Disclaimer: If you have eating disorder tendencies or find related topics difficult, please do not read this post.
Also, this post is long, just warning you!
Do you know what I did today?
I actually took a photo of everything I ate. I know a day late but, as they say, better late than never!
So I can indulge in a post which focuses almost entirely on food, which of course makes me happy, seeing how it’s one of my biggest obsessions.
Speaking of obsessions, I think it’s about to come clean. What I am about to announce is something I have never outright written about in the blogworld. I’ve alluded to it in previous posts and I’ve mentioned it occasionally in comments on other blogs. But I’ve never said it here and I think that because of all the wonderful support and advice you give me, I owe it to you.
Why have I never said it before? Because I don’t want it to be the focus of this blog. This blog is about healthy living, learning, loving, healing, happiness, and of course food. (With a touch of fitness thrown in occasionally!)
I don’t want people to think that this is what defines me.
Anyway, after clearly trying to avoid the subject for the last few lines, here goes:
I have struggled with disordered eating and incredibly poor body image and self-esteem for the last 5 years.
Perhaps it’s not a big surprise, I don’t really know how much people have noticed.
Let me clear a few things up. Firstly I eat pretty normally, I get my guideline intake (sometimes more, sometimes less), I am a ‘healthy weight’, I have a healthy BMI.
I am NOT saying I have an eating disorder. That is a serious illness which is hugely harmful and can potentially ruin your life.
All I am saying is that, like most girls, I struggle with food and my body.
I just struggle a bit more than is average.
This post is going to be my explanation, amidst photos of my eats for today…
One weetabix, soaked in milk, and topped with frozen blueberries and a sprinkling of granola.
As a young teenager I was completely fine. My mother has always fed our family healthy food and to be honest, apart from distinguishing what I liked and didn’t like to eat, I never really gave food any thought. I was a fairly fussy eater as a child but gradually grew out of it. I didn’t have a clue about calories, or the fat or sugar content in food, or about dieting, nor did I care. I ate what I wanted and I was naturally thin.
Photos of me at about age 13 show a fairly skinny girl who looks healthy and pretty happy. I danced a fair amount at that age (and had done since I was 3 years old) and led a reasonably active lifestyle.
Body image problems just didn’t come into the equation.
Lunch: mini pot of red pepper hummus (yum!), celery sticks, Ryvita crispbreads.
The catalyst came with the development of my condition. I started a new dance class, contemporary, which I loved, at around age 13 1/2 and for a few months it was fine, I was just really enjoying it. Then I started feeling a pain in my hips when I danced, to begin with it was just a bit uncomfortable but then it developed into quite a lot of pain.
My mother took me to the doctor, I was referred to the hospital, I had an x-ray, nothing.
I was then sent to a specialist, they couldn’t figure it out but referred me to a physio and for several months I tried all sorts of strengthening and stretching exercises. Nothing seemed to work. I had more tests, MRI, ultrasound, I tried a different physio, I had acupuncture…
So I had to give up dancing.
This is what I have snacked on constantly today. It’s just been one of those days when I can’t seem to stop snacking but at least it’s semi nutritious and it’s really tasty. I’ve had several bowls like this. x20
Obviously, stopping dance cut out a huge source of my exercise. Combine this with the fact that I was going through puberty and of course, I gained weight.
You have to bear in mind that I was bordering on underweight before, so a gaining about 6 kilos actually put me in the mid to low section of the ‘healthy weight’ for my height. But it was still a shock for me.
All of a sudden I had sizable breasts (no I’m not telling!), I had hips, I had that little bit of fat between my thighs which had never been there, and I had that little bit of fat over my lower abs.
It scared me pretty badly. Over the next few months I was struggling with coming to terms with the pain, I was having all sorts of medical tests, school work was starting to become more serious, and I had a few bad experiences with some kids at school.
All of this together led to my discovering the world of diets, of incredibly low self-esteem, the development of hatred for the loss of my dancer’s body, the absolutely 100% hatred of my new ‘woman’s body’.
So I started restricting.
I went for coffee with one of my lovely English Lit friends. We chatted, we ranted about the world, we talked books, we drank coffee, and we indulged guiltlessly.
It started slowly at first. I just cut down on snacks and treats – the usual. But it didn’t seem to work, so I cut down more. And more.
I reckon I was living on about 1000 calories for a few months age about 14. Scary to think about it now.
I hated my body and frankly, I hated myself.
Maybe it was depression… Maybe it was the beginnings of an eating disorder.
Anyway I did drop some of the weight. I was sort of in between what I’d been pre-condition and my heaviest.
I do think things could have gotten pretty bad.
But then I met this wonderful guy:
sometimes think I know that if I hadn’t then things would incredibly different now.
Although I had a lot of really fantastic support from my parents, I think that meeting and falling in love with Tom had more of an effect on me.
He loved me for who I was, and I didn’t want to be a ‘broken’ person, I wanted to be the girl he deserved!
From this point, things gradually improved. I stopped restricting, he hated it, he hated the thought of me being unhealthy and unhappy, and frankly I was tired of controlling my food so much and of hating myself.
I started to eat normally again. I focused my energy on school and on Tom. I became a very different person, a much better person.
Dinner tonight was simple but delicious, courgettes pan-fried in garlic and chili flakes and quinoa.
The other thing that has really helped me to view food in a different light? Healthy-living blogs!
All of you guys!
About a year and a half ago I discovered healthy-living blogs, food blogs, fitness blogs… I can’t even remember how I first found them but they really helped my absolute LOVE of food to develop.
This was such a positive thing and what eventually decided me to start my own blog, this blog, Love Live & Learn 🙂
It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I have learnt so so much from blogging, I have made many connections with wonderful, inspiring people, I have developed my writing and photography skills, I have found new foods, I discovered a love for strength training and I have had so much support from all of you.
I can’t thank all of you who comment and email me enough, you are amazing people!
Fage 0% fat Greek yogurt (love that stuff!), frozen strawberries and blueberries and yet more granola!
So why has this come to the forefront now if I’m feeling so much better about food?
The thing is, since coming to university I have put on quite a lot of weight because my condition has gotten so much worse and I struggled so much with physical activity last term.
To be honest, I’m really not that happy with my body. A lot of the fears and the low self-esteem and the negative emotions are resurfacing. It’s a really difficult time for me basically.
As I said in yesterday’s post, I want to use this period of Lent to really look after my body, to care for it. Yes I want to lose weight but I want to do it in a healthy, controlled way and I don’t want to lose kilos and kilos. I just want my old, healthier, toned and slimmer body back.
This post has been really hard to write, it has taken a lot of courage and it was really emotionally draining.
I really hope no one has been upset by this, your support really does mean a lot!
Thank you all for your lovely comments and support, particularly on my last few posts, you’re all fantastic 🙂
Thank you also to my wonderful parents and sister, for all of the support and help they gave me and continue to give. I honestly wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t have their love and their unfailing support. I love you all!
Lastly thank you to my amazing boyfriend, Tom. I love you so much, you have been more help than I could have ever imagined.
Were you surprised by what I talked about here?
Do you struggle with any of these issues (or have you in the past)?
What are your thoughts on all of it?
p.s. I am sorry if some of this isn’t particularly clear, my sleep medication is really starting to kick in but I was determined to finish the post!