Hi everyone. Please give a warm welcome to our latest guest blog from my lovely friend and fellow Rogue Runner Sian. It’s been an honour getting to know Sian these last few years, how honest Sian is about her body image journey, sharing tips and self-help coping strategies I have actually learned much about myself.
It is commonly known, via mainstream media and more recently social media that girls and women live with body image issues. However, what isn’t commonly known is that can also affect boys and men too.
Please take the time to read a snippet into Sian’s journey. Sian is currently writing book, which will hopefully be published soon, personally I can’t wait to read it.
As always please consider the content before you read on, should any of the content make you feel uncomfortable, please seek support from your loved ones and/or a medical professional.
Who am I?
Hi I’m Sian and I’m 27 years old, I’m currently finishing off my bachelor degree in counselling. So why did I decide to study counselling?
I’ve always believed that prevention is better than cure (but that doesn’t mean you can’t heal) from body image issues, you absolutely can. When I hit 13 is when I started struggling with acne, this was the beginning of a downward spiral for me. Once my acne was cleared I had already developed this unhealthy obsession of searching perfection externally, and the onset of disordered eating began. I literally thought the skinnier I was, the more boys would be interested in me as well (face palming myself right now).
It honestly wasn’t until I hit 21 and I fell to rock bottom, lost, confused, underweight and undernourished that I made make a drastic decision to move countries, I needed a new environment. It changed my life or actually it saved my life, but it wasn’t and hasn’t been a walk in the park, and one thing I really want to drive home is that having a good relationship with myself and my body will always be a work in progress, because there is no such thing as perfection but I no longer want that. I just want to be happy and comfortable in my body and help others get there too.
So that is what brought me to studying counselling, as I was working in the fashion industry as a stylist I became acutely aware that I wasn’t the only one who had gone through these issues, in fact I shudder to think of how common it really is. I realised styling alone wasn’t fulfilling enough for me, I loved dressing people and giving them confidence for the outside but I realised it was the inside that would make long-lasting changes to ones confidence, I clicked and made the mind-body connection. I returned to Perth in 2013 and enrolled in my degree.
How did my bad body image affect my mental well-being?
As I was under-eating and over exercising my brain was being starved of essential nutrition. I was going on weekend benders every weekend and realised that I could go out and drink and not eat and I’d lose weight even quicker. Studying counselling opened up many wounds of why this developed, not eating was one thing I could control in my life. If you’re not eating good foods you’re not thinking good thoughts, it is something I remind myself of and a motto I live by.
What have I learnt by trials with food and diets?
I think I tried my first diet at 15 (the special k diet where you eat it twice a day, you say it, I’ve probably tried it).
I detest the word diet. As I mentioned before developing a ‘good body image with you’ is a progress. For two years I was vegetarian and vegan for six of those months, it was the first time since I started healing that I had started falling down the trap again of disordered eating. I was ignoring signs of my body fatiguing from intense Ironman training and getting caught up in ethics, being vegetarian wasn’t working for me, and it was so incredibly hard for me to face that up until my body literally broke down.
I slowly started eating fish and chicken again and started feeling so much better, I then made a commitment to myself to LISTEN to my body as best as I could. I now eat intuitively and live a lifestyle of eating as real as possible, that’s all. As simple as that. You need to find ways of eating that work for YOU, and I truly believe that’s unique for everybody.
Some other ways I have progressed with a healthy body image was by cooking. I found it therapeutic and started to learned to put love into my cooking, which then absorbed into my food. You’ll rarely if ever see me eat regular chocolate or ice cream or McDonald’s and that’s simply because I enjoy the alternatives like Grill’d, coco whip and raw treats.
I am not depriving myself but rather I’m nourishing myself with real food, which is nourishment for my brain. Eat good foods, think good thoughts.
I live by, every single day a concept called D.C.D.
D: Determine - how I’m feeling for that day.
C: Criticise - I am critical (and not in the negative sense) of thinking any negative thoughts and detox them from my mind, I do this every single day and it’s stopped me from depriving myself of food and falling back into disordered eating. It’s like a way of checking in with myself and it’s something I’ve learnt and developed through studying as I’ve developed my self-awareness.
D: Decide - how I’m going to show my body love for the day. Whether it is by moving my body that shows kindness (yoga is by far the best form of this I’ve found). Secondly, deciding to be as conscious as possible of my negative thoughts, and acknowledging them but then letting them go.
I believe healthy body image is not about being perfect or finding perfection it’s about progressing to finding a peace with yourself and within your body. I won’t sugarcoat it, I still have bad days but that’s because I’m a human.
This cliché , “We are all imperfectly perfect”, by embracing that and being okay with it is not and overnight job
Look out for my book coming soon...
Please follow me instagram @abodyofpeace