I grew up in a household with two very loving and committed parents who taught me so much about honesty, hard work, respect and dedication. They supported me in following my dreams and in anything I wanted to achieve. They truly did the best they could with what they had and at the same time I did not have a perfect childhood. Does that even exist??
As a child I experienced high levels of anxiety that manifested as a deep-seated feeling of unworthiness where I felt I was never good enough no matter how hard I tried or what anyone said to me. That sense of unworthiness was not something I was conscious of until many years later into my adulthood.
What that looked like growing up was trying to be perfect at EVERYTHING whether that was academics, figure skating, piano lessons, jazz lessons, baseball, being the polite little girl, how I looked, talked and the list goes on. I wanted to do it all and show the world just how good & worthy I could be.
This led to self sabotage and developing a lot of anxiety that carried on into my adulthood. By the time I was 25 I turned to dieting and exercise unknowingly projecting all of my anxiety and sense of unworthiness onto my body.
It started with an innocent intention of wanting to change some of my habits to become healthier. I had ditched cigarettes and in my first couple years of university I gained some weight. After meeting with a nutritionist I instantly became inspired and immediately changed some of my food habits. I began with eating more vegetables and cutting back on less healthy foods.
But where it started to go wrong for me was when I received compliments on the weight I lost and how I looked. It felt SO GOOD for my efforts to be noticed and I WAS HOOKED. I started once again, just like my childhood, to externalize my need for love and significance by trying to make my body smaller and conforming to the standard cultural ideal of beauty.
Soon I took the few small changes I made to the extreme and started chasing the skinny ideal through severe calorie restriction and over exercising. I didn’t see it as unhealthy because I was doing what everyone around me also thought was healthy – eating the "right" type and amount of food while exercising my body. I was getting the compliments to prove I was on the right track. I was also enjoying my new found fit friends and sense of BELONGING.
It wasn’t long before I entered into the restrict/binge cycle where I restricted during the week and binged on the weekends. Each Sunday was like the Last Supper. I felt so out of control. I would find myself in a puddle of shame swearing to “get right back on track” Monday morning. Sometimes I was so desperate to remedy the binge I would add a 2nd or 3rd daily workout (as late as 10 pm!) just so I could burn off as many calories as possible.
Feeling out of control led to trying to control everything even more and my anxiety rose to an all-time high. I felt like no matter what I did or how skinny I could get it was never good enough. I tried even harder with MORE exercise and food restriction. I thought there must be something wrong with me if all the others can do this. I thought it had to do with willpower (it is so not about willpower). Little did I know I was developing orthorexia - obsessive behaviour in pursuit of health.
It’s hard to believe, looking back now, how I even made it through those days but the truth is that I wasn’t really living. I was in a prison within my own mind and body that I created within the influence of Diet Culture. Diet Culture and the Wellness industry along with my deep-seated sense of unworthiness fueled me into disordered eating, over-exercising and orthorexia. I look back at that version of myself now and see how she was only doing what she thought would bring her happiness. She didn’t know any better. I have so much love and compassion for her.
It wasn’t until one day shortly after completing a Half Iron Man triathlon, I pulled a box of crackers from my pantry, ate one and felt IMMENSE guilt. So much guilt I found myself asking “Why the f**k do I feel SO GUILTY OVER EATING ONE CRACKER? This is total insanity. How the hell did I even get here? What has happened to me?” In that moment I started to wake up.
Not long after, I had another uncontrollable binge feeling so sick I wasn’t able to meet my husband and friends for our evening run. I remember feeling incredibly lost, disappointed and ashamed of myself in that moment. I will never forget the look of heartbreak in my husband’s eyes when he came home that day and saw me lying on the couch in so much physical and emotional pain.
That is when I knew I needed to get help and I found a wonderful therapist who introduced me to a book called “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch. That was in 2012. It was only the start of my healing journey as I continued to struggle with body image for many years after the binge eating stopped.
Fast forward to 2017 when I found Samantha Skelly through her Hungry for Happiness Society and Certified Coaching program and started to reconnect with myself, heal my anxiety and at last come home to my body.
I have dreamed of becoming a coach for a long time and so when the opportunity to become a Hungry for Happiness Food & Body Coach came along I knew this was the path for me! I completed my 10 month, 400 hour intensive training program and became a Certified Food & Body Coach in November 2019. I am currently working on becoming a Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor. With my education and work experience in Social Work, disability, health care and coaching along with my own personal history, I have made it my mission to help others who have struggled as I have so that they too can find lasting peace with food and their body and finally start living their best life!