My Journey With an Eating Disorder
I am a firm believer that if we have an experience of struggle and hardship in our past and have found a way to overcome it and thrive, we are meant to share that uncomfortable story with others to give them hope. So it is….
I grew up in a normal Italian household with 3 siblings. I was the second born and you could say that I was the “middle” child. It was a busy household. My dad worked hard to support our family financially and my mom stayed home to raise us. I am not quite sure exactly when I started to develop an “eating disorder” but I believe it manifested itself when I was in Grade 8. The friends in my circle began cutting back on calories to lose weight. I did the same. I had a very athletic body as I partook in many athletic activities at school with much success. I had no reason to be wanting to lose weight because I was a healthy weight for my height; however, the drive to want to fit in and get attention was greater. I followed my friends and started eliminating food from my diet, throwing out my lunch and eating only bagels and apples and low calorie foods.
Peer pressure and this driving need to fit in and get attention was strong. I can recall having low self-esteem and low self- confidence. This continued into high school until my health started to deteriorate. At the time, I had lost a lot of weight and because of this, my menstrual cycle seized. My parents were worried. My mother took me to see my doctor who then referred me to a dietitian. The doctor asked me what I was eating all day and I told her, “an apple and bagel”. She then told me that I was feeding my body sugar all day and that this was unhealthy. I agreed and so she told me that I needed to eat better. She also filled out a prescription for the birth control pill. I started to take the pill so that my menstrual period would come back. Well my appetite came back as well….with a vengeance. I began overeating and started to put on weight. I started noticing, people started noticing and I was not happy. I then decided to exercise more in an attempt to lose the weight. The more I exercised, the hungrier I became. I then entered into a cycle of binge eating. I was eating excessively, when no one was watching, then restricting when people were watching. I had lost control! I was unhappy, depressed and didn’t know what to do. This pattern of eating continued until I began studying Naturopathic Medicine.
Here I began to learn about hormonal balance, proper nutrition, mental health and emotional processing. These things were all foreign to me and were never explored fully in my past. With each course I took, I gained more wisdom and I began to “awaken”. I began resolving some of the deep rooted emotional pain that perpetuated my eating disorder. I realized that I had a very “faulty” way of dealing with my emotions. I would eat and stuff them down in an attempt to release them. I was a victim of constantly looking for love, attention and approval. I also learned that I did not love myself. This was the biggest shift I experienced. I realized that I was constantly looking outside myself for love and approval and would do anything to experience that.
As I continued to attend the Naturopathic College, I learned about meditation and acupuncture and looking at the body and mind in such a holistic way. I began to seek out the therapies that I was learning about and slowly began to heal. I began practicing yoga and started to clean up my diet because I loved myself. I began to connect with my Spirit. It was a beautiful journey towards self healing. Without focusing on weight loss, I started to lose weight. My focus was on healing my mind, body and spirit and feeling better.
So my journey has taught me that weight loss is not just about physical health. It must encompass emotional, mental and spiritual health. As I mentioned, when I received my diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, I was only told how to feed my body. It was only when I learned how to nourish all three, did my weight come off and stay off. I can now say that I love my body and all that it does for me each day. I make it a daily practice to nourish my mind and soul as well.
Listed below are some of the areas we will explore together.
Most people who struggle with their weight have some sort of hormonal imbalance. Whether it is estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, insulin, thyroid or adrenal hormones- each play an important role in healthy weight management. Deficiencies or excesses of each can hinder your weight loss efforts.
How do you know if you are out of balance? Take this simple quiz to see if you have adrenal or thyroid imbalances that may be contributing to your weight gain.
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Environmental toxicity has become more rampant in today’s society and as a result, we are being exposed to thousands of toxic compounds in our air, water and soil. Our body’s detoxification system is of primary importance NOW. When toxic metals accumulate in our body, they cause enzyme dysfunction, hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, among other ill effects. Heavy metals can be detected through a hair analysis test.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
This is a very common finding, especially among individuals who are “dieting”.
Hair Mineral Analysis is a great tool for determining the mineral content in your body. If you have low minerals such as zinc, selenium, iron, calcium, magnesium etc. this can lead to slow metabolism, poor enzyme function, altered hormone synthesis and a feeling of fatigue- all of which can impede your weight loss efforts.
Constipation, bloating, diarrhea, acid reflux and stomach pain are all symptoms that your digestion is poor. Food sensitivities can also be a reason for these symptoms with gluten, eggs and diary being the most common allergies I see in my office. A Food Sensitivity Test is a great way to determine if one’s body is reacting to certain foods, causing inflammation in the body. When there is inflammation in the body, there is a whole cascade of hormonal fluctuations that can hinder weight loss.
Stress is an all too familiar word and feeling in today’s fast paced society. The effects of chronic stress are numerous, with weight gain being one of them. Exploring your sources of stress and regulating your stress hormone “cortisol” is a goal for lasting weight loss. Stress management is key and exploring the different strategies that you respond best to is also important.
The vast majority of people do not move as much as their bodies were meant to. There are also some people who “over” exercise and partake in the wrong type of exercise for their body. As a personal trainer and yoga instructor, I will guide you through an exercise plan that suits you and is enjoyable!
Mental health is a very important factor in losing weight and keeping it off. Emotional eating is a very common reason for weight gain. I use different techniques in my office to help absolve this habit. Self love is the most magical love that transforms our bodies and health. It shapes our behaviours and motivations to eat. I help people see the love in themselves and shine like they were meant to!