*WARNING – THIS POST COULD BE POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING OR UPSETTING TO THOSE WHO HAVE HAD/HAVE EATING DISORDERS. ALTHOUGH I DO TRY TO OFFER AS MUCH HELP AS I CAN THROUGH THIS POST THROUGH TALKING ABOUT MY OWN EXPERIENCES*
So, I have been putting this post off for a while as it is quite hard to talk about. However, I have realized that now more than ever would be a good time. I haven’t posted a food/wellness post in a while, and currently, I have been eating and drinking a little more than I usually would. Life happens, ey!? I have had a wedding, birthdays, a holiday, meals out, many a drink with friends, and with all of that mixed with currently being at home (the land of digestives and chips), I have put on a few pounds or so! (I don’t know exactly as I try not to measure myself.) Now, a few years ago, this weight gain (although, probably only noticeable to me) would have sent me into a spiral of depression, obsession, over exercising and diets. I was very unkind to myself the majority of the time and all I could think about was how the feck was I going to lose this weight. I would feel disgusting. I would feel very unhappy and disgusted with myself for letting myself put on those few pounds. Basically, I was in a very poor mindset towards food, exercise, and the state of my own body. Consequently, my mental state was not in a good place, and I would often feel very anxious about birthday parties, social drinks, or meals out of any kind.
This all started when I was around 17, and I ended up losing about 2 stone, being on the very low end of my BMI. My family would often comment that I looked too boney, or that they thought I wasn’t eating enough. My hair fell out, my skin looked grey in complexion, and although my thigh gap was growing (oh that unhealthy trend ey), I was definitely not in a good place. When I was about 19 I decided that I had had enough of feeling constantly mentally drained from counting calories and wondering what weight loss method I could use next. I had total body dysmorphia, and could only see the ‘fat’ parts in the mirror, overlooking all of the bones and the fact that my body had changed so much in the last few years. I was totally done with this, whatever it was, and I was also done with all of the comments from both friends, family, and my friend’s parents saying that I had a problem. I decided to take myself to the doctors. Now, for me, the doctor was totally unhelpful and told me that I would grow out of it. I know I should have seen someone else, but I didn’t want to acknowledge the problem anymore. Eventually, after 5 years of having a very unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, I finally feel in a much better place, and that I am comfortable in my own skin. It has taken me years to get to this point, and I know that I will never be completely fine with food, as those restricting and damaging thoughts can sometimes creep in. But I now have healthy ways of dealing with this and feel that I have made a 90% recovery from where I was in the beginning. I now never panic with any eating/drinking occasion, and only exercise when I feel like it. Honestly, it is so amazing to feel free from the destructive thoughts of always trying to lose weight.
Learnings & Tips
So, here are some of the ways I learned to get over my unhealthy mindset, some little tips, and also some things that I have learned along the way…
1 – DON’T LET CALORIES RULE YOUR LIFE! – I used to count every single calorie that I ever ate, and if I went over my daily allowance, I would freak the fuck out. Now, I only ever briefly count my calories when I’m trying to lose a pound or 2, and I do not panic at all if I go over that day. Yes, counting calories can be a great tool to help you reach the weight that you want to, but it is so important to only do this if you trust your mindset with food, as it can be very triggering. I now know that if I start to have obsessive thoughts at all that I need to stop counting. And I only ever take notice of my calories if I am trying to lose that little bit of holiday weight. Other than that, do not let calories rule your life. In the grand scheme of things, they do not bloody matter.
2 – THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN BEING YOUR ‘IDEAL WEIGHT’ – I used to think that I would not be happy unless I was 8 stone. Which, for a girl who is 5’7, is not a healthy weight. And in fact, the more weight I would lose, the more obsessed and unhappy I would become. Honestly, let it go.
3 – …’IDEAL WEIGHT’ ISN’T A THING ANYWAYS – As I just mentioned, even when I hit my ‘ideal weight’, I was not happy. I always wanted more. And when I lost my bum and boobs, I was jealous of those that had them. We always want what we don’t have, which is why there is no such thing as an ‘ideal weight’.
4 – WEIGHT GAIN IS NOT A BAD THING! – As I just mentioned it is not a bad thing to gain a few pounds. I always say, the heavier I am, the happier I am at the time. Whenever I lose a lot of weight now, it is because something bad has happened in my life, and I really lose my appetite. Whenever I am slightly heavier than my usual weight, it is because I am having fun, going out and eating great food.
5 – BEING HEALTHY IS SO IMPORTANT – It took me a while to realise that eating good, proper food is far far more important than counting calories. Deliciously Ella played a huge part in my recovery, and although she will probably never know that, finding her blog really made me realise that calories are not all made equal and that I should focus on eating real food. It is so important to properly nourish our bodies, which is why I am currently doing a course in nutritional therapy.
6 – DITCH THE DIET FOOD – As I just said, it is so important to focus on real, good and proper food when recovering. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good Muller light yoghurt (lol), or do still choose skimmed milk at Starbucks. However, I used to have a funny mindset that if I ate anything other than diet food I would instantly put on weight. This could just not be further than the truth. Think about how in our generation, people are much heavier than how they used to be. This is because, years ago, diet food did not exist. People would eat good, proper, home grown food. Our bodies know what to do with these foods, and thrive off these foods. I’m talking fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, fish and whole simple foods.
7 – NO ONE NOTICES A FEW POUNDS HERE AND THERE – Honestly, NO ONE NOTICES AND NO ONE CARES! The sooner you realise that, the better.
8 – EXCERCISE FOR THE RIGHT REASONS – Back in the day, I would exercise for hours just because I wanted to burn calories. I hated it, and it bored me to death, but I was in the mindset that I had to do it. I remember one time where I was in my room and I had been exercising for about 2 hours straight, and my brother who would usually never say anything had overheard me exercising. He came in and said ‘Becks, haven’t you done enough now?’, and that made me feel so embarrassed. Even my brother was now commenting on my unhealthy habits. Now, I exercise when I want to and do the activity that I love. I love dancing, and I love spinning. Therefore, these are what I primarily focus on. I take days off to let my muscles recover, and I don’t beat myself up if I skip a workout. Find an activity that you love, and just make sure that you are doing it for your stamina, and health, and not just to burn off that extra chocolate button that you ate.
9 – FALL IN LOVE WITH COOKING – I love cooking! I love experimenting with different flavours and ingredients. Fall in love with cooking, and fall in love with food. It is so healthy for you to source your own food, know exactly what is going into your meal, and learn to love good, healthy food.
10 – FOOD REALLY CAN BE MEDICINE – So, as I mentioned in my back story, I did lose a hella lot of hair and my skin went really dull when I was in the midst of my eating problems. At the time, I put it down to hormones. However, looking back, I really do think it was the lack of vitamins and nutrients in my diet. Now, my hair had doubled in thickness, and people often comment that my skin is glowing. I also really don’t get as ill as I used to. If that doesn’t encourage you to eat healthier and focus on really good food, I don’t know what will!
11 – REMEMBER, WE ONLY HAVE ONE MIND AND BODY, SO LOOK AFTER IT – Only YOU can look after your own mind and body. You live, breathe and thrive in your body. At the end of the day, all you will have is you. So take the initiative, and make the effort to nourish yourself.
12 – DO NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR WANTING TO LOSE WEIGHT. JUST REMEMBER TO DO IT IN THE HEALTHY WAY – I used to feel really embarrassed for wanting to lose weight, and to be fair, I never ever needed to. However, if you truly do feel uncomfortable in your skin, or if you have been advised to lose a few pounds, there is nothing wrong with this. As long as you do it in a healthy way, and acknowledge any unhealthy habits then it is fine to want to lose a few pounds. Just don’t lose your mental health at the same time. Trust me, that mindset is really a shitty place to be in.
So, there you have it. I really do hope that I can help someone who has read this post.
Feel free to leave any comments and have a lovely day.
Photo – taken, styled and edited by me. Model: Chloe.