31 Jan My Eating Disorder Story
I want to start this blog by stating that I have been recovered for a number of years. After finding recovery I was inspired to help others struggling with their eating patterns, negative body image, and low self-confidence which is why I started my wellness coaching business. Since then I have helped clients struggling with binge eating, under-eating, calorie counting, and anxiety to transform their lives, finally finding freedom from the food trap by connecting them to their own inner wisdom.
This is my story – I wanted to share my story with you because this can be a deeply healing process. I hope it inspires you to transform your life to start living a rich and abundant life.
As with most eating disorders it all starts in childhood. At the young age of about 11 years old I felt my emotional needs were not being met. Of course, as a child (and through most of my teenage years) I was unaware of the connection between this pivotal time and my eating disorder.
At this time I was introduced to my first diet through my friends at school. Throughout this year I was introduced to bulimia, fad diets, and the ‘ideal’ body type. I felt pressure to look a certain way, although I never participated in any diet or disordered eating behaviours.
In my freshman year of high school, I felt an increased pressure to look a certain way. After a few comments taken the wrong way through people at school, looking at pictures of myself, and private online messages I decided I needed to go on my first diet. I had read an article in Cosmopolitan magazine the title was something like Lose 5 Pounds in 7 Days. I devised a plan based on what the article said, I cut out anything with chocolate (my most regularly consumed dessert) and exercised at least 30 minutes a day (usually more). During my sophomore year I became best friends with someone struggling with an eating disorder. I learned her behaviours and secrets to stay thin.
Over the summer going into my junior year, my “diet” quickly spiralled into full blown anorexia. I remember feeling a constant state of loneliness. Looking back, I can see that it was this same feeling I experienced as a young child growing up. I was sad that in the fall both my sister and my best friend were moving away. I would no longer have someone to come home with and talk to.
Over the two months in the summer I went from 118lbs to 90lbs. I meticulously counted every calorie that I consumed and I exercised rigorously. Every morning I would eat oatmeal with half a banana, cinnamon, and a little maple syrup. For lunch I would have precisely 1 cup of fruit with an individual sized yogurt. For dinner, I would have whatever everyone in my family was having but I would have a small portion of it. When I found excuses not to eat with my family I would usually skip dinner and go to bed as early as 6pm because I was exhausted. If I ate anything over the amount of calories I would allow myself to have it was full on punishment the next day. I would exercise for 6+ hours, walking up and down the stairs, doing workout tapes, crunches, and walking.
This is the only picture remaining from this period of my life. I remember at the time taking hundreds of pictures, fixating on my body from front and side angles, but during my recovery I got rid of them.
When I returned to school it was evident to people that I had developed an eating disorder. I remember the first day back being a little out of breath from walking up the stairs to my locker. A couple of weeks later a teacher called my parents to report their concern for my wellbeing. I was angry that my secret had been discovered.
My parents asked if they should have any concerns and I got defensive as if I had nothing wrong with me. I was taken to see a few different therapists over the next couple of months but I didn’t explain what was really going on. The health nurse at my school even said I had a healthy diet and I must have a fast metabolism.
While this was going on I began eating–uncontrollably. I was angry that my boundaries were being violated and I ate, and I ate, and I ate. I ate everything in sight. I spent thousands of dollars over the next year and a half on ice cream, peanut butter, rolos, and other foods. Only to throw them up and try to hide the evidence.
I remember my mom finding empty wrappers and jars of peanut butter around the house. I was mad when she tried to ask if I had eaten all these things and why. It felt like I was being accused of something bad instead of asking out of concern.
Pictures throughout the years of my weight fluctuating while having a terrible relationship to food. Constantly battling with binging, purging, and restricting.
When I moved away for university I was still dealing with these behaviours but not in such extremes. Luckily, for some of this journey I had someone that I could talk to; my boyfriend (at the time). It is so crucial to have someone that you can truly connect to, to be seen, felt, and heard when you’re struggling with any kind of addiction.
But, over time he made it clear that I needed to want to get better and I needed to do it on my own for myself. I didn’t know where to start. I felt that I wanted help because I was so out of control, yet I wasn’t actively seeking help.
I finally opened up to one of my friends at school and told her I was having trouble with overeating (and sometimes under-eating). She wanted to help and gave me a notebook. She told me that if I needed to I could call her anytime if I felt like I was going to binge. Usually I was too ashamed to call her. So instead I would write down everything I ate if I overate and give it to her the next day at school. She would write inspiring and loving notes back to me, reminding me that it’s okay, and to love myself anyway. This was the first time in my life that anyone had ever written me something showing that they supported me unconditionally. I think this made me nervous and scared so I stopped telling her when I overate and told her I was better.
I struggled for a few more rough months. Binging and restricting. I remember going to my night classes after having binged during the day with terrible digestion and bloating. My stomach would be in so much pain that I could barely sit up straight in my chair never-mind pay attention to the lecture (shockingly I still did really well in this class).
In the summer I came across the book Intuitive Eating. This book changed my life! I am eternally grateful that I came across this book. I remember sitting in my boyfriend’s boat reading it cover to cover in one weekend. I asked him all kinds of questions about how he ate and read him snippets of information I found interesting. These are fond memories for me because this is where my healing journey really started to take place. I vowed to give up on diets and disordered eating patterns for good. I was committed to living a happy, healthy life.
This summer I worked a job with regular hours during the week which allowed me to have set eating times. I ate every 4 hours just as the book suggested because I didn’t know my own hunger or satisfaction signals. With time and patience, I learned them.
In a matter of months (with some ups and downs) I was able to eat intuitively and feel confident doing it. The more I connected to my intuition through eating the more I connected to my intuition in every other aspect. I was able to make decisions through this internal guidance system for my life, my career, my relationships, and my mental and physical health.
When we honour our intuition we are learning to love and honour ourselves.
About one to two years into my recovery I was re-introduced to Veganism and starting my wellness coaching business (GillianElizabethWellness.com). I remember being hesitant about Veganism, just as I was the first time I went back to a gym after recovery, but I said, “I will try it for two weeks. If I feel great I will continue. If not, it’s not for me.” I haven’t looked back since. I feel the healthiest and most vibrant I ever have in my life! It’s interesting to witness the majority of my clients also become plant-based after they establish their connection with their intuition.
After the initial spark of rekindling my relationship with myself and breaking up with my dieting ways I have become aware of my very synchronistic journey. I am so grateful to be constantly guided in my journey. Through listening to my intuition, I have been able to heal my eating disorder and “genetically” high cholesterol, as well as, create a life full of self-love, confidence, true connection to others, and freedom. I eat food that I love that deeply nourishes my body, mind, and soul. Most importantly, I feel good.
When I look back at this time of struggle in my life and look at my perception and life right now I can’t believe how far I have come. If you are struggling in your life, remember that this type of transformation is possible for you too!
In February of 2017, my workbook Break Up With Your Diet was released. This is a workbook I was inspired to create for anyone struggling with an eating disorder or constant dieting that doesn’t have the financial means to work with a private wellness coach or is too shy to admit to anyone what they are going through. I wanted to create a tool that encompasses all of the principles of intuitive eating in a very easy to understand way with manageable step-by-step tools to having a healthy relationship with food once again.
Almost one year later I’m happy to say that thousands of women are using this tool to find freedom from food!
As time has passed in my personal and business journey I have started to branch out working with both men and women struggling with a variety of ailments. We talk about trapped emotions, energy centres, perception, habits, and more to uncover and heal the root of your symptoms (unlike the traditional medical system–treating the symptom so that it goes away which covers the pathways to discover the real cause of the ailment in the first place).
I hope that sharing this story (and reading my blog) has inspired you to love yourself and connect back to your true self. You have this ability now (you don’t have to struggle for 6+ years like I did)!
If you’re struggling with your relationship to food and you want to find health, happiness, and abundance in life contact me today. Share your story in the comments below or book a private session.
This is me in 2018. Recovered for over 4 years. No dieting, calorie counting, restricting, over-exercising, or any other unhealthy eating behaviour or thoughts about my body.
I filmed this video of my story in 2016.
If you’re struggling to find help contact me today.