My journey to & beyond anorexia nervosa

 

Earlier this year I joined a Lulu Lemon Summer Series Yoga class, down at Balmoral Beach in Sydney.

I started chatting with the instructor; a gorgeous, blonde and incredibly sweet Canadian. We started talking about bodies, wellness, confidence, body positivity, fitness and health…we focused on mental health. It was at this stage that Lauren opened up about her struggles with anorexia nervosa (more commonly known as anorexia).

The fascinating thing about humans is everyone, EVERYONE has something they struggle with – but the stories which unfold as a result are even more fascinating. How do people find a way to keep moving forward?

I am proud to say that Lauren agreed to pen her story for A Quaintrelle Life. So this is her story about her journey to and beyond anorexia nervosa…..

 

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you the journey my eating disorder – from the beginning to end and all that happened along the way.

I was 10 years old when I first experienced a deep sense of loss and uprooting in my life. My mum sat down with my sister and I, her arms around each of us, and told us that our Dad has just passed away. From the moment I heard the news, I felt unraveled, afraid, and just not okay.

That year was by far one of the toughest yet, and when I was 11 years old, I was hospitalized with anorexia nervosa. After my Dad passed away, I felt depressed and lost my appetite. I wasn’t trying to diet or to lose weight, but food was one of the only things I felt in control of in my life. I felt worthless, that I was fat, and that I was not enough.

My relationship to food became destructive & soon I was limiting and restricting all food into my body. I lost so much weight that my body was hardly functioning and I ultimately lost complete control.

Eating, or controlling my eating, thus became my way of managing the psychological distress, the grief, and the fear that I was experiencing. I became completely disconnected from my body and overwhelmed by my thoughts, leading to feeling hopeless and lost for such a long time.

Eventually, 3 years later, with the support of physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, dieticians and my family and friends, I was discharged from the hospital. However, the negative thoughts I had about my body and the struggle I had with food never really subsided, and every day was a battle against the destructive and distorted perceptions I had of my physical self. As you can imagine this lead me to feel more disconnected to my body than ever.

So what changed? The biggest influence on my recovery was my introduction to yoga. Disordered eating and thoughts of being ‘fat’, worthless or not enough are destructive, and for me, yoga has played a meaningful role in reviving my love for my body and myself just as I am.

Disordered eating is like a war against the body, and for me the practice of yoga played a role in reviving it. I am now able to listen to and respect my body, have confidence in myself, and feel empowered. My relationship with food is positive where I don’t restrict what I eat, diet or let food determine or control my sense of self-worth.

It was a long journey that was full of ups and downs, lots and lots of tears and lots of pain. However through the journey there was a lot of growth, learning and understanding of myself and who I am. Fully recovered now, I have a purpose. I have a purpose and have made a commitment to share yoga with those who are on their own recovery journey.

Don’t ever be too afraid to seek help when it doesn’t feel right. Whether your appreciation for yourself isn’t there or your relationship with food is a struggle. You deserve to live in place of joy with yourself, your body and with food – you’re too important not to.

Lauren is a social worker, yoga teacher & fitness instructor. Lauren is the co-founder of Love Body Yoga, a program in partnership with eating disorder treatment centre BodyMatters Australasia, that introduces yoga as a step on the journey to eating disorder recovery.
Lauren also teaches yoga at Yoga Sivana in Mosman & Heat Studios in Balgowlah and is a fitness instructor at Physicore Sydney.

Sydney Skinny: Bare again

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Sometimes you don’t know how far you’ve developed until you’re tested again.

For me, participating in the Sydney Skinny, was always an experience designed to see if I could shed my clothes (in public!) and be comfortable with it. From my previous test runs, and the 2014 event, the answer was no. With that said, I completed it.

I was nervous leading up to the event. Despite my gym sessions, I felt my body was bigger and saggier than 2014. However, I was determined to face my fears and complete it despite this.

And I had a great time!

One of the elements I really enjoy about the day is the community vibe feeling the day has. Food vans, music, gloriously sunny day and so many smiley faces – it’s designed to relax people and remind people that life is for living and how friggin good that can feel.

This year, I was part of Team Nudie. As I walked over to the tent to pick up my Nudie goodie bag and register, I was horrified to notice that most of the women had their tops off and were having messages painted on their bodies. For those reading assuming they were naked, wrong! There were kids around…c’mon. The bit that gave me the ‘stomach sinking into my legs feeling’ was thinking of the two options I had in front of me – get involved, take my top off in front in front of the crowd and suck it up, or, play it safe and keep my top on (naturally I was thinking ‘I don’t really want body paint anyway’….).

Of course I got involved but farrrrk it was hard. I was nervous for two reasons – one,  because the bra I was wearing  was recycle from a very success date the night before (boom chika wah way) and not ideal for 9am, sunny day wear. The other reason was I would need to put my perfectly imperfect round belly to the clothed world around me. Majorly uncomfortable.

But, I did it as though I didn’t give two hoots. I slowly peel my t shirt above my head, sat down (ARGHH THE ROLLS), smiled and requested the team nudie logo. When completed, I slid back into my t shirt.

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Clearly not me, but to give you an idea…..

Well, I’ve never done that before. And boy, I was feeling very proud of myself.

When the time came, the group congregated at the meeting area. Time for a group picture!

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Then we slowly made our way down the windy, rocky, dirt path down to Cobblers Beach.

And just before we arrive, as because I wanted to, I had a selfie with our team Captain, Tim Dormer.

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When we arrived at the beach, the previous waves were returning to shore in all their naked glory. But in fairness all you see are a bunch of heads bopping up and down on the surface of the water.

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I put my bags down and started chatting with a very handsome 30 something year old man who was telling me how much we was enjoying the day. I was enjoying looking at his bare chest and trying not to look below his waist….oh wait….heyyyyy big boy (unfortunately I don’t have any pics of this to share…)

I stayed clothed for a few minutes, chatting and enjoying…errr looking at the broader view. My breaths were definitely increasing and I started to do the little dance I do when I either need to pee, or I am uncomfortable. I didn’t need to pee….

When the group was called up I slid off my shorts, and my knickers (maybe a g banger wasn’t the most sensible underwear to choose) and finally took off my t shirt and unhooked my deliciously black lacy bra.

I am naked! What surprised me this time around was how comfortable I was walking to the water. I found it a lot more relaxing than 2014, and even more relaxing than having paint written on my back an hour earlier.

Because I like a plan, I decided I was going to take a completely didn’t approach to my previous swim. I am not going to treat it like a race. I am going to slowly make my way around the 900m course. And I did. I chatted with people as I past them, or they swam past me. I was even dared by one of the lifeguards to swim under his board. So I did remember at the last minute to not do a dolphin dive. I was naked but I doubt the world need to see my bent over bottom rise from the clear waters of Sydney Harbour.

As I walked out of the water, it was so nice to be greeted by smiling faces, music and so much laughter.  I chatted with a various people about how amazing the experience is – and how proud of themselves they were for doing it. The beauty of the event is it brings people together for all different reasons. One lady was standing there in all her glory after telling me she was there with her daughter, how her husband wouldn’t have seen her naked for year yet here she was! In front of hundreds of stingers. I think her husband will soon be getting very used to her strut her naked, glorious self around the house. Another guy mentioned he was ok with being naked but wasn’t a strong swimmer and wanted the support of swimming 300 metres at the beach.

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It doesn’t matter what the reason is, I was so proud of everyone who attended – even the amazingly fit entrepreneur who picked up a couple of girls. It doesn’t matter what your reason is, for being there, it’s about getting involved, pushing your boundaries and having fun. And the day represented all of that and more!

Will you attend The Sydney Skinny 2017?

Thanks for Nudie for all the images in this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health and fitness coming to you!

As you know, I am hitting the pavement, and the exercise mats, in an attempt to improve my fitness, get stronger and possibly even shed some kgs.

I asked my Vision trainer, Nick, to give me some tips and tricks so I can share the goodness with all of you!

So, why don’t you come on the journey with me?

Each Friday for the next 12 weeks, I will post some information about certain conditions such as Polycystic Ovarium Syndrome (PCOS) and pregnancy, and other weeks I will provide exercise for specific parts of your body; arms, legs etc.

To start this week, here is a 5 minute a day programme.I find it easier to do it in the morning because once it’s done, it’s done! Also, these exercises don’t need to be done in the gym.

With everyone at different levels, the reps for each exercise are:

Beginner: 10

Intermediate: 20

Advanced: As many as you can do in 5 minutes (1 minute per exercise)

I hope you enjoy it! And if you want to post your exercise pics on Instagram, you can always use the hashtags #aquaintrellelife!

Squats

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Lunges

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Supported push ups

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Crunches

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Jumping squats

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What can happen in a week?

Last Monday, I mentioned my new diet – no dairy (excluding a morning coffee) and no refined carbohydrates (apart from Vita Wheat).

I eat a lot of cheese, drink a lot of milk and accompany most of my meals with bread, pasta or rice. To say the least, cutting all this out has been a major challenge for me. You may remember several days ago, when I had a little meltdown….

I am proud to say that I have stuck with it. OK, I know it has only been a week, but IT HAS BEEN A WEEK! With some interesting results.

Firstly, I’ve shed 2kgs!  My skin is also looking significantly different – it’s more clear and I’d also say I have more of that ‘glow’ those famous people talk about. And, the small sections of facial hair which grow rather enthusiastically under my chin? Slowed!

The results have surprised me. The hair growth is hormonal due to my PCOS, but to see a growth change within a week, I found quite remarkable.

Despite the results, the process has been very difficult. I am the awkward customer at restaurants asking to swap that delicious haloumi for something not so delicious. What comes out is typically a miss mash of 2-3 other items on the menu. And, the amount of food I have been consuming is …well….enormous. I’m eating three main meals per day in addition to 2-3 significants snacks. Before dinner last night, I ate 5 Vita Wheat (approved) with chilli tuna and a mango! Then downed 400 grams of homemade meatballs. I was totally ravenous. Not a typical amount of food for me to eat.

The goal for this week, is to up the exercise from 3 x 30 min weights session and a 1 hour walk to 3 x 30 min weights sessions, a 1 hour walk and 2 x 30 min high intensity classes at the gym. I am curious to see what I will be writing about this time next week!

I hope you will stick with me on this journey…

Nude, beaches, fun – AGAIN

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Well guys, I am back at it. I am getting naked…again !

The Sydney Skinny will be held on the 28th February 2016 at Cobblers Beach in Sydney, Australia!

You may remember when I did it in 2014….the test runs, and what it was like to stip bare and swim 900 metres with 1000 other nudies. 

It has been confirmed that I will be in the Nudie wave, which is led by Tim Dormer (Big Brother fame).

My interest in this swim is still on highlighting that despite our differences, we are all the same. And in our own way, we are all beautiful – cliche, I know I know, but it’s true. I recently saw an image of an 80 +  year old woman in a bikini; I couldn’t help but look at her lines and bumps in intricate detail. My nose was quite close to the screen of my mobile phone….Not what I would call traditionally beautiful but very unique and interesting. The surprise wore off and I started to appreciate the beauty in her body and spirit. To her husband, I bet she is a total fox, whose body has given him children and a lifetime of pleasure and comfort.

The other reason is to test myself. No matter how many times I get naked in front of a beach full of strangers, it tests my confidence. And like a muscle, the more we test the muscle, the bigger it grows.

And, it’s surprisingly fun. Simple, clean, fun. So, off I toddle to the naked beach !

I had committed to doing it last year, but due to personal reasons, I wasn’t able to complete it. Thankfully, life is full of second chances, so I am back at it!

Will you be joining me? I promise to not look….

* Image from The Sydney Skinny

For Community and Challenge: Blackmores Sydney Running Festival – 20th September 2015

My dislike of running has been well documented on this blog.

But for some strange reason, I decided to sign up for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival on the 20th September.

There are four different events – 3.5km family fun, 9km bridge run, 21km half marathon and 42km full marathon.

I will be doing the 9km bridge run. Well, mostly walk but I will attempt to jog along the way because why the hell not!

Despite my dislike for jogging, running or anything faster than a walk, I decided to participate for two reasons: community and challenge. It has been a long time since I have connected with, or done anything with the Sydney community. And as a member of the Sydney community it was time to get involved in some way. I am definitely looking forward to being spurred on by the people of this great city and enjoy the party vibe I am sure will be alive and well.

The other element which has been missing from my life is a challenge. You know I like to challenge myself. Goals are important as they help me achieve more and keep me focused; it’s also important to keep things spicy – in all parts of my life!

I only signed up a couple of weeks ago, and my training really only started last week – whoops! I was told the final week in the lead up to a run is to rest….well, as my efforts have been so limited I won’t do this, but was cause for much amusement! Different kettle of fish for true athletes!

My training has been my personal training sessions with Vision PT Neutral Bay in addition to extra walking/jogging, steps and some gym classes.

There are 5 days till race day, so if you too would like to participate, or would like further information, click here.

I will let you know how I go, but maybe I will see you there!

You Gotta Move It, Move it!

About a year after I gave up an already lax exercise regime, but I am back at it!

I’ve decided to go back to Vision Personal Training but this time in Neutral Bay because the personal training sessions motivate me to actually go. I am really lucky to have an amazing trainer who not only manages me but is also really pleasant company and we typically chat as he makes me lift things. Heavy things.

Unfortunately today was my final training session with him! He has too many commitments and is burning out, so somethings gotta give. Unfortunately for me it’s his time with the Vision team.

Ah well, apparently my new trainer is a former NZ football player. Not sure to be nervous or excited! 😉 Time will tell.

I have been going for about 4 weeks and am down about 5kgs. Not a bad innings considering I somehow added one kg.

Many of you will know that I don’t believe one should be defined by the number on the scales. In principle I am still aligned to this approach for general wellbeing and mental health. However, this time around I am determined to lose 15kgs. I’ve recently put on weight so I am going to lose it and a few extra.

I will post some of the exercises I enjoy and seem to work for my body. But if you have any tips on what works for you, please feel free to comment below or email me! I’d love the feedback.

I will also keep you up to date with any more successes (or disappointments) !