Learning to love the girl in the mirror*

I’m back! I recently took a bit of a blogging hiatus for no particular reason other than I simply didn’t have the motivation to write. I hate nothing more than having to force myself to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard in this case – so I simply don’t do it. Luckily for me, during my break I received a copy of Learning to love the girl in the mirror*. A self help book from actress Helena Grace Donald about she overcame her eating habits and mental health struggles.

The book made a great travel companion

About the book

For me, the book couldn’t have landed at a better time. I have/had been struggling mentally. Putting myself on cruel, punishing diets that left me both physically and mentally drained to the point where I resented every single thing about myself. Quite the antithesis to LOVING the girl in the mirror.

Whilst it’s clear the book is aimed at teenagers currently going through their problems it wasn’t difficult to make it relate to my now “adult” problems as well as remember exactly how I was suffering throughout my teenage years. It was emotional thinking back and the throwback social media challenge of looking back to 2012 nearly made it more difficult but it was a very constructive read.

What I love about this book is how female empowering it is. Every chapter starts with a quote from a female icon and the big sister notes honestly make you feel like you’re not alone. Finding people in your circle who can relate and understand is one of the hardest things. I try and explain how my dark days feel to Tom so he at least understands but being able to relate is impossible. Being able to find that feeling in a book is truly incredible and all hats off to Helen for that.

Whilst reading this book, for the first time ever I had my ‘light bulb’ epiphany moment of “I actually have my shit together.” I have a successful career, a creative hobby I love, a wonderful supportive boyfriend, I find time to go to the gym, I cook so I can eat relatively healthy and I live in London. All at 23. I can finally say I love me. My little miss critical will still try and find faults every time I’m in front of a mirror but each day she gets weaker because I get stronger. I no longer fear food/snacks but listen to my body so I can fuel it for my crazy lifestyle.

My favourite quote from the book

About the author

Helena Grace Donald was born in London and moved to LA to pursue her acting ambitions. Having overcome her own ‘Little Miss Critical’ from her teenage years, she founded Girl Unfiltered where she works to inspire girls and young women to learn to value themselves beyond their struggles. You can found out more about her mission and follow her through her website and social media channels:

www.girlunfiltered.com

www.instagram.com/girl_unfiltered

Are there any self-help books that you’ve been loving recently?

NG x

*I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review but all thoughts and opinion are my own

 

Northern Girl on… My body image story – update 2 

Having shared my initial story and my update I’ve decided to try and update monthly. I find writing about my story therapeutic for myself and it still surprises me just how little people know/understand about eating disorders.

My last update was a much more positive one than my initial cry for help but unfortunately it hasn’t stayed that way. I recently shared a post on my Instagram of me feeling fantastic having been able to run in just a sports bra and leggings for the first time ever! Fast forward a week and that little, dark, eating disorder voice kicked in. I couldn’t even stand to look at it anymore, all I could see was what was wrong with my body. Coincidentally those feelings started the exact same day I got weighed for the first time in months.

It was a dark, deep spiral and it was one of my lowest points in recent times. I didn’t see a way out. I was crying and obsessing and beating myself up.  It was horrible and I couldn’t explain it to Tom. I stand by that it’s one of the hardest things to explain or deal with. I sometimes feel that at least with other mental illnesses you can empathise to a certain degree but with eating disorders unless you’ve experienced it you simply don’t know. There are so many common misconceptions. I cannot stress enough that just because someone doesn’t starve themselves or make themselves sick does not mean that they aren’t suffering – it runs so much deeper than that.

I was back to being obsessive. I mean I am/was at the heaviest I’ve ever been. Ever. I didn’t feel any different in myself from a week ago and my clothes didn’t fit me any differently but thise two numbers on the scale completely changed my opinion of myself. It felt like climbing a wall to the top only to lose my footing on the final step and fall straight back to the bottom. My body confidence had once again been shattered and I was back to my closed up self. I wanted to start running 3 times a day. I wanted to get rid of every unhealthy item of food in the flat. I wanted to get back to my tiny 8st self. It’s almost as if I don’t recognise myself until I’m at that weight. At least that’s what I thought.

I’m some kind of warped/backwards logic I decided to try on some of my bikinis from a couple of years ago. If you’ve seen my post on my Half-year goals you’ll know that being in a bikini this year is quite a big deal to me. With only 3 weeks to go until my first break I had a panic they wouldn’t fit so I dug them out of the back of my wardrobe, tried them on and looked in the mirror. Low and behold they fit perfectly.

There are always going to be bits that I wish were different but with minor changes to my diet and fitness regime they will get there. I quickly realised that my issues are nothing to do with how I see myself. I love my body. I’ve been blessed with a near perfect hourglass figure and likened to a Kardashian (what’s not to love)! Instead my issues come from what I create in my head based on the numbers on the scale. To me that number 8 is magic even though realistically I know that it would mean losing what I love about myself today.

So it’s an easy fix?  I wish it was. I wish it was as easy as just shaking my head and shaking the negative thoughts away. I think it will take a while to get those numbers out of my head. There are probably always going to be dark days where I can’t control my default emotion but hopefully I’ll never be too far away from a bikini and a mirror.

NG x