Recovery Update: Struggling AND Making Progress?!

Hellooo there everybody! So. I know that a while ago I wrote a post telling you all about fear foods and overcoming the last few bits of my issues with food. Recently I have wanted to write a follow up, and I haven’t really been able to focus on any other posts but this one. Which means I am now writing it for you. Then I can get typing some other things for you as well.

It was very hard for me to admit that mentally I still struggle sometimes- because I genuinely love food, and love moving my body, and try to aim for balance. However, maybe 30-50% of the time I am not where I want to be, and I am not in a very balanced place. But I’m working on it. A lot has happened in the few months since that first post I wrote on the subject of fear foods, and I think that I’ve realised I have more to work on than I thought. So this is my update, which I’ve been planning to do for a long time but didn’t quite have the courage to, and so shall have to bullet pointed because I have way too much to tell you all…

The GOOD Stuff

  • Began attending counselling again, and a support group to help me finally tackle the mental aspects of ED. This has been a HUGE help, and having other people around me who get it, and who can help, is a great comfort.
  • Some fear foods I have tackled: sugar-free flavoured iced coffee, subway sandwiches, foods with refined sugar in them, pizza at a restaurant, a cinnamon bun, enchiladas made at home with some cheese on top (the cheese was the bit I was scared of), home-cooked pasta, hot chocolate, protein bars, food cooked by someone else….
  • Some of the above foods I have since been eating on a regular basis, some of them I discovered I didn’t actually like after having them a few times, or will only be eating very rarely if I truly fancy them because they weren’t as good as I imagined (hot chocolate, cinnamon bun). Some I discovered actually made me feel ill. These foods I made sure to try at least three times to check it was the food, then accepted it just didn’t agree with me (this was the protein bar, which I became scared of due to their still being an “unhealthy health food”. However, I’ve tried a few different brands and found some I do like- such as protein cookies- which I will buy again. Not as a health food, but just as a packaged cookie that I want to eat).
  • I began to try and scale hunger, and spot emotional hunger and eat according to the first. I also began eating what I fancied- well, trying to, things take time- and not trying to choose the “better” option.
  • Disrupted routines have taught me I could be a bit more flexible. Going home for Easter meant working with my family’s schedules too, and not doing my own thing all the time. It’s helped me see that maybe I could move my gym trips around a bit, or wait a bit longer to eat, or eat out sometimes. I won’t lie, these still aren’t things I relish putting into practice, but I know I can do them if I feel the need to.
  • I tried to do a “lean bulk”- it didn’t turn out so well. BUT! I learnt I can eat more than I thought, and that having done so my performance in the gym really went up. This upping portions was something that was still a tiny bit scary until then. As a result of doing so I upped my weights, I had more energy, I wasn’t thinking of food as much (when I began recovering weight-wise these things also happened, and so I took these as a good sign). And then I pushed it a bit too far and decide to stop with actively bulking, as you’ll soon see. I just wasn’t ready for it, and having tried it, I don’t think actively bulking is something I’m even interested in right now.

 

Annnnd the stuff that hasn’t gone so great (but which I now know I need to work on)…

Continue reading “Recovery Update: Struggling AND Making Progress?!”

64 Things that feel/taste better than (restricting in order to be) skinny.

We all have unique bodies, all of which have a weight range that they function optimally within. So before we get started: if you are naturally very slender, having an optimally functioning wonderfully-glowing-with-health-fabulousness in a lower weight range than someone else, then this doesn’t apply to you. As long as you are healthy, and feeling great. I am not here, nor do I approve of, bashing any body shape without knowing someone’s back-story.

No, this post is about a kind of “skinny” that is maintained by consistently restricting food . I’m sure we’ve all heard the catchy one-liner “nothing tastes better than skinny feels” (thanks Kate Moss circa. 2009 for that little gem). This particular quotation seems to be speaking about restricting foods, despite loving the taste of them– because nothing tastes good enough to be worth being over x lbs. Ultimately it perpetuates the idea that enjoying food is not worth more than maintaining a weight unnatural for your body. Nothing can feel better than seeing the scale drop.

Well, guess what?

I can tell you that a lot of things taste better than this. I can tell you a lot of things also feel better than this. So this is a quick post about what feels/tastes better than restricting in order to be skinny, in my experience so far…

Continue reading “64 Things that feel/taste better than (restricting in order to be) skinny.”

Total Body Superset Workout!

For a couple of months now I’ve been doing a workout split of :

  • Chest & Back
  • Arms & Shoulders
  • Lower Body

And then my fourth day has been:

  •  Some kind of HIIT for the entire body (play day basically)

But after a while I’d exhausted many of my favourite HIIT workouts, and wanted to mix it up just a little bit. Enter “supersets”. When I first started going to the gym to use weights, I forked out for two personal training sessions, and the PT designed me a superset workout. I used this faithfully until I got bored, but recently the idea of a superset workout has begun to appeal to me again.

So, below is my total body superset workout. Obviously adjust the weights to suit you. The moves combined cover upper, lower, core, and some moves work everything at once. In a few weeks I’ll mix up the moves again. Below you can see how I like to do this workout. I keep rest periods short or non-existent between moves, so that I still have an element of speed to get my heart rate up:

  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes, with some kind of cardio machine (I walk the 20 minutes to the gym carrying my bag, and so often go for 5 minutes warm up)
  • Complete 3 rounds of one superset before moving onto the next set.
  • Complete the two exercises in the set without a break, and then rest for 20-30 seconds max if needed before repeating for the second/third time. As you get better you can reduce the rest periods accordingly. Some sets you may be able to get through without a rest.
  • The rest between the supersets is simply how long it takes you to set up for the next superset
  • To cool off make sure you stretch the entire body for 5-10 minutes

 

SS1-

15 v-sits

15 Bosu cross climbers

SS2-

10 upright rows 10kg

10 bent over rows 10kg Continue reading “Total Body Superset Workout!”

Is it just me…or are health magazines for women becoming unhealthy?

Do me a favour: before reading any further head over to Google and type in “women’s magazines”. Click on images. What do you see?

My first impression was of an overwhelming sameness. Literally all of the these images are of young women- teen to maybe late twenties, if you’re lucky, or they’re very famous. All have conventionally beautiful and “feminine” physiques, many have long blonde hair, pretty much all are white. Most pose with “come to bed eyes”, though I’m not really sure why they’re trying to seduce me. As I’m one of their heterosexual, white, early to mid twenties target audience, and not interested in going to bed with them. If they wanted men to read their “Drop 7lb in 7 Days”, or “Holy Grail Mascaras” articles, then it would be understandable– but, supposedly, the cover image is selling the content to me.

Okay, now type in ‘women’s magazines on health and fitness’. The pool of diversity seems to get even smaller, surprisingly. And I have to say, that angers me more than the above. For a long time I felt like magazines that focused on women’s health were better than their mainstream lifestyle/beauty cousins. Y’know, because one would assume they’d be pushing HEALTH over aesthetics.

More and more frequently I’m seeing mixed messages on the front of these glossies. I used to love them, and read them whenever I could afford them. However, I’ve noticed a change over the past few years…on one side of the highly photo-shopped cover model they tell us to love ourselves. On the other they talk about beach bodies, and cough up pseudo-science aimed at shrinking our fat cells. Which, by the way, as women we are genetically predisposed to carry, as we need it in reserve should we decide to produce offspring. Health magazines for women are changing.

So today I thought we’d chat about this. And below are a number of reasons I’ve found myself unable to read the majority of specifically health and fitness devoted glossies, written specifically for us lucky ladies. Do you feel the same way about some of these reasons? Disagree? Does something else I haven’t picked up on bother you? Comment below, and let me know… Continue reading “Is it just me…or are health magazines for women becoming unhealthy?”

You don’t have to go from ‘Zero’ to ‘Bo-Po’

Body Positivity (Bo-Po) appears to be a major goal for all of us. We should all be able to feel more comfortable in our skin, I 100% agree. But making the jump from body-hate to body–love? Difficult. And so I have a suggestion for you…

Now, today – just as a little disclaimer- I’m not getting into the whole “Is praising X/Y/Z body type healthy/dangerous?!” thing. Anybody can have underlying health issues, at any size. Yes, some body types are more susceptible to certain diseases- but your doctor will be able to run tests to ascertain if you have such conditions. Moreover, I think we’re all able to identify little signs that tell us if something is wrong inside our body, for ourselves. If you struggle to walk for long periods of time, your bones feel weak, you get dizzy etc. then they’re sure-fire signs something is wrong.  Guess what? I had those feelings when both over and under weight. Those feelings can happen in any body type, and for a range of reasons. Equally, feeling full of energy, strong, and mentally content can happen with any body type. Skinny or lean doesn’t automatically equal healthy. So, let’s get back to discussing Bo-Po- because who doesn’t want to be a god/goddess? Or rather, a-hem, accept that they already are?

HOWEVER.

I’ve already said that Bo-Po is a major goal, and that’s just it: its something you have to work at, and that takes time. I am personally not positive about my own body. I am working on it. Because it can be a very hard thing to achieve if you’ve had any mental disorder surrounding appearance- hell, its hard for anyone.

I am here today telling you that you don’t need to go straight to Bo-Po. I know, shocking. I’ve found that the best starting point for me has been body neutrality. So, not looking at my body and making nasty comments on it, basically. Or, if they come letting them go- just letting them slide through my mind and not responding, the same way a cloud gets moved along in the sky. I’m not (usually) going to chase a cloud, because I have better things to do. Similarly, I am not going to obsesses over these thoughts. I may think “I wonder where that thought comes from? How true is it? Hm…I know it isn’t true, and its coming from my feeling X/Y/Z about A/B/C”. And then I move on. I’m neither viewing my body with extreme love, or hatred, but rather a “meh, this is how I look, don’t really have an opinion on this, lets get on with my day and being awesome”. This has two major advantages:

  1. Before you can rebuild you need to remove. I am removing the bad thoughts slowly, moving through body neutral, and into (eventually) Bo-Po.
  2. I am not placing undue focus on my body, as I feel that for me desperately trying to find things I love about it would create another problem. Instead I am focusing on things outside of how I look.

Body neutrality is basically a stepping-stone that I am finding very, very helpful. In a way, it remind me of what children do (the time we’re usually least conscious about our bodies): they look at their body and see…a body! Then they go run around or dress up the dog or climb a tree.

And do you know what? “Bad body days” still happen, but since letting myself off of the Bo-Po hook and being neutral I’m suddenly discovering something: removing the pressure has made it easier to sometimes be body positive. Yesterday I looked in the mirror and thought “wow your thighs are getting big…”. And then, instead of going “meh”, came the: “yeah, that’s because you squat with 30kg now- its strength you’ve got there” – before I could stop it. I automatically turned what I initially perceived as a negative, into a positive.

My point is this: you don’t have to go from hatred to love overnight. It takes those people on IG who are Bo-Po Warriors a long time to get there, and its a mental battle. Take it a step at the time. For some, neutrality is more comfortable. You can always just go from there, or even stay there.

 

 

 

 

Fear Foods: My Final Hurdle.

The other day I had a hot chocolate with whipped cream. I cannot remember the last time I did this. Actually, no, I can: I was probably about twelve, and we were on a family holiday to Scotland, and we’d gone on the chair lifts to the top of Ben Nevis. That was eight years ago, if I’m remembering my age correctly.

For a while now I’ve been stuck somewhere between being very nearly recovered from the issues I have with food. I am at a healthy weight. Physically I am not cold all the time, my nails aren’t brittle, my hair and skin aren’t dull, I have energy, I don’t get bruises on my back and hips from lying on the floor to do yoga or workout in the gym. I am for all intents and purposes physically on top form. I eat a well balanced, healthy diet- yet I’m still effectively scared of eating some foods. These are fear foods, and I’ve been chipping away at them for a long, long time now. They are my last hurdle in my mental recovery. I never used to be able to eat toast with butter. Now, I do it all the time. I never used to add salt, or ketchup, or brown sauce. Now I do. I’d rather not have eaten baked beans, regular potato, rice, or noodles about a year ago, or I’d have eaten them extremely sparingly- now, I eat them with ease. Without trying to find a “healthier” alternative. Because let’s be honest, they’re already pretty damn healthy. Those are the fear foods that I’ve found easiest. Mainly because, they are savoury foods. I struggle much more with sweet foods. Continue reading “Fear Foods: My Final Hurdle.”

Body Disconnect: Are you sabotaging your stomach signals?

Recently I realised that if we were a couple, then my stomach and I would have been in the midst of serious trust issues. I would be the one oblivious to the fact that they existed.

After reading Fat is a Feminist Issue, one of the most important things I realised was that many, many women- including myself- have an issue with trusting their body. And I wanted to speak a bit about it. Right here, right now.

From a young age girls are exposed to diet culture. It’s on every magazine cover, it’s on many female relative’s lips, it appears on TV all too frequently. From a young age then, girls are taught that it is okay to ignore their body’s built-in signals.

We can ignore our hunger signals in order to adhere to strict diets.

We can ignore our hunger signals in order to comfort eat, unable to listen to what the body really needs, and sometimes substituting food for actually dealing with difficult emotions.

God forbid we actually listen to our own stomachs though.

What is so terrifying about listening? Will we balloon? Will we never stop eating? Of course not! Will we perhaps stop thinking so incessantly about the effect of food upon our bodies, and trying to control this, that we actually have room to enjoy eating, and devote time and mind to other more worthwhile things? Perhaps…

Some of you may be doubting: if I just listened to my stomach, I’d just eat crap all day! This is where I disagree. It is important to try and eat a healthy, balanced diet overall. Part of this is finding nutritious foods you enjoy. So if you believe you don’t like this sort of food, perhaps you haven’t found what you like yet. But, more importantly: yes, we all get the cravings for chocolate/chips/ so called “naughty food”. But what if this food wasn’t “off limits”, and if you could eat it without guilt? Then the drive to eat it all of the time wouldn’t be there. From a young age we’re told several foods are completely off limits by diet plans: once it is something we can eat whenever we like, then the scarcity surrounding it evaporates. We can eat it until our stomachs are satisfied, and not push beyond this point. Because we can have more another day. We don’t have to “get back on track”, because there is no plan, and you’ve not broken any rules.

In the same way, I feel we’ve all been taught to hate some foods. Notably, the healthier or more nutritious ones. We’re brought up thinking it is normal that children won’t try vegetables or fruit – I was one of the weird exceptions here- and naturally love additive-laden crap. Yes, we’ve evolved to like sweet tastes because they signal something isn’t poisonous-  but many of the foods we decide we like are heavily marketed to us. In the same way we’re told to trust diets, we also trust adverts when they tell us highly processed food products are more delicious than the alternative.

One of my best friends has always done something I haven’t understood until now: she has eaten what she likes. She also has what I always interpreted as the willpower to bring home a doggie bag. The reality is simple: she hasn’t been sucked into trying to ignore what she wants to eat. She hasn’t banned foods. There is no sense of “I have to eat this all now, because tomorrow I’m being good again”. She’s found a balance that works for her, where she listens to her stomach and her body and remains in a healthy state of body and mind. She loves cheese, good bread, wine, mushrooms, spinach, roasted vegetables, ice cream, cous cous salads, soup…a huge variety of different things, not one of which is ever “banned”. For her, this is simply how things are. It is normal. She eats when she’s hungry, stops when she’s full- sometimes if she eats something really delicious and so needs to finish it, she may have to undo the top button. She might eat a bit too much and tell me she’s stuffed- but she never even verges on binging. And this is balance, and normal eating. It can be very hard to believe people actually think like this when you’ve had an eating disorder, or any kind of skewed relationship with food- but it is possible to love and eat all of your favourite foods without allowing them to make a day good/bad. It is possible to listen to your body’s own internal signals- all it takes is a bit of trust.