Four years ago, December 25th 2012, I had my bathroom epiphany.
I looked up at myself in the mirror after Christmas Dinner with bloodshot eyes, welling up with tears, and whispered to my reflection something like:
“Amy, what are you doing to yourself? You will never ever be happy if you keep feeling this way about food and fighting it — and it’s Christmas you idiot.”
Right then and there, in that moment, I was no longer in denial with the painful relationship I had with food.
And it was the day my journey of healing from ‘disordered eating’ and not loving myself began.
For anyone who battles with food, I know this time of year for can be hard. Really, really hard.
Which is why today I want to share with you a little glimpse into part of my story and just some of what I’ve learned on this journey so far, (because 4 whole years in one blog post will probably be too much).
So if you’re in a self-war with food, I want you to know it won’t last forever even when it feels like there’s no end in sight, I can assure you there is…
IT WAS DECEMBER 25TH 2012…
…when I woke up wishing Christmas Day didn’t have to happen — and if you know me, you’ll know I’m nuts about the holidays!
All that ran through my mind was…
‘I’m screwed. How am I going to get through eating this Christmas Dinner that Mum has slaved over and spent so much time, effort and money putting together for the family, and how many calories will I be eating??!!’…
I felt awful. The conflict that was going on inside of me, the guilt I felt towards my Mum who has put so much love into cooking the meal for us… And there I was, plotting every possible way to get it out of my body as soon as I could.
At the end of lunch, I discretely made my way to the bathroom to act on my bulimic ways.
By this time I had mastered the technique of what bulimics do best, but for some reason on this day, I couldn’t do it.
In a panic I kept trying and trying and trying. But nothing would happen. No matter what I did, all of that food was still inside me.
I collapsed feeling weak on the floor. My eyes red and watering with tears. I was scared, trembling, tired, and felt hopeless.
That’s when I pulled myself up off of the bathroom tiles, looked at myself in the mirror, and knew that it was a message from my body telling me, ‘Amy, it’s time to stop.’
I called for my Mum from the top of the stairs, we sat on my bed, and it was then that I confessed to her what I had been putting myself through, how sorry I was, and how I was petrified of gaining weight.
She knew. Mum’s always know. But I can’t even tell you how good it was to finally no longer keep it a ‘secret.
And from that day on, my journey of healing began.
I’m a different, calmer, happier, more free-spirited person. My life is completely different. My priorities are different. My goals and focuses are different. And it all started by listening to my body, choosing to love myself, face what was really going on in my core and be willing to embrace uncertainty.
Here’s some of what I’ve discovered since that day and what I would have told my younger self back then…
YOUR BODY WILL ALWAYS GUIDE YOU.
Deep down I always knew this, but I didn’t want to believe it. I’ll always stand by listening to your body. I was bingeing because I was restricting and had false beliefs around food.
Feed yourself, give your body what it needs, trust in the process while you eat yourself back to health. It truly works.
Cravings are intuition. Follow them. You know deep down when your body is asking for sugar, when it’s asking for carbs, when it’s asking for fat. The more you follow your real cravings, the better.
FOOD IS NEVER THE REAL PROBLEM.
There’s something at your core, deeper inside, that you need to face. Food was the distraction for me, once I stripped that away, my life began to change, for good!!
YOU NEED CARBS, FATS AND PROTEINS.
For your metabolism. For your hormones. For LIFE. What I experienced as mad, crazy, sugar cravings and wanting to stuff my face silly was all because of deprivation. Thing is, this caused all sorts of problems with my body and getting my body back to a healthy state took way longer than it did for the damage to set in. It’s not worth it.
IT’S NOT ABOUT ‘WILLPOWER’.
You are strong. You might think you’re not strong enough to move forward from this, but I promise that you are. Even in those moments you feel weak, on those days that feel dark, where you just want tomorrow to come around in a blink of an eye… you’ve got this. The moment you realise it’s not serving you, say GAME ON.
KEEP AN OPEN-MIND.
Recovery probably won’t look the way you think, and the journey won’t be a smooth ride. Know this and forgive yourself when you fall back, because you probably will. Heck I did COUNTLESS times — it took me until the end of 2015 to feel my full control. Everyone’s journey is different, and when you let yourself know it’s ok to love yourself unconditionally, it’s a whole lot more easier.
This one I was taught by my coach and at first I put it under the rug because it’s HARD and it’s painful. But I’m a determined kind of girl. I don’t stop. And learning how to have compassion has been one of the best tools ever.
Begin by having compassion for yourself, once you feel it, it’s easier to extend it to others — and your relationships deepen too.
WE DON’T REALLY HAVE ‘CONTROL’ OF ANYTHING BUT OUR ACTIONS.
There’s beauty in uncertainty. Something that used to make my skin crawl. But welcoming uncertainty with open arms is a beautiful thing.
Take inspired action. Be kind. Do good. Be willing to admit when you’re wrong. See the tough times as times to learn and grow. Be curious. Be present with you.
FAT IS NOT A BAD WORD.
And you are not fat. Literally you can’t be — it’s a macronutrient. Just try calling yourself a lipid. It doesn’t work, does it?
STRESS CAN BE WORSE THAN WHAT YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH.
Seriously. Just practice a few days of breathing and not even thinking about what you put in your mouth after you eat it, and you might be surprised at how you feel. I know I saw and felt healthier results for it! That less bloated stomach I was after — it came to say hello.
There’s a hell of a lot more I’ve learnt, I’m not sure how to fit an entire four years worth in one blog post, but basically — dieting doesn’t work, not in the bigger picture.
It saddens me that our culture is deprived of pure pleasure and genuine rest.
We’re tired, stressed to bits, constantly trying to look for ways to deem ourselves as ‘acceptable’ (to ourselves, others, and even our families), we are suffocating in the ‘ideals’ we have accepted.
And it depletes us, of energy and love.
Your worth is not the weight on the scale, the dress size you wear, your body shape, the clothes you wear, the music you’re into, how many followers or likes you have.
You are enough, you are beautiful, and you weren’t put on this planet to spend your time consumed with thoughts of food and how many calories were in ‘this’ and how many grams of carbs were in ‘that’…
No. You were put here for a reason, to do something magical and experience all you want to do.
I’m by no means perfect, and even though I’m past my eating problem, it’s still something I’m very aware of every day, you’ve got to be!
Make a pact to start living, start enjoying the food you eat, and the moments it brings you to share with loved ones, and promise to forgive yourself, because when you know it’s time to heal, you’re going to be un-stoppable
You are enough. Repeat that after me.