The time has come to share my journey from disordered eating to plant-empowered living. You are about to read Part 1 (an introduction) to the multi-part “coming out” series I am going to be sharing with you over the next few weeks. I will be sharing parts of my journey that I’ve never shared openly before. I’m thrilled that I am in a place in life where I’m able and willing to get real and raw, which means being transparent about the struggles that have made me who I am today.
Up until recently, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the shining example of a fit, physically and emotionally healthy vegan. It’s been my mission to bring veganism into the mainstream for over twenty years. The misinformation about plant-based nutrition, and the stereotypes about vegans, in general, were so intense I purposefully made it my job to focus on only positives.
I’ve been vegan for twenty-two years (vegetarian for thirty years). In large part, when I got sick or didn’t feel well, people were quick to blame it on my vegan diet. I mean really, how many omnivores get sick and don’t feel well sometimes… ummm… everyone! As ridiculous as that is, I did everything in my power not to give people any reason to associate anything negative with being vegan. I felt this is what I needed to do to help the most people become motivated and inspired to make the transition to a vegan lifestyle. I felt my own personal struggles were irrelevant, since they had nothing to do with me being vegan, and everything to do with my mental and emotional health.
Well, times have changed, and so have I. Jump ahead to 2016 for a moment. Don’t worry, I will be sharing all the juicy details about my years of disordered eating shortly…
Last year I began a new chapter in my life and career.
I created and launched my first online coaching program, making it possible to coach people all over the world through a structured process for transitioning to a fit vegan lifestyle. It’s also exciting for me because it was an opportunity to finally put my counseling skills from my Master’s in Social Work to use. The program is holistic in that we work on nutrition, fitness, and emotional health together since each affects the others.
The program also gave me a great deal of insight into the issues people face on their journeys to simply be healthy and happy. One such issue includes different types of disordered eating. The diet mentality and the pressure society puts on us to have the “perfect body” is so ingrained in our culture. As a result, most of us have totally lost touch with our innate ability to eat without trying to follow self-imposed “rules” that dictate what, when, and how much food we consume. If you really stop and think about this concept, it’s mind-blowing!
Countless people who logically understand that diets don’t work often feel totally lost without a “diet” to follow. Most are also fearful that they will lose control of the shape of their bodies without self-imposed dietary rules. They are scared of “getting fat” and/or losing muscle. These fears are heightened when switching to eating plants exclusively since this usually means more carbs and less protein in this carb-phobic protein-obsessed world in which we live.
These disordered eating issues are certainly not exclusive to omnivores. Although I’ve been plant-exclusive for my entire teenage and adult life, I, too, have struggled with disordered eating and an impaired body image. I could truly relate to these people I was coaching.
It has been a long, agonizing journey for me to come to terms with and work through my disordered eating issues. At one point in my twenties I played the “How lean can I get?” game, in a subconscious attempt to gain control of my life. I am strong and lean at 120ish pounds, so can you imagine what I was like at 99 pounds? Looking back at photos is quite terrifying to me now.
Recovering My Eating Habits
In fact, as healthy as I am now, I consider myself in recovery still, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I continue to feel like I’m “recovering” for the rest of my life. To me, this simply means I am empowered to continue to practice existing and new tools for emotional growth to which there is no ceiling. It also means I couldn’t be more excited to be launching my new Plant-Empowered Coaching Program. The focus is on learning to eat consciously, mindfully, and intuitively as part of building a plant-strong body, heart, and mind.
My purpose for sharing my story and putting my heart into this coaching program is to empower people with similar disordered eating issues to “come out” and get the help they need to become plant-empowered, too.
I invite you to stay tuned for Part Two of my story. I dive into what went on behind closed doors all the years I was drowning in my own diet hell.
This is Part One of a five-part series.
Part Two: Journey into Diet La La Land