Welcome to the website world of Wellness Jess!
Now I call myself ‘Wellness Jess’ because at the point I have now reached in my life, all I want to focus on is being well and spreading a message of achieving wellness. This relates to the level of wellness that you feel in your overall life including your relationships with family, friends and partners, your mind set and relationship towards food and exercise, your feelings about the career or educational path you’ve chosen and anything that you feel is an aspect of your daily life that impacts your life strongly.
So here’s my hella long story about why I have reached this point.
The early years
As a little girl, I was at a “normal” and “healthy” weight. I loved playing outdoors, playing with dolls and involving myself in art sessions at preschool and with my parents. However, in primary school I was quite over weight and could tell I didn’t look like the other kids but I was always told by my parents that “it’s your baby weight, don’t worry about it” and so I believed that it would eventually go away as I got older. My parents are beautiful and never said I was fat or over weight (though my dad would always call my brother and I “chunky monkey’s” which, he still does to this day and I love it haha) and they would give my brother and I so much love and affection that no one would ever feel any sort of low self esteem or doubt in themselves. But in primary I wanted to eat like the other kids. I hated the heathy sandwiches mum made for me because they’d go soggy in my bag and I didn’t to eat fruit and vegetables because they would be warm by the time I would eat them. I wanted the processed and packaged foods that everyone else was having in their lunch boxes, I wanted the packet of chips after school because everyone was collecting these cards of football players that came in them, I wanted the sugary finger bun from the bakery or the twiggy sticks from the deli. My parents hardly ever allowed my brother and I to eat McDonalds but one time I cried and put up a massive tantrum right before we had guests coming over for dinner because I wanted a happy meal but I only wanted it for the free Barbie that it came with. You can see my parents were doing the parenting thing right but I fought and truly thought I had won because I was getting what I thought I wanted. In reality and looking at my childhood now, I most definitely lost. I gained a lot of weight and finished primary school in a state that I am so ashamed of and can’t stand to be reminded of through photographs again. This carried into my high school years and I was always so uncomfortable at school, always longing to look good in the uniform, have clear skin and do my hair in that “messy bun” that somehow looked amazing on all of the other girls. I was always trying to be everyone else and so I did all of these random diets that would last a week and would fail and then there was a time in year 11 when my friend and I would go to McDonalds almost every day after school because we missed the bus and couldn’t be bothered to walk home from the station, which is literally a 15 minute walk and probably 10 from McDonalds. We would use any money we had to buy anything that we felt like, mine usually being a soft serve or chips. I thought it was fun, but I would go home feeling terrible and then eat dinner with my family. This dinner probably didn’t even need to be eaten on multiple occasions because I had definitely eaten enough throughout the day.
The turning point
In year 11-12, I was 80kg. I knew I was seriously not doing anything good for my body and my family could see that I was over weight but before that point I hadn’t really cared what I was eating and just ate for fun. When I finished high school, my brother was already out and had lost all of his weight. Everyone congratulated him and said they were so proud and that he was looking so good. My mum told me “I lost all of my weight at 17-18 years old, so did Dad and so has Matt (brother), it will come off, trust me!”. I was between those ages and I was so angry because nothing had changed for me and I couldn’t see anything changing but I was adamant that I would experience what happened to the rest of my family. I changed my school diet and would bring tuna, corn thins, tomato slices plus fruit and veges as my recess and lunch. I would go walking more often and I would occasionally do some weights and high intensity cardio. Somehow, I dropped about 10kg just from changing my diet, adding in more exercise and being more active within the school community. Easy right? Well as soon as high school ended it turned extreme but incidentally extreme in my opinion.
The year of change
To summarise my education quickly, I was always an average achiever who tried hard in her subjects but hated math. So for my HSC year I decided I didn’t want to get an ATAR (the number that pretty much indicates which degree you can get into at University therefore, a load of bull) as I never saw myself going to University. I’m a singer so music has always been my passion but I was never good at the theory so I was too scared to go to a music college. I tried hairdressing for 2 years as I always dreamed of being a hairdresser but once I got into the industry, I hated it. Then I thought, why not go into childcare because I love kids! I decided to work full time in a childcare centre while studying my Certificate 3 in Children’s Services at TAFE. I did this while everyone around me was in their first year of University, having wacky schedules and new social lives. A lot of people changed around me and I was still the innocent girl who hardly ever drank, had a sensible sense of humour and was terrified of being surrounded by smoking and drugs. Though I tried to keep some friends, others were pushed away due to their personalities changing and their new social scenes. I slowly lost more and more people in my life and just focused on work which wasn’t hard to do considering I worked 10 hour days, 4 days a week, going to TAFE on Tuesday nights after work until 10pm, having Wednesday as my day off to pretty much watch movies with my friends and using the weekend as family time.
The reason as to why I incidentally lost so much weight this year was because of these laborious 10 hour days, where I was constantly on my feet, running after and picking up children. I also changed my diet drastically and began using My Fitness Pal. I wanted to have a 1200 calorie diet and would track everything I ate to a T. I said no to any “junk” food and would never treat myself. My diet basically consisted of a chia pudding breakfast (1tbsp chia seeds with 3 tbsp water, topped with 1/4 apple, 1/4 banana and possibly a couple strawberries), a tuna salad lunch (lettuce, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 tomato, 1/2 carrot with half a lemon as my dressing and one tin of tuna in springwater as I didn’t want oil) with an apple and then dinner was usually some animal protein (chicken, fish, steak) with veges and salad. As you can tell, I hardly ate anything and it was so easy for me to stick to 1200 calories eating the way I was. At the beginning it was incidental, as I couldn’t snack at work (though they would always offer me the kids food, I would constantly reject it) and my meals were all planned so I couldn’t really stray from what I was eating. On top of this I was moving constantly and even began doing some extra exercise on weekends which consisted of strength training and high intensity sprints. So it started off feeling like something that was just happening as a result of a new, much less sedentary life style but little did I know that this habit of tracking my calories, constantly moving, taking progress pictures and saying no to anything I labelled as unhealthy would soon become an engrained mind set and way of life that now I see as unhealthy.
The hard year
From late 2014, I began to purge. Not purge because I was eating a lot and felt the need to rid it out of my body. I purged because I didn’t want anything in my body. I would eat dinner which would be a standard size meal (most likely less as I had a smaller appetite at this point) and then turn the shower on and try and get it out. Later on, which I now believe to be as a result of my caloric deficit, I began to binge and then purge. This occurred for so long and I was so scared but I thought that as long as I kept it to myself then it would be ok. I was clearly in denial but I knew I had to do something because I didn’t have a period for about 10 months since beginning work and beginning my restriction. I told my mum and I was later told that the only way to get my period back was to go on the pill which I am currently still on. I was so scared because everyone warns you about gaining weight on the pill and that was the last thing I wanted because I had the body that I always wanted, yet still tried to change.
Then, I decided to enrol in University and got accepted. Me.. the girl who never wanted to go to University because her parents and brother went straight into full time work and are very successful in their careers. But the only way to progress in the field I was in was to get a degree. I was so excited! But that excitement lasted until I actually went and saw the amount of work I had to do and the standard of work that I had to provide. While Uni was starting up, I met my current boyfriend Matt (my brother and boyfriend have the same name, yay). He has been the only person to change my eating habits because he’s Italian, like me and can eat so much food! I wanted to enjoy myself with him, experience his favourite places to eat and his favourite food! As soon as I had it… I wanted more and due to the stress of Uni, I found myself constantly binging and purging. I was seeing a counsellor at Uni who would ask me at the end of every session “are you harming yourself?” and I would say no, but one day I said yes. I had also been seeing a dietician who I confided in about the issue after this counselling session. But I couldn’t tell Matt and I couldn’t tell my parents or my friends. This year I classify as the best and worst year of my life because University was horrible, I lost close friends and I quit my job, but I had also found Matt who has been the biggest blessing in my life. It started getting to a point where I would want to stay at his all the time because I’d be too scared to go home, knowing I would binge as soon as I stepped inside the kitchen. My parents didn’t know the reason as to why I would always want to stay over and would get angry at my for never being home. But I was just scared. I was scared to baby sit because every time I would, I found myself in their kitchen eating all of their food while the kids were asleep. I still can’t believe I would do that…
My mum knows and I assume my dad knows because she would have told him. The binging very slowly lessened from 3-4 times a week, to once a week to maybe a few times a month, to once a month and to now. I hope I never do it again. The last serious binge I had was nearly 3 months ago, at baby sitting. I’ve had a couple times in between then and now where I’ve maybe had a bit too much to eat of something but I wouldn’t call them binges because I stopped myself and could recognise that I didn’t need to eat that much. All of the other times I would stop because I would insanely sick and my stomach would hurt. I can assure you that I haven’t pushed myself to that point since and I wont. I don’t want to do it again so badly and I haven’t felt better and more confident in myself than I do now. Knowing that someone loves you for you and tells you that you’re beautiful and sexy regardless of you may see happening to your body is the best gift I could have because my self esteem was at a drastic low and I needed the affirmation that it was ok. I am ok. I will be ok. I’m excited to remain being ok. Actually, I’m great! I’ve decided to enrol in a Music degree, I’m focussing much more on my Youtube Videos and writing my own music, I’ve found a passion for health and wellbeing and love to cook and create meals for myself and loved ones, I’ve been with my amazing boyfriend for over a year, I’ve reconnected with my friends and have made some lovely new ones and I’m closer than ever to my family. All of those aspects make my life great which is why I feel my need to make food the most exciting part of my life has suppressed. Yes if I have a bit of something yummy then I will 100% want more but I have the willpower to stop when I’m full and eat only when I’m hungry, not feeling guilty if I have an extra snack during the day to give me a boost of energy to keep me going until dinner or have some gelato with my boyfriend as an end of exam treat.
I began my extreme weight loss at 67kg (the first picture) and got to 53kj (the last picture). I am now fluctuating between 56-57kg. The weight gain was scary and I tried to stop it from happening but it needed to happen. I needed to binge to realise that I had been deprived for so long. It is only now that I can look back at those two years as being a life lesson. I have learnt that a life of restriction, calorie counting, excessive exercise, minimal relaxation, food labelling and an avoidance of treats is not healthy. It damages every part of your body and it doesn’t go unnoticed. I love myself now and even more for going through what I have gone through and coming out the other side. I see life so much more positively now and strive to help others live a life of wellness because so many people have gone through and are going through what happened to me.
I eat much more intuitively now, I don’t use My Fitness Pal and I exercise when I feel like it but I love movement so I’ll always be trying to incorporate it into my day as it makes me feel good! However, since my restriction I have experienced severe stomach issues. Bloating, gas, horrible or non existent bowel movements, cramps and burning. I believe this to be a result of cutting out carbs and most dairy from my diet. I was feeding my body nothing and it became used to the food that it was having to digest and as soon as I tried to give it something different, it rejected it. I have been having stomach issues for over a year and I’ve been told that maybe I’m gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, have IBS, have to go on a Low FODMAP diet etc. Well, I did all of those things and still felt like crap. I then thought that it had to be something bacterial and so I did a stool test and woopdy doo, they found a parasite! Dientamoeba Fragilis is what the little guy is called. I was told that it was most likely causing all of my symptoms and I believed this but since finishing the antibiotics (22nd June- I was on it for 10 days), I am still experiencing the same issues and I’m pretty angry about it because I just want my stomach to be healed and to live my life as freely as possible, not worry that I may eat something that will cause a stomach upset. On the 9th of August I’m getting a Colonoscopy and an Endoscopy to just see if there is anything going wrong in there and I hope they find something just so I know what it is.I’ve heard many stories about people going Vegan to heal their stomachs because it is the only thing that relieves their symptoms and so at the moment I’m trying out eating predominately Vegan/Vegetarian to see how my stomach feels. I am not doing it to “cure my eating disorder” because I want to eat in abundance and not feel guilty about eating whatever I want and how much of it I want. I am doing it to see if cutting out meat and diary (which I still hardly ever consume) affects my stomach in any way and suppresses the pains and irritability in my stomach that I have been experiencing for way too long now.
If you’re reading this and have a similar story then please reach out to me. It will be ok and you will get to where you need to be but you have to let the waves crash over you and fight your way through to get there. Life is a journey and this is just a bump in the road.
I have driven right over the bump and indented it into the ground.
I’m not an inspiration because I still struggle and I don’t want anyone to look up to me and think that I am living the dream and I am the epitome and health and happiness. I am only a 21 year old girl, going through life day by day but now I’m living it to my fullest and not living it in fear.
Love Jess xx
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