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From Thoughts to Behaviours


By Columnist Eleni Psillakis – Eating Disorder Educator and Filex 2016 Inspiration Award Winner:

7593901806_662255da3c_bPhoto credit: Self-loathing via photopin (license) –

What have I learned on my journey to recovery?

I have learned the power of words, both positive and negative.

I have learned the strength of “self-talk” and thoughts.

I have learned that there is an inseparable connection between body, mind and spirit.

I have learned that I am hard on myself and found it easier to hate myself, rather than to dislike others.

I have learned that the thoughts that led to me having anorexia nervosa were never about my body or my weight.

My problem was believing that I was not loved unless I did things to please others and lived up to their expectations. In my younger years, I was not allowed out with friends, to walk home from school with boys or to receive phone calls from them. Even things that I enjoyed doing, which my parents did not approve of, were quickly shut down. Often when I asked why the response was “The subject is closed. I don’t want to talk about it”. So I felt as though I did not have a voice.

My thoughts were that I must not be a good enough daughter, so I started to do every chore around the house, hoping that it would make a difference. I thought I’d be loved more if I did more. I got praise for what I did, but it made no difference to my pursuit of wanting a bit more freedom to be me. I lied a lot and snuck around behind my parents back, feeling guilty each time I did. Being put down by people close to me crushed my spirit bit by bit.

The need to please and do more translated to what I did with myself. I started exercising more. As I ate less, my parents started fussing over me and were asking what was wrong. I had their attention now. Then the downward spiral began, along with the complicated web of feeling extreme guilt if I did not exercise enough or lose weight.

My body began to suffer as a result. I lost my menstrual cycle for five years. However, I thought that the attention my parents were showing was love. So I was too frightened to stop behaving like I was, as I would not be ‘good enough’. I felt I failed if I did not go for my two daily 10km runs or eaten more than a peach and a yogurt a day.

At the age of 19, I weighed 39 kgs. My behavior was not motivation driven. I didn’t want to increase my physical health and reap the benefits. My motivation was low self-worth.

There are many circumstances that lead to the feelings I had, and to the feelings that others have, of low self-worth. However, there are many similarities between various eating disorders. Amongst these are low self-esteem, feelings of guilt and self-loathing, and perfectionism. These underlying issues must be addressed early-on to change negative diet and exercise behaviours.


If you believe that you or someone you know may be feeling the same, then for help or advice, please contact your GP and visit:

The Butterfly Foundation: http://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au 
The Centre for Eating and Dieting Disorders:  http://cedd.org.au
Eating Disorders Victoria: http://www.eatingdisorders.org.au
Shape Your Mind Psychologists: http://www.shapeyourmind.com.au


The National Eating Disorders Collaboration: http://www.nedc.com.au
EDInfo: http://www.eatingdisorderinfo.org.au

Eating Disorder Event

Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and they are often silent. They are serious disorders of the mind.

An Insight to Anorexia Nervosa and other Eating Disorders for Fitness Professionals” helps identify, manage and communicate with clients who may be suffering an eating disorder.

Date: Saturday 4th June 2016

Time: 10am – 1pm

Venue: Australian Institute of Fitness, 40 Oxley St, St. Leonards

Cost: $50 per person

Register atwww.brazengrowth.com.au/shop

About Our Eating Disorder News and Review Columnist – Eleni Psillakis

IMG_0727Combining over 27-years experience in the fitness industry, education and a lived experience of eating disorder, Eleni Psillakis is raising awareness of eating disorders as serious mental illnesses. In this time as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, secondary and tertiary educator, she is aware of the fine-line that may be crossed from healthy to unhealthy diet and exercise habits.

Using resistance training to gain weight to her 39kg frame at age 19, Eleni physically recovered and went on to compete in women’s bodybuilding. However the underlying emotional issues and thought patterns resurfaced 25-years later when her marriage broke down and she was diagnosed with clinical depression. Antidepressants and 8-years of psychological counselling, assisted with unlearning of negative thought processes that Eleni had of herself for most of her life. These were nothing to do with body image, but self-worth.

Resistance training again helped the process of stopping her thoughts racing during this time of depression and she stepped back onto the competition stage gaining a top 3 place in her division for each of the 5 competitions since. It was the psychological help that has made the difference this time around.


In 2016, Eleni received the ‘Inspiration Award’ at the prestigious FILEX health and fitness convention, an event that recognises excellence within the industry. Eleni won the award due to her commitment in promoting awareness of eating disorders and dedication to educating others in how to overcome feelings of self-loathing.


An Insight to Anorexia and Other Eating Disorders for Fitness Professionals”, a seminar that Eleni has written, has been approved by Fitness Australia for continuing education.

Eleni Logo

Disclaimer: The information published in this column are based on the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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