Growing up, society taught me that salads were healthy and burgers were not. In hospital we were never allowed to discuss topics such as food or exercise so during my recovery this mentality never changed. When I was discharged, I was really struggling with the concept of being healthy. It got to the point where I couldn’t even say the words ‘health’ or ‘fitness’ and anytime someone mentioned those words I would be triggered and go into a complete meltdown. However when I relapsed two years later and decided to recover as an outpatient, I soon began to realise the truth. During the darkest days of my illness I decided to write myself the following letter; and this letter turned out to be the turning point of my recovery:
Stay Strong Katrina…
You know better than anyone else that there is no such thing as “unhealthy foods”. All foods are healthy. No food in the world is bad because food is essential to everything in the world ever. What you’re doing to yourself is more unhealthy than any “bad food”.
Don’t listen to people who say stupid things like “carbs make you fat” or “chocolate is so unhealthy” or “cake is really bad for you” because they are so wrong. Yes, if you ate cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner then that would be bad; but it would be just as bad and unhealthy to only ever eat fruit and salad all day. It’s people like this who think that being healthy means not eating certain foods e.g. chocolate, sweets, cakes etc. when really cutting out and not eating certain foods/food groups is actually unhealthy. Being healthy means eating a bit of everything and having three main meals and snacks throughout the day. Everything in moderation is healthy, and nothing in moderation makes a difference to how your body looks.
Exercise is good but remember in moderation. Don’t force yourself to run if you don’t feel like it or if you’re too tired. It’s okay! Exercise doesn’t ‘make’ you lose weight. Exercise is about keeping fit and healthy.
Being healthy is NOT dieting, and exercising is NOT losing weight.
The thing is that if you eat what you want when you’re hungry, then your body will take care of itself. Whether that’s 3000 calories or 6000 calories, if your body is asking for it, then it knows what to do with it.
If you’re craving a salad – go have a salad. But the same goes to if you’re craving a pizza with chips and ice cream – go have a pizza with chips and ice cream. Eat whatever you want because it tastes just so damn good.
Life is too short to worry about stupid calories and get upset about silly little numbers. To hell with anyone who tells you that you shouldn’t have a second piece of cake. You go eat as much cake as you want. Life is precious and could end any moment, so don’t live everyday denying yourself one of the simplest pleasures of the taste of yummy food.
And so what if that means your weight goes up? Your weight doesn’t define you as a person. Would it matter if you were 5kg heavier? Would people treat you differently? Would it make you a bad person?
Your weight doesn’t change who you are as a person or make anyone love you any less.
Anyway, weight doesn’t even make sense. You could eat more than usual one week and lose weight, then eat less the next week and end up putting on weight. You cannot control something that makes no sense and you cannot let it control you. Don’t let yourself get so upset and obsessed over a number that doesn’t mean anything.
Fuck the scales. Fuck the numbers. You are worth so much more than a number.
Food cannot kill you but anorexia can. You don’t want to relapse because it will either a) kill you or b) force you to go through all this again.
No matter how important work is or exams are, your health takes priority. Take care of your mind and your body, and remember to be kind to yourself.
Stop looking in the mirror scrutinising every part of yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are beautiful. Tell yourself that standing in front of you is a lovely young lady with a gorgeous face and a figure that others would die for. You’re not going to get anywhere standing there picking out all your flaws and telling yourself all the things you hate. You are not fat Katrina. You are NOT. You don’t need to lose weight or diet or do anything to change the way you look. It’s not your body that needs changing, it’s your mind. You need to stop thinking so negatively and start thinking more positively about yourself, and begin to see all the good things that others do.
Learn to accept your body and love yourself for who you are. Stop letting all the negative thoughts swallow up your rational mind, and see that you are pretty amazing. No matter how much you think you’re not skinny enough or pretty enough or funny enough or clever enough or talented enough, there are people out there who think you are all those things and so much more.
You have come so far Katrina; you can’t go back now. Don’t let food and weight and Ana take control of your life again. There are so many more important things in life than all this. You’ve worked too hard to just throw it all away.
You will get through this one day, I promise. So keep going, keep smiling and never ever give up.
This letter expresses everything I believe in and is what I try and teach people to this very day. I am so passionate about teaching the world about what being healthy really means; these days there are so many trends being promoted on social media such as ‘clean eating’ and ‘fitspiration’ posts that cause more harm than good. I want to show people that being healthy means eating everything in moderation and that you shouldn’t categorise foods into good and bad.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and that hopefully I have changed your perspective on what being healthy really means, if you did not think this way before.