In this interview you’ll learn from two women how, if you heal your trauma, you can lose the weight that you constantly struggle with.
You can read or listen.
Jackie Trottmann: Author of The Freedom to Eat – 10 Secrets for Lasting Weight Loss and Inner Peace. I’m continuing my series of interviewing other folks who share their own story in struggling with their relationship with food, body image, and weight. In my book I share my story of struggle with food and how I set myself free through 10 Secrets.
Today I’m excited to share with you, a lovely woman that I met at a Writer’s Conference called Tribe. Her name is Danielle Bernock. She is an author and she’s written a beautiful book called Emerging With Wings – A True Story of Lies, Pain, and the LOVE that Heals.
I love her vulnerability as she shares in this book. Part of her struggle also involved food. So I’m going to be asking her a series of questions and what her struggles have been. And more importantly, how she overcame those struggles.
Welcome Danielle! What was your relationship with food?
Danielle Bernock: I struggled with that word relationship because I had never thought of food as a relationship. But then when I looked in my book, I found that I had identified it and didn’t even realize it. I would call it a love/hate relationship because I loved food, but I hated food and was afraid of food when the eating disorder started – I had a love for food especially for sweets. (Chuckle)
Jackie Trottmann: Share a little bit how that came about as a result of your father.
Danielle Bernock: When I was little, my parents were raising Labrador retrievers for show and for trial. They had a litter of puppies and I fell in love with one of them called Jolly Green Giant. He was the runt. My father promised me that I could have one of the puppies and I chose this puppy.
He sold the puppy out from under me. I was devastated. In the back yard we had a big white doghouse. I went outside and climbed in that doghouse and hid in the back of it to hide inside of my pain.
My dad came out and tried to coax me to come out with cheese curls and Little Debbie cakes and whatever he could to get me to come out and I wouldn’t come out.
That was the first time I realized that food wouldn’t solve my inner problem. He tried that with my brother also and he developed problems with food later in life. Food doesn’t solve that problem with the inner soul. I had a soul problem and he tried to solve it with a food answer.
Jackie Trottmann: How did you use food as control and share with us how you used food as self-hatred?
Danielle Bernock: The self-hatred and eating disorder started later after a breakup that devastated me. I was supposed to get married and was dumped on Christmas Eve. I had already gone through the loss of a brother, the loss of my dad, the loss of my grandmother and the loss of other people in my life and beloved animals. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back that night.
I was toast. I just went inward to try to destroy myself as slowly as possible. I hated myself in so many different ways and didn’t even understand why. That was just a trigger that night.
I started with weird diets. Like chemical balance diets, eat this with that. Then would just have a slice of cantaloupe and that’s all I would eat all day. Then it turned into bulimia because not eating wasn’t painful enough. I found out about bulimia from someone else I knew.
So I started that and would binge and purge. I was very sad later in life because I had really good strong teeth and I now have lots of fillings and crowns in my mouth due to bulimia. It’s very destructive to your body and I was using it as a tool to do that.
It lasted for a good number of years that I did that and then I learned to control it to some extent. I used other things to attack myself. One of them was religion and I didn’t even know that.
It was after I came to know the grace of God that I was able to overcome and stop attacking myself. I started accepting myself because I finally saw that God accepted me instead of God measuring me.
Just like I used to measure me – every part of my body and kept track of it for years – the size of my calves, my thighs, my hips, my waist, my bust, my arms. I found the papers in my drawer for this interview and was shocked that I was doing that even as recently as four years ago.
It’s been since then. It was the same year that I released my book, 2014, was the last time I did that. It was through the grace of God, knowing that God loves you unconditionally, as is, and that he will help you become what he has designed.
Because he’s made us beautiful masterpieces and it’s like chiseling away at our outer yuck from being on this planet and traumas in our lives and he chisels away to find the real beauty of who we are inside.
It’s little by little. Like the Israelites in the wilderness and when they were taking over the Canaanites. God told them he would do it little by little so that the wild animals would increase and would not bring destruction.
It’s been little by little that God has led me out of the eating disorders, and I can eat whatever I want and be healthy. I focus on being healthy, me and my husband. We do a thing called the pretend Keto diet trying to become healthier.
My prayer life is very important to me. I spend time with the Lord every day. I have confessions I do to speak over myself. More so to reprogram my mind so that I’m thinking differently like programming a computer. You put it in there it will come out. If it’s in there a lot, that’s what will come out when you are under pressure.
Jackie Trottmann: That’s so important. I have to tell you. Danielle is this little thing. She’s this little tiny woman that I’m sure you don’t view yourself as being tiny.
Danielle Bernock: I finally do to some extent now because I never did before. I used to feel very fat. (Chuckles)
I remember as a child going to school and there was this one girl who was really tall and really skinny and she could cross her legs and she could put her toe behind her ankle. I used to try to do that all the time and I could never do that. And I can do that now – laughs. But I don’t need to do that.
Jackie Trottmann: I think it’s interesting how we view ourselves. I loved how Danielle shared these books and graphs of measurement.
My husband and I moved to a new house and I was clearing out stuff that was sitting in the basement, since I had moved into my husband’s house to begin with.
I had journals and journals of daily calorie counts. It was ridiculous! I counted every morsel I put in my mouth, and counted every calorie. It does take over your mind completely.
It is that grace of God and peace of Christ that helps sets us free from that obsessive behavior.
What are you doing now? Do you find you have twinges with food? How do you cope with keeping that inner peace and lasting weight loss that you enjoy now?
Danielle Bernock: I would say I still struggle from time to time, but then I see it. I arrest that thought and thought process and say, no, you’re fine, how much do you weigh? What size do you wear? What is going on here? I have to have a self-reality check.
Then remind myself that I am not my body. I am beautiful. I am what God has made me to be. I just want my body to be healthy. Was that a healthy choice? Are you doing healthy things? I have to focus on that and acceptance. God accepts me. That’s what’s important.
It’s a lie if you think you are fat when you’re not. It’s a lie. Lies come at us at lots of different ways. It’s like laughable sometimes that the enemy is out there trying to get us to believe lies all the time.
Being immersed in the word of God is something I do a lot. I spend time in the Word and with the Lord every day. I love it! It’s not a law to me. It’s like meeting my best friend in the morning. I absolutely love doing it. It’s like I’m addicted to him in a good way.
Jackie Trottmann: A healthy addiction!
Danielle Bernock: I take communion frequently to connect to stay connected. He said, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” I want to stay connected. He’s the one who provides the freedom. I provide the problems and He provides the freedom.
Jackie Trottmann: That’s so important to have that time to ground ourselves. I think it’s interesting that you shared with me that your real healing and processing all that you’ve gone through throughout your life really came to fruition through your writing this book.
I’m a big believer in journaling. I’ve kept journals since I was a teenager. My father was an alcoholic and his violent outbursts I just didn’t understand and no one talked about it. I turned to my journal to express and write out my feelings. It’s been proven, and I sight in my book The Freedom to Eat, how cathartic it is to write and get those secrets out of you and how journaling can be a real healing process.
Just because Danielle and I have become published authors, don’t let writing intimidate you. You don’t have to worry about grammar or complete sentences. You can write like a five-year-old, because sometimes that five-year-old needs to be heard within you, too.
Danielle, if you just want to sum up, and share the healing process through the writing of your book.
Danielle Bernock: One thing I learned releasing the book, which absolutely terrified me to put out there, was the big revelation to me in my book was the quote I find all over the Internet.
It’s part of what you said that people didn’t talk about whatever you dealt with. I diminished everything I went through because I didn’t think it was bad enough. So I was making a big deal out of everything.
I was told when I was growing up that I was overly sensitive, making a big deal out of nothing. I was selfish. My feelings were denied. When I went into counseling, my counselor said I was terrified. I was terrified of my feelings. I was terrified of everything.
But then in my book, I came to the revelation that what I had gone through was traumatic. Whether anyone else saw it as trauma or not didn’t matter. I had to see it as traumatic. Then I had to deal with it because I had to have that trauma validated, even if no one else saw it as trauma.
So the quote I would like to share from my book that I see all over because it speaks to people so much and this is the beginning of healing. Is to see your trauma as trauma, don’t diminish it.
“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.”
I have found that quote in so many organizations. And it rings true with people. It’s personal. If you were traumatized, you were traumatized. It doesn’t matter if someone says that’s stupid. They are being unkind and that’s a lie. If you were traumatized, you were traumatized. Trauma is a reaction inside your soul. It is not an incident. Acknowledge the trauma and you can begin with the healing process.
Jackie Trottmann: Until we heal, we really can’t be effective in the world. We’ve all been given unique gifts and talents. The world needs each and every one of us to be the people God created us to be.
Danielle Bernock: We need each other, and we all see something from a different vantage point and we need that.
Jackie Trottmann: Thank you for sharing and I wanted to let people know about her book Emerging With Wings – A True Story of Lies, Pain, and the LOVE that Heals. Her website is https://www.daniellebernock.com/
Danielle has written a new book that I’m honored to be a part of sharing my story! It will be coming out in September, You Matter – How to Take Ownership of Your Life So You Can Really Live. I’ll post the link when it is available.
If you want to set yourself free, join me in having the freedom to eat. Check out the free book study and register for The Freedom to Eat – 10 Secrets for Lasting Weight Loss and Inner Peace.