This is not the blog post I planned on publishing today. It is, in fact, one I never really planned on writing. I’ve thought about it many times, but never have had the courage to be honest – like properly honest. I’ve somehow built up a following on social media from being into health & fitness. For almost 3 years I’ve posted pictures of healthy food, talked about my workouts, and wrote blogs on mindset and motivation. I have shared my healthy habits, but have neglected to mention all the not-so-healthy ones. And believe me, there are a few.
As I write this, there is a tin of biscuits beside me on my bed. It’s empty. I ate every last one of them. Today. 340g of biscuits does not, in fact, fit my macros. Nor did I have any intention of making it fit. I just ate. Therein lies my achilles heel – food.
For as long as I can remember, I have liked sweet things. I was the child that always had my hand in the biscuit tin. My parents had to keep all the treats in the highest press of the kitchen so it was out of my reach. This continued throughout my childhood – I always had room for one more piece of chocolate, a second serving of dessert. Playing various sports stopped me from becoming seriously overweight, but I was always a bit pudgy. This continued until I started college – eating a bit too much, being a little overweight. This all changed in second year when I discovered the ‘clean eating’ craze.
It started out relatively harmlessly. I was having some digestive issues, and wanted to start eating healthier to feel better – as well as to look better. I found Deliciously Ella, and so began the obsession with all things nutrition. I was inspired by her story, and so began cutting processed foods, dairy etc. from my diet. I realised that I didn’t tolerate dairy well, and began to feel far better from cutting that out. I didn’t stop there, however. Gluten was the next to go, despite me having no real issue with it. I discovered paleo, and bought even more into that ideology. I did a ‘Whole 30’, which involved cutting out pretty much everything from my diet – all processed foods, additives, gluten, dairy, you name it! I began my Instagram account around this time, eager to share my new-found love of healthy food with the world. I felt so righteous eating my clean, unprocessed food. I became fixated on this idea of eating paleo and ‘clean’, and if I ate something that didn’t fit with that ideology, I’d completely blown it. May as well just eat everything. And so began the binging.
I remember the first few times it happened. I lived in student accommodation, which had a small shop a 30 second walk from my room. I would stock up on whatever chocolate and sweets were on offer, stuff it in my bag to hide my shame, then go back to my room and eat it all, alone. The shame and guilt that followed were immense, but that didn’t stop me. I deserve to eat chocolate because I’m stressed and it’s exam-time. It’s totally acceptable, right? I reasoned with myself, all the while knowing it was wrong. Some time later, I found IIFYM (If it fits your macros) through Instagram. I was wary at first, and judged people mercilessly for eating poptarts everyday! I eventually came to realise the sense it made – calories do, in fact, matter. And so I became an IIFYM convert.
This is supposed to be when I tell you that IIFYM changed my life, and solved all my problems. Well, it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly helped. It made me realise that there are no real bad foods, and that moderation is everything. It has brought me back to thinking scientifically about nutrition, and not just buying into dogmatic approaches like paleo. I now know how to correctly fuel my body, giving it the right amount of protein, carbs and fats it needs to work correctly. Does that mean I do it all the time? Absolutely not.
This post doesn’t really have a happy ending. I still struggle with binge-eating. I can go weeks and months being on track, then it will suddenly rear its ugly head. I lose 20lbs, then start binging and gain it all back. I’ve tried tracking, intuitive eating, and everything in-between. I’m still figuring it out. I have hired a wonderful coach who helps me through it, but I do still struggle. I guess that’s the point of this post – I’m human, and I have my own shit to work through. Social media can lead us to believe in fairytales of perfection, but in reality, everyone has their own problems. This is mine.
I don’t really know what lesson there is to take from my journey – all that I can say is that if you’re struggling with your own shit, know that you’re not alone.