My Relationship with Food.
Ever since I was about 7 years young, I have always struggled with body image issues. I refused to wear a bikini without board shorts to cover my thighs, and covered my stomach with tank-top swimwear. Attending an all-girls school for 13 years certainly had both positive and negative influences on my mindset and overall wellbeing. I made life-long friends with women who are driven, motivated and continuously make me smile every day. However, constantly being around girls meant that I was always comparing myself to them, whether it be academically, physically, mentally or emotionally.
My final year in high-school stands as the catalyst that truly introduced me to who I am. Indirect social pressures got the better of me, and I became obsessed with what I ate, when I ate it and how much I exercised. When I reflect on this time, it was not all negative. I welcomed a lifestyle that encouraged exercise for happy endorphin release, whilst also teaching myself to cook. I learnt how to ‘cook once, eat twice’, understanding the importance of planning your meals, especially when life gets busy! However, this constant obsession with food, combined with the expected stress and nerves from the High School Certificate, introduced me to an enemy that I sometimes run into from time to time.
The name of this enemy is Binge Eating.
DISCLAIMER – Before I continue, I will highlight that this is one of the first times I have publicly announced my binge eating disorder and bulimic history. I so often read about others experiences, admiring their ability to share their story. I also witness how the sharing of such stories can have such a significant impact on others – helping those who are struggling and too afraid to speak up, to conquer their own battles.
My enemy Binge Eating quickly became an addiction. I would stare into the kitchen pantry, the fridge, aisles of the supermarket. I would catch myself, glancing from one food item to the next. From here, I would start to feel a foggy cloud enter behind my eyes, almost lifting me up into an out of body experience. It was like an inner demon was taking over my sub-conscious, ready to attack. It was this moment when I knew this enemy I met in high school was about to win the fight. Everything I had glanced my eye over went from sitting in the pantry or fridge to being chewed in my mouth, swallowed by my throat and buried deep into my stomach.
The quicker I demolished the entire pantry and food display, the less I would realise what I was actually doing. The quicker it was gone, the more I could consume without feeling completely stuffed also. Sometimes, it would be an array of food items, or sometimes it would be one item. An entire container of ice-cream. A full jar of Peanut Butter. A huge box of Favourites chocolates.
Binge Eating can be the enemy of everyone from time to time, especially during periods where emotions get the better of us. However, it was the incidents that happened after the actual binge itself that made me recognise I was mentally sick.
I would run upstairs to the bathroom, turn on the tap or the shower, and force myself to reverse the damage that was done in the kitchen. I would not leave the toilet until everything was removed from my insides. I would abuse laxatives, stool softeners and Skinny Teas, hoping these artificial drugs would reverse the harm I had already done.
Sounding pretty heavy? I apologise. But it is about time that we, together, start to properly talk about this issue in the flesh. A desire to be healthy is an amazing attribute, yet it is equally important to recognise when the process goes that one step too far. For me, it was introduction of nutrition knowledge and learning how to adopt a lifestyle that suits YOU.
As soon as I realised it is okay to not be okay, I began the road to self-recovery.
Everyone has a ‘lightbulb’ moment at least once in their life. Whether it is that “aha!’ feeling after a project, or a 2am realisation whilst lying in bed. My ‘lightbulb’ moment was instigated through my studies of Holistic Health Coaching at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I learnt to heal my own wounds, and also the wounds of others. Sharing my experience, knowledge and learnings with others is the gift that keeps on giving.
In regards to that enemy, Binge Eating, that I met in high-school – maybe you are wondering whether I still know that enemy? Well, to be completely transparent with you, I do meet that enemy from time to time. If I am extremely tired, stressed or upset, I overeat. I have strength in assuring that any bulimic episodes are in the past, yet I recognise that binge-eating does arise from time to time. On the other hand, there is a huge difference from me now to me back then. I know the signs, symptoms and causes of an episode. Of course there are slip ups, but hey! That’s life and no one is perfect. The magic lies in the ability to pick myself up whenever I fall down. No matter how hard the fall. And I believe that my purpose is to show you how to do exactly that.
My Relationship with Flow.
Years of restricted eating patterns and binge eating has placed a huge strain on my digestive system. Ever since I was about 16 and on my way to adulthood, the tendency to “feel bloated” stands as my number one pet hate. Years of overeating and overexercising really took its toll in my first year out of high school. I moved out of home and into the college environment down in Wollongong. This drastic change shocked my system in multiple ways, especially in the way it functions naturally. Lots of alcohol, foreign food choices, irregular sleep patterns and lack of exercise really pushed me off my bandwagon. (Without going into too much detail, there was a period of time where I did not produce a bowel movement for 13 days!)
After realising that college life was not for me (during this time), I moved back to Sydney and met with a Nutritionist. I told her about my symptoms and inability to visit the toilet daily. She assessed my diet and lifestyle, advising what needed to be changed. However, there was one suggestion that stood out the most and had the biggest impact on my life. It was the idea to start yoga that stands as a remarkable turning point for me.
I began my yoga journey with a one month unlimited trial at Power Living Yoga Studio (I am lucky enough to now be working there!). I found a love for heated Vinyasa – the twisting, folding, bending, sweating and holding helped to calm my mind, body and soul within almost an instant. The use of breath and movement assisted in switching off my ‘fight or flight’ response, and switching on my ‘rest and digest’ instead. It was from this time, June 2015 to be exact, that I have helped to heal my physical and mental woes.
As I continued to practice more and more, learning the Asanas and Philosophy, I also saw the ability for Yoga to transform your everyday life. I found clarity in my mindset, whilst also seeing physical changes in the way my body functions. Adding yoga into my every day routine allows me to find inner peace and a sense of grounding. At the beginning of 2017, I ventured off to Bali for 2 months where I undertook 200hrs of Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training (which I will explore in more depth in a later post). However, I will accentuate the impactful experience this training had on my life. Not only did I meet other people from around the world who shared almost the exact same values as my own, I finished the 200hrs with an entirely new approach to life.
Now, I not only practice yoga in a studio, but I carry it with me every day.