I have always been self conscious about my weight. Even as a young child it was always on my mind. I don’t know exactly why I developed anorexia. When I was about 15 I decided that I needed to loose weight. I thought I would be happier and more popular if I was thin. I gradually cut out foods and would constantly lie saying I had eaten already. The weight dropped off so quickly and I started to get a buzz from the numbers going down. Over the summer holidays I started exercising and eating less and less.
When I went back to school in September people were shocked. I had basically become half the person I was. My parents were so worried and brought me to the GP who diagnosed me with anorexia. I nodded and agreed to a generic eating plan but deep down had no intention of following it. I was referred into a public hospital where I attended once a week for a support group. But nothing changed. My mind was still focused on being thin. I eventually couldn’t keep going at such a low weight and collapsed. I spent three months as an inpatient being fed. I played the system and ate my way out of there. Nothing changed in my mindset. I left the hospital with the intention of loosing all the weight again. Which I did.
During this time I did manage to sit my leaving cert. How, I don’t know, because all my mind could think about was food. I actually did well. Probably because I used studying as an excuse not to eat. After my leaving cert I collapsed again. The lowest weight I had ever been. I woke up in a and e with a drip in my arm. I was terrified there was calories in the drip. That is how distorted my thinking was. I spent two weeks in a general hospital ward being fed through a tube in my nose. Even though I was about 5 stone I still found the energy to run up and down the stairs so I wouldn’t gain too much weight. After two weeks I got a place in a private hospital where I started an intensive in patient programme. It worked for a while but I just could never get my head around recovery. I didn’t want to gain weight.
I spent three years in and out of there until they told me I was a chronic anorexic who would never recover. For most of college I was still underweight and extremely controlling of my food. Weight gain terrified me. My parents stuck by me through it all and even came up and sat with me while I ate meals. They never gave up on me and that is something I can never thank them for enough. Life finally started to change when I went on my J1. I was away from past demons and learnt how to live by myself. I enjoyed that summer so much and finally felt free. I came back a different person. I spent about a year at a healthier weight. I thought this was finally my recovery point.
The following year I started my nursing internship and I think the stress and routine change threw me. I started eating more and more because I felt It would help me feel better. It never did. I gained a lot of weight and felt even worse about myself. I tried everything to stop myself but what I found the most frustrating was that to the outside world I looked recovered because I wasn’t skeletal any more but to be truthful the torment of binge eating was probably worse than any stage of my anorexia. I tried every fad diet, pill and slimming aid possible but of course nothing worked because I would still stuff myself with food. This continued for about two years. I started exercising and found a new love of resistance training. I still had a bad relationship with food so the weight never shifted and I got even more frustrated. At this stage I had 12 years of living with eating disorders and I was at my lowest point mentally.
Last year, on the 1st January 2014 I took a progress picture. I decided I wanted to change my life once and for all. I spent a month or two not making any real progress. In March I joined Westwood gym in Clontarf. This is where everything changed for me. I met with Stephen Kenny Gains, one of the personal trainers in the gym. He set me a programme based around heavy weight lifting and I became hooked. The endorphins I got after a session put me in such a good frame of mind that everything started falling into place. The weight started coming off and I was becoming happier by the day. I was becoming stronger physically and mentally. And I loved it. It took me a year to where I am today but honestly I am glad it took me that long because I know my progress is sustainable. My strength has hit a new level with his help, setting personal bests including a deadlift of 110kgs. Westwood gym has literally become my second home over the past year. There is a brilliant atmosphere thanks to a great group of trainers and members. No matter what kind of a day i’m having a good gym session never fails to put me in a better mood.
I still struggled a bit with nutrition. I was never sure if I was eating the right foods and tended to avoid certain foods because I was terrified they would bring on a binge. Peanut butter being the main food! I got in touch with Amanda from recalibrated bodies. She was so supportive through my fears of eating higher carbs and has helped me so much in creating a balanced way of eating. I now eat a wide variety of foods without feeling the need to over or under eat. For the first time in a long time I can say I have a healthy relationship food.
My life now revolves around fitness and being healthy. I fit in my gym sessions around shift work no matter what. My main reason for this is because I know I never want to go back to my two former lives. I have treated my body so badly for so long that I make sure I do what keeps me healthy in body and mind. I train 6 times a week but wouldn’t have it any other way. I have also become part of a great community on instagram #irishfitfam It sounds mad but I have made some brilliant friends through this social media. There is great support and positivity among the ‘irishfitfam’. I use my instagram as a diary of my fitness and nutrition and find it such a positive outlet. When I posted my transformation picture I was overwhelmed by how many people commented and supported me.
In June I decided to compete in my first physique competition under the guidance of Stephen. I am now just over a week out and have loved the whole process. To see how my body has changed has been so motivating. I know competing could have brought up old feelings of restriction but it hasn’t at all. I have done it slowly with no harsh deficits, no super restrictive diet and no endless hours of cardio. Whatever happens on the day I am proud of how far I have come. Winning for me is simply getting on stage and finally being proud of my body.
To anyone who is suffering from any type of eating disorder my main piece of advice is to never give up. It took me nearly 12 years to figure out how to regain my life but it was worth it. You have to want to recover for yourself and no one else. You are the driving force in your recovery. Everything happens for a reason in life and I do believe I went through some of the toughest times of my life in order to become a stronger and more determined person. If I can help even one person by sharing my story I feel it is worth while.