I don’t remember a time in my life when food and weight were not an issue, where I didn’t refer to myself as fat and disgusting. When I was 14, I had no idea that the first time I binged and purged would lead to the next 14 years of my life being a living nightmare. Even before then, I don’t remember a time when weight, body and food wasn’t an issue prevalent in our home and inside of me. I had no idea what I was getting myself into those first few times I experimented with ways to diet and get rid of food through purging, excessive exercise, taking laxatives or even just restricting what I ate each day.
My body went from size 12 to size 24 (Australian) and often this was within a 6 month period. When I was good, I would see a personal trainer twice a day, often doing 2-3 classes at a gym a day, eating clean (although at the time that wasn’t a word we used, I just cut out all junk, and carbs). But when I stopped, I would eat everything in sight and put on 25-30 kg in what seemed like a blink of an eye. I tried diet after diet, psychologist after psychologist, went on antidepressants, joined gyms, in fact I even became a personal trainer. This made it easy to mask the shit that was going on inside of me. In that profession it’s often acceptable to cut out many foods and go to great lengths to look good. When I wasn’t a personal trainer, I was a personal trainers dream, because they would say cut out this food, or that food and for me, this was easy.
Every couple of years I would travel overseas in the hope that I would stop hating my body, I would stop feeling empty inside and I could understand what the hell was going on and maybe finally be happy. These trips never sorted things out, I continued to hate myself and my body on a daily basis. I called myself disgusting, avoiding all mirrors and things like going to the beach, or anything I felt might leave me exposed and others knowing the hell I was in.
The worst of this, was that on the outside everything looked great, I travelled, I was successful at work and studies. The picture of my life looked just fine, but inside I was dying. I was losing hope that I could ever have a real relationship, or have my own family. I believed that my primary relationship was always going to be with food, scales, exercise and this body I hated. I was convinced that the ONLY way I’d ever be happy, was if I was a certain size and looked a certain way. So often I felt paralyzed by the eating disorder, which changed several times in nature. The behaviors varied and the intensity changed, so I went through phases where I thought things were better, but other times, I felt like screaming out, “I’m not fucken fine, I’m dying in here, I’m lonely and I can’t take this anymore”. I had no idea at 14 that an eating disorder would take 14 years of my life, so much of which was a nightmare I’m glad not to be caught in anymore, but it was also a blur.
When I did seek treatment, I found what was available in Australia sadly lacking in really helping people recover. I realised after doing my initial Graduate Diploma in Counselling, that something more needed to be done in order for women to get real healing and recovery, rather than just managing the disorder. I found the treatment that was available in Australia focused on weight restoration and food plans and trying to stop the disordered thoughts and behaviors, which come with an eating disorder. Emotional recovery was not an option. I knew this was the real key to recovery!
Sue, my business and life partner, and I were in a bookstore in 2011 when Dr Anita Johnston’s book ‘Eating in the Light of the Moon’, literally fell off the shelf at Sue’s feet. She picked it up and resonated with the sub-heading, which is ‘How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling’. Sue read the book and immediately told me that I had to read it too! It was the only book both Sue and I had come across, that we felt really got inside the psyche of a woman with an eating disorder. At last someone knew what was going on. Sue emailed Anita and asked her how they might collaborate to bring Anita’s work to Australia and the rest is history. Exactly one year to the day of writing that email Anita was in Sydney Australia, training Sue and I and our staff in her Intensive Outpatient Program she had been running in Hawaii for 25 years. These were exciting times as there wasn’t and still isn’t, any other program like it available in Australia.
EATFED opened it’s doors to their first intake of clients in June 2012 and closed in June 2016.
Sue and I are now taking our work in the eating disorder field globally with the Eating Disorder Recovery Hub Membership site. Having already written a book called, ‘To Eat or Not to Eat – A woman’s guide to overcoming disordered eating’, we are now offering online courses to reach people who might not otherwise be able to gain access to this unique and innovative approach to recovery from an eating disorder.
Evonne Englezos is the Women’s Passion Designer for the new wave of empowered women. International author, speaker and social change maker, her best-selling book “To Eat or Not to Eat” gave a fresh and eye-opening look into the world of someone achieving freedom from body, weight and food obsessions and create the life they were meant to have. Evonne helps women release their fear of Speaking Up and claiming their rightful place in the world. Evonne was a Co-founder of EATFED, which is now the Be Free Academy. It was Australia’s first intensive outpatient program for eating disorders. With the Be Free Academy we are now the Leaders in Global Online Resources for Eating Disorder Recovery. She is an author and entrepreneur who helps women transform their ‘What’s the point’ mindset into owning their brilliance.