I know we all say it at the end of every year but I can’t BELIEVE how quickly this year has gone. I thought I would do a post of my own personal reflection of the year as, even if it may not be interesting to anyone else, for me reflecting is the best way to continue my self development journey, and I urge anyone else to do the same. It has been an absolute rollercoaster of a year and I feel like I have come out of it a completely different person than I went in – much blonder, a bit chunkier and a whole lot happier …
- First and foremost – my first little niece being born! Phoebe Grace was born on the 20th July 2016 and is the most BEAUTIFUL thing I’ve ever seen. Seeing her grow over these past 5 months has got to be the highlight of my year.
- Finishing my year at Breathe Therapies – In September 2015 I started a placement year at Breathe Therapies and SEED Lancashire, an eating disorders service and charity in Preston. It was the hardest, most stressful 9 months of my life but it was also the most rewarding. I grew as a person more than I ever thought possible and for the first time in my life felt like I had made a difference. Leaving there felt like leaving an extended family and despite the stress I wouldn’t change it for the world.
- Ibiza Yoga Retreat -I feel like every time I go away on my own I find another little piece of myself that was missing before. I went to Northern Ibiza for two weeks and before I left I felt burnt out, stressed, underfed and overexercised. Whilst there I did 3 hours of yoga a day, went on daily hikes and swims, listened to hundreds of body positivity and eating disorder recovery podcasts, met the most incredible, interesting, open minded people and came back a different person. I came back calmer, more centred and more myself than I’d ever been. I learnt how to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, to smile through the aches and pains of life and how to live with compassion towards myself and others every single day. Oh and I also ate a lot of pizza and drunk a lot of wine, which helped a lot.
- Starting a blog felt like some sort of huge release to me. I’ve always loved writing and I feel like I have an important story to tell that could potentially help a lot of people, so these two things naturally told me it was the right thing to do. Of course it was scary the first time, admitting to the whole world my struggles but it has helped me to no longer be ashamed of where I was and own my story instead. The feedback I get, particularly from people who can relate to what I’ve been through, makes every blog post worth it.
- Travelling round Vegas and LA with my sister.
- Going to Venice with my boyfriend
- Moving in with my best friend
- Running the Manchester 10K
- Going to London/The Secret Cinema
I think those who know me will know the one and only major downfall of the year … an event we like to call CAFFEINE GATE. This was basically where I consumed 10x too much caffeine powder as part of a psychology experiment and ended up in hospital for a few days with a dodgy heart beat, low potassium levels, shaky limbs and a whole lot of sick. Although it wiped me out for a while it also made me so much more grateful than I’ve ever been towards 1) the people around me (especially my parents for driving to and from the hospital all the time, and my mum for supplying me with soup and fish finger sandwiches) and 2) my body, for keeping me alive and doing everything it could to heal me.
My fitness life has changed the most this year than any other, mainly that it is no longer my life and I no longer have a mini breakdown if I have to miss a planned session. I used to spend a good 2 hours in the gym doing far too much cardio and far too little exercises that would actually help me to progress.
This year I went from solely lifting weights to just focusing on yoga and then calisthenics, only to go back to weightlifting a few months later, just trying to find my niche. But then I realised, if I love it all why can’t I do it all? For now, that’s what feels right. I can wake up in the morning and take my pick of what I fancy for the day. This way allows me to listen to my intuition and my body, gives me freedom and feels way less restricting than waking up and thinking “I have to train legs today.” Maybe one day this will change but until then I’m going to carry on just as I am.
Reading the book Intuitive Eating at the start of the year changed my life. It changed my whole relationship with food, with my body even with the way I exercise. After years of trusting the app MyFitnessPal better than my own body, my signals were way out of whack and I didn’t even know where to start with relearning how to listen to my hunger and fullness signals again. No longer counting my macros has been the best thing I’ve done for myself – when I want a breadstick or a chocolate I no longer have to reach for my phone to enter it into the macro counting app. Eating just kind of became part of every day life again – no more obsessing, no more overthinking carbs/fat calories – just eating, not experiencing any guilt, and moving swiftly on.
In September I started my fourth and final year of uni. I’m not going to lie, it was hard – moving away from home, from my mum, from home comforts back into a student house and getting back into the swing of things academically after my placement year. I started my dissertation and although I know it’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done at university, I’m lucky to be doing it together with an amazing bunch of girls, so so far it’s not been as bad as I was expecting!
I have also recently embarked on my personal training course. I have wanted to do this for as long as I can remember and although it’s going to be tricky doing it alongside my degree I hope it will be worth it.
In all honestly I still have no idea what I want to do next. It literally changes every day – a personal trainer, masters in sport and exercise psychology, clinical psychology, counselling etc etc etc. And then sometimes I really really really just want to open a beach cafe, teach yoga and spend my evenings drinking wine. Who knows, maybe 2017 I’ll finally figure out where I want to be …
Admitting to myself (finally) that I had an eating disorder and was still clinging onto past behaviours was probably the best thing I’ve done not only all year, but my whole life. This allowed me to explore my past, identify my triggers and realise how much the eating disorder was holding me back, and had done for years. So little by little I let go. I felt like I got a tiny piece of my freedom back everytime I fought against ED – stopping counting my macros, learning to eat intuitively, immersing myself in the body positivity and health at every size world, taking multiple rest days/weeks from exercise and finally taking off my activity watch I had worn for 4 years straight, telling me how many calories I had to burn per workout and how many steps I had to do per day. None of these things were easy – they were habits I had followed day in day out for years, so of course they were hard to break. And of course I slipped a couple of times, but I constantly reminded myself why I was doing this. I was, and am, determined to go the full hog this time and that means letting go of everything that no longer serves me.
This year I also feel like I learnt who is really here to stick around, to trust, and who I can rely on. I am grateful for my family for always going the extra mile and for my friends for always being there with brews on hand, and for my roomie Naomi for always watching shit TV with me, letting me borrow her pink blush and having red bush on tap. I’m grateful to my boyfriend who helped me grow as a person and continue with my recovery by supplying me with endless amounts of pizza and carbs, always asking what I’ve had for tea, making me fall in love with food again and constantly reminding me it’s okay to rest. If any of you have got this far, I am eternally grateful for you.
Despite this being the cringiest thing I will ever write, I really believe that 2016 was the year I found myself. I found my identity outside of my eating disorder, relearned how to listen to my intuition in all aspects of life (especially food), finally developed an amazing relationship with my body and for the first time in my life I felt like I was living authentically, rather than what I was “supposed” to be doing, or what I thought everyone else expected of me. I continued to gain weight and right along with it I gained freedom, peace, self compassion and most importantly self love.
So, all in all, I would probably go so far to say that it has been the best year possible. And I plan to make 2017 even better – stick around for part #2 –> New Year Resolutions + Goals!
Thanks for always listening to my rambles.