For 34 years I bought into everyone else’s beliefs, lies, and fears of weight, food, and success and it ruled my life!
Every experience in life is part of your life story and makes you who you are.
You NEED each moment to SHAPE YOUR story – the happy, sad, traumatic, scary, unexpected, exciting and day-to-day moments.
The people who come into your life are also part of your story and help to shape who you are.
You have a choice:
Become a VICTIM of circumstance and stories OR learn to become stronger from them.
The choice you make will define your life!
The decisions YOU make, how YOU think, how YOU feel, YOUR habits, YOUR relationships, YOUR health and…
what YOU are willing to say YES and NO to, in the name of fear, comfort or growth.
Here’s my entire life story connected with food and weight.
My struggles with food and weight began early than most as,
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 issues.
I was a shy child and the bullying made me afraid to interact with peers, or other children I didn’t know, and this led to Social Anxiety.
It didn’t help that I was not blessed with coordination, musical or sporting ability.
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!
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.
Yet another day, in primary school, I found myself running off the playground, into the toilet block, to get away from the bullies. They tried to follow me, like they always did but this day was different. One very brave little girl named Rachael, came to my rescue standing up to the bullies for me! She didn’t see my weight, she saw a vulnerable girl who needed help.
She became both my warrior against the bullies and best friend.
I would like to say that I was never bullied again but sadly that wasn’t the case. However, having a best friend who I could trust, helped me to increase my self-esteem and confidence over time.
By the end of primary school, I was in a normal weight range and had lots of friends.
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 search for a sport that I enjoyed, and was good at, also continued.
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, teaching and performance 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 the 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 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 my emotional pain!
This unconscious fear became my driving force for more control.
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 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, it 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 floodgates to feeling and facing the emotional pain I had been avoiding.
During this time, I had no less than 5 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.
NO. this is not schizophrenia or split personality disorder!
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 that there are different conversations that you have with yourself. 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.
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 Secrrets
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.
The more I ate the more I was telling the bullying
voices to bugger off and leave me alone. The food
helped momentarily to quieten the voices, or
- Get back on track and continue the next day.
The next day and/or week would involve
overcompensating with restriction and/or increased
exercise because I felt disgusted and ashamed,
constantly wondering – ‘WHAT IS WRONG WITH
This internal conflict, turmoil and hatred of food and myself, continued for years.
What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.
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 severe 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 done a full 360 degrees!
At the age of 18 months old, I was an Obese Food Addict. That was at the hand of my mum.
This time, I had recreated the past, by my own hands.
I felt like an addict; I was completely and absolutely controlled, consumed, trapped and imprisoned by food.
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!
… Creamy pasta, garlic bread dripping with butter, wine and a tub of ice cream waiting in the freezer for dessert …
… when it was like a bolt of lightning hit me! The sudden voice…. a flash of a word came out of nowhere. I tried to ignore it but it kept shouting at me, with intensity, and it ended up stopping me in my tracks.
I finally had an answer!
Brain chemistry was the missing piece of the puzzle that underpinned my entire history with food, eating and weight. The realisation and understanding brought me to tears!
I began researching like a crazy woman!
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 wasn’t just one factor that contributed and maintained my food and weight issues, it was the complete puzzle.
I was no longer going to be held hostage to the negative messages from the bullying voices that controlled my life; that made me a victim in my own life.
So I started questioning the messages and countering them with new positive messages that supported the journey I was on, the person I wanted to be and the life I wanted to live.
I was choosing to proactively live my life rather than simply exist in it. I completely changed the philosophies by which I lived my life! By empowering myself with the gift of shifting my entire mindset, I was empowering myself to take positive daily actions that began to change my life. Each day I was committed to myself and the journey. Each day I was open and curious to learn more about the journey I was on.
There were only lessons to learn and things to improve on so that I could continue to grow.
Each action, each choice, each setback moved me a step closer to being the person I wanted to be and having the relationship with food, my body and myself that I had always wanted and dreamed of.
I developed a true connection and relationship with myself.
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. This was the most empowering gift I had ever given myself, in my life.
I have MAINTAINED a stable weight since 2009.
The most important aspect is that I plan ahead. I have what I call ‘healthy replacement foods’ that allows me to have ‘yum’ when I am having cravings without deprivation or restriction. I have set myself up for success, knowing that these foods satisfy the cravings without resulting in any form of bingeing behaviour.
Sharing My Experience and Knowledge
to Support Others to Create a Life of Possibilities
My results started attracting attention from others, and as a result I …
- NWrote a book – Food Addiction Therapy: The Simple Eating Plan;
- NFeatured in the media for my story and as an expert;
- NAsked to speak at events;
- NCommittee member to develop the Obesity Guidelines for GPs;
- NImplemented the program for clients, and
- NCreated and delivered Online Experiential Programs - check out the Signature Experience Programs here to begin your journey
I now combine the lessons that I learned from my personal experience with professional knowledge and the latest research, to help people just like you gain a deeper understanding of their relationship with brain chemistry, food, and themselves so that they can finally find a life filled with greater health, balance and calm.
I am helping people to gain progress and results faster, by showing them the mistakes that I made and helping them to shortcut their path to breaking up with dieting, emotional and binge eating.
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.
Discover how you can Rescue Your Relationship with Food and the next steps that you can take to move closer to a healthier and happier version of yourself within the next 6 months.
And after 20 years of being a Psychologist, why I chose to give up my profession.
Want to know more about my professional
expertise and story? Find out more here