Own struggles with body image lead South Perth woman to offer help to others


Dr Katherine Iscoe is using her experience dealing with body image issues and eating disorders to help others. Picture: Jon Hewson d469244
Dr Katherine Iscoe is using her experience dealing with body image issues and eating disorders to help others. Picture: Jon Hewson d469244

KATHERINE Iscoe’s body image issues were so bad that she once flew back to Toronto to see her parents, crying for the whole flight.

The Canadian-born South Perth resident had started studying at UWA when her body image issues returned.

Dr Iscoe has overcome suicidal thoughts and her body image issues to help others.

“When I moved to Australia, I had just turned 30 and because of my binge eating at home I gained quite a bit of weight so I desperately tried to lose it and I ran so much I had stress fractures in my pelvis; my spine was dislodged just from exercising,” she said.

“I was single and everyone else was so comfortable and having kids so I was this odd one out so I just felt no one would ever love me unless I had this perfect body; but I had a great body but I didn’t see that.

“I booked a ticket and literally 24 hours later I was on the plane home and I was bawling all the way home. I was in a bad place and I remember looking on the internet at suicide methods.”

Her issues about body confidence started when she was a teenager in high school in Canada.

“It really hit me when I was 15, I started my eating disorders then; it was a difficult time, anorexia was popular at my school so it was actually cool to be anorexic.

“I was anorexic, to anorexia-bulimia to binge eating, I tried them all. The goal in our school was to eat so little that you fainted in front of people and that made you popular.”

Dr Iscoe said realising she needed to change helped her to improve.

“It was a harsh realisation when I figured that I was the common denominator for all my problems so rather than pointing my finger outward… I realised that I needed to be the one who changed,” she said.

“I sought help and had therapy; I’m still in contact with my therapist, that absolutely changed my life in the sense that it gave me the tools to actually help myself along and that catalysed what I do today.”

Dr Iscoe’s journey to help other women started with her own blog and selling meal and exercise plans, but now revolves around consulting with women.

“Both through my masters and my PhD I looked at type 1 diabetes and the interesting thing about it was that you had to be so careful about what you ate and balance it out with the amount of insulin that you used,” she said.

“So when speaking to patients and my participants in my studies, it just made me realised that I’m the same way, I calculate everything I do.

“It was going well but something didn’t feel right, so what I did I said ‘if you want me to write you an exercise plan and meal plan then let me talk to you’.

“They were exactly like me, trying to fix their life problems by fixing their bodies and I said to myself, ‘how am I supposed to help them by shoving a piece of paper under their nose and saying eat this or that?’ and I knew it would make them crumble just like me.”

Dr Iscoe believed everyone had their own solution to body image issues.

“People always ask me what’s the best exercise or diet to lose weight but you can’t do that, you are completely different from everyone else,” she said.

“So what I do is revolved around the person and I never give advice, I truly believe a person has it within themselves to actually conduct their own changes.”

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