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Around 4 and a half years ago it was brought to my attention that I was over weight. Something that I had no idea had happened, in the space of 8 months I had piled on 2 stone. At 5 ft 2, I weighed 11 stone 9 and was clinically obese. I couldn’t run down the road without crippling pain in my feet, I got out of breath easily – although that could have been down to the 10 a day smoking habit – I generally struggled to breath. I was going to the gym 3 times a week going to HIIT training, doing circuits and I loved spin. But I ate so much “food” that it didn’t matter how much I worked out.

I say “food” because looking back now, it’s hard to call it that. I used to live off Birds Eye chicken escallops, McCains Potato Wedges, Heinz Baked Beans, chicken kieves and I think the only veg I would get is frozen peas! Unless I was eating a massive Sunday roast followed by double portion pudding! I would take lunch to college with me, but still go to the coop and have an egg mayo sandwich, can of coke and a bag of crisps every day. I used to drink about 2 litres of coke every day, ate Mc Donalds at least twice a week – usually after a heavy night on the booze that will have definitely included a kebab and chips at 3am and would demolish large breakfasts at the local weather spoons.

Please don’t get me wrong, those things back then would have been ok. If I had of eaten them in moderation. But this was my life! I would binge drink usually 3 or 4 nights a week and completely abused my body in many ways.

I now know that I developed anorexia during this time. I starved myself by restricting my calories to 1200 a day at most, celebrating when I ate less than that. I stopped eating processed food, I still drank a lot, but less than I used to. An average dinner for me looked like this after a 45 minute intense HIIT work out. Not only was I feeding this to me, but also to my boyfriend who is 6ft 4. I was starving him too and would get so angry at him if he would eat before dinner was ready. I controlled his food intake too because of my own insecurity and everything had to be split 50:50.

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Skip forward 18 months of this and we get to the start of my Vegan journey! By this point I had dropped 2.5 stone and was sitting just above 9 stone – much better for my frame!

But please don’t think that it is all sunshine and roses from here because it isn’t. My eating disorder changed from anorexic to orthorexic and only got worse for the next 6 months. I was literally OBSESSED with everything I was putting in my body. I cut out caffeine – I wouldn’t even eat chocolate because of the theobromine. I went T-total and I was now smashing in the carbs. I mean SMASHING them in. I was eating around 4000 calories a day of pure starchy carbs. Potatoes, pasta, noodles, bread. This is a normal portion for me – 250g pasta with balsamic vinegar.

D589D01B-4DBD-415D-8830-22C0B67B9672At this point, I still couldn’t really cook, I mean I was better than I had been as I could cook from scratch. But now the meat and dairy had gone I actually had to learn about flavours. So instead of doing that all the time, I lived off bean chilli, baked potatoes, rice and tomato pasta. I was out on my bike doing around 100 miles a week, which I absolutely loved. The weight carried on dropping off, but I became obsessed with the scales and getting lean. I weighed myself daily and would make sure I was completely naked, done my morning poop and got rid of any water weight before stepping on as I knew these would change what it said. Some how though I had managed to convince myself that what I was doing was totally normal.

I became completely judgemental of others dietary choices, so much so that my friends wouldn’t tell me what they had eaten in fear of what I would say. I wouldn’t go out for food as I didn’t trust anyone else to make my food for me, I had to make it all myself – or have my boyfriend cook for me. This contributed to a pretty epic breakdown of friendships, I quit my job, my relationship was a mess, the only thing I could control was what I ate.

All of this started to change when I moved to Manchester. I gave up riding my bike because of the road conditions, I started working at Love Juice and learned more about balance. There was unicorn around the corner and I started eating proper, delicious, home cooked food. I stopped smashing in the carbs, I started eating cake, I got into juicing, and learned how to enjoy life! Sam and I were cooking together a lot, it really was such fun. He then had to move back home to Shrewsbury (more info here) leaving me living on my own, working 5 days a week and the other two travelling back to shrewsbury to see him for two days before going back to work. I stopped looking after what I was eating and went back to old habits of convenience. Even though I had access to wonderful food, I just didn’t really take care of myself at all.

3 months of this carried on before I actually made the decision to move back to Shrewsbury. I didn’t tell anyone I was coming back – not even my family. I was an anxious wreck again. I couldn’t go into town on my own in fear of bumping into old friends who I no longer spoke to or bumping into family, ex lovers. All of that stuff that I had buried came bubbling back up to the surface. Of course this then led to depression and a massive HUGE level of resentment towards Sam and his illness. I moved in with a friend for a bit and then with my grandparents again. I was doing what I wanted with no care in the world for anything other than making me cover up the sadness and confusion that was going on in my head – apart from to break down at least once every two days.

Again this led to a break down in friendship, relationship and I hit a new low.

This time, I reached out for help. I went to see my dear friend Steph for some body work (see more here) which led to me going on a retreat last October. Wow. My whole life has changed since this weekend.

I now have a sense of calm, “enoughness” and I truly believe in myself. I have a level of self worth, I know I can do what ever I put my mind to. I have the courage to make decisions and change things that no longer serve me. I have learnt that I am the one in control of my happiness. No-one else.

My biggest achievement to date is being able to have a whole day, on my own, and be completely happy with that. I now love me in a way like I never have before. I have shadow sides that I have had to face and heal. I now have the courage to do things I have only dreamt of. I now eat an ethical diet that is not only healthy for me physically and mentally, but for the planet too. I have a wonderful, strong support network of the most incredible women and I am working on the rest!

You may wonder how I got here from the little overweight sad girl I started this post with, but for me, health is no longer about what size I am or how much I eat. It is everything. I have become a young woman who has a massive understanding for what others may be going through and want to share that journey with all of you with no shame or fear.

With love,

Toyah x

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3 Comments

  1. Gwyneth May 3, 2017 / 8:58 pm

    Toyah, you are truly inspiring! You ar a wonderful spirit and I feel very blessed that I have met you. I hope we shall bump into each other some time again xxxxxxx

  2. Steph Magenta May 3, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    I have seen so much of your story unfold Toyah, maybe not the first bit because by the time you came to me at Love juice, you looked and seemed pretty awesome, but I guess you had dealt with the surface stuff by then right? The stuff lurking beneath it all was yet to come up for healing yes…

    Being a part of supporting you uncovering the deeper level stuff, witnessing you on our retreat really bringing honesty and authenticity to your experience was heart warming, inspiring and more. I am so proud of you, all you are, all you have done and continue to do. I look forward very much to seeing where your journey takes you next dear one – you are AWESOME and one of them out competent, creative and wonderful people I have the pleasure to know. With love, as always xxxx

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