Champion Gingey

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The journey of club member ‘Gingey’ is a little different from many. The 34-year old from South Wales has had a rollercoaster battle with food addiction and disordered eating throughout her life. Although she is only a few months into The Harcombe Diet®, she believes it has helped her finally take control.

Tell us a little about yourself?
I have struggled with disordered eating for more than 10 years.

I was always a very active child, played team sports and a member of an outdoor activities group. The problem was that I just liked my food and was always overweight.

People put it down to ‘puppy fat’ or our family being ‘big-boned!’ I remember being bullied at school for being the fat, ginger kid. I also had to buy my school uniform in adult shops, as I couldn’t fit in a standard uniform.

At university, I took up rugby (it was always a dream!). My size ensured my position as a front-row forward. Yet, despite all the sport, I weighed 18st 7lbs (118kg) in my graduation photos. That was my heaviest ever.

I knew that I was overweight, but was fairly happy with my size. In the end, it took a few more years – and a painfully honest doctor – to give me the wake-up call I needed.

So I joined Slimming World, starting exercising, and managed to shed a lot of weight. The trouble was that I became addicted to losing weight and exercising. That was 10 years ago.

In time, and fuelled by a relationship break-up, I spiraled downwards. I was left with an eating disorder and I’ve struggled for all this time with both anorexia and bulimia, coupled with exercise addiction.

I have a fear of gaining weight, and always believed that counting calories and calorie restriction is the way to lose weight and keep it off. This is how I’ve been educated.

What was the final straw to taking control?
Quite simply, I had reached rock bottom.

I was eight stone (50kg) and at an all-time low. My life was a mixture of anxiety and depression, and I fought back by exercising to excess. All of these factors put pressure on my relationship with my partner, and eventually led to my second major break-up. This was last summer, and a few weeks later, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

I decided then that I had to take control. I had to overcome my disordered eating and get myself well for my dad and to support my mum.

Sadly, dad past away soon after, but I stayed strong and started Cognitive Analytical Therapy in January 2014.

It was extremely daunting, and I seemed to be getting worse rather than better. I wanted so badly to get better, but didn’t have the energy to fight my demons.

How and when did you find us?
My best friend (and my rugby captain at university) has been following THD for the past three years, since having her second child. She too had struggled with insatiable food cravings, and we have always been ‘diet pals’.

Despite her singing the praises of THD, I had always dismissed it. I couldn’t get my head around the completely different approach to losing weight and controlling food cravings. I just put her weight loss down to her losing her baby weight naturally.

It got to the point where I finally gave in and purchased ‘Why do you overeat? When all you want is to be slim’ in April this year.

OMG!

I couldn’t put it down.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The theory. The science. It all made so much sense.

I began to understand why my friend had been encouraging me to look into THD: not to lose weight, but to gain control over my eating habits.

I felt completely cheated by society: all these years believing in calorie counting, but now discovering that this was the main reason for my insatiable food cravings, and poor relationship with food.

I could also relate to Zoe’s early issues of disordered eating and felt I could trust what she was saying.

What has been your biggest benefit to you getting to your current weight?
Unlike the majority of people on THD, my goal is not to lose weight but to start the recovery process; to reach and maintain a healthy weight and gain control of my eating habits.

I started my journey at the end of May this year, and I initially lost 6lb in phase 1. However, I have since regained and maintained my weight: THIS is my goal, and I hope this is down to me already being at my natural weight.

As I said, it’s still early days, but I have managed to start my recovery process. Although I’m still fighting my demons, THD has allowed me to gain control over my ‘binge purge’ cycle.

My mood has improved greatly, and I now have the confidence and energy to socialise.

Before THD, I was surviving on apples, flumps and chewing gum, washed down with huge amounts of caffeinated drinks.

Now I fuel myself with meat, fish and vegetables, allowing my body to start repairing the damage I’ve inflicted through over-exercise. And I can see the positive results in my performances!

I have HUGE control issues, but THD allows me to follow ‘rules’ and feel in control without having to count calories and follow a strict routine. There are so many food options available to me now; it’s just having the confidence to introduce them.

(Unlike many others on phase 1, my issue was not cutting out foods, but introducing foods and encouraging myself to eat meals!)

As I said it’s still early days and even though I’ve started phase 2, I have only introduced a few ‘new’ foods. It is difficult to change my mindset after years of bad advice and thinking that fat is the enemy!

Do you have any advice for our readers?
I was a bit anxious about doing this but I wanted to share my story in order to help other people who have been having their own food battles; whether that’s an eating disorder or food addiction. I’ve been in your shoes and even though you’ve probably tried every diet, I would encourage you to give THD a go. You have nothing to lose and only health to gain!

It took me a long time to get my head around the new way of eating. But through continued support from those around me, I have managed to stick with it and trust THD. I don’t see this as just another diet, but as a journey.

It’s going to be a long road, but I have started my recovery process and I am determined to see it through.

It’s a life changing experience for me. THD has helped me to gain some control back in my life. I have every belief that this is finally the solution to my fight with food. I am feeling really positive about my future and believe that THD is the way forward.

October 2015 Update

Still fighting my demons, but this is an amazing year

I have to say that I was dubious about sharing my story with you in the club a few months ago. However, your continued messages of support have been so touching and gave me so much focus. I’m now in a place where I’m not only moving on in leaps and bounds, but am now happy to share my journey outside the club and to the wider world. This is a huge step for me – so thank you all!

Right back to my update… I’m still fighting recovery from my eating disorder, but I’ve maintained my weight for six months, and made huge progress recently.

Earlier this year, I went looking for a challenge to help me focus on achieving some of my own personal goals. So, to cut a long story short, at the end of this month, I will be attempting to run 100 miles through the desolate mountains and valleys of the Sahara Desert, as part of a small team of ‘Sand Dancers’!

That’s three ultra-marathons in three days and all to raise money for the Velindre Cancer Centre, in Cardiff. They do a fantastic job and supported both my dad and my sister in law to fight this cruel disease.

For me, this is going to be my hardest challenge to date, and I’ve already lost two toenails in training!

As part of the training, I’ve just completed a trans-Wales cycle challenge, covering 220 miles and nearly 20,000ft – all on a mountain bike, and all fuelled by THD!

I also took part in the ‘Race for Life Pretty Muddy’ – a 5k muddy obstacle course. A friend who joined me has just started THD and already lost a stone. I’m so happy for her!

Next on the agenda was ‘Survival of the Fittest’ in Cardiff in September, and then the big one in Africa. I just can’t wait.

I’m in such a different place to where I was a year ago, and I want to thank you all so much for supporting me on my journey.

24 thoughts on “Champion Gingey

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Well done Gingey! You have done so well to find the courage to share your story. I hope it inspires others who have found themselves in similar circumstances. I know how much you have battled through tough times over the years and am so proud of you right now!
    Thank you Zoe for helping my friend to start moving forward again! X

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Wow! – What an awesome story!

    We sometimes get so wrapped up in the weight-loss side of it that we for get the amazing healing and control side of things!

    You are doing awesomely Gingey!

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Thankyou Gingey for sharing your very inspirational story. Congratulations on your success so far, long may it continue 🙂

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    What an amazing story and journey, so inspirational to many including myself. Well done Gingey.

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Thanks for your kind words everyone, especially Mitchers who is my inspiration. She introduced me to the Harcombe way and I wouldn’t be where I am right now without her ongoing support and encouragement. I am so lucky to have her friendship.

    I’m hoping that sharing my story helps people who may be in a similar situation, but also to keep me on my route to recovery.

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Brilliant Harcombe Journey, Gingey. Absolutely well done to you.

    (A fellow ginger)

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    A bit late to the party, but I just wanted to say how moved I was by your story, and your courage to show yourself and be accountable. That takes a lot of inner strength and moral conviction. I recently finished reading a book called “Wasted”, an autobiography of a very severe case of anorexia and bulimia and I have a much better sense of these types of disordered eating now. If I wasn’t so phobic about vomiting I would likely be a good candidate for bulimia myself! Sorry to go on about this very sensitive topic, but I just wanted to let you know that I think you are a real Harcombe Champion for beating your demons with real food!

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Gingery, you are a brilliant example of how problems with food aren’t just a fat persons problem. I hope you can also overcome your exercise addiction because your joints won’t thank you for it in years to come.

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    You’re right Mamie. Anyone of any size, shape and weight can be affected by issues with food.

    Being overweight (18st+) is how I ended up where I am now though. I have been at both ends of the scales and neither are very nice places! I find maintenance the hardest part of losing/gaining weight, but with THD I seem to have reached a plateau which I’m guessing is my ‘natural’ weight.

    The important thing for me is to stop feeling judged by others (and judging myself!) and be a bit easier on myself. I will always have a control issue, I just need to use this in a more productive way. Exercise is a way in which I channel my control at the moment and manage my low mood. Hopefully in time, this will change.

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Gingey: You’re a frickin’ legend! Massively inspirational! 🙂

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    What a fabulous write up. Thank you for sharing this with us Gingey.

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    There you go Gingey, stop right there. Accept that you are inspirational – accept the compliment for you and you alone.

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    What a wonderful example you set and I salute your courage in going public with your story. A true champion, who I look forward to meeting on Saturday

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Wow Gingey I saw your photo at the lunch yesterday and I just wanted to say how radiant you looked between Zoe and Andy. THD is so much more about weight, the health benefits really are fantastic. My story is the opposite way around to yours, I was borderline anorexic in my late teens and I became overweight until I discovered THD. I hope to make the conference and Birmingham meals later this year and it would be lovely to meet you.
    Andy and Zoe really are a special couple, I know what you mean when you talk about them being royalty 🙂

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    It was lovely to meet you yesterday Gingey, hope to see you again soon.

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Having never suffered anorexia or bulimia myself I can only imagine how difficult your journey has been and continues to be. Well done Gingey you truly are inspirational!!

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Peapod: A bit late to the party, but I just wanted to say how moved I was by your story, and your courage to show yourself and be accountable. That takes a lot of inner strength and moral conviction. I recently finished reading a book called “Wasted”, an autobiography of a very severe case of anorexia and bulimia and I have a much better sense of these types of disordered eating now. If I wasn’t so phobic about vomiting I would likely be a good candidate for bulimia myself! Sorry to go on about this very sensitive topic, but I just wanted to let you know that I think you are a real Harcombe Champion for beating your demons with real food!

    Thanks for taking the time to read my story Peapod. I’m still on my journey to recovery and there’s plenty of potholes in the road, but as I get stronger they are easier to avoid or get out of!
    THD has proven to be a tool to allow me to control my eating in a ‘healthy’ way. I still have some distance left to travel but with a new year comes new opportunities.

    I’ve also read ‘Wasted’ and another really good book is ‘An Apple a Day’ by Emma Woolfe. I read that just before reading Zoe’s book ‘Why Do We Overeat…’ Both books helped me make the decision to start fighting back against my demons and make the necessary steps towards change. It takes a lot of self-hatred to punish your body the way I have, but I’m trying to make up for it now by treating it to lots of ‘real’ foods. The over-exercise is definitely a ‘work in progress’ but I’m moving in the right direction!
    It is a really sensitive subject and one that I have difficulty being honest about, even with myself. I’d never advocate any ‘bulimic behaviours,’ it’s such a complex disorder that is so detrimental to both physical and mental health. I’m lucky enough to have had support around me to help guide me on to recovery. My best friend ‘Mitchers’ has been my rock throughout and initially introduced me to THD. There’s no turning back now…..”It doesn’t matter how long it takes, all that matters is getting there.”

    I’m going to the Cardiff Lunch on Saturday and super excited to actually be meeting Zoe.

    I wish you well on your THD journey too Peapod. We are all ‘Champions’ 🙂

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Mat: Gingey: You’re a frickin’ legend! Massively inspirational! 🙂

    There’s people with more inspirational stories than mine Mat. Thanks for the positive words though. It means a lot 🙂

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Mamie: There you go Gingey, stop right there. Accept that you are inspirational – accept the compliment for you and you alone.

    Thank you 🙂

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Gingey: It is a really sensitive subject and one that I have difficulty being honest about, even with myself. I’d never advocate any ‘bulimic behaviours,’ it’s such a complex disorder that is so detrimental to both physical and mental health. I’m lucky enough to have had support around me to help guide me on to recovery.

    Yes, it is sensitive, and so very personal, and yet can be so different for everyone. There are many ways that we do harm to ourselves, and I think more people can relate to your story than you think. Just take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, and you will eventually find your way out. The Harcombe Diet is the best weapon you have. I find it helps to reread Zoe’s books now and then to remind myself of the reasons behind “the rules”. I wish you all the best in your recovery.

    Gingey: going to the Cardiff Lunch on Saturday and super excited to actually be meeting Zoe.

    You will absolutely ADORE Zoe and Andy!!! (I assume Andy will also be going?) They are truly lovely people inside and out, so down to earth, warm, welcoming, accessible. And yet…I still tend to see them as “royalty”! I’ve met them twice myself, and one really feels seen, understood and accepted by them which makes one feel very good about oneself!

    Gingey: wish you well on your THD journey too Peapod.

    Thank you 🙂

  • 12th October 2014 at 3:58 am
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    manulike: What a wonderful example you set and I salute your courage in going public with your story. A true champion, who I look forward to meeting on Saturday

    Looking forward to meeting you too…and finding out what kefir actually is!! Lol. I’m clueless!!

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