My Relationship with Food & My Body Image: It’s Time To Be Honest

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Hi everyone! I am back with another blog post and this week I am going to share my food and body image journey with you. Not only is this incredibly difficult for me to share but it’s also an insight into my journey over the past few years.

Speaking about the hard times can sometimes be the greatest healing remedy. It’s a confession to yourself and it’s also a process of becoming stronger. No matter what situation you’re in, it’s important to speak out if you’re struggling. I know it’s hard but I can promise you, that someone is waiting there to listen. Whether that’s me, your mum, your neighbour or your friend. Be brave, speak out and please don’t struggle alone.

*As a disclaimer, I just want to say that this blog post is not for attention and I do not want extra engagement from this. I want this blog post to help other people and make others feel like they’re not alone in their darkness. I want people to be able to talk about this topic with confidence and help one another. It’s important that we use mental health, eating disorders and much more to bring us all together and not create a divide. Also, please be aware that there are some upsetting images included within this blog post. These are to show you the real moments of my life over the past few years. I am not a qualified nutritionist or a personal trainer – I am sharing my story to empower and inspire others. If you need advice please seek professional help.

“Your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning and transformation”.

The Story

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2013 – Uneducated about food and fitness. Did lots of cardio and restricted my food intake.

My negative relationship with food began in my teenage years when I was badly bullied at school. During this time, my obsession with food consumption was an escape for me. This was also the time I started to blog about my life (2013).

During my teens, I was obsessed with modelling, catwalk shows, glossy magazines and much more. This was when I started modelling for various brands and my obsession with catwalk shows and modelling grew from here. I remember when I was 15 and I was posing in front of a camera in a bikini… I felt so vulnerable. My obsession with modelling began to brainwash me and I then found myself restricting my food.

Just as a side note, the women on the front of magazines don’t exist. In fact, they do, but the images have been edited by a thousand filters and adjustments. Not only does this blur the perception of the female body, but it can also have detrimental effects on people who lack body confidence. When I was a teenager, I was brainwashed into thinking that women really do look like the magazine covers (flawless, streamlined curves and no pimples). Eventually, the constant comparison of myself with others, made me hate my body. I have spent around 8 years at war with my appearance… Disliking food, using it as a tool for weight loss and fighting against it.

When I was a teenager, I was uneducated about nutrition and fitness and I would endlessly read about fad diets (I didn’t have a clue! Image above of me). At this point, I didn’t train in the gym and I wasn’t active at all. I was obsessed with losing weight! Even though, I didn’t have much ‘weight’ on me.

Soon after my obsession with magazines and flawless catwalk shows… The internet took over and Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram were all on the scene. Was this a good thing? At first, it was wonderful and it still has some incredible perks (connection, collaboration and discussion). However, as many people will agree, social media is used for the exploitation of highlight reels. You won’t see many people sharing their ‘failures’, their bad angles or their real sh*t days. In fact, you’ll see edited images, you’ll get sucked into feeling ashamed of your life… And your perception of fitness, food and well-being won’t be how you originally thought.

When I first created my social accounts, I got sucked into comparison again. I followed a lot of fitness accounts at this time in my life and I found that I constantly compared myself to other girls on the internet. It went from comparing myself to women on magazines to then taking this obsession to my social media platforms. I felt like I couldn’t escape the comparison! It constantly haunted me. I constantly felt inadequate and I constantly wanted to change my body.

Don’t get me wrong, the social media platforms have helped me craft my hobby and they have also allowed me to connect with some incredible people. I have learnt to use my platforms as a sharing device for myself and I also only follow people who make me laugh, make me feel good or simply add a sprinkle of inspiration to my life. I have unfollowed everyone who didn’t add value to my social media feed or provide positivity. This was probably one of the greatest things I have done since having my own social media platforms – I wish I had done it sooner!

Motivation and comparison are two different things. People can motivate you and encourage you to take action in your life but comparison is truly the thief of joy. Follow people who inspire you to be better. Follow people who motivate you and don’t follow people who make you feel inadequate or small.

When I was 16, I had my first PT and I learnt slowly about resistance training and this is when I stepped back and realised the incredible benefits of weight training. It took a while for my body to respond to weight training but it was totally worth it. Without the knowledge and tuition off others, I wouldn’t have been able to do it (huge thanks to anyone who has helped me and continues to help me!).

As the years went by, my confidence in weight training slowly grew and I became much stronger in the gym. I became more focused on my weight training and I slowly started to do research on nutrition. I was so happy with my progress a few years ago and I still managed to strike balance in my life.

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In 2017,  I went through a breakup, I lost many friends and I was struggling through my studies. This led to me experiencing an eating disorder and going to extreme lengths to lose weight. I have never experienced this type of restriction before and it progressively got worse over the year. I went from eating a balanced diet (that I enjoyed) to restricting every ounce of food. I restricted every form of carbohydrate and I was obsessed with eating a high protein diet. As my relationship with food spiralled out of control, my relationship with training became obsessive too.

After struggling through a breakup and broken friendships, I was in a very dark place – in fact, I was riddled with depression and anxiety. Controlling my food and my overtraining was my only option to allow me to be ‘in control’. Everything in my life lacked control but I had control over two things: my diet and my fitness routine and that helped ‘mask’ the other broken parts in my life. However, they were never truly forgotten about.

As an example: I would train fasted in the morning, sleep post workout (because I was shattered and I didn’t want to eat) and then I would eventually eat a small meal. I would train x2 a day and control every ounce of food. I would sleep when I was hungry and I would do everything to fight hunger signals off. I was obsessed with my weight and I was obsessed with having a six pack.

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This was the most unhappy I have ever felt in my whole entire life. I was ripping my body apart and breaking it down when I should have been strengthening it and supporting it through hard times. I slept for around 4-5 hours a night with a broken pattern, I would wake up starving and my stomach would hurt from lack of food. My digestion was very poor at this stage and I always felt bloated. I would cry all of the time through exhaustion and I had extreme anxiety – to the point that I couldn’t leave the house most days or even get dressed and leave my bed. During this time in my life, everything was a blur because my brain and body were starved of nutrients and strength. Most days, my heart would ache from confusion. Throughout this time, I also lost my period for 6 months. This took every aspect of femininity away from me. I felt terrible and I wanted to die.

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When I lost my period, I attended numerous doctors appointments. One doctor told me that if I wanted to have children in the future, I needed to make a rapid change with my life… & that’s when I did. Infertility scared me and it made me realise that I was ruining my body and crippling it with pain and damage for the sake of being skinny. After this chat with the doctor, I decided to work endlessly each day on self-love and acceptance, gaining weight and becoming mentally and physically stronger. I had CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), I did daily meditation practices (which were intense and took up the majority of my day) and I also saw a hypnotherapist for 6 weeks (who changed my life). It was an intense few months of recovery but I was dedicated to progression and healing myself. I realised that I was allowing situations in my life to control my love for my body and I was determined to change this.

I have gone from weighing 6.5 stone to a healthy 9 stone and I am still trying to work each day on self-acceptance. It’s a work in progress and it doesn’t happen overnight. What works for me, might not work for you. I have been through a long journey with food but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Struggling with my body image has allowed me to understand the importance of self-acceptance.

To the girl I was then: I forgive you

You have one body. You must appreciate it, look after it and enjoy it at every stage of your life. Whether you’re a teenager, you’re an adult, your post-op, post-pregnancy or losing weight… You must appreciate your body during every stage in your life. At the end of the day, your body is supporting you through everything and is helping you achieve your greatest – don’t take it for granted.

The biggest turning point in my journey was when the doctor told me to make a rapid change. I am now in a really strong place of progression. I am enjoying my fitness, my food and I am really happy with how far I have come. It’s taken a really long time but I can officially say, pushing through the darkness was worth it. My journey with my body and with food has strengthened my existing friendships and I have met some incredible people along the way and I am very grateful.

If you’re struggling with your body image or with your relationship with food… Please speak to someone. Whether that’s your friend, your personal trainer or a doctor. Please seek help, speak out and don’t be afraid. I wish I had been honest sooner.

Food and fitness strengthen and enhance your life – they shouldn’t become your life. Embrace every moment, enjoy eating delicious nutrient dense foods and strengthen your body – physically and mentally. You can go to the gym, drink water, and take your vitamins, but if you don’t deal with the sh*t in your heart and head – you’re still going to be unhealthy.  You don’t need expensive sports and yoga classes and the top superfoods. You need to understand the importance of good food, resting, laughing more and enjoying being active. We all have ‘down moments’ and we all have happy moments too, embrace each feeling and don’t waste a single moment.

Whether you choose to dance and stretch in your living room, walk to work or run around the park… Fitness and nutrition mean different things to different people and the definition of healthy is whatever you want it to be. Love your pimples, your stretch marks, your freckles, your scars and your hairs. Embrace what you have and always work on becoming a better person each day. Don’t let yesterday’s activities ruin today’s happiness. Be kind to others, you don’t know what they are going through.

Support eachother. Speak out and don’t suffer in silence.

I would love to know if this blog has helped. Please use the comment section below or message me on my social media channels! I love hearing from you all.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and continues to support me.

I am forever grateful and I can’t thank you all enough.

Love always,

Jessica, x

4 thoughts on “My Relationship with Food & My Body Image: It’s Time To Be Honest

  1. Debs says:

    A wonderful open, honest and very emotional read Jess xxx well done sweetheart 🥰
    You bared your soul in that piece of writing x
    I’m so happy you’re at peace with yourself now and I’ve never seen you glowing with so much happiness xxxx lots of love to you and your mum and dad 💕💙

    Like

    • Jessica Ward says:

      Hi Deb,

      Thank you so much for commenting. I am in a really happy place right now and I couldn’t be more grateful for my journey! Thank you for being so kind and for supporting me. Lots of love, always xxx

      Like

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