It’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week right now and so I decided I’d share my story with you. It’s not dramatic, or extreme, I was never clinically diagnosed with an eating disorder, I’ve never been anything other than a normal, healthy weight, but I do believe I had disordered eating, and it was probably more recently than I like to admit.

Snapseed

What Is An Eating Disorder?

Before I begin, let’s define what an eating disorder is. When we hear the words ‘eating disorder’ our minds usually jump straight to anorexia or bulimia, something reserved just for those who are hospitalised because they’re so sick that their bodies can’t function anymore. Yet according to the NHS’s website, an eating disorder is categorised as ‘having an unhealthy relationship with food’ or ‘being obsessed with your body shape or weight’. Thinking about these two definitions, it opens up the moniker to a lot more people than you’d think. I wonder how many of you reading this HAVEN’T gone through a period in life where you’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food, aka feeling guilty about eating something, having a binge, eating a severely reduced number of calories to change your body shape etc? And how many of you haven’t at one point been obsessed with how your body looks. And let me say there’s a difference between wanting to lose weight to be healthy, and wanting to lose weight because we’ve been told by society that a size 8 is healthy and if you’re a size 12 with even just a millimetre of extra flesh on your tummy that you’re not healthy.

My Eating Disorder Story

So keeping this in mind, I’ll come back to me, just for a short while. I’ve always been a tall person, and have varied around a size 10/12 my whole life. The main issues probably started when I was about 14, and at first it was just general teenagery, cutting out pictures from magazines of Lily Donaldson and bluetacking them to my wall, wishing I could look like her (and the fact I call this general teenagery is a problem in itself). Until I went on the pill at age 17 I had always been very thin, so when I started taking it I gained a little bit of weight, but I was for sure still totally healthy. I’m not entirely sure what triggered it but this is when the problem really started. I began to hate my body. I was discovering sex, I was at that awkward age where I wasn’t quite an adult but I also wasn’t really a young teenager anymore, all my peers were just as body conscious as me, Gossip Girl was a brand new TV show and Blake Lively and Leighton Meester were prefect and slim and that’s what everyone wanted to be, perfect and slim.

I don’t remember my first binge, but I would end up eating so much pizza/chocolate/sweets that I would get to the point where I felt horrifically nauseous and would have to stick my fingers down my throat to get it all out. It was a combination of feeling ill and not wanting that obscene amount of food being digested by my body. This would follow by vowing not to eat breakfast the next morning, taking these ridiculous açai tablets from Holland and Barrett that I thought would make me not hungry and literally putting a few drops of milk into a bowl with some cereal crumbs and leaving it on the side so that my mum would think I’d had breakfast.

Things seemed to hit an all time low at uni, I remember trying on a pair of flared yoga pants in Abercrombie & Fitch and being so horrified at what I saw in the mirror that I cried in the changing rooms. How on earth did the way I look make me cry?! How is it okay that we have a culture that made this a thing? The thing is this stayed with me into recent years. In 2016 before I found yoga, the amount of times I’d go and look in the mirror in my work toilets to see how my abs were looking is totally absurd. Counting calories was absurd. Berating myself for having too much chocolate was absurd. Making myself throw up for fear of getting fat was absurd. But I know I’m not the only one. The fact that I’m writing this article just proves that it’s still very much an issue. And maybe your eating disorder hasn’t characterised itself as sticking your fingers down your throat, but I can be certain in thinking that about 80% of people (and I say people because I know this is an issue for guys too) have had or still have some kind of complex with the food they eat or with the way their body looks. Some days those thoughts still creep in telling me I’m not good enough, but I’m happy to say that for the most part they’re no more.

Hating Your Body Isn’t Normal

You think Slimming World and Weight Watchers is good and healthy? You’re wrong. You think counting calories and dieting in any way is all good? If you’re doing it to lose weight or tone up or whatever (unless you’ve been specifically asked by your doctor to do so) because you’re unhappy with your body and you think being smaller will answer all your problems then in my opinion your relationship with food is in some way disordered. Do you think cave men and cave women used to have to count calories? Do you think neanderthalean women used to pull at their fat in front of a mirror? No. Because there’s a lot more to life than how we look and making ourselves feel guilty for not looking like people who are stuck on the front of magazine covers. We’ve got lost. And it’s not one person’s fault, it’s an amalgamation of the media, big companies feeding on our insecurities to make money and social media making us think life will be better if we look this way or if we look that way and magazines labelled ‘health’ magazines only putting pictures of scantily clad size 8 women on their covers. Sure, aim for health, aim for a body that works at its optimum and keeps you healthy, happy and safe, but do not think that being a size or being a certain weight means you’re not good or whole or any less of a human being than that ‘skinny girl’ on TV.

It makes me so fucking sad to think that there are people out there who are unhappy with their bodies. Covering up at the beach because they’re so self conscious of their tummy rolls. When did we decide that tummy rolls are a bad thing? Why do we think being slim is a goal? I can’t answer that for you. But what I can say is that whatever your body looks like right now it’s incredible. Perfection is fucking boring and not even worth your time pursuing because FUN FACT you will NEVER EVER be perfect so what’s even the point? Save yourself some pain and some time and start to just look in the mirror, and tell yourself that you’re beautiful and that you love yourself. Exercise because it makes you feel good and because you want to be that cool grandma when you’re 70 who still goes for walks and can run after her grandkids in the garden. Eat food that you know will make you feel good physically and eat something that makes your brain feel good every once in a while. Don’t restrict, live in abundance. Spread the feeling around. Teach your children to love themselves. This is how we eliminate eating disorders. This is how we make sure that no other teenager looks at herself in the mirror and hates what she sees.

Okay guys, so as many of you may know my blog was down for all of August (sad face), so alas I wasn’t able to do an August favourites post, but instead you get two for the price of one as I’m bringing August and September together into a joyous of harmony of things/places/eats I’ve loved over the past two months, lucky you!

Travel – Santorini, Greece

I have just got back from an incredible trip to Santorini with my friend Emma and it was honestly amazing! I am going to be doing a separate travel blog about Santorini and what we did and what I would recommend, but the major recommendation is to go there! It was bloody beautiful and Greek people are so so nice, they were the nicest people I have ever met. We stayed in a place called Abrazo 8 in Imerovigli and it was honestly stunning!

Eats – The Potato Project & MiiRo Icecream

A few weeks ago I was invited along to an evening of potato tasting (sounds weird but continue reading) at The Potato Project in Soho, where they specialise in jacket potatoes. We were served the entire menu and oh my good lord I was in potato heaven! It gave me so many ideas for meals to make myself and also I now know exactly where I’ll be going for a quick but delicious lunch when I’m next near central London, they were all amazing but our favourites were the wild mushrooms, spinach, blue cheese and truffle oil potato and the mozzarella, tomato and pesto sweet potato! Incredible!

pic by @all.about.anika

Next up on the food front is a new discovery… MiiRO ice creams, which are basically vegan magnums! Their slogan is ‘nice without the naughty’ but I tell you what I think they’re way more than nice, these ice creams are bloody delicious despite being free from all the crap in your usual ice creams (I won’t list them all I’ll be here for ever), and they come in three awesome flavours, chocolate hazelnut, peanut butter and salted caramel (my fave!) and you can get them from Ocado, Whole Foods, Planet Organic and As Nature Intended.

Eco Purchase – Washable Makeup Remover Pads

I did a big eco haul in September and I think my favourite purchase are these reusable and washable makeup remover pads from Amazon. I use coconut oil to remove my eye makeup and decided to buy these instead of continually throwing away cotton wool pads. I am super happy with them, they’re not quite as soft as cotton wool pads which some people may not love but they work perfectly and come out pretty clean in the wash!

Calm App – Meditation

I have been finding sticking to meditation really hard lately, I think it’s because whenever I do it I just sit and squirm for the ten minutes I set aside. Needless to say I know that it’s good for me, and my inability to stick to it just proves that. So I decided to try out the Calm App and I really liked the first one I did and decided to go for a year’s subscription! There are so many different things to choose from and I particularly love the ones you can do just before going to sleep.

Mel Well’s Self Love Week 2017

Last week I joined in with absolute babe and author of the best selling book The Goddess Revolution (read my review here) Mell Wells and her Self Love Week she was running on Instagram. Each day we had a challenge and I absolutely loved it! It definitely improved my relationship with myself that little bit more, and the fact that I didn’t find it all too difficult really showed to me the steps I’ve been taking over the past few years to truly love myself, although I still have a lot of work to do!

Wanderlust Event

My favourite event I went to over the past few months was most definitely Wanderlust which was held in Victoria Park in London a couple of weekends ago! I went along with my friend Poppy and some other yoga pals and it was such good fun. Doing yoga and meditating with thousands of people was an incredible experience and one I won’t forget. I hope they do more events like this in the future so check out their website and maybe see you as one very soon.

Today I got my laptop out to write a post reflecting on 2016, the good and the bad. As I typed and my taps on the keyboard formed words, I realised that my words were empty and meaningless. Today, for some reason, my mental state hasn’t been particularly positive. I have no idea why, sometimes my brain just defaults into negative mode and I find it very hard and often impossible to snap out of it (which is very common with many mental health issues, there is no simple way to get out of the mindset). I have spent the last couple of days doubting my social media, my blogging, my competence and myself as a person.

Putting yourself out there on social media on a daily basis, your ups and down, your feats and your failures, whilst often therapeutic is hard. When posts don’t do ‘well’ it can feel like a personal blow, your not just putting a product you created out there for the public to judge, you are putting yourself out there. I like to think of myself as an honest person, what I put on my social media channels is raw and honest. I don’t calculate posts, I don’t lie, I don’t embellish, I just post what I want to post and I try and be as honest as possible, sometimes maybe too honest, but that is just the way that I am.

This can lead to a negative self image, when you see other people being more ‘successful’ (and I am putting words like this in inverted commas because it’s all very silly to be ‘successful’ at ‘social media’) it can be hurtful. Some call it jealousy, some call it being bitter, I just call it a fact of social media, we compare, we self doubt, we have negative thoughts. In all honestly I love my Instagram page, but it can be hard to separate your feelings from it. For many many people, and to be honest, everyone but myself, I am doing really well. From feedback I have received, my account is great, I write good content, and I am motivating and inspirational, but unfortunately I don’t always see it like that. I am naturally self deprecating and more than often doubt myself, let’s just say I always struggled to write a cover letter writing about how amazing I am, because in my head that’s not what I am. Even with my knee injury and recovery, I see nothing extraordinary about it, in my head everyone would be the same, and I always am a bit surprised when people congratulate me on how well I am doing, and then I often move the subject swiftly onto something that doesn’t involve me and my triumphs as a central topic.

Whilst not being a ‘show-off’ isn’t a bad thing, I am learning that I need to have more self confidence, I need to believe in myself, I need to tell myself ‘You are the shit Hannah’ until I actually believe it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Rome wouldn’t have been built in the first place if Romulus (history lesson for you right here) didn’t believe in himself and think he was a proper dude. So, one of my reflections for 2016 is that I need to believe in myself. I need to believe in my talents, in my ability to help and inspire others who are wanting to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle, or those who are injured and are trying to not let their injury be a reason not to exercise or be active. I have learned that self comparison is the thief of joy. Nobody is like you, nobody can do what you do, and comparing yourself to someone else if like comparing a banana to a Christmas tree, their uses are completely different but they each have their own set of positive attributes and can bring equal amounts of joy (assuming you like bananas).

So what have I taken from this reflection process? We have to believe in ourselves, it’s of paramount importance. Self belief is the most important thing you will ever have. Cities were built on self belief, heck countries were built on self belief. We also can’t compare ourselves to others, look inside yourself and see your worth and see how it’s incomparable to anyone else. My biggest goal for 2017 is to change the way I think about myself, believe in myself, and trust that I will be successful.

Big love xoxo

IMG_1036 I got into healthy eating when I was living in Paris, and I was suffering from a really debilitating yeast allergy (that I am still plagued with) and I just decided I needed to do something, so after my 21st birthday celebrations had been and gone I decided to make some changes, and I cut sugar, fruit, wheat, dairy and alcohol out of my diet completely for six weeks, and I even did a 7 day detox (read about it here). I lost a lot of weight during those six weeks, and I felt amazing; no more midday tiredness, no more foggy brain, no more other nasty symptoms of my allergy. But it didn’t take long for me to go back to my old habits, and I’ve been fighting my cravings ever since. I have come to realise I have awful will power. I’m addicted to sugar, big time! I could eat a giant bar of Cadburys chocolate in one sitting and not even flinch. I still struggle with this, a lot. I work in the hospitality industry and I am faced with temptations every day, especially when I could have a pizza of my choice made for me at work by the chefs for free… I remember when I first started there, I asked one of the girls how they managed to stay so trim, as I was in total dismay at her tiny figure and the amount of pizza everyone ate (I soon discovered this girl just had good genes). IMG_0911 My allergy isn’t the only reason that I try to stay healthy. A healthy lifestyle gives you more energy, clears your skin, nourishes your hair, and of course, helps you lose weight. As a child and as a teenager, I could literally eat anything, and I was always skinny. And I know that if I still ate badly that I would probably be a healthy weight, and have a healthy BMI, but I also know that I would feel sluggish, and that I wouldn’t be happy. Just like most women, I have issues with body confidence. I have been plagued by it actually, and I know it sounds silly, because I know that I’m slim, but being happy with my body is still a work in progress for me, and being healthy inside and looking healthy outside, definitely helps me with my confidence issues.

I have spent a lot of time trying to make my lifestyle a lot healthier. I’ve pretty much cut out sugar, dairy and wheat, and before my operation in March I was going to the gym about five times a week, which is amazing for me as I used to come up with any excuse in the book not to go to the gym. Developing a healthy lifestyle hasn’t been easy for me, and I still struggle with it every day, but I try not to be too harsh on myself, as I honestly do believe that sugar is addictive, and as we all know, addictions are very hard to break. I also think that living in the UK does make it difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle. My friend Ellie recently went travelling to Australia, and she said that living a healthy lifestyle out there would be super easy, whereas here in the UK, healthy ingredients are extremely expensive, and often hard to find, and eating out doesn’t really give you many options; I can count on one hand the healthy eatery options that are available in Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre, and most of the salads that places offer are bland and boring, and come drizzled in high sugar salad dressings, which sort of defeats the point. I have a number of books that centre on a healthy lifestyle, and my favourites are:

  • I Quit Sugar and I Quit Sugar for Life – both by Aussie Sarah Wilson, who has created a programme to quit sugar completely.
  • Deliciously Ella – by Ella Woodward. I love this girl’s recipes! She follows a vegan, refined-sugar free diet, and although I am in no way a vegan, her recipes are great and so simple to follow. Her app is also really good, if you don’t want to buy her book just yet.
  • The Art of Eating Well – by Jasmine Hemsley and Melissa Hemsley. The Hemsley sisters have created tons of amazing and healthy recipes for loads of different situations, and their healthy philosophy is really great!
  • Get the Glow – by Madeleine Shaw. I only just bought this today, but I’ve had a read through it and her six week programme is great, she focuses on banishing junk food, refined sugar, but also on self-love, which is something I think most of us struggle with, I know I do!
  • The Body Book – by Cameron Diaz. I love this book! My housemate Chloe bought it for me as a sort of ‘good luck’ present before my operation (I know, how cute!), and it goes into such great scientific detail about leading a healthy lifestyle, as well as being really well written, that I instantly fell in love with Cameron and the book.

clean eating Having spent a lot of time working at leading a healthy lifestyle, here are the rules I tend to live by when it comes to eating well:

  1. Eat clean – this means making almost everything from scratch and making sure the food you buy doesn’t contain added sugar, sweeteners or preservatives.
  2. Cut out refined sugar – sugar, particularly fructose, is so bad for you, I won’t go into why, just read any of the books above to find out why. I also limit my intake of fruit, because although the sugar in fruit is healthy because it’s accompanied by fibre and is therefore absorbed in a different way to unrefined sugar, it still contains sugar, and too much of it is detrimental to your health.
  3. Avoiding wheat – wholewheat is good for you in moderation, but my stomach cannot handle it, so I avoid it completely. If I want pasta I buy Doves Farm brown rice pasta from my local health store, it’s so good!
  4. Avoiding dairy – This is a personal preference, I get really bad skin if I eat too much dairy. I do however eat natural greek yoghurt, and I use whey protein after workouts, mixing it with water. I’ve been drinking almond milk (unsweetened of course) for almost a year now and I love it!
  5. Treat yourself – Gigi Hadid told Miss Vogue ‘Eat clean to stay fit and have a cheat day to stay sane’, and I totally love this mantra. Kayla Itsines, Australian health guru and fitness Queen says in her H.E.L.P Guide that she advises her clients (who feel that they need a cheat meal) to have a 30-45 minute window, once a week, where they can eat what they want, and this helps them to stay sane.
  6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! – I try and drink as much water as I can throughout the day, especially when I’ve been to the gym. They say 2l-2.5l a day is the ideal amount of water, so aim for that, and you’ll probably start to feel great.
  7. Don’t starve yourself – Eating well does not mean eating less, trust me, I eat loads! When you eat well you don’t have to restrict yourself at all, because you’ll get full on the right foods.

My final tip, and something that I’ve found has really helped me, is to be accountable for what you eat. I’ve made a health and fitness Instagram account, where I post photos of my meals, motivational quotes and other things regarding my healthy lifestyle, and I also follow other girls who do the same. It really helps me be not only accountable for my actions, but it also makes me feel proud, and when I’m having a bad day, looking through my Instagram feed and seeing loads of other girls being so healthy makes me want to try harder, it’s a really great community! My account name is @hannahrosefitspo, if anyone is interested! Thanks for reading, HR xx