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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.
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.