Monday, 24 June 2019

How to Deal With Body Dysmorphia




Body dysmorphia is a lot more common than you think, most people tend to associate them with eating disorders and though there is a strong correlation between the two, anyone can suffer from this condition.

Previously I have spoken about the reality of an eating disorder and my struggles, I touched upon my struggles with body dysmorphia. From a very young age my ideal views of what I 'should' look like were drilled into my brain with media images of perfectly airbrushed bodies being slammed into my face. The impact of those images on young girls can be detrimental and it is this that spiralled my eating disorder and dysmorphia.

Body dysmorphia is seeing a figure in the mirror you deem as severely flawed. Your mind basically portrays flaws that will be unnoticeable to those around you. For me I saw myself as 'fat' when in reality I was in the grasps of anorexia sitting at around less than 6 stone. Body dysmorphia makes you see fat when in reality there is bone. It will make you obsess over cellulite or stretch marks when they in fact are normal and beautiful. The persons image of themselves becomes distorted and they obsess over trying to conceal those flaws. The painful thing for sufferers of body dysmorphia is that it does not easily go away. It is embedded in your mind and retraining yourself to think that your body is beautiful and you are good enough is something that is incredibly hard to do. Instead of picking out your flaws, pick out what you like about yourself. For me I like my eyes, my strong legs and my freckles, it may be random but it helps you to concentrate on the positives you see in yourself and not putting yours down.

Though yes, today I am weight restored from my eating disorder, I do still struggle with body dysmorphia. It has become an on going battle that I do not intend on giving into. I therefore prove that body dysmorphia does not have to only affect someone who is overweight or underweight, it can affect anyone and those people suffering with it should seek help. I struggled at 6 stone and I still struggle at 9 stone, there is no grey area with this mental illness. Just because you are recovered from whatever eating disorder you may have had it does not mean you are fully ok. Body dysmorphia may linger and it is ok to seek further help for it, whether it is speaking to a therapist to help retrain your thoughts or simply just speak to a friend. Everybody is beautiful no matter the size or marks or battles is has been through. It is worthy of your love.


Monday, 10 June 2019

My Current Gym Routine



I have been going to the gym now for around 2 years consistently and within that timeframe I would say I have been training heavy for around a year, more so the last six months. I have hit many plateaus on my weight training journey. I have had times where I have been unmotivated and times where I have whacked out PB's left right and centre. Recently I have been loving my routine and love lifting a heavier weight each time.

I typically train 5-6 times a week currently with a workout split of three lower body days and two to three upper body days with abs and cardio worked into those sessions. With my compound movements I aim to add weight on and lower the reps in order to build my overall strength, then with the isolation exercises I tend to do higher reps with more focus on doing slow and controlled movements to help tone the muscle. 

Day 1 - Legs 
Warm up stretches 

Back squats - work up to 3x5 on 70kg followed by 2x2-3 on 80kg
Front squats - work up to 3x5 on 50kg
RDL (with dumbbells)- 3x8 on 18kg per leg, superset with 3x8 on 12kg
Hip-thrusts - 3x12 with 26kg dumbbell, superset with 3x12 with resistance band
Leg press (with resistance band) - 3x8 on 155kg
Donkey kicks on cable machine - 3x8 per leg
Goblet squat - 3x8 with 26kg dumbbell, superset with 3x8 bodyweight jump-squats 
Box jumps - 5x8

Day 2 - Shoulders, Chest and Triceps 
Warm up stretches

Barbell chest press - work up to 5x5 on 30kg
Dumbbell chest press - 3x10 with 10kg per arm
Cable flys - 3x8 
Dumbbell shoulder press - 3x8 with 10kg per arm
Barbell shoulder press - 3x5 with 20kg barbell 
Single arm lateral raises on cable machine - 3x10 per arm
Front lateral raises - 3x10 with 4kg dumbbell, superset with side lateral raises
Tricep press - 3x8 with 8kg dumbbells
Skull-crushers - 3x8 
Tricep extension on cable machine - 3x10

10 minute row

Day 3 - Legs
Warm up stretches

Back squats - work up to 2x5 on 85kg
RDL (with dumbbells)- 3x8 on 18kg per leg, superset with 3x8 on 12kg
Hip-thrusts - 3x12 with 26kg dumbbell, superset with 3x12 with resistance band
Single leg, leg press - 3x8 per leg
Donkey kicks on cable machine - 3x8 per leg 
Leg extension - 3x10 
Goblet squat - 3x8 with 26kg dumbbell, superset with 3x8 bodyweight jump-squats 
Box jumps - 5x8

Day 4 - Back and Biceps
Deadlifts - work up to 5x4 at 80-90kg
Barbell rows - 5x8 on 40kg
Cable rows - 3x10
Lateral pulldowns - 3x10
Face pulls - 3x8
Dumbbells single arm rows - 3x8 per arm with 16kg 
Bent over rows with dumbbells - 3x8 with 5kg in each arm
Hammer curls - 3x8 per arm with 9kg dumbbells 
Bicep curls with dumbbells - 3x8 with 4kg
Bicep curls with bar - 3x10 at 12.5kg

10 minute row or abs 

Day 5 - Legs
Warm up stretches

Front squats - work up to 5x5 on 50kg
RDL (with dumbbells)- 3x8 on 18kg per leg, superset with 3x8 on 12kg
Hip-thrusts - 3x12 with 26kg dumbbell, superset with 3x12 with resistance band
Bulgarian split squats - 3x6-8 per leg with 12kg dumbbells in each hand
Leg press (with resistance band) - 3x8 on 155kg
Donkey kicks on cable machine - 3x8 per leg
Goblet squat - 3x8 with 26kg dumbbell, superset with 3x8 bodyweight jump-squats 
Box jumps - 5x8

Abs

Day 6 - Back and Shoulders 
Deadlifts - work up to 5x4 at 80-90kg
Barbell rows - 5x8 on 40kg
Cable rows - 3x10
Lateral pulldowns - 3x10
Dumbbell shoulder press - 3x8 with 10kg per arm
Barbell shoulder press - 3x5 with 20kg barbell 
Single arm lateral raises on cable machine - 3x10 per arm
Front lateral raises - 3x10 with 4kg dumbbell, superset with side lateral raises

10 minute row or abs

If I make it to day 6 and I am still motivated to work out it is a good workout week for me and I can assure you that rarely happens. By the time I reach the end of the week my body is tired and everything feels heavy. But that is okay because it is just your body telling you to rest. Rest and fuelling your body is just as important as working out.


Monday, 20 May 2019

The Reality of First Year


It really does feel like only yesterday when I moved into my university room and waved good-bye to my parents as they left me survive in the student world. But now first year is over,  I guess it is onto second year now (if I pass).

There is so much hype around going to university everyone boasting about how it is the best years of your life, maybe I am doing it wrong. Yes, I love my life here in Bangor but the actual university side of life here has been quite daunting. 

Leaving Friends 
This was probably the hardest for me. I have always had a safety net of friends with me whatever club or school I have moved to, I always followed people. University was the first time I was plummeted into a lonely abyss where I knew no-one in the first few days. I was lonely and envied my friends from home who looked like they were having the time of their lives in freshers, I guess I was jealous. I left many friends from home but gained many new ones. I found people I knew and found out how amazing they are as friends. They took me in and made me feel included and we have shared so many moments together both drunk and sober. I cannot wait to move in with them next year. 

The Socials
Guaranteed I am not the average university student. I do not enjoy going on club nights out and this year I did not apply to be in any society's, so I guess my first year has been what many people would describe as 'boring'. I do wish I joined some exciting and unique society to meet new people but maybe I will try that next year? I have not been to a club in university since Halloween and to be honest that really does not bother me. I would much rather have a Netflix night in with a Domino's. My kind of socials involves being with my friends at a bar, stuffing our faces with food and just chatting utter rubbish. 

The Work
This has been the hardest aspect of university for me except for the loneliness. Toward the last year of sixth form my mental health and education did not mix very well and this has been the case this year as well. I struggle with the motivation to do my work, with my anxiety preventing me enjoying particular elements of my course. Yes, I have not been to all of my lectures, not because I was hungover after a night out but because I could not bring myself mentally to go. I learnt that giving yourself a break and not being hard on yourself for needing time off was ok. The mental strain of university is not what most first years talk about but it is definitely tough to deal with.

Leaving Home
I have always been rather independent but in saying that I rarely went away from home. When I was younger I always got homesick and cried for my mum. But as I got older I liked my own space. I enjoy having my own space to call my own (even though it was a tiny box room). I feel like I have grown a lot as a person living on my own. I feel more like an 'adult' even if I am not very good at it. I never really missed home, I am not very far from it in reality, but still I would like to think I have succeeded in living on my own without dying.

All in all it has been a rollercoaster year, I will not lie there may have been slightly more downs than ups but I would not take this year back for anything. the first few months I struggled more so trying to get into a new routine and adapting to the university life, but it got easier and I enjoyed it more and more. I have grown so much as a person here in Bangor with the help of the people close to me here and I hope to continue to grown throughout my remaining years of university.



Thursday, 2 May 2019

The Reality of an Eating Disorder



Eating disorders come in many shapes and sizes. It is always regarding a persons hatred towards their body, turning them towards self destructive tendencies. It is a way on control, when the person feels like they are spiralling. It is a voice inside their head leaving them blind to what is actually going on.

Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating and Orthorexia to name a few.

All are eating disorders, all are very different, all evolve around control. Eating disorders are not something someone choses and it is not as easy as 'just eating a cheeseburger', or to 'eat normally', eating disorders are a routine to the person suffering with it. Everything revolves around their food. Plans with friends revolve around their meals. Strategic planning and manipulation comes with eating disorders, ways of hiding food, planning meals to the hour, skipping meals or avoiding situations that involve food. It is an isolating experience where you feel alone. 

Anorexia. The condition where a person quite literally starves themselves to death to achieve the ultimate goal of being skinny, but once it starts the person does not realise when to stop. They are never skinny enough in their eyes, no matter how many times you tell them that they look ill or too skinny. They want to see their ribs poking out because to them that is beautiful to them it is an achievement, they have warped sense of what real beauty is. All they see in the mirror is someone not good enough, a fat figure staring back at them, never skinny enough. The voice in their head tells them they should eat less and less. Even once a person is weight restored, the voice may still be there. It is a constant battle inside your own head. One voice telling you to not eat the pizza, for the fear it will make you fat, the other telling you it is okay and that you are stronger than your eating disorder. It is like a tug of war, however which side you let win every day is your choice, but you have to let your own conscious be stronger, not the voice of ANA and then overtime the voice will quieten.

The reality of Anorexia is that you are tired all the time, no clothes fit you properly, you fall out with your family and friends, you lose your period and your hair can fall out. No, it is not glamorous. 

Eating disorders make the person suffering isolate themselves, they think everyone is working against them. Time and patience with someone suffering from any one of these conditions is the only way a person will recover. Get them the help they need, even though sometimes they will not want it. Sometimes they need to come to the realisation themselves that they are killing their body. Recovery is possible as I have shown it. Yes there are days when I still battle and I do not know how long that will go on for, but what I do know is I do not want to go back to the shell of a person I was all those years ago. Now I try to love myself for who I am and the body I was given.


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