This is a tricky one…
How do we learn to love our body, when all of a sudden, it just changes before our eyes? It’s like, one day we just wake up, look in the mirror, and notice everything at once. Where did these dimples on my legs come from? And stretch marks? I swear I didn’t go to bed like this...
We don’t have weeks, or months to prepare for this, it just happens.
I still clearly remember when I had this moment. I was 16 years old, and I was standing in front of my mirror putting on my size 6 jeans from Bardot (The most ridiculous, uncomfortable pair of jeans ever). As I was pulling them up, I noticed that they felt tighter than usual. As I buttoned them up, they were so tight around my hips that it was digging in to my sides and creating a “muffin top” (as we call it).
Up until this point, I had never really thought about my body image. Growing up, I was very tiny. I loved any sport! I had long limbs, no fat, and lots of muscle! In fact, my Mum used to get comments that she needed to feed me more!
This moment I had in my bedroom, shaped the next six years of my life. From this moment, I started to monitor what I would eat. Then it got worse. I started to throw my dinner in the bin when Mum wasn’t watching. I would take lunch to school, but not eat it. I joined the gym not because I wanted to, but to try and stay skinny and burn calories. I didn’t even understand calories, but I knew this is what adults did when they wanted to lose weight. They ran on a treadmill, right? I had only ever exercised when playing sport, and this was purely for enjoyment!
After a few months of under eating and exercising, my body started to change, and I was noticing the weight falling off me.
Then, things got really bad. Feelings of guilt would come over me whenever I ate. Not just bad food, but any food for that matter. This guilt was no longer just a feeling I could overcome. It was a voice inside my head. A voice that told me I shouldn’t have eaten that, and that you’ll put on weight if you don’t get rid of it. This is when I was no longer in control. This is when my guilt led to bulimia.
I speak quite openly about my eating disorder, and I’m okay with it. The first person I ever told about my eating disorder, was my partner Paul. And that was only 12 months ago when I was already fully recovered! I was with him for over 3 years before I told him of my sickness.
When I finally told him of my sickness, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my chest. Telling him was the final step in my recovery. Although I was no longer sick, I never felt quite there. Before I told him, it’s like I was trying to pretend it had never happened. I was suppressing it.
When I found the courage to tell him, I felt free. I no longer felt ashamed. I no longer felt like I was fighting a battle on my own. I felt understood. I truly felt like a different person. From this point on, I decided to let other people know. I remember the first time I expressed it on social media. My heart was racing, and my hands were shaking. What would people think of me? People think I’ve always had it together? That I’ve always been healthy. They turn to me for inspiration. Will they think I’ve been a big lie? After sitting there contemplating whether I should post it or not, I thought to myself, “Elyce, this eating disorder happened to you, but it doesn’t define you. You’re strong, you’re healthy, you’re happy, but you’re definitely not perfect. Let people in, let people understand what you’ve been through..
Again, once I clicked share, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. Another step forward in the right direction. Another step closer to accepting my past, and becoming a stronger person. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have moment’s where I’m not happy with my body. Where I pick at things. Where “I wish I had”. But maybe that’s just human nature. To want what we don’t have. What I have learnt over the years, is to embrace, and love certain things about my body. Imagine if we were obsessed about the things we actually loved about ourselves. Would we even notice the things we don’t like? We seem to obsess over things that we don’t like, WHICH TO ME, IS CRAZY!
I’m still learning every day to accept the things I don’t have, embrace the things I DO have, and work damn hard for the things that I know will help me live a happy and fulfilled life. Things that I CAN control. These things are my health, my happiness, my strength, my mindset, my relationships, my career, my self discipline, and self love. These things aren’t the dimples on my legs, or the stretch marks on my butt! They are there, and they are NOT going anywhere, so I'm moving on to something worth my time and energy.
If the 16 year old me could give advice, it would be – If you’re keeping something to yourself, speak to someone about it. You may get through it on your own, but with the love and support of somebody who cares about you, you’ll see so much more light at the end.
Don’t ever train for punishment. Train to be better, to move better, to be more powerful, more disciplined, stronger, faster, healthier, happier. Train to have a better quality of life, to set goals, and to push beyond your limits. And most of all, love your body, it’s the only body you will ever have.