Food freedom

What my eating disorders taught me

“You either get what you want or get what you need”

Rebekah Kiger (aka my soul sister, cosmic co-pilot & bestieeee)

Before I get into this episode, I want to emphasise that regardless of whether you’ve experienced or been diagnosed with an eating disorder nor not, this episode will be of value to you. 💖

Quick background recap for those that aren’t familiar with me;

  • I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in my early teens
  • And then bulimia and binge eating disorder in my early twenties into my thirties.

Referring back to the quote above; “You either get what you want or get what you need”, it is clear to me – now, after fighting with myself and my body for over 20 years – that I definitely got what I needed having experienced eating disorders.

What I mean by this is that I learnt my biggest life lesson which was:

To love myself and my body regardless of what I look like or what others think of me.

Or put into another way – To be unapologetically and authentically myself.

Yes, I’ve learnt the hard way, but I wouldn’t change my past for anything. It’s made me into the strong, loving, powerful, grateful self-loving Queen that I m today. 👑 I’m truly so grateful for my struggles. 🙏🏼

So today I’m going to share with you 10 things that my eating disorders have taught me. 🌻

#1 This too shall pass

This has helped me so much, not only during my eating disorder recovery but with everything in life. Even when things are going great... not to be negative but so that I can remind myself that nothing lasts forever, even the wonderful parts of life.

In the realm of body image, if you’re feeling super uncomfortable in your body one day, you can feel differently in an hour or the next day. This isn’t because our bodies are constantly changing, it’s because of our body image -the way we perceive our body.

The way we perceive our body ironically has nothing to do with our actual physical body but more to do with other things in life. We just focus on our bodies most of the time when we feel uncomfortable because it’s a learned conditioned response, especially if we feel out of control in life or anxious about something.

The more we let our body image ruin our life experience, the more we suffer. Instead, we can practice noticing when we are feeling horrible in our bodies and say to ourselves,

“This is a valid feeling, this is really emotionally uncomfortable right now. But this too shall pass.”

Then you can get out of your own head by stopping the behaviour – eg, body checking, over analyzing, worrying about what others are thinking – and doing something else.

That’s not to say that you should suppress your emotions – it’s important that you acknowledge your feelings – it’s just super helpful not to get too attached to the feeling your experiencing. Because you’re only experiencing an emotion, you are not the emotion itself.

By practicing this, you will be detaching yourself from your feelings so that they can’t dictate who you are and how you feel day to day. For example, when I used to weigh myself, I would be on such a high when the numbers had gone down, but when the numbers went up, it would ruin my whole week and I feel so shitty about myself.

I’ve since learnt that “My body does not define me” and actually, “My body is my ally!” It really doesn’t matter what I weigh, it only matters if I choose for it to matter.

So remember, “This too shall pass”!

Whether you’re in the midst of recovery and you feel like you’re getting smaller and you notice that past emotional high feeling creeping in – remind yourself that this too could also go the opposite way at any point, because your body is going to be whatever she is going to be.

#2 Honour the contrast

Ups and downs

Highs and lows

Recovery wins

Recovery slip ups

Light and dark

Ebbs and flows

We live in a dualistic world so everything has a flip side. In order to know light, you have to know dark. In order for you to know sadness, you have to know happiness… get it?

So when you’re in a difficult spot, know that there is always an equal and opposite to what you’re experiencing. The equal and opposite is available for you to experience in the future. Practice appreciating the hard times for what they are because they will always teach you something and help you to grow as a human being IF you choose to look for the lessons. #everycloudhasasilverlining.

When you’re going through eating disorder recovery, you will have ups and downs. One day you’ll think you can’t continue this one more minute because you just feel so horrible in your body and it feels like it’s never going to end… but it will…

You’re strong enough to sit with the uncomfortable fullness of your belly, or the potential judgements from others about your body. You have a 100% success rate so far 😉. #yougotthis!

You will be able to look back on your journey and be proud of what you went through, even though right now it may feel like hell on earth. Because the only way to the other side is through and:

“You can do hard things” 🙅‍♀️

And remember, You either get what you want or get what you need.”

#3 The goal in life is not to be happy

Instead, it is to find meaning through it all.

It is near impossible to be happy all of the time. Even if we’re spiritually enlightened, we have emotions and feelings all the time because we’re human. So if your goal in life is to be happy, you’re setting yourself up for failure!

Here comes the questions:

What makes you happy?

What does happiness mean to you?

What would you need to have or do in order to feel happy all the time?

Is all of that doable all of the time?

I think chasing happiness leaves us feeling empty. We can fall into the trap of “I’ll be happy when”. “I’ll be happy when I’ve lost weight, I’ll be happy when I get a pay rise, “I’ll be happy when (fill in the blank)”

So I invite you to reframe your desire of;

“I need to be happy all the time”

to

“I choose to find fulfilment through it all.”

Finding meaning in everything is so liberating and freeing and it is actually possible 100% of the time if you choose it to be so.

#4 Boundaries are essential

Setting boundaries in my recovery helped me to advocate for myself. I still am a huge fan of setting boundaries and I encourage all of my clients to do so.

My boundaries look like moving the conversation away from diet and body talk, which felt like a full-time job, to begin with, because it seems like 99% of the population talk about it, all.the.time!

My boundaries look like asking my doctor not to tell me my weight because it can be triggering for me and doesn’t tell me anything about my health.

My boundaries involve me spending less time with people that are always on a diet or constantly comparing their bodies to others.

They also look like me not making it a big deal whenever I receive a compliment about my body. Because even though these are said with positive intentions, if they can make us then they can break us.

I also would love to change the norm of other women complimenting others specifically on their body size or saying things such as, “Have you lost weight, you look great?!” Because we are more than our appearance. And there is always an equal and opposite to something.

You can be kind and stick up for yourself, it’s not an either-or, it’s a both-and. If your meal isn’t right in a restaurant, you don’t have to either suffer in silence and eat something you don’t like or be a bitch and complain… you can speak up and voice yourself with love and kindness. This goes for every area of your life.

By doing this I’ve learnt how to stand up for myself and put my emotional and mental health first. It can feel really difficult at first but it gets easier the more you practice, promise! 🙏🏼

#5 self-compassion over self-flagellation

The meaning of self-flagellation: Self-flagellation is the disciplinary and devotional practice of flogging oneself with whips or other instruments that inflict pain.

Beating yourself up in your mind religiously – aka, always talking to yourself like sh*t – can become a devotional self practice. It is so self-harming but it can be so “normal” to you that you don’t see it.

Internal self flagellation looks like:

  • Nothing is ever good enough
  • You do 99 things right and 1 thing wrong and yet you can’t stop thinking about that 1 thing you did wrong
  • No matter how much weight you lose, you’re still not satisfied because now you need to be toned
  • Your clothes don’t fit and so you pour self-hatred into yourself
  • Constantly criticizing yourself

Self-flagellation can really highlight how extreme self-criticism can be. If you’ve ever struggled with binge eating or “fell off the diet wagon” you will know what I’m talking about.

When I used to binge eat regularly I used to eat around 15k calories in one sitting (I counted a few times). And directly after and the next morning I would beat myself up so much. I would starve myself for as long as I could, I would hate on myself, say nasty things to myself, punish myself with laxatives, over-exercising and picking myself apart in front of the mirror, only to binge again in a few days or toward the point where I couldn’t continue anymore and I got help, it was every single night.

When I started my recovery journey I promised myself that if I binged, I would eat again the moment I was hungry the next day. I promised myself that I wouldn’t pick myself apart in front of the mirror. I promised myself I would meet myself with compassion and understanding and love. No. Matter. What. And it was freakin’ SO hard to start with, but let me tell you:

“No change ever comes from shame”

And I started to heal. I started to talk kindly to myself. To pour love into myself. And eventually, I stopped binge eating! When I l loved myself through the binges and stopped restricting physically, it was like magic. Loving yourself through everything is key. 🗝️

#6 Be kind

I used to be such a bitch to others – because I was a bitch to myself!

“The deeper the wound within, the harsher the judgment to others”

I would always comment internally to myself or to friends about what people were wearing or how their body looked or how they were acting. I used to be very impatient with others and critical if I thought they weren’t trying hard enough blah blah blah…

I never took a moment to wonder what they were actually going through. Recovery and my life experience, including being in an abusive relationship, has taught me SO much. Especially that what we see on the outside world is by no means a reflection of what is actually going on behind closed doors.

I’d be seen out with my partner (because I was never allowed out alone), not working, driving around in sports cars, going out for dinner etc and people thought I was living the dream. Little did they know that behind closed doors I was being physically and emotionally abused daily and under the control of him to the point where I wasn’t allowed to message my own mum without him watching my send the message.

After that life episode, I’d be complimented in the gym on my workout ethic and my body. Little did they know that I was living in anxiety, starving myself and overtraining because I was desperately trying to be seen as “good enough”.

Now I see every human as one. Even if they are acting like a dick, I have only have compassion and love for them. Because I have no clue what they’re going through or what they’ve been through in their life that is causing them to act like that. We are all just 5 years olds walking around in adult bodies! People don’t know what they don’t know, they are only doing the best with what they have. Learn how to love that, I have and that’s freedom my friend.

#7 Forget numbers

As humans, we’re very keen on attaching to numbers. Whether it’s calorie counting, how much money we have, how many steps we’ve done, how many followers we have etc.

But our worth cannot be measured by a number, no matter how much we think it can. Anything external that you allow to dictate your worth is giving your power away. If you allow something outside of yourself to prove your worthiness then you’re literally giving your happiness away.

So forget calorie counting, stop weighing yourself and allow your mind to detach from numbers, especially what you make them mean to you. You will only thank me for it in the long run. 😘

If you need help knowing how the heck to do this then, click here my love.

#8 Pursue pleasure

Do things that make you feel good. Let go of the guilt that can come with it. Pleasure is so important in life. We don’t have to earn pleasure. We don’t have to work for it. We can experience pleasure just because. We see most things in life as having to have a purpose behind them.

But no, we don’t have to have a purpose behind everything. When making love, for example, we don’t have to have an end goal of having an orgasm. We can just be in the moment and allow ourselves to feel and receive pleasure.

So what brings you pleasure? Here are some ideas;

Eat chocolate

Stop and smell the roses

Masturbate

Have sex

Go cuddle your pet

Lie in the sun

Treat yourself to a massage

Take a power nap

Spend time with friends, work can wait until tomrrow.

LIVE!

#9 Be in the present moment

Ever said these before? …

“Diet starts on Monday”

“New year, new me”

“Cheat day on the weekend”

Why do we have to make “time” a big deal? Time is actually completely made up anyway. Yes, it helps the world run smoothly but apart from that, it’s completely made up. That includes the days of the week and the different months.

China for instance has a different calendar to everyone else. February has to have one less day in it every 4 years to make it a leap year in order for the months and years to match up neatly…! 🤯 I mean. it’s a bit ridiculous when you think about it! Who decided that business’s start on a Monday? Who decided that we have January as the start of the year? 🤣

My point is, if we practice living in the moment and being in the now, that’s where we experience true peace and joy because NOW is all we ever have. So practice living in the moment, on a moment to moment basis. Release the timelines and you’ll feel liberated.

An excellent book to help you with this is “The power of now” by Eckhart Tolle.

#10 You don’t need to be perfect to inspire others

Let others be inspired by your imperfections.

I was able to turn my pain into my power and to help others but by all means, I did not and still do not know it all. I never will know it all and that’s a good thing because my mind and heart are always open to learning new things to improve myself as a person and as a coach.

You only have to be a couple of steps ahead of someone else in order to help them. So if you have the opportunity to help someone but you may not feel “ready”, let me tell you know, you’ll never be ready! 😆 Just share the knowledge and wisodm you currently have with love and you will help and inspire more than you can imagine. 💖

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