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Self Worth

Confessions of a Binge/Starve Cycle Eater (& Drinker)

January 2019

What is the binge/starve cycle eating disorder?

I always thought there were only two eating disorders; anorexia or bulimia.  And although I came close to anorexia in my 20s it wasn’t until my official diagnosis of clinical depression at 32 that this eating disorder situation got more serious unbeknownst to me at the time. 

It is actually only since I declared myself fully recovered in 2016 of depression that I now recognize how serious my eating disorder was and of course now we have an official label.  I don’t recall back in the 00’s (when I was at my worst) the term binge/starve cycle being used but that was exactly my reality.  Goes hand in hand with my binge drinking party girl lifestyle that I had adopted but as I was eating more than I was in my 20s, weighed more and I wasn’t purging it never occurred to me I had an eating disorder until now!

Circa 2004 is when my issues escalated on the binge drinking scene and in turn the food challenges.  I started working in the finance industry and the rumors are all true regarding the lavish lifestyle of investment bankers and with all my issues I was primed to join the corporate, drinking, party scene.  It was a place I could block out my pain, run away from myself, dull the growing panic that I was aging and did not have the picket fence, get attention from men (albeit the wrong kind), attempt to fill the widening void inside me and of course meet a man…  The desperate, drunk, single girl is an oh so attractive look!

Free alcohol is provided every Friday sometimes more often in the investment banking world.  Expectations are VERY high and the hours are long even for “back office” employees.  My Friday night binge drinking escapades would begin at 4pm when the fridge was unlocked with Jane eagerly waiting to set up the free drinks & nibbles to load up prior to heading out on the town.   I was usually well oiled before I had even left the office around 6-7pm to find my perch at one of the many bars in the finance district in the heart of Sydney.

But the food binging had started well before the nights activities to prepare myself for the excess alcohol.  My Friday breakfast was Turkish bread toasted with extra butter and vegemite, followed by a huge lunch of pasta or pizza with a bottle of coca cola and followed by chocolate.  Nibbles were also provided with the free drinks which was usually chips & cheezels (I LOVE cheezels!)  so my calorie intake for food alone for a Friday would have easily been close to 5,000!

This would all now be considered a “cheat” meal for me and as I have eliminated sugar & alcohol from my diet when I do indulge I can physically feel the charge of sugar, agitation and adrenalin as my blood sugar level soars.  No wonder I had so much stamina to work all week and then party to the wee hours on Fridays!

It was not uncommon for me to drink from 4pm to 1-2am……  another thousand odd liquid calories consumed and then to top it off a detour to McDonalds or Hungry Jacks on the way home..  gotta soak up the alcohol somehow right?  And I had skipped dinner was my logic..

I would catch a cab home and often not remember the trip, pass out usually with clothes & make up still on and contact lenses still in.  I would wake up a few hours later with my eyes stuck together and throbbing feet (not often head) having worn high heels for up to 15 hours straight..  Would you believe I rarely suffered a hangover?! (although clearly I was shady…) And I would then drag my ass to the gym as punishment for the binge!  Jumping up and down like a crazy woman to burn off the calories and the terror I felt that the binge would result in weight gain.  My ultimate nightmare.  How could I possibly find a man if I put on weight??!!!

Afternoon nap and then it would all start again on Saturday night only this time drinks & nibbles were at home while I was getting ready.  No dinner again and no carb load during the day like Fridays so I was drunk before even stepping out of the house.  I was lonely, desperate, depressed, miserable and needed the alcohol hit to even find the courage to go out and put on that fake happy, bubbly, sociable persona.  But staying home alone was also not an option and even if I did I still would have been drinking.

Saturday nights were generally my “pick up” night (yes I was also a slut!) so if I did happen to score the late night fast food binge was diverted.  Giving my body away cheaply was another method I used to try and fill the gaping void in my soul.

Waking up Sunday morning was never a pretty affair! Who is this “boy” in my bed!  Think they call this being a cougar..?  They were usually more than 10 years younger…  After I extract myself from this awkward situation the day was spent trying to get my shit together for the work week ahead.  Life admin, zombie in front of the TV, early night.

With Monday comes the crash back to reality and the need to hide my shame of the weekend but more importantly punishment for the calories and self-destructive behavior.  The terror that gripped me that I would wake up fat on Monday would see me analyze my body in the mirror weighing myself every Monday.  The number would determine the severity of punishment I would inflect on my poor body.

The restrictions commencing Monday would involve limited calories; breakfast was a smoothie with just fruit & ice, lunch was salad with minimal or no protein, no carbs at all and my specialty double group exercise classes a day.  Monday was always back to back after work.  Tuesday to Thursday were lunchtime with a night time class at least once and more if I could find the energy.

Diet during this period also included limited water, I actually had cordial in my water at home.. I rationalized this with “diet” cordial so less calories…  4-5 cups a day of black tea with milk & 3 sugars…  I would often skip dinner but Lean Cuisine was a staple for the evening meal; isn’t this healthy diet food…?  Seems funny to me now but how I was I to know?  We are not taught nutrition at school??!

I have fluctuated with my night outs over the years.  Sometimes Thursday night was a big one in the city and I went through a period of time of going out on Sunday night… generally it would only be 2 nights a week but was always up for more if it was on offer!  And there was never a night that I went out and didn't get drunk.  It was the only way I could handle being out!

The other destructive habit I had during this period was the strongest over the counter pain killers I could get my hands on (codeine & ibuprofen)  These were used on the non-binge nights to sleep.  Sleeping was always very difficult for me; when you spend 24/7 trying to run away from the enemy in your head you will take anything to get some relief from the constant hurtful, destructive, depressing stream of thoughts.

This little vice turned into an addiction and actually saw me do damage to my bladder that resulted in an operation.  It is also no surprise to me now that I suffered gut issues as these tablets were often taken on an empty stomach.  My poor body…  Thankfully I have resolved most of these issues now.

This lifestyle seems so foreign me to me today but it is only 6 years ago this was my reality.  Even when I started bodybuilding I was still going out on Saturday night only to the wee hours and doing the fast food binge on the way home.  I think I took my cheat meal to the extreme…  I was terrified my new fitness friends & coaches would find out about my issues and forbade my party friends from posting anything on social media!  Containing it to only Saturday night however was a HUGE step forward for me.  And eventually it was eliminated altogether.

The really sad thing about eating disorders is although I am fully recovered from all my emotional issues I still have trouble with food when I have do a full “shred” as we bodybuilders call it.  All 5 times I have gone down that lean after the comp or photo shoot I battle with food and fall back into anorexic type behavior.  Eating disorders and food challenges run very, very deep for us women!  It takes three of the professionals supporting me to provide a well-deserved lecture, all with a different angle depending on their expertise, to pull me back out to normal eating. 

Eating disorders are epidemic in society and it breaks my heart that there are not more effective treatments.  Nor is there education in school around nutrition, nourishment & respect of our bodies.  Eating disorders, in my opinion, are no different to depression, anxiety or any other mental health challenge.  All these issues start and end in our minds.  Change your mind, change your lifestyle and you WILL change your life!

Please, please, PLEASE! reach out for help if any of this resonates with you.  I know it feels shameful to be in this situation but if I can pull myself out you can too!  And I would LOVE to support you to feel as AWESOME as I now do!

Click here to book our chat!

"The best way to defy the eating disorder is to pick up your fork and NOURISH your body"

Self Worth

How I Beat Depression! My Top 6 Tips

August 2016

I have spent a lifetime obsessed with my weight and appearance, a lifetime chasing the white picket fence dream, and a lifetime suffering from depression!

My life has been littered with addictions, heartache, broken relationships, eating disorders, anxiety, depression and insecurities. I have been in and out of therapy since the age of 16. I have had two attempts on my life, been hospitalised three times, on and off medication and I have searched and searched for the answers to my misery in books, therapists, healers, courses, diets, pills, jobs and relationships.  And while I did have periods of, what I thought was happiness, they were always short lived. I had no real clue as to exactly what my issues were despite all the therapy and my happiness was always derived from the external; people, circumstances and material things. 

If you ask any therapist or self-help guru they will tell you that to get over any emotional issues it all starts on the inside.  Happiness is an inside job right…?  I always thought that statement was a load of crap.  Happiness has nothing to do with your body or appearance…?  How can I possibly be happy when I am too old, fat, ugly…? When I don’t have the man, job, kids, house, money…?  Where does this incredible pressure on women come from?!  And gees; I was slim and reasonably attractive so why the hell wasn’t I happy?!

After missing out on having children and plunging to my lowest point to date which was closely followed by the sudden, suspicious death of my mother…  I suffer an injury that sees me having to completely change my gym routine.  One of my many addictions was cardio/aerobic exercise (to ensure I stayed slim) so weight training was not something I had done previously but was now the only exercise left available for me to fuel my dependence on my body and appearance.  Isn’t weight training what fitness models do…? And once again, I find an avenue to reinforce my need to derive happiness from my body and appearance only this time I get to show it off on stage?! Surely then I will be happy…?

Driven by vanity and low self-esteem (that I was completely oblivious to) I took on the ultimate attempt to satisfy the ego by becoming a fitness model and competing on stage at the tender age of 46. It wasn’t until I was well past the point of no return that I realised I had completely over committed myself. What was I thinking?!  With all my issues I was, of course, very shy and introverted despite mastering the art of covering it up. How was I going to get up on stage and fool the world, like I always had, of how broken I really was? Was I crazy?!  It is through this intense journey that I inadvertently stumble across the answers I had been searching for my entire life. Ironic isn’t it? I started down this road for all the wrong reasons and I ended up on my spiritual journey and curing myself of lifelong misery! So here are my top 6 takeaways of how I have managed to beat lifelong, debilitating depression:

  1. Diet. A funny thing happens when you start to feed your body with nutritious, whole, organic food, drink lots of water, take premium supplementation, give up binge drinking/eating, substance abuse and junk food..  All for the sake of vanity and achieving the perfect female form I had to treat my body with respect; like the temple it actually is.  Not abuse it and take it for granted!  After a life time of self-neglect, being under weight and under nourished my body began firing on all cylinders!
  2. Strength Training. Exercise is not a new one as far as elevating depression however having only done cardio I was very fit but not strong.  And quite frankly I didn’t think as a woman I wanted or needed to be physically strong and anyway didn’t lifting weights make you big and bulky?  This is a myth!  As I started to lift heavy weights my body became more defined and shapely, with more muscle I could burn more calories while resting but what affected me most of all was the physical strength.  It is so god damn empowering!
  3. Lifestyle. The bodybuilding lifestyle is extremely disciplined. There is no room for partying, lack of sleep, eating on the run, skipping meals or the general disarray that was my life.  I had to start cooking real food from scratch, take my food with me wherever I went, get up really early and be organised for the day ahead, sleep 8-9 hours a night and follow a routine that was very foreign to me!  To obtain results, consistency is critical not just with the diet and training aspect but with every facet of life.  It truly is a 24/7 commitment.
  4. Mind. After managing to adjust my lifestyle for the training and diet the next, what seemed to be insurmountable, challenge was to find the courage to strut around on stage in a bikini. I was having nightmares about it!  I knew I had to work on my confidence and I knew I had none! I started seeing a hypnotist and then followed my own nightly routine of meditating, affirmations and visualisations.  I started feeding my mind on all levels with positivity, inspiration and nourishment, blocking out the media and anyone or anything that had a negative influence on me.  I had heard about all these self-help practises before and had always thought it was a load of hooey.  But my vanity was surging through my veins; I would try anything!
  5. Mentor v Therapy. I have seen dozens of psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, therapists, psychoanalysts. All traditional therapy based involving talking about, dissecting and rehashing painful events of the past to establish my misery of today.  Clearly it wasn’t working after 20 odd years of going over the same ground.  And although I had deviated and tried alternate healers it wasn’t until my journey to stage I engaged with professionals that supported me in a way I had never been supported before.  And while the goal was not to cure my depression (they weren’t even aware of how broken I was!) they actually believed in me, respected me, they lifted me higher, they moved me forward in life.  Far more positive!  Having a mentor or coach is a relatively new concept and yet you will not find any successful person in the world who doesn’t have one or even two or three! I now believe this is the best way to change your life if you are stuck.
  6. Passion. While my recovery truly is a combination of many factors if I had to pick one it would be this.  Finding my passion and purpose in life has me jumping out of bed, without hesitation, at 4.30 in the morning, has given me the strength to adhere to the discipline that most can’t fathom, has seen me enduring incredible pain and gives me a feeling of personal empowerment and reward like I have never known.  We are all here for a specific reason and I had searched and searched for mine believing it was hiding behind that allusive picket fence.  But your passion in life has nothing to do with others, has nothing to do with your family or relationship.  It is all about you and the unique gifts that we all have to offer that are just waiting for you to discover.  Life is too short to not live each day with passion and purpose.  I spent 46 years of my life in mediocrity and misery; what a waste!

I now fully understand and appreciate the incredible power of premium health in body, mind and spirit.  And no one should have to go to the extremes I did to work this out!  The lessons I learned and many of the habits I adopted can be easily incorporated into anyone’s life without the extremity.  I have now dedicated my life to supporting women to sparkle with that inner glow that comes from the heart, to find their passion, to reignite that lost mojo that too many of us trade in as we try to fulfil the many roles that society expects of women.  It truly doesn’t have to be so hard!

If you would like more details of my journey and how you can incorporate all I have learned into your own life please click here to purchase my newly published book! Alternatively, please contact me as I would simple LOVE to support you on your own journey of self-discovery. And if you have your own experiences of overcoming emotional issues that I have not covered I would love you to share and leave a comment below.  Lets all help and learn from each other!

My Lifestyle

My Top 10 Tips on Embracing Loneliness & Loss

May 2016

Since my feline soul mate and best friend passed last month I have found the loneliness on some days to engulf me and take me back to dark places that I would rather not revisit. I have certainly recovered from depression but I have had to be very mindful that I don’t slip backward during this challenging time in my life.  If you haven’t read my tribute to my girl yet click here.

Death is one of the hardest situations to deal with in life and yet we all must at some stage. And its not exactly a life experience that we are given any education on how to handle. We certainly must cry and cry and cry.. but we also must begin to take steps to move past the loss and embrace the loneliness.  Every situation in life is temporary; life is always moving and changing. Life will certainly never be the same but it will be different and it will be happy again.

For those of you who don’t know me, I do live alone and I enjoy my own company probably too much! It has taken me a very long time to get to that place of loving my own space. But that space was always shared with my girl so I could argue that I have never lived alone. Up until now…  20 years is an awfully long time to share your space so intimately with a feline companion.

I went through the first stage of grief, desperately wanting to replace her like yesterday! I didn’t want to open my front door for one more day and be greeted with silence. I felt like my heart was breaking over and over again every day! My apartment feels like an empty shell. And after making a few enquires and even agreeing to take on two rescue cats I found myself back tracking. Knee jerk reactions are not always the best way to handle situations despite our desperate need to suppress negative feelings. Taking on a pet is for life, it is a serious commitment and I knew I wasn’t ready.

So after having many conversations with the urn… and the dozens of photos of her on my bookshelves I decided to wait.  So now I am stuck with sitting with my loneliness. I have decided to use this time to do further work on myself however there are still times where I cant control the tears and I wanted to share with you some tips on how to deal with that ache in your heart and the overwhelming urge to suppress it with food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, staying in bed or whatever is your vice!

“I think it is very healthy to be alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”

Oscar Wilde

These tips can be used if you are trying to get over a break up or grief of any kind when being alone is not what you want but it is actually probably what you need!

  1. Clean. I have found myself doing a lot of extra cleaning in the last few weeks… There are the basic set of cleaning chores every week but there are also the additional ones that only need doing once in a while. So when I could feel the tears welling up and taking over out come the rubber gloves! The kitchen/bathroom cupboards, both inside and the outside, the top of and all around the fridge and/or washing machine, under the bed, the fan and filter above the stove, the linen press etc. etc. I get a great feeling of satisfaction when I clean something I haven’t for a while. I keep going back and admiring my work lol!
  2. eBay. This has been through necessity of needing some extra funds also but there are always heaps of things we hang on to and rarely, if ever use, that someone out there will pay good money for. So if tidying up your wardrobe or the garage was a task from tip one that create an eBay pile, take photos, load up and wait for a bit of extra pocket money to hit your account! It is a great feeling to receive unexpected money.
  3. Charity. If what you have tidied up is not worth selling or you feel like doing a good deed, which is yet another rewarding feeling to take yourself out of your loneliness, then load up the car with all the things you no longer need and take it to your local charity. Getting rid of some of the stuff we accumulate over time sends a message to the universe that you are making space for new things to enter your life. Cat, relationship, job, money or whatever it is that you want in your life make some space by putting back into circulation those things that you hoard but never use!
  4. Exercise. This is a no brainer for me, in fact, I have found myself overtraining the last few weeks which has caused some old injuries to flare up but that is another story! But just moving your body and/or getting outside in the sunshine and fresh air does wonders for how you feel about yourself and your life. I know this is a tough one for many, but if you are determined to beat the blues and not succumb to the loneliness then getting outside even for a short walk will lift your mood. You know this one…
  5. Take a bath. Now the weather is getting colder at night a nice warm bath is so relaxing and soothing. Quality me time without any interruptions with the added benefit of detoxing my body with Epsom salts. It helps promote quality sleep too which can be tough when you are missing someone that used to be beside you at night.
  6. Sing & Dance. Put on your favourite music, loud if you can, and make yourself sing and dance. Your alone, who cares! Uptown Funk still gets dragged out when I am fighting the tears. How can you possibly cry when watching Bruno dance and while you are singing “I’m too hot (hot damn). Don’t believe me just watch!” Prince died not long after my girl so I thoroughly enjoyed listening to my old time favourite and reminiscing about how in love I used to be with Prince!
  7. Gratitude. When we are suffering loneliness or loss it is hard to feel grateful so we have to deliberately and purposefully go through the list of all the things we do have rather than focusing on what has gone. Food in the fridge, running clean water, a nice warm bed, electricity; we are so very, very, very privileged to live the lives we do. Take a moment every day to think about, or even write down in your journal, what you are grateful for.
  8. Watch/listen to motivational speakers. Rather than turning to the trash on TV purposely seek out something uplifting. My old favourites come out; Bob Proctor and Abraham-Hicks. The latter was very helpful as they talk about the loss of animals, how their spirit passes over and how they have no fear of death like we do. In fact any challenge we currently face there is a clip on YouTube by Abraham to help you manage your emotions and give you a different perspective to your challenging feelings including loneliness.
  9. Meditate. Yes; I know we think this is a load of hooey…but it really does help whether you can feel it helping at the time or not. There is plenty of scientific evidence that tells us that meditating calms the nervous system, balances our emotions and gives us the clarity and radiance to deal with lifes challenges. Do yourself a favour and just try it for 10 mins a day and I PROMISE you that you will handle those lonely feelings much better.
  10. Affirmations. I have been meditating so long I now have control of my thoughts and I have trained myself to do affirmations whenever I find idle time in my mind. Just like meditation, I too thought this was a load of hooey but if you are constantly telling yourself I am so lonely, I miss _____ (fill in the blank) then how are you going to get past the lonely feelings…?  Isn’t affirming that my life is full of wonderful, loving people, I am blessed to have a loving feline companion or whatever the opposite is of how you feel a more productive way to assist getting over your tears….?

I have not put in a tip here to call a friend or family member to talk to as this is not my default reaction being the introvert that I am.  And while there is tremendous value in connecting with people when the loneliness is engulfing, there is also great benefit in facing these feelings and utilising the time alone to further grow and develop. To move past the grief and to be ready to welcome in the next chapter of your life. If you avoid these feelings they will only keep resurfacing until you do face them! And it will prevent you from letting go and moving forward.

It is also important to remember that there is no time limit on grief. Everyone moves through these painful situations at a different pace and in their own time. But if you do feel that it has been going on too long and the you cant stop the daily crying then please do seek professional assistance.

Spending quality time alone, I believe, is paramount to leading a happy and balanced life. But there is a difference between seeking time alone to replenish your soul and avoiding time alone to escape facing your feelings. I am glad I didn’t make the mistake of getting a new feline companion straight away. It has given me the time to grieve and accept my feelings of loss. To honour my time with the most incredible cat ever and make room in my heart for my new feline companion.

So what do you do when the loneliness engulfs you? Leave me a comment below with any further suggestions on how you overcome the tears and lonely feelings.