A few months ago, I met a vibrant young woman at an art gallery here in Singapore. What felt like a blind date (because I had only met her via an Instagram introduction) turned out to be one of the most memorable meet ups I’ve ever had.
Meet Pauline Hanuise, a remarkable holistic health coach, who not only teaches you how to care for your body, but also brings the mind and soul into the healing mix as well. Pauline also helps individuals recover from eating disorders that have plagued them for years; and she knows this well because she’s been there before and recovered successfully. This experience inspired her to help other individuals breakthrough as well.
When I decided to start interviewing people for my blog, Pauline was the first person I thought of because I really believe in her and her message. I often check out her blog for her insights, or her posts on Mind Body Green for quick recipe tips. But above all, I think of her for the courage and dedication it takes to turn your life around for the better.
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Pauline.
1. First off, can give a brief background on yourself. Where are you from, and what were you doing before you became a holistic health coach?
Hi there, I am Pauline. I am a Belgian girl who’s lived in the beautiful Bondi Beach, Australia and Bali, Indonesia for the past 5 years. Before becoming Holistic Health Coach, I was a Digital Producer. I managed digital campaigns for companies such as Walt Disney and Canon.
But after recovering from my 15 years of struggles with full-blown bulimia, I became a Holistic Health Coach to help others do the same. At the same time, I became location independent. This means I am able to work from everywhere and currently I am in Europe for the next few months.
2. You’ve talked about your struggle with bulimia openly on your website, when did this start and what was the turning point for you to seek change?
For me, it all started when I was very young. I remember wanting to be thinner when I was a kid and around 13 years old, the illness kicked-in fully. It took me years before being able to talk about it and looking for help. Then another few years to find the right approach and something that actually worked for me!
The turning point was to basically hit rock bottom. My health had become so poor that I started to have many health issues related to bulimia. I was around 26 at that time. I had to face the reality and take responsibility for my life. This is when I started my long and difficult, yet incredible recovery journey.
3. I admire how honest you are about your journey; it allows other girls to address their pain because they don’t feel alone anymore. Now that you’re working as a coach, can you share what are some of the reasons why girls go through eating disorders in the first place?
The main reason is dieting! As simple as that. Now, we can be pushed to diet for many different and very personal good reasons. But this is clear that dieting is what triggers eating disorders in the first place.
We live in a society that doesn’t understand totally how our body works. On top of that, marketing sells us images and concepts that don’t really exist and that push us to adopt extreme measures to meet these ‘ideals’. Diets are part of these measures.
But I think people are realizing more and more that diets are very dangerous and totally counterproductive, which is a good thing. Hopefully in the next years, people will stop fighting against their own body and will be living peacefully with it instead.
Hopefully in the next years, people will stop fighting against their own body and will be living peacefully with it instead.
4. What are some of the first key crucial steps you can recommend to these girls who are on their road to recovery?
The first crucial step is to listen to their intuition and be reassured that something better is waiting for them. Life is so much more than fighting against ourselves day after day. As one of my favorite quote from Henry Ford says: “Believe you can and you are halfway there.” This is so true, especially in recovery!
The path to full freedom around food can seem rocky and endless at times. So keeping faith and being able love themselves fully despite the ups and downs is absolutely key.
Reconnecting with their own body is then essential. Our body is the most reliable bio-computer on earth. It does everything for us. It manages our breath, our temperature, our heartbeat, etc… So they will have to trust it again, overcome this phobia of weight gain, which is totally irrational, and stop beating themselves up.
The only way to fail in recovery is to give up. So, always keep going and soon, you’ll be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
5. The fear of not being good enough and the fear of not being loved are deep-rooted issues that manifest itself through our relationship to food. What are some ways we can overcome these fears?
Yes indeed. It was definitely the case for me and for all the women I am working with. I think the most important thing we have to understand in this situation is that we can’t expect anyone to give us the love and attention we deserve.
To start feeling better at this level, which is crucial in recovery, we have to start loving ourselves unconditionally first. Understanding that we are the only one able to love ourselves the way we want and doing it is HUGE!
It’s normal to look for maternal love and attention in others’ eyes but you can’t control others emotions, sensations or reactions and expecting others to give you the attention your need is not healthy.
It’s only when you will give yourself the attention and love you really want that you will feel complete and fulfilled. You will then give yourself the permission to live fully and happily.
6. Do you have any personal rituals that you do for your own self-care and self-love practice?
I practice a lot of yoga. Yoga had an important role in my own recovery journey and I keep practicing regularly. This helps me to reconnecting with my own body and deeper self. Being in touch with nature every day is also really important for me, so I make sure I take care of that.
Otherwise, nutrition has an important role for me. I always start my day with hot water and fresh lemon. I make sure I have at least one fresh veggie juice daily and heaps of clean water, fresh fruits and veggies.
7. You’ve stressed the importance of putting yourself first, or having “me-time”. Why is this so important to do?
Well, putting yourself first is taking care of yourself. Making sure you have what you need to function properly and be at your best. This is only once you will feel great that you will be able to be the best version of yourself for people around you, contribute to this world or help others.
Basically this is putting yourself first, meeting your own needs, to be able to give back this positive energy. No one wants a wife, girlfriend or mum totally exhausted and stressed out, right? So taking care of yourself first also means showing up at your best for people you love.
As I’ve explained earlier, you can’t expect people to give you the love and attention you need to feel good. For me putting myself first is also giving myself the love and attention I need in order to feel good and happy all the time.
For me putting myself first is also giving myself the love and attention I need in order to feel good and happy all the time.
8. Sometimes we girls are too hard on ourselves, feeling guilt or shame if we decide to take one bite of that chocolate dessert! How do we remove these feelings that haunt us? What are some steps we can take to have a more peaceful relationship with food?
Nothing and nobody is perfect in life. This is what makes life so beautiful.
Expecting to have the perfect diet is setting yourself up for failure, because it doesn’t exist. This is why it’s important to allow yourself to have fun foods sometimes and enjoy them fully.
A good friend of mine always says: “it’s better to eat a chocolate with love than an apple with hate”. I think this is a pretty good illustration.
9. A lot of people attribute healthy eating to be time-consuming, expensive, or “boring.” What are some healthy snacks that you can recommend to people that counter these claims?
Healthy eating doesn’t mean difficult, time-consuming or boring. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be a very healthy person! Here are some of my favourite recipes that are not only healthy but also delicious and easy to make: Simple and Rich Vegan Cacao Smoothie, Chocolate Almond Butter Fudge, and a 2 Min Healthy Breakfast Bowl (seen below).
And you can find many other recipes here if you need some inspiration.
10. What are some of your favorite books that you’ve read?
I have a few ones and it will be hard to choose but here are some great ones that I definitely recommend:
- Deepak Chopra is amazing and I totally love his book “The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success”.
- I think Marianne Williamson‘s book “A Return To Love” is a must read!
- I also enjoy Gabrielle Bernstein‘s work. Her books are great and give you nice little exercises to practice living from a place of love and positivity for a better life.
- I am currently reading “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks and I highly recommend it as well.
11. What do you think is your biggest lesson so far?
Wow! I had so much to be honest. My entire life is a big lesson, ha ha ha.
But one of the most powerful one is to realize that it doesn’t matter how much you’ve worked on yourself or how far you’ve gone, there is always a part of yourself (sometimes very very well hidden) that is trying to sabotage yourself. This is this part that is trying to keep you in your comfort zone, to avoid the unknown or trying new things. This part of yourself is based on fear and resistance and thinks you don’t deserve all the very best you want to create for yourself.
I’ve learned to always keep an eye on that because this is only when you get over that resistance that you’ll be able to reach new levels of awesomeness. This is what will help you go from great to amazing and really live the life you are meant to live.
…when you get over that resistance that you’ll be able to reach new levels of awesomeness. This is what will help you go from great to amazing and really live the life you are meant to live.
12. What’s next for you?
I am about to launch my first online coaching program to allow women (and men) to get the tools and information they need to recover from their tortuous relationship with food without having to invest in 1:1 coaching. I am really excited about it. (If this is of interest, make sure you’ve opted-in here: http://makepeacewithfoodchangeyourlife.com/ to receive all the details and all the goodies that go with the launch.)
I’ve also received an offer to work with an amazing brand in the health and wellness industry and help other health passionates to launch their own business. This is very exciting and if I decide to move forward with that, there will definitely be heaps of new things coming up such as new programs and coaching opportunities.
Interview by Victoria Herrera/ Photos courtesy of Pauline Hanuise