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Simon’s story

Someone said you have to go there to come back stronger, well hopefully this is true.

My issues around consuming certain foods never started when I was young. I had a very normal family upbringing, as a child I had and still have a stable family. As a child we were brought up well and had a healthy balanced education when it came to nutrition. We were always fed 3 square meals a day and were allowed snacks such as chocolate, biscuits, cakes. All the things that children love, nothing was out of bounds just in moderation.

My issues began 3 years ago. During my early twenties, myself and a friend joined our local gym. I didn’t think I would really take that much interest in it but the more I did and more I learned the better I felt and looked. During this time I would still eat what I wanted when I wanted, weighing in at a healthy 86kg. Weekends would be spent socialising with a good group of friends over a drink, ok maybe a few drinks. The thing was I had what I considered a healthy balance. About 3 years ago I was struggling with little niggles in my shoulders and a friend recommended a sports masseur. I booked in for my first session with her and during that time, little did I know how things would take a turn and my life would change.

The masseur was also a qualified sports nutrionist and we entered into a conversation regarding foods, the more she talked about food the more I wanted to know. All of a sudden a switch was turned on in my head as I learnt about calorie consumption, hidden sugars, good fats, bad fats e.c.t. That evening after my massage I went to the supermarket and brought a box of porridge oats to replace my usual breakfast on granola mixed with muslie and crumpets with butter. This would prove to be the start of my spiral down. I would spend hours on the internet reading countless diet plans for fat loss, pre and post training meals.

My attitude to food changed and before I could say order me a pizza, I was cutting all sorts of foods out of my diet. Bread, potatoes, pasta, cakes, chocolate even chips, bacon and sausage were sacrificed. I would change my usual weight training program for a more endurance cardio based program. I noticed that I was losing weight, the little amount of body fat that I had was finally burning off so to my muscle mass as my body was living on Porridge, Tuna, chicken fruit and veg. I would train 7 days a week go to work and feel weak but it still didn’t hit home what I was doing to myself. As the weeks and months passed I would continue to spiral out of control. I would go food shopping I would read every label on the packet if it had what I considered a high carbohydrate or fat or sugar content I would develop a habit of putting it back on the shelf.

I stopped going out with friends in fear of putting weight on and not being able to train the next day due to subsequent hangover that comes with a night on the tiles. I lived alone and still do to this day and became a slight recluse in my own little bubble. By now my life was work, training, sleep. This carried on for over 2 years as I had nothing else to focus my thoughts or time on and if I’m being honest I didn’t really want to either. My weight plummeted last year(2012) people told me I didn’t look well and were genuinely concerned for my wellbeing. Again this didn’t really matter to me, I had what I thought in the mirror was a toned, fit and healthy body staring back at me. If I went out for food or I had eaten something which I considered unhealthy, my way of dealing with it would to put an extra shift in at the gym, I was bearly eating sufficient calories some days and performing hours of endurance training during the week. At work I would turn down treats such as breakfast baps, samosas, biscuits and chocolate down and watch the other guys go to town and devour them, I wouldn’t touch Pizzas, Burgers, any sort of takeaway.

If on the odd occasion I would allow the shackles to come off, ie special occasions such as birthdays, holidays, xmas I would enter the world of the binge eater as I would devour whole homemade Victoria sponge cakes, boxes of chocolates during xmas day last year my cousin and her two young girls baked a big gingerbread house….. I went through half the house in one sitting, my body was craving for more and more. Next day I would feel guilty and disgusted with myself and would hit the rowing machine And treadmill and burn it off along with the guilt and return to eating veg and lean meat. My body and head were all over the place.

During a holiday in late October 2012, myself and a friend ventured to Tenerife for a 7 day break. The first night we hit the hotel buffet and I did my usual of going through several sized family plates portions of different foods, the flood gates or should I say food gates had opened and I hate to think how many calories I consumed. The next morning I would take myself out on a run for about 45 mins to make myself feel better. I got back to the hotel and felt re-energised. I showered and went for breakfast at the scene of the crime the night before. Later that day I felt a little sick and started coming down with stomach cramps. During the rest of the holiday from that afternoon I was more or less concealed to our apartment as I couldn’t hold any food down and felt in pain and weak. If I consumed any small amount of food, I would be sat on the throne within half an hour. This went on for a further week until a doctor back home put my on antibiotics so I could hold food down. In total I was off work for 3 weeks without ever really discovering what I had picked up on holiday, my weight had plummeted to 63kg but this didn’t set alarm bells ringing in my head, I knew I wanted to gain a little muscle mass back but was frightened of eating extra to enable this for the fear of putting on body fat. All of a sudden my body and food became an obsession I couldn’t concentrate  on anything else I lost my interest in watching films, football even listening to music which was a passion of mine the only thing that mattered was training and eating clean.

It was around late November that my parents really started to worry, they knew for a long time that I didn’t look well I saw something different in the mirror to rational people. By this time I was prescribed anti-depressants and I was self-consumed with my issues I had that year started a new role as a manager and this was starting to affect the way I carried out my job. Things were starting to hit home. I started counselling to try and help me get better I would tell my parents and those few that were close to me that I was serious about putting weight back on and returning to normal eating, gradually I did re-introduce certain foods back into my diet but this was proving tough to go the extra yards with so called bad foods such as sugary or fatty foods for the fear of adding body fat.

Things finally came to a head in March of this year when I went back to the doctor this time with my parents. I broke down in the doctors office and finally admitted that I needed help. I was admitted to a psychiatric, myself and my parents went to a 1 to 1 with her and we talked for an hour about my upbringing and history. I was at this time advised to visit an eating clinic in Derby where I live called First Steps. I went along to another 1 to 1 with a rep called Marc. He too had been through the same as me and everything we spoke about we knew where each of us were coming from, this proved I believe as a turning point for me as he was in recovery and looked well. Just after this meeting I met up with a former anorexic sufferer who told me of her harrowing experience. This also proved as a slight wake up call.

During this last 4 months I have tried to overcome these demons by cutting down on Cardio to once maybe twice a week and I have returned to doing more resistance based training. I have started eating more and have started to make small steps in gaining weight. I’m still way off what I was and there is days when I just want to wake up from this nightmare and be Simon Moore of 3/4 years ago. Happier, socialising and have a partner something that I have not had for 3 years or more as the voice in my head became my closest friend.

I have made small changes as I said above and this has proven the best way of recovering. There are times when I want to do more and will beat myself up if I don’t accomplish a goal but I believe that is just my character.

I couldn’t have got through what I went through without the unconditional support of my parents, to which I am eternally grateful and will never be able to re-pay them. They will say it’s in their job description but it must be one if not the hardest thing to go through watching your son destroy himself. They are, have been and always be my Rock and I can only begin to apologise to what I have put them through.

There is still a long road ahead of me in my recovery but for the first time the voice in my head doesn’t always win anymore if I fancy eating something unhealthy.

Life is about balance and this will probably be with me forever in some capacity. If I had to go there to come back a better more balanced and stronger person then so be it.

My journey continues but on a slightly smoother terrain.

'Men Get Eating Disorders Too' is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1139351.

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