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Posts Tagged ‘Eating Disorders’

In January 2010 I knew I had an Eating Disorder. I’d lost 3 stone on the second round of LighterLife, binged on several bowls of cereal and gone to the University counsellor, where I learned I might have a problem with binge-eating. I stopped doing LighterLife, hoping beyond hope I wouldn’t put weight on whilst I was sorting out therapy options. I went home for Christmas and binged for 2 weeks on anything and everything I could find. Despite this, I was still a lot slimmer, and the glimmer of hope LighterLife gave me – that I would lose weight – was still alight. I didn’t know how severe my bingeing was, or would get, but I thought I’d probably lose weight each week in therapy.

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So in the January sales I purchased a size 12 (UK) pair of jeans. My size 14 jeans were getting looser, and on LighterLife you learn to buy clothes quickly because your body changes quickly. I’d never bought a pair of size 12 jeans before, nor had I ever been able to fit into them. My top half was already a size 8 – I told you my bum was big – as I lost my weight quickly from my waist, so size 12 jeans meant I my thighs were finally catching up and I was well on my way to the body I’d always wanted.

Life didn’t really go to plan, as it rarely does, and I gained weight after stopping LighterLife . I continued to gain weight during therapy, as I started to realise how skewed my view of food and weight really was. I was never going to be happy unless I was an all over size 8. It didn’t matter what my body wanted, it only mattered that I get there and stay there, because then everything would be fine.

I’ve still got the size 12 pair of jeans. They don’t mean so much to me anymore. I was devastated when I gained weight, the dream of being able to pull the jeans over my thighs and do up the buttons slowly ebbing away. I don’t want to let the pair of jeans go, size 12 is an achievable size for my thighs, but instead of believing that size 8 was the only size for me, I’m going to let my body choose what size it wants to be when I’ve sorted my mind out. It’ll be a long, long time before I can get into those jeans, but having opened the wardrobe and seen them sitting there, I can safely say my attitude to my body isn’t perfect, but has changed drastically.

Hayley Emma

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Last night Inside the Body Beautiful aired on BBC3. Thanks to all of you that tuned in, and hopefully people in other countries can view it online in the near future.

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I watched it with from behind the sofa with my family. I mean, my family weren’t behind the sofa… I’d seen it last week as the Producer travelled down to Bristol to show me, yet all I could remember was the shock of seeing myself on screen and from different angles. As in, I don’t have to see myself from behind. I never see my back or what I look like sitting down. And that was difficult.

So far I’ve had positive responses (hooray!). As I said in my last post, I did it to raise awareness for binge eating disorder and EDNOS, and if I could help just one person then it was worth it. A friend texted me last night to say that I’d helped her understand binge eating more, so to me, that’s a win.

I also wanted to get across that Binge Eating Disorder is an Eating Disorder, and EDNOS, just like Anorexia and Bulimia. It doesn’t mean a person is lazy, greedy or ‘just likes food’. There’s an actual psychological problem behind it, as with other Eating Disorders. People comfort eat, restrict or purge for different reasons, it’s not always so straight forward as they want to eat more, they don’t want to eat or they want to eat and then… want to purge. Because … that doesn’t really make sense, does it?

But accepting that you may have a problem, be it an Eating Disorder, disordered eating or comfort eating, there are so many ways to combat it. I personally chose person-centred therapy and my binge eating has improved in the last year. Feeling bad about myself, thinking i was just greedy really didn’t get me anywhere, so if you’re going to comment and try to shame me or any readers about their eating and bodies, then your comment won’t be published.

If you would like some more resources to get more of an idea about Eating Disorders and stuff, please check out my Useful Info page as there’s some … useful info over there.

I’d be really interested to know what you guys thought of it, then next post I’ll stop talking about how I’m now a TV star and get back to discussing when I’m going to start collecting cats to fulfil my crazy cat lady destiny.

Hayley Emma

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In a week, I’ll be on national TV.

I am pooping my pants.

For you English readers, Inside the Body Beautiful – How Cosmetic Surgery Works, the first of a two-part series, is on tonight on BBC3. It explores ‘the science beyond the most popular beauty and cosmetic treatments’.

Inside the Body Beautiful – How Fat Works is next week and … I’ll be on it. Yeah. Not nervous at all.

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I’m seeing a clip of the program tomorrow so I know what will be shown so I won’t have to watch the television hiding behind a cushion ready to cringe at any moment. Although that will probably still happen.

I’m not sure whether I should put it on my Facebook. I have let my friends know, but it’s a toss-up between – do I let everyone know so no one will be surprised to see my face, or just let anyone who wants to see it …see it?

The whole point of me taking part in this documentary is to spread awareness of binge-eating disorder and EDNOS, as well as compulsive overeating and negative body image, particularly associated with obesity.

It’s not for popularity, and I don’t know what I’m expecting. I really hope that someone will see the program and understand why they overeat when they try so hard to lose weight, or that they’re not alone in wanting to hide from the world because they think they’re physically disgusting.

I know there will be others, who see it and scoff, claim I’m making excuses and really it’s as simple as eating less and exercising more. Unfortunately, I know from first-hand experience that it’s not so simple, psychological reasons often play a vital role in losing weight and keeping weight off.

I used to be ashamed of my body and my Eating Disorder. I still am, to a certain extent. I’m by no means recovered, but I’m on  my way to something I didn’t know existed.

I’m so much closer to a healthy weight now, thanks to person-centred counselling, than I ever was with LighterLife. I’m a long way off, but how I’m handling situations and processing emotions is different, and that is the key to being happy and healthy for me.

For the people in different countries… yeah I don’t know if someone will put this program on youtube. I will find out whether it’ll be available online and where, and I’ll record it, but I’ll have to have a think. I’d really like to pop it on this blog, because I know some of you want to see it, but then I copyright issues may crop up. So we shall see.

Hayley Emma

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Possibly triggering, talk of Anorexia and weight gain/loss, from the perspective of a younger me, who didn’t know details about Eating Disorders.

There was a girl in college who some assumed was Anorexic, myself included.

During my first year (and probably hers too) she was extremely thin, so much so that when she walked past she was a talking point. Her legs, which she always covered in tights and shorts, looked like they’d snap with the slightest force.

After a while I stopped seeing her. I thought maybe she had gone into treatment, maybe left college or even been in residential care. Not knowing anything in-depth about Eating Disorders back then, only having watched documentaries like Thin and Dana: The 8 Year Old Anorexic, I began looking for her. After all, as fascinating as an emaciated body is, I also felt a strong connection with Anorexia that I never fully understood until I started writing and reading blogs.

 

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The next year I noticed this girl who had the same colour hair, the same style, was the same height and had same face, but she was bigger. She was, I’m making an assumption here, overweight. Not by a lot, but she was noticeably bigger, most likely because she was fairly short.

I couldn’t believe it. I stared at her whenever I saw her. I couldn’t help it. In my mind, Anorexia was all about control, how could she have lost control? Surely she couldn’t be ok with her weight? But she was walking with so much confidence, I couldn’t understand it.

I longed to ask her but I was afraid she’d tell me it was none of my business. Which it wasn’t, as it still isn’t. So why do I bring it up? Because I saw her the other day. After staying at a heavier weight for at least a year, she was slimmer. But healthy-looking.

And I realised, I assumed she was Anorexic when I wasn’t as clued up about Eating Disorders, but that generalisation has stayed with me. I automatically assumed she was Anorexia, whereas now I think maybe she had Bulimia, or Binge-Eating Disorder, or EDNOS. Maybe she was a yo-yo dieter, or maybe she went through a rough time, a grievance or something that made her eating habits change and her weight fluctuate.

Or maybe she isn’t disordered at all, and the weight gain and loss was just natural, maybe she was just going through different stages in her life.

And it reiterated that it’s not possible to tell by a person’s appearance whether they have an Eating Disorder, never mind which Eating Disorder. Nor is it possible to tell what’s going through someone’s mind.

Do any moments stand out in particular when you realised how weight obsessed or Eating Disorder obsessed you are?

Hayley Emma

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So, Operation Well-I’m-Beautiful-So-Why-do-I-Give-A-Fuck has kind of fallen to the wayside on this blog. But not in real life.

The other day, someone said something intending to intimidate me. And it worked. I left the room feeling very small and especially stupid. I didn’t have a comeback even though on way home I knew exactly what I wanted to say (isn’t that always the way), but the chance to hit back was over.

On my way home, as well as thinking what I should have said, I also started focusing on chocolate. My go-to food when I’m feeling happy, sad, stressed… anything. So I started scheming, what to buy, how many shops to go in without raising suspicion, and how to hide the food from my family when I got home. I fixated on the ‘food is the answer’ myth and before I wouldn’t have let it go. I would have obsessed about it, so even if I resisted and went home without binge food, I would have been craving it for  hours, if not until I indulged.

However, somethings changed. Well, I’ve changed. I am taking responsibility for my actions and how I feel. As Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘no one can make you feel inferior without your consent’. I really understand that now.

 

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Instead of pure negativity, the rant, instead of following the predictable line of:

My God I am stupid, it’s not that I’ve suddenly realised it, it’s just they’ve sussed me out. So I’m stupid and fat. Great, I’ve got some much going for me…

There was a small voice that piped up with: You have a degree.

Instead of my self-esteem spiralling downwards and the negative thoughts rising up until they’re at the brim, so close to spilling over and having a good cry or scream, emotions that I’d normally stuff back down with food… this tiny voice offered a ray of hope.

Yeah, actually, I do have a degree. A degree doesn’t necessarily mean you’re intellectual, nor do you have to have a degree to be an intellectual, but it’s one thing that shows I’m not stupid. And I know how hard I had to work to get in to University, as well as actually complete the course.

And then, when I’d acknowledged that thought rather than slam it down as a pointless argument, convincing myself that I only just managed to get into Uni and struggled through so they really only had to give me a degree and besides, don’t most people have a degree these days? I clung to that thought, the little ray of hope.

And then I went with it. After a while of resisting the idea that maybe everything in the world isn’t shit, I hasten to add. I’m not going to make this sound easy, talking myself out of a binge is fucking hard.

I decided that yes, I went to Uni, I am not stupid. And yeah, I’m overweight, but I’m taking steps to not binge and improve my eating. If I was doing amazingly well and losing weight really quickly, that would probably result in rapid weight gain after I’d finished restricting.

And I have friends. Very lovely friends, a friend came filming with me the other day, and a friend had me over to watch a scary movie last week. So I’m liked.

I’ve got a job now, which I’m doing ok with. I’ve improved on stuff and I think I’ve made some friends.

Yeah, so… I can’t be that bad. And maybe this person has some issues of their own. Maybe they were just having a bad day. It doesn’t matter, because it’s them who has the problem, putting that on me isn’t going to make anyone feel better, and food isn’t going to make all my problems go away. Otherwise I’d be problem-free by now.

So I went home, and I didn’t stress about food.

And It felt refreshing.

Hayley Emma

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In this song, ‘Pretty Girl Rock’ Hilson sings about her beauty and how girls can be jealous of her.

First of all, I think it’s great when someone has self-confidence and can believe that they are beautiful, whether they’re fat, thin, whatever. So although the British part of me is saying “how conceited!” the body image obsessed part of me is yelling “hooray!”

Secondly, I don’t take this song seriously.

But thirdly, it draws a parallel to Samantha Brick. Keri Hilson, however, got there first.

It’s the idea that if I woman says she’s pretty, and another woman either doesn’t like her, treats her differently or disagrees, then she is jealous. There’s no other explanation. Because, obviously, Keri is pretty, there is no denying that, so jealousy must be the reason that people disagree, right?

Even though I don’t hate anybody because they’re beautiful, I’m sure pretty girls don’t always get positive attention. I’m sure some women are jealous, but then with lyrics such as : ‘Pretty as a picture / Sweeter than a swisher / Mad ’cause I’m cuter than the girl that’s with you’ and ‘Girls think I’m conceited ’cause I know I’m attractive / Don’t worry about what I think, why don’t you ask him?’ I’m not surprised you’re getting negative attention, Keri, because you come off a little rude.

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Beauty is subjective. Keri Hilson is very beautiful in my opinion, but someone else might only find her mildly attractive, and another person will find her ugly. I think she’s got a nice figure, someone else may say it’s amazing and others may hate it. Nothing is going to change the definition of beauty, because it can’t be defined. It depends on your personal opinion. So why do we put so much of our self worth on whether we look beautiful to other people?

I don’t hate Keri Hilson because she’s beautiful. I think this song is about self-confidence and superficiality, and as I said, I’m not going to take it too seriously. What I completely agree with is that no one should be judged purely on their looks, and we shouldn’t judge ourselves on our looks either.

In my first CBT session I was asked to draw a pie chart of how important things in my life are. Needless to say, weight took up a good 90%, leaving little room for anything else. So all of my achievements, the Uni course I was on, my family and friends, my hobbies only got a share of 10%. Ever since I’ve been working on trying to lower my fixation on weight so I can spend more time appreciating my other attributes. Weight is still a huge part of the pie. But as long as I continue to place all of my self-worth on my weight, I won’t be happy. I will never be perfect, and I’m learning to embrace that.

It’s natural to make snap decisions about people based on their looks, we all do it to some extent. I’d love to be able to change it though, by encouraging people to question why they assumed the guy with dreadlocks is a hippie, or the girl covered in tattoos is aggressive. And to note just how many times their pre-conceived judgement was wrong. Just like if I was jealous of Keri Hilson, I’d ask myself is it my own insecurities that are making me jealous? Why does her beauty matter to me?

What do you think, are we ever going to stop judging people on their looks? Or are we, as a society, set in our ways?

Hayley Emma

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Alexa Chung is known for her fashion choices, praised by fashionistas for her innovative style. She started out in the modelling industry and turned to presenting, being on Channel 4’s Popworld. I’ve been pretty impartial about Alexa Chung throughout her career, not being hugely into her style, although she seems funny and likeable, but I’ve always wondered if she was naturally very skinny or unhealthily so.

These thoughts used to irritate me back in the day before therapy and working on my own body image, now however, I see her as a talented woman who’s definitely fashion forward, but who’s style I wouldn’t want to emulate.

However, she’s earned my respect with her outlook on body image. She hasn’t praised her own body or claimed to be completely happy with herself, but she’s been really down to earth about a situation that must have been difficult for her. I read this Jezebel article and then this Fashionista article about Alexa Chung and her troubles with Instagram.

In April, Alexa Chung made her Instagram private after posting this photograph (source) of her and her mum. She received comments claiming she was too thin and unhealthy-looking.

Making her Instagram private is a prime example of how Alexa Chung doesn’t like to think of herself as thinspiration. A quote from this article about a certain comment reads:

Chung responded to the comments – an example of which reads: ‘I’m going to be very honest. I look at this picture and think “This is a woman not eating.” Thus, I worry for women everywhere’ – by writing “Hi, I am here. I can read.”

In the interview with Fashionista, Chung said:

I just get frustrated because, just because I exist in this shape, doesn’t mean that I’m like advocating it and being like, ‘I look great.’ How do you know I’m not looking in the mirror and going ‘I wish I could gain ten pounds?’ Which is actually quite often the case.

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I’ve known quite a few people wanting to gain weight rather than lose it, and they weren’t disordered. I couldn’t fathom it before – if your body is the ideal, why would you want to change it? But Chung said it eloquently – just because someone is skinny or fat, it doesn’t mean they like the way they look, let alone think that is it the best way to look.

She also said:

I think it’s about time people stopped judging women on their appearance and more on their intellect. Like you can appreciate my style without having to appreciate my weight. It’s not actually mutually inclusive.

THANK YOU. I’m not a big fan of her style personally. Her body shape, height and weight all suit the style of clothes she wears, but if she liked pin up style clothes, does that mean she shouldn’t wear them, because of her lack of curves? Of course not, just as someone who is plus size loves the Indie look should dress that way if they like.

What do you think about this? I have thought that she looked very thin, maybe even too thin, but is what I’ve just written any more appropriate to when Karl Lagerfeld called Adele a ‘little too fat’?

Hayley Emma

 

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