How can we love ourselves unconditionally?

Written by: Liza Rae

How does one go from being a girl with an eating disorder to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Fulfilling her life-long dream to become a personal coach, today Isabelle Plasmeijer (and her team) not only coach people to eating disorder recovery, Isabelle is also a motivational speaker, organiser of events to help people become the best version of themselves, has two books to her name and is in charge of her very own power-team.

After coming out of a difficult relationship and losing her job too, Isabelle moved to a new town and decided enough was enough. She started writing about her struggle with her eating disorder, finished a book only to begin again, deciding it was worthless the way that it was. It needed expertise, brain-research, new insights, and most of all: how-to tools. Many interviews and added coaching exercises later, her book (loosely translated into English) “When will you knock it off?” was fact. It was the start of something beautiful.

Isabelle: “I was so proud of the book, for it was something that could be of use for others like me. So I had the book, I was a coach; I had something to offer the world. But I was scared to put my knowledge and strength into action, but then I thought: ‘I can go on and be scared but then I will never help anyone’. And that has always been what I wanted to do most, help others. So, I decided to place myself above my fear, and when I did, everything started falling into place. Within a week of my website launch, I had two clients. Two became twelve, and now three year later I have 16 Coaches working for me.”

On the lie that is eating disorder

“It is an illusion to think that only if you are thin or lean you can be happy. What I am trying to teach people is that your body is your instrument, nothing more. It doesn’t matter whether you are big, or small, or extremely fit. I believe our goal in life is to love ourselves unconditionally, not to live up to a certain body standard. Mother nature has her own plans with you anyway, from the day that you are born you are decaying. We are all mortal. We die. Hey, it’s only a matter of time before my breasts are there where my knees are and well, the more wrinkly my face gets the more stories I will have to tell. But if you don’t change the way you look at yourself, nothing will ever change.”

Spreading a message of hope

“When my final day has arrived, I won’t be wishing I had been two pounds lighter when I was thirty or had driven that big ass car. No, when I am on my deathbed, I hope my kids are with me, that the people, whom I love and love me, are there. I don’t think anyone standing at the end of the road will say they wished they had been ten pounds lighter all their life for it would have brought them more happiness. I hope to make people more aware of this: happiness isn’t in your looks.”

On withstanding a world that sets ideals

“We are being brainwashed. It is very hard to fight this, but at the end of the day you decide how much you let ‘the world’ affect you. Think about it. In the time of Rubens, so long ago, the perfect body was a voluptuous one and then there was a time women like you and me would have ended up being burned at the stake. At one point, women even used poisonous facial cream with lead to look as white as they possibly could. A kiss could mean their husband’s death! And now we’re supposed to look tanned. What I am trying to say is, every since we are here, we are doing dangerous things to live up to ideals. But ideals change. So can we. We are responsible for maintaining those ideals. They have influenced me too. But I have decided to create my own, to live by my rules.”

On the pro-eating disorder community online

“I feel about it as I feel about everything: if it feels right for someone to express herself in a certain way, it is right for someone. Would I want to see it banned? Of course, but that’s not the solution. Prohibiting something only causes more friction. Better is to try and do what I do: show the other side.

Recovery is possible! 

Let’s not focus on the bad, focus on the good. I wish I could help those who are active in those communities, but people decide to look it up, or they don’t. It will disappear when there is no need for it anymore. In the meantime I’m like, bring it on. Bring it on. I’ll share my own message. I wish to inspire people, stimulate them, activate them so they are capable of unchaining and using their inner powers and to live a more happy, grateful, prouder life. Free from body-ideals.”

Written by: Liza
For a little extra encouragement, you may also like the Facebook-page. 

The root of my eating disorder lay in my mind

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Creating a deeper conscious mind

I had an eating disorder from the age of 14 up until… well it’s hard to say because even once I had regained a ‘healthy’ weight, the control patterns still persisted in my mind. So my recovery continued for several years beyond my regain of balanced eating habits. This was a crucial part of my recovery; realising that the root of my disorder lay in my mind, that I couldn’t heal my body and balance myself fully until I had understood and healed my mind. But during my recovery (which took numerous years and involved help from therapists and self-help books in addition to my personal vision of wellness) I realised that I could trace the roots of the eating disorder to a place even deeper than my conscious mind; all the way back to my unconscious, the part of the mind concealed from everyday view.

It was here that my healing work really began.

It was here that my healing work really began. It was the place that, with the help of a hypnotherapist, I took the images I held of myself (a pathetic, bad person who always got things wrong, was always to blame) and transformed them into the image of a healthy goddess, someone who accepted herself and trusted life. Someone who was prepared to let go of fear and an urgent need to control, and instead bathe in the flowing waters of life and become flexible and full of love for her own innocence and humanity.

The shift in my mind

As this deeply held image started to shift, so too did the dialogue in my head and eventually my eating patterns. But it wasn’t always easy, and it took time, persistence and unremitting personal responsibility. I relied on inspiring and encouraging resources such as the fantastic support that Isabelle supplies through her website, literature and counselling. I researched food and nutrition as a way of healing my gastro-intestinal tract and re-learning how to love and respect my body once more. I kept a journal so I could express my emotions and become more aware of my thought processes whilst I learnt to heal. I read positive accounts of other people’s recoveries but perhaps most powerful of all, I found a way to love myself more, to forgive myself, to accept myself and realise I’m just a human being doing my best! And boy I should give myself a break from time to time!

I’m no different than you

In fact I’m no different to anyone reading this blog. And I can reassure you now that with persistence and ever-growing self-acceptance you can heal yourself too, and become that image of health, empowerment and freedom which is no doubt growing stronger in you every day.

Recovering from an eating disorder is a wonderful achievement and I wish you all the best for you journey, and every small step you take along the way. You deserve to live, to grow and to thrive because it is your birth right. Why not take a step towards discovering your full potential today?

Written by: Harriet Catchpole

Do you want more inspiration? Check out our Facebook-page. 

Thank you Bulimia!

Story of Hope by Tatjana - Coach ISA Power

Would I, if I could change it all, choose not to have had an eating disorder?

She was my friend. My faithful companion. Thanks to her, people could try to hurt me, even leave me, not love me, and still I wouldn’t feel hurt or unloved. I felt nothing. Well, only sometimes, at 3 A.M. in my bathroom, after the 5th round of overeating and vomiting. Then I would start to feel endless sadness, gripping pain, isolation… a kind of general weltschmerz. (world weariness)

I wanted to feel better, but I was not ready to give up my bulimia!

I first went to therapy wanting to feel better in life, whilst thinking I could keep my bulimia. I wasn’t really ready to give up my bulimia. My therapist asked me: 'Do you want to live? Go home, think about it', is what she said.

I went home, ate, vomited, ate, vomited, ate, vomited… and called her with my answer: 'No, I don’t want to live.' I thought she would send me to a hospital, call my parents, or at least be very, very concerned about me. Instead, she said:  'OK, then we will work on that goal'.

Soon after, I almost had a deadly car accident. Whilst being in the hospital they also removed moles from several places from my body, because they looked dangerous. I also had to do an HIV (aids) test, and while waiting for the outcomes of both tests, I was afraid they might turn positive. This fear surprised me. Life gave me an answer - I wanted to live!

I started to ask myself questions!

If I actually want to live, how do I want to live? Like this? Hiding from everyone, and getting dressed and driving to the other part of town in the middle of the night, just so nobody would recognise me whilst buying enormous amounts of food? Is this why I am on earth? Is this the only way to survive this sadness I have inside? Is this what my life is supposed to look like?

My shift!

Then many ups and downs later, I had another therapist, I started to work on one goal only. I wanted to be free from bulimia. In less than two months, really I was FREE.

I was open, happy, I allowed myself to feel again. I worked so hard on all that pain, I did all those psychological exercise that make you cry and leave you completely exhausted. (And yes, more optimistic the next day, feeling as if few hundred of grams of pain was gone from your soul.) Now I want things to happen, I wanted my life to shine. Shine from within!

It was love at first sight!

He was drawn to me, he was in love with me immediately. And I remember how it felt to feel again, to be present. But mentally I wasn't strong enough yet. I realised this when he broke up with me. I relapsed. So I rushed back to my therapist for help, and soon after I was back on track.

Now that I was exposed to love again, I wanted more. It had felt great. I knew love was what I needed. A couple of weeks later I met another man, a trouble kind of man. He was like the wind, he would come and go. I was head over heels. It was like meeting my soul mate. But most of the time he was not there for me. My heart was longing to be loved, but that was impossible with him. And so I turned back to bulimia again. When he was around, it was so intense that I calmed myself down by eating and purging as soon as he left. Before I knew it, I had a full time job called bulimia again. The man eventually left me, but bulimia stayed.

Food and mood

It took me 6 months to get myself back on track. Then I taught myself how to keep my blood sugar on a steady level. In order to be healthy and emotionally stable I ate properly. I rather wanted to be healthy than trying to be thin. I wrote down what I ate, and how I felt afterwards. I wanted to know what really happened in my body, and I started to make connections between my emotions and overeating.  It worked - what a miracle - but it was a full time job.

I started to touch my belly saying: You are my belly. I wished you were smaller, but you are still mine, and I am happy you are mine. I looked at myself in the mirror and said: I am willing to learn to love you. With whatever shape of form you (belly) have. 

The acceptance of my own body, empathy to my own pain, and forgiving myself from my own mistakes made me very vulnerable. But it was (and still is) a kind of vulnerability that you want to lick from your plate. The more I see and admit who I am, the more vulnerable I become, and strangely enough stronger too. 

Love hit me again!

Then love came, again. I really felt loved by this man. This feeling was so scary and new, I didn’t know how to handle it. So I slipped, again. This was so frustrating, but I knew from the beginning I was going to beat it quickly. You need just one experience of stopping, then you know you CAN stop and you know that life is better without an eating disorder.

I shared it with my partner, and he wanted to help me. He wanted to know exactly what it was and how I felt. So we ate together (a lot). And then we vomited, together. For me it was easy for him difficult. In the end, he said – well, it is not at all so special, your bulimia. What do you mean?! All that suffering, isolation, all that hugging of the toilet, all that money… And not special?!  Well, ok, then…

Was this what I needed to hear?

I remember that moment when I was looking at myself in the mirror and saying: Ok, even if I stay bulimic for the rest of my life, I will make the best of this life, the best I can. I accepted it. If you don’t want to go bulimia, then, ok, we’ll live together. I think it was the last tiny bit needed, full acceptance. Few days later I went to buy an ice cream (forbidden!) and ate it on the street (forbidden!) and I thought, ok, now I will vomit. So what? By the time I came home, I felt too lazy to vomit, and there was I! Free again!

This was 15 years ago

I was suffering from bulimia for about 4,5 years, with small breaks in between. She was owner of my life, a cruel one, a sadistic one. Why was it so hard to let go? 

Well, a lack of hope, loneliness and tiredness made me believe that this was all I could be. The old me judged herself and the world. After crawling my way from the kitchen to the bathroom so many times and learning to love and appreciate myself even while acting in that way, I think my heart became bigger, embracing my own and other’s people faults. I don’t frown on anything since I stopped frowning at myself. I know what it is to be really low. 

Thank you bulimia!

Thank you bulimia for teaching me such great life lessons. It is such a gift -  true empathy that you brought into my life. She was like a bridge, my bulimia. The bridge connects; it is a one way road, back or forth, no left, no right. If I wanted to get well, I needed to go forward. Forward was a discovery tour to learn who I am and how I could become closer to my(inner)self. Thank you bulimia, for leaving me no other choice, but to look into myself. 

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