Ramadan: Still in the grips of anorexia

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Every year when Ramadan comes around, I open up about my experience with an eating disorder. It can be such a tricky time for those of us struggling with an eating disorder. For the past seven years, I’ve been strictly told not to fast by medical professionals who were treating me for my eating disorder in hospital. In the past, I had to be monitored extra closely in case my weight dramatically dropped due to fasting secretly.

This year is different. This is the first year that I am not in treatment for my anorexia in seven years, so I feel anxious because now I have a choice. I hate having a choice because I’m more likely to choose the unhealthy one. I’m not being watched anymore and I’m not being threatened with inpatient if I lose weight, so this is the perfect opportunity. I am in no way recovered. In fact, I’d say the thoughts have been creeping back in, especially recently.

A year into my recovery without treatment has been tough. Every day is still hard, and there have been both massive relapses AND recovery wins in the past 12 months and I truly believe this is how it will be for the rest of my life. I don’t think I will ever be fully recovered.

Ramadan brings out a lot of negative emotions and triggers for me. But this year, having a choice to fast or not to fast and still seeing Ramadan as a chance to lose weight and to become sicker is not helping and confirms, yet again, that I am not in a good state of mind to fast safely. I don’t see it as a religious thing. So if I fast, I will be doing it for the wrong reasons.

Rationally, of course I know that I must not fast if I am still in that eating disordered mindset. I know that health and my recovery comes first. But anorexia is so powerful that even if I say I will not take part, I will most definitely act on behaviours because everywhere I go, there will be someone fasting, someone talking about how much they’re “starving” and restricting will be inevitable. Plus, there will be triggering food everywhere and everyone will be talking about food.

I have made the choice, however, to not take part. People close to me have been expressing their concerns about me fasting. I’d be lying if I said I don’t engage in behaviours anymore so fasting in the month of Ramadan can absolutely land me back in hospital.

I’m in a good place career-wise. I’ve got a new job that I love, but I’m worried if I’ll be able to hold it down if I go down that path again. Anorexia makes me not believe in myself. Every day now, it tells me that I don’t deserve this job, that I don’t deserve to be successful. It makes me question if I’m capable of holding down a full time job without getting sicker. It makes me anxious about disappointing my colleagues and managers. It’s been keeping me awake at night worrying about how anorexia, especially in Ramadan, might impact my mental health this year.

In the past, it was anorexia that made me become this successful. It was anorexia’s perfectionism that made me work hard (without food) graduate and get my dream job. People tell me it wasn’t anorexia, but they don’t know how strong anorexia can be. It was this illness that demanded I prove to people that I can do things. The less food I ate, the more weight I lost, the more successful I became…and it worked.

I cannot keep letting anorexia take credit for everything I’ve achieved. I cannot let it take over me anymore. People tell me that I can do things, that I am capable without this illness. Maybe they’re right?

Ramadan is a spiritual month. It’s about health and helping others and about being kind to oneself. I cannot fast because I am sick, but what I CAN do is help others and take care of myself. I can be thankful to God that I am here in this world. I am alive and I am living.

Ramadan shouldn’t be just about controlling yourself from eating food. It should be about taking care of yourself whatever way possible and if fasting isn’t right for your mental and physical health at the moment, it’s okay not to take part.

For others like myself who cannot fast in the month of Ramadan due to an eating disorder or mental illness, why not turn it around and work on your recovery? This year, I’ve come to realise that putting your own health is more important than religion, career or opportunities. Look after yourself first. Make yourself a priority. That is what I will try to do.

This was originally posted on Beat‘s website.

How To Look Stylish At The Gym

Let’s face it, most of us still want to look glamorous in the gym but think it’s impossible due to all the sweat. Sports clothes is something I will never wear out in public as I don’t feel comfortable or feminine in them. BUT, since I’m a regular gym goer, I have transformed by gym wardrobe into a more stylish one so I can feel confident and comfortable whilst working out.


First of all, outfit! As it’s the new year, I decided to mix up my gym outfits and buy tops with motivational quotes and slogans. I bought a lot of slogan tops from Missguided, Boohoo and Forever 21 recently. I put together this ‘Sweat Squad’ slogan vest from Boohoo.com and a pair of Live The Process floral print leggings. Complimenting the sleeveless vest, I like to add a Mesh or fishnet crop top underneath the vest. I love this one from Mesh Panel Crop Tee by Ivy Park along with the brands Double Layer Camo Sports Bra. To finish off the outfit, I’ve added a sturdy yet stylish pair of trainers such as this Adidas Gymbreaker Bounce, which is perfect for training.

I know a lot of people will be raising their eyebrows about wearing make up in the gym but what is the point of working out if you’re not feeling your best? Makeup makes me feel confident and makes me work harder in the gym. But is makeup while you workout good for your skin? It depends on what you use. I’m not talking full makeup. It’s all about natural and light.

I like to use a tinted moisturiser for the gym with a bit of sweatproof powder on top. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser (oil-free version) is perfect and lightweight for the gym. Rimmel London Waterproof Exaggerate Liquid Eyeliner is one of my favourite eyeliners. I always wear it at the gym and after an intense workout, there isn’t even one bit of smudgeness – looks good as when I first put it on. I recently discovered Waterproof Sport Mascara by Eyeko and as the name says it, it is specifically for sports conditions. I love this mascara so much. And last but not least, lips! Stila Stay All Day Matte Lipstick is perfect for those sweaty workout. I make sure not to go all out on lipstick when I’m working out, a little goes a long way! Also, don’t forget a cute little make-up! I’m loving this Rose Gold Dita Make Up Bag from Skinny Dip.

Reflecting on 2016

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As 2016 is coming to an end, I thought I would reflect on the past year. Let’s be honest, this year hasn’t been one of the best for many people. For me, it has been up and down. There were a lot of bad times but there were also a lot of good and memorable times in both my professional and personal life.

Taking work for example, I’ve had the pleasure of working on some of the biggest news stories that will go down in history. 2016 has definitely been a historic year for politics. Britain voting to leave the European Union had split the whole of the United Kingdom and it was a truly fascinating campaign. One word following the Brexit vote was ‘unpredictable’. Things suddenly started happening and changing. David Cameron resigning as Prime Minister after Brexit vote, then the Conserative leadership election was cut short after Andrea Leadsom quit the race, which made Theresa May the Prime Minister. Another Labour leadership election won by Jeremy Corbyn. It was so exciting yet so emotional. Following that was the victory of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. The “impossible” kept turning into possible. It was such a fascinating year of politics and one that is unforgettable.

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I’ve learnt a lot about myself this year. I do get upset and angry very easily and take everything personally and lash out. This is something I definitely want to work on in 2017. I need to learn to take criticism and know that I cannot always be perfect. I need to realise that not being perfect is okay. It hasn’t been a good year for my mental health. I am still in this period of ambivalence with my eating disorder. I want to get better but I don’t at the same time. That is ongoing and something to work on in 2017. Then again, I still have a job that I adore and have been holding it down pretty well, despite my mental health.

This year, only recently in November, I went on my first ever holiday. It was only to the Scottish Highlands – Loch Lomond, but this was a big deal because I hadn’t travelled in 12 years. So, going on a plane and staying away from home for a couple of days with friends was a challenge for me. It was a good challenge and a learning experience. In 2017, I hope to travel some more and who knows, hopefully I can be brave and go somewhere abroad. The only place I have been abroad, not in the UK, is Bangladesh and heck, I do not want to go there again. I don’t see it as a holiday. I would like to visit Australia and somewhere in the US, like New York. But, my kind of holidays are quiet places, peaceful and relaxing – I live in the city so it is nice to go somewhere with less people (that’s why I chose to go to the Scottish Highlands for my first trip!). I like places with nice scenery and big mountains and not that hot – I also love the countryside.

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Now this one might be controversial for someone in my condition, but I got back into training since the summer. I was on exercise ban by my treatment team (even now they’re still weary about me working out) but now I feel I have a much more “healthier” mindset to exercise – less focus on weight and more focus on getting stronger and a better mental health. They say exercise helps with depression and it certainly does. I joined Gymbox and I have to say, it has made working out so much more fun and sociable. In all honesty, it has changed my life. Gymbox isn’t just your average gym – it is literally like a club but everything fitness. You walk into the sound of big heavy beats and the atmosphere is so cool and fun. I go to a lot of different classes, mainly dance and HIIT classes, that consists of circuits. I also do spin class, pilates and some weights based classes too. I also adore boxing. My goal for 2017 is to keep working on that core and get it stronger so I can do planks for longer than 50 seconds and just have fun. The best thing about Gymbox is that it has helped a lot with my confidence too. In classes, you meet new people and make friends and you all have something in common – fitness. If you’re someone who hates the thought of the gym – join Gymbox. Trust me, you will not want to leave!

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I enjoyed doing a lot of photoshoots this year, stepping out of my comfort zone and being in front of the camera really did help my confidence. I also got signed to a modelling agency, which is so exciting, so hoping for more shoots in 2017. I was also very pleased to be featured in Cosmopolitan magazine, where I spoke openly about being a high functional women with an eating disorder. It was such a cool opportunity.

When I first decided to write this, I was quite disappointed that I didn’t have any big memorable happy moments but I guess I realised that I should be grateful for the little things that happened. Sometimes, actually wanting to live is hard for me, but here I am, I am still here. I haven’t let this illness taken me and I will still fight every single day in 2017 to survive. A lot of this year I battled with feeling lonely. It’s not the lonely where you think you have no friends, it’s an empty feeling inside. But, I am where I am and I can only improve it slowly. Life isn’t a rush and it isn’t a competition. There are things I haven’t been able to achieve this year, for example, my driving – I failed one test and haven’t had any since but my aim for 2017 is to pass it – but if I don’t, I shouldn’t be hard on myself. The only thing I can do is just enjoy the journey and not focus too much on the destination – and I suggest you guys do the same too.

Happy New Year!

xxx

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New Year’s Resolutions?

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The reason why we often fall of the wagon with our New Year’s Resolutions is because they are rather big goals, which in the long term, sounds like a good achievable plan, but in the short term, it is really unachievable and you are setting yourself up for failure, We often fail to recognise this.

Every year, I always hear people’s New Year’s Resolutions is to ‘lose weight’ or to ‘give up smoking’ but what are you doing to achieve that goal in the short-term? Giving something up cold turkey or trying to lose 25lbs straight away is not the way to go and frankly you are setting yourself up for failure. January is the month people are very motivated and determined to get back on track after the festive period. However, come February, people often give up on that goal altogether because they are very big long-term goals. This is why people do not stick to their resolutions. 

I think a new year is a good time to think about improving yourself in the best way possible so I am all for resolutions. However, they need to be achievable in the short term.

What I would do to achieve that goal, is to set yourself small weekly goals. So, if you want to go to the gym more this year and you never usually go to the gym, go once a week. Start from there. Do that for a couple of weeks until you feel like you can extend it. Then go twice a week, then three times a week and so on.

If you want to give up smoking, instead of stopping altogether, cut down on how many times you smoke in a day and then gradually, cut down a bit more and then smoke once a day or every other day. This will be easier for you in the long-term to totally give it up. 

This goes to any other goals you want to achieve. Start slowly, set yourself weekly goals and go from there. If you do it like this and are serious about the goal, you will tend to stick to your resolutions all year, instead of giving up in February. 

Happy New Year! 

 

How To Make Time For Fitness

“I don’t have time” is often said when the word exercise is mentioned which is understandable. We all have a life and life sometimes can get in the way. School, college, university, kids, work etc… However, there is always time. The busiest people in the world MAKE time for fitness if they are serious about wanting to change and live a better life. These are some of my tips on how to make time for fitness.

Make Exercise Like An Appointment or Meeting

One of the main reasons why people often miss workouts is because they do not make it a priority. If you set yourself a time and place everyday as if you have an important meeting to go to, then you are less likely to forget about it. Write it into your daily planner or diary. This is such a useful way to get in a workout.

Wake Up Early

I know what you are thinking. A lot of people hate waking up early and they try to sleep as much as they can before their alarm sets off to get up for work. However, I find that working out early in the morning makes me feel rather satisfied and during the day, you do not have to worry about fitting in a workout because you have already done it. Also, if you do your workout early in the morning, you are more likely to eat more healthier during the day. Go to bed earlier and set your alarm half an hour before you usually wake up to get in a quick workout before you start your day.

Do Short Workouts

People often think a workout is a very rigorous cardio session at the gym for hours but it an simply be a short 20 minute activity of some bodyweight training in the comfort of your own home. A few squats, crunches and bicep curls can do wonders to your body. In fact, they are the exercises done to see the most change. Focus on toning and sculpting and becoming stronger rather than trying to lose weight. Fitness is not about losing weight. It is about becoming stronger, healthier and happier.

Get A Workout Partner

People often like working out alone, but if you workout with someone else, be it a friend, a partner etc… you would find that it would motivate you a bit more. Make it a social thing. Rather than meeting up for a coffee, meet up for a workout instead.

Keep Moving

Do some kind of activity at any chance you get. Walk to work instead of driving to work. If you usually commute to somewhere with public transport, get off before your stop and walk the rest. Whilst watching TV, do a few squats or bicep curls.

There is always time for fitness. You just need to think when and where you can schedule it into your day.

“If you really want to do something you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”