Me:  Obviously the main point of this conversation is to talk about eating disorders and the fact that you’ve suffered from one. People often throw around terms like bulimia and anorexia, often without any meaning or understanding, but what does an eating disorder mean to you.

Clara: To me, it would mean being in a trap. Feeling like you can’t live a normal life anymore. Not only destroying your life but the lives around you. I think that pretty much encompasses everything that it does to you. It’s not just about what may be the symptoms are. Like having a low mood or symptoms of weight loss. Like that’s not what having an eating disorder is.

In terms of the physical things that people get fixated on. What’s actually going on the inside is actually what’s relevant here.

C; Yeah exactly, living with an eating disorder is not suffering from weight loss. Living with an eating disorder is not having a low mood. Living with an eating disorder is feeling like you are completely trapped inside your own mind and feeling like your life is destroyed.

Me: I sort of started a bit early there, but with all of that being taken on board anyway. Where you are now. Just give an introduction to who you are and where you are now.

CMy name is Clara Mackey, I’m 29 I live in Norwich from Ireland originally. I’ve got two daughters who are 2 and 6. I recently found out that I enjoy lifting weights. It wasn’t anything I ever had an interest in until recently for some mad reason I tried it and suddenly realised that my body could be powerful or that I held this strength inside me that I didn’t know was there. 

And obviously, you’re my sister…

CAnd I am Aidan’s sister ? … older, but not bigger!

Starting from the beginning, because I know from a psychologist’s standpoint, they would always want to know about someone’s upbringing and stuff like that which might be relevant.
Although we are brother and sister and we shared a home for a good few years, there’s still an awful lot of stuff that happened before I was born. So maybe just talk a bit about where you were brought up and so on.

CWell, I was born in America, our parents were living there at the time and we had moved from Texas to Chicago and we always kept I touch with our family, and I used to always stay in touch with my Irish roots so it was no surprise when we moved back to Ireland when I was 7. I had started school in America and then obviously continued back in Ireland. I never found anything stressful or anything with that upbringing I was a completely happy, nurtured child. We moved a few times in Ireland. But looking from the outside looking in from a psychologist’s point of view there was no external factors that turned me internally into, you know startle me at the start and built up. I was always happy and secure and felt loved.

So, was there any transitionary period into schools in Ireland that felt different at all … or was it basically pretty smooth sailing?

CYeah so from what I can remember, it was really smooth.  I have a very distant memory of being excited and a novelty of being excited, of being home from America and having a slightly American twang in my voice and other kids enjoying the novelty too. I wasn’t ostracised or anything I made friends very easily.  I don’t recall any part of it being stressful at all. Obviously, in Ireland in school you had to learn Irish and I was still young enough to do that and take on the subject and things like that and so yeah, I made friends easily and there wasn’t really a massive transition phase once I was home

Like at that age, between the ages of 7 and up until the end of primary school and being 12 was there any sort of negative body image or any sort of strange link between you and food or anything around that area?

CYeah I remember as a child we went to America and came home for the summer, our sister, Sarah and I. We flew by ourselves to Ireland and Sarah went to stay with our Granny and Grandad and I went to stay with our aunty and uncle. From what I recall and I don’t know if I knew it at the age I was at or if  I just reflected on it more at the age of 10 or 11ish, I’m very unsure but I still to this day do believe that my family sent my sister to my granny and grandad because they spoiled us more and I knew that I was a chubby child and I knew that my mother was not comfortable with me being fed all the treats all the time and she knew that would happen. And that sounds awful to say out loud (she giggles) that my mother like ‘psycho weirdo’ would separate us like but it really didn’t feel like anything massive at the time so I’m not 100pc where the notion came from, but I would still believe to this day that that’s why, because I was the chubby child and my mother didn’t want me having sweets all the time (giggles again).


So it’s a bit of an awkward one because if that was the case then there’s the case where its like ‘mum was looking out for me’ but then there the question as to whether any of that was the case at all (we giggle). But at the time what did you think was the reason that you had to go and stay with aunty and uncle? Maybe because you were closer to your cousins as well?

C; No, maybe it was just that they couldn’t handle the both of us, I don’t really know why, and I don’t really think I over-think it at the time. I’ve got no idea why one of us was sent to stay with one side and one the other. I know we still met and did things together, but I really couldn’t tell you. And I’ve never said it to her, I’ve never turned to my mother and said “oh, why did you separate us!?” because bizarrely enough I couldn’t imagine if I was to send my two girls away that why wouldn’t they just stay in their aunty and uncles or just stay with their granny and grandad, so I don’t know ha-ha I guess in my own head I just labelled it as giggling ‘I was the fat kid.

Me; do you think that thought came on in the later years, like 12-13?

C: That what I’m saying, I mean … I don’t know if the notion grew in my head., by looking at photos and thinking in my head, ‘gosh, actually yeah. My sister was always slim, and I was always chubby. Did I suddenly start to reflect on that at the age of 10/11/12 looking at photo albums or was it later I actually couldn’t answer that question? But I think a lot of it is reflection and thoughts of being a chubby child and memories of being on the estate with my friends and my mum giving me 20p to go to the shop, whereas my friends might be allowed a pound. You know? (giggling) Trying to get some control but you need to do that as a parent, I mean would limit my child’s sugar intake or things like that.

Me. Do you think there is a reason why you would reflect on things like that or in that sort of frame? There was obviously some sort of body issue at play here, do you recall being at 13ish in secondary school having more of those sort of feelings or thoughts?

C: Well, yeah sure I mean I think that possibly. and I don’t want to stereotype girls particular but when they hit puberty you become aware of bodies, of other girls of the way that you are different. And people always said that as a child, I just still had my puppy fat and oh once you kind of got a bit older you know, it would just kind of fall off… but it didn’t (she giggles) it just didn’t … really happen… and yeah, I guess I was aware that looking at other girls, I was ‘bigger’ than other girls in my class. There were other girls, that were a similar size you know, and bigger girls and you would have, a bit of bullying that was going on and I guess I was aware that I was lucky that I did have a group of friends, but I was still aware of the fact that I was possibly a similar size and I was conscious of it like ‘would that happen to me’. And yeah, eventually there was the odd comment that was mentioned about me, about my size and weight and things like that and then I think that’s when it really started to get …

It started to snowball?

C: Yeah, it started to get the clocks ticking I suppose.

So there wasn’t really a trigger event or moment?

C; Yeah, I think it’s when I got involved with a boy and you know we had these teenage crushes and everything you feel seems so huge at the time and everything seems so exaggerated when you’re a teenager. And I think that one of the main things that he would say about me like an ongoing negative thing was that I was fat. And there weren’t any other negative things like oh I don’t like your hair or if you were ginger and you got teased, it was always that one thing and I thought oh well maybe if I change that, then he’ll like me. So yeah, I guess, I think there came a point where I just wanted the recognition or acceptance from him, I guess. And if he thought that it was just that, that was the problem, well I guess il change that. And I didn’t know at that point the outcome, I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be, I didn’t know that if I acted on the notion of losing a bit of weight, I didn’t know where I was going to end up, that it was going to become the problem that it became.

So was there something that you did that made this an ‘eating disorder’ in your mind? Was there something that you recall that made this what it tuned out to be?

C; A trigger. Yeah, I, started reading Jacqueline Wilson books and you know they were about teenage things like boys and first kisses and stealing lip balm from a shop and these things. One of them was called Girls Under Pressure and it was about a girl who had an eating disorder. And I remember reading another book from the library called Hits Diary or something and it was bizarre, and I remember mum being a bit weird about it too. But back to that other Jacqueline Wilson book, that was about a girl with an eating disorder and I was about 12 when I read it and obviously, I had already started some notion in my mind about wanting to change shape and stuff.

I remember one evening I was in the living room and I had just eaten a bowl of cereal and toast or whatever, my dad had gone to bed, my mum wasn’t home from work yet and you know it was a normal thing to do in the evening have a piece of toast or whatever chill out and watch telly. And I suddenly just got the idea and I thought “hmm could I do that?” which was make myself sick cause I had read it in the book and I was about 12 it didn’t seem hard and, so I tried it and I thought “oh, that wasn’t bad that wasn’t hard, and look, that food had gone. I don’t have to feel bad for the fact that I ate it” So yeah I think obviously, that was a massive turning point. If I had tried it and it was a horrific experience or something, then maybe I would have walked away at that moment but no I just remember thinking “oh that wasn’t bad”.

So, it was one of those ideas that was there, it was quite rare at the beginning, it was like having a tool I have in the bag, should I need it. and I didn’t really, much at the start it was just there. And as I slightly cut down and started to speak to myself it was like “could I just go without lunch to school?” and then I got through that and that wasn’t so bad and then I got addicted to that feeling of reward of “oh you only had this and you only had that”, and it just keeps going and going.

Me; And as that was going on, was there any improvement in how your boyfriend viewed you or how anyone viewed you or any of that?

C; No. No, not really to be honest. No.

  • I went on to ask Clara about when people noticed that something was going on. I remember that my first memory of something not being quite right was on a family skiing holiday in Slovakia –

I know you collapsed at one point and everyone was worried. I don’t think I knew at the time that I linked anything but retrospectively it’s from that point on that I think of you being unwell.”

Clara: 6 months or so passed before we went to Slovakia for Christmas and those habits were ingrained. I wasn’t really bulimic at that point, but I was avoiding food mostly. I knew that living in a full house with all of my family around I couldn’t avoid food, so I had to make myself sick. That was when I collapsed on the slopes. That wasn’t as bad as I when I was a hot bath spa with my mum and I collapsed there too. We came home to have another Christmas dinner with our grandparents because we were away. I had lost weight and Sarah noticed it I think. So, when I finished dinner with everyone I went to the bathroom to get sick and Sarah twigged it. I just went to my room as normal and Sarah went into the living room and told mum – who was just being a good host and laughing and making sure everyone was ok for drinks and that – Sarah said: “Mum, Clara just ate dinner and went to the bathroom”. My mum passed it off a couple of times before it clicked.

Mum confronted me – I denied it obviously – but she was pretty sure by then – the signs were already there and pointing at it. I was depressed, I would go to my room and close the curtains and listen to Pink Floyd and all of that for a while now. My mum asked me was I making myself sick.

Instead of this being an intervention – it went completely the other way – I was completely defiant – because I was too far into it at that point – I was too scared to change too scared to try to get better.

And that point that changed things, it was the point when I just put my hands up and said fuck you, you know now, I didn’t have to hide it, it was like it was too late for me to stop and I didn’t have to hide it anymore. And I think things really began to spiral out of control from that point on.

That year that followed my behaviour became more and more out of control, things became way more serious. My relationship with my mum and dad became very difficult. Lots of fighting lots of trying so hard to help and being g so helpless. Trips to doctors and I remember my weight wasn’t quite low enough and I remember being weighed by this doctor who was kind of on another planet and didn’t realise the extent of what was going on. You know being weighed and being told oh she’s not anorexic. My number on the scales didn’t tick that box yet. Whereas my behaviour was killing me. So my mother was looking into other ways of being helped and trying different counselors, I was going to like talking therapy and that wasn’t really going anywhere… Well, I don’t really think I had any intention of getting any better. I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me.

“Hello it’s me Dolcie!” We were interrupted by my niece!

Yeah and in that year I think I had the most dramatic weight loss and things like that and things really began to pick up the pace. And I think that fact that I could defy my family in some ways fueled the fire of this beast in my mind.. it was like an extra power. Before I was just controlling myself I just had power over me whereas once my family knew it was like… I don’t like talking in the 3rd person, like some weird psychotic thing but it was as if this gremlin was like “I’m going to destroy everything around you too” it was like taking over my life wasn’t good enough, like well, I’m just going to ruin everyone’s life now. It’s more fuel for the fire. I literally just had that feeling where you’re so sad that your hurting everybody but at the same time you’re just ruthless. You just have this power as well that’s telling you that you don’t care you’ve got to do it. There are people who go through life and have that inside them and it’s…

(Interrupted by Dolcie again)

My weakest moments were probably my strongest moments because it was moments of clarity because I would have been told by my head that I was weak if I didn’t continue. If you stop now you’ll get fat again. That fear was stronger.

At this point, boys in school didn’t matter anymore. It was just me and the power that this had over me. At this poin, I wouldn’t even have a diet coke I though the labels were lying to me. It couldn’t possibly have one calorie it must be a lie. What if the factory put the wrong label on it, like if I had the one with normal coke in it then I’d suddenly be fat. I thought that toothpaste had calories, chewing gum, everything. I used to put an Oxo cube in a whole liter or two of hot water and used to drink it as a meal. Apart from that, I would have like a cup of tea. I was at the point where 10 calories were 10 too many. I was 10 out of my comfort zone.

Me: Worrying about 10 calories explains to me the scenes I witnessed when you were getting treatment in England and there was a group of girls being sat down in front of a ham sandwich and being forced to just take a bite. There was screaming and crying and I had never seen anything like it, it was crazy.

C. Well, you missed the fact that I was in the hospital in Ireland for nearly a year. So that happened first. That happened like a day or two after my 16th birthday I think. We were attending an outpatient clinic and they told mum I was too much of a liability to have just even there for an hour or two. I was in too bad if physical condition. I was meant to have one carton of this thing I was made to drink as nourishment for the day or something just to keep me alive basically. I had hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) and I could have slipped into a coma. My mum or dad would slip into bed to sleep beside me in fear, every night they were expecting the worst. At this point, I was running away from home and vomiting.

I’d have this pent-up hunger and this absolute starvation and restriction would get to me. I would leave the house in the middle of the night and I would vomit in the field across from our house or anywhere to get rid of it because I didn’t want to be stopped. I was afraid if I went to the bathroom at home someone was going to wake up and stop me. I couldn’t risk it. If I was going to eat then it had to come out. So obviously I was in a bad way and I was brought to the hospital and had blood tests and stuff and I was told well, you’re not going anywhere, you’re not going home. And iIwas put in Crumlin Hospital. And I was put on a drip and I remember i kicked doctors and stuff because I knew this drip was making me fat with all these calories and stuff. But eventually, that was it, I didn’t leave in 9 and half months.

As I said I was on a gastrointestinal tube. Every step I took I had someone with me. I had a dietician, I had nurses with me morning, noon and night to like bring me breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t even know how at this point I managed to deceive people and still find ways to avoid food, to still have control. I know one thing I used to do., We had these youngish nurses and they had to sit in the room and not sort of qualified doctors, just to supervise and I just managed to distract them for a second.

My breakfast used to always come in a bowl and a white plastic cup full of milk that wasn’t see through. And I would distract my nurse with whatever girly charms I had her not knowing I’ve got Gollum inside me and they would walk back out the door for a moment and that was it milk down the toilet and water instead. And they just didn’t even realise, I was still able to reduce my intake so that I still wasn’t putting on weight. And they would weigh me. The nurse would walk back out of my room and into the corridor to talk to the other nurses, in that time I could drink 2-4l of water before I was weighed. And they would weigh me and it would look like I hadn’t lost weight.

Eventually, they pulled me up on it. I still got thinner but I had this distended stomach full of water, even when you are that thin and you drink that amount of water your stomach will still come out. They call it water loading, I didn’t even know, it’s amazing that many people did it and we managed to come up with these ideas.

I didn’t know anyone else who did that, I hadn’t read before that that was a good idea and we all dreamed up the same coping mechanisms… It’s mad. I had scans done on my heart and they said it was half its original size. My body had no fuel so it started to eat my muscles, obviously, your heart is a muscle and they had me on a heart rate monitor and iIwas on 42 beats per minute, my heart just wasn’t able to pump blood around my body. I don’t know if it was then, or retrospectively but I did have a massive amount of guilt because I knew you weren’t enjoying yourself, you weren’t very old. I knew you had an awareness and I knew that I was taking away your childhood in some ways. I knew that you weren’t seeing so much of your parents at the time because mum and dad were like a tag team, one would come in and one would go home. But obviously, I was too far gone to take it properly on board.

Eventually, then I think there came a decision that there was no option but to tube feed me. I think mum and dad had to sign forms or something legal about the hospital not being liable for certain things that might arise. And yeah so they held me down and fought me I kicked and drew blood with doctors and nurses and psychiatrists. They got me eventually got a tube in me.
Even still, even still after all that I came up with new tricks, new ways of distracting to make people look away for long enough that I could tip out my feeding tube from the drip rack. I used to take it down and pour some out and pour some water in so it was exactly the same amount, each drip was timed so If the feed ran out before the timer was over then they would know it was tampered with. And I used to be able to do that within about 60 seconds. So that went on and even though I was on a gastric tube I was able to find a way. 
Me: it’s like when you watch prison documentaries and movies and people become better criminals while they are in there.
Yeah, that’s exactly what happened. I was pushed to the limits. I was put in an environment that helped me develop new ways and new elements of being better at my illness. So obviously after a few months on, they figured out what happened and they wouldn’t leave me alone at all. No nurse was allowed leave for a wee or anything. And when that happened, when they took away that control I just flipped it on its head. I said fine then, I’ve got no other way but to do this. I told them I would eat.
They didn’t trust me at first and they said well no, we will keep you on the tube until you can prove to us that you can put the weight back on. And I did but I was in no better shape than before, I just knew that it was something I had to do for my next trick. I had to get out and get my control back.
So, I started to actually overeat while I was in the hospital. We had this playroom place where there were PlayStations and things and I would just eat things in there, whether it was just an extra piece of bread and extra biscuit, whatever was there because at that point I had a different mission. I think mum was aware, I think she was very concerned I think she knew I was up to something. It wasn’t as if oh suddenly I was cured. I was just lying and sitting there saying oh I feel so much better it was all just this story that I was telling people so I could get out. I knew I needed to get back to the BMI that was just at the very minimum level before I was allowed go. It was their box that I had to tick. So after 9 and a half months I left and went home and wasn’t long before I wangled my way right back to square one. That when my mum started seeing thing take a turn again.
It didn’t take long. She just thought there has to be something else. Something better than a children’s hospital for my child. Because I had turned 16 and my mum didn’t really like the idea of sending me to a psychiatric hospital full of adults, people suffering from all sorts of things. There wasn’t really anything else, she started looking in to places in England, and found a place that she believed in the ethos. It might be a useful time to add that i discovered my mum suffered from an eating disorder when she was a teen and early twenties. She had a vast knowledge of tricks i might get up to. So when it came to getting me better she had quite strong ideas, she knew it had to be more therapeutic than about numbers and about weight.
So when she found a clinic with an ethos that was more about therapy than numbers and weight and food, that what she decided on. And morning noon and night she was on it, she was on radio shows, write to local ministers, things like that to try and get the funding for the treatment. Eventually, we were awarded 6 months at this clinic in England. I arrived there and got weighed, it’s necessary, and got a therapy session to get a baseline if where iI was. And i saw them (mum & dad) two or three more times that week, they stopped in to visit and then they went home. But as you said, we were forced to sit down and eat, not in a kind of regimented, evil kind of way, like “you have 20 minutes to eat that sandwich” where “if you don’t eat it in 20 minutes then we will make you eat the sandwich and a mars bar” (giggle) So it was a much kinder and gentler approach, it was “this is what you have to eat and we will sit here with you until 10 at night until you eat it”. Surrounding that though, there were activities for us to do, whether that was arts and crafts or yoga yeah things like that.
So, 6 months got extended through applying for more funding and people getting behind her and her saying “look, it’s working, why would we stop now?” You know you may as well keep going if it’s working. They came over once a month just to see me, and you came a few times. I don’t have a massive memory of it all. So went on from there to a halfway house, where you got more control to make your own decisions. And they were supervised. Like you got to cook for yourself and stuff. It was about enabling you to make decisions, and to be able to cope in the outside world.
Me: what stage were you at then, yourself? Was this working in your own mind?
Ehm, I think I was just going through the motions, I knew what was expected of me and I think Ijust accepted it. I think I realised that I had more personal responsibility, to realise that I was doing this to my family. Even when I left the clinic and went to the halfway house, in Norwich, I wanted to be able to move home. I just knew thatIi couldn’t continue to do what I was doing to my family where they had to deal with my behaviour. But I still wasn’t well enough. I still wasn’t recovered. What if I let then them all down. So yeah it was positive in terms of removing me from a situation where i was hurting the people that i cared about the most. It was positive to understand my emotions i guess. I guess it was a process that I had to go through. It removed me from what I was used to.
Me: With everything that going on up here (head) was there a point where it ever occurred to you that ‘there will have to be a point where this isn’t the way’?
I’m not 100% sure. I think there were moments where people in that situation moved on and I could see positive changes, people would leave and get a job or maybe do a little course from the halfway house. And yeah, there was definitely an element of that. I think it was a long time, into my mid-twenties that I realised that there wasn’t going to be this moment where, this lightbulb moment, where my head went ping! “Oh wow, life is wonderful without this!” I think in a way I was kind of waiting for it and searching for it, for something dramatic to happen, and possibly I wasted time thinking about that. But, yes there was possibly a little bit of.. yes, there is a life apart from this. (Kids heard in the background as it happens) ….
And I knew that, you know, one of the strongest feelings for me was that I wanted to be a mum. I knew that for that to happen I had to get well. That was always my one thing in my head. There were some pretty low moments when I wasn’t well that my mother said, “I know you always wanted to be a mum, imagine it was your baby that was this unwell. You wouldn’t starve a baby like you starve yourself, you wouldn’t treat a baby the way you treat yourself.” You know to try and kind of get in my head. I remember at one of my lowest points. My mum would put milk in a bottle to feed me, you know, anything to try and fool my mind into… And I mean at my lowest, lowest point. I remember buying myself a jar of baby food and trying to eat it, that it would just be something. I told myself that I wouldn’t ever deny a baby, so I thought if I could at least just allow myself to feed myself that one bit of something. I think even after having all that treatment, nearly 3 years altogether, I still don’t think it’s what kind cured me. I think it was like, “normal life” It broke a cycle to a degree.
Me: It seems like breaking that cycle lead to another cycle where emotion leads to a behaviour and that builds up, til it’s just the way it sort of where you are now. That brings me to where you are now, with two kids, a husband a house and mortgage all that stuff. Or is there stuff in between that?
Oh, it was a long journey even in between all that, leaving the clinic, and trying to
Smile to the real world. And all those coping mechanisms, are still tools, I don’t think I ever put my tools down. They are still there, I mean every time life is scary and you feel like you are not doing good enough. And that what is so hard, I told myself a story that over and over and still not was like ugh when is this going to go away. Like it was still a long road. It was still a case of, I have a voice telling me that I’m still not good enough. I still had the long road of wanting to have a social life and wanting best friends and forming relationships and wanting to have kids and it’s just very difficult when you have this illness.
It’s very hard to enjoy life and relationships because they are like “oh do you want to come out and do that?” And you can’t say yes because you’re constantly worried with the feeling of anxiety. The easiest way to describe it is that horrible feeling inside is churning and you want to feel happy instead of having that feeling of “well you haven’t done well, you haven’t got a good job, you don’t know how to do that assignment” it’s so hard to distract yourself from what you have known for so long. It’s like those mechanisms are there like “oh, there’s something I know how to do” instant gratification, just this horrible feeling hanging around.
It’s very hard to put down that toolbag. All those years, I still had that feeling and it wasn’t until I had my children and it became less difficult because it was like “oh my god this is all I ever wanted” it was like a dream. It was the me thing that made me feel good as a person. And there were even moments then where I made myself sick, so much guilt, and this was very very tough. Because I had this life inside me and it’s very hard to move on from that, years later and deal with that shame it’s just massive. And it wasn’t until this year, and she’s now nearly 7 that my husband found out what was going on. I was able to admit that person was still inside me. There was a part of me that felt like as I was able to say that, instead of using a tool it was like I had a tool that had done its job but now it’s time to put it down. Just having that moment of acknowledgment. Instead of thinking I’m so bad I’m so bad I’m so bad could just move on from it.
So it was a significant moment where you just slowly get a handle on life. And your able to commit then, to be that friend that will say yeah, I will I’ll go and we’ll get coffee on Monday and then you go and make a plan for Tuesday. To know what you could do, what you can do each day, it’s like all I’ve done is sit in my friend’s house and have a coffee but it’s like god, that’s been a long time. Then it’s like months turn into a year and I wouldn’t say that I didn’t still have that toolbox, that it’s like hanging around somewhere in the background but as you said to look at where I am now and there’s a massive difference. Now we’re times where you get tiny bits of the illness where you’re worrying about numbers and trying to like burn off a pound, but I was never really too into that. I would have a slight fear about exercise, that it would just be about numbers for me, that I didn’t want to give myself tools. Obviously, there was a time where I thought I need to be less scared of myself, of your own mind and what it might do to you and what it might tell you.
Yeah so, I wanted to go to a fitness class and I’d used to get these feelings when I’d drive down the road looking at these women that were like 20 stones but they were jogging
doing this exercise, and they were achieving something and I’d kind of look at them and wish I had that drive, I wish I had that ambition in me to do something like that and that I wasn’t so lazy. And it wasn’t anything about size or shape or any of those things it was about having that commitment to something. And yeah so there is that feeling of being scared to go to the gym because you are overweight or whatever, like what is that called an oxymoron? Paradox? Yeah, something like that.
It’s like probably the best thing for you is to get to the gym, and there are people that are scared to. I guess, I really respected those people that were out there running. I thought oh my god, I couldn’t do that, with my belly flopping, I’m like I have all the issues! And I loved that sense of freedom that they had in themselves. To put themselves in that situation that someone might shout something out the window at them. Literally, I was proud of them, and it sounds patronizing but I was proud and envious. So it built up something in me and I saw this fitness thing online that sparked my interest. So I was shitting myself for my first class when I went down and I was so unfit but yeah I mean I got through the first boot camp session thing and I was like, wow I didn’t know my body could do that. You know all these lunges and squats and stepping up and down really fast, and I my heart was pumping so hard and it felt good, I didn’t know I could do it, and I just couldn’t believe it.
On the other side of the room they had this weights programme sessions for women. And I’d be looking over and gazing and thinking oh that looks good! And then there was a little voice that was like oh your not good enough to do that you’ll just make a show of yourself. And yeah after a couple of months, i was used to doing a little bit of cardio and some strength stuff you know like strength and conditioning and using sandbags and stuff and I was like oh maybe I’m not as weak as i thought.
Eventually, I plucked up the courage to say I wanted to try it. (the weights) And just like that woman jogging, I felt like it was something powerful. It was like I wanted to feel the power of pushing the weight off me and like having a weight on my back and that’s when weight training really kicked off for me. I remember having my first session and getting under the bar in the squat rack and squatting and never feeling as terrified and it was terrible, I stuck my butt out and my knees caved in and I was like a little Bambi and I hurt so badly for the next two days and I thought this was a terrible idea but I went back. And it wasn’t long before 15kg didn’t seem so heavy anymore, the weighs went on and I just felt this sense of achievement and this sense of focus. It was something that I never knew that was there and my body was capable of, the kind of power that was inside you in a positive way. And then with food, it was like realising that it was fuel for my body and that if I treat it right look what it can do, you know just for me, not for anyone else but it is kind of fun to share your excitement sometimes when you got your little PBs and all that.
Me. Give us an idea of some weight you ended up lifting?
Squatted 95. 100 deadlift. 55 bench. And that is in what about 6 or 7 months. And yeah even though still don’t necessarily like what I see in the mirror. I think it’s just learning a completely different respect for your body it’s just appreciation for your body. And even though don’t necessarily like what see in the mirror, I don’t know if that will ever go away, but it’s not like that’s my only focus is life. You know maybe I will never be happy with what I see. But, maybe that’s not part of some illness, maybe that’s a curse a lot of people have about themselves. Maybe there is no… People just don’t know.. there is no perfect mind, there is no perfect view of yourself. That doesn’t mean that I’m not well, that means that I’m.. (Giggle) I’m normal. And it’s just nice to have a different focus. Something that I enjoy and I respect my body for.
Me. There’s nothing much more to say there,I mean, that’s just perfect. (We giggle)
And as I said to you over the phone it’s not about controlling my weight or the way my body looks or burning calories or any of those things and that’s what makes it such a positive thing. It comes down to your own motivation, I mean it’s different for people who compete at things and they might just do it for a few months like prepping and then go back to normal lives, it’s like it needs to be about you controlling it rather than it controlling you. But for me, it’s just a hobby, and for my kids hearing them say oh mummy is stronger than daddy, it’s a nice little thing to make you smile. It’s a positive affirmation.
Its a completely different effect, like programming my body as a tool like a piece of machinery, that when you programme it and fuel it correctly it can do some cool things.

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