Hi all my D has periodically kept a blog in her recovery which she publishes to try to help others. I thought I’d share her latest insight. I know we’ve come a long way as a family when I read some of this and it opens my eyes as to what she’s had to deal with. She is a deep thinker 😬❤️❤️
“As a continuation from my last post (Cycles)- I have managed to successfully break out of mine for the past couple of weeks, and the main component that helped prove that my fears were irrational and exaggerated was: losing my abs.
It's odd isn't it? Even typing those 3 words feels inherently negative; 'losing my abs'- it's almost as if I should be ashamed of it, considering the power of the platform and worth we've put on being 'shredded', or 'fit'. Even though the meaning of 'fitness' has completely changed, and is now a marketing strategy to scare people into a certain appearance- not to encourage everyone to enjoy their lives and maintain a happy and healthy state. With all of this constantly buzzing around in our world, on our phones, tv, banners, in supermarkets; it's easy to wonder what is wrong with your body. Why don't I have a six-pack? Why don't I look as good as them? Instead, we should be wondering what is wrong with them- AKA the businesses- not anyone else, not our own bodies, but why these organisations are so motivated to trying to make us all strive to be the same? Insecure, fearful and jealous. At the end of the day, they are businesses, they need money to survive- our money. As a marketing strategy it is quite ingenious: labelling an appearance as desirable, encouraging people to work towards achieving that unrealistic image, connecting the image to 'health' and increasing life expectancy. Who doesn't want to live longer, or have more opportunities for new experiences? By labelling this image with health, they are able to create a fear of being unhealthy via death and being undesirable, leading to unhappiness. Effectively, they have created an infinite income, as the majority of the globe are now dependent, desperate, active consumers, which constantly perpetuates fear, while increasing the success of their advertisements.
What I find even more ludicrous is that the products we are sold to reach 'our' goals in appearance or fitness are increasingly more expensive, while actually containing less substance. For example, the Weight Watchers brand has food products labelled as 'calorie controlled/counted'- they are literally claiming in marvellously exaggerated and colourful fonts that THIS product is designed to leave you hungry. Low calorie means less nutrition and satisfaction for a similar, or usually inflated price, compared to a regular meal that would actually give you what your body needs to be able to carry out your daily activities. This basically means that if you were to choose the Weight Watchers meal, you would need to then go and buy another meal or snack to be satisfied and fuelled. However, it is hard to realise this when we are currently being indoctrinated into thinking that low calorie= healthy= skinner= a desirable body= happiness.
When the majority of declared 'health experts' are advocating for the amount of exercise required to 'burn off' a food product to be added onto labels (including the Chairs of the Royal Society of Public Health) are also supported by the government, and appear in the news (thus gaining more exposure than the few logical health experts that truly want to help people with their health); why should we trust these published articles and advertisements as to how we should live our lives, when all they want to do is earn more money?
Fair enough, maybe you go to the gym to truly increase your cardiovascular capacity as you've heard it increases your life expectancy. But if you detest every second spent in the gym, or running, doesn't that just counteract the hypothetic seconds you've 'added' to your life expectancy? Why not focus on other factors that you enjoy, such as relaxation techniques (yes yoga and mediation, but there is also painting, gaming and socialising that have the same effects on your happiness and standard of living). Alternatively, you could stop worrying about the future altogether, thus stop trying to control the inevitable/ unknown.
Coming back to my own struggles over my appearance and abs, I now don't understand the obsession with it all, nor can I comprehend how I'm supposed to believe that superficial features are a clear sign of fitness or health. This is because even my friends (who would never want to cause harm) have described me as being incredibly 'fit', yet my blood tests proved the contrary. I had been sent to A&E, and my heart rate was reduced to 32bpm- apparently indicating I could've had a heart attack at any point. I believed having abs was another achievement under the bracket of 'gym gains', but how can abs or being 'shredded' be a 'gain' when you are literally losing body mass, including fat and muscle; despite after 'cutting' your calories you can apparently see more muscle. You're constantly in calorific deficit to 'earn' these 'gains', when on the flip side, you're losing insulation, organ protection and joint lubrication (if we want to talk about physical aspects). I found that the largest losses weren't physical; I lost the energy to express my personality, socialise, crack a smile or achieve my true dreams in other areas of life that hadn't been projected onto me by the media.
So, in conclusion, for those of you who aren't able to see my social medias: it's not 'losing' abs/ 'gains', its losing restrictive behaviours around foods, losing control over exercise and other activities for major gains elsewhere. Through breaking my cycle I have only just come to truly understand 3 things that I've always known and been told:
- Firstly, self-care and self-love aren't completely achieved through actions (although they can contribute to the overall sense). For me, self-care is giving yourself the permission to enjoy everything and nothing. For me it isn't the physical act of doing something, but the state of acceptance and thus contentment. Self-love is loving the you now, as well as the past you. I will never shame any of my appearances. Everyone’s healthy looks different. Yes, with one shape I’m living free and with some of my past shapes I was reaching the peak of restriction, but if I was to look like any of my past or current forms, and still be fulfilling all of my needs to function happily, then that’s me.
- Never let anyone tell you how you should be living your life- a lot of people have always been asking me for gym and food tips- even while I was probably the illest I’ll ever be (fingers crossed), when I myself was mad following that regime; which I got from the many many businesses out there that fuel a fear of ‘imperfections’ that THEY created. Looking back now, (and removing the context of the current hold the media has over us all) it seems even madder that people would seek out advice from an incredibly and publicly ill person- especially when they were asking me how to eat and train when those were the two exact things I had got completely wrong, and that had got me so ill. From this day, even though I am in a different state, people still ask ME how to live. So now, I just sit back and relax till I find something I actually want to do, not what I'm told I should do, or feel obligated to do.
- Lastly, change your mindset, not your body. The things that make you happy are the things that make you happy, not the things you do to receive compliments that replicate a sensation of 'happiness' from all of the attention and approval. At the end of the day, it's dangerous to place all of your happiness on external, materialistic or superficial notions, which can easily be taken away”