Episode 54

Perfectionism and Finding Peace with The Gong Girl Athena Ko

“One day I had to go to the trading floor. I walked down... I was like a size 6, as I was walking down the spiral staircase half the trading floor looked up and checked me out. At that moment I felt attractive but... my body was exhausted, I was barely eating anything, when I wasn’t working I was hitting the gym really hard, I wasn’t sleeping, but...I was like yep, this is it.”

Athena grew up in Hong Kong with her Mum cooking fresh food until age thirteen when she went to boarding school in the UK where attitudes were very different. ED behaviours amongst her peers were rife and normalised but Athena stayed, relatively, unaffected.

It was the competitive cultures at Oxford and Harvard followed by the establishment of her financial career in the City that really took its toll.

She barely ate, over-exercised and suffered from constant exhaustion.

During gardening leave Athena would travel the world to meet spiritual teachers and coaches. Their wisdom changed the trajectory of her life but the most important change was motherhood.

Today, Athena teaches Meditation in the psychiatric wards of the Nightingale Hospital, London. She is one of London’s leading Gong and Meditation teachers and listed on Tatler’s Best in Wellness, 2020 and 2023.

Athena is known as The Gong Girl.

Tune in, and listen because we had an absolute blast!


  • [04:10] - Boarding School ED behaviours
  • [20:00] - Pressures within banking to “look good”
  • [36:40] - Motherhood changes everything
  • [48:00] - Putting skills together


Athena’s Instagram

Book a Restorative Gong Bath Session with Athena


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About the Podcast

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Love This Food Thing
A series of conversations around experiences with food, eating disorders and recovery.