If you have not read Part 1, I suggest you do so before continuing. Again… a little disclaimer and trigger warning for those currently dealing with issues of body dysmorphia or eating disorders, this may not be the best reading for you if you are feeling unstable. I must also reiterate that this piece is mostly exerts from my journal going back to 2007. I was in a very different head space (I actually felt like a totally different person!) and as you’ve hopefully witnessed from my current work and content, I’ve healed, transformed and grown immensely since then! It has been so interesting to look back and see how far I’ve come. I also want to give hope to those who don’t believe dramatic and lasting transformation is possible. It is!
02 June 2007
What can only be described as a BREAKTHROUGH!!! I was feeling sad and lonely…. and I DIDN’T USE FOOD TO COMFORT MYSELF!!! I wasn’t even really tempted by the thought of binge eating. I just thought to myself “What for? It will only make me feel worse.” Hallelujah!
I got on the scale yesterday. I was disappointed. I expected the loss to be more. I still have a long, long way to go. I just have to remind myself that I’m trying to change and reprogram my body AND my brain. This takes time… especially if I want the results to last a lifetime. I just have to treat this as a learning process. I’m getting stronger day by day.
06 June 2007
It’s cold and it’s a struggle to find the motivation to change into my workout clothes. But every single time I get into my workout gear and start to break a sweat, my mood is lifted and I forget my worries… I start to feel free. When those endorphins kick in, I feel invincible. I believe I can do anything – achieve all my dreams. Every drop of sweat symbolises my demons: my dark thoughts, my bad habits, my self-sabotaging. As the sweat comes pouring out of me, I feel a little bit more of my negativity being melted away.
All this toxic excess weight that I carry around with me is a symbol of my self-destruction – of holding myself back from my true potential. As I chip away at the layers of self-hate, I slowly begin to see the beauty that lies beneath. The beauty that was always there. The beauty that I denied; the beauty that I took for granted; the beauty that I tried to suppress and destroy. Not just physical beauty: mental beauty, spiritual beauty, emotional beauty.
In my darkest days, all my best qualities deserted me. I could not laugh. I could not love. I could not even think. It was as if my soul had been snatched away, held hostage by a demon who instigated many months of self-destructive behaviour. Binge-eating, withdrawing from life and general complacency with my career and purpose.
I know that part of the cause of this behaviour was the little girl inside of me. The little girl who had endured many knocks during her childhood. The little girl who acted brave even when her heart was breaking. The little girl who sometimes felt like she was not enough, because she was different. This little girl decided she must portray herself as a strong survivor to the rest of the world. She kept so many thoughts and feelings bottled up inside. Feeling like an outsider. Feeling not rich enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough. Her parents divorce making her feel like even more of an outsider when all her friend’s parents were still together.
This little girl was awoken in my depressive state… but I didn’t want to feel all those old feelings. I didn’t want to face them. With every binge, I felt like I could numb the pain. If I ate enough, maybe I could take away the pain completely.
Obviously that was not the case. Trying to suppress and deny my past pain only caused more pain. A vicious cycle of depression, overeating, pain, more eating, more depression and on and on.
Writing this now, it seems so obvious and simple. But now I feel more like an observer of myself. I had to remove myself from that dark hole. I had to stop letting my demon child and my little girl personalities dictate my actions. I had to step back. I can talk to them now. I can find out what’s making them mad or sad.
I will also no longer try to be the sergeant major, trying to run my life – shouting and pushing myself and punishing myself every time I slip up or things don’t go according to plan.
I have to be nicer to myself…
11 June 2007
The lure of overeating junk food seems to fade every day. Despite trying circumstances I have held my ground against the temptation to binge.
Reading the book ‘The Secret’ really helped me.
I am so excited about starting this new chapter in my life. The world is opening itself to me and I am faced with endless options and opportunities.
So that’s where my journal entries come to an end… and where I’ll pick up and share with you a brief outline of my memories of life, food, my mood during the next few years.
I quit my personal training job and started working in the film industry. I thought it would be a once off shoot and then I’d pursue my dream of having an imported clothing boutique. One film job in and I was hooked! I was newly single, new career, new places, new people and life was fun fun fun. Whatever excess weight I’d been carrying around effortlessly melted away. After so many years of dieting and exercising and clean living, I swung in the opposite direction. Playing as hard as I worked, I started smoking, drinking and partying.
I was fully immersed in my new film career, but also fully immersed in not giving a fuck about my body. I hardly ever exercised, ate whatever catering was going around (daily greasy toasted sarmies!) and smoked and drank A LOT. My weight started to creep.
And creep and creep…
I was at least 5 kilos heavier. I can’t really remember major emotional binge-eating episodes, but I’m pretty sure they were happening. I also hadn’t fully healed from my abusive relationship and other past traumas. So I was coasting along, partying and not really allowing myself to feel. I think the weight gain was also a subconscious way of keeping men at a distance – like a buffer between me and the world.
2010 and 2011
…were pretty much the same. Work. Party. Not much fitness or health going on. In 2011 I went on a trip to America and when I looked at the photos of myself, it was like looking at someone else. I looked so big. My weight topped out somewhere in 2011 at 75 kilograms. I’m trying to think of the catalyst for me saying enough is enough and turning things around. Maybe it was the frustration of not fitting into any of my clothes. Maybe it was the way I felt. I remember going to the doctor to check if my thyroid and everything else was ok, because I just felt like crap. All my tests came back fine. It was obviously just my terrible lifestyle habits.
So somewhere around mid 2011, I took a long hard look at my unrecognisable reflection and decided it was time for change. I didn’t do anything extreme. There wasn’t a crazy workout regime or cleanse or anything. I just started to eat a little better and move a little bit more… I think there were also some cute guy interests that came along during this time. Work was also picking up. So again, as you can see… it’s usually not just about the food. There are so many factors in life that cause us to self-medicate or self-sabotage through food and other lifestyle habits. If I was bored or sad or feeling empty and I didn’t have the tools to cope and deal with these issues, then I would turn to food.
rolled around and I was looking and feeling much better. I still had my vices: smoking and probably drinking and partying a bit too much, but I’d lost most of my excess weight.
In March of 2012 I met someone very special (he’s now my husband!) and so life was amazing.
Young love, work was good and I had started to get back into yoga and moving more.
2013 / 2014
I started to really fall in love with yoga and that influenced my other lifestyle choices. I defs cut back on the partying and smoking and paid more attention to what was going into my body. It sort of snowballed from there. I started to educate myself on all things nutrition and healthy lifestyle related. Juice cleanses were all the rage then and I enjoyed experimenting with them. Vegan food was also taking off in Cape Town and I loved to try healthy new things. People at work would come to me for advice or to learn about anything health or fitness related. This lit me up.
In 2014 I started trying out some intense exercise classes like Sweat1000 and Switch. I had only really been doing yoga and the occasional run for so many years. I remember my first Sweat1000 class, I nearly passed out! The classes were such a vibe though: the thumping music, the group energy and the physical challenge which felt amazing after a few sessions. My fitness started to improve and of course my physique looked better and better.
I don’t remember weighing myself or tracking my diet during these years. I just went with the flow. Ate intuitively, moved my body and felt pretty good most of the time.
My love of all things health and wellness led me to studying a year long holistic health coaching course with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I absolutely loved the course. I explored so many different dietary theories and also (most importantly) the power of Primary Food. This is something that I’d kind of intrinsically known but hadn’t really pieced together in my life. Primary Food is: relationships, career, movement and spirituality – all things that “feed” us besides food. When our Primary Food is lacking or out of balance, then our wellbeing will be out of kilter. That was why whenever my Primary Food was screwed in the past (relationship and career troubles, boredom, lack of exercise etc) I turned to Secondary Food (actual food!) but in a non-nourishing way. So many A-HA! Moments! The course was so enlightening and healing for me.
My spiritual practice was also deepening and this allowed me to do so much trauma healing. My course came to an end and I thought that I would just magically change careers. Not so.
For two years, I did nothing with my health coaching qualification. Well not nothing. I dolled out advice and wellness tips to anyone who asked. I took care of my own health and fitness… but I was frustrated at not being able to fulfill my dream. The film industry had lost its sparkle for me. I wanted out, but I was terrible at saving and every film job offer just kept me tied down.
… I hope you are enjoying these posts. Please stay tuned for Part 3 coming soon!