What did you do today?
I had an epic self care day. Lots of lushness.
Over the past week I have been helping my friend who has been sick and I felt myself driving towards a burn out due to excessively focusing on supporting someone else, and not checking in with myself and my needs.
This has been a running theme for me recently learning ‘how can I continue to nourish myself, whilst also being supportive of others?’.
I have been learning to listen to all the really small signals my body sends, and it’s been such a big lesson of being connected with my body and allowing myself to have a constant dialogue with my body and check in regularly so there are no surprises.
What are some of your rituals for self-care, self-love?
I like to spend time in nature, if I’m feeling emotional or congested. I like to be barefoot on the earth.
I take time offline, and turn my phone off. I sing lots, dance, write music, or do water colour paintings.
I also spend a lot of time meditating with my hands on my body, feeling what is going on for me and reconnecting with myself, and my softest and most sensitive parts.
When I’m connected with my inner self, it’s really powerful to tune into that inner knowing and see what it is that I really want. Maybe it’s some more water, or a nap. Sometimes it’s just that simple. Other times it’s a bath, a drink, a bliss ball, to book a massage, or to make a call to a friend.
I also love to go to the ocean, or take a bath, or go to the Japanese Bath House in Melbourne, one of my all time favourite places.
I also love massaging my feet, it’s so grounding and through reflexology you can give love to your whole body just by touching your feet. I use some beautiful essential oils, generally frankincense, and lately I’ve been making my own body butter.
I guess when I’m really in need of self care the most important thing is for me to check in and feel into my intuition of how do I reconnect myself with me. A multitude of those methods works, but I don’t generally do all of these every day, but I tune in and see what is best for me in that moment.
Over the last 5 years you’ve had some health issues which resulted in weight gain. What was your experience when you first started gaining weight, and how have you come to terms with accepting who you are in your skin?
I had so much grief come up, it was really big for me. As my body changed, I spiralled into self-critique, guilt, shame, fear, and constant worry. Initially when I first started gaining weight, I was judging myself a lot. I had thoughts like “I’m neglecting myself” “ I’m not eating the right foods” even though I was, I was actually obsessive over my eating and exercise. My weight gain came about (I found out much later) due to a complex mix of hormonal, thyroid, adrenal and autoimmune issues.
One of my most critical inner thoughts was that I was judging myself as unhealthy, I felt like I didn’t look healthy (or what the societal definition of healthy is) so therefore I must not be, I must be doing something wrong.
Societally, many people believe you can tell the health of a person by their size but really you can’t just by looking at them. There are lots of slim people who have a lot of issues internally that aren’t so obvious just by looking at them, and there are a lot of larger people who have blood tests proving their metabolic health and are really vibrant and healthy.
Understanding this has helped me accept my own body too.
The turning point for me from body hate to body love was getting involved in movement/dance practices, as well as breathwork and energy work. When I started to feel and connect with my body in those ways I realised how disconnected I had been from myself, and started to understand why I ended up getting so sick.
I didn’t even realise I was disconnected from myself, I didn’t even know there was such thing as connection and disconnection, because we don’t get taught as children to stop and connect with our bodies. When I started doing movement and breath practices, I started being able to express and release emotions so that they didn’t get stored in my body.
It was when I started to feel what was happening in my body, instead of just seeing what I looked like, that I realised that my body is wonderful and resilient and I stopped hating it so much.
Often there is a societal assumption that larger people take less care of themselves. When you first started gaining weight, did you find that you had any stereotypically unhealthy habits, like overeating or not exercising?
I was actually doing the opposite of what people might think, and what doctors thought. I was on a really extreme 500 calorie per day diet (2000 calories daily is recommended for women). I was eating 100g of organic meat and 1 green vegetable in each meal and 3 small pieces of citrus fruit a day and that was it. I was obsessed with diets. I was a dieting expert, in fact I have since been informed that this level of obsession is an eating disorder, orthorexia, and that it is likely that I suffered from that from the time I was 19, and I’m currently working to resolve that to this day.
So in August 2013, when my health issues started to emerge, I weighed myself and I realised I had gained weight, and so I immediately put myself on my calorie restrictive diet and was eating 500 calories a day for 6 months. Defying my own, and many medical practitioner’s logic, I continued to gain weight, another 11kgs over that time.
I eventually was able to understand, through finding the right doctors, that my body went through the fight/flight response and was storing everything I ate because of the stress/cortisol response in the body. Over the entire time I have been working with and healing autoimmune disease, I have tried a range of things to stop the weight gain, I did Crossfit 4 times a week for about 8 months, and gym programs at different times over the 5 years period, and still gained a lot of weight. In total I gained about 35kg over 5 years. I was on a diet, then off a diet, then on the next diet, doing juice fasting, broth fasting, and all types of diets. It was concerning, and frustrating that nothing I did, no amount of strictness or diligence or hard work was making the weight gain stop.
By the time I had gained 20kg, I started to develop an emotional eating pattern, and was really depressed due to the situation with my health and my weight gain. I then had to heal that relationship with food and emotional eating. There’s definitely been a lot of cofactors. But initially no, I was so diligent (excessively so) with what I was consuming and yet I gained 11kg during that first 6 month period when I was heavily restricting all my food.
There is so much stigma around diet and weight and there is a dominant cultural belief that those with a larger body don’t care for themselves and are lazy or greedy. This is completely false. Fat phobia toward people who are larger bodied is currently the last remaining socially acceptable form of discrimination, it’s as if we have been trained that it’s okay to make commentary about others as long as it’s under the guise of ‘health concerns’.
It’s really exciting that there is a body positive movement, that is standing up and saying that everyone has a right to connect with and nurture their body the way that is right for them. It is such important work, encouraging all humans with many varying types of bodies to know that we deserve to have love and compassion for ourselves.
Do you get affected by any negative comments from people about your body?
Actually yes. I remember when you (Lucette) posted one of the images you took of me on your instagram and there was a person who commented about my health and that made a comment about large body size and health implications.
Initially a comment like that feels like a slap in the face in the moment. And that’s okay, to feel that emotion, and it’s important not to shun it, but also to encourage myself not to take it on board. I know that I am as healthy as I can be at the moment, all my blood tests are great, and I have healed autoimmune symptoms and adrenal fatigue, which is incredible in itself.
I’ve found that this type of comment only happens when it’s not on my page, but I have never had it on any of my social media. I do know other body positive babes on instagram that receive all sorts of yucky comments on their own pages, I think the more followers people get the less ‘personal’ it feels, and the more online haters feel like it’s okay to comment nasty things.
How are you nurturing your body now?
I am quite open about my desire to lose this 35kg that to me, is representative of an autoimmune issue that I no longer have. But I have no desire to do that by radical diets or self-punishing regimes.
I truly believe that balancing and restoring my body to what it used to be will come from keeping my energetic vibration high and just caring for myself and my own individual body, without specific diet and exercise regimes. I am really allowing myself to intuitively eat, at this point I eat mostly plant-based, mostly organic and low meat. I know and feel that pairing that with gentle movement and breath practices will be what allows my inner self to be reflected on the outside. I already feel that way and the people who know me also can see how vibrant and healthy I really am regardless of my dress size at this moment. I know that by keeping my vibration high and nurturing myself, without having to restrict any foods or put myself through any punishing work outs that my body will balance itself entirely.
I’ve been extensively researching the non diet approach and the Health at Any Size (HAES) approach and both encompasses intuitive eating, not restricting and not striving for the outcome of weight loss but striving instead for a way of being for each individual body. There is evidence that shows that those who follow this approach experience increased health outcomes, and their body returns to a neutral healthy base for their individual body.
I live my life day to day showing love to my body. I am still able to do all of the things I loved doing before, including some modelling recently (which I love), because attractiveness is not about anything but our vibration, and the love I have for myself and how I feel in my soul radiates.
One of the ways I show myself love in this exact body is by selecting beautiful clothes that suit me and enhance this body. I’m actually wearing The Air Top right now and I love it so much, not just because it looks good and feels good on but because it suits all body types.
I realise now how much time I spent in negative self talk about myself and my body, and It was such a time-waster. By no longer doing that I have so much more time and energy to put forward into finding little ways I can be part of changing the world and helping others.
I have started The Body Love Collective which is a body love and self love movement for women, based in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve just started running day workshops, which are going amazingly, and my first ever 6 week course is coming up in September.
Who would you have a tea party with?
The people that I surround myself with, I have quite a global network of women doing super incredible amazing things while staying really connected with themselves. Not to be cliche but your vibe definitely attracts your tribe and I have done so much work on myself and my self connection, and have met so many other like minded women and I just feel so supported by the sisterhood and it feels phenomenal. I love being connected with all these women who are all working so hard in their individual ways to impact the world, so I would love to have a tea party in every country with all my bad ass babes.
What is your definition of a Wylde Woman?
A deeply self connected, centred, grounded, nature connected and community-focused woman. With a solid internal foundation of self love and self nourishment and continuous connection with self and nature to fuel that. A woman that expresses and feels all of her emotions without shame and continues to do the work on themselves and reach new levels of self knowing and continue to deepen their connection to community, nature and the world around them.