- I’m an HSP (highly sensitive person)
- I have a vivid imagination and love immersing myself in a good story (be it a book, a film or a series)
- My favourite colour is purple
- I drink my coffee black
- I’m a runner
- I’m a Hufflepuff
- I love food and cooking
- I play the guitar (pretty poorly)
- Modern Energy Tapping Professional with the Guild of Energists
- Weight consultant degree (in progress, still pending a few practice tasks + exams)
- Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
- Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe
- The Tapping Solution for Weight Loss Body Confidence by Jessica Ortner
- The Intuitive Eating Workbook by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch (in progress)
- Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon (in progress)
In order to determine if I am the right coach for you, it may be useful not just to know about my methods, but also my personal experiences and my journey from self-loathing and eating disorders to discovering body positivity and ultimately self acceptance. I’ll try to keep it short.
Body image and mental health
When I was a child living in the UK (so much for keeping it short, eh?…) I was bullied for – amongst other things – being thin. I was tall, thin, sickly and kind of ethereal. Add to that that I was a Norwegian/Irish girl from a poor family in a posh private school in Southern England, and it’s safe to say I stuck out like a sore thumb.
When I was 12 a boy in my class (by this time in north of Norway) called me fat. It was during gym class and I was playing with some kind of gym machine and my top slipped up a little to reveal some of my stomach. Fat. It was the first time I had ever been called fat. I had spent the last 5 years worrying about being too skinny – was it even possible that I could be fat? And almost as soon as the possibility of the thought had entered my mind, the insidious word wormed its way into my subconscious and became truth. I was fat. This is one of the few things I can remember with any clarity from when I was 12 years old, and I know many people with body image issues and disordered eating have similar experiences. That one moment that propelled you down the path that you are still struggling to get off of.
Of course I am not blaming my body image issues on a 12 year old boy who happened to say something thoughtless, as there were a myriad of other underlying issues. Bullying, daddy issues, depression and the fact that I was an HSP trying to repress my sensitivity and “pull myself together” (don’t you just hate that phrase?) all had their part to play. As well as genetics and my mother’s weight struggles.
For the next 6 years or so I dabbled in disordered eating, some days “forgetting” to eat. At age 18 it came to a head as I had basically stopped eating. An apple a day may keep the doctor at bay – but not if that is all you eat. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and had become officially underweight. I was rushed in to see a psychiatrist and had to weigh myself at the doctor’s office at regular intervals. I had bouts of anorexia interchanged with bulimia over the next couple of years, none lasting long enough for me to be hospitalised.
From age 19 I was living first with a room mate and then my boyfriend at the time. I could finally eat exactly what I wanted, and I did. And then some. And some more. In short, I started overeating, having had some sort of restriction on my eating most of my life. I ate a lot of pizza, drank a lot of wine, and gained a lot of weight. Then I lost it, in my mid-twenties. Then gained it back again and slowly even more.
A few years ago I lost it again. And gained some back, but not all. And I am actually at a point where I feel happy and healthy in my slightly bigger body.
So what happened this time? I found body positivity and intuitive eating.
Burnout and body positivity
At this point I had been working for 10 years in an open plan office with lots of deadlines, noise, office politics, multitasking and menial work which is not ideal for an introvert HSP at the best of times, and I ended up pushing it a bit too far. 2016 was a rough year, not only at work with a lot of uncertainty, reorganisation and downsizing, but it was also the year my father died. I got through 2017 on pure willpower before everything came spectacularly crashing down in early 2018.
I wasn’t sleeping, I was tense and irritable all the time, I had no energy, kept getting dizzy, and my heart was thumping so hard and erratically I was afraid it would burst out of my chest. I was diagnosed with a stress-induced burnout and arrhythmia. I had to have a bunch of tests done, take heart medication and was on sick leave from work. As I discovered that the stress of my job literally made me sick (I don’t mean blame the job, it just wasn’t working for me because of my personality and circumstances), going back did not seem like an option.
It was a scary time, but ultimately I decided I needed to make a drastic change. So I left my job with a cushion of unemployment benefits, and set about figuring out what sort of work I really wanted to do. It was clear that it needed to be something I found meaningful and that I work a lot better when I can focus on one task and one person at a time.
I had already read Megan Jayne Crabbe’s fabulous book Body Positive Power at the beginning of the year, and though I knew of body positivity and most of the content of the book was already familiar to me, there was something about having it all laid out like that – factually and compassionately – that made something click in my head. As I was reading the book I had this surge of passion and inspiration. It spoke to me and told me this is it – this is the meaningful work you’ve been looking for. You can help people to love and respect their bodies.
And after a lot of research, reading and studies I am not just a happier and more confident person who genuinely loves her body (though I still have my bad days) – I am also now in a place where I am able and eager to share everything I have learnt with others. It is my way of trying to make the world a kinder and more compassionate place and I am ultimately thankful for everything that has led me here. I have learnt a lot and I am hopeful that together we will learn even more.