9: Peace of Mind

In less than 3 weeks, I will be in Italy where I will have surgery. The first of a series of two. I have been dreaming this moment for almost 3 years now. And now, in 3 weeks, I will be almost there.

I will be honest with you, when people ask me about the surgery, I feel a bit shy.

I have been trying to tell people, I have been trying to fight the feeling of being ashamed about it. Perhaps, I fear to be judged, I fear the fingers of shame pointed at me.

Since I lost 25 kgs, I got some extra skin in my legs which makes them unhealthy too. I have been seeing some doctors about it. They all recommended to have surgery to remove it.  If I don’t go through this procedure – which is called lifting – there is a chance that in the years, as soon I stop going to the gym, all those extra weights could collapse into my knees.

As you probably can imagine, after so many sacrifices of becoming healthier, that’s not the way I want to see my future.

The problem is that, since I am still 15 kg over-weight and I have lots of stored fat, I can’t have the surgery done yet; too risky. To summarise, I have two options: loose one size or have liposuction.

Now, in the last past three years I have been trying to lose those extra kg, unsuccessfully. As you already know, especially this last year, I have been trying particularly hard.  But again, no success. And the reason is simple: for me, all diets come with emotional eating too. There is not diet if there is not emotional eating too.

Already the idea of putting myself into another diet, makes me feel unwell. I realised, especially after starting this blog, that forcing myself into a diet is not an act of kindness or compassion towards myself. It is an act of contempt towards me.

Because when I eat some extra food, I no longer want to blame myself. Because if one night I might relapse into emotional eating, I no longer want to feel guilt. I want to accept my action and move on, avoiding getting stock in the spiral of shame. And I cannot move on from this ‘vicious circle’ if I put myself into another diet.

The more I pressure myself, the more I felt like collapsing.

It has been a very difficult and battled decision. Because at first, I did not want to “give up”. I wanted to lose that extra size with my own energy – as you probably guessed by now, I am such a stubborn person! But after so many sacrifices, so much shame and guilt, I now deserve peace of mind. As a result, I decided to go ahead with the liposuction.

It is an emotional moment. After the first surgery my legs will get worse. They will get better only after the second surgery which, hopefully, will happen in July. After the second surgery, the recovery time is very long, I will not be able to cycle or do any sport for three months. Alongside that, I will have long scars, for ever.

As you can probably imagine, it does feel a bit unfair. After so much energy, sacrifice and good intention, after so much effort, going through two surgeries doesn’t necessary feel like “an achievement”. It feels frustrating.

But then I tell myself, I can either complain or I can see the positive side. After so many years of struggling with my extra skin, I am, finally, getting closer to solve this problem for good. In one year time, I will be amazing! And I am grateful enough that financially and emotionally I am supported by my family. So, yes, I can complain about it or I can go with it. So, no longer room for complains but only positive wishes.

And I can’t wait for it!

But I need to admit that it feels scary too.

I have been over-weight all my life and, paradoxically, having a slimmer version of me makes me feel afraid of losing my identity.

You know, Silvia has always been in the category of “over-weight” people. Of those people who society tells they are not good enough. And it feels like ‘giving-in’, that by going through these two surgeries I am saying that society is right. And that’s what, foolishly, I fear most.

Because it is not what I believe.

The western society pushes you to believe that until you are not slim enough you are not entitling to enjoy your life. And, for many years, this concept has been unconsciously – or consciously – embedded in my head. Perhaps, that’s one of the reasons why the more people were telling me to lose weights, the more I gained weights. I wanted to prove that I am good enough even if I have extra weights on. I have always been a rebel, and ‘fighting’ the concept of appearance. Because, in my point of view, the only way we can define people is by measuring their love and values and not their waistline.

So, as you can probably understand, it feels particularly emotional for me to go through surgery. Because in a way I feel like I am agreeing with society that ‘slim’ is a synonymous of success.

But I am not.

And I will never will.

But battling against this cause by going against my own health just to prove that society is wrong, it is pretty foolish.

So, I no longer want to see those surgeries as if I am surrendering to appearance or I am buying into a superficial society, because I am not. I will always stand for my values.

I want to see those surgeries as a ticket to my best chances. Because when I will be 60, I want to risk attempting the Mount Everest than risking being in a wheel-chair.

And, finally, I am really starting to understand what it means to put myself first.

Because putting ourselves first doesn’t necessary mean being selfish, sometimes, it is just self-care.

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8: “No Joy, No Gain”           

I am pretty sure you all heard the song that says “No pain, no gain” as part of the lyric. I am pretty sure all gyms love this song. At least, my instructors at the gym love it: “get down on your squats, push it, push it and keep going, remember, no pain no gain!”. I can’t remember the name of the song, I don’t think is ‘no pain, no gain’ (I googled it, and I couldn’t find it) but it was a popular song not long ago. If you have been to the gym in the last past 6 months, I am sure you heard it! Sorry if I can’t be more specific, but as you probably already spotted, English is not my first language and for some reasons I struggle to remember English names of songs and singers and sometimes lyrics too!

But let’s head towards the more meaningful part of this post which it is not about the song, and it is not about how bad I am with remembering English names. It is about “No pain, No gain”.

If one part of me agrees with this quote, the other part, doesn’t.

I am a hard worker. If I want to achieve something, I do anything I can to pursue. One of my favourite quotes is “if you can dream it, you can achieve it” and, in the bigger picture, I believe it to be true. I dreamed to become an art therapist and I am almost getting there.

But here a more extended part of my story:

When I was 13, I had to decide which secondary school to attend. My heart picked Art, reality picked science and languages. I had to study twelve subjects which were compulsory – and that’s how it works in Italy, you pick the school and the school pick the subjects.

At the time of my choice, my family was not too sure about me attending an art course. One of my aunts attended that school and she never got a job out of it, you know ‘there is no money in art’. Also, in Italy there is this say: ‘Studia arte e mettila da parte’ – which means ‘study art and put it aside’

Neither my friends thought it was a good idea for me to pick art.

You know, I was free to pick whichever secondary school to attend but when you are a teenager your family and, especially your friends, influence your choices: ‘ it is better to have an higher education first, you can always do art when you finish school or during your spare time’ they said.

I suffered for 5 years. I did a course that I did not like, and I struggled a lot. Not because I am not smart enough – even is some people tried to make me believe that – but because my heart was not in it. Although, I must admit, my brain is not particularly predisposed to science. I am a creative person!

Anyway, when I finished high-school, I finally had the opportunity to do what I really want to do: Art. Both my family and friends were not very convinced: “You never done art before so, perhaps, it is pretty late for you to start now, you should have started earlier”

I know, right? I spent 5 years living with the hope of doing art someday and now they were telling me it was too late! But this time, I was not listening, this time I was not letting anyone stopping me from doing art. I am glad I didn’t. Art is my element. And I am glad that, despite an initial resistance, my family supported me in my choice.

So, I moved to Glasgow and, after one year of studying English (I moved to Scotland with no English) I started an NC course in art and design.

Now, I will be honest with you, if you see my first drawings, you will probably could not believe that I have a degree in art! But you know, I never drawn before. And I worked extremely hard to improve my art skills. Also, I had a dream, I wanted to become an art therapist. And the more I was dreaming it, the more I was drawing and improving.

Then, I attended HNC & HND in visual communication, I managed to jump in 3rd year university and finished my art degree with a BA in graphic design. Then I attended a Postgraduate Diploma in Community Learning and Development as I wanted to come a community artist to help transform communities through arts.

So, if we are talking about working hard, yes, I know exactly what it means to work hard. I know what it means to be patience even when things are not going the way you want. I know what it means to not give up. Eventually I will achieve my dream.

During my journey I needed to be creative and flexible, I had to consider different paths to take to eventually achieve my goal. And there was pain too.

One of my teachers told me that my drawings were not good enough and she doubted I could have improved. But I did. That html- programming subject in 3rd year was probably the most difficult part of my studies. I almost gave up, but I didn’t.

I know what it means to work hard. For example, now I am in my final year of an e-learning course in Art therapy. At the same time, I have two jobs – and yes, I know, I probably should study just now.

And I am glad I did not give up and I am not giving up.

And yes, during the journey there was pain, but there was also Joy. Actually, there was more Joy than pain. And then, there was a gain, many gains. Professionally I achieved a lot.

So yeah, I believe I am a very strong and hard worker person, but when it comes to food everything changes.

In fact, at times it feels like I don’t have the same strength when it comes to food.

The joy is replaced by pure pain: “I need to lose weights. Are you sure you want to eat that? That’s not going to make you slimmer eh!” All the positive thoughts and kind words I tell myself to motivate me when I am at work, they are all gone.

As probably most over-weighted people experience, when I was younger, I had some nasty comments about me and my weight. Also, lots of people – even strangers – were telling me to lose weights. And the more they were telling me that, the more I was putting weight on.

And this is exactly what happened to me this year, the more I was telling myself to lose weights, the more I put them on. And it is when I am more obsessed about food and weight that my mental health declines.

At times, all those amazing achievements feel like they are not big enough, or at least I don’t fully celebrate or appreciate myself enough because I am not slim enough. That’s the sad truth.

And I do blame society for it. Society enforces in our heads that being slim is also a synonymous of success. You can achieve whatever you want, but if you are not slim enough, your achievements are not fully worthy. That’s the way it feels sometimes.

And I start to push myself even more, because, when I will be slim, I will be happy. And then suddenly my happiness becomes the number in the scale that I want to see. And I become so obsess about weight-loss that I forget to enjoy other things in my life.

And it is unfair how society is making us believe that happiness is external. ‘When I am going to be slim, I will be happy. When I am going to finish college, I will be happy. When I will get a good job, I will be happy. When I will be able to buy a house, I will be happy.’ And we move from one ‘when’ to another ‘when’ forgetting to be happy just now, in the present.

Of course, If I am going to become slimmer, I am going to be happier. But it is not because I will enter in the category of “successful slim people”. It is because I will have more energy and strengths to do things I want to do, like hillwalking. But it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be happy now.

The journey of transformation is not an easy journey, but it should be a joyful journey, not a painful one.

That was my view during my first journey of weight-loss when I was 22. I was happy for who I was, and I was accepting that becoming healthier was not to prove the world that I am good enough, it was an opportunity for me to be able to do things that I was not able to do before, like cycling. And the more I let go of the pressure, the more I focused on doing things that I really liked, the more I was losing weights.

So, in whichever part of journey you are just now, I would recommend you write down what makes you truly happy and be honest with yourself. Pick those activities that you truly want to do and not those activities that you think you should do. For example, I forced myself to go almost every day to the gym for a year; but now I decided to exercise less and fully enjoying what I am doing, and that’s why I joined a kickboxing class.

And I am not talking only about sport. More generally, what makes you happy?

Is it writing poems? Is it Art? Is it music? Is it nature?  Is it sport? Is it knitting? Is it Drama?

Is there an activity you always wanted to do but never had the courage to try? Well, perhaps, now is the right time to do so.

My invitation is to shift our attention on those activities that make us feel good about ourselves now. Because we can only become the best version of ourselves if we start to focus on things that we really want to do.

Listen to your heart, don’t post-pone your happiness.

“No Joy, No Gain”

7: Guilty Love

My guilty love is chocolate.

Chocolate releases serotonin and dopamine, which are the feel-good hormone.

And when it melts in your mouth you damn feel good. The problem is the aftermath. The ‘hangover’. The guilt.

For many years – and I still do – I get angry at myself for losing control over chocolate. But today I was thinking, why do we have to categorised food in bad and good? Why do we have to label even food? Why can’t we just see food for what it is: food?

Of course, some food is healthier than others, but why do we have to put labels into bad and good?

Every morning I wake up with the good intention of “being good”, you know, eating the good stuff rather than the bad one. And then if, for an excuse or another, I might have one tiny piece of chocolate, I start to feel like I have been unhealthy, I haven’t respected my diet and I feel bad because I might have eaten more calories than I should have eaten – I don’t even count calories! But it feels like a big dilemma because it will have an impact on my weight loss journey. Translation: that day I failed.

If I feel the same way for more than a day in a row, then I start to feel very bad about myself. I failed, again: “see, I can’t even have one day without chocolate!” and here we go, before I know I start to bully my head, believing that I am failure.

And to provoke all this dilemma was just a tiny bit of chocolate that probably my body didn’t even register!

It might sound dramatic, but I hope it is not just me that feels in this way.

Then, of course, there are also those days that I use the excuse of that tiny bit of chocolate to eat even more. You know, I failed my diet for today, I will start again tomorrow. And I use it as an excuse to stuff myself with more chocolate.

That’s why I believe that chocolate is my guilty love.

When I previously started my transformation journey, I managed to see food for what it is: food. And I managed to see chocolate for what it is: chocolate. Not bad, no good, just chocolate.

I did not feel guilty about eating chocolate or cake. I felt amazing. I felt relieved. I felt like I had that freedom from guilt.

But lately, in the last past year or so, I started to deal again with this toxic relationship of love and guilt. I keep asking myself, would I want a love and guilt relationship with another human being? And the answer is: no, thanks. And then I ask myself, why do I accept my love and guilt relationship with food then?

The good thing is that I do not accept it, because otherwise I will not be here, writing this blog. So, if I don’t accept it, why do I allow it? Well, this question could start an endless philosophical discussion if we take in consideration how many things humans don’t accept and allow. Yep. I do not have an answer, and that’s another story.

Now, I am going to be completely honest with you, and with myself too.

I started this blog because I got inspiration from the book ‘Recovery’ by Russell Brand. It is about the 12 steps. I started to read the book and, perhaps, it felt like I had this new energy and strengths to deal with my addiction.

I am really working hard to overcome my addiction and I am trying to write this blog to help me remember how, in the past, I managed to get that “freedom” from that guilty love. Perhaps, this is the problem. The problem is the ‘working hard’. Because the more I think I have an addiction, the more I feel bad, the more I want to eat.

I drafted this post yesterday, I would lie if I wouldn’t tell you that I got emotional and I looked for serotonin to help me cope with my emotion. I looked, and I had chocolate.

Why did I get emotional? Because my post yesterday ended in a very different way. I was following the 12 steps and I admitted that I was powerless in front of food and, even if I am not going to over-eater for the rest of my life, I will be still an over-eater. Like alcoholics that even if they are sober for years, they still consider themselves as alcoholics for the rest of their lives.

Perhaps it might be true, but in the other hand it makes me feel so powerless and hopeless.

It feels like I am marked for the rest of my life, that regardless what I am doing, regardless I am trying, regardless I am giving my best, I will be still an over-eater, forever. And I do not like it, and I do not accept that. Because that feeling tells me that I am not strong enough, and I believe to not be true.

I went to OA (over-eater anonymous) in few occasions. At first, I thought it was helping me. Then I stopped going. I started to feel hopeless and I was ended up over-eating after each meeting. Don’t get me wrong, I feel inspired and amazed by all those people who share their story, who overcame amazingly so many adversities, I really admire them. I can relate to them.

But the system is not working for me. And yesterday, my feeling was confirmed.

I need to believe that I will overcome to this, for good. And I will.

Because life is much more than overthinking and worrying about food. If I would spend the same time I spend to think about food or to blame myself about food in something more productive, like volleyball, by now I would have probably been a volleyball player in a professional team!

No, I am not blaming myself just now, I am just admitting that I spend far too much time worrying about overcoming my addiction than, instead of overcoming, I am tormenting my head even more, pressuring myself: “I need to overcome this, I need to overcome this”.

So, yeah. Russell Brand’s book will go back in my shelves, while I will pick again Paul McKenna’s book and cd. This journey is about helping me remember how I managed to overcome my guilty love, and the only system that ever worked for me was Paul McKenna’s system.

It helped me to visualize a healthier Silvia. A good enough Silvia that was doing activities that made her happy, and the more she was losing weight the more she was feeling stronger and confident in those activities.

Now, in this last past year I did try to listen to his CD again, but it didn’t really work. Probably it is because I am putting so much pressure on myself on overcoming that I am forgetting to enjoy the journey. Also, I am going to sit a surgery in December and I feel the pressure of being fit enough. And the more I pressure myself, the more I give up.

So yeah, it has been a week since I started this blog and I already had one low moment and it is ok. I never said “I am cured”. I am only saying I am trying.

Now that I remembered that the 12 steps system doesn’t work for me, I can and I will move on.

Because I need to believe that even if now I might feel powerless in front of food, I do have the power to change my life, my destiny,  I do have the power to overcome. That power lies within me. I am strong enough to live and love my life guilt free. And so do you.

I am an over-eater, but I will not always be.

6: Hope over Fear.

Today I woke up when my phone vibrated, a new notification from the app ‘Enliven’. Usually it doesn’t vibrate, but today it did. So, I opened it:

“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what’s next or how. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark” De Mille

It is extremely interesting to receive this message, just today.

Few weeks ago, I met this nice guy. The beginning has already been a bit complicated, but there is something that I really like about him.

I know what you are thinking, you just met this guy and you are already writing a post about him? But don’t worry, he doesn’t read my blog and this post is about relationships in a wider way. The other day I was thinking about writing a post about me and relationships, so what happened yesterday is just a great excuse to talk about it.

Anyway, yesterday I had such an amazing time with this guy. He sang to me, he is such a good singer. I love when he sings to me. I felt so happy.

Then, he tried to look after me. I was very tired, he wanted to make sure I was ok. And I completely freaked out. I pushed him away.

The interesting fact is that I kept on telling him how the world is lacking on ‘healthy relationship’ because today people are not fully true about their feelings or they are not able to fully put themselves in other’s people shoes. And, at the same time, every time we met, I kept on trying to push him away. Already in two weeks I showed him the worst part of me. And, he tried, again, to look after me in a very sweet way and I freaked out.

I know.

Except for one-year long relationship I always pretty much been on my own. So, I always looked after myself. You know, I am a strong independent woman! And, surely, I am.

The idea of the unknown, of being vulnerable, of not being ‘in control’ makes me panic.

In some fields the “unknown” makes me feel excited, curios, strong. I travel on my own, solo traveling is one of my favourite things. Discovering new places, meeting new people, not having expectations. When I travel, I learn a lot from others and from myself. At times I do couch-surfing too. I developed a passion for nature and I love hill-walks and cycling and I take myself into small wild adventures. I host events that bring strangers together and I do much more. In this field, a leap in the dark is so exciting and fun.

But the same ‘unknown’ in other fields makes me feel in a different way, it makes me feel anxious. For example, relationship. The dark is scaring. That’s why, deep down, I unconsciously pick guys who are not emotionally available. In this way is easier to “stay in control”.

He asked me “why is it ok for you to look after me but is it not ok for me to look after you?” and I couldn’t fully reply to that question. But deep down, I think that the truth is that I am scared to be loved.

This fear has deeper roots.

The complicated relationship with my body has influenced a lot my relationship with guys. When I was teenager, almost all my friends had a relationship while I never had one.  If I couldn’t love myself, how someone else could have loved me? But I did dream about prince charming. I dreamed about a guy who would love me regardless of my ugly body. A dreamed about finding the unconditional true love. And it never happened.

Looking back, I was looking for someone to “save me”. I know, it probably sounds silly but I blame Disney animations! All those stories about princesses and princes, all those ladies saved by a man. It is very misleading and unfair on us women. We are much stronger than that. We don’t need to be saved!

And I am glad ‘I have not been saved’.

I was not emotionally mature for a relationship.

If we are not able to have a relationship with ourselves, how can we expect to have a relationship with someone else?

From one extreme I become the opposite extreme.

When I was 22, during the process of transformation, I dated myself. I was trying new things, meeting new people, discovering new things and I was not interested in dating others because first I wanted to have a relationship with myself. I wanted to save myself! I still date myself, and when I do it, I do it well. Not long ago I took myself to the Isle of Skye, gorgeous.

I know who I am, I know where I am heading, I know what I love, and I keep feeling in love with new things (lately kickboxing). I love my job, I love helping others, I love being active and never stop. I know that I would do anything for my friends and I will always be there for them – I mean it, if you need me, I will always be there for you. My kettle is always on.

So, I guess that from the hope to be saved, I now got too used to be on my own. Perhaps, when someone enters in my life, I feel unbalanced. The unbalance is one of the things that makes me feel like over-eating. Just to clarify, it is not the other person that makes me feel unbalanced, it’s the leap in the dark, the vulnerability that makes me feel that way. Because when you welcome someone in your heart, there is also the risk that your heart might be crushed.

I guess that since my heart was badly crushed when I was 22, I am now scared to be loved in a deeper level. I also have a ‘Me too’ experience by someone who was my friend for 3 years, someone that I trusted and used me.

Because I already experienced pain and I do not want to feel it again.

And it is ok to be scared.

However, I started this blog to remind myself to live out of love rather than out of fear. In our lives we will always fear something, but that fear should not stop us from achieving what we want, whatever is a relationship, or a job, or an opportunity. Because overall there is something worse than fear: regret.

First of all, we need to give a name to our fears. By give them a name, I believe, we will feel less overwhelmed; we are half way there. So let’s adopt a new state of mind, let’s be curious about our fears and learn from them.

In fact, life is not about being fearless, but it is about to not let fear to take control, to rule, over us. It is about acknowledge discomfort and deciding what’s the best way to move forward. We could do a ‘risk assessment’ to help us coping. Let’s analyse each risks and make sure we use the right tools to prevent disasters. In over-eater case, to loose control and binge.

Remember: We have the power and the strengths to overcome our fears.

“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what’s next or how. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark” and it is better to try and be wrong than to never try at all. And if you are wrong, you are still a winner because you learned a lesson from that experience. This applies to everything in life.

Let’s choose hope over fear. Because we deserve love, we deserve that job, we deserve that opportunity. We deserve to be happy.

5: The other option.

Why did I believe that the only other option I had was to stuff myself till death?

The answer is very simple: eating was (is) my coping mechanism. The coping mechanism more familiar to me, since the age of 8. I eat because I feel low, I eat because I want to comfort myself, I eat because I am bored, and I even eat to celebrate! Being Italian does not help the cause neither. Our culture is 100% based on food and it is all so delicious that It is almost a crime not to eat it!

In the years I failed all the attempts of dieting. And trust me, I tried many diets, even the more ‘flexible one’ like slimming world. You name it, I tried it. And I always failed. I always finished a diet with a gain rather than a lost. Funny enough eh? How I promise myself to finally lose weight and, instead, I manage to gain kgs!

To not mention the ‘day before the diet’. Oh yeah, if you are an over-eater too, you know that the day before the diet is always the best day! That’s the day when you can eat whatever you want and as much as you want, it is the perfect excuse to ‘go wild’ because anyway from the next day you will be on a diet. Can you think of all those foods that are not allowed on a diet? Exactly, the day before the diet is the good excuse to eat them all, and you should eat them all because you have no idea for how long you are not allowed to eat them! It’s a bit like ‘Freud and his last cigarette’. And you probably are smiling by this point, because you know it is true.

I lost the number of many of those days I had.

So yeah, why do I think my other option was stuff myself to death? Being obese unfortunately causes many health issues too. So, if I kept on eating the same way I was eating when I was 21, I would have probably been very unwell by now.

For many years I heard people telling that I should go on a diet and I should lose weight. If I am fully honest with you, for what the word ‘diet’ means to me, even just hearing it made (makes) me feel like wanting to eat.

Because diet is about “forbidden food”. The more I forbid myself chocolate the more I want it. I cannot concentrate till I have it. I would even start to ‘hear a wee voice’ about how eating chocolate is going to make me feel better (replace chocolate with any craved food). Those forbidden food come with a price, the price of “guilt” because you know you shouldn’t eat it, it is bad for you and it makes you fat and unhealthy. And the more you feel that guilt, the more you want it, the more you eat it. Our brain can be a bit funny sometimes.

Diet only taught me to deprive myself, it hasn’t help me to change my view and my relationship with food.

If I am an over-eater is because I love food and I feel pleasure by eating it. Therefore, when I try to remove that pleasure to myself it feels like a self-harm rather than healthy. It is like a reminder that I am not good enough and that’s why I need to work harder to deserve it. As a result, diet put my head into a negative state of mind. When I am on a diet I start to think even more about food – like I can spend hours thinking about what I am going to eat– and I binge even more. That’s why dieting is not working for me. And it will never work.

So, when I was 22, I had two options: hold myself or let myself go. After such a big disappointment, the most painful event, I could see myself, in a parallel reality, just keeping eating and never stopping. It is scary. But likely, in this reality, I was (am) strong enough to make a positive change in my life. And I changed my life out of love rather than fear.

And I lost weight without a diet. I lost weight by working hard to change my relationship with food and my body. I decided to look for other coping mechanisms but, first, I accepted myself for who I was, a 22 girl with lots of extra weights. I did not dislike me anymore. In the mirror I was seeing a beautiful human, a proud human, and good human.

A human that decided to define herself for how good she was inside, a human that decided that a number on the scale was not a good way to measure her self-worth.

And before I knew it, I was losing weight. There was so much I wanted to do in life and I started to focus on those dreams rather than self-blame. So, I committed myself, daily, to keep a positive state of mind and to work every day with my relationship with food. I accepted that loosing weight was not going to happen overnight, but it was a slow journey and if I kept staying positive, I was going to get there. I was learning every day and every day I felt more energy and enthusiasm towards my goal. Because I wanted to be able to walk without getting tired, I wanted to do so many things that unfortunately I was not able to physically do with so many extra weights.

And it felt good, because I was doing it with a positive attitude. It was not about changing a number, it was about my relationship with food. I finally felt that food had no more control over my life. It felt great.

I also followed Paul McKenna’s dvd ‘I can make you slim’ and perhaps it helped me a lot during my transformation journey. So, I should also say Thank you to Paul!

Now I am working hard on trying to adopt that framework again. Because it was the only thing that worked for me: seeing myself for how much I have to offer.

Only by using love and hope as tools for transformation we can make positive change, in ourselves and in others.

Note: To those people who tell others – especially young people – to lose weights, even if you do it in good faith, bear in mind, that the message might be received as “You are not good enough”. That’s how I received it for many years and, perhaps, that’s why I never lost weights. If someone is struggling with their weights, probably it is because they are struggling with their mental health too. Rather than telling them what they should do and how they should do it – they already know – tell them how much you appreciate them, why they are unique and especial, tell them they are good enough!

We all are good enough. Because we are all trying, and that’s good enough.

4: I am an over-eater and a warrior.

So, now you know what happened when I was 22.

At the time I was so overwhelmed with negative thoughts that I could have not seen the bigger pictures. I was hurt and betrayed.

But likely, everything happens for a reason.

Thanks to this awful experience I finally had the opportunity to become who I was meant to be: Me.

I felt hurt and betrayed, but deep down, I felt relieved too.

I am aware that my life could have taken a very different path.

As my blog title says: “I am an over eater” and, therefore, looking back at that time I can only see two different endings: stuffing myself to death or removing all the toxic relationship in my life – including food.

Some of you will probably think that I have exaggerated, but I have not. If you are an emotional over eater, you probably experienced a similar thought too. You know, I can easily finish a big cake or cheesecake on my own, I could eat thousands and thousands and thousands of calories in less than 30 minutes.

At the age of 21 I reached 105kg. I was 40kg more than I am supposed to be. I mean, I am still 15kgs over weight, but at least now I am healthier. The problem is not being overweight. There are lots of people who are overweigh and happy! The problem is the relationship we have with food.

And I didn’t have a great relationship with food. I was spending lots of time looking myself in the mirror and disliking myself. You have no idea how many times I wished to wake up slim. No more massive belly, no more massive butt. Slim, healthy, like everyone else. And the more I was disliking myself, the more I ate. Because I was feeling fat, disgusting and it was my fault. I deserved it.

I spent years bullying my mind – and at times I still do.

Most of you know me as a super Silvia, happy, full on energy, passioned and full of love. And that’s me too. When I was a teenager I had similar traits too.

I loved politics, and I loved “fighting” for social values and principles. I dreamed (and still do) a more equal and fairer society. A society where people are fully engaged and part of the community, where everyone is accepted and loved. A society with no conflict. And, if you know me offline, you probably know this side of me. If you have been knowing me for many years, you equally know that ‘I am getting worse’ with the Peace & Love thing. So yeah, I am still a fighter, a passionate dreamer. As my dad wrote me once, I am a “Sensitive Revolutionist”. The good news is that I am becoming wiser too – at least in this field.

When I was 22 I had to make a choice: I could have either let myself go in shame and blame or I could have fought for myself. Thankfully, I am a warrior.

Here’s the thing, both Silvia are equally me. If I have an eating disorder it doesn’t mean I cannot be a warrior too. But the thing is that for most of my life I have been fighting for external achievement forgetting to fight for my own true happiness.

And I am pretty sure you are a warrior too. And I am not writing it just for writing it, I am truly convinced you are a warrior too. We all are warriors, in a way or another, and it is time to give ourselves enough credit for it. I am pretty sure you survived hard moments too, so congrats to you too!

It doesn’t matter how big or small your issues are, what it matters is how you perceive them and what values your heart gives them. To be honest, at times I accuse myself for making a big dilemma out of a small thing. I mean, my issues are pretty “small” comparing to others – for example I often complain how I cannot find a decent guy to date and at the same time I feel guilty because while I have been hormonal some people are fighting against cancer! But that’s the thing, it is pointless to compare ourselves to others.

We all have some issues. At times we have bigger issues, at time we have smaller issues. But it doesn’t matter if they are “small” or “big” what it matters is how we feel about it and what we are going to do about it. So, let’s think about an issue that really matter to us. It doesn’t matter how shallow or meaningless that might be. We should try to stop demolish or ‘jail’ our own feelings. Let’s try to feel them, to learn from them. What’s the message behind that feeling? What’s this feeling telling you? Why do you think you feel that way? If you couldn’t fail it, what could you do about it? Now, what could you do in the next 24 hours that it is going to make you closer to that solution?

We need to have a bit of faith that things are how they are meant to be. But we need to pose to understand reality, to analyse it and really see things into prospective.

Of course, it is easier to say than to do it, but at least we can say that we are trying. It doesn’t matter if you failed today, tomorrow is a new day.

3: When I was 22

I have the feeling that I should tell you straight away what happen when I was 22, I already mentioned it twice since I started this blog. I have the feeling that if I don’t do it now, my blog could become another version of “how I meet your mother”. So, I don’t want you to wait months and years before discovering what happen when I was 22.

When I was 22, my heart was crushed. In thousands of pieces. I had so much pain that I felt like I was going to die. I am not even exaggerated. At that time, I felt like my heart was not going to handle the pain.

It is about a person, you are right, but it is not about a boyfriend. It is about a friend, a best friend, C. We were friends for 17 years. She was like my sister.

C was my best friends since nursery school. Till we joined secondary school it was just me and her. In secondary school we became a trio, Valeria joined our special group. We were inseparable. There was not Silvia if there wasn’t C and Valeria.

Now, I am grateful enough that, despite the distance, with Valeria we are still best friends. I feel blessed to be her maid of honour (Vale, ti voglio bene!).

But with C. things ended in a very different way.

C had lots of personal issues; but you know, we all have problems! She had a strong, arrogant, dominant character. Most of the time she knew what she wanted, and she would have done anything she could to achieve it. This is something that I admired about her. Perhaps, when I was next to her I felt strong myself. We did influence each other a lot.

But the more we were growing up, the more our lives were taking different ways. We used to argue a lot. But, of course, we overcame those arguments because friends are friends, right? Friends are in the good and in the bad. If you love someone, you find a way to compromise and I loved her so much, I loved her like a sister.

Now, of course I am giving you a summery of our friendship and how it ended. It might sounds all very negative, but of course in 17 years friendship we had lots of good moments too. Around her I felt strong, secure, accepted, powerful. Perhaps, if today I am such a determinate and resilient person it could also be thanks to her.

But let’s go back to the story now. So, our friendship arrived to a point when we would argue constantly – like an old couple heading towards a divorce. I strongly stand up for my values and she strongly stand up for hers. Alongside that, C had the tendency of hurting people when she was feeling hurt. If something bad happened to her she would hurt someone else. Yes, you read it right. She would feel better because in that way she was not the only one suffering.

I cannot forget that day when she had an argument with her boyfriend and, consequentially, she was very horrible to me. It happened many times in our friendship, but in a way or another we always overcame difficulties.

I know what you are thinking, I am a stupid! Perhaps I am, perhaps you are right. But let’s shape it in a positive way – you know, just cause this blog is about self-esteem lol – let’s say I am a loyal, caring and committed friend.

But you will happy to know that this day I said, “no more”. I remember telling her “Look at this face.. this is the last time you will see it!”. And I meant it. And of course, it wasn’t.

This happened just before I moved to Glasgow. After few months, C came all the way to apologies. At first, I thought she did it for me; but of course, at the end of this experience, it turned out that she did it for herself.

She was so sorry about how she treated me, she was going to change, for real this time. She really valued our friendship. Perhaps, it could have been so great for us to be reunited. That’s what she said. She always wanted to move abroad and, since I was in the UK, she took the opportunity to move abroad too.

C lived in Glasgow for one year. It was a very long year between ups and downs. Few people asked me “How can you be her friend? Your soul is so colourful, her soul is so dark”.. Can I please use the loyal card again?

Anyhow, after one year, C decided to go back to Italy. She was missing her boyfriend and her family.

We had her leaving party. We got massively drunk. Yep, there was a loooot of alcohol involved so I am pretty sure you know that this part of the story doesn’t end too well. At some point during that night I was about to go to the toilet. Before going, I noticed few flits between her and the guy I liked. I remember approaching her “I am going to the toilet, please do not kiss him” like if a friend needs to tell you this!

Guess what? Yes, you are right. I came out of the toilet and they were kissing. It was like a slow sword piercing my heart.

I could not stop crying, I thought I was going to die for how many tears I have shed.

I did not care much about the guy, it was not about him. It was about her. That night, when I saw them kissing, this scenario came to my mind: my wedding day, C being one of my bridesmaids, and then her fucking my future husband right the minute before I was getting married. The sad part is, that it could have really happened.

That was my last wake-up call.

The trust was broken. Like a crystal glass, smashed in thousands of pieces. I would never thought she could have betrayed me in this way. She had lots of bad qualities, but I would have never thought she was capable of doing something similar to me, to her sister.

I never felt so hurt in my entirely life. And it was the best thing it could have ever happened to me.

That day, a new Silvia was born.

Note: To C, I want to tell you that I forgive you. I want to tell you thank you. By betraying me, you gave me my best chances. I will never forget, but I forgive you. I hope you found your inner peace, I hope you found faith in life.