Admired for her authenticity, Meryl Hershey Beck, a licensed professional clinical counselor, is appreciated and respected for her perseverance in doing the hardcore work and her clarity in finding no-kidding solutions to end the misery of addictions. She spent the first half of her life as a closet eater, gaining weight and feeling overwrought. Once she became active in 12 Step support groups, the bingeing — fueled by anxiety, low self-esteem, and the desire to escape — started to wane. Intent on uncovering the root cause of her overeating, Meryl began to incorporate other modalities in her quest for self-understanding. As a counselor, teacher, and author, Meryl joyfully shares these many tools and techniques that skyrocket personal growth and alleviate emotional eating. An authority in this field, she has presented at workshops and conferences internationally.
Photo credit: Saguaro Shadows Photography
THE GENESIS OF THE BOOK
STOP EATING YOUR HEART OUT: The 21-Day Program to Free Yourself from Emotional Eating comes from my personal and professional experiences. I spent my first thirty years hoarding and hiding food, eating in secret, consumed with guilt and shame, unaware that I suffered from binge eating disorder.
As a youngster I saw the teleplay “Days of Wine and Roses” – which deals with the heartache of alcoholism and the recovery found in AA. I secretly wished that there was a place like that for me and called myself a “foodaholic” because once I started eating (in private) I had trouble stopping.
Fast forward to 1975, when a friend took me to my first Twelve-Step recovery meeting. I was so excited that such a place existed after years and years of failed attempts at dieting. But I hated the meetings. It felt like I was in church and they were trying to convert me. I felt like a fish out of water hearing people express honest emotions, since I grew up in a family where only positive feelings were permitted. Although I felt very threatened, I returned each week for two reasons: 1) I saw people losing weight and keeping it off; and 2) I was a soap opera junkie, and this was like a real-life soap opera. As we went around the room, people shared details about their lives and I wanted to know if Tony told his parents he was gay and did Brenda go out with the black man and did Joan’s adoption come through. I was hooked into returning each week to find out!
Working a Twelve-Step program was my initiation into so much: spirituality (finding a higher power who loves me unconditionally); opening to personal growth through working the steps; emotional recovery—when I stopped compulsive eating many emotions came to the surface and I learned to name them and work with them; inner child work; self-empathy; forgiveness work; gratitude. It changed my life.
Because I successfully sponsored so many women, I decided to become a licensed counselor in 1990 and worked with the recovery population. I used all the tools I had discovered in the program plus the new energy tools that I studied in the 1990s.
Knowing that I had successfully stopped emotional overeating myself and helped my clients do the same, I felt compelled to let others know. In my book I disclose what I used to be like, what happened, and what I am like now. I was brutally honest in sharing my story and also incorporated some of the experiences from my clients. The tools we used are presented in the 21-day plan and they work! I am grateful that I have a published book that has the potential of helping so many that suffer from the shame and guilt of compulsive overeating.