am truly looking forward today to re-establishing healthier habits and ways of coping with my nerves, other than eating to calm that i can share my gift in the best, highest way possible with my audience.

With the sun shining, with the decent practice last night, i think I can make this a good concert on Friday if i just treat myself with the respect my body and my God-given voice deserve. I'm WORTH IT. My voice is a myself...and God.

Something I want to share with you and something I need to read every day:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Nelson Mandela, inauguration speech, 1994

As you ponder that....listen to this, another gift: "The Man I Love", from The Bubble:

xoxo michelle joy

Monday, April 19, 2010


Yesterday I sang the last performance of my opera, "Belisario," at the Garden Church in Lansdale. That's one hurdle done, yay!

I'm so happy to report, that for much of this performance, my voice felt FREE, in control, free of tension, powerful, full, able to also sing lightly, able to sing very high (to high C) easily and fully, connected to my 'body.'

In other words, for much of the performance, i was freakin' fabulous.

Anyone who knows me knows I don't brag, or gloat. I am the FIRST person to tell you when i suck. In fact, I was shocked i was so good. Two people came up to me afterwards and said i should have a major opera career and be singing at the Met. "We expect to see your name in lights!"

THAT felt fabulous!

NOTHING feels better than singing WELL to me. What an amazing experience, what an amazing feeling. I often liken it to the feeling a skater must feel in aceing a triple flip. To have succeeded personally in this tough opera was a major breakthrough for me. Major.

What was so amazing was that when I started singing the opera on Sunday....I was awful. But, something changed.

The idea of tension or no tension, or control or no control fascinates me. In my first aria, which was a recitative section where i am very angry, followed by a sad, slow aria, followed by a gangbusters "vengeance" cabaletta (a fast added on section to the slow aria), I sang the first part very poorly...and then i had an "ahha" moment as i was singing, i adjusted, and i was freakin' brilliant. The adjustment had to do with tension and control. More on that...

First, just to explain VERY briefly, this was a very dramatic opera role, which demanded alot theatrically and vocally. Briefly, the plot: My husband, Belisario, had our son killed because he was told by a soothsayer that our son would destroy the Grecian Empire. Needless to say, as my son's mommy, i now really hate my bastard husband for killing our son. So, i am a raging lunatic the entire opera, filled with anger, filled with the desire for vengeance against my husband. I even plot a revenge on hubby with my boyfriend. Hubby subsequently gets his eyes poked out and dies at the end of the opera because of what we finagle, and when I find out that my son is still alive at the end of the opera, the plan is in motion already and can't be undone. I watch my bloody empty-eye-socketed husband collapse and die right in front of me, and am left guilt-ridden for eternity for having my husband killed for killing our son, when our son is actually still alive. I tell my husband i'm sorry for what i put into motion - his destruction - and he collapses dead before I receive my pardon. Okay, you get it: it's a very very dramatic role.

So, there I am on stage, feeling all of this tremendous feeling, my son is dead, i'm the grieving mother, i hate my husband, my fists are balled, my lower teeth are jutting out, i'm a bitch on wheels...and my chest is all collapsed and my shoulders are all hunched over from the sheer emotion of it all. The Method! I'm really feelin' this shit! And singing HORRIBLY! My first slow aria before the quick cabaletta was horrendous. I couldn't get my voice out, my voice was shaking, i couldn't shade the tone. I couldn't control my voice. As the singer, I was sick with grief....what the hell was happening to me? You can't really let yourself FEEL this stuff AND sing well.

Thank God, i had a minute before the cabaletta to gather up my energies and figure out what the hell i was doing wrong. When it dawned on me I was MISUSING MY ENERGY by FEELING all of the anger and grief with my shoulders hunched over, my ribcage collapsed, my head jutting out in front of me (out of line with my spine)....I realized I was (ala the many, many Alexander Technique lessons i have taken) outta whack. I calmed down, zipped my head up, pulled it up and back "neck free, head free," pulled my shoulders back, tucked my swayback lower back in...turned all of that tension from emotion into tension of self control....and SHAZZAM...THERE'S my voice. THE voice. A very, very special powerful voice that God gave me. It really is something when it is on. I KNOW that. But when i lose it, I doubt. Forgive me, Lord.

I sang the rest of the opera like that...only focusing on keeping my alignment. Yes, that takes energy and control and tension to do that. But, in doing that, i completely eliminated tension in my voice and gifted myself control and energy in the controlling the body. So, waves of sound were just pouring out of me....and i knew I was on.

World-class singing. And only 1 minute prior was shit singing where i wouldn't even get past an audition. What a freakin' lesson in singing technique. One change and everything changed. I hope i never forget it. Please, Lord.

Okay, so how does this lesson relate to eating?

Well, in applying control in one area, suddenly you have freedom. Sounds the same as with food. Control something to achieve freedom.

What i'm stuck on is just WHAT you control.

Do you control WHICH foods you eat? Do you control the amount? The time? The way in which you eat them?

I had a binge last night. Even after that fabulous blog..."oh, i'm cured...Susan is going to help me...i'm going to eat pizza weekly." And there i am rading the refrigerator last night. Despair returns, hopelessness.

I wake up in the middle of the night, can't fall back to sleep, so i trudge all the way upstairs to my 3rd floor living room library, locate the eating disorder books, take about 10 of them downstairs and start to read.

I ended up re-reading through most of Geneen Roth's, "Why Weight? How To End Compulsive Eating." I hadn't touched it since I was 29. I had once lost ALL of my weight, weighed 150 lbs, by doing OA HOW (VERY rigid food plan). I gained it all back obviously.

Well, Geneen, too believes that binge eating is caused by dieting and suggests what i've talked about many times here, "legalizing" all food. For her, that means, taking one binge food after another into your home, eating it until you're sick of it and until you learn to trust yourself with it, after you've gained 50 lbs trying and hopefully succeeding, move on to the next binge food.

Suddently, after reading this I became hopeless again at the prospect of legalizing food. I've tried it many, many times to no avail. I just gain weight.

I can't afford to gain anymore.

I'm just not sure it is the best route for me. The legalizing process is probably BEST for people who are of average weight who don't have health issues.

One thing Geneen said gave me a clue that this process might NOT be for me. Someone in her book asked, "if i have diabetes, how can i legalize icecream? it'll kill me." So, Geneen says, "Obviously, if you have diabetes, you cannot EAT icecream, so legalizing it would be HARMFUL to you. You should explore WHY you want to HURT yourself, or PUNISH yourself by eating it."

So, i say to MYSELF....i'm not a diabetic, but somehow i relate, I do have reflux laryngitis (fatty foods ruin my voice), I weigh almost 300lbs now, and formerly weighed 425 lbs. Somehow eating pizza and onion rings seems like it ACTUALLY WOULD be punishing myself, a person with an extreme weight problem whose voice is extremely affected by what she eats. What the hell was i thinking?

I remember before I went to OHI (, that i had the same epiphany. I finally gathered that there was no way legalizing food would work for me. There was no way that Weight Watchers has EVER worked for me. The only hope for me was raw food.

So, i went to OHI for 8 months and was RARELY compulsive there. Why???? No STRESS. Livin' the life of luxury, no bills to pay, no family to deal with, just palm trees and swimming pools and bean sprouts. It was sheer HEAVEN.

So, i return from OHI and start to live. I MANAGED my eating problem, it wasn't gone by any means. In fact, I binged daily, but on raw food, little damage was done. I managed to maintain a 140 lbs weight loss, started to gain weight the more Rita's water ice i ate (obviously not raw, but i never went over that line), and then when i discovered 80-10-10, i lost 175 lbs total.

In doing 80-10-10 I eliminated almost all fat.

Everyone who is a raw foodist who ends up doing 80-10-10 will understand the obsession with nuts and fat. I mean, everyone at Arnold's Way is either obsessing about eating nuts and fat or obsessing about not eating them. So, i say, "well, cooked beans are healthier than nuts. they have no fat. why can't i replace nuts with cooked beans?" It made total sense. But it didn't end there and I fell off of the raw wagon after 3 years. I've been struggling since.

I said that cooked beans were my ticket to freedom. Were they????

Geneen Roth writes that Binge Eating is completely emotionally based, that we use food to handle our emotions. I've talked about it being a mental disorder, but after reading her book, i think she is right. I think there are deep-seated reasons I am fat and I use food.

For one, food numbs. When i feel scared, i medicated.

And as to why I'm fat? Why I allow myself to struggle with reflux? I'm afraid to be GOOD. Singing-wise. FEAR OF SUCCESS. Or is it FEAR OF FAILURE? Who knows...i'm just afraid.

I grew up in a house where emotions were not talked about. Still no one talks about them, well, rarely. My brother's been depressed for years, no one talks about why (his girlfriend kicked him out and he misses her children) my mother confides in me, but rarely, my father is insensitive and abusive, he mopes around, i start gaining weight.

I cope with life by getting fat and by eating. Binge eating harms my voice (reflux laryngitis), and being fat reduces my chance of a professional operatic career.

Roth states that the one thing that eating disorders DO to a make their life SMALL. Eating disorders REDUCE your life. How did she put it? Yeah, they make your life small. Here i am singing in Landsdowne at a church....when i should be singing at the MET. If i didn't have my eating disorder or my fat, I would be at the MET.

So, why do i keep my small???

Fear, fear, fear. Fear i'm not good enough. Self-Doubt. Lack of discipline. Lack of Drive. Lack, Lack, Lack, Fear, Fear, Fear.

Anyone for a twinkie?

I think the legalization process may be a dead-end road for me. It will only give me more and more reflux and put on more and more weight. Fat is actually not my friend and does serious harm to my voice (Fats cause reflux laryngitis). The half of a stick of butter I ate last night was not my friend.

So, i'm back to square one. I meet with Susan on Tuesday and I'll discuss my insights with her. Maybe our initial idea to cure my binge eating by way of just NOT practicle. How fat do i have to get to finally be OK with pizza?

If i am going to do cooked, something more akin to Dr. Fuhrman's diet is much more where i should be. Mostly raw, beans, veggies, low or no fat. Forever. That's it.

Listen and read about Rebecca, an Arnold's Way customer I met who follows Dr. Fuhrman's plan:

Here she is with Dr. Fuhrman holding up her size 7x shirt. She's lost 330 lbs.

I feel insane to switch ideas constantly, but i know that something will come to a head and make total and perfect when i went raw initially. I KNEW it was the answer....because i WANTED it to be the answer.

I just have to get back KNOW what i need to do.

Roth's awareness and insight into the emotional reasons we eat is right on. There's no reason i can't do that work...on any kind of a food plan.

Again, the question is of control. But what kind of control? For all the millions of success stories out there, people who have overcome eating issues....there are a million routes to success. Which one is best for me?

It would seem that a plan that addressed my need to control my reflux laryngitis for the sake of this glorious voice, and that promoted weight loss for this glorious professional opera singer in the making....would make the BEST sense.

And therapy to help me cope and work through my emotions instead of stuff them. A person can accomplish that on ANY kind of a plan.

xoxo michelle joy

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Pure Raw Joy is proudly annoucing there is going to be a huge change 'a comin' in Michelley's life, and in this blog! I've entered into a coaching relationship with my catering partner, Susan Aman! Susan is a living foods educator, a raw chef, a Registered Nurse and a Fitness Trainer. If you knew how wonderful Susan is, and how desperate and hopeless I've been feeling, you would be really happy for me. YAY!!!!

If you'd like to see some videos of Susan, go to youtube and do the search SUSAN ARNOLD'S WAY.

Susan is a former model for Ford and Elite and her beauty is only one of the things i love about her. Actually, she is the embodiment of inner and outer beauty for me.

And feminine power. Susan used to be so sick and disabled by so many diseases. She once relayed this story to me that literally carrying 3 bags of groceries from the car to the house would exhaust her so and send her to bed for 3 days. Since becoming a living foodist, she's overcome Fibromyalgia, a tumor on her back, lost 50 lbs, released pains up and down her legs, toes and hips, allergies, migraines, depression, the list goes on. Susan is now so fully functioning, she can't even stop! She has private clients she counsels, she gives talks all over the area, she has a 20+ hour wellness course she teaches in various locations. Her life has simply metamorphasized. Whereas she used to feel powerless...and actually BE physically, emotionally powerless....she is now powerful beyond measure. Assisting people to improve their helath and wellbeing energizes her. She has found her calling, her destiny.

I can't tell you how happy i am to not only be Susan's catering partner, but to now have her assisting me in meeting my personal goals of health and wellness. We joked with us being friends, then catering partners, and now counseling together, the only thing left was for us to become lovers. But, Cliff would be jealous, and so would her husband, Mark. :-))) I simply ADORE Susan, not in a romantic way, in a way of admiring who she is and what she has achieved and how she lives her life...and I want that. She's like the Earth Mother I needed.

Susan also eats some cooked foods and actually, she is the person i ate cooked beans with when i broke raw. When i view this experience now i can see it two ways - as my downfall or my liberation. I'm choosing to see it as the latter.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So, I said to myself, after beans turned into spelt pasta turned into pizza and donuts and fried onion do i dig myself out of the hole I'm in? I weigh nearly 300 again, I'm obsessed with cooked (vegetarian) food and I can't seem to dig myself out of it. Some days i have conrol, others i'm completely out of control.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Susan and I met for catering planning yesterday and it turned into a 1.5 hour private counseling session for me, discussing my needs and issues. I came to her house depressed, discouraged...and i left feeling empowered, excited and hopeful again. I liked how it felt, I've been seeking a coach, and we determined we could DO this together.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We talked a great deal about how the stresses in my life have been burdening me - taking care and living with my mom, my brother's depression, Cliff's declining eating habits, the opera, the two catering jobs, the high school reunion coming up in October.

THE HIGH SCHOOL REUNION. I realized that the reunion had really been working on me emotionally. High School was not a pleasant time for me. I was the fat kid and i was made fun of constantly.

The past few days, I've been crying alot, releasing alot of PAIN, alot of deep feelings of unworthiness. The upcoming reunion bringing up so much fear and pain...was actually cathartic. I feel ready to move on now. If i go or if i don't go is not even the issue now. The issue is getting to a place in my life where i feel good about ME again.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Susan and I came up with an outline of what we are going to do in our work together.

Number one is to create an eating plan. A mostly raw eating plan, incorporating 2 meals a day and snacks of exclusively raw foods, with dinners that consist of a green smoothie, a large salad, and then a binge food in a reasonable amount. (a slice of pizza from the really good pizza shop i like, or a hunk of fabulous bread and organic butter or 1/2 portion of chinese singapore noodles, or..., or..., or...)

I'm going to be making a list of all of my binge foods. Many of them are gourmet raw foods. Incorporating them into my plan will help me not to have to binge anymore because I'll know i'm always going to be 'allowed' to enjoy these foods.

Our that my need, or dependance on these foods will diminish naturally of it's own accord.

Getting lots of good greens in smoothies and salads and lots of fruit will be the main focus on my day. We're going to take it week by week and adjust accordingly.

Learning to eat binge foods in a new way will develop SELF TRUST.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We're going to stop focusing on weight loss, but focus on being good to me, making myself feel good (getting out in the sun, hydrating, exercise, etc...). We'll work on improving my lifestyle, the way i cope with stress, how i think (apply "the secret"), how i process my emotions, etc... A full on support program, one-on-one. Like Carlene, but Carlene was crazy. And Susan is marvelous.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We also outlined an entire list of other ways i can get pleasure in my life: walking, cleaning, decorating, shopping, working, baths with candles, baths where cliff scrubs me everywhere (!!!), massages with cliff, blogging, journaling, antiquing, sewing, meeting with friends, attending raw potlucks, swimming, etc., etc., etc.. I will be expanding this list ad infinitum.

We also talked about how I can attain more pleasure out of the food i do eat, such as eating very slowly, savoring, delaying gratification, buying/determining what i really like best. Why put Wawa mac 'n cheese in me if I don't even really like it...and it doesn't make me feel good? I'm not a garbage disposal. I'm a sensual, vibrant food lover, who needs to learn to be GOOD and LOVING to herself. Good quality raw butter, good raw cheese, spelt pasta. I can make mac'n cheese that will be much better for me...and satisfy those obvious needs i have.

This inclusion of 'binge foods' might surprise you, but it doesn't me. It seems like the answer now. It's obvious i like cooked food. If i'm going to constantly fall off and binge, perhaps i just need to learn to LIVE WITH these foods FIRST before i can say goodbye to them.....

I never really DID that. I've never allowed myself to just ENJOY how could i really expect myself to give up something completely I never really allowed myself to enjoy??? That's like skipping a step. Somehow allowing yourself to enjoy something, removing the guilt, helps you want it....less. You'd think it would be 'more,' but you need it LESS the more you enjoy it. You're honoring youself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We'll be using Dr. Christopher Fairburn's book, "Overcoming Binge Eating," to help guide us along. I was once binge free for an entire year using his approach.

One of the aspects of Fairburn's plan suggests eating frequently - a mix of healthy and pleasure foods, eaten in 6 meals throughout the day. (breakfast / snack / lunch / snack / dinner / snack), never leaving yourself hungry/vulnerable to a binge.

And if you do binge, here's the kicker - you MUST eat your next snack or meal and proceed on as usual, even if you're not hungry for it!!

For example, say you establish a routine of breakfast at 8, snack at 10:30, lunch at 1:30, snack at 3, dinner at 6, snack at 8. And you binge at 12pm? After the binge, you still eat your lunch at 1:30pm. This establishes you back on the routine, helps you psychologically get over the binge, and is curiouly effective.

You come to realize and recognize that meals/snacks eaten when you're hungry taste much much better and you begin to WANT to be hungry for each meal or snack, thus, lessing the liklihood of a binge. A little hard to explain, but it works. Eating that lunch after a binge is NOT a pleasant experience. Very hard to explain, but it makes you look forward to meals / snacks...and WANT to be hungry for them. And you come to see food as something not to be afraid of...that it is abundant and you can have long as you eat it in a meal or a snack. And you start to eat LESS because you want to be hungry for your next meal or snack. And you're including favorite binge foods daily. So, Binge eating completely fades away.

I want this back. I experienced it for a year.

Fairburn's entire approach rests on the belief that ALL BINGE EATING is a result of STRICT DIETING. I would have to say that that is very true in a lot of ways. I'm either dieting or binge eating and there has never been much of an in-between.

If there CAN exist this in-between....really entirely rests upon what i want. And at this point, this is really what i want. I want to stop binge eating. And i want to enjoy food. And i want to eat pizza. That's that. And i want to lose weight. People on Weight Watchers eat pizza and lose weight. Why can't i?

Susan will repeat my food plans monthly, meaning, i will never feel like I need to eat an entire pizza right NOW because i'll never get pizza again. No, i'll be getting it again next week or next month. So, i get to look forward to it, and i can say NO to it today because i know i'll get it tomorrow.

This is being talked about practically....but it's all very psychological. I'll be learning to trust the universe. I'm going to heal emotionally and spiritually and physically and mentally.

Plus, one peice of pizza a month (or whatever) is 1) not going to kill me 2) a means of ending my binge eating.

In other words, what's been killing me, is going to end up saving me. What i've been running away going to cure me.

It's not the's HOW i eat the pizza. This is all about INTERNAL WORK. This is going to be powerful ME recognizing my POWER over food. I can eat one peice of pizza. Yes, i can.

If or when i give up pizza will be the next step. I have to know my own personal power....first.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I'm going to look at this journey with Susan as the work I have needed to do my entire life. Yes, i can diet. Yes, I can binge. But, can i just live with food, know that the universe provides abundantly, learn to trust myself with food, and enjoy food, and lose weight, too?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Susan and I will meet one-on-one weekly to discuss/plan. i'll email her my food and day's overview daily. I'll get back to walking daily. I'll write down my food everyday and that will be that.

A new start.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I already feel different and better. I was lonely last night home alone before Cliff got home. I recognized it. I didn't binge. Although i could have. I was vulnerable. I have my opera today. I'm nervous. But i wanted to be GOOD to me. How could i have forgotten to add SINGING to my list of pleasures????!!!! Singing well is probably my BIGGEST pleasure outside of food...and when i eat well, i sing well (i have reflux laryngitis so when i eat poorly, acid swells my larynx). I wanted to eat well, so i would sing well today.

So, I acknowledged my feelings. I read a magazine. Ate 1/2 a baby watermelon because i was hungry and knew that something light would be GOOD for me, I took a bath, put my comfy slippers on. Everything I did was with an eye to making myself FEEL good in a positive way. Sensual things like fuzzy slippers and baths make me feel comforted.

So i didn't HAVE to eat a huge plate of 5 eggs with parmesan and 4 peices of bread, a typical start to a binge, to make myself FEEL BETTER. Yes, that comforts me, but would have been counter productive, causing swelling, and reflux. Fuzzy slippers and baths have no downsides.

But, maybe this egg and cheese and bread thing can be a meal, in a much smaller way, now, for me to simply....enjoy, one evening, eaten slowly, savored, after a green smoothy and salad????

Do you know i can't stop watching the food network because i get to watch people enjoying food.

You know what?

I'll be enjoying food.

And - I'll be flooding myself with good stuff, but allowing myself to feel GOOD about the "bad" stuff. Again, it's all very psychological. I don't think 'normal' people with 'normal' skills and abilities around food understand. If someone is NOT a binge eater, it will be hard for them to understand.

~ ~ ~~ ~ ~

Discipline with food.....or complete and utter Freedom. I want BOTH. I can be mostly raw.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Attaining 'pure raw joy' is a journey. And it takes a different form for everyone. At different times.

Because i'm a binge eater, and an obese one, this is the route i'm going to try for now. Just eating raw didn't take my binge eating away.

In this new way, I think there is hope for it. It will bridge the gap between 80-10-10ing....and full out binge eating on onion rings.

I obviously can't live in either extreme....and maintain that.

Bless me on my new journey and I'll keep you informed!

xoxo michelle joy

Thursday, April 15, 2010



I'm off to Arnold's Way to work this morning.

Feeling more than a little discouraged this morning. I had been doing so well with my food. I was so entirely pleased and encouraged. But, things unraveled yesterday.

I feel bad admitting it, but i have to.

I'm still struggling. After all of the blogging, all of the long, cathartic blogging, and i still have an eating disorder.

And 'pure raw joy' is rarely filled with much joy anymore. I should have titled this blog 'pure raw struggle.'

I mentioned that Dr. Daniel Amen special called "Change Your Brain, Change Your Body" that I saw on PBS the other week. It is constantly on my mind. Amen mentioned that overeaters, when their brains are scanned, they are missing things in their BRAINS and their BRAINS are people who eat regularly.

I am beginning to REALLY BELIEVE THIS.

Furthermore, he says, every overeater is different with different needs, and some have many complex needs. (Probably people like me who have long standing chronic big food problems and massive obesity issues.) To function well, according to Amen, some need protein and can't function without it, some need supplements to calm themselves down, some need stimulating supplements. He says a lot of stuff. It's not just as simple as that. He creates full programs for people.

It came to mind what i often discuss with my friend, Jan. We often talk about diet, and it occurs to me that when she says, "I need protein," she very well probably does. What do i need? I need a fulltime live in psychologist, a personal assistant to follow me around, a fulltime maid, a fulltime exercise coach. I need a lot of things. I need to exercise. I need to be on a program. I need to calm myself down.

I know one thing. My head talks to me.

And tells me to do things.

To eat. And i listen.

During the week when i was doing so well, i was eating in response to HUNGER. And that felt extremely liberating and so freakin' normal. I felt like i had really "gotten" it!

One episode of eating when i WANTED it instead of eating when i physiologically NEEDED it...and my disorder was reawakened.

Back to the voices. It's not like voices like crazy people hear, it's just thoughts. "Boy, wouldn't an icecream be refreshing?" And i obey that voice. And i'm beginning to see how nuts that is, because with me it never ends with just an icecream. Oh, one day, it might end, and i'm like, "See, how normal i can be?"

But, the next day? When i get the icecream again, it always veers out of control. And i'm like, whuuuu??? i did the same thing YESTERDAY...and THIS didn't happen then???!!!!!

And it really seriously disturbs me...that i am so disturbed. It's not just icecream. Anybody who drives around in their car just eating one thing after another is seriously disturbed. I know i said it before, it sounded freaky, but i swear to God, this voice in my head might just as well say, "kill someone," and if i was i murderer, i probably WOULD.

They're just THOUGHTS, but i KNOW they're harmful thoughts to me, YET, i obey.

I'm a food addict and when it tells me to get icecream...and i actually DO it, and then it tells me to get pizza and onion rings, too, and potato latkes, i have to ask myself if i'm not seriously mentally ill. Well, i am. Binge Eating is a mental disorder.

I'm well aware that it is also an emotional disorder. I have a lot going on. I'm stressed. I have to perform the opera again on Sunday. I'm preparing a concert for next Friday. I'm having meetings several times a week to plan an enormous raw catering event, followed by another.

The amount of planning and work that goes into making food, decorating tables and 50 million other tasks for 200 people one week and 50 the mind boggling. We now have to rent a kitchen so we have refrigeration for the crates of produce we need.

I'm under stress. And my weakness is food. And i keep falling.

Cliff and i had a long talk this morning. We both struggle with so many things in our lives.

I struggle with my voice - it's inconsistent. I'm phenomenol one week and envision myself on the cover of Opera News and the next, i'm really really awful. Well, not really AWFUL, just not GOOD enough for Opera News. I really SERIOUSLY struggled vocally at the opera on Sunday. Before i warmed up, i sang loud with the CD. What the hell was i thinking? I made myself HOARSE. And struggled through the entire opera. Vocally, i was mediocre. Yet, last night i had one of the BEST vocal sessions i've had since just a few weeks ago when i sang fabulously. Up and down, up and down.

I struggle obviously with food. I'm on, i'm off, i'm raw, i'm not, i fall, i get back on. I'm so very entirely frustrated with myself, but as Cliff constantly reminds me - I'm not where i was before. 425 lbs, that is. I'm not there. I'm better than i was, but i am NO WHERE where i want to be, or SHOULD be.

This blog was supposed to be all about success. And it's not. And i am so sorry for that.

And i struggle with exercise. Same - on, off, success, failure, strength, weakness.

Cliff struggles with exercise, too, but is having a fantastic time of success right now in his life with his bicycling, riding several times a week, gaining strength in his legs. But, his piano practicing is suffering. And now, since we're living with mom and he's getting a lot of food out, his diet is suffering and he's getting high blood pressure headaches. Calgon, take me away!

We hugged and kissed this morning and I cried and i said, "Honey, some people achieve phenomenol success in their lives. But, we haven't. We struggle. Maybe that's just what our life is?"

We both have so much potential.

He confirmed that my vocal inconsistencies are at least getting to the point where i'm really good alot more than i ever was. And at least he's back to biking. So important to see the positive side and to be grateful for that GOT TO REMEMBER THAT!!!!

I received this wonderful email today from my beloved friend, Jan. And it just said everything i was feeling.

Hi there Michelle,

Just a quick note. I wanted to share this comment on sent from one member to another: "Hey! Glad you're back. Food (like any thing else) is a day to day walk. We experience everything from the strut (I've sooo got it together days) to the crawl (I am just barely making it through). Rehab is all about sharing the joys of strutting and getting the hugs and helping hands when it's a crawl. We're here for ya."

Isn't that cool? I sooo love this place! I know you've got way too much on your plate right now, but just sharing a little of what encouragement is to be found there - when you have the time to check it out!

love ya much, jan

She's doing so well on Raw Food Rehab! Can't wait to talk to her about it!

I'd been doing well with Carlene just months ago.....

And i guess my screwed up BRAIN just needs someone to be accountable to. Josh of is doing his amazing 21 Day Transformation at Arnold's Way, and that's an option. Also, Natalie has offered to be my coach. Also, my catering partner, Susan Aman, counsels people and puts them on programs.

It's obvious i need more support than i have now, which is minimal, and i'm only at Arnold's Way 1x-2x/week, which isn't enough to keep me afloat.

I'll continue with the meditation and just know that BEING AWARE is the first step in recovery. If i didn't realize i was stressed... If i didn't realize i hear thoughts leading me astray... Hopefully, i'll soon develop the skills to learn to refute those voices when it is not appropriate. That i continue to ACT OUT disturbs me, but i just gotta pick myself up, brush myself off, and try AGAIN.

There is no shame in admitting needing help. It is obvious, afterall.

xoxo michelle joy

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Meditation, Rescue Me!

I've been meditating and it's calmed the food compulsions. Pretty amazing. Yesterday was the first time i ate - in days - when i wasn't hungry. (Not a great accomplishment, but being aware of it was new.) Eating when i wasn't hungry ticked off the binge impulse and I ate a meal after that which i was not hungry for, but it didn't turn into a binge. Somehow i'm calmer, more rational. I'm convinced the meditation is JUST what i need right now and is helping me.

Mom still wants the surgery, but she's putting it off until after my cousin's wedding on May 2nd. Some time to breathe.

Susan and I are meeting again today to plan more for our 2 raw catering jobs. We just realized the one for 200 people will need much more food than we've ever made. I must really center myself to stop from freaking out. The last raw catering job we did for 200 took us an entire week to prepare for - that was a one hour event and was finger foods. You have no idea the amount of labor that goes into making the raw food for that event. This job will not be hors d'euvres, but a full dinner, for many hours. Pray for us.

My voice is not too hot. With the allergies and singing over a cold several times, i'm scratchy and irritated in there. I'm also getting my period. I'm so scared. I have to sing the opera again on Sunday and I'm nervous because the day after i rehearse for the Jewish Heritage Concert, and then that Friday is the concert. Just WRITING all of this i feel nasious. Wish me luck! It's better for me to acknowledge it....but KEEP CALM AND CENTERED....!!!

Meditation, rescue me!

xoxox michelle joy

Monday, April 12, 2010


I am feeling pretty darned ELATED this morning.

Get this - I weighed in at 299.25 just the other day. This morning, i weighed in this morning at 282.50. 2 8 2. 50!!! WHAT??? High 90's to low 80's????? That's over 16 lbs just a few days!!! If you are shocked, imagine how shocked i was when i stepped on the scale this morning! Honest to God, i wasn't even TRYING!!!! It was effortless effort. I can't quite believe it.

Here's the blow by blow, in case you want to hear all of the details...

After the fiasco of going out and getting a filet 'o fish sandwhich at Burger King last week during a binge, and my feet, ankles and legs blowing up...and eating more pizza and donuts, afterwards, etc., etc., etc., and weighing in at 299.25, I was beside myself with fear, despair, hopelessness. I confessed to Arnold and everyone at work, and garnered lots of support.

It should come as no surprise to me when i have these episodes. I have a binge eating disorder and the way i referred to my present crisis to my friends was that i was in relapse. Just saying that calmed me. It put a name on a crazy unstoppable activity. Who would eat like that if they were in their right mind? First i get pizza, then chinese, then donuts, then icecream. All in a row. You know, i've been to the psycho ward 4x for this disorder. It's a psychological illness (mixed with physical cravings, mixed with spiritual bleakness). I've lived with this my whole life.

Everyone was so understanding. In fact, they didn't look at me like i was crazy. They know of my struggles. And what's more, they all said i should go easy on myself, and attributed the eating to the stress of living with my mom. I'm sure that's had something to do with it, along with the opera and all of the music i need to learn now, and the two catering jobs upcoming. I am under alot of stress, but i have NOT been handling it well. Yes, there have been times in my life when i've handled stress well, but they are in the minority.

My tendency is to procrastinate, and reach for outside stimulation (food) to calm myself. It's been a lifelong pattern.

Oddly, or not so oddly, everyone i seemed to come into contact with, sympathized with the stresses I'm under and suggested 'transitioning' as a way of practically dealing with my diet and guiding myself away from binge eating. Yes, looking back over the last few days, I just see influence after influence, different people all with the same message, amazing. And i see that I took right action, that i've been meditating, that i've been reaching out for more support. Somehow through all of this, relapse took a back seat, and i released a lot of weight.

So, yes, I've been TRANSITIONING. Arnold's daughter, Maya, suggested it first when i told her how awful my binge eating had become. "Why don't you just eat a transition diet for a while?," she suggested. It made sense. I didn't have to go raw cold turkey. I didn't have to be fearful i'd fall off and continue binge eating. I could begin a new phase called 'transition' and just let that be. And let that lead me, one day at a time.

I know instinctually from my dieting history, and also from what i've read at Arnold's Way that transitioning means healthy cooked: steamed veggies, brown rice, potatoes, cooked beans, low fat.

In my mind, it would be one meal a day, the last, as i've been making my mother. If it's good for her, why shouldn't it be good for me?

It made so much sense to me, right to my core.

I had been eating raw BADLY for 5 weeks here at home with my mom, lots of high fat stuff, binge eating on Brad's Raw Chips and endless dehydrated snack foods, eating anytime i 'wanted'....that meant...ALL DAY; anytime i THOUGHT of eating, snacking continuously. At least it was raw, but, it was driven compulsively. Not only was that seriously expensive, it wasn't doing my waistline or mental or emotional state any good. And when i fell off the wagon and binged on cooked food, the compulsive behavior i had been allowing on raw, continued on cooked. I felt unstoppable really bad...even eating fish for the first time in over 3 years, really pushing the limits. And the more i gained, the more scared i got.

Okay. So what to do now? In my mind, the choices were: Go on 80-10-10 or go low fat cooked.

80-10-10 cold turkey seemed and felt IMPOSSIBLE at that point. It's really hard for regular raw folks to do. It's ALL the way up there with IDEAL diets. How could i jump from horrendous to ideal? The jump seemed too big.

And i started to realize the binge eating was more emotionally and mentally based...than physically driven.

That's when all of these influences started happening.

I spent time with Susan Aman, my catering partner. Susan prescribes for her personal clients a similar approach to going raw - transitioning. She prescribes green smoothies, fruit and salads during the day, and vegan cooked dinners with fruit snacks in between. So...wise. This is the same plan millions of people get rid of cancer with Hallelujah Acres.

As a matter of fact, I ran into one of Susan's clients at Arnold's Way, Suzanne, who is looking FABULOUS using this transition diet. If she can transition, why can't i?

And i spoke with Maya. And I spent time with Colin, who has such an amazing outlook on food, recognizing that God will provide for us. His peace around food's abundant availability was profoundly influential. Colin does not eat all raw.

Suddenly, this message of 'transition' i was receiving from several sources felt like this wonderful heavenly place, a soft cushion, a pillow, an inbetween soft spot...between white knuckling raw and out of control binge eating. It seemed like the perfect place to rest, to relax, and to just let myself be. It's obvious i LIKE cooked food. Allowing myself to eat it, in a healthful manner, started to make sense. It's so CALMING to know...after binge eating voraciously on cooked, that i can allow myself that padding to have a cooked vegan dinner. Mentally, it's extremely, extremely calming. I don't have to WORRY about binge eating now. I can't explain it any better, but alot of the worry has been lifted.

Consequently, over the last few days, i've managed to NOT eat compulsively. The obsession has been lifted. Maybe the meditation????? I've been eating when i'm hungry, smoothies and fruit and salads during the day. And then for dinners, brown rice and tofu and steamed veggies, or roasted veggies and potatoes. It's not only been calming, it's been quite enjoyable.

And i lost over 16 lbs of water retention. That filet 'o fish really blew me up.

So.....needless to say, I'm EXTREMELY encouraged. And i'll continue on this path for today. It's not even so much about weight loss, i feel mentally and emotionally calmed, and that feels good.

Getting over one opera performance has helped to ease the stress, also.

P.S. I just had a talk with my mom and she agreed to wait a week or two before booking her surgery. I think all of this is emotionally precipitated. The Yahrzeit (anniversary of a death) of her first son is this week. He was killed accidentally crossing the street when he was 4 years old. I think it is not coincidental that she wants the surgery now. People in my family unknowingly opt for feeling physical pain as a substitute for allowing themselves to feel their emotional pain. It's how i was raised and it's no wonder i do the same.

xoxo michelle joy

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One Down....But Still More Hoops To Jump Through!

Here's me in my opera costume :-)) I played a Byzantine wife in Donizetti's opera, "Belisario" today at the Garden Church in Landsdown, PA. We perform again next Sunday at 2:30pm.

I did well with my food the past few days and I'm down a few pounds and feeling surprisingly un-compulsive about food. Too much going on to really do that.

Feeling quite stressed. Lots on my plate. Another opera next week, a new concert a week after that, lots of planning to do for the two raw catering jobs that i have with my catering partner, Susan. Very time consuming.

And my mom wants surgery again.

Feeling a little stressed and dejected, so more another time.

xoxox michelle joy

Friday, April 9, 2010

Light On The Horizon!

Hi there,

I had such a great day today. I worked at Arnold's Way Raw Vegetarian Cafe and Education Center, where I am one of the chefs, and it was such a supportive day, there and at home, that i am feeling filled with only good feelings. SO NICE!

One of our co-workers, Josh, is leading a 21 day workshop at Arnold's Way called the "21 Day Transformation." Even ARNOLD is joining are my other coworkers, Dorinda, and Megan, and 25 other customers!!!! For 21 days (which started last week), people are committing to better their diets, and get more in touch with nature and themselves. I worked with Josh today, who is such a darling, and I'm really feeling like a new beginning is in the works. Also, i came clean with Arnold and told him of my terrible personal struggles and crisis with cooked food and I felt so enveloped by love. Arnold is a special, dear person who is so filled with love. He thrives on helping people and i can only feel blessed and grateful to have him in my life. He also agreed to be my sponsor the next few days (weeks?) to get me over the hump and back on the raw track. He said to me, "Michelle, you're on overload." He can see in my cheeks, in my eyes, in my weight gain, that i'd veered off course. I am lucky to have such a good friend. I'm going to join the 21 Day Transformation and welcome anyone else who wants to join, too!

NEW VIDEOS regarding the 21 Day Transformation:

JOSH's webpage regarding the 21 Day Transformation:, which includes his daily blog.

Last night, late, on PBS was a special called "Change Your Brain, Change Your Body," by a doctor called Daniel Amen. It was really eye opening. Apparently, other people in the world struggle like i do with food. And he prescribes a whole foods diet rich in nuts and fresh fruits and veggies, and natural supplements, such as SaM-E and St. John's Wort to help 'normalize' our brains. Everyone's brain is apparently different though, and there are different types of overeaters. I did the online test to determine my type, but i fit so many classifications, all of them i think!!!!

Neverthelss, after watching that show, and doing alot of thinking, i really had an "Ahha" moment. Remember i sang at the raw wedding union in Oregon???? I was doing 80-10-10 at the time, filling myself with lots and lots of nutrition and keeping away from all stimulants, and i was as COOL AS A CUCUMBER, able to handle the stress of flying across the country to sing for strangers. Compare that to today, eating cooked food, i'm suddenly a mess with stress, even lesser stress, singing a local opera. The point is: like kids who have ADD and behave BETTER on a better diet, i'm behaving poorly, due to my recent poor diet. It's a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Am i eating poorly because of stress? Or am i stressed because i'm eating poorly. I'm tending to think it's the LATTER.

Also, Dr. Amen says that meditation is immensely helpful for my type of personality. Everything he said confirmed what i know. I do better on fruits and veggies, i need meditation to calm down, exercise to de-stress... And maybe i need some supplements to help my brain function better.

Cliff knows what's going on with my food issues and he's been tough, but so loving. He washed me in the tub this morning. That felt immensely nurturing and loving. He told me i look beautiful even though i know i look awful. 299.25 this morning.

Going to work having gained weight today was hard, but turned out to not be as hard as i thought it would be. I was busy, so I did surprisingly great at work with food. I actually didn't even really eat that much. And because i was honest about my crisis, i received so much support from coworkers and customers. One of my students from a raw class was particularly inspiring and uplifting. She is doing FABULOUS and has lost weight since i last saw her (and the teacher has gained!) She reminded me of my story in Lisa Montgomery's book, "RAW INSPIRATION," and how i said i would never eat cooked food again.

She has found a good rhythm for herself with her eating after taking Susan Aman's class (Susan is my catering partner), and now does, without fail, lemon water before breakfast, then fruit, then a green smoothie, then more fruit, then salad, then a cooked vegan dinner. That sounds very do-able, and I think I can transition back on track doing just that. Arnold's daughter, Maya, suggested I "transition", also, and i have to agree, at this point, with how bad things have been, it actually sounds smart, although, i don't know if i can accomplish it, but it would take a lot of the pressure off of having to be perfectly raw, and then to fall and binge as horribly, as i have been. It sounds SENSIBLE. If i can do it is another story. I'll tell you one thing, it will be a huge improvement over my breakfast this morning from the Dunkin Donuts Drive In: 2 eggwhite flatbread sandwhiches, 1 waffle, egg 'n cheese, 1 order hash browns. Uy vey!

The good news is i made it home from work without incident and i'm feeling good and positive. I have butterflies in my tummy regarding my opera performance on Sunday. And that's just the way it should be. No more hiding in food.

I'll keep you informed.

Just feeling grateful for support tonight.

xoxo michelle joy