Long before my eating disorder, I always had an interest in fitness and food, running marathons, half marathons, weight training and eating great tasting healthy foods. I also believe there is a fine line between being passionate about fitness and health and becoming obsessed. My eating disorder is not about body image in a vain way, its deeper than that – its a mental illness manifesting itself in my eating and effectively my body is a tool.
As I continue on my journey to recover, I have started to research the fitness trends as ultimately my goal is to get well enough again to compete in marathons and triathlons – That’s a big drive for me. I want to be strong, fit and mentally healthy – you need to be to run 26 miles!
I recently interviewed a girl on her quest to competing in bikini competitions – I do not mean of the ‘Miss World’ variety either. This is competing at a professional level, bulking up, becoming muscly, wearing fake tan and flexing on stage. This is body building for girls.
Harriet Weller is 19 years old and lives in Wiltshire and this is her interview!
Q: Have you always been into fitness or is this a recent hobby?
A: I have always been into fitness. At 10 years old I started dance lessons and even qualified at a national level when I was 15. I then lost my passion for competing and simply went to the gym occasionally or on the odd run, it was all cardio related. Around 2 years ago I started lifting weights, I found I really enjoyed it and the effects it had my body were really positive so in the last year I have been 100% dedicated to it. I have stopped doing cardio completely and now lift weights 6 times a week. I have noticed more improvements in my body then I ever have.
Q: What made you want to bulk up rather than slim down?
A: After really getting into weights and following more people on social media focussing their training for body building, I decided that I wanted to make it more than just a past time.Being slim was no longer my goal, my entire mindset changed.I want a muscly toned figure bikini competitors achieve. Although I am a long way off and my journey has just started I am already seeing improvments and cannot wait to progress.
When I was doing cardio I felt like I got so slim, and everybody was starting to notice started to worry about me and my weight. I stared to dislike my body shape. However, since lifting weights I have grown more into a womanly figure which feels really positive for me.
Q: How has it changed your mindset towards your body?
A: I have realised that you really do not need to do cardio and eat minimal foods to be in shape. I have gone from eating 2 meals a day with no snacks & doing cardio every day to doing no cardio and lifting weights 6 times a week. I also eat an astonishing 10 meals a day now!! At first, I was so worried about the amount of food I needed to eat to sustain my lifting. I was 100% convinced it was just going to make me fat, however I have been following the meal plan for the last month and I have not noticed a slight increase in my weight. I feel healthier and more toned. Feeding my muscles has become a very important process and mindset for me to accept without thinking I am going to get fat. I am currently eating 160-200g of carbs a day, this would of been my worst nightmare a couple of months ago, but now I am absoloutely loving it! It is all about trusting my coach, and trusting the process. Before I would feel so guilty if I didnt exercise everyday, but rest days are so beneficial for your body.
Q: Do you care how much you weigh? Does it even come into your mind?
A: I used to weigh my self LITERALLY EVERY DAY, when I walked into the gym, this would be the first thing I did. I now only do it every now and again and more out of interest. I am sitting around 58kg but need to be around 68kg-70kg to really compete and that will be once my muscles have fully developed. I know now that if I stand on the scales and they show I have put on weight, it isn’t gain in fat but a gain in muscle and this is my goal. If I stand on the scales and I have lost weight, I will be disappointed. For me it is all about how I feel, I look at my body every day, which will sound really vein to some people but it is the only way to to be able to get confidence in myself. Progress pictures are also a great way of tracking progress and the changes in my body. Interestingly when I was doing cardio I wore size 10, now I am a size 8 in everything. Being as I am eating more food than ever I find this AMAZING and very positive.
Q: How have your eating habits changed?
A: I am currently on a bulk diet to build muscle so eating 10 meals a day will help me achieve that. But I am also having 2 carb/fat shakes a day. This is so daunting, but they can be so delicious – chocolate fudge brownie, peanut butter, caramel, latte, strawberry any flavour you want! I want my goals so bad, I am determined to do anything. Even when I am full up I have to sit there and force myself to eat meals, it seems weird to eat without being hungry, but its what my plan says so thats what I do!
I also loving being able to eat what I want, (PEANUT BUTTER) for anyone who knows me, they know how obsessed I am with PB. I literally still have spoonfuls a day and im allowed it. I track my macronutrients ( which consists of weighing all my food and working out the carbs, protein and fats in each thing ) It is a long process, which I am still learning and it takes alot of time, but I am getting there!
I have chocoalate fudge brownies and peanut butter pancakes for breakfast every single morning and I am loving them! The variety of food I can eat is great, it doesnt have to be strict. I also eat so much rice and sweet potato a day, with fish/steak/turkey and chicken, and of course loads of veggies! Once I have bulked enough muscle I need, which should be in about a years time, I will then reduce my food intake for 8-10 weeks before my first competition. It will still involve eating 10 meals a day, every 2 hours to keep my muscles fed but it will just cut down on the carbs and I will start to add in cardio! ( the thought of doing cardio now though makes me want to cry!) I have noticed throughout all of this how my mindset has changed and its weird how your body changes!
As I read through Hattie’s answers, it really hit home with me how much our bodies need and rely on what we feed it! I know that is obvious but so many of us forget this simple fact. You really are what you eat. Hattie is a great example of that and look at the positive effects it is having for her.
There is more of the interview to come, but for now I certainly feel inspired to reach my goal of getting better and gaining weight and I aspire to be the girl that gets on the scales and does not care what they say.