Hello, and welcome to Bite, Bench, Breathe!
After years of deliberation I have finally put pen to paper and decided to start blogging… A bit late to the party I accept! However, through this site I wish to give you a little insight into my somewhat frantic but wonderful world! I confess that it’s a world dominated by food and fitness, albeit with an underlying interest in mindset and spirituality. But first, my backstory in a nutshell.
If I could use one word to describe my life up until now, it would be CONTROL. Damn, I even love writing that word! As a child I always liked things to be in order. From the way the pens in my pencil case were organised, to the way I would eat my breakfast (Bran Flakes all smashed up into “dust”), I always needed to feel that things were “just right”. As I grew older, moved away to University, started a successful career in the public sector and began playing that game we call “Adulthood”, I still craved control. There was nothing wrong with my life at surface level – I was young, had a good job, had a supportive family, a busy social life and was told that I hadn’t hit too many branches of the Ugly Tree on the way down. And yet, in order for things to feel right, for me to feel safe, I was locked into numerous habits, rituals and routines. Habits such as religiously checking cupboards, leaving the house at the exact same time every morning, counting anything and everything that could possibly be counted.
Before too long these compulsive behaviours filtered into every aspect of my life, including my two primary passions – food and fitness. I soon found myself locked into a pattern of excessive exercise. Not because I wanted to spend hours of my life mindlessly running on a treadmill, but because for some reason I felt like I had to. Meanwhile I began to adopt more and more “behaviours” surrounding my eating. I dread to think of the amount of time I wasted counting out blueberries, or waiting for the clock to tick before I would allow myself a sip of coffee. The weight was dropping off me, and suddenly all of those people who had been telling me how great I looked were now sending me emails from across the office apologising for staring at my arms and asking if I was ok. And the funny thing is, I thought I was! I was drunk in love with this life, I had never felt so in control.
However, as my weight plummeted I found it increasingly difficult to function. Work became a struggle. Relationships were either non-existent or extremely volatile. I was eventually diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). To this day I still have the irrational fear that I wasn’t “good enough” at Anorexia, that somehow the doctors had got that one wrong. But, in reality, I was too thin. Too cold. So so angry. I had my driving licence revoked and was caught in the trap of having to run the distance of a Half Marathon just to get to work each day. Which, lets be honest, I loved because it justified me doing even more exercise. I was admitted into hospital for the best part of a year, following which I came out and lost all of the weight I had gained and then some. I was re-admitted the following year, before discharging myself at an even lower weight than when I had gone back in.
In the months and years that followed I continued attending outpatient therapy. I kept up my fitness regime, perhaps controversially. I explored numerous food trends. I took time out every day to meditate. Somehow, with the support of my family, friends, colleagues, therapist and the social media community, I restored my body to a healthier weight – that Body Mass Index that I simply refer to as “purgatory”. I then met my coach, the insanely knowledgable and hilarous Eddie Abbew, who helped push me to a genuinely heathy weight. I stopped running – it simply isn’t good for me. I focused solely on weight training, with the occasional yoga class thrown in to help with the “head stuff”. I started eating Carbs on Carbs on Carbs. Peanut Butter on Carbs. The Personal Trainer at my gym, who I had asked to yank me off the treadmill if he ever saw me running, later became my boyfriend having noticed the appearance of big old glutes as I walking lunged across the length of the gym. Finally, I had found my happy place.
So, what now? I still have my demons, and I can still be a bit of a control freak. But I am happy and healthy, for the first time in years. I am due to step on stage in April 2016 at the Miami Pro World Championships and in May 2016 at the UKBFF Bodypower Classic. I am proud of my body when it looks muscular and lean, but I am also proud when it is soft and more feminine. I am a Personal Trainer and Spin Instructor. I am fascinated by the way in which psychology and mindset affects our relationships with our bodies, with food and with exercise. I am a champion for the mental health charity MIND and hope that, by sharing my experiences and opening up the dialogue around mental health, I can help others who are affected by Anorexia and/or OCD.
My hope is that this blog will contain snapshots of my meals, my workouts, honest product reviews and links to other blogs that I love. I hope to do so with an appreciation of the fact that we all have a different relationship towards food, fitness and body image, some of which is positive and some of which needs exploration and development. My way is not the “right way”, it is simply what has worked for me. I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@BimsWinter) for even more up to date content, and I would welcome any feedback or suggestions for future posts.
In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Love and respect yourself always.