How to Deal with Eating Disorders and Confidence Issues

How do you Deal with Eating Disorders, Increase Confidence and Create Abundance?

If you struggle with eating disorders, please seek professional help. Butterfly Foundation is fantastic 1800 33 4673. They alson have online chat.

While I appear confident, I have struggled with body image issues, a strong eating disorder that started in childhood and a few other issues for years. I’ve overcome a lot (domestic violence, homelessness, paralysis, PTSD, my daughters’ autism etc) with the help of various treatments including therapy, alternative therapies and of course, a strong support network.

I was skilled at hiding my eating and body issues. No one I dated or was in a relationship with seemed to notice or worry about it, I hid it well from my family because I had a full lifestyle as a teen (religious studies before school, went to school then work so not many meals with the family) but that changed.

For me, the eating and body issues are not only about how I see myself (I often see myself as significantly bigger than I am), it’s about control. When my life is spiralling out of control, I automatically go into a deprivation mode of starvation because it is something I can control. Having control over something when facing extreme obstacles is my response. Aiming to control and restrict eating is not a healthy coping mechanism though and one I need to unlearn.

What Prompted My Change?

In 2019, I was in a new relationship, we were travelling together and he noticed quickly. Coming from a developing country (Vanuatu) and having spent years in one of the least developed countries where we met (Solomon Islands), food was important to him. Healthy food, ensuring you eat well and take care of your body are priorities.

Last year, I was pregnant and had our baby in January 2021. Numerous health issues plagued the pregnancy making it extremely difficult – a heart murmur, gestational diabetes, fainting and more. It was the mental aspect that was harder though. My changing body, not being capable of normal exercise because of my health issues and some personal matters relating to it all were hard to handle.

My daughters are now 12 and 13, old enough to notice everything. This plus the pregnancy forced me to make changes and evaluate why I am doing what I do. I need to be an example to them the same way I have in other areas of our lives.

So on here, I will be sharing what I am doing, methods that help me and the link between these issues and other issues I have faced such as domestic and gender-based violence, business ups and downs, paralysis and more.

Different times I have struggled with my body image, health and eating issues.

Health, Wealth, Mindset and the Links

I don’t have all the answers to overcoming eating disorders, increasing confidence or abundance and wealth. My experiences are varied though and I am constantly learning. Since I have been open about other obstacles, after discussing it with my partner, I decided to share my experience here as it all links up.

In my own life, along with a lot of research and learning, the connection between health, wealth and every area of our lives is huge. Personally, when I am confident in myself, love myself and doing well, my finances grow, my health increases and it is easy to stay on track. When my self esteem plummets, everything else drops as well and it is hard to get out of the place.

My paralysis, both times, I know was caused by stress and mental issues. Using You Can Heal Your Life and mindfulness practices, I was able to heal myself despite what the doctors were telling me.

I know for a fact, if I had been confident, mentally and physically healthy, I would not have gone into the abusive relationship I did. My depression was extreme, I felt no one else would love me and despite a few red flags, I got married. Abuse eroded what little self-esteem I had, as did his desire for me to look like an adult entertainment worker.

Eventually, with a new career, a boost of confidence because I was a finalist for an international award, I finally left that marriage after a specific incident. In the following years, I learnt a lot about myself, grew my confidence and became quite successful, winning multiple awards, raising money for charity, sharing my story, founding then selling a company and more.

Knowing all of this, I will be learning and applying what I can, sharing it here and being transparent. This goes for all areas, the eating issues, confidence, relationships and finances, since they are all linked.

My Main 2021 Goals

When I dedicate time for myself, it is amazing what can be accomplished. 2019 I declared the year of me and it is phenomenal the changes. I went to the Solomon Islands a few times, got my diving certification thanks to Dive Munda, re-partnered when I never thought I would and travelled a lot. The Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Austria, Slovenia, South East Australia etc. I secured full custody of my daughters, a 5-year protection order, went back to the gym and worked with a personal trainer, took up a dance class and basically, lived the life we wanted.

In 2021, with the freedom I have now because I have custody, I am more focused. My aim in 2019 was to get through while increasing self-care as I had neglected myself so much. Now, it is about healing properly, not just covering my issues with ‘self-care’ and feel good things.

My areas of focus are:

Mentally Improve and Deal with my Eating/Body Issues – As mentioned above, this has plagued me for years and I am now focused on being my best self.

Regain my Feminine Energy and Confidence – One of my favourite compliments has always been about my energy. The person I am, caring, giving, open, curious, understanding etc. The best compliment was “You are like Christmas!” as in, I light everyone up because of the energy I bring. Over the past 2 years, with custody, numerous obstacles and my eating/body issues, this has shrunk.

Live For Me – I get lost in others easily then neglect myself or put myself last. This year, my goals are around taking care of myself, doing things I love or have always wanted to such as skydiving, getting my advanced diving certification etc. I am a better mother, partner and person when I take care of myself.

Slow Changes and Realisations

By 2020, my partner and I had been travelling together for months. New Year’s Eve set the tone for that year. Being evacuated from bushfires in Jervis Bay was just the beginning. Within a couple of weeks, 2 close family members died in Vanuatu and we needed to return. As we were leaving, Sydney had massive storms and chaos causing delays and issues. In Vanuatu, the world was starting to change but we needed to go to the Solomon Islands to sort child custody for my partner and a few other things.

While on an outer island, the borders closed. We set up home in Honiara, Solomon Islands and awaited repatriation then got hit by Cyclone Harold. During this time, my websites were hacked, I lost 70% of my income, my health suddenly declined rapidly and I was told if I wanted more kids (which we did) it needed to be now. When repatriation came up, we were able to go to Queensland and set up home again after quarantine and it turned out I was already pregnant.

My pregnancy had numerous issues with my heart, passing out, gestational diabetes and more. In the end, I had a healthy 3.935kg boy on January 10, 2021. A smooth, natural birth and all the health issues I had during pregnancy left instantly. Except my body image and eating issues. During the pregnancy, I ate because I was pregnant but it was hard. It was then that I knew, once he was born, I needed to focus on myself more and create a solid foundation of self-love, confidence and abundance to match the amazing life we have.

Which brings us to now.

2021 – Focus on Health, Eating Disorder, Body Issues, Confidence and Business

Those are quite a few things to focus on but most of it overlaps. My main focus is my health, both mind and body because if I can’t get my mind right, the rest of me will not be ok.

As an example, below is an image of Justin (my partner) and I a few months after we met. I was stressed out of my mind going through child custody and getting another protection order. Despite eating healthy at that point, going to the gym and doing a dance class, I could not lose any weight which also stressed me out. The other image is me, 2 weeks postpartum and doing much better mentally. I have custody of my daughters, just had my son, my partner is supportive and I know what I want.

Justin Saula and Kylie Travers at Tenaru Falls, Solomon Islands. Kylie Travers at Sunshine Beach, Queensland.

Our bodies can hold so much weight and create various health issues when we are holding onto stress. Unfortunately for me, because my body held so much, I later resorted to what I knew to lose weight instead of reducing my stress levels – starvation.

Dealing with and Overcoming an Eating Disorder and Body Image Issues

My family are incredibly supportive and the reason I could hide this well was because of our lifestyle. In high school, I was out of the house at 6am for seminary (I grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). From seminary I went to school, after school was often sports or working at Woolworths. I’d be home after dinner so often my daily meals were not with my family and easy to skip. Plus, even if dinner was left, I had siblings more than willing to eat it if I didn’t want to eat (I am 1 of 9 kids!)

Growing up, my older and younger siblings were slimmer than me, I got teased at school and by high school, I had perfected starving myself without too many people noticing.

In previous relationships, my eating issues slid under the radar pretty well. I was able to hide a lot of it or they simply didn’t care. This time is different. Justin pays attention to me and supports me in everything. So the eating and body image issues were extremely obvious to him.

Below is a good example of the past few years and my thoughts/feelings.

Picture 1: Canberra 2015 – I thought I was fat and was still trying to lose another 5 to 10kg! I had paralysis and level 10 pain issues so couldn’t work out. As such, starving was the ‘easiest’ option.
Picture 2: Cairns 2017, I felt so fat here and was struggling to lose weight.
Picture 3: Tenaru Falls, 2019 -I hate this picture because I had been working with a personal trainer for 4 months, gym 3 to 4 times a week, a dance class, tracking what I eat and yet had not lost any weight, not a cm, nothing. And there is Justin, super buff, fully defined six pack etc.
Picture 4: Savu Savu 2019 – only a few months after picture 3, I had finally won custody so stress eased considerably and the weight dropped even though I was no longer at the gym etc.
Picture 5: Mele Bay, 2019 – When I first saw this photo I loved it as I felt I looked healthier. Within seconds someone commented “You should do planks” and ever since I cannot look at this photo without hating myself.
Picture 6: Noosa, 2020 – until I saw this, I hadn’t realised how much weight I had lost. I did it through starvation in the islands though. Not healthy at all and once I was pregnant I was sick so it was hard to eat much.

Having Support

Early on, Justin noticed my issues and he cared about it. He felt awful I was doing this to myself and wanted to help. He took it upon himself to ask me every morning what I wanted for breakfast and he would make it for me. It was never pushed, simply encouraged or on offer. 2 years on and he still does this.

As we travelled and it was clear how much I was struggling with it all, even more once I got pregnant, he continued to reassure me he is in it for the long haul and wants to help. By learning what he could, being open to discussing, not judging and simply providing healthy meals, whether I ate them or not, I feel supported and am working harder to overcome this.

I opened up to some of my family recently about it too. This is not something you can overcome without support. And I’ve seen how it directly impacts other areas of my life from finance through to my parenting. I do not want my daughters having issues because of me.

How I will Overcome/Manage my Eating and Body Issues

Where to start? There are so many options, resources etc. If you are struggling with similar issues, the first step is professional help. Someone who specialises in eating disorders and body issues can help you process things, deal with traumas, triggers and find coping mechanisms.

I like alternative methods too such as hypnotherapy, kinesiology, meditation etc. Justin gifted me these sessions for Valentine’s Day too as he knows my tendency to put myself last, budget for everything for the kids but skip out on my own needs. They are booked in thanks to him.

I’ll be using all methods as well as reinstating my regular routines. When I am practising my morning routine and doing some other things which make me feel good, my body and eating issues are not such a problem.

Justin is going to continue with cooking and assisting me there. Too often, it feels so hard to prepare meals when I am mentally not coping.

My aim is body neutrality, not so much body positivity. I don’t want to be happy with myself at an unhealthy weight/size. How strong my body is, what it is capable of and achieving goals such as breaking my rowing speed record matter more to me than being super skinny. To do that, I need to fix my myself mentally.

Focus On Mental Health

Over the years I have learnt my stress levels have the greatest impact on my health and weight. As such, this is my main focus rather than working out. I downloaded an app to track my habits and put in ones which I know help me significantly.

While I only just started this again, the difference on the days I do the following vs the days I don’t is huge.

Ho’oponopono

A daily practice of ho’oponopono does wonders for me. It’s a Hawaiian forgiveness practice which helps you clear out old beliefs, forgive and move on. When we are struggling mentally it’s often because we are hung up on something past or present and replaying it in our minds.

Two of my favourite books, Unleash Your Inner Money Babe and Lucky Bitch discuss this method. Essentially you write a list of things you need to forgive. Then go through each one, feel the emotions behind it and say:
I forgive you (some say please forgive me)
I’m sorry
Thank you
I love you

It’s about forgiving yourself and everything around the situation, apologising for holding it for so long, being thankful for the lesson and sending it love.

Daily Gratitude

Write 3 things you are grateful for in your journal every day. Every night at dinner we go around the table and all say 3 things we are grateful for as well as a compliment for each member of the family. I also aim to write at least 3 things I am grateful for every day.

When I am struggling, I aim for 10 or 25 things I am grateful for because it shifts your mindset. Being grateful or thankful opens up your mind and gets you away from the negative self talk.

Daily Meditation

Sometimes this is yoga, sometimes a walk on the beach or other times a guided meditation. Whatever works for you. It doesn’t need to be hours long. Most of the time, I aim for at least 10 minutes but if I have more time, I feel the difference when I can do 20 to 30 minutes instead.

Mini Workout

Once I get the all clear next week at my 6 week check up, I’ll be doing more. Right now, it’s been mini workouts. Even 10 minutes of yoga on a busy day or going for a walk will help. You need to get moving and personally, I feel the difference when I get out side for a walk vs being stuck inside all day. A workout in the morning sets up my day for success.

Read for at Least 10 Minutes

My goal for 2021 is to read 52 books which I am sharing on The Thrifty Issue. A minimum of 10 minutes reading a day helps me stay focused and clear my mind. Most of my reading is non-fiction so I am constantly learning.

Create My Miracle Routines

I first learnt about a Miracle Morning in 2015 but realised I already had a similar practice. Over the past 2 years, with travelling then repatriation to Australia, those habits fell by the wayside.

My ideal morning consists of the above mental health things, drinking 1L of water first thing and getting some time with my kids before they go to school. If I can do that, my whole day goes better.

Of an evening, I like to wind down by writing in my journal, being grateful, a little yoga and meditation. On nights I don’t do this, I don’t sleep well.

Nutrition, Fitness and Health

Living next to the beach, health and fitness should be easy but it isn’t always! Getting my nutrition right, exercising healthily and not with an obsession to lose weight plus being healthy overall is a huge leap from where I am right now. One I am determined to make.

When it comes to nutrition, Justin and my daughters will prepare most of our meals. I have a recipe for a smoothie I am happy to have every morning at the moment, with a fully cooked breakfast as a family on Sundays. Lunches will typically be leftover dinner and our dinners usually come from HelloFresh (get $50 off your first box here) or similar services. My kids love choosing their own recipes and learning to cook with them and I don’t obsess over food as much when I am not having to meal plan or prepare it.

Fitness will be focused on walking everything, doing my morning yoga, swimming at the beach and getting back into diving. Justin and I love to dive, he is tec qualified, which is specialist trained to go 50 metres deep. I am a beginner and working on my advanced soon followed by eventually getting to the same level he is. Fortunately, I was able to learn with Dive Munda then during my pregnancy I was able to complete the Science of Diving with them too, which helped a lot.

Final Notes

So there you have it, my current obstacle and one I have kept secret. A solid plan to deal with it and I’ll be open about the experience, treatments etc. As well as still sharing about the other topics I have in my life such as business, homelessness, relationships etc.

Feel free to ask me anything, leave a comment or email if you prefer.

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