Thank you for wanting to learn more about my own journey through . . .
Food Addiction – Obesity – Anorexia – Bulimia – Yo-yo Dieting – Binge Eating – Food Addiction – Obesity – Recovery
Every experience in life is part of your life story and makes you who you are – both the good and bad.
The people who come into your life are also part of your story and help to shape who you are.
You have a choice to either become a victim of circumstance or to learn and become stronger from it.
The choice you make will define your life – the decisions you make, how you think, how you feel, how you communicate, your relationships, your health and more.
Like any journey worth noting, mine took years in the making.
My story includes struggles with:
- Food addiction;
- Yo-yo dieting which included emotional and stress eating;
- Binge Eating Disorder, and
- Much more.
I promise there is a happy ending!
Let me share the whole story with you.
Hopefully you are able to take some lessons away from my story.
Here we go…
My food and weight issues began very early.
I was diagnosed with Childhood Obesity and Food Addiction at 18 months of age.
Although my parents tried to remedy the situation as soon as they realised, for which I am truly grateful, the course of my life was changed and affected forever.
When something is not familiar, people tend to reject it, and that’s what happened to me.
Childhood Obesity was not very common when I was a child, and as a result I was stared at, taunted, and teased – both by children and adults. One of the closest rejections, lack of acceptance and harshest judgements was from my paternal grandfather.
School was filled with harsh life lessons.
Kindergarten and my first year at school were the most difficult. I cried every day as I was severely bullied.
The bullying caused me to suffer from low self-esteem, confidence, and body-image.
I was a shy child and the bullying made me afraid to interact with peers, or other children I did not know, and this lead to Social Anxiety.
It didn’t help that I was not blessed with coordination, musical or sporting ability. I was always picked last for most physical or sporting activities. This continued to feed my lack of self-esteem and confidence.
The only thing that I was good at was academics, so I suppose, being a little nerd was the only thing that gave me confidence and boosted my esteem. Unlike many people, I was lucky as my bullying ceased, thanks to one very brave little girl named Rachael.
She stood up to the bullies for me and helped me with increasing my self-esteem and confidence over time. She didn’t see my weight, she saw a vulnerable girl who needed help and she came to my rescue!
She became both my warrior against the bullies and best friend.
By the end of primary school, I was in a normal weight range and had lots of friends.
However, the effects of Childhood Obesity and bullying remained with me; and did so all the way into my adult life.
I always saw myself larger than I was; I was constantly comparing myself to others, and I always felt as though I was not good enough in everything I did!
My poor parents tried so hard to help me find an activity that I both enjoyed and was good at – little athletics, swimming, tennis, ballet, jazz, basketball and the list goes on and on!
My lack of coordination, musical and physical prowess left me still feeling as though I was just not good at anything!
Finally, at the age of 16, I discovered something I both LOVED and excelled at: Latin Ballroom Dancing.
My passion for it fuelled my drive all the way to state and national competitions and propelled a successful Amateur, Professional and teaching career.
The Need for Control in the Midst of Chaos & Crisis
At the age of 23, my life plummeted into a spiral of compounded grief. I had 3 major losses within 3 months and this threw my entire life into chaos!
- My younger sister passed away;
- I found out that my relationship partner, whom I was looking at planning a future and buying a house with, was cheating on me, and
- My dance partner wanted to move to Sydney to advance our Professional careers.
Everything that was once steady ground under my feet was gone! All that was left was a constant landslide.
Every step I took was on unsteady ground; not knowing when or if the next step would lead to another landslide.
There was nothing to hang on to and darkness was encompassing me.
I had to find something that gave me some sense of steadiness and stability; something that I could hold on to and control, even when my world was still in chaos.
I finally found that the only certainty and control I could have, was over food, sports training and exercise.
In the beginning, it provided solid ground and balance for survival!
As time went on, the desire to control intensified. What I was not aware of, at the time, was that I feared feeling and emotional pain and this unconscious fear became my driving force for more control – I was running away and trying to hide from my grief and loss.
The drive spiralled me down into the psychological and physical tormenting web of Anorexia. I didn’t even know it! People were telling me that I was losing too much weight and they were worried about me but I was so disconnected from myself, reality and the world around me that I didn’t really hear them or even care.
I had gone from 47kg to 41kg. It caused so many arguments between my parents and me. I feel so sorry for my parents for what I put them through, and particularly my mum.
They had just lost one daughter and they were watching their other daughter self-destruct in front of them.
They were trying to deal with their own grief and loss and I was adding more stress, at a time when they didn’t need anymore. Every time they tried to talk to me about it, I threw back a torrent of anger and fury. Now I realise that this was my ED or Anorexia brain wanting to maintain control. Anger is its main line of defence and survival, against those who it perceives as a threat.
Reflecting back, this makes me so sad that I did this to them, and mainly my mum, who was just trying to help and support me.
The Turning Point: A Compromise Became Even More Consuming
My turning point was after a friend hen’s party, when she was showing us the photos. During this time, I would refuse to get my photo taken.
Looking through the photos, I caught a glimpse of someone in the background and was horrified to see how ghastly sick they looked.
I kept staring and then I asked, ‘who is that?’
I wasn’t expecting the answer – she said, ‘that is you!’
I went into shock and disbelief.
I had been so disconnected from myself and reality that this threw me, and I didn’t know how to process the situation – REALITY!
Again, I felt as though the ground was slipping out from under me. I could not believe what I looked like, or who I had become. Part of me wanted to not look like that or be that and yet the other parts of me DID NOT WANT to connect to reality.
Reality meant opening up the flood gates to feeling and emotional pain.
For those who have been on the perpetual cycle of dieting or who have suffered from an Eating Disorder, you will understand when I say parts of you. These are connected to different conversations and even different voices. NO….this is not schizophrenia or split personality disorder!
Some say they have a devil and angel – one voice that tries to lead them astray and one that keeps them on the straight and narrow.
During this time, I had 4+ voices. I felt like I was a rag doll in the middle of a fight between multiple people – each holding on to me – pushing and pulling at me – each trying to be the one to gain control or hold on to me.
This was so mentally exhausting as the voices never let me rest. Each and every voice wanted a say; some were more aggressive, dominant and louder than others, and everyone wanted their own way.
I made a deal! It took some time but I did start eating again. I found new processes and behaviours to appease most of the voices – most of the behaviours, beliefs and thoughts were not healthy.
The problem with my recovery is that I never sought help for the Eating Disorder, only the grief. The compromise was Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder followed that. This is when I think my life became even more consumed by food, exercise, the scales, calories, body hatred, shame, Depression and more!
My entire world, how I felt and what I did, was all determined by my food, the amount I exercised and that damn number on the scales!
Dirty Little Secrets
By my late 20s I had tried countless:
- Exercise plans, and
- Self-help books,
To lose weight, find happiness and body perfection!
Surprisingly, nothing truly worked! I was on the cycle of yo-yo dieting! A few months here, a few weeks there and then it became all too hard and exhausting. I couldn’t maintain the level of:
- willpower, or
- self-control and would have a binge!
Then the voices of self-abuse or the internal bullies would kick in.
I would follow one of two paths:
- Rebel and continue to eat badly for days or weeks, telling it to bugger off and leave me alone, or
- Get back on track and continue the next day. The next day and/or week will involve overcompensating with restriction and/or increased exercise because I felt disgusted and ashamed, constantly wondering – ‘WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?’
This internal conflict and turmoil continued for years.
One of the hardest things was that no one knew my ‘dirty little secret’ – I never discussed it with friends, family or my boyfriend.
Food = Pain Relief
I just felt like I was getting on top of my food and weight issues, and feeling normal when I protruded 2 discs in my back – and my life was thrown into chaos all over again.
I could not exercise, perform, teach dance, and work – even sit and walk at times.
This triggered Depression, and before I knew it, once again I turned to food to help me to cope with the pain, grief and loss, feelings of being alone and isolated.
I went from a size 8 to a size 14, and my life was again controlled by food and weight!
Slowly, I began to get my life back on track and my reliance on food reduced. I did continue to yo-yo throughout my early 30s and my weight kept getting higher and higher each time.
At the age of 35, I hit one of my lowest points with tearing both of my Achilles tendons. Walking was hell! My stress, pain and Depression hit an all-time high and I turned to my old friend, food, to comfort me!
I soon found myself, the heaviest and largest I had ever been. I was stuffing myself into a size 18. I don’t even know how much I really weighed because I got so depressed when I hit 82kg that I stopped weighing (for some that may not sound heavy but I am a tiny frame). I was now classified as Obese!
My life had come full circle! I felt like an addict; I was completely and absolutely controlled, consumed, trapped and imprisoned by food.
I didn’t have a name for it at the time, I didn’t realise it was Food Addiction. But I had completely isolated myself from everyone as I was so depressed, in so much pain and I was so ashamed of myself and my weight!
The Missing Piece of the Puzzle Hit Me Like a Lightning Bolt!
I was sitting in my lounge room one day, doing my typical bingeing process, when it was like a bolt of lightning hit me! The sudden flash came from nowhere, stopping me in my tracks, and I was brought to tears with both realisation and understanding!
I finally had an answer!
I WAS A FOOD ADDICT!
This was the missing piece of the puzzle for me that underpinned by entire history with food, eating and weight. For the first time in my life, I knew things were going to be different and that I was going to stop this cycle for good.
I had the light at the end of the tunnel and I could see it and feel it!
I began researching like a crazy woman! I got my hands on anything and everything related to:
- Food addiction,
- Binge eating,
- Stress and trauma,
- Brain chemistry,
- Genetic links, and
- Brain functioning during all of these processes.
The moment that I put together my entire food and weight timeline (Obesity, Food Addiction, Anorexia, Bulimia, BED, yo-yo dieting, Night-time Eating) with all of the aspects of addiction, was the moment my true recovery began.
I realised that it was just one factor that contributed and maintained my food and weight issues, it was the complete puzzle of my:
- Timeline of Eating Disorders
- Relationship and Connection to food and eating
- Brain function and Brain chemistry,
- Social, relationship and parenting experiences both positive and negative
- Personality and Psychological processes such as processing of emotions, coping strategies, beliefs, thought processes and all life experiences including both positive and negatives such as grief and loss and trauma.
- Biochemistry, Hormones and Genetics.
I developed a program that integrated all of the factors, for myself, and I naturally started breaking my addiction and losing weight without effort. Within 6 months, I had lost 20kg and most of my Disordered Eating Behaviours and Food Addiction. It was the easiest thing I had ever done!
One of the most significant things that I did was to tear up and throw out the old ‘rule book’ that had kept me trapped for decades!
By Shifting My Mindset, I began to empower myself towards positive change and action.
I stopped listening to the negative messages that had been stated to me over and over again by my ‘bullying’ voices.
I started questioning the messages and countering them with new messages that supported the journey I was on, the person I wanted to be and the life I wanted to live.
No Longer Was I Going To Be Held Hostage and Only Given Permission TO EXIST!
I Was READY to LIVE MY LIFE the WAY I WANTED TO!
I completely changed the philosophies by which I lived my life!
This was the most empowering gift I gave myself throughout the journey! For the first time, in my life, I had a positive relationship with food, my weight, my body, and myself. This enabled me to make informed choices for health and living life.
I developed a true connection and relationship with myself that included:
- Acceptance – most importantly my body and all of its perceived flaws and myself unconditionally,
- Acknowledgement, and
By completely Resetting my Mindset, it allowed me to continue to lose more weight and all of my Addiction and within 12 months I had lost 30kg.
I have maintained a stable weight since 2009 which is the first time in my life.
I have not returned to Disordered Eating or Addiction, as I know how to manage it and make choices to support a life without these patterns.
I now know what triggers my Addiction and Disordered Eating – Fatigue, Stress, Starvation mode and Certain Foods.
My relationship with food is healthy. . .
I deeply understand my body, my cravings and food which allows me to have the power of choice.
Food is my friend and what keeps me healthy.
I have created a healthy enjoyment of food, and it is my choice not to eat the foods that will trigger a binge (yes, still to this day). I am not depriving myself as I am making an informed choice, not to do this to myself or my body. I know when I am balanced and OK to have something that may be a little more exciting. Even when I am presented with this choice, I determine if I want it or not – sometimes the answer is yes and other times it is no.
The most important aspect is that I plan ahead. I have what I call ‘healthy replacement foods’ that allow me the yum to have when I am having cravings so I have set myself up for success, knowing that these foods satisfy the cravings without resulting in any form of bingeing behaviour.
Sharing Experience and Knowledge to Support Others to Create a Life of Possibilities
My results started attracting attention from others, and as a result I . . .
- Wrote a book – Food Addiction Therapy: The Simple Eating Plan;
- Featured in magazines for my story and as an expert;
- Asked to speak at events, and
- Used the program within the Fit Minds & Bodies Clinic.
I now combine my personal journey with professional knowledge, and the latest research, to help people just like you, deeply understand your own food, eating and body issues and provide you with the knowledge, skills and tools to help you shift and reset your mindset to create a new relationship with food and your body and live a positive, healthy and balanced life.
There is nothing better than finally breaking free of the roller coaster and finding enjoyment, happiness, confidence, and the ability to live life the way you really want to.
Thank you for reading about my story and learning about my experiences.
I would love to help you start to understand your own stories and experience, and support you in creating positive changes to your mindset and lifestyle.
I want to be able to help you understand your pieces of your puzzle and help you create your steps towards empowering yourself from: