Today I wanted to share with you a story of success which has already helped out a lot of people. This is a blog post written by fitness athlete Jessica Bennett, on her own blog back in February, in aid of eating disorder awareness week.
It is an extremely important story and one which I am happy to be publishing on the site, to enable sharing with another group, who will not have read it when originally published. I met Jessica online through my JNL Fusion sister Aoife MacIntyre, a Nurse, specialising in mental health and in particular eating disorders, and ambassador for fitness changing lives.
There are so many reasons why we start to exercise and one thing which I feel strongly about is that no one should be criticised or looked down upon for their personal reason. There is no shame in admitting that you were living an unhappy life, maybe using unhealthy behaviours to cope and maybe actually not coping.
This blog post is for anyone who (or knows someone who) has been, or is currently in this situation of hitting rock bottom. This is a from the heart, truthful and raw story of a broken young lady who has rebuilt her life and body, to now be a sponsored athlete and fitness role model.
Thank you so much for sharing
I’ve toyed with the idea of this blog for some time now. Part of me didn’t want to share the things I’m going to share. Why? To avoid being judged and risk people thinking I’m some nut job either after sympathy or harbouring deep rooted issues she’ll carry for life! Truth is neither of those things are true but I’ve grown to accept people judge, it’s human nature. People may look at me and think I’ve got it all, what could possibly be wrong in her life. Right now, yes I feel a million dollars, but I’ve earned that the hard way.Pull up a seat, this is going to be a long one. I’m likely to go off on a tangent as i’ll touch on other issues that contributed to the topic of this blog; these topics are whole other blogs in themselves and if anyone would like me to share those stories re drug addiction and domestic abuse, say the word and i’ll bite the bullet! I apologise in advance for the poorly written piece. I’m 100% streetwise, 10% educated :/ I annoyingly overwrite all my sentences (So sue me)I’m 28yrs old but I have an old soul! I’ve always been mature beyond my years and rebelled at an early age after the death of my father when I was 16. We weren’t that close- I know you shouldn’t have regrets, but that is a regret of mine, I wish he could see me now!My school teacher used to describe me as a cross between Cindy Crawford and Ali G! Strut round like a model but always acting the clown and making people laugh. All I wanted to do back then was be a model, guess this is where the problems started. I was blessed with curves but longed for a stick thin boyish figure that so many women today believe is ‘attractive’ this needs to change.At the age of 17 I got mixed up in what I can only call a ‘bad crowd’ on the wrong side of town shall we say. I quickly got dragged into a messy world of house parties and drug taking.. Ok a lot of people can relate to this I’m sure. But if you’ve been paying attention to my personal attributes you’ll understand I’m a little ‘all or nothing’ in my approach. It wasn’t long before I discovered I was as good at drug taking as I am at my current lifestyle, excuse my humour, it’s not to cause offence and I’m aware what a serious issue this is but it’s the truth, I was disgustingly good at doing drugs, it went beyond recreational use for me, 7 days without sleep was not uncommon. I’ll be honest that’s where the nickname ‘machine’ originally came from :/ Aint no party like a JB party. Looking back now, knowing things I did, I’m lucky to be alive. Am I ashamed of a lot of things I’ve done in my past, yes. Do I regret them, no.. All these things have shaped me into the person I am today and I’ve truly gained deep empathy from these experiences.
A contributing factor to my drug taking was my longing desire to be thin and stay thin! Drugs were an easy option. If any of my friends were to stop and think I’d be interested to know how often they ever recalled seeing me eat any food during these years :/
Something else to touch on briefly, leading up to my drug taking being at its worst i suffered greatly in a violent relationship, i wont go into detail other than to say i had several bones broken during this time. I was left a broken young lady at the age of 21. While I’m on this topic I’d just like to thank my mum, I’d shut out my family during these years but what I put my mum through is unforgivable. Seeing her now sitting by my bedside in hospital on several occasions by the resuscitation room, hooked up to machines, after I’d taken an overdose of enough anti depressants, beta blockers and pain killers to knock out a heard of rhino. At the time, this was no cry for help, I genuinely believed life wasn’t worth living. Was this a stupid thing to do and incredibly selfish, yes absolutely, but unless you have walked in my shoes.. Don’t judge me. I’m sorry mum and I love you xxx
Rock bottom! Where do you go from there! I couldn’t look myself in the mirror, my confidence, totally obliterated, I didn’t like myself, I hated my body. I needed to regain some control- i woke up one morning when i was 24 and thought, enough is enough! i am not going to be this person anymore, i do not belong in this dark world I was mixed up in. I’m sick of feeling this ill and damaging my body, i quit! and i did! I make it sound that simple, there was obviously more to it, but the key point is I DECIDED to change. However, as is typical of these things, i simply replaced one addiction for another, I regained control, I did that with food. At the time I’d moved away working with horses, I’ve managed some top dressage yards in the UK and Europe, whilst being pretty f’ed up clearly! I’d safely say I’m a solitary person and often shut myself off, happy in my own company I guess (I’m amazing! Why not!) working 15 hour long and physical days, 7 days a week was not uncommon, I loved my job and horses were my life, the same dedication I now put into my training. During this period there were times I survived on a grape a day and a bucket of harmful slimming pills, I no longer took drugs, how else was I possibly meant to stay thin!!!! I’d be drinking 1-2 bottles of wine every night just to get to sleep, often getting up at 3am to do sit ups or Hoover :/ wtf?! I thrived on the routine and control of this lifestyle, with no one to really watch over me and spending a lot of time alone it was very easy to cover up. I became thinner and thinner, I LOVED my new body, proud everyday when I saw the weight flying off, getting through a day without giving In to the temptation of food was an achievement. My old moto “eating and sleeping is cheating” oh the irony!
Truth is if I carried on the way I was going, I was going to kill myself- end of, long and short of it. Totally stupid and out of control. So absorbed in the desire to be ‘thin’ I’m over 5’10” so you can imagine, not a good look, lollipop head, I could get in size 6 clothes with ease at one point. For my height that is disgusting, but at the time that made me proud :/
Much the same as I described above, I woke up one day and told myself, enough is enough, I can’t keep doing this, I need to get better!
It’s been a long road, food and I have had a turbulent relationship for most my life. Had someone had said to me a few years ago I’d be eating 7 meals a day consisting of carbs I’d have raced to the nearest bridge and proceeded to hurl myself from it!
What strikes a cord with me, is that suffers of disorders like anorexia or bulimia are often thought of as weak. This is so far from the truth, these people are actually incredibly strong. To inhibit this level of control over what they put in their mouth etc, trust me it takes a whole new level of dedication to maintain an illness like this, it’s purely channeled in the totally wrong way. The ability and attributes people like me and others who have been through this have, potentially, if used correctly can develop outstanding, talented people with dedication and commitment like no other.
It’s only recently coming across people who I feel empathy towards and I see myself in years ago has made me realise how dear this is to my heart and that I genuinely care and want to make a difference. I can’t stress enough how important proper nutrition is, I have eaten myself thin! Ripped, Toned and healthy! All from food! Do I love the control and routine of my lifestyle, yes I love it- but is this a bad thing?? I can’t miss a meal, it’s so important to me after educating myself and teaching myself to finally love and appreciate food.
Lasting effects: anyone currently behaving in the manner I’ve described above, please please read this next section carefully, use this as your wake up call to get help as you WILL have lasting effects from what you are doing to your body!
The road to coeliac: I still get embarrassed talking about this now, these issues are all to real for many and should be talked about. I began to battle my issues with food and start to eat normally in 2009, my body literally didn’t know what had hit it! I physically couldn’t handle eating, it felt like my stomach rejected everything. I’d bloat to a ridiculous size whatever I tried to eat, couple that with cramps, gas and constantly going to the toilet, daily life became unbearable. As time progressed I had to buy clothes 2 sizes too big just to get them to fasten around my swollen stomach, it never went down, I often got mistaken for being pregnant :/ all the confidence I’d just started to build back up was knocked right out of me! I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, back to hating my body, it took all my strength not to revert back to starving myself. I had every test going, months and months back and forth to the doctors and hospital in floods of tears, begging them to help me. I’d go to the gym at stupid times when no one was there and work out in a big jumper to hide it, I wanted to hide from the world once more. To cut a long story short I sought private healthcare through desperation and finally got the help I needed. It was only spring last year 2012 I got diagnosed with coeliac disease, an auto immune disease which means I can’t tolerate gluten (something I strongly advise we all eradicate from our diets anyway) I discovered the paleo diet and never looked back, slowly my body started to heal and get used to eating normally. This adjustment has taken a couple of years sadly! This takes us to my first progress pic july 2012. I still suffer with my stomach on a daily basis, symptoms that may never go away, steaming from what I’ve done to my body over the years. I still bloat after every meal, I’ve found lots of ways to help and control it, if you’d like me to share this in another blog I’m more than happy too.
I can now weigh myself everyday.. Ask my coach, I weigh a frickin tonne! Does this effect my mental state in anyway, no, not in the slightest, why? Because I love myself (no shit your all thinking lol) I laugh at myself, I take the piss constantly as do others (all men btw) calling me a ‘fatty’ I love the banter and shows how far I’ve come in myself. What’s funny of late is the many people in the gym who have said to me “your massive” haha I carry a lot of muscle and I’m sooooo proud of it! The first time I heard that my heart sunk and I had what I can only describe as a ‘wobble’ I sat at home and thought omg, I’m massive that’s not what I want to be :/ what have I done! Luckily a fleeting thought, I looked In the mirror and thought ‘fuck I love my new bod!’ I got curves! Ive got a hardbody! Go me! Massive.. Ooossshhhh!
I have the upmost respect for food and for my body, I love myself and I healed myself, anyone is capable of this, it’s all in the mind x
My new tattoos are the final part of the healing process for me, they all have meaning.
“Love, passion, freedom”
Italian script in honor of my late father. Reminders of the dark times I’ve been through with depression and at the hands of terribly controlling men, locked away from the world. Life really is beautiful and I’ve wasted far too much of mine, life is for living, live yours to the max.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself”
That quote is so dear to me. For years I was so consumed with being ‘lost’ no knowing my purpose or ever fitting in anywhere. 8 months ago after my life fell apart yet again at the hands of a man, I lost everything. My house, my car, my belongings, all I had was a couple of bin bags to my name and a few extra bruises for my troubles. I’ve started over, rebuilt my life and taken control, finally doing what I want to do and living for me. People aren’t ‘lost’ things won’t just happen for you, ‘create’ yourself!
Euphoria- a beautiful word, describes my elation and happiness with my life from here on
The sky’s the limit- the sky is endless, nothing is beyond my limitation, reach for the stars
I’d love to say this is my life story but i’m just giving you an insight into a few chapters.
I’ve started yet another new chapter in life, importantly, the most positive yet, I DECIDED TO CHANGE MY LIFE, I could have fallen apart last year. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and got to work ‘creating myself’. I will achieve my dreams. A key point I want to get across is that i’m not woe is me, I don’t constantly talk about the past, I’ve let go and moved on, I’m a private person and sharing this wasn’t easy. I take responsibility for the bad decisions I’ve made in the past, I am accountable. My positivity isn’t faked, it’s been earned.
Thank you so much for reading this, it’s a deeply personal blog. Am I concerned who will read it, yes. Am I concerned what you will all now think of me, yes. Are your opinions my business? no. If I can inspire just one person to battle their inner demons then its worth it. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
“Without struggle, their is no progress”
Never judge a book by its cover, everyone has a story to tell.
You get one life… One body… It’s a gift.. Cherish it and love yourself xxx
Be inspired ❤