Running through April

Excuse the pun. I do feel as though I literally ran through April in the sense that it’s another month that has just disappeared in a blink of the eye.

In training terms April has been a good month. I don’t want to write ‘May’ because as we enter May tomorrow that means I have just 12 days before I am driving down to London ready for the London Revolution cycle! 

My focus for London Revolution this month was to keep increasing the long Sunday ride along with slightly shorter rides on Saturdays, to ensure I was conditioning my muscles really for consecutive days cycling. My longest ride was 129km and I finished this ride feeling strong and felt as though there were still some miles left in me. This helped boost my confidence for London slightly but still feel anxious (and slightly nauseous) when I think about it.

I started to focus some attention on my running training plan to, it’s crazy to think that I have signed up to Gloucester Marathon in August. The cycling has taken most of my attention and focus and balancing the two is difficult. Gloucester doesn’t feel real yet.

Who watched the London Marathon? One of the biggest events in the running world. Who watched the marathon and thought “actually I could do that”? I hold my hand up. So many people from all different backgrounds crossed that start line, and finish line. 

My heart and attention was particularly with those running for the charity ‘Heads Together’ for the programme Mind Over Marathon. The programme resonates with me deeply and I have personally experienced the benefits of running and mental health. I liked how they focused on showing mental health as part of someone’s life, not all encompassing and not in a way that negative stigma is attached. Many people experience mental health struggles be it depression, anxiety, OCD or many others but it doesn’t and shouldn’t define you and you can function and live a normal life. You can carry on with family life, work hard at your career and personal commitments, it’s just a whole lot harder.

Running can help on so many levels from giving structure and routine, the need to fuel your body properly and look after yourself to get the most of your running. It offers a distraction, a place to find space in your mind and feel free. It floods your body with endorphins, that ‘runners high’ that can make you feel better about yourself. It also allows you to do something that you can achieve great things in, whether that is your first 5km, half marathon or full marathon. You can see yourself improving and it gives you worth.

I’m doing Gloucester Marathon in August, initially I thought about doing it for charity. Not only is raining money for charity an amazing thing to do but it also adds some responsibilities to the run. People have sponsored you so you have to go out there and finish. A marathon is a long long way, one that I don’t know if I can do and so the added motivation that people have sponsored me would have been a big help. But when I stopped and thought about exactly why I want to run a marathon (and was completely honest with myself) the reasons are exactly the same as all of those people on Mind Over Marathon (and probably thousands of others who ran London). I want to run Gloucester Marathon for me. I want to show myself that I can do it, that I am strong enough and that my anxiety and confidence issues that I often face about many situations is not going to stop me from getting to the start line. It will be 14 weeks of ‘lessons to learn’, ups and downs of training and battling negative thoughts that tell me I can’t do it, but the only thing that will stand between me and my finishers medal is injury, a genuine reason.

So back to cycling. May will be knocking at the door tomorrow and the countdown will begin. The next week will be a hard training week and then it will ease off slightly until the big day. Next time I write my monthly review it will be done and hopefully I will have an amazing story to tell.

That’s all for now.

M x

Running through April

Giving the silent illness a voice

With Eating Disorder Awareness Week taking place next week 27th – 5th March it’s a little reminder just how crucial awareness of this ‘silent’ illness is. Eating disorders are a very secretive illness. Using myself as an example, to begin with I looked fine, my favourite phrase was ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m ok’ and I acted fine and my behaviour was fine. On the outside everything was OK. As the illness progresses it begins to take its toll and it’s clear to people around you that you are not indeed ‘fine’ but by this point it’s too late, the damage is done, the thoughts and feelings are ingrained and have taken deep root. These thoughts and feelings are no longer thoughts and feelings but they are the truth, they are fact and you believe them. Belief is the key here. If you believe something to be true then no matter what your friends or family or the doctors say to you, you won’t believe them. You know the truth. Everyone else is lying to you. That’s when the paranoia begins, everyone and everything is against you, you feel on edge when you walk in to the room and everyone goes quiet… or worse overly chatty. Clearly everyone was talking about you. Against you. This is when you no longer look fine, your behaviour speaks volumes but it’s too late. This is the point where people may try to help you, where you are forced to see a doctor. I did exactly that and only agreed to see a doctor to make my family happy and stop them worrying. I didn’t see the problem and didn’t think I was poorly enough to get help. When it slowly clicked I was terrified but I felt like it was too late. I wished that I’d seen the problem at the very beginning so that I could have received the help I needed before things got too bad but I didn’t. No-one noticed the signs and that’s because I was so good at hiding it, I had all of the excuses, all of the lies and I manipulated. No-one knew what was going on and why should they? Eating disorders were not talked about so freely and so how could anyone have noticed the signs so early on when I was fighting so hard to keep it hidden.

Awareness of eating disorders is so so important and by people talking about mental health and understanding the early warning signs better places family and friends to make the intervention. It’s sad but true that this lies with family and friends because your loved one cannot be trusted to help themselves, that is not the nature of an eating disorder. 

Recovery from an eating disorder is not a quick fix, you don’t get help and then you are better again, it takes years of hard work and in many cases you never fully recover BUT the sooner you get support and the treatment needed the sooner you can stop the downward spiral and begin working towards recovery. 

Whether it’s the beginning of an eating disorder or a third or forth relapse getting help quickly is the most important thing.

I’m no professional but from personal experiences I have identified the early warning signs. If a handful of people are reading this and take something you never know when or if you might need it.

Early warning signs, to name a few:

Preoccupation with food:

  • having ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods
  • having a list of ‘safe’ foods
  • eliminating entire food groups
  • extreme interest in what others are eating
  • feeding other people 

Comments and thoughts around   weight, weighing themselves more frequently and a desire for the number to go down


Looking in the mirror more often than normal and touching or pinching body parts. 

If these phrases become part of your day to day conversations:

“I have already eaten”, ” I’ll eat later”, “I’m not hungry” “I don’t like that anymore” ” I had a big lunch”

Hiding food and throwing it away

Exercising obsessively with the intention of burning calories


Fixation on counting calories and numbers, checking food labels or knowing the calorie content in almost every food

Supermarket shops become painful, time consuming and stressful

Spending more time on the internet looking at diet sites and forums 

Anxiety and depression

Having a few outfits that are worn and washed constantly and only feeling comfortable in these. They tend to be loose fitting

Becoming defensive and snappy and angry with intense mood swings. Becoming angry for what seems like no reason and then being tearful the next.

Rigid eating behaviours:

  • using a certain bowl or spoon
  • cutting food into tiny pieces 
  • chewing a certain number of times
  • not letting foods touch

Avoiding social situations or being socially awkward and withdrawing and becoming isolated

Being cold and tired all the time

The more we talk and read about eating disorders the greater awareness there will be, with more people getting the help that they need. Eating disorders are silent… we need to give them a voice, we need to make them loud.
M x 

Giving the silent illness a voice

The most difficult time of the year

“Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year”

It’s that time of year again, where most people are busy planning all of the festive parties they will be attending, drinks nights, work parties and the ultimate family get together over a big Christmas lunch. For most this is what Christmas is all about, this is what we wait for all year. But for someone suffering with an eating disorder this is the most difficult time of the year

I’m lucky, for the first time in 10 years I can fit back in to the majority, I’m looking forward to my work Christmas party and all the family time that is fast approaching but until now it’s been a very different story.

I’m writing this, not to look at how far I have come but to offer support, understanding and advice to everyone I know (and don’t know) who will be dreading this time of year like I was. 
For someone in the grips of an eating disorder or someone who is on the road to recovery or even those who consider themselves recovered Christmas is still a big deal. Although an AMAZING time of the year it is still hard. For me it’s an emotional time on different levels, I get emotional thinking about how lucky I am to be here and appreciating my amazing family. I get emotional thinking about all of the wasted Christmases where I have just dreaded the lead up and been a panicky mess on the day through to the deep regret and guilt of ruining the day for the ones I love. Christmas is a big deal and can and will trigger anxieties around food and drink but what you need to remember is that it is just one day. 
Christmas is an occasion to spend time with family and friends and yes there happens to be lots of food around but treat this as a normal day. You still need to give yourself permission to eat just like recovery teaches you. Looking back over past Christmases I can see that my anxieties around the day and the lead up were bigger than the food itself. The more I thought about what I would and wouldn’t eat the bigger the food became. My downfall was the amount I was catastrophizing every situation.
Sometimes it is easier to keep your feelings to yourself and struggle through the day so that other people don’t worry about you and you are not a burden on others but from experience your family will know that you are struggling and they are there to help you and talk about it. You shouldn’t have to go through it alone.

I’m no expert and I’m not a qualified professional but from personal experience I want to share my tips for surviving the Christmas period with an eating disorder.
1. Reassure yourself that it is ok, you are allowed to enjoy yourself and you are allowed to eat.
2. Spend time with your family and get involved with what’s happening around you. It may be difficult but try not to distance yourself. Feeling like an outsider looking in will increase the negative feelings.
3. Talk talk talk. Talk about your anxieties, tell your family how you are feeling and inform them on how they can help make the day easier for you.
4. Remind yourself it is just a normal day
5. Have a meal plan that you have made before the big day, that way you won’t be faced with decisions that heighten your anxiety. 
6. Play games and take your mind off the negativity
7. Remember that this isn’t really about food, remember to look deeper at what is really going on. Try to journal and explore where the feelings are coming from and what the thoughts of food are actually distracting you from 

If you are reading this because you want to support a loved one with an eating disorder then please remember…
1. It’s not their fault and there is no blame


2. Be supportive and encouraging but do not watch their every move


3. Don’t make unnecessary comments over food or monitor the amount that they are eating
4. Never make someone feel as if they are letting you down or being difficult
5. Help take their mind off things with conversations that are not focused on food
6. Don’t talk about how much you have eaten or that you feel ‘fat’. These kinds of comments make it very hard for a sufferer to eat the foods they consider bad
Remember, this can be just as hard for you as it is for someone suffering with an eating disorder. It can be frustrating and upsetting but the most you can do is be supportive and let your loved one know you are there without coming across as the food police! 
Christmas is a family time, don’t let your eating disorder take away anymore valuable time, it’s taken enough.
M x 

The most difficult time of the year

Myths and Misconceptions

There are lots of misconceptions surrounding Eating Didorders, here are 8 main myths that stand out to me and need to be challenged.

1. Anorexia is a phase

It can often be thought that anorexia or bulimia are ‘phases’ that someone can and will ‘grow out of’. This couldn’t be further from the truth and is a very damaging view to take. This misconception comes from a lack of understanding and knowledge that surrounds eating disorders. Often those suffering will be viewed as a ‘fussy eater’ or ‘being difficult’ some may go as far as to say ‘attention seeking’. If you know someone who appears to be fussy or difficult it’s important that you look a bit closer and be open to the fact that more may be going on inside. By telling someone it’s a phase that they can just ‘snap out of’ can have negative implications, causing the person with the disorder to be more closed and withdrawn for fear of being judged and their struggles shrugged off as a ‘phase’. Eating disorders are real and serious.

2. Eating disorders will just go away in time. 

They absolutely, most definitely will not just go away. It may be possible to attempt recovery without help however most people with an eating disorder will need medical intervention and professional help in order to begin the road to recovery. By ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away will escalate the problem. The sooner help is sought the more chance of a successful recovery. If things are swept under the carpet, more damage will be done.

3. You have to be thin to be anorexic 

This is everything that is wrong with attitudes and perceptions, made increasingly worse by the media. Anorexia is a preoccupation with weight and body image, a control over food when all other areas of life feel out of control. You do not need to look ill, to be ill. Many people do not seek the help they so desperately require because they feel that they are not ‘sick enough’ and that they are not deserving of treatment. When I was in hospital, although I was not at my lowest weight physically I was at my most unwell mentally. Yes I was considerably underweight, I looked ill and bones were visible BUT there were people who were a lower weight than me. I remember being told ‘you aren’t in that bad a situation, you will turn things around quickly’ by a fellow inpatient. Not only did this reinforce the feelings of not needing treatment but it also fed into the thoughts of not being ‘ill enough’. Looking back I can see I was very unwell mentally and I needed just as much help as the person who said it to me. Weight is irrelevant. Anorexia is a mental illness. The mind can be ill even when everything looks fine on the outside.

4. Eating Disorders are a female illness

Due to the media eating disorders have been portrayed as a female only illness. Men don’t get eating disorders, it’s not a’manly’ disorder. This however is incorrect. Men do have eating disorders however they find it more difficult to seek help because of the stigma attached. It’s important that more awareness is given to the fact men are just as likely to suffer and that there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Eating disorders are a mental illness, not a gender specific illness.

5. Parents are to blame for eating disorders

Many people assume that the ‘blame’ lies with the parents or family. Each circumstance is different and an eating disorder can be triggered by so many different factors. Very often there is not one specific cause but a series of events and feelings that have built up over time. Noone is to blame and it’s important that this feeling of blame is explored and dealt with.

6. Someone with an eating disorder has a choice

People believe that someone suffering with anorexia conciously chooses not to eat or someone diagnosed with bulimia chooses to purge after eating and someone with Binge Eating Disorder chooses to binge and overeat. The truth is, when suffering from an eating disorder there is no choice, you feel completely out of control of your actions and compulsions take over. You do not choose not to eat, you are terrified of food and physically can’t let yourself. Just like in bulimia you are terrified of keeping food in your stomach and you have to purge yourself. Those with BED want to stop eating but cannot do so. It’s not as simple as choosing to do or not do a behaviour. In theory those suffering do have a ‘choice’ but they are not able to control this or see the choice. A treatment programme is needed to help see the choice and that we are all in control of our behaviour.

7. People can only have one type of eating disorder 

Eating disorders are interchangeable and very often people can transition through several different eating disorders. For example someone may have anorexia and when they begin refeeding and recovery they begin overeating and purging. This can happen when the body panics and thinks it may not get any more food so the binges begin and as this is such a scary time purging can feel like the only option. Just as easily could someone who has BED and begins recovery and they are so unhappy with their body that they begin to restrict and then transition into anorexia. Eating disorders do not always occur in isolation. The right treatment needs to be given at the right stage.

8. Recovery from an eating disorder is a straight road

Recovering from any disorder is not an easy ride, nor is the road straight. There will be many ups and downs, blips in the road, days where you just cannot see a way forward, where you don’t want recovery any more. Then there will be days where eating feels easier, happy days creating memories and living life. Then there will be days where you feel down and deflated or as high as a kite. Every day is a challenge bringing with it its own challenges. But recovery teaches you to cope with the bad days. It’s so important for loved ones, family and friends to understand that it’s not ‘plain sailing’ even when you are doing well it’s easy for people to think it’s over, you are recovered however it’s ok to still struggle, it’s normal for recovery. It’s important to accept that recovery can take years and there will be blips and slips but this is expected.
This is my favourite image that shows what recovery is really like,

Have you heard any other myths or misconceptions that surround Eating Disorders that you think needs to be challenged?

Myths and Misconceptions

I Only Went And Did It!

This time last year I was going into an inpatient unit to begin a recovery programme. I was weak, had little energy and just walking up the stairs gave me palpitations and left me breathless. Last weekend I ran my first half marathon. Needless to say I am extremely proud at how far I have come!

When I was in the depths of anorexia I was addicted to exercise, I would sit on an exercise bike in the gym for hours. I could never run because I didn’t have the energy for such physical exercise and I could sustain a bike for much longer. This in itself shows me I was exercising for the wrong reasons. I wanted to exercise in any way that burnt the most calories, I didn’t care what exercise I was doing and I didn’t really enjoy the gym because I was exhausted but I felt compelled to go. If I didn’t then I was failing, I wasn’t burning calories and to me my mind told me I would put on weight and get fat.

Through the recovery programme and stopping exercise altogether I was able to see that I didn’t NEED exercise. I got my body back to healthy and then slowly reintroduced exercise in a controlled way.

It turns out that I did really enjoy running and because I was fuelling my body I had the energy to do it. When I was discharged from hospital I wanted to keep running but I didn’t have the confidence to do it alone so I found a running group and joined them once a week. Attending this first session took me out of my comfort zone because I was nervous around people, I knew that I would be the ‘new girl’ and that made me very anxious. However I knew that I needed to be challenging these fears and so I went along. This is one of the best things I have EVER done, they were lovely, welcoming and supportive. 

From here I fell in love with running, I loved that my body was getting stronger with every run and I was achieving things I never thought I could. The eating disorder was so consuming that I was never able to look to the future. I decided to sign up to a half marathon as something to work towards. All of my life I told myself that I wish I could run a half marathon and it never felt achieveable.
The run took a lot of preparation and a lot of fuel to keep me training strong. Learning to listen to what my body needs as opposed to restricting what it can have has taken a while to achieve but I’m proud that I have recovered enough to be able to do this.

When I go for runs I don’t think about how many calories I’m burning or weight I am loosing, I focus on how strong my body is getting and what I am achieving.

On Sunday I ran Coventry half marathon and I’m so proud that my body is fit and healthy enough to do it. The buzz from finishing was incredible! Nothing and no one can ruin my mood this week!

Now I focus on what my body can do not what it can’t. I focus on nourishment instead of restriction and I now train to be strong not skinny.

Your body is an amazing thing, you just have to treat it right.

Mx

I Only Went And Did It!

My Road to Recovery

Having an eating disorder leads you into a different world, dark, self-absorbed and narrow. I found that I lost focus of the real world and didn’t (or couldn’t) see what was around me whether it be people, places, or family. My eating disorder became apparent while I was at university. It was there before but I didn’t realise it, it happens gradually to begin with and then when you realise what is happening it is to late.

At my worst and before I knew it I was living on less than 100 calories a day, visiting the gym twice a day. Every single calorie that passed my lips had to be accounted for. I say I was living but I wasn’t I was existing. 

I was stuck in a cycle that I couldn’t seem to get out of. I’d lose weight to the point where I couldn’t take anymore, i’d get some help and reintroduce food until my weight was approaching healthy and then I would panic and lose weight again, the cycle would then begin again. My problem was that I was trying to recover on my own in my own surroundings but I wasn’t strong enough. I was so absorbed in the illness and the deceit that it brought that I would pretend I was eating and not exercising, telling the professionals what I thought they wanted to hear. As I lost weight my mood became affected, I slipped further and further into depression that I could see no way out. I wanted it to end, I wanted the constant battle in my head to stop. And I almost got my wish. Anorexia nearly killed me.

Reaching rock bottom made me see that I did need help and more importantly that I wanted help but the only way I could get the right help was by being in hospital. Two days after this realisation I arrived at an inpatient unit in Warwick with my suitcase and terrified by what I was doing. 

It was a completely different world, routine, structure and a place where all possible control was taken away at the door. Knowing I had to eat and couldn’t exercise made my panic because it was what I was most scared of, or so I thought. Waking up and not having to go to the gym for hours was actually a relief. I was physically and mentally exhausted. 

I won’t lie, I hated every second of inpatient treatment but looking back it was the best decision I have ever made.
I may not be fully recovered because I don’t think that actually exists but I am so far down the road to recovery that I am finding peace with myself, I’m doing things I never thought possible and I’m finally living my life. I think that someone will always have the eating disorder within them and I’ll be tested at challenging times in my life but I’m recovered and recovering and I will continue to work hard every day because I never want to be in that place. I have freedom, I have a family and I’m in a happy relationship. I have everything to live for.

Inpatient treatment and therapy took me back to basics, learning to eat again, learn to like my body and develop a healthy relationship with food. I soon learnt that eating disorders are not about food or weight they develop as a way to show that you are struggling. I was struggling with something that stems right back to childhood. En eating disorder comes from a need to control something when all other areas in your life are out of control.

Since leaving hospital and getting to such a great place I have been writing a recovery blog ThisIsMeRecovery. I wanted to do this to help people who are struggling with eating disorders, sharing my experience and journey and how I got to where I am. 

If you are really struggling and you are given the option of an inpatient treatment please go for it. I know I wouldn’t be here today to tell my recovery story if I hadn’t have got intervention when I did. Recovery is possible, you just have to decide that enough is enough, you need to be ready and want recovery. You need to work hard and trust the process because it works.
Mx

My Road to Recovery

A Letter To My Younger self

If you had to write a letter to ‘your younger self’ what would you say? I was asked this question and it really got me thinking. This is such a valuable thing to do.

My letter to my younger self:

Hey there little one,

You probably don’t recognise me now. You won’t recognise me for the happy, healthy person that you see before you. I write you this letter looking back at the quiet shy little girl who was hiding in her own shadow. I just want to take you in my arms and reassure you that you will get through this. You will get through this and come out of the other side a better person.

Things were difficult for you, I can see that now. I can see how you were struggling with so many things, so many thoughts going around in that little mind of yours. You were carrying the world on your shoulders and no one could see your struggle. No one could see the pain in your eyes, the regret in your heart and the damage that was done. No one could see that you were about to hit the self-destruct button. 

Looking back I can see the torture you were going through. I understand why you did what you did, I understand where your eating disorder came from and I know you always asked yourself ‘why me’ ‘why is this happening to me’ but I’m afraid that bad things happen to good people. You were a good person, and I’m telling you this now because I know you never believe that. Somehow you thought you deserved this, for not speaking out and getting the help that you so needed and deserved.

I’m sorry for what you went through, I’m sorry for how I treated you. You should never have gone through this alone.

You have been on quite a journey- a journey that however hard has taught you so much. A journey that will continue to teach you and show you who you truly are.

When you get to uni try and enjoy it- it’s meant to be the best years of your life. I want you to find the work life balance. You can never have too many friends. These people that you will be spending all of your time with will be friends for life, you are going to need to keep them close, you will need them one day. Go out with them, socialise, get drunk and spend your Saturday’s hungover and eating pizza on the sofa. Whatever you do do not isolate yourself, don’t put too much pressure on yourself and work 24/7. You can only do your best, and your best is more than good enough. Uni should be the best years of your life, make memories that you can look back on and smile.

When your struggling remember it is ok to ask for help. You are going to need help along the way and that’s ok. You need to be open and honest with those who care about you and any professionals that want to help you. Don’t resist help. When treatment is offered to you I want you to promise me that you will take it- jump at the opportunity and don’t let go. You are going to need treatment to get better and the sooner you get it the easier your life will be. The sooner you start down your road to recovery the more of your life you will have to live. You will soon realise just how precious your life is, don’t waste it punishing yourself. Don’t waste it punishing yourself for something that isn’t your fault. Take the help and start to work through recovery. Your uni course can wait- there is no pressure to finish your degree, your health comes first.

Forgiveness, this is something that you find difficult but you need to forgive yourself, no one blames you for this. You just experienced something no-one should ever have to and as a child you were given too much responsibility. You had to grow up long before your time but that isn’t your fault and wasn’t your choice. I know you blame yourself for keeping it all in, suppressing your feelings and trying to protect everyone around you but that wasn’t your job then and it isn’t now. You were the child, you are the teenager and you are not responsible for other people. They can and will look after themselves. I know you have done all you can to protect them but you are destroying yourself in the process. Forgive yourself for not getting the help when you needed it and stop blaming yourself. Stop feeling guilty.

You struggle to express your emotions but I want you to remember that it’s healthy and normal to be angry. Feeling anger does not make you a bad person, people wont judge you. It’s important to express anger when you feel it, you have been bottling up your emotions and deep down in the mix you do feel a lot of anger, you just don’t allow yourself to really feel it because it’s uncomfortable. Your allowed to. Considering the circumstances you have every right to feel anger, the sooner you let yourself feel this without the guilt that comes with it the healthier you will be. 

You are going to experience a sense of deep loss, it will feel like grief and it will hurt as you let go of all that you have known. But grief is a process, at first you will be in denial but this is where you must listen to me. This is really happening, there is no denying it. You are seriously ill and the sooner you accept that the sooner you will be ready to get help. Loss is a horrible feeling but it is just that, a feeling that you will overcome. Grief gets better with time. Give yourself time.

Most importantly of all I want you to remember just how loved you are. You are about to embark on the biggest journey of your life and there will be dark times ahead of you, times where you feel like giving up and wanting to end it all, but if you listen to my letter to you you will get through it. 

You will discover the real you and that is going to be such an exciting time. The eating disorder has taken over your life, sucking the life out of you and leaving you the shell of the person that you were. The person you see before you has been pushed and pulled and shaped by the eating disorder, it’s not real. You are about to discover the real you, you will find new hobbies and interests and make so many new friends. Enjoy this process. You will look back in years to come and see just what you have overcome, there is hope. Be strong. Life is waiting for you.
Mx 

What would you say to your younger self? Have a go 🙂 

A Letter To My Younger self