Positive motivation is everything.

Would you run a half marathon, on your own, in the pouring rain, with no encouragement and no one to motivate you? Maybe you would but it is hard work. 

Would you run a half marathon, with 40 running friends, in the pouring rain, with motivation, encouragement, support and the most amazing positive energy you can imagine? (Filled with smiles, laughs and selfies) Yes you would. I know which I would prefer.

As someone who has run a half marathon alone with no one around for encouragement I can tell you that ok so it may be possible, but it is in no way fun and it’s a tough mental battle from the start line. I am also lucky enough to have been in the 2nd scenario just yesterday.

The reason for my post isn’t to talk about any specific marathon or even running as a topic but what became evident to me yesterday as I crossed the finish line of Warwick Half Marathon is just how amazing and powerful it is to be part of a group of like minded people. People who pass on advice, discuss what to wear before a race, get excited together, meet at the start line, push each other through their mental barriers and then regroup at the finish line and share each other’s achievements and pride. That just sums up Run Like A Girl Leamington.

Before I joined a running group I couldn’t understand the appeal, but one session with the group and the love and support became apparent. You don’t just become a member of a running group you become a part of something much bigger. Without sounding soppy or cliched you do gain a family, a running family and the best of friends. I have made friends who I feel I have known for years, friendships that will last for years to come.

Before the run I had doubts, I worried that my injury wouldn’t hold out, that my legs were too tired before I started, that I’d have to stop, that I just wouldn’t do it. Being sat on the groups Facebook page the night before with everyone sharing their worries and others giving advice and showing support my nerves were eased and I just had a knowledge that it was going to be ok. The positivity of RLAG would be enough to get me round. Then on the morning of the race when the rain was lashing down and it was a truly miserable morning my annoyance at the weather didn’t last long when I met up with the ladies before the run. We were all frustrated with the rain but we were able to see the funny side and we were facing it together. During the run I didn’t have time to really doubt myself because I was running with and talking to the RLAG ladies and the time flew by. I won’t say it was easy because we all had our struggles and moments of weaknesses with challenges to face but the power of the group seemed to make that process easier. When you run on your own it is easy to let your mind take over and as humans we can be very critical of ourselves. Go for the same run with a few friends and you stop criticising yourself so much and focus on the positives and begin to enjoy it.

Even families get involved with one of the Running Leaders little girls making lots of little bags of sweets with motivational messages to hand out to the group as we ran round. Is that not amazing?

The route was filled with supporters but what made it even more motivating to get round was that those RLAG ladies who were not racing that day still came out, in the rain to support us and encourage us from the side lines. The support a running group can give you is endless. I don’t like calling it a group because to me these ladies are more than that they are friends. 

Now this isn’t a plug to get more members for RLAG and I’m not saying you need to go and join a group to be a successful runner because that’s not necessarily true. What I am saying is it is truly amazing what you can achieve when surrounded by the right people. Never underestimate the power of a group of women, never underestimate the power of a group of women wearing running shoes and definitely do not underestimate the power of the RLAG army.

Ladies you really are amazing and it’s an absolute pleasure to be a Running Leader for you.

M x 

Positive motivation is everything.

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

Stamp Out The Stigma

This month is National Eating Disorder Awareness month. More specifically 21st-27th of February. It’s time to stamp out the stigma of mental health and give it the attention, education and understanding that it needs. There are many recognised mental health illnesses that seem to be accepted as an illness but personally I don’t think Eating Disorders are received so well.
The goal of NEDA week is to put the spotlight on just how serious Eating Disorders are. 

Stamp out the Stigma

As someone who has been through the pain and suffering of an Eating Disorder and also seeing friends suffer I am well aware of the stigma attached. “Just eat” and “it’s just a phase” or “you look better, you’ve put on weight” are common misconceptions of what an Eating Disorder is and highlights exactly what is wrong with society and its attitude. It all boils down to a lack of understanding.

It’s a complicated illness – it’s not about weight and it’s definitely not about food so I can see where the confusion lies. If I were to ask 10 people on the street the question “What is an Eating Disorder?” I would put money on at the very least 9 people telling me it’s when someone doesn’t want to eat and loses lots of weight or wants to be thin. On the outside looking in that is exactly what an Eating Disorder is but it’s not. Not eating and losing weight is not an Eating Disorder- it is the outcome and consequence of the eating disorder.

Educating Society

What is an Eating Disorder? 

It is a psychological illness. It is a way of coping and feeling in control when everything else in life feels out of control. An Eating Disorder or preoccupation with weight loss acts as a mask of what is really going on. A person suffering from an Eating Disorder often struggles to show emotions and feelings, instead of dealing with these emotions because they are to difficult to contemplate they are pushed away and weight may become the new focus. By shifting focus the sufferer doesn’t need to deal with what is really happening inside. Weight and food are often focused on because they are something that can be controlled. You can control exactly what you eat and you can control your weight because of this. Eating Disorders may stem from wanting to feel better about yourself, that’s when people begin to exercise and lose weight. Before long they have found something they can do, something they are good at. This temporarily improves esteem and mood but it’s never good enough- that’s when the Eating Disorder has taken over.

What Eating Disorders LOOK like:
– desire to lose weight

– diets or diets gone wrong

– a phase

– someone being difficult

– attention seeking

What Eating Disorders are ACTUALLY about:

– self-hate

– inability to deal or express emotions

– being a perfectionist but never feeling good enough

– feeling out of control but trying your hardest to gain control

– self-destruction

– mental and physical pain

– poor self-esteem

– feeling unworthy and inadequate

Why is awareness to important?

I mentioned self- destruct because ultimately this is what is happening. When going through an Eating Disorder the sufferer knows they are destroying themselves but they can’t stop, they are too far into the illness to make the changes and this is why medical intervention is so important. If you can recognise the signs early on you can help prevent the downward spiral that happens so quickly. This is where my first list comes in. If you see this then more often than not someone will be internally struggling with an Eating Disorder. NEDA week is all about spotting the signs and showing how important treatment is.

The more people understand Eating Disorders and stop ignoring them hoping they will go away the more chance there is of helping the individual. Mental health issues don’t just go away, people don’t just start eating again, mental health issues ante real and need work and support and time.

If you have learnt one thing from this blog then it has served its purpose.

  Please read and share my blog, help National Eating Disorder Awareness continue to educate people and dispel the myths of any eating disorder. Awareness isn’t a cure but early intervention may save someone’s life.

M x

Stamp Out The Stigma

What are you going to START for Lent? 

What are you going to START for Lent? 
I can’t believe it’s that time of year again. Pancake day is just around the corner and so that means Lent will soon begin! Thousands of people will be giving something up on Wednesday 10th February. Some may be doing it for fun, others to prove a point and many for religion.

I’ve done the giving up chocolate for Lent every year since I don’t know when. I did it for the wrong reasons, as a way to deprive myself and lose weight. So this year as part of recovery rather than depriving myself or restricting myself of something I have put a spin on the typical idea of Lent. This year instead of giving something up I wanted to take something on. 

I am going to start finding one positive thing in every day. Sometimes I feel that life is so busy, with work and jobs that need to be done that we don’t have time to reflect. We are quick to notice and complain about everything that hasn’t gone well in the day that we fail to see everything that was right. This links in to mindfulness and the work I have started doing on this. 

Every day I will be finding the positives in my day. 

I will also do doing some form of writing each day throughout Lent, whether this be a blog post or working on my book

What are you going to START for lent?

M x

  

What are you going to START for Lent? 

Gratitude Challenge – My Week 3 & 4

   
Week 3 

Family
Too many people take their family for granted, and I’m sure we are all guilty of this at some stage or another. We take for granted that our family will always be there and we forget to focus on and cherish the little things. I’m proud to say that I don’t take my family for granted anymore. Whether it’s because I’m older now or from what we have been through together I am not sure. From the gratitude list Family would be what I for one am most grateful for. My family have been through a very tough time the last few years but we got through it, we got through it because we had each other. 

The most important thing that gratitude can teach us is to focus on what we have, not what our life lacks. I have an amazing family, not only are they my relations, but they are my friends, my support network and a comfort. 

So how am I going to show my family how grateful I am to have them around? Keeping it simple and telling them. 

Week 4 

Family member:                                              So week 3 was gratitude for your family and week 4 leads on from this by a specific family member. That’s a tough one as I can’t possible choose just one, but I am sure over the course of this 52 week challenge I will get to cover them all.

I will start here with my sister. She is one amazing person. Not only is she there for me with advice and guidance, a place I can pop to for a coffee and a chat whenever I need, the general sisterly duties. But she has been so much more. My sister was the first person I trusted and turned to when I was suffering with anorexia. I knew she probably suspected long before I admitted it myself but I opened up to her first because I knew out of everyone she would ‘understand’ or if she didn’t understand she would still know what to say and what to do.

It was with her encouragement that I went into hospital because she told me that in the end everything would be OK, she promised and for some reason when my sister promises I know it’s going to be ok. My sister was the one who took me into hospital and made it that little bit easier. I still believe that if I hadn’t had her support then I would have been resistant to being admitted into hospital and this would have put me in a very difficult situation. I know it would have taken a section to get me there but she gave me the gentle push I needed. I know that at the time she felt guilty for taking me there, but it’s the best thing anyone has done for me because it made me get the help I needed. 

My sister is amazing and she is my best friend, I couldn’t imagine my life without her and I couldn’t be anymore grateful to her, what she has done for me, all of the advice and cuddles she has given me, she has been my support when I have needed her most. She has been stronger than she should ever have to be for me and my family, and now that I am well again I hope that I can be there for her just as much.

Oh and I am also very grateful that she has given me two gorgeous nephews 🙂

A true sign of gratitude is becoming emotional when you think about what you have and my eyes are welling up just writing this. I love you sis, if you ever were to read this, I couldn’t have done it without you. I can’t thank you enough but I am grateful every single day for what you have done for me.
M x

Gratitude Challenge – My Week 3 & 4

Gratitude 

A big part of recovering from any illness is being able to see clearly, that you are surrounded by so many things to be grateful for. I was blind to this for so long, I became so self-focuses and inward thinking that my life became food, exercise, negativity. My life became existence and survival, and even then I wasn’t doing a very good job!

So when I was on Twitter the other day I saw the ‘Gratitude Challenge’ a challenge that lots of people seemed to be taking on in January. This is a 52 week challenge whereby each week you can think about and appreciate or show gratitude to something. 

  
I saw this as the perfect opportunity to truly reflect on what I have to be grateful for that I was blind to for so long. I may not post each week but over the course of 2016 I will be answering to each of these weeks. 

Who would like to join my on this challenge? Why not set up your own blog posts and tag me in them, or comment underneath mine. Have you too been blind for so long, have you had an illness that has taken away your focus on the important things in your life? Or has life simply got in the way meaning you haven’t been able to stop and think about all of these important things? 

So here goes…

Week 1: Why start this challenge?

It’s important to be able to appreciate what you have in your life, I personally lost sight of this but I’m finally reconnecting with everyone and everything around me so I saw this as an opportunity to spend half an hour each week refocusing and showing my gratitude to the things that make up the most important parts of my life.

  
Week 2: Spouse or significant other

I have been with my boyfriend now for almost 5 years and he has been amazing. He has seen me at my very worst on many occasions yet he has stood by me throughout. Through my hospital admission he was there most evenings and made sure that I had a visitor every day. He has been there through the tears, the tantrums, the depression and anxiety attacks and he has never judged me. I am truly grateful to him for still being with me and I know that most men wouldn’t have stuck around in the circumstances. He has been there for me in any way he can. It hasn’t been easy but I could rely on him to be there whenever I need him. One of the nicest things for me through recovery was to be able to see how he changed as I got better. It was nice to become a real girlfriend again and begin to give back. 

I could go on and on about how grateful I am to my significant other but actions speak louder than words. Another part of why I am doing this challenge and looking at what’s in my life is also to take part in some small act of kindness to show how grateful I am. These only need to be very small but they will show I care.

So what am I going to do for my boyfriend that shows my gratitude for him?

I think a cup of tea in bed every morning is just the ticket!

Thank you for reading and I hope to see some of you joining in the challenge.

M x

Gratitude 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! 

You may have noticed that I have been quiet for a little while, but I’m back and ready for some serious blogging in 2016!

Who else reflects on their year on New Years Day? I do, I like to look back and see what has gone well and what I would like to change.

What can I say, it’s been a challenging year to say the least! However although I spent most of it in hospital recovering from anorexia, I’m so glad I did. It was awful, painful, I hated every single day and was desperate to leave but I stuck it out. Somehow I had it in me to see the treatment through. I can now be proud of how far I have come. Not only have I set myself on the road to recovery I have also set myself up to entering 2016 strong and healthy. I’m one for New Years resolutions, well setting them at least! Every year for around 6 years I’ve sent that New Year’s Eve text apologising to my family for what I’ve put them through and promising next year will be different. It never was. I was saying and promising what I thought everyone wanted to hear. On 31st December 2014 I made the same promise. This time I stuck to it, I got help and last night when I made that same promise, that next year will be different I can be confident that it will, because I’ve already taken the steps I need to fulfill that promise. I’m in such a good place compared to what I was that I’m entering 2016 feeling strong and healthy. This year my goal isn’t to survive the year as it was last year but I have so much more I want to achieve. My goal isn’t to learn how to eat properly again, isn’t learning to feed myself or tolerate myself, it’s not purely existing but to run my first half marathon and then my second and third for charity. This time last year I could only of dreamed of being able to do that.
I have big hopes for 2016, I can’t wait to be the best I can be, focusing on my career, my little business venture, starting my new role as a running leader, running my half marathons, being the kind of daughter, sister, auntie, girlfriend that my family deserves. Recovery is still very important to me and I will be working on this everyday, making sure that everything I do is having a positive effect on me, building my confidence and making me as happy as I can be.

I’ve got big dreams and I can’t wait to see where this year takes me!!

Happy New Year to you all, remember recovery is possible. I’m always here to give advice and share my experiences with you so please just ask.

Let’s raise a glass (of prosecco, not water this year 😉 ) to a healthy year.

M x

  

Happy New Year