A Little Time For Reflection

For some reason, May has always been a pretty pivotal month in my life.

Two years ago, it meant the end of homelessness, sleeping on friend’s sofas and finding my own place. I also found an amazing guy.

A year ago it was the beginning of learning to live with a chronic bowel condition.

This year, it’s meant the completion of my degree after a two-and-a-half-year gap, leaving my job for something new, and unfortunately the loss of a friend.

So, every year, I like to reflect on how far things have come for me.

I think after losing my home after a pretty rough break up (I’m not going to go into detail, I’ll spare you that) it’s made me more grateful than ever, and appreciative of the things that I do have. I lost all my self-worth and confidence, and a lot of personal items with it. I don’t think I’ve ever reached such a low point in my life and it was, for the first time since I was a young teenager, that I ever considered suicide. I spent a few months diving in and out of unhealthy coping mechanisms but was lucky enough to spend a long time with a very good therapist who helped me unravel the tangled knot of myself, and rediscover who I was and make peace with the past. I also had an extremely close support network for the first time in my life, with friends and a new relationship that helped me every step of the way.

At this moment in time, I love myself for who I am, and have learned that you can’t please everyone. My little room in my shared house is mine, the things I have in it, though I don’t own a huge amount, are mine – I feel safe here and everything in it I have earned myself. I wear what I want, I do what I enjoy, and for the first time in a long time have stopped worrying what others think.

Learning to live with a chronic bowel condition was tough, and I thought life was trying to punish me for being a terrible person for a long time. Imagine feeling so nauseous that you can’t eat, and every time you tried to your insides just felt like they were on fire. Over the course of a couple of months I lost a lot of weight, nearly a stone in around 4/5 weeks, which was mostly through starvation. It took a long time for doctors to consider that it was down to my gut health and eating habits rather than a medical condition they could fix with medication or surgery. I had ridiculous amounts of tests for pregnancy and STDs (yeah thanks for that assumption guys!) appendicitis, bowel cancer, liver damage, ovarian cysts, gallstones…ultrasounds, blood tests and even the fun time of a colonoscopy! It’s been an adventure finding out that my bowels just decided not to work one day.

People often laugh and joke about IBS, and don’t really view it as all that serious, but more like having a case of the shits every now and then…which admittedly is partly true! It has changed my relationship with food and made me more aware of the things that I was putting into my body. The silver lining to it, is that it’s caused me to make even more healthier choices than before, and due to gluten and dairy intolerance it makes it hard to go on massive binges when I’m craving sugar or high fat junk foods. For a long time, the foods I ate became incredibly bland, as I can’t have garlic, onions or most vegetables/pulses that bring a lot of flavour to food, but you learn to adapt and find new ways to flavour your meals. It also meant that it put a stop to take-aways…but it won’t stop me risking a pizza every now and then! (if you see me looking grumpy or pale-faced, you’ll know why!)

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If you take some time to look at the FODMAP diet, you’d see how restrictive it can be. Thankfully with a diagnosis and the help of a specialist I was able to regain some control and learn to live with it. It still flares up occasionally, and I can’t prevent it completely, but knowing why my body is reacting a certain way is more reassuring than being left in the dark.

This year, the biggest event for me has been completing my degree. When I failed third year thanks to some really shitty tutors, and a summer retake I wasn’t able to do due to losing my home, I had really given up on it and myself. It wasn’t until I’d gotten back on my feet that I really found my drive again and wrote a letter to every University that taught Architecture to take me in and let me finish. In the end it was my previous University that took me in and gave me the chance, and I somehow managed to get through an incredibly tough and intense nine months. I apologise to everyone I studied with about the amount of times I cried during tutorials, presentations, site visits…(emotional mess much!?) But with the mental battles, I also had some amazing experiences both abroad and on campus – my tutors were some of the best and more supportive people I could ask for.

Somehow, I got through it and made some friends along the way, and now it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. All I need to do now is make it to graduation day!

The most recent event has been leaving my job. I didn’t think it’d be quite as emotional as I thought, as my relationship with the team is really what kept me there for a long time. I made some amazing friends and had some great times, but I knew it was time to move on when a new and better opportunity was offered to me. On my last day it hadn’t really sunk in that I was leaving, and waking up the next day and not having to get up, be anywhere, put on uniform….that’s when it really hit me. I’m so thankful for the support that I was given during my time there, and I will miss seeing the lovely faces of my team every day.

Today however, brought with it a loss. An old work colleague and friend passed away and it’s hit quite hard – though he left months before me we always got along so well and he always made time for me. We’d often laugh and joke about how terrible the world and the struggles of mental health were, and he was someone to confide in when you were really struggling. It’s rare that I meet someone more sarcastic and cynical than myself, but my god, he really was a laugh. Beneath the harder exterior he was kind and cared, but was also honest and would never bullshit to you.

I was so looking forward to you being with us at the weekend, as I hadn’t seen you in a long time, but we’ll buy you a beer anyway. You crazy fool.

Tim and Ash

To reflect on the last few years, I’ve learned that life can be hard and throw some really fucking difficult struggles at you, but with it has come some amazing opportunities and events that have shaped me. Life was made to challenge us in ways we never expected, and through all of this I’ve come out the other side with the biggest fire under my arse. I’ve pushed myself to limits I didn’t even know I had and learned a lot about myself along the way – and I can say that I am proud of the things I’ve achieved. Alongside part-time study, I’ve not only worked a full-time job, but gone through an immense prep journey (which I will blog about soon!) as well as training for a half marathon. I look forward to what the next year brings for me, and I can’t wait to stand on stage in September.

Until next time.

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I’m Fine!

This week’s theme is about stress.

Mother fucking stress.

Ever seen the episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S where Ross is ‘fine’? That is me. I am fine.

I’m fine.

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After having my house burgled and sorting all that out – I’ve actually managed to land on my feet and not only get an extension, but also be given enough time off work to get to the new deadline in time. Which is currently a week and a half away. Fuck.

Unfortunately, this means I now have to work to two deadlines in tandem with each other. And I don’t know how or where to start. And I think I’m going to fail again. Stressed.

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I’ve got a tutorial tomorrow in which to talk to my tutors and find where to go next, but even that makes me nervous as I worry that I haven’t done enough – but I know that I will be behind everyone else because I’m working to a different deadline. Plus the fact it’s the last tutorial of the year.

My logical brain is currently in a constant battle with my emotional one.

Also, being back on a prep diet that has had some adjustments, after several days of being completely off plan due to illness and robbery I’m finding it really hard to get back into the headspace.

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Most people don’t realise how much of a physical struggle stress can be, rather than just a mental one. I tend to find that my appetite either skyrockets or just disappears completely – but this is very much dependant on how my insides react to it. Anxiety and high levels of stress make my IBS flare up like nothing else, so I end up feeling constantly sick until it’s over. So far the stomach aches and diarrhoea (soz, not soz) have kept themselves to a minimum, but I’m sure as the deadline approaches they’ll come and rear their ugly heads too.

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So here I am trying to write a decent blog post but have ended up rambling like an idiot because I can’t concentrate at all, and my head is a bit everywhere. I apologise for the awful format.

I always like to end things on a more positive note, so I would like to mention that my training session on Sunday went really well. My squat felt a little sticky, but watching it back on video I found my form was fine and it went up quicker than it felt. My left side weakness is showing, but we can improve that with some unilateral movements where necessary.

I also took some time out to enjoy the sunshine and get out of the house. I’m sick of looking at the four walls of my room, working at the desk and cabin fever started to creep in – so a friend invited me out for coffee and a picnic, which I really needed. It was nice to just sit and talk to someone about life and random bits, rather than work and deadlines, and it gave me a chance to unwind after everything that’s happened. Though I’m a bit of a mess today I’m sure after tomorrow I’ll get past it.

I’ve been through worse.

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“Is there anything she can’t handle? She’s been broken. She’s been knocked down. She’s been defeated. She’s felt pain that most couldn’t handle. She looks fear in the face; year after year, day after day, but yet, she never runs. She never hides. And she always finds a way to get back up. She’s unbreakable. She’s a warrior. She’s you”

Until next time.

So, I got burgled…

This has quite possibly been one of the worst weeks of my entire life.

I might be being a little dramatic but stay with me here.

Last Saturday I came down with a really shitty chest cold/infection thing that’s had me pretty much out for the count the whole time, and I haven’t been able to make it into work. I spent three days without a voice and coughing up yellow gunk (I’m so sexy, right?!) The worst part is I had my first formal deadline this week so even though I felt awful I still had to drag my ass in front of a computer screen to get it done on time.

…and the Doctor says? Just wait it out…Fun.

So, I spent most of my waking hours in bed, coughing half the night and napping through the day, minus some time spent in front of a laptop. Final hand-in 1 of 3 completed, and still have to push on to get the next two done. Safe to say I am extremely stressed out right now.

Even better things happened when Mother Nature decided to come knocking on my door, so not only am I stressed and feeling ill, I also get to feel bloated as fuck and be rendered hormonal and useless!

But wait there’s more…

Friday night I had my flat burgled. I was in the flat at the time.

I was in my room the entire day, mostly in bed due to aforementioned illness. When my boyfriend left for work I thought I’d pamper myself and put on a face mask and watched an episode of something on Netflix whilst it ‘set’ or whatever. Once it finished I thought I’d have a long, hot shower to try and clear my chest a little and do the whole exfoliating thing, ‘cause I love my skin I do. It always goes mental when I’m on, as well as being ill. Whilst I was in there I could hear someone rummaging about in the kitchen drawers, but thought nothing of it as my housemate had been cooking earlier and I’d just assumed she was cleaning up after herself.

WRONG.

Once I’d dried myself and walked through the house, I walk to my bedroom door to find a complete stranger standing in the doorway on his way out.

This is literally my worst fear in the entire world, since leaving my previous relationship. I often have night terrors about being chased or followed, especially to my house, and suddenly it became a reality.

I was terrified.

I stood in shock for a few seconds, before blurting out something like ‘what the fuck are you doing?,’ – he doesn’t look me in the eye and pushes his way past me saying that he was looking for a ‘friend called Daniel that lives here’. In hindsight I wish that I had challenged him or stopped him from leaving, but that could’ve made things worse.

Once I walk into my room it instantly clicks that I’ve been robbed. My phone has disappeared from the end of the bed. My rucksack and handbag have been moved and emptied. Panic attack ensues. I tear the room apart to find that my purse has also gone. Even though my hair I still soaking wet and I’m only in a dressing gown, I charge through the house banging on doors looking for him, asking if anyone else has seen him. My poor neighbours must’ve thought I was mental. I run outside and do a lap of the street in bare-feet and he’s nowhere to be seen. There’s now a hole in the bottom of my foot from broken glass or whatever.

Now I’m in full panic and I can’t breathe. I feel like my heart is going to explode and I’m sweating like a champion and crying hysterically.

I want to call the police, my boyfriend, but I can’t. I feel trapped. My laptop is still on the bed so the first thing I do is message my boyfriend on Facebook and demand that he calls my phone, NOW.

He knows me well enough to know that something’s up, and once he realises what’s happened he tells me to lock the door and wait for him, and he runs to my house.

I was ridiculously hysterical at this point, deep in a level of panic I haven’t felt in over a year.

He gives me his phone to call the police, and asks one of my housemates to sit with me whilst he does a patrol of the houses and outside to see if anyone is out there – and everyone sits with me whilst I wait for them to arrive. The police helped me cancel all my cards and stop my phone whilst they were here and made sure I was alright before they left.

It felt like forever. By the time they’d looked around the house and taken a statement it was about midnight when they left. My housemates made sure I was alright, and my boyfriend helped me grab a few bits from my house and take it over to his for the night. He sat up with me whilst I cried, ordered us some food and watched TV with me until I felt ready to try and sleep. It was about 3/4am by the time I got into bed.

8am the next day I was woken up by the forensics team to let me know they were on their way, so I left my boyfriend sleeping and went to get dressed. I thought I’d get some air and sat outside the house to smoke whilst waiting for them, only to find the creepiest bit of all.

There were footprints in the grass outside my bedroom window. The fucking creep had actually either been watching me through my window, or peered through to see if anyone was in before going round to try the doors. I felt like I was going to vomit. My blood ran cold.

Once the forensics team came I showed her everything, and she printed the entire house. There’s still dust in my room where I can’t bring myself to wipe it off. My estate agent has been extremely helpful with the whole thing and is now finding me a new house to move into, as I can’t bring myself to sleep in that room anymore. As soon as it gets dark I go over to my boyfriend’s place and stay there again until morning.

Thanks to this twat, my insomnia has come back, my anxiety has hit the roof, I’m depressed as fuck – and the best bit – the stress has set off my IBS like never before. I feel constantly sick, my stomach hurts and I’m basically spending my day coughing in the bathroom.

I should be glad that though he saw me, and I was vulnerable at the time, that he didn’t try anything and just left the house as quickly as he could. I still have my health…ish.

The best bit is that he actually used my cards within a 15 minute walking distance of my own house, and has tried to use my phone. I hope he enjoyed both the meals he bought himself…

I needed to go into town to see a Doctor over the weekend, and I couldn’t face being in the flat anymore, but I got so anxious that I ended up hiding in a friend’s shop for over an hour after doing what I needed to do.

I still have two deadlines to go

I. Will. Not. Let. This. Beat. Me.

I HAVE to end this on a positive after a shitty time.

I’ve got 18 weeks now until show day, and my bikini has now arrived at work! I’m so excited to try it on, it’s so sparkly!! (Basically, the opposite of me!)

My coach has adjusted my workout and my diet so even though I’m facing another calorie reduction, and I’m dying inside just thinking about it, I’m more determined than ever to look fucking amazing come September 2nd.

I also finish University in 3 weeks’ time. 3 goddamn weeks! I’m not ready for it to end, but also can’t wait to have a summer where I can finally relax, go on holiday to Japan and graduate. Thankfully, probably because I disturbed him, my laptop and hardrive were still intact, so I haven’t lost my whole year of hard work. I will finish this, I will absolutely smash it. Even though I’ve had the shittiest time, I have been through worse and I will not let this ruin it.

This year is still going to be my best yet.

Until next time.

What does it mean to be ‘Feminine’?

There’s a subject I’ve been wanting to touch on for a while, and today is the perfect opportunity.

Today I cried at work.

There I said it!

Wanna know why?

Because at least every other day, someone will make a comment on how ‘manly’ I look to them.

Today was one of those days.

On 99.9% of occasions this doesn’t usually bother me. Since I was a teenager I’ve always questioned society’s ‘norms’ and what it means to be ‘girly’.

When I was a small child my own Grandmother told me that I would never be a real girl because my hair was too short and that I looked like a boy. I was still in primary school at the time – I think I was about 6 years old.

I was bullied ruthlessly throughout my school years as I was a complete tomboy, and shorter than the average person (pretty sure I stopped growing when I was about 12!), going on to develop an affinity for things alternative and people thought I was mental. Therefore, I was a school bully magnet.

Throughout my life this is meant that I’ve developed a complex about the way I look and am. Admittedly I have no interest in make-up, tanning, hair styling or anything that might be considered ‘feminine’ by any means. I don’t get up early to make-up my face up before work, and I’d rather be wearing army boots than I would heels any day of the week – and there’s nothing wrong with other women that prefer otherwise. It’s all about being yourself and comfortable with who you are.

Because of this I seem to make people uncomfortable.

I work in an environment where most of the female workers are perceived as more ‘feminine’ than myself, and because of this I attract negative comments that are often defined as ‘banter’ rather than crossing a very personal line.

I understand that as I used to be a powerlifter, often making lifts of around 80-95kg at my peak, that this will mean I have a lot more muscle mass than most people. Now I’m prepping to be in my first ever fitness competition, this muscle mass is becoming more defined as my body fat slowly comes away – and god dammit am I proud of the achievements that I have made so far. But fuck me does it make for some uncomfortable conversations…

The most common thing I’ve been asked is “aren’t you going to stop lifting, you’re gunna look like a man?” or “I bet you go home and beat your boyfriend don’t you, cause you’re bigger than him!” Now isn’t that a lovely stereotype of gender roles. Yeah, you can laugh it off because it’s a ridiculous thing to say, but deep down it also hits a nerve. I work my ass off in the gym several times a week, and stick to very strict diet to look the way I do and achieve the body I am proud of – and the best thing you can say to me is that?

The other thing people comment on is my less than feminine features and how they play a big part in my ‘manly’ physique. I’ve always had a small chest, only going up to a C-cup when I was overweight at University, since then I’ve sat comfortably at a B-cup which will eventually recede down to an A-cup once I’ve cut down nearer the end of my prep; and people feel the need to comment on this too. Unsurprisingly enough it’s by men that have bigger tits than I do…

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Throughout this fitness journey I’ve also become a little obsessive in the way I look compared to others which has also affected the way I deal with these comments, and is also bringing me down, but with constant food weighing and check-ins sometimes it’s not so easy to let go. My body is changing and it’s taking me a little while to get used to that, just as it did when I put on weight and became equally uncomfortable with my appearance. I also need to keep in mind that this is not forever, nor is it a sustainable way of living and training. My body is being put to the extreme to shed the excess fat and show off the muscle mass sitting underneath, I should be proud of the way that I am beginning to change and embrace and further changes that will inevitably come with it, rather than let the opinions of a few people get under my skin.

Personally, I like to think that the negative comments directed towards me are because I threaten what makes people comfortable and challenges their perception of what it means to be feminine. We are going through a societal change in which gender stereotypes are being constantly challenged, and women are no longer expected to act and appear a certain way. The fitness industry for us is also changing, and women are now wanting to be ‘strong not skinny’ which I think is fucking awesome.

“There’s a sense of dedication and pride that comes with training for a competition and transforming your body that I think men are attracted to. If they don’t like it, I don’t care. I probably wouldn’t want to date them anyway because they don’t have the same drive as me.” (https://www.cosmopolitan.com/health-fitness/advice/a6881/female-bodybuilder-photo-essay/)

In the last few years I’ve found myself far less alone in the weights area of the gym, as more and more women are embracing the free weights and strength training that encourages them not to be just skinny cardio-bunnies, but also strong-ass individuals that can do anything they want to. I love it.

So, before you comment on how masculine I am, how ugly you find my abs and biceps, how weird my diet is, how different I look to what you desire; think about how much fucking effort I put in to achieving it.

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In the last 12 months I’ve worked on my body throughout bowel issues which meant I didn’t eat more than 500 calories a day, throughout mental health issues, throughout fucking busy and stressful days at work and through injury. I’ve run my half marathon, I’m a month away from graduating University and 20 weeks away from my competition – I am fucking nailing it. I love the fact that I have abs coming in, that the only clothes I wear are 90% black (but I’ll wear a fucking skin tight pink dress if I want to!), that I have no idea how to apply make-up and that I lift heavy things for fun! That is just a touch of what makes me, me.

I’ve touched on this briefly in my Instagram before on International Women’s Day, and I’ll quote exactly what I said back then – “Being a woman is whatever the fuck you want it to be! Embrace who you are, and fucking celebrate it!”

So, I’ve cried today, but now I’ll carry on just as I am, being me.

Until next time.

The Marathon That Never Was…

My next post was supposed to be about how it felt to finally run the Reading Half Marathon, that I trained months for and was so looking forward to.

The night before I could barely sleep I was so excited, and had my clothes laid out ready like a little kid on their first day of school.

You can imagine the disappointment I felt in the morning, after I’d donned my running gear (plus loads of layers due to the bloody cold!) and eaten my carbs to get set and go – to find that by 7am it was cancelled.

To be quite honest with you it was an emotional couple of hours following the cancellation – after all the physical and mental preparation that went into training – and then to find it was never going to happen…I was angry, frustrated, then really quite depressed. I even put my boots on to see how bad the snow really was, to see if I could even run it on my own but it was just too much of a risk. With prep now in a good place, any risk of me falling on my arse and injuring myself because I was too stubborn to not run, would’ve set me back weeks, if not months; and with 5 months to go I’d be risking not competing at all. So, after a small amount of tears, I just accepted it.

In the afternoon, I went up to the stadium to collect my medal and finishers t-shirt, even though I hadn’t run it, and it just felt false…

I will be running my 13.1 miles.

On Wednesday morning I will be going out there to run the route as it was supposed to be. I don’t care if it takes me 2 hours or 5, I owe not only those who sponsored me, but also the charity BIBS (Babies in Buscot Support) for putting in so much effort for the whole 66 strong running team for things to go smoothly. They even made the treacherous drive to the football stadium to set up for the day, before anyone else had got there.

It’s frustrating that the first big event for me this year has been cancelled due to weather, which is completely out of anyone’s control, but I need to remember that I have so much more to look forward to this year. This year I will not only graduate after studying for what seems like a million lifetimes, but also go to Japan with my man, and take to the stage in Pure Elite.

The last week has also been one of the hardest of prep so far.

To put a word on it, I think you could say: defeated. I ate off plan for just two days two weeks ago now and I had been beating myself up about it ever since. I know in the long term it’s not going to have an effect and that I’m over thinking it – sometimes Uni deadlines must come first. Time to cook and prep just was not available to me, and instead I stayed up most nights in the run up to my presentation, once until 1am to build a model whilst eating whatever happened to be in the house or bought from the shop on my way home from work.

So, since then I’ve been feeling run down with a cold and pissed off at myself for binging for two days when I should’ve been keeping to plan. Last week’s check- in was terrible thanks to the awful cold, and my IBS has been playing games the last few days, so I’ve been bloated to hell. The scales showed it, but sometimes shit happens and you just have to deal with it. Life gets in the way, and things don’t always go to plan.

Not to mention my sleep cycle has also been all over the place, which has really affected my energy levels. I’ve been having horrendous night terrors every now and then which have meant my body and mind haven’t had a good chance to reset, and I haven’t been able to recover from training the day before. Having seen my GP about it the other day (my actual one, and not another useless one!) I’ve finally got my anxiety and sleeping meds back after two/three months without them, so my sleeping issue should disappear pretty quickly – if not maybe I just need to admit myself to the crazy house (kidding!)

Marathon training whilst on prep and therefore on a deficit is one of the hardest things I’ve done. I’ve got back into loving running after all this time, but I know that this will soon change once Wednesday is over and I wave a fond farewell to it once again. It might mean passing on to more conventional cardio or cutting it out completely, but one can only wish that my coach will be so kind…

It’s only been in the last couple of days that I’m starting to feel like myself again after having such a tough time. The bloat had disappeared by the time I got up a couple of days after check-in; and after a short run before work today, my energy levels have improved somewhat.

I know that from here it’s only going to get tougher, but after seeing the results after the bloat had worn off has just lit a fire under me. This is the best shape I’ve ever been in, and the lightest I’ve ever been in years (not that the scale means everything); I can’t stop looking at my progress photos and realising just how far I’ve come, which makes me even more excited for the future.

Until next time.

The Love and Hate Relationship With Food

In modern day society, it seems that our attitude and relationship that we have with food is constantly changing and has become more of a psychological burden than ever.

As someone on prep I’ve begun to notice this more than ever in myself.

For most of my life I can remember being a little odd towards food and the idea of dieting. I was a ridiculously fussy eater when I was a child, but now I put that down to the fact my Mother’s cooking was terrible (sorry mum!) – I didn’t know that sausages weren’t actually supposed to be black until I was about 14….seriously.

Food never really appealed to me all that much, and when I was a teenager the idea presented to me by the media and girls at school was that being thin was best. Thin meant you were healthy, attractive and fit in to general society. Even though I was thin back then, I never really felt thin enough, there was always a meal to skip if you could help it, and back than I was a size 4/6 which now seems ridiculous.

As stated in my last post, I got an even unhealthier relationship with food when I was at University and put on a lot of weight from just pigging out on takeaway etc. This was mostly through laziness, but also, I began comfort eating like most people do in stressful times in their life. Food makes us feel better. When we eat sweet or fatty foods, our body responds with hormones that make us feel good – the same way as a ‘runners high’ would – so we look to food again when we’re tired, fed up and depressed. Or even just bored. Sugar is one of the most addictive substances on the planet, yet it’s just about in everything we eat and buy off the shelves, it’s no wonder we have an obesity problem.

But this can also swing the other way. We’re constantly presented with ‘low fat’ versions of everyday foods, ‘reduced salt’ in ready-meals and jarred sauces, as well as new branded diet foods like Slim Fast, Weight Watchers and Slimming World. Let alone the newspaper articles that come along every now and then that state red meat, eggs, bacon, butter etc will give you cancer in the end. There’s no end to the quick fix diet opportunities and we’re constantly being made to feel guilty about the things we eat on a daily basis. Just look at the magazines you see on the shelves that body shame nearly every celebrity you see – ‘look at how much (X) has let go and wobbles on the beach!’ – or even the other way – ‘how to lose 10lbs in a week!’. I mean really.

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This also goes for new fads that have come along like gluten and dairy free. Don’t get me wrong, as someone with chronic bowel issues I’m banned from eating both of those things (and many more), and the ever-growing number of people joining the bandwagon has meant that a lot more foods are being made available to me – but not everyone should remove these things completely if they don’t have to. Dairy and foods containing gluten are good for your general health in a well-balanced diet, of course everyone’s tolerances are different, but to completely cut something out of your diet without knowing what to replace it with…not a good plan. “Ah! But too much bread is bad for you!” you say? Well of course it is, that’s why it’s called TOO MUCH. Too much of anything is bad for you! Too much water and you’ll drown!

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So, throughout all this, it’s no surprise that people are constantly worried about what they’re eating, obsessing over how many calories are in their next meal, how much protein they’ve had today, or whether they deserve to eat at all because they had a kit-kat earlier.

We’ve all been there at some point, and I’ve noticed myself in the last week or so beginning to get very anxious around my food again. On my last carb-loading day I found myself asking ‘Do I deserve to eat all this?,’ ‘Have I really worked hard enough?.’ The last time I was weightlifting in the gym, I was working full-out to try and burn as much as possible after making myself feel so guilty that I then ended up hurting myself. What a bloody moron. I cringe a little just thinking about it, but I’ve been lucky enough to take a step back and look at what I was doing.

Tracking your diet is all well and good, but there comes a point where you have to watch yourself. It’s true that maybe you weren’t supposed to eat that slice of cake offered to you at work, or have a beer with the lads even though you were out socialising, but don’t then let it ruin your entire day/week/month. I’ve seen so many people make themselves endure extra cardio because they ate something they shouldn’t have and have made themselves feel so guilty about it. Or skip a meal because of the same thing. As human-beings our survival instinct is to make us inerrantly negative about everything – change used to be bad, change from the norm meant you might die from being eaten by something or getting sick – but sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy food, well, just because. Food is great!

This week I had a carb load day and couldn’t get the fact I had some pizza (yes it was gluten free, and I wouldn’t recommend it cause it’s foul ☹) and it sat with me for days. I then found that the days I was back on prep-diet I was obsessing over every little thing, my brain willing me not to eat because I’d treated myself to too much earlier in the week. My mind was begging me to just skip meals to stay on track, and I felt sick putting more food in my face. But then I began to wonder why, why did I deserve to treat my body in such a negative way?

The human body is an amazing thing, no matter what we seem to do to it, it survives. I’ve done some awful things to myself throughout my life, and I can confidently say I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been and I’m genuinely happy with my body how it is. Yes, it’s got cellulite, and scars and bit that wobble – but so has everyone else, it’s completely normal. Prepping for Pure Elite is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Restricting my diet and being extremely thorough with macros and calories will always be tough, but it’s not forever and it’s for a competitive sport. In no way is this a sustainable way to live, and I know that, but I can see where people become obsessive. It almost becomes addictive when you see your body change and the scales drop.

But when this is all over, and I begin to put the body fat back on, I want to be able to relax around my food. I want my carb-loading days now to be something I enjoy. This body of mine can lift as much weight as I ask it to, it can carry me everywhere I take it, and it has endured and survived everything I have put it through in my 26 years on this earth – therefore, I should feed it good things without thinking about it. I should love myself without feeling guilty, and so should you.

Sorry for the long and rambling post, thanks for enduring it!

Until next time.