Eating disorders and bikini prep. Week 5

Start of Week 5: Weight and measurements

Weight – 60.5kg

Thigh – 58.5cm

Glute – 95cm

Waist – 69.5cm

With this week being National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I thought it be fitting to dedicate my weekly bikini prep blog to what this site that Ella and I have built is all about – raising awareness of and helping those with eating disorders.

For anyone who doesn’t know my story, I suffered with anorexia, bulimia and depression for 6 years. While I had periods of recovery and then numerous relapses, these 6 years as a whole were a very dark and difficult time for me. The secretive nature of eating disorders and depression made my life during this time very lonely and, to put it bluntly, SHITE! Although I had people around me who supported me, helped me, encouraged me and did everything they could, the demon that was my eating disorder had a firm grip on me and my weak physical and mental state meant and it wasn’t letting go!

I found my recovery through the gym and through educating myself about REAL nutrition.

I wasn’t the ‘stereotypical anorexic girl‘ when I first got introduced to weight training by my beautiful boyfriend. I was at a ‘healthy’ weight but mentally I was still in a very dark place, making myself sick after pretty much every meal and feeling incredible guilt if I ever ‘overate’ (I put that in quotation marks because to overeat, one must consume a lot of calories. Something I was not doing!) or if I didn’t make it to the gym or if I got the bus to uni rather than walked or if I had semi skimmed milk rather than skimmed. *rolling my eyes*. I suffered with anxiety and my self confidence and self worth were non existent. I mean I could fake it pretty well after years of practice but on reflection, MAANNN was it a front.

img_4943

My first ever progress pics!!

Since starting my fitness journey more than 3 years ago, I have not only become one hench human calorie consuming machine, I have also become a more outgoing, confident, self accepting and HAPPY person. I love the person I am, regardless of anyone else’s view of me. I love what my body is capable of and I am proud of the body I have built. I use the gym as a place to not only improve my physical strength but my mental strength too. It relaxes me when I’m feeling a bit stressed, upset or angry – nothing like throwing some weights around to relieve some anger. I no longer see the gym as a place to go a burn off the burger and chips, chocolate bar and bottle of prosecco (mmmmm) that I scoffed at the weekend or as a place to punish my body. My attitude towards the gym has COMPLETELY changed.

img_1803
Catching him up!

It seems that, like Ella and I, many women and men have also found happiness and mental strength through the gym. Whether it be depression, an eating disorder or another shitty challenge that life has thrown at them, training is a healthy way to their focus energy and improve their bodies and minds, giving them the strength they need to give their demons a right good kick in the balls!

It makes me happy seeing girls getting hench in the gym and battling their biggest and scariest demons. 

IMG_0774

However with the positives come the negatives. It’s quite common for this new focus of the gym and learning the ins and outs of nutrition to become a new obsessive habit to replace the old one. A sort of ‘eating disorder in disguise’. Many people turn their focus to daily gym sessions and macro counting because it is regarded as healthier than the restrictive lifestyle that they had previously been living but deep down it’s just masking their eating disorder.

With the way the fitness industry is these days, the misconception that someone should look a certain way in order to be ‘successful’ on their fitness journey can cause some serious problems, especially for someone who may have previously struggled with body confidence issues or body dysmorphia.

The pressure to look a certain way or to have a particular body shape or a particular body fat percentage can make the industry a dangerous one for those who aren’t yet strong enough to see through it all.

There’s a bit of a trend of people who have found a love for the gym and have got a very vague (and often misinformed) understanding of nutrition to then think after only like 6 months the next step on their journey to recovery and happiness is to get ‘lean’ and jump on stage and compete in a competition. Almost like they feel as though they have to prove that they have overcome their battle. Or they feel as though the only way to fit into the industry is to reach a certain physique.

It makes me sad because the majority of the time when this happens, the person doesn’t know what they’re getting themselves in for. They’re not mentally ready for the challenge and definitely aren’t physically ready for the challenge.

I thought I’d touch upon a few things that are required during a competition prep and why I would truly advise those who have previously struggled with bad relationships with food and body image to really GIVE IT TIME and to GET EDUCATED before even considering taking on the journey of competition prep.

Metabolism

To reach the physique that is required for stage, weight loss and fat loss has to happen! To lose weight in a healthy way (i.e. without having to only eat like 500cals per day and do hours of cardio) your metabolism must be in a healthy way beforehand. This therefore requires you to be able to maintain your current physique on a HIGH amount of calories. And I mean high! It’s taken me 3 years to get my metabolism to the place its at now and prior to competition prep I was maintaining my physique on about 2800 calories a day. My body was functioning properly and was able to use the food effectively to fuel my body.

PLEASE whatever you do, do not begin to improve your metabolism and then undo all of your hard work again by starting to diet!

Body Image

Being happy and comfortable with your body is a MAJOR requirement when competing. Your body will change therefore you have to be able to accept your body at whatever size, weight or body fat percentage. The low level of body fat required for the stage is NOT maintainable year round and therefore you need to be comfortable with that fact that you will gain weight again once prep is over. If only recently recovered from an eating disorder the physique critiquing aspect of competing could cause old habits and thoughts regarding body image to reoccur.

When dieting for a show you have to be able to view your physique objectively. Let’s say your coach tells you to do some extra cardio as you have some fat to lose on your lower body. That’s not a reflection of you or a negative comment of your body. It’s simply because a certain look needs to be attained for the stage. You have to be able to critique your physique and accept criticism.

I know, for example, my quads overpower my glutes and that I hold my fat in my lower body rather than my upper body but they’re not a negative comments. It just is what it is.

img_9551
I love my body in all 3 pictures

Macro manipulation and food intake

I will always encourage a balanced and sustainable diet, full of plenty of protein, fats and carbs to anyone who trains at the gym. Or to anyone who just wants to have an overall healthy body. BUT when it comes to dieting for a show, certain manipulations to your diet will have to be made, such as high carb days, low carb days, high fat days, low calorie days – tools to promote fat loss.

Understanding macros and macro counting is a massive requirement of competing. If you don’t understand the ins and outs of nutrition then I’d do some more studying first.

img_9545
Low carb, high fat blueberry, vanilla and peanut butter omelette. Mmmmmm

Food restriction

To lose weight, eating is a calorie defecit is required. There are times during prep where restrictive eating is required, whether that be restricting calories or a certain macronutrient. This is a short term tool to promote fat loss and is not necessary for the average day to day gym goer and DEFINITELY not required for someone who is recovering from an eating disorder and gradually walking up their calories again

If you’ve suffered from restrictive eating in the past, are you truly able to see this as a short term dieting tool and not allow restrictive habits to return?

Training and muscle mass

To become lean you need muscle. Simple as that. Being lean is very different to being skinny, therefore those who haven’t trained for a few years wont have the muscle mass required for competing. Once dieted down to stage weight, the physique will simply look skinny and frail rather than lean but strong. I didn’t even consider competing until I had been lifting weights for 3 years!! In that time I focused on building a physique and gaining muscle and strength. Seeing your strength increase and your physique develop is honestly the most satisfying feeling so work on that first.

Once in competition prep, training will go from being a ‘trip to the gym’ to HARD ass training. Consistently following a training plan, pushing hard and increasing lifts each week doesn’t just require physical strength but also mental. Training may well become unenjoyable towards the end of prep when you’re feeling weak, so make sure you enjoy training enough to push it that extra bit further.

So there it is. A few of my thoughts of what should be considered before jumping into a competition prep. I really considered EVERYTHING before taking on this new challenge and I know that this is something I truly want to do.

REMEMBER! You have nothing to prove when it comes to the fitness industry. Your journey is your journey. Do what you enjoy and do what is right for you and not for someone else or because your favourite insta fitspo is doing it.

Enjoy it and JUST DO YOU! 

End of Week 5: Measurements and weight

Weight – 60.4kg

Thigh – 58cm

Glute – 95.5cm

Waist – 69cm

Progress pictures: Start vs. Week 5

img_9533img_9534img_9535img_9536