Welcome to The Feeding Of The Fox blog. I’m Imogen. I’m like many women in the world, I’ve spent years battling with my body image, either spending years eating mindlessly or years in restriction desperately trying to ‘lose weight’. Finally, after losing over 100lbs, I realised I had an eating disorder. This blog will document my journey from the restriction-binge-cycle, away from diet culture and into the beautiful, colourful world of body positivity and intuitive eating.
My story is a long one. But I’d like to share at least a quick version of it with you. It might help you make sense of how I ended up where I am today.
I was born with a genetic impairment. It didn’t really kick in until I was in my late teens, fairly common for connective tissue disorders. By that time though, I was already pretty over weight .. more importantly, I was already very unsatisfied with my body.
School wasn’t the easiest. I have dyslexia and I really struggled with reading and writing. I felt very much like I didn’t fit in, as a disabled person but also as a young woman struggling with her sexuality.
Those insecurities and desires to be accepted turned into a loathing for my body.
I did anything to avoid physical activity, for fear of being fat shamed. And my eating was always out of control, with little understanding of what might nourish my body, or how to eat for enjoyment.
As my impairment became harder to manage, my body struggled to hold it’s self together, and my mind suffered similarly.
I became a full time wheelchair user. I was dependent on medications, carers, equipment to get through each day and my health, both physical and mental fell into ruins.
Eventually, after years of no mental health support, I was referred to a psychotherapist in a bid to help me better manage my physical health conditions. At the same time I met my now Wife, Letty and life quickly started to feel very different.
The first thing that changed was food. I ate differently, and I started to lose weight. That wasn’t my intention, but by eating differently to how I had been, my body started to change. And I liked that. I enjoyed people noticing that my appearance was altering, I loved the comments, and the privilege it came with – being able to buy high street clothes, being noticed by people, medical equipment fitting, etc.
That quickly snowballed and I realised if I continued to modify my diet, my body would change along with it.
In came calorie counting apps, working out when possible and Instagram (hello, it’s like heaven if you want to torture yourself with images of beautiful women eating ‘perfect diets’, working out every day).
Before I knew it I was up to my eyeballs in disordered eating, anxiety and obsessive behaviours. Meals out became horrific, panic inducing events. Social occasions turned into arguments with my partner, excuses not to go and grumpy, outrageous behaviours.
Birthdays stopped being joyful and became stressful. Christmas was less about family and more about avoiding food. It’s shocking how quickly my journey went from enriching my body with nourishing food, into starving myself. My focus moved from working with my body to encourage wellness where possible, to a dangerous obsession with numbers on a scale, on labels in my clothes and likes on photos.
At my lowest weight, I would aim to eat under 1000 calories a day, avoiding major food groups and attempt to exercise for hours. During this period my self control was mind blowing. I happily passed over anything I didn’t consider to fit within my ‘ideals’ and although I had the odd binge, it was rare.
After my partner and I married, we went on a wonderful honeymoon. My memories are mostly of sights we saw, of hanging out together, of beautiful sunsets over foreign locations, but they’re tinged with the memories of the binge eating that ensued.
I gorged my self on all the food I’d been avoiding for the last few years, eating slices of cake until I felt so full I was struggling to breathe.
Once home from our holiday, I opened up my calorie counting app and got straight ‘back on in’. Keeping calories as low as possible, and excluding all the foods I’d been over indulging on.
But the flood gates were open.
Most days would start with my restricting, and end in my binging. If I managed to stretch the restriction out then I could do a week on being ‘on point’ only to decent into a food oblivion over the weekend. Mondays were horrific. The shame. The guilt. I’d wake with my stomach dropping. And I’d make my self get on the scales as a punishment for being so weak.
On the 23rd January 2017 I flew home from staying with a friend. I’d eaten lots over the weekend that I wouldn’t normally allow my self so my flight home was another ‘last supper’ before I had to get ‘back to it’ the next day. So I stopped and brought a huge box of biscuits and ate them shamefully as we flew – hoping people wouldn’t notice that I was shoving them into my mouth. When I arrived home, I stood at the bus stop crying.
Over the next few days, I was contacted by a few people from the Body Positive community, or their accounts were suggested to me by Instagram friends and I started to read more about self love.
Quickly I realised the damage I’d been doing to my self. It didn’t take long for me to realise that self loathing and hating my self hadn’t made me happy and that perhaps there was another path that might prove more enjoyable than the one I was currently walking.
And so we arrive here. A blog started to document my journey through my weight loss, diet culture and into the body positive, self love community.
It’s a truly terrifying prospect, giving up dieting, unlearning all the diet and media driven rhetoric, but it can’t be worse than where I’d found my self.