‘Tubsy’ they said as they grabbed my undies and pulled them up my butt for my regularly occurring wedgie. I first remember being disgusted of my body at around age 10. There was a picture of me by the river, in a blue one piece swim suit, side on, sarcastically in model pose (leg bent out and hand behind my head). I remember constantly analysing that photo and thinking… look at your stomach sticking out, look at those thunder thighs, or as my cousin and I often commented – those ‘green thighs’… what does that even mean? Well back then it was a negative association. It was as though women should not have any plumpness about them, just skin and bone.
For 13 years, I struggled with body image and diet. I could explain to you the ins and outs and ups and downs of what I went through, but I do not want to give that time in my life any power.
A few weeks ago, I sat in front of the computer, mouth wide open listening to a module on body image and diet through my health coaching studies. It wasn’t until this moment that it hit me… WOW, look at how far you have come.
Eating disorders are not starvation of the foods we put in our mouths, they are a starvation of primary foods – physical activity, career, spirituality and relationships. This one woman, Michelle, summed it up perfectly ‘You focus on believing there is something wrong with you, instead of something with everyone who is in charge of your whole world. And that something wrong with you is being fat’. I felt unworthy, that I wasn’t good enough. The way I learned to deal with this shame and have some form of control was shutting my mouth. Literally. I don’t blame those people in my life, it is what it is, and it was them being who they could be, with what they knew at the time. There also weren’t the strategies and knowledge around caring for yourself in the early 21st century…I didn’t have the tools to get me through.
A few weeks ago, while studying, I was asked one question – ‘As someone who is immersed in the health and wellness field, you may find yourself to be more vulnerable to obsessive thoughts surrounding eating habits and food…There can be a thin line between healthy eating and an unhealthy obsession such as –‘orthorexia nervosa’ (click here to find out more). Do you ever catch yourself spending an unreasonable amount of time focused on the quality and purity of food? Do you ever worry that people may judge you based on what you eat, and that one “eating mistake” may ruin your reputation as a Health Coach?’
My answer – My study as a health coach has had the total reverse effect on my eating. It was at that moment that I had one of the most eye-opening realizations. For my whole life I have struggled with body image, I finally realized; I love my body… it is not perfect, but it is my home and it has got me this far (regardless of the pain I have put it through). I no longer hate food and fixate on the calories associated with what I am putting into my mouth. I love what I eat and I am not strict on myself for having ‘cheat day/s’!
I have learned to love moving my body, and not see exercise as a chore. There are still the 5am starts where I do want to hit the snooze button, and some days I do, and that is ok. I have taken the pressure off myself and I feel so free! I am feeding myself on primary foods and gratitude for what I have. I think it is reassuring for people around me to see that I too am human, and they too can achieve happiness with food and their body image. I recall a lady saying – ‘I like her, she is a health coach and has a wine in her hand’. It allows my clients to see that you don’t have to be perfect, in this world that so often projects that message to us.
Stand-up Paddle Boarding in Fiji last October. Typically I would have never been caught on camera in my kini!
What primary foods are you missing out on?
An 8 week eCourse on enhancing your relationship with food, exercise and ultimately you. Commencing Monday October 10th, 2016.