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Food and the Fitness Industry

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Hello, I’m Rosie, and I’m going to be doing a few posts here on Sean’s blog. I will probably talk about all sorts of things, as my brain can be very random and go off on tangents, but the main purpose behind my blogs will be to bring some awareness to eating disorders. To help dispel some of the stigma behind them, and to provide a little Internet hug to anyone out there who may be suffering from one. I’ll also hopefully show you that it is possible to live an active lifestyle post foodie issues.

So who am I? I’m a 27 year old maths graduate living in the north west with my boyfriend. I have always been active: as a child I trained in Ballet, Tap, Modern and Jazz dancing from the age of two; I ran with Sale Harriers; competed in various biathlons and trained with the North West Elite Hurdling Squad.

I have also suffered from eating problems since the age of 15, when I developed severe anorexia. Since then I’ve abused my body in various ways including, but not limited to, binge eating, bulimia, starvation, laxative abuse and compulsive over exercising. At many points over the 10 plus years, I was ready to give up, thinking that nothing would ever get better; my periods stopped for 6 years, and I was severely depressed.

The first thing you should appreciate about an eating disorder is it’s really actually nothing to do with weight or appearance. The issues with food are a way of coping with other issues in life – a source of control, of comfort, of achievement and sometimes of punishment. For many years I used my own anorexia as a mental ‘trump card’, when I didn’t feel perfect or good enough at anything else in life, the fact I’d hit X amount of calories a day, or lost X lbs, became my crutch: “at least I can do that”.

What on earth does this have to do with a fitness blog, you might be thinking?! Despite the fact that eating disorders aren’t simply about weight and Calories, this becomes a huge focus and distraction technique for the sufferer. It can be very difficult to escape the compulsive Calorie counting and weighing etc, especially in a society where this type of behaviour has almost become the norm for many fitness fanatics.

Imagine you’ve suffered for years from an eating disorder; you’re trying to learn to have a more ‘normal’ relationship with food, but all around you many people are behaving in exactly the same way that you did and slapping the word fitness over it. You know deep down that it is not normal to count the Calories in every single food item that enters your mouth; to weigh every morsel of food; to count macros… and yet it’s very hard to remember this when so many out there seem to have adopted this as normal. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that there is a time and place for Calorie and macro counting – for elite athletes and those in prep for a competition – but for your every day Jo Bloggs fitness enthusiast, this sort of behaviour needs to stop.

For a few years I had to abstain from physical activity until I had hit a certain benchmark in my recovery. I currently have a fairly good (still improving) relationship with food, and a (typically female) still improving level of self-esteem, and so over the last 3-4 years I have been able to be active again – I am now training for my second marathon and my first ultra, and have recently ventured into the weights section of the gym.

I am passionate about fitness. I care about fuelling my body well. But I think there’s a fine line between giving a sh*t and becoming obsessive to the point of having a problem.

I’m no professional, but I really hope you continue to read some of my posts in the future. Unfortunately, eating disorders and disordered eating are a more common occurrence than you might think, especially in the fitness industry.

Rosie - Author

Rosie is a keen runner, currently training for her second marathon and first ultra. She is also in recovery from a 10 year eating disorder; sharing some of her experiences with food and exercise here on the blog.