The following may contain some trigger warnings for those currently suffering from an eating disorder, read with caution.

I have always been confident taking part in sports and being active, it’s something that comes naturally to me. I loved playing football & basketball, doing gymnastics or dancing in front of mirrors –  or pretty much anything that I could see my reflection in, I threw the Javelin for Scotland when I was a teenager and I have remained active my entire life. So it may surprise you that an eating disorder came into fruition when I was in Primary 7, aged 11/12 years old. I would hide food from my parents, wearing baggy jogging bottoms with the pockets lined with kitchen roll to easily dispose of the food on my plate. I would eat junk food and then make myself sick and think of different plans and lies I could spin to keep my secret. I came out the other side of the eating disorder in the early years of High School but it left me with crippling body dysmorphia and I relapsed in 2014/2015, when I was 21 years old. It was during this relapse that I found and fell in love with the gym.

I was friends with the owner of the gym I went to so I reached out to start personal training sessions to sort myself out – I did not disclose I was going through an eating disorder relapse. I quickly found out that I couldn’t go to my PT sessions without eating or I would be light headed after the first few minutes of training so I started to ensure I ate before I went. After a few months I gave in to my feelings of hunger that I experienced after a work out and I found myself looking forward to eating a meal – a feeling I was not used to. When I started putting on weight and muscle I began noticing definition in my legs and I started to like what I was seeing in the mirror – another feeling I was not used to. I continued the personal training sessions and they became a bit like therapy to me, I opened up about my eating disorder and we monitored my eating and training regularly. I made the conscious decision to never weigh myself again as it is a trigger for me. So, my PT weighs me, does my body fat percentage and as long as I look in the mirror and I feel comfortable in my own skin then I am happy. 

It is hard to explain how much exercise can help you unless you experience these feelings for yourself. I could sit here all day and tell you how much clearer you will think, how you will feel genuine happiness and a sense of accomplishment when you finish your work out and feel the sweat down your back. When that feeling of dread to get out of your comfy clothes to put on your gym gear is beaten by that little buzz of happiness when you hit a new one rep max. In my opinion those endorphins running through you will always feel 1000x better than sitting on your bum feeling like crap all night. I still sit at home and eat crisps and chocolate while on the playstation/xbox all night. But if you were to ask me after working out “how do you feel?” I can assure you the answer would be night and day compared to asking me the same question after doing nothing but eating junk and playing the playstation/xbox. 

I understand how far I have come and I think everyone needs to reflect on where they were 5 years ago. Recognise how far you have come, how many obstacles have been thrown at you and even if you stumbled over those obstacles you still made it through. Look at where you are now, and if you are not happy with that journey and that progress. Now is the time to make a change and start putting a plan together of how you can better yourself and your surroundings in the next 5 years. Life isn’t going to stop for you, you need to work your goals into your life. This gym is my safe space, where I am free to be me without fear of judgement. Where I can come after a hard day at work, where I can relieve my stress on the squat rack or release some tension on the battle ropes. This gym is where I come to feel good about myself, to lift heavy, train hard and get results.

Emily