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Today I’m joined by Olivia Soha, a Certified Eating Disorder Coach, and founder of Uncovery. Through her own lived experience with an eating disorder several years ago, she experienced first-hand the lack of compassionate support, guidance and care available for those with an eating disorder in Australia. In today’s episode Olivia and I discuss:
What recovery coaching is and why we both believe it’s important
Why a lived experience can be a powerful tool for helping others in recovery
How recovery coaching is an adjunct therapy – it’s not in place of psychology or dietetics, but a helpful addition to moving towards full recovery
Common roadblocks in recovery and how we aim to help our clients overcome these
Note: if you feel you need to talk to someone about your mental health then please do seek professional help. Please never feel you shouldn’t speak to someone about things you are finding hard and want to talk about. There are also some online resources and helpful support lines linked below.
Speaker Background – Olivia Soha
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
My name is Olivia Soha, I am a Certified Eating Disorder Coach, and Founder of Uncovery. Uncovery is an eating disorder coaching service that supports anyone aged 16 and above seeking to improve their relationship with food and make peace with their body.
We do this through a range of support services from Recovery Coaching and Meal Support, to Cooking and Grocery shopping. Uncovery is the product of my lived experience with an eating disorder, paired with my own research and a generous dose of passion.
In your own words, please describe your own body image/eating disorder journey and where you are with it now.
My eating disorder journey began at the age of just 10, when I witnessed by brother choke. Over the space of 10 years I experienced lengthy periods of debilitating fear that I couldn’t swallow, which would last weeks if not months at a time. He also had anaphylactic allergy to nuts, and over the years I went through phases with debilitating fear of allergies around food, which resulted in disordered eating. It wasn’t diagnosed or even understood at the time. It wasn’t until I was 19-20 where I began to develop and interest for healthy eating and exercise that quickly morphed into an obsession, resulting in a severe restrictive eating disorder and exercise addiction.
After receiving treatment, I came out the other side like a blank canvas, not really knowing who I was, or what a healthy relationship with food looked like. I stumbled a lot, but eventually found my own pathway to recovery.
5 years on, it is now my passion again, but in a different form. Through my coaching work with Uncovery, I now support others to change their behaviours, challenge the disordered thoughts, and find freedom from the captivity of the eating disorder. I feel like those of us who have recovered from eating disorder, have a special ‘alert system’ built in.
Recovery involves a lot of challenge, resilience, patience, hope, open-mindedness, overcoming obstacles, acceptance, self-compassion- the list goes on. I like to see it as a process of self-discovery. When we look at recovery in this way, we are actually practicing these life-skills and as a result, we gain a lot of strength and wisdom. I now have a conscious and resilient relationship with food and my body. My eating disorder gave me the opportunity to build the ‘self-love’ muscle. I would never wish this on someone else, but I know that my eating disorder taught me so much about what I truly value, my relationships, my body, and the world around me.
What are you passionate about at work and in your own personal life?
I am so passionate about supporting others to find their own version of recovery. After going through something so challenging, and finding my way through what felt like never-ending darkness, I know that supporting others is a huge part of my life’s work. I love being witness to the self-discovery that happens when someone challenges their eating disorder, and wins. It is such a fulfilling feeling to see this growth.
Personal life: to be completely honest something I find quite challenging is separating the two! I think when you run your own business, it takes a conscious and constant effort to make sure you make enough time for life out of work. But some things I love: Yoga, meditation, cooking with my family, reading, markets, traveling, and spending time by the ocean!
Where can we find out more about you? (social tags and website links)