My journey from weight gain and binge eating to personal training, wellness coaching, and helping women change their lives.
As I stood over and stared into the toilet bowl I had this dreadful feeling in my stomach. I had no idea if it was the entire box of Roses Chocolates I’d just eaten, the guilt and shame from eating them, or the self disappointment in the fact that I probably wasn’t even capable of making myself throw them all up.
I had gone well over a year of starving myself before I had my first binge. I remember so vividly laying on my parents bed, unbeknownst to them, crying my eyes out over how ‘fat’ I would get. I tried that night to throw it up, but I failed. Weeks went by and I was so distraught over the failed purge that I could starve off the binge for the day’s following, that was until this day anyway. Once again, my mind lost control and before I knew it I had ingested thousands of calories within minutes. Desperate to regain control, here I stood, standing over the white rim of the bathroom toilet, determined to get it right this time.
I always had a fear of vomiting growing up. Like most kids I suppose I dreaded the awful feeling of nausea, disgusting taste of the day’s food mixed with digestive juices and the raw burn of my stomach acid’s making their way up my throat. Greater than that fear, however, was my fear of gaining weight. Ignorant to the fact that this exact moment would change my life immensely, for the worse and then thankfully for the better, I took a deep breath and then stuck two fingers down my throat. I still remember the initial feeling of the food making its way from my stomach to the toilet bowl. It wasn’t how I imagined, I remember being somewhat well pleased with how smooth, simple and relatively pain free the experience was. Oh little Jess, if only you weren’t ignorant to the fact that this was only the beginning.
The next 5 years saw me binging and purging up to 10 times a day, battling with depression and anxiety, smoking my first cigarette, resorting to self harm in the forms of cutting and burning, pushing those closest to me away and slowly losing control of what once was my happy, content and fulfilled life. Those years were filled with tears, vomiting, literal bloodshed, self loathing, an incredibly unhealthy relationship with food and most frustratingly – weight GAIN. When it comes to ingestion of calories, this can begin the moment the food hits our tongue. This is why quite often individuals with Bulimia can gain weight even though the food itself is being purged.
Every morning I remember telling myself, ‘Ok today you will be better, just eat well and don’t binge and you won’t need to throw up’. Every evening after inevitably binging and purging all day I would then tell myself ‘It’s ok, tomorrow you will be better.’. I didn’t know it at the time but my bulimia was a symptom of my struggle with perfectionism and need to be in control. Although in hindsight, this eating disorder was completely out of my control, at the time I was able to draw comfort from perfecting my purges (It’s a thing, trust me) and controlling my weight.
My slow road to recovery began in the form of me sprawled naked on my bedroom floor in such immense pain from my purge that I had to tell my Mum. It came in the form of emergency rooms, school teachers, councillors, GP’s and psychologists. It came in the form of accepting my parent’s divorce (something I wasn’t even aware bothered me) and accepting my homosexuality as a Lutheran Pastor’s daughter (Yep, that’s a story for another day). These things definitely began my road to recovery, but it was exercise, however, that finished it.
With a new outlook on the ‘controllables’ of my situation I bought a $49 set of weights from Target, pulled out my Mum’s old exercise bike and began a different strategy of feeling in control. With this new controlled and calm feeling I was able to speak to professionals about my feelings and work through them. I was able to willingly accept that medication could help me while I put in the work to overcome my struggles. I was able to begin accepting myself as I was and the things I couldn’t change as things I could use to my advantage. However, more than these things, I was able to begin to take action, every single day, towards getting better.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but the introduction of exercise taught me extremely valuable lessons. It taught me that although there are things out of my control in life, I am able to focus on the things I can control in order to have the best chance at a favourable outcome. It taught me that progress happens in increments and it’s our daily habits that make up our success. It taught me that I do not need to manage my circumstances but rather design my life’s experiences. Most of all, however, it taught me that with awareness, acceptance, willingness to work hard and patience to work long, I am able to overcome obstacles, smash goals, achieve dreams and reframe a situation to help and not hinder my pathway.
It’s now been 10 years since I overcame my eating disorders and in that time I have:
- Found a healthy relationship with food and exercise
- Began and continued to step out of my comfort zone
- Moved cities
- Completed my Cert III & IV in Fitness
- Started my own Personal Training business
- Gained over 15 further qualifications for my Fitness business
- Kissed the girl and got married!
- Travelled the world (27 countries and counting!)
- Completed my ICF Coaching Qualification
- Started my own Coaching business
- Read and researched anything and everything I could find on women’s health and wellbeing
- Run corporate workshops on goal setting (and smashing!)
- Run Women’s health workshops and challenges
And dedicated my life to helping women overcome their struggles with food, weight and mental and physical health.
My mission is to reach women around the world in order to help them regain their lives. Help them overcome their battles, discover their strengths, reignite their self belief, and learn the lessons that help them discover their best health yet in order to live their best life yet. Most importantly, my aim is to create a safe environment for women from all backgrounds, all shapes and sizes, all circumstances and all situations, to be able to share their story in a secure, judge-free zone where they can move forward from where they are to where they want to be.
If you have taken the time to read through this ‘About me’, I encourage you to delve deep and explore a little ‘about you’. Are you open to the possibility that with a little awareness, acceptance, willingness to work hard and patience to work long, you too are able to reframe your situation and turn your life around? Something to ponder,