My Journey Into Health & Fitness.
Hopefully you’ll have read my About Me page and Backstory post, so there shouldn’t be too many questions that come after reading this. This post is probably the most challenging one yet, but also the one that I’ve tried to write more times than you can imagine. In writing this, I’ve had to face a number of skeletons I didn’t know were still lurking around, and in doing so, I feel more than ready to share my story.
My journey into the health and fitness world began at a young age; enjoying PE at school, and trying out all sorts of sports clubs hoping to find a hidden talent (that never happened). I’ve always found it to be one of the best ways to relieve stress, blow off some steam and socialise with friends but when I was around 15/16, I seriously overstepped the line.
Up until the age of around 19, I developed an extremely negative and unhealthy relationship with my body, food and exercise. I deprived and starved my body; neglected all forms of self-care and battled with both anorexia and depression for the best part of 4 years. I used exercise, namely cardio, as a form of punishment and would only feel a sense of reward or achievement when the numbers on the scales went down.
I was in such a dark place for such a long time and I didn’t quite understand the extent of this darkness until about 2 years ago. The pressures that I put on myself as well as my family and friends were unthinkable; my parents worried constantly watching my personality and body disappear; my sister acting as my punching bag when I was so hungry and irritable that the drop of a pen would set me off; my friends not wanting to trigger me in any way; my teachers at school concerned about my concentration – the list goes on and I’m embarrassed to say, I was blissfully unaware the whole time.
So unaware of it all, that the last time I weighed myself before deciding enough was enough, I was just under 5 stone at the age of 17. I was never overweight growing up; my parents both live super healthy and active lifestyles, and prior to this, I had no hang-ups with food. I loved going out for dinner, having cake, treats at the weekend, basically living and enjoying a normal life.
I’ll never forget the exact moment when it clicked in my head that I had to do something to put an end to what I was doing to my body. One Sunday evening and I couldn’t sleep – my hips hurt whenever I would lie on my side because I could feel the mattress springs; my knees hurt when they were on top of one another, I was freezing and every muscle in my body ached beyond belief. I was thinking about everything and anything, and all of a sudden, I felt my heart really start to slow down as if it was giving up on me. At that exact moment I was absolutely terrified. Ran down to the kitchen, opened the first cupboard I saw, and ate an entire pack of custard creams on the kitchen floor. That moment marked the first step in redefining my relationship with food, exercise and everything in between.
Since then, I have worked bloody hard to make sure I never ever get back to that place again. I’ve re-built my relationship with food and fitness and finally, 4 years later, I think I’ve found my balance.
The struggle was so real, and there were so many times where I felt worse off than when I was in my darkest place, but those days make you realise how strong your mind is and how incredibly resilient your body is.
Now, I funnel this resilience into weight and strength training. It makes me feel so empowered, so strong, and serves as a constant reminder of what my mind and body is capable of.
I still have moments when those thoughts creep back in and sometimes; they do get the better of me. Other times, I’m able to manage them and remember how hard I’ve worked and far I’ve come. I have a solid support system around me and I owe it every single one of them for helping me get through it, and for sticking with me when I truly hit rock bottom.
I’ve learnt it’s about self-responsibility, self-discovery, self-education and constant self-love.
Fitness is not about ‘earning your food’ or punishing yourself for having that doughnut. It’s about listening to your body, moving in ways that feel good and being the happiest version of yourself.
Health & fitness is a huge part of my life, but it doesn’t dominate it anymore. Here are a few things I’ve learnt and accomplished in my recovery…
- I’m stronger than ever (100kg Deadlift I’m coming for you),
- I can fall asleep when I’m tired and the fine layer of hair (lanugo) that started covering my body has disappeared.
- I’ve fallen back in love with baking and cooking.
- I enjoy my food!
I hope this gives you a little insight into my health and fitness journey, as well as my recovery*.
*Disclaimer: I am not a registered nutritionist, dietician or psychologist and if you feel that you need to speak to a professional, I really do urge you to do so. However, if you want to talk about anything, I will always try to help!