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 3

Can you believe a whole other month has passed since my last body update? So what’s happened since?

  1. I went on holiday to Majorca for a weekend and wore a bikini
  2. I went out in crop top and jeans
  3. I haven’t weighed myself since 
  4. I’ve started a new fitness regime

My new favourite outfit – out for drinks in London

    Safe to say it feels like this month I have taken huge steps to improving my mental health. Majorca was a big factor in that. I didn’t feel fat in my bikini and I was going out in size 6 dresses! The group I was with was just the most amazing group of people and I never once felt uncomfortable or self conscious and I literally came back like a new person. I am so much happier in myself and it’s reflecting in all aspects of my life. My relationship is stronger and my health is much improved, I barely have half of my IBS pains (proof it is emotion related)!

    The day after I’d got back from Majorca I’d completely forgotten it was my first HIIT class session with “Divas with Dumbbells” – more on that later – and I have to say I’m hooked. Your first 2 classes are free which is incredible but after that not only are the classes super affordable but the amazing girls who run the sessions also create for you a personal nutrition plan, homework to help you with your goals and take your measurements to help you see your progress. Me and tom have also started playing tennis again so I’m really working on my fitness in time for Cyprus  (40 days to go).

    I’m hoping that with the right nutrition plan and fitness regime I can get myself to a state where I am ultimately fit and healthy but also happy with myself and feel like I deserve the slightly unhealthy treats. Thanks to a Twitter poll I’m running a food and fitness diary this week so it’s certainly helping me make conscious food choices.

    It’s safe to say this time last month was a huge struggle but now, it couldn’t be more different. I can barely even remember what my weight was that I was so unhappy about and long may this continue!

    NG x

    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

    Northern Girl on… half year goals list

    I can’t believe we’re in June already! I was so new to blogging back in January I didn’t realise how much of a thing “goals lists” were so I never did one. Thinking about it now, I have no idea why I didn’t think to, even if I didn’t share it I should have set out my aims and goals- I’m a sucker for a to do list after all! To make up for it I’ve decided to do a half-year one with my aims for the remainder of 2017, separating them into blog, life and health.

    Blog:

    • I was very lucky to hit my initial target of 1000 twitter followers by my birthday so I’m going to be even more ambitious and hope for 2k by the new year 
    • Similarly, I’d love reach 500 instagram followers 
    • I’m hoping that I can attend my first blog event/get my first sponsored post offer 
    • I’d also love to regularly meet up with other local bloggers and try and formulate some friendships.  One of the hardest things about moving to London has been adapting to the loneliness. Tom has worked shifts our entire relationship so that’s nothing new but before if he was working on an evening/weekend I’d be able to call round and see family/friends – not so easy when you’re 200km away. Whilst we regularly catch up on phone calls/facetime it’s not the same.
    • Improve my blog photography. This will probably be the one I struggle most with as I’m far from a natural photographer but I’ve bought a few pretty props and dug out my ancient Olympus EP-1 So it’s a start.

    We recently took the camera on a walk with us for practice

      Life:

      • I’m a money worrier so a big part of my 2017 is clearing a huge chunk off my credit card. I have another couple of years to clear it so I’m not too worried but it’ll be good to get rid of a lot.
      • Likewise keep squirreling away our savings. This is quite easy to do as I have automated payments set up to a help to buy isa. We’d love to be able to afford our own house but it’s looking impossible in London atm so it’s not our number one priority but we can both comfortably afford the payments whilst we adjust to our London life. 
      • I didn’t go to university so I’ve fought for where I am at work, especially in a heavily male environment so I’m hoping to continue to grow this and increase my role and responsibility.
      • I’d also love to learn to cook. I owe Tom a cooking masterclass for his birthday so it’s definitely one to tick off this year.
      • I’d love to grow my hair again to donate it. I have such a love/hate relationship with my hair. When it’s long and thick it takes so much to maintain and style but when it’s short I miss being able to throw it back in a pony on my lazy days but I know it will always grow again and it’s satisfying knowing that it has been donated to a good cause. If I do donate again it will be my third donation to The Little Princess’ Trust.
      • I received the most amazing journals for my birthday so one will be my new blog notebook, the other I’m planning on turning into a bullet journal.

      Health 

      • I’m hoping 2017 is finally the year I get some sort of diagnosis in way of my stomach problems. I’ve been battling near constant pain for almost 4 years with 1 major surgery and countless other scans/procedures with no success so far but I’m due to see a specialist in June so it’s progress.  
      • I’d always said at the start of this year I wanted to run a 10k so that’s very much still on my mind. I’m aiming for this around September time and I’m looking to do a blog series all about how different people have trained for different running events/distances so watch this space!
      • I’d love this year to be the year I finally combat my body issues. It ultimately felt great recognising my issues with the blog and I think it was a huge step towards recovery. I’m trying not to focus so much on numbers on a scale and more my own confidence and positivity so I’m aiming for:
      1. Feeling confident in my bikini – I’m going on two holidays this year and it’ll be my first beach holiday in 2 years so this is a huge one. I didn’t wear a bikini to a spa weekend last year because I  wasn’t happy so yeah, watch this space.
      2. I would also love to stop focusing on numbers on a scale and more on how I feel in my clothes. I let the numbers my weight was at rule my life for so long so I’m trying to change those goals to things like feeling confident enough to work out in just a sports bra and leggings or getting the confidence to wear crop tops back.
      3. I’m also hoping to celebrate my good days more. I will proudly say that there are days when I do want to celebrate my body. I’m trying to remember to wear clothes that suit my body type rather than just my dress size and embracing this.
      • I’d also love to be able to get my emotions/stress under control.  It’s the number one cause for friction in my relationship so this is another huge thing for me to finally achieve and I hope the two will go somewhat hand in hand. Get my eating under control and the emotions will hopefully follow.  

      The new running gear I got for my birthday to try and motivate me through the summer

        Do you have any goals for this year? NG x