Healthy Dieting From a Bulimic Ex-Model
This is a big topic and something I am personally passionate about. There is nothing easy about this subject – I am writing this, sharing my journey, and hoping that you will be able to associate with my very real and human experience. What I can say is that I have tried ridiculous diets and am happy to have found my own, finally!!! Food is everything because the diet is inextricably linked to physical and emotional strength. I eat for fulfillment, satisfaction, social encounters, new experiences, flavors, and indulgences, but ultimately health. It’s a gift! It’s what fuels my body and keeps me alive. For me, what it comes down to is eating is my diet. Food is a life-giver. It’s not the enemy.
We will first start with the reasons why I was dieting. I was a model from the age of 18-28. The industry found me and before I knew it I was modeling full-time, 7 days a week, often 2 jobs a day. I never thought weight was an issue for me as I always fit into clothes, however; moving away from home meant that models and bookers became my mentors. My agent started comparing me to the other girls calling me fat, asking me to get plastic surgery but saying I couldn’t go to yoga class because muscles are ugly.
My bulimia started then. I used to puke up after dinner especially because I had an uncontrollable hunger but didn’t want to eat before going to bed thinking that I would get fat if I slept with food in my belly. Before I knew it I had a slew of dieting fads. Lord help me, I’ve tried tea-toxing, juicing, detoxing, bulimia, binge eating, fasting, laxatives, diet pills, supplements, no carbs, low fat, no sugar, vegetarianism, pescatarian…all because I wanted to eat, but be skinny. I got what I wanted. I was underweight, didn’t have a period for many years, and I wasn’t happy. I spent every waking moment trying to abstain from food and control myself that I could never get my mind off of that thing I needed. Food.
Stuck in a vicious cycle that made every day, every meal, every moment a battle. My life was a taxing contradiction of itself and I needed to find a career and an environment that would allow me to be healthy. I have always loved yoga and since modeling didn’t allow me to practice I knew I had to quit. As daunting as that proposition was I started with small steps in that direction. I took my first yoga teacher training in 2012, created Stretch City a yoga portal that was acquired by Purely B in 2014, took another teacher training in New York with Tara Stiles in 2014, started teaching yoga, boot camps, workshops, and creating fitness videos. These incremental steps helped to carve out my own happiness, meanwhile discovering the meaning behind eating for me personally.
I am more than my weight
Breaking down pre-existing ideas and my negative relationship with food was key to developing strong habits with balance and acceptance of myself. I found science-based information on nutrition and exercise gave me the right insight into overall physical health. I was no longer shy about learning more, practicing more, teaching more to drive my fitness and passion for feeling fantastic. This pursuit helped me break out of that negative cycle and find the passion to create the concept of FitSphere.
So, how much do you weigh?
I haven’t weighed myself now in years. This has enabled me to focus on what is important and not to measure happiness and success by numbers. A conscious career has put me in a place where I can live and breathe what I believe and the more I develop personally the more I can share. It took me almost 15 years of abusing my body to finally come to this point. To be able to sit down and enjoy a meal without worrying if I am eating too much and if I need to purge it later.
Your gut is intuitive
Regaining trust in myself allows me to follow my heart and my intuition, especially in decisions on what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and the millions of questions that come up around food. I tried vegetarianism for health and environmental benefits and it’s made me extremely happy, but it wasn’t sustainable for my energy output, so I have reintroduced fish and chicken into my diet. My philosophy on food is heart aligned eating following these personal food guidelines.
Nowadays I eat what I want. You could almost say I don’t diet, but I do have personal food guidelines I live by.
- I avoid eating the same kind of protein, veggies, or carbs in a day. Bread and eggs for breakfast? Don’t eat an egg sandwich for lunch. Easy, but not rigid.
- I prefer to eat vegetables and whole grains, beans, eggs, and cheese as my protein sources. With so many iterations of “diet”, I have chosen to describe what I eat as heart-aligned eating. I follow my gut instinct and what is the most natural source of food and how it will nurture me.
- Elimination diet: I tried an excellent guided fast by The Nutrition Clinic that helped me to curb my sugar cravings and caffeine addiction to regain my sense of self-control.
- I fast intermittently. I started doing this naturally and only found out after this became my habit that there is a term for it. Giving my stomach a 12-16 hour rest from intake helps me to tap into my body’s natural cycle. I have no idea if this keeps weight off, but now I know when I am actually hungry and only eat to fulfill true hunger.
- No sugary drinks or soda. I do like to drink coffee, and wine especially so these are my selected indulgences.
- Full fat is good! Butter, yogurt, cheese, and milk are all better this way.
- Water is life! If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. I drink 3-4L pure water a day at a minimum especially if I am working out. I do drink tap water in the countries that can drink tap and always carry my reusable bottle so I never go thirsty.
- Cook for yourself! My rule is to cook 5 times a week breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Cooking is essential to discovering your true hunger and learning about ingredients. I also know that I will whip up french toast or scrambled eggs healthier than any restaurant, so better to make it for myself if I can.
- I don’t keep snacks, junk food, and alcohol in the house. Too much temptation. If I have a sweet tooth I’ll eat fruit.
- I am consciously cutting down on dipping sauce and salad dressing, as they are loaded with sugar and sodium. It’s hard, especially because I love chili sauces. I’ll ask for chopped chili and put pepper on my food instead of table salt. Ultimately, herbs and spices add much more flavor.
- Eat more vegetables. Veggies contain antioxidants, protein, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and water. Oxidants are what causes aging in the body and the breaking down of cells, so veggies fight for us! Make a point of increasing the intake of vegetables at every opportunity.
- I don’t weigh myself anymore, measure, or count calories. Counting calories can be effective for some, but for me, I have learned that is an additional cause of stress and obsession which is not healthy for me.
- Say grace before a meal. Even a simple “Thanks for the food” will do. A gratuitous heart creates loving karma.
- Exercise is at the bottom of this list, but it is not the least important. We all know that exercise is good for us, but we may not fully understand why for us personally if we have never been robbed of our health. When you work out your body responds to your increased energy creating a healthy cycle of processing, producing, and using energy. Advice like “eat healthy-fully” or “exercise every day” doesn’t really mean anything to me but understanding that physical activity has a documented positive effect on a number of health outcomes drives me. I believe FitSphere will help you find your own motivation to exercise and be fit for life.
To those with the opinion that I should become vegan because of my beliefs and career let me just say this “veganism is a dietary choice. My dietary preference is to align with my heart”. We all hold our opinions and reasons to do what we do, so if you are vegan, good for you. If I am not, good for me. Cage-free, organic, regenerative, local, and biodynamic are the labels I look for in my dairy products because the truth is veganism is not sustainable for everyone. If there is anything that I have learned from my life experience is that I cannot live happily by the definition that anyone sets for me. I am not going to be vegan to make you happy nor would I ask you to eat meat to make me happy. I am continuously trying to do better. Who knows, I may be vegan one day, but it will be for my own reasons.
Follow your heart
There’s so much conflicting information out there and I have had enough of feeling guilty when I eat. Food should bind us together, not break us apart, so please it’s time to think differently about food. Stop judging yourself and others for the way they eat and their preferences. I want you to develop an amazing relationship with food because it’s going to be with you for the rest of your life and you need it to survive. I want you to think of it as your body’s soul mate. Your yummy BFF. It holds the key to your sanity and success!
I hope you enjoy many happy meals, days, and relationship with your friend food.