Body Image

Reflections on a ‘Bikini Body’.

For those of you currently unaware, I write bi-monthly wellness themed articles for an online magazine called The Daily Quirk. It’s a great site for a wide variety of topics and I really enjoy writing for them, I get to blab on about fitness and healthy living which I don’t really do over here because I don’t want it to be the focus of my blog. (I write under the name Sophie Juliette over there if you’re at all interested!) Earlier this summer I wrote an article about being ‘bikini body ready’ for the summer with a different slant than most similarly titled articles, and I want to reflect on the topic again.

Now in the month of September, with the chilly weather (at least in the UK) drawing in, I can reach for my woolly jumpers, jeans, cozy socks, and boots. Basically I can cover up all in the name of being warm. I love the beginning of autumn, although I am loath to say goodbye to the warmer temperatures I adore the change in seasons. I’ve already invested in some cocoa powder and mini marshmallows, and a gorgeously cozy pair of knitted slippers with pompoms so you know it’s serious. I feel more comfortable in autumn fashion, I’m less on show. As much as I love getting dressed up in little dresses and heels to go out (my newest pair make me reach the staggering height of 6’1″!) I just don’t like having my body on show to the world. And yet all through the summer we are bombarded with the words ‘bikini body’ and about how to get ready for the beach and the pressure just mounts…

The question is, why do we let this pressure get to us? For starters ‘bikini body’ is such a daft term, invented by the likes of Cosmo and Hello magazines in order to create this supposed ‘ideal’ of how all women (and men) should look and which we should all work hard towards. The issue is that often this ideal body is in fact unhealthy and unrealistic. Whilst it’s great to promote health, and in fact I’m often the first to do so, it is dangerous to push an unhealthy image. These ‘bikini bodies’ that are shoved down our throats are often women (or young girls – the models are often 16/17) with extremely low body weights, or women whose job it is to look bikini ready and therefore train several hours a day which gives us regular people unrealistic expectations. And yet for some reason, a huge proportion of intelligent, otherwise confident women allow the pressure to be ‘bikini ready’ rule their lives in the run up to the summer. Why do we let it torture us?

Of course not all women pay any attention to it all, and props to them, hopefully they are much more content during the summer with a little more confidence than those of us who do! Unfortunately, despite knowing that it is all a load of rubbish, it seems I can never just ignore the message and every year it is the same old story, out come the bikinis and with them years upon years of zero self-esteem and poor body image. It is absolutely crazy because I am confident now, I’ve definitely learnt to love myself, I have very few of my old hang ups left and self-esteem issues are more or less a thing of the past. But for some reason when it comes to my body I just struggle to feel comfortable in my own skin. Over the last year of university I have definitely put on a few pounds (probably about 5) and although being tall which means it’s not a massive deal as I am still on the lighter side of a healthy weight, I can see those 5 pounds every time I look in the mirror. In fact, mirrors are quickly reclaiming their place as my old nemesis. It’s so petty, those 5 pounds are the sum of hilarious nights out, meals eaten with friends, late-night snacks when we stumble in, drinks at the pub, they are the proof of a great year. I should be able to love them and move on but I just can’t.

Why do we do this to ourselves? We are worth so much more. 

So if you ask me we need to actively seek to love ourselves. I have wasted so many years being unhappy with my body and you know what, it hasn’t come to anything. I am not a better person. It has not improved a single thing in my life. For the first time in my adult life I am single and living independently and it is time that I let go of my anxieties. Okay so my stomach isn’t as flat as a pancake, it is hardly fat either. And my thighs are perhaps an inch bigger than I’d like, but they can do over 100 squats with (relative) ease. My hips are wider than I’d like but that means that my waist is accentuated more. I am not skinny, I am slim. I am a woman with boobs, a waist, a bum, and rather long legs, and you know what? It’s great. My body manages to deal with fibromyalgia and still get me through the day, I should love it for that!

The 5 pounds will come off again, I have a new gym membership, I have a fridge full of fruit and vegetables. I have my dumbbells, my skipping rope, and my kettlebell. And most importantly I have my body, and it can push itself really hard, it can deal with nearly everything I throw at it, it is healthy and strong.

So if you’ve spent the summer stressing about the way you look, just for one or two weeks spent on a beach then let go of your body anxieties. Our bodies are amazing things and we should treat them well and celebrate what they can do. Each and every person deserves to feel confident and be happy. Anyway it really is what is on the inside that counts, you will be remembered for what you did not how you looked, so let your inner beauty be what people see, not just what is on the surface!

Sophie x

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Frosted Fingers – A Sweet Reflection.

(Warning: this is a wordy, no-photos post, if you don’t like to read then this isn’t for you! :-P)

Well I can safely say if feels good to be able to eat sugar again. No surprises there! It’s been a whole week so I can finally treat myself to my favourite ultra-indulgent treat: nutella. It definitely felt all the better for having some time off the sweet stuff, it felt like more of a special food to only be had occasionally (although I did eat rather a lot of it haha). So I thought I’d write a post about my sugar-free week with my thoughts on how it affected me and what I’ve decided to do now.

First of all I have to say that giving up sugar for a week was really not that difficult. Yeah I fancied cake when I met a friend in my favourite cafe in town, yes I wanted one of my sister’s After Eights and I definitely missed baking cakes but it wasn’t hard to decide not to. Okay so I only did it for a week, which isn’t long at all, but I went from having a couple of sugary treats a day to no sugar except fruit for seven days so it wasn’t ridiculously easy.

Having almost no cravings for sweet treats made me realise that I don’t need sugar, physically or emotionally! I guess I kind of knew that anyway, but in a way it was good to have it reaffirmed by my little self experiment. This wasn’t the only realisation I had whilst abstaining from sugar, here are a few more:

  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a sweet treat a couple of times a week, in fact it makes me happy, therefore there is lots that is right about it 😉 However what is important about treating yourself is making sure it is just that, a treat. I think sometimes when we eat something a little less healthy, we grab it and eat it quickly, we don’t savour it enough. So I’m going to make sure that each time I eat something sugary and indulgent I eat it on a plate, sit down,take my time and enjoy it.
  • I use some food as a type of emotional crutch. This isn’t news for me in terms of sugar often being used as an emotional prop for people going through a difficult time, but it’s a revelation for me personally. My relationship with food has been incredibly complicated for the past six years, quite a while when you consider I’m still only nineteen. When I was younger I preferred savoury treats, I don’t know exactly when I started developing a huge sweet-tooth but I now love to indulge on sugary foods. I’m fussy about which sweet foods, I don’t particularly like actual sweets, or thick chocolate bars, what I love are cakes, chocolate, ice cream… And that’s great, except that I don’t just eat these lovely goodies when I really fancy them, I also eat them when I’m feeling low or when my energy levels plummet. Not so good!
  • Although I do eat the odd sugary food each week, perhaps every other day for things like a cupcake or a cookie, I eat pretty well. I think of my diet is mostly healthy, but sometimes I worry that the 90/10 balance I strive for in life isn’t enough – I worry that the sweet treats I eat are having a negative effect on my body. But the thing is, physically I didn’t feel any different last week in comparison to the week before. Clearly my body is happy eating some sugar, here and there.

So what am I changing?

Well, mostly my outlook. I want to view treats as special things to be savoured and really enjoyed, I want to carry on aiming for a balance of 90% clean and healthy foods, and 10% less healthy, more indulgent foods. I want to try to detach myself more from the emotional response I have conditioned myself to have towards food. Other than fuel and enjoyment, there shouldn’t be any other emotions involved, no anger, no guilt, no worry…!

I’m glad I did my sugar-free week, I learnt a few interesting things about myself and the relationship I have with my food. I definitely won’t be binging or restricting anytime soon 🙂

What do you think of my realisations?
Do you consider your relationship with food to be healthy?

Have you ever used food, or the absence of food, as an emotional crutch?

 

Aaaand Relax.

Hey lovely ladies! (And gentlemen??)

I am home sweet home and just so relieved. The journey was particularly slow as we had my bike strapped to the back of the car and it always feels so precarious, not matter how many bungee cords and ties you use to secure it.

As you may have seen if you follow me on twitter somebody decided to throw out the food I had left in my freezer so I had nothing to eat for my breakfast this morning. I thought I had been so smart by leaving a couple of English muffins in the freezer as I had a pot of honey in my cupboard and that would be great for my last breakfast but anyway… I texted my dad this morning and asked him if he could bring me something to eat.

He shows up at around 10am with this in tow:

Best dad ever? I think so. There was also a chocolate muffin in a packet which got eaten up in the car so I didn’t take a photo. Definitely a good way to start the journey!

My mum is amazing too as she was there waiting for us when we finally got home and had a delicious lunch in front of me within half an hour of my walking through the door. I’m definitely being spoiled today but I am not complaining.

Lunch was a homemade beef burger with salad and a little piece of baguette. So rustic and tasty, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall gets it just right once again!

The afternoon was pretty much spent relaxing. I’m not going to lie, not much unpacking has been going on… I’ve already decided tomorrow shall be made up of a morning stretch and physio session, followed by some pampering, unpacking of the important things, an afternoon cycle and some more relaxation. Sound like a plan?

Dinner was pretty fantastic too, we had a gorgeous tomato tart with a courgette salad to begin with…

It’s just such an appetizing looking plate and it tasted so fresh. My favourite sort of meal 🙂

Not that it stops there, dessert followed!

That traditional English dessert of Eton Mess, one of my favourite summer treats. Broken up homemade meringue, fresh strawberries stirred into whipped cream mixed with natural yogurt. Such a beautiful indulgence.

Speaking of indulgence, as you can tell from my blog posts over the last couple of weeks, lately my diet has become rather indulgent. I’ve been feeling a lot more comfortable  with my body and my relationship with food is finally starting to become a lot more positive, however I’m beginning to feel the effects of all of this heavy food. Although I’m not letting myself feel guilty for any of it as I had the most amazing time with Tom and enjoyed every bite I ate but I do want to take a step back from it all. I feel as though I need a bit of a cleanse so I’ve decided that for the next week I will be sticking to three main meals a day consisting of whole grains, lean proteins and lots of vegetables, eating fruit for snacks and staying completely clear of processed foods and sweet treats. I’m not doing anything as drastic as a detox, I just want to eat really healthily and focus on other parts of my life 🙂

I hope you’ve all had a really great weekend!

What have you been upto this weekend?
What do you like to do when you’ve been indulging lots?

Have you ever done a detox? 

Realisations.

Quickly scanning my blog I have come to realise that lately it doesn’t exactly resemble most other ‘healthy living blogs’. The last few posts have featured several indulgent frappes, tray bakes, chips and cookies (as well as other healthier meals obviously). But this is the thing. Although in my description I mention my passion for healthy living, which don’t get me wrong I still am, I don’t see this blog as a typical healthy living blog. It’s more of a life blog.

My definition of healthy living is constantly evolving. How can it change? Well this year in particular I’ve learnt that it’s to do with a lot more than the food that passes through my mouth and the energy I expend.

Healthy living is about balance and moderation, and it is also just as much about your mental health as your physical state.

I don’t eat heaps of food and I don’t eat treats everyday. But having said that, most of the time if I fancy a treat, or find myself craving some junk, I will just eat it. I’m sure many you know what it is like to struggle with slightly disordered eating, I think most women experience that sort of issue at some point in their lives. It has taken a long time and a lot of effort on my part to get to a point where I don’t feel guilty about what I eat.

Sure if I do have a bit of an absent-minded binge when studying I feel a little bad, mostly from the discomfort it causes. But I can proudly say that I have got to a state of mind where I no longer begrudge myself a few indulgences here and there.

It actually amazes that I can say that. I wasn’t sure that I ever would.

I’m not going to lie, I still know roughly how many calories I eat in a day, purely because I can’t really forget how many calories are in most foods, but I don’t count them anymore. I also do still occasionally have days when I feel a bit bloated. But I have come so far in the last year.

My relationship with food is just so much healthier. Food is fuel because I know it keeps my body functioning, something I sorely need with my condition, but food is also something to enjoy. I love cooking almost as much as I love eating and I really like searching for new recipes to try and new foods to taste.

I hope that if you are struggling, as I did for years, that you are able to take some comfort from this post. It is possible to work through it and overcome your issues, I am slowly and surely getting there. Stay strong and carry on trying, there is always hope for better times ahead!

Have you struggled with disordered eating?
Do you feel guilty when you eat something indulgent?

Do you have any advice for someone still struggling or people like me who are on their way? 

p.s. If you are interested in this topic then I highly recommend reading Tessa’s blog about overcoming her disordered eating and Ali’s post on learning to love yourself!

An Uphill Struggle – On Fibromyalgia.

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I have started several posts with the sentence ‘lately, I’ve been struggling’ and it’s often true.

In fact, I could quite easily start many more posts with that.

Because it’s true, I do struggle, I struggle an awful lot.

Over the past year I have had to really come to terms with the fact that I have a chronic condition and probably will have for the rest of my life.

Whether it is a chronic pain condition, a chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, or all of these, I HAVE A CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITION.

There, I’ve said it and it’s written in caps lock so there really is no denying it!

For the time being, we’re calling it fibromyalgia which sort of is a mixture of the three. It also sounds nice and official which makes a change after years of having to say ‘well… I have this back problem… the doctors don’t know what it is…’ which never got taken seriously.

So I thought I’d write an informative post about the condition, so that I get it all out there in the open. I have talked about my condition before, if you want to read them (I promise it’s not too depressing) here are the links: Living With Chronic Pain – Part 1, and Living With Chronic Pain – Part 2.

Recently I read this post from Mary’s blog Fibromy-Awesome. It really touched me. And I just felt I had to write this.

Why did I decide to write this post? Honestly, I absolutely promise that it is not because I need a rant, I’m writing this almost for the opposite reason. Firstly many people have asked me questions about my condition and I’ve never really explained the symptoms I have, secondly I feel like I need to write this – it’s like catharsis, and thirdly I want to accept that my condition has gotten much much worse and then move on. Writing this is me saying, okay I have a condition and it sucks, but my life is about much more than that and I’m moving past it.

The NHS website defines fibromyalgia as such:

‘Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome, is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. 

The name fibromyalgia comes from three Latin words:

  • ‘fibro’ meaning fibrous tissues, such as tendons (tissue that connects muscles to bones) and ligaments (tissue that connects bones to bones)
  • ‘my’ meaning muscles
  • ‘algia’ meaning pain

However, the pain of fibromyalgia does not just affect the muscles, ligaments and tendons, but is felt all over the body. It results in widespread pain and extreme tiredness. People with fibromyalgia may also have:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • headaches
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • muscle stiffness’
What does it all mean in terms of my life? Well here are some of the main symptoms I (and thousands like me) have to contend with every single day:

Pain

Ah my old friend pain. Here is a sad fact about my life, it actually almost makes me cry to think about it, I honestly don’t remember what it feels like to feel no pain. For me, this was the first part of my condition that I experienced. Essentially, I have been in constant pain for the last 3 years and experienced pain everyday for 2 and a half years before that. I wake up in pain and most days this just grows as it goes on. I go to bed in pain. So far, none of the pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs, etc that I have been given have worked. I have learnt to deal with the pain and if I’m honest I think I will be in pain for the rest of my life. Pain seems to be something the body, or at least my body, can’t adapt to. I can’t ignore it, I can’t get used to it, it never goes away. I feel the pain most acutely in my hips, lower back, upper back, shoulders and neck: I have sharp stabbing, shooting pain up my spine throughout the day. My knees, ankles, arms, wrists and hands are, so far, less affected. The whole of my body constantly aches, many days I struggle to walk much, I can’t stand for any length of time at all, sitting upright causes my back huge amounts of pain and even lying down is no longer comfortable…

Fatigue

This is a newer factor for me, I’ve only really had problems with fatigue for the last year or so, and it’s only become serious since starting university. I struggle to sleep but I am on medication for that which does actually manage to knock me out for the night. But when I wake up, which is really difficult with the drugs (you win some, you lose some), I feel as though I haven’t slept. Most days I can gather up enough energy to go about my daily life, some days I actually feel pretty good and manage to live more normally, but some days I crash. I feel completely drained and exhausted, even lifting my arm feels like excruciating effort and I stay in bed for the entire day. This usually leaves me feeling completely weak, I am unsteady on my feet and last term I even collapsed twice – half from the pain, half from the exhaustion. The fatigue often brings on headaches, I usually have 3 or 4 a week (my pain also causes headaches).

Extreme Sensitivity

This is a difficult one to judge because it’s hard to remember what I experienced 5 years ago and differentiate that from what I experience now to figure out what is caused by my condition. I have become much more sensitive to bright light (e.g. overhead lights, bright sunlight, etc), it hurts my eyes, makes me feel tired and gives me headaches. The same goes with loud(ish) noises. I also experience hyperalgesia which is when you are extremely sensitive to pain, banging my toe or elbow is extremely painful and causes my back to jar. I also get cold very easily and the cold causes my joints to be more painful than usual.

Stiffness

I am, as I already mentioned, extremely stiff in the morning when I wake up and this often carries into the day. It makes sitting in lectures or sitting at my desk extremely painful. The stiffness and pain also causes a lot of tension in my muscles which in turn occasionally causes them to spasm which is where they contract tightly. Sometimes when this happens my knees buckle and I stumble, it’s difficult not to fall over. Lately I have also found that my hands spasm pretty painfully when I am writing by hand or typing. If I’m honest, this particularly worries me.

Cognitive Disturbance

This has in a way been the hardest symptom to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, the pain and the fatigue are awful to deal with, they have taken so much of my life. But this has really really affected my work and that is not easy to deal with, either at Sixth Form or at university. When things are particularly difficult I have trouble remembering even the simplest of facts, I have difficulties concentrating, I get dizzy and struggle with balance, my eye sight blurs slightly and my head spins pretty badly. The strength of my medication really doesn’t help with these issues. These cognitive disturbances get referred to as ‘fibro-fog’ (somewhat patronizing in my opinion) and they make reading difficult which I really hate, they also make working and revising very complicated and sometimes impossible tasks. Combined with my inability to sit at my desk too long from the pain and the exhaustion the fatigue brings, doing my work at university has been incredibly difficult and organisation is hard to keep on top of. I used to be the sort of person who did her work the day it was assigned, was super organised and had everything ‘just so’, as such this has been really difficult and hurtful to deal with.


I really don’t want this post to be just about me, and I certainly am not looking for any sympathy. What I want is to raise awareness about conditions like mine, these so-called ‘hidden illnesses’.

The other day I took the lift to go up two floors in Waterstones. I didn’t have my cane as I was with my mum and I could lean on her arm if I needed. As we got to the second floor there was a couple with a toddler in a pushchair waiting for the lift. My mum went past but then as I went past the guy exclaimed, in that loudly obnoxious voice people use when they’re feeling self-righteous, something like “Oh yeah, because you’re disabled!” and then proceeded to complain to the woman with him. Now to be honest, on that day I was really struggling so, unless one of them had a condition like mine, it would have actually been easier for them to carry the pushchair between them (it’s not like they’re very heavy!) down the two flights of stairs than it would have been for me to climb them. So although I wasn’t particularly upset by the experience, I was a little irritated. What if I had been a cancer sufferer going through chemo, or an AIDS patient, or a cystic fibrosis sufferer, a sufferer of clinical depression, or anything ‘hidden’ like that?

It’s just plain ignorance to act like that and it really made me think that we really shouldn’t judge people, you never know what they are going through behind closed doors.

Anyway, I really hope you have taken something from this post. It took a lot of energy and emotion to write and I feel pretty drained now. But actually, I am proud of myself for pushing through this, I am proud of myself for not giving up, I am proud of myself for what I have achieved.

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Tomorrow is my birthday (yay!) and I promise I will be back with a slightly easier to read and more uplifting post!

Did you learn something from this post?
What are your thoughts on ‘hidden illnesses’?
If you would like to, I’d love for you to share something ‘hidden’ that you struggle with!

This Weekend #5.

Hello lovers,

(Not quite sure what that’s about…)

How are all of my favourite people? I’ve missed you all this weekend! But I have had a really lovely time at home.

I ate A LOT. But I ignored the niggling feelings and just enjoyed the food.

Lunch today was the perfect example:

My father’s beautiful lasagna.

It tastes like a little piece of pure indulgence. It is truly lovely.

And the meal didn’t end there:

Rhubarb crumble – made by my lovely mother and me. I adore cooked rhubarb, the texture is gorgeous.

What a meal huh?

I have to say that I am struggling with food and my body image. I have a post planned soon to properly go into it all and explain. I feel like I owe you an explanation, I want this blog to be 100% honest and real so I don’t want to hide my struggles from you.

Anyway, I know this post isn’t very long, I’ve been neglecting this little blog lately, the fatigue isn’t making things easy. But! I promise promise promise I will start posting on my regular schedule again.

Recently I’ve been receiving so much support from bloggers and I am really so grateful for it! Blogging has brought so much joy to my life and I want to thank you all for the advice, support and words of kindness that you give me 🙂

I hope you have all had a lovely weekend!

How do you feel about completely indulgent meals?
What did you do this weekend?
Any exciting plans for the week?


 

My Day (and Struggles) in Food.

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…

Still nothing.

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:

I 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!

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Fage 0% fat Greek yogurt (love that stuff!), frozen strawberries and blueberries and yet more granola!

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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!