How yoga helped me overcome two eating disorders.

by Estelle Coombe-Heath 

In 2007, I reached burnout point.

I have been working in a corporate job for two years and my job ruled my life. I worked 14 to17 hour days and lived on coffee and cigarettes during the day with no time for exercise. My immense stress levels kept me up at night, I got sick often, battled with frequent migraines and I could not stop comfort eating.

My burnout reached dangerous levels, and I knew I had to make a change, or I feared I would head for a nervous breakdown. I started eating healthy meals during the day and picked up running on the weekends, consequently, I had more energy and started feeling better about myself. Slowly I cut back on caffeine and eventually gave up cigarettes as my lungs really hurt when I ran.

Running became an outlet for me, I entered ultra-marathons, lost 20kg’s and my stress levels felt more manageable, however, I kept stress eating, and on frequent occasions, binge eating to the point of what felt like a sugar coma.

I felt hopeless, for years I kept eating healthy and used running to maintain my weigh from all the binge eating, however I was stuck in a vicious cycle of overeating and running it off. I was trapped in the “eat less run more” belief and developed orthorexia, an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy, to get my binge eating under control but it only aggravated my eating disorder. The less I ate, the more I binged, the more I ran.

A friend of mine suggested a yoga class to help me relax so I joined a class at my local gym and found it extremely enjoyable. I started doing yoga on a regular basis to stretch on my rest days after running ultra-marathons. It became a healthy outlet and complimented my running. I could not put my finger on it, but there was just something about yoga that kept me going back week after week.

I slowly started noticing subtle differences in my stress levels, my body became more flexible and my running times improved. Before long, yoga was a part of my weekly routine, I would even fit in YouTube classes at home if I could not get to a class.

The changes in me were so substantial that I had to share yoga with others, for this reason I signed up to become a yoga teacher and completed my qualification in 2018.

Despite being a yoga teacher, I still battled with two eating disorders, I kept it a secret from my friends, family, and colleagues. I felt like an imposter, teaching yoga, and struggling with my relationship with food and my body.

Yoga is the unition of body, mind, breath, and soul. Its aim is to bring harmony between the mind and body.  Through its mindfulness aspect, yoga helped me build a better relationship with my body and as time went by, my eyes opened to the damage I was causing. I realised I had a problem, more importantly, I realised that I wanted to change.

Somehow through my weekly sessions on the yoga mat, I gained the courage to ask for help. It took me a few attempts to pluck up the courage to call an eating disorder recovery specialist and I am so glad I finally did.  

I continued my yoga practice during my recovery and reduced my running to twice a week to break the pattern of abusing exercise. With every week in recovery, I found I could connect even further with my body and I was able to accept myself a little more every day.

In March 2020 I left the corporate world to help other women have a better relationship with food and their bodies, I am thrilled on what a difference recovery has made in their lives too.

I have been in recovery now for two and a half years and practice yoga regularly, I am amazed at how I keep learning more about myself every time I step on the mat. I still teach yoga; my yoga classes encourage students to connect with their bodies and treat their bodies with love, care, and compassion.

I still run, but not to make up for eating, I really enjoy the feeling of stepping out in the fresh air and the cardio benefits. I see running more as a celebration of my body rather than punishment for what I ate.

Exercise is a gift, don’t take it for granted, besides your body and mind will thank you for moving.

 About the Author  

Estelle Coombe-Heath is the #1 authority in helping career women overcome binge and overeating using her signature Quit binge eating formula.

From a background in business analytics, Estelle now leads various programs on changing mindsets around eating and healthy food choices. She supports her clients to cultivate healthy eating habits and to build trust with food.

As a holistic health coach, Estelle infuses yoga, mindfulness, and energy medicine into her consultations with clients. Passionate about holistic health, she sees yoga as a therapy for the mind and soul considering herself fortunate to facilitate yoga experiences. Estelle sessions encourage clients to dive into the self-transformation that health practices like positive mindset, yoga and meditation can provide.


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