I think it’s really important to surround ourselves with the right people. During the latter years of my eating disorder, I lived alone. I had a job that paid well and I valued my independence, but living alone meant that some of my obscure eating habits went unnoticed and became ‘normal’. No one was around to ask me why I was weighing my lettuce leaves, or why I had to buy only a days food at a time (as otherwise I’d eat a weeks worth at once). No one commented that I didn’t ever eat breakfast. No one saw that I’d eat jar after jar of pickled onions, packet after packet of salad, and pot after pot of sugar free jelly.
I remember, embarrassingly, the first time my boyfriend stayed over at my house, having him throw out all my cutlery as he said it was rusty; having to tell him to bring his own breakfast; having to explain why my cupboards and fridge were bare. The thing is, I’d suffered from an eating disorder for so long, that there were some things I didn’t even realise weren’t normal anymore. I remember, with his encouragement, having breakfast regularly for the first time in years; pouring milk on my Weetabix instead of water; letting him get my breakfast without weighing the Weetabix or the milk. I remember forcing myself to go out for his birthday meal, without telling him there was an issue, despite the fact I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been for a meal at a restaurant that didn’t have the Calorie information displayed online. I let his mum cook for me. That was a big one! I ate a lunch that consisted of more than a pack of popcorn and an apple. I increased my allowable Calories above the 1050 a day it had been for years. I had food in the cupboards again.
My boyfriend is an incredibly fit and active individual, and does take care to fuel his body well. Yet he retains a balance and still has what he enjoys. He was a good role model for my eating, something that I hadn’t had before. Still now, when one of my friends takes on a new ‘no carb’ diet to shed weight, and I have a mini panic at the amount of carbs I eat, he reminds me that it’s necessary for my training. In fact, it’s necessary just for a balanced lifestyle. He has been a true rock in my recovery.
Recently I have been thinking a lot about the fact that who we surround ourselves with in life extends to the world of social media aswell. Have you ever heard of the phrase “you are the company you keep”?! Just take a minute to think about who you follow on Instagram, on Twitter, on Facebook. Are the majority of them aligned with what you want your values to be? Or, like me, do you realise that you follow a lot of girls on Instagram whose abs you don’t even like! A lot of bikini competitors? A lot of incessantly fit people? I think it’s so important to follow a cross section of people and friends. Yes one of my friends is a bikini competitor, one is a power lifter, one is an aspiring Royal Marine. But this is now a small section of who I follow.
I think it’s necessary to have a little reality check on social media every now again, to recognise you’re seeing a snapshot of people’s lives. Otherwise, without even noticing it, you begin to see food being displayed in pretty patterns or (as was mentioned in an earlier post on this blog) girls taking half naked selfies when making cups of tea and flexing every muscle in their body, as a normal thing. If this is the case, you need to take a step back and redefine your normal again; to surround yourself with people, both virtually and in real life, who have a balanced lifestyle and diet. Results can be achieved with a balance, maintained with a balance, and sustained with a balance. The very nature of an extreme is that it cannot be maintained.