This is me. 20 years old. Profoundly depressed, completely malnourished, unbelievably underweight, and experiencing the most intense battle of my life with food, mind and body.
I was riding the downward spiral of guilt, shame, deprivation, obsession and starvation.
I put on a "happy" face and protected this corner of my life from everyone. I didn't talk to anyone about it. When people asked how I was doing, my response was always "I am doing fine...how are YOU?" focusing on others while turning a deaf ear to the blaring chaos in my own internal world. Inside, I hardly recognized myself. Starving myself was "eating away" at my truest nature: playful, vibrant, silly, feisty, social, intuitive. I became withdrawn, obsessive, overwhelmed, rigid and reclusive.
One spring evening, dipping into my lowest, darkest season, a classmate knocked on my townhouse door. She asked if she could come in and after some small talk, she ever so lovingly and sweetly said something like this:
"Jill, I see a lot of myself in you...This might not resonate with you at all, and if not, that's okay, but I want to share my story with you."
She proceeded to tell me about her messy, life-depleting, dysfunctional relationship with food & body and the elicit mind games that accompanied it; from restriction to compulsive overeating to bulimia, she vulnerably shared detail upon detail into her very personal story. She had my complete attention - it was one of the most authentic, powerful stories anyone has shared with me. Her bravery stirred something in my soul to open up and that night, I began a new chapter in my life.
Self-love, self respect, self-worth.
There is a reason they all start with “self”.
You cannot find them in anyone else.
So many other details of her story captured me and that night I realized something really important: I am not alone. There is someone else with a story that relates to mine. And I remember strangely feeling something else: I am okay. There's nothing wrong with me. I haven't gone mad. Someone else resonates with these "crazy" thoughts and habits I have swirling in my brain and life too. The ownership in her story gave me courage to do the same, and because of that, I made the life-changing, powerful decision to change course.
I use the words life-changing and powerful because it was. The old ways of obsessing, restricting, counting, dieting, comparing, over-analyzing, using exercise have been released. Completely. Released 14+ years ago. And never came back. It feels fabulous, my friend. Oh so fabulous!
That doesn't make my life perfect. I meet many women who say "when I lose the weight, then I won't be so obsessed with exercise", "when I get to my ideal weight, then I'll stop dieting" "when my life slows down, then I'll focus on taking better care of myself." When "x" season of my life is over, then I’ll ..."
The thing is, just because I have healthy relationship with food and body, doesn't mean I am always happy. I still experience a gamut of vulnerable emotions: hurt, disappointment, rage, loneliness, depression and stress/overwhelm to name a few ;) Those emotions didn't go away once I found a healthy relationship with food and body. Emotions are still the pulse of a well-lived life and the icky emotions invite me into growth. My lens through which I view my emotions is more gracious, kind, honest and authentic; I ask better questions; I see a bigger picture; I reach out to my people to love me and challenge me in those moments; I surround myself with great teachers of wisdom, I set myself up to recalibrate in the direction I wish to go; I forgive myself more...and others more; food has its rightful place in the story and so does exercise.
“We all have within us the ability to move from struggle to grace.”
At age 20, I remember being so depressed, I would stare at walls. Emotionless. Terrified if I would ever "feel" again. I was being supported by medical doctors, therapists, nutritionist, friends and support groups. It was one of the worst times of my life. However, looking back, it was also one of the most necessary times of my life. Because I discovered more of who I am and how to be IN and WITH my body on her own terms. I wouldn't trade that season. I needed it. I needed it to grow, evolve, wise up, and deepen my journey of self-love and self-acceptance. And deepen my understanding of grace and peace. I heard the God of the Universe whisper to me over and over, "I love you and I am here with you. Let it go. You don't need it anymore."
With time, I learned to listen to my body, love her, appreciate her and find pleasure and mindfulness with food, exercise, my feminine spirit, my relationships, desires, and emotions.
If you have your own version of this story; a messy, stressful space with obsessing, restricting, counting, dieting, worrying, comparing and abusing exercise, please know, it’s possible for you to Let.It.All.Go. It IS POSSIBLE for YOU, dear one....and it is worth the work to get there.
Another sincere desire for you is that no matter the season of life, YOU are worth taking care of every single day in the most simple soulful practical ways. It’s worth taking a pause and being still enough to listen in, pay attention and let your spirit inside guide you and speak to you to see if there are whispers (or blaring signs) that your body and your mind and your life clearly need a course correction.
When you spend countless hours in your head, worrying, obsessing, counting, negative self-talking, avoiding, numbing...your heart, feelings, yearnings, longings, desires, heavy breathing, blood pumping, soul-stirring moments get back seat. But those are what make you feel ALIVE...FREE...PLAYFUL...CALM...CONNECTED... ADVENTUROUS...HERE...OF SERVICE TO OTHERS...
Give yourself the gift of self-love...every day.
Maybe you start with cutting yourself some slack; maybe you sit down and savor your breakfast; maybe you take yourself out for a soul stroll in nature; Maybe you breathe out the anger; maybe you pick up the phone and dial the number of someone who loves you and can hold space for you to come clean with the demons in your head; whatever it is, create space for self-love and self-care.
I can say that when I began doing this, my life changed. Dramatically. Not only was it a pivotal part of my healing journey with emotional eating, but I’m more alive inside than I’ve ever been and as a mom of three kids under 10, I know the importance and value and gift I am giving my family when I take time to nourish myself.
This is one of the foundational pillars of the Nourish to Flourish Society.
It's why we created our free eGuide "7 Simple Ways to Nourish Yourself Everyday + 7 Recipes You'll Love" Grab our free eGuide below.
And it's why we created our signature programs: 14-day Reset and the Calm Your Cravings course. And it's why we do what we do. We want you to discover life giving freedom with food, your body, your relationships...We want you to find connection and joy filled moments and peace in your mind, your body and your spirit.
For now, remember this. If I can do it, you can do it too, and I’m cheering you on along the way. It's not about perfection. It's not about an arrival point. Truth is, we're always evolving and growing and changing. And it doesn’t matter where you are on your life journey. Just start. One. Small. Nourishing. Step. At. A. Time.