There are many misinformed ideas about eating disorders. One of the main ones (in my opinion) is that if you don’t ‘look’ like you have one then you probably don’t. The other day I heard the comment “but she doesn’t look thin enough to have an eating disorder”. One of the most frustrating elements of an eating disorder is how people define it purely on physical appearance. The general assumption is that if you look ‘well’ or ‘healthy’ on the exterior, that you’re actually fine. In many circumstances, this couldn’t be further from the truth!
When I embarked into recovery for the first time and put on weight, though people couldn’t seem to stop saying how ‘well’ I looked, on the inside I was probably more tormented by my eating disorder than when I was obviously ill on the surface. I can’t speak from experience on bulimia or binge eating disorder but I imagine that those suffering probably experience the same frustration. This is sometimes why sufferers often go months or even years without confiding in anyone; because they don’t look ill, they feel they are not worthy of help from their family, friends or doctor and suffer in silence; even questioning whether there is actually anything wrong with them or if it is just in their heads. The media doesn’t help – relentlessly (and often inaccurately) reporting stories of celebrities sporting ‘painfully thin frames’ and portraying the idea that anorexia and other eating disorders can only be identified by physical appearance.
And there is also the fact that in many cases, you won’t be taken seriously or can’t seek professional help on the NHS unless you are below a certain weight or BMI. This is crazy because that is basically suggesting to the patient that they are not ill enough to warrant getting help. The torment that exists on the inside is far worse than how it manifests itself on the outside and with all eating disorders it is the mind that needs to be cured and healed and then the body will begin to take care of itself once that work has begun.
So if you are experiencing any kind of disordered thoughts towards food or body image then it is vital that you hold your hands up and tell someone. Do not think you have to be ‘painfully thin’ to have an eating disorder. Every single person is different and you don’t have to be neatly categorised into one box (e.g. anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder) to be a sufferer. Everyone who even thinks that they may have an eating disorder or is experiencing eating disordered thoughts should be heard, helped and supported. The sooner you tell someone, the sooner that the issue can begin be addressed.
I did it, I really did it! I still can't actually quite believe it and I feel amazing (although very sore!).
In the run up to the 10k I wasn't sure at several points along the way whether I was going to be able to take part... I'd never ran 10k before (I'd done 5k before and found it rather challenging), I hurt my back in the run up to the event, and I doubted my ability to be able to run that far. But, I trained well in advance, I allowed my back to heal, I got the all clear from my GP to run (very important) and I paced myself during the race. I put on tunes by Pendulum on the iPod and completed the race in an hour and a half. I'm so pleased.
I was thinking about the challenges philosophically, and in the spirit of this website, it made me consider the challenges we go through to reach the goals we set ourselves. We overcome obstacles, frustration and become that little bit more than we were before. That's my wisdom for you - do with it what you will!
I've almost got to my target of raising £150.00 for the charity, Beat. I've only got a little bit more to raise - you can sponsor me here if you wish!
Thanks for your support all!
Well, I can't believe how quickly time has flown. The 10k is taking place in London this Saturday! I'm looking forward to it with a mixture of excitement and anticipation. I imagine that the atmosphere is going to be amazing. I'm hoping that the weather is going to be alright too - not too hot, but not raining either!
I've been training over the past couple of weeks again after the episode with my back. I'm feeling myself again and going to take it really easy come race day. As a Young Ambassador said to me, it's all about 'the cause' (Beat), so I'm just going to be thinking about that. Other people have told me about visualisation techniques that I can do, so imagine yourself reaching the finishing line - achieving your goal. It got me thinking that this could work for any goal really - if you can see it happening hopefully you'll get there.I hope so :-)
So... wish me luck, and sponsor me if you want to - all proceeds go to Beat, the UK's Eating Disorder charity: http://www.justgiving.com/Leila-Lahfa
I'll be honest, I've not been feeling very positive over the past few days. Last weekend I hurt my back very badly and could barely move for more than two days. It's now starting to get better. Now you may think that I hurt it through my rigorous training regime, but I was infact simply picking a pair of trousers up from the floor. Really! Thankfully a good friend came to my aid but I have been unable to undertake training for almost two weeks now. However, now that I'm better I'm going to pick myself back up and going for a gentle run this evening - and I'll be back on form for the race on the 10th July. Wish me luck all - I'm raising money for Beat.
Training... I've really been doing it! Getting up early to undertake my training was tough at first but I've been making myself do it and now my fitness is up I'm actually really enjoying it and my confidence has grown as a result. I've been following a training programme and I found some gold stars from my GCSE days, so I'm using these to mark off each training session that I complete. I managed to run for a significant amount of time the other day and achieved my very own 'personal best'! I'm very pleased... :)
Now I just need to do a bit more pushing on the fundraising for Beat - please sponsor me if you wish - every teeny bit helps!
Well, I've signed up and committed myself to running a 10k this July in fair London town. I can barely run to catch a bus without breaking a sweat so as you can imagine, the idea of running 10k in 2 months time is slightly terrifying! But, I am running for Beat and that has given me the motivation I need. I have a chart with running times on it and yesterday I found some gold star stickers, so when I completed the run I promptly put a gold star next to it. I hope that the sheet will be full of gold stars by the end of the 2 months!
I have set up a new JustGiving page so if you'd like to spare a few bob for Beat then please do so here! http://www.justgiving.com/Leila-Lahfa
I'm going to update this blog on a regular basis to keep me in check, so please do come back from time to time - I need all the help I can get!
Leila - My Personal Best Project Co-ordinator
Hello again, you’ll be pleased to know I’m still here and entering my 3rd week at Beat. Strangely, due to the bank holidays I still haven’t worked a full week and the time is flying by. I’ve been to my first team meeting which gave me a great insight into Beat’s work and what I will be focusing on over the next few months – all very exciting! I am starting to work on the Young Ambassadors scheme and organising the next training day that will be happening in June or July in London – I might even see some of you there!
I am part of a very friendly team, led by Francis Burrows, that includes, Lawrence Brown, Leila Lahfa, and Emma Roper- you may have met some of them before. It’s great to be part of such a busy and creative team and I’m looking forward to some interesting times ahead. The teams dedication goes as far as taking part in lots of sponsored events – Francis is doing the London to Brighton bike ride and Leila is doing a 10K run, and I might just join her! Anything but a parachute jump!
Hello! Maybe I should start with an introduction, my name is Ben Dunne and I am the newest recruit here at Beat. I started on the 13th April so I’ve had about 6 working days to get to grips with the new door codes, where to go for lunch, and the office dishwasher! I live in Norwich, so luckily I can cycle into work in 15 minutes, ready to start work without getting in a car or bus!
My first few days have been about meeting my colleagues, getting a better idea of what everyone does, and finding my way around . Everyone’s been so friendly and really willing to help me out. Excitingly, the office is so calm and unruffled I think that I am going to find it a great environment to work in – makes a change from the raucous offices I’m used to!
Hello! Yes this is very on time for me to be writing for My Personal Best but I figured since I only have six weeks left in Australia I had best be more organised in telling you about my life here!
I have still had no shifts at my job but have been to training for L’Oreal Paris as I will be promoting a new hair range and today I am learnt all about a new range from Revlon, with free goodies for me!
I have been socialising quite a lot recently. The other weekend I was out twice with my new friend Vanessa who is also from the uk. We got talking via Twitter and last weekend I went out with her and her friends from here and back home. As per usual on the way to meet her I got chatted up by a weirdo in the train station! I need to learn to being so polite and not stop to talk back to them!
Last Tuesday we went out to celebrate my cousin’s friend’s birthday. The next day was Australia Say which was exciting for me as we don’t have an equivalent in the UK. From the afternoon we went to Clevelly, which is a beach and had a BBQ and drinks with friends on the hill and went for a swim in the sea. It was mad drinking in my bikini and just feeling completely happy. I even stayed out longer than my cousin and house mate so maybe I am finally accepting that my cousin’s friends are my friends too.
This was also apparent on Saturday night when nine of my cousin’s friends came out for my early birthday celebrations! I had such a good evening, although it was weird not being out celebrating with my friends from home but they have said we are celebrating again when I am back. I woke up on Sunday still drunk which obviously means I had a good night! Also people have been giving me compliments on my photos from the night out and I realised that for once I really liked the way I look and could appreciate that I looked pretty.
I have learned a lot from my time in Australia and I think it was the best thing for me to do. I needed to be away from the expectations of my home town and my ex boyfriend to realise that a) I do not need to live up to their expectations because I have already achieved so much more with my life than they ever will; b) people who gossip about me are just jealous and c) I deserve a hell of a lot more than the way I allowed my ex to treat me. Let’s hope I put my new and wise realisations into practise when I am back in South Shields!
So I have been meaning to write a blog for a little while, and have finally got round to it!!!!
On Saturday 8th January, I made my way down to London to take part in Natural Beauty: Keeping it real, a T4 Battlefront campaign. Keeping it Real is a campaign aimed at people of all ages, but especially young people who are more likely to be adversely affected by media influence. They are aiming to promote positive body image and bring back natural beauty as opposed to the distorted airbrushed pictures that we see everyday all around us.
When I found out about this campaign and what it was all about, I was pretty keen to sign up. Knowing personally what an affect images can have on people, not only those suffering with an eating disorder, but also those people who have no experience at all of eating disorders, I decided it was a pretty worthwhile thing to be taking part in.
So on the Saturday morning I headed to the train station to start my journey....what a nightmare journey it turned out to be!! Cancelled and delayed trains all the way there! I started my journey at about 7am and didn’t get there until about 12midday!!! It was only supposed to take around 2 ½ hours!! So I had a bit of a panic because I was supposed to be there at 12, but luckily I rang one of the organisers and she was lovely and said she would meet me when I got there and not to worry as she would talk me through anything I’d missed.
I got to Westfield Shopping Centre eventually, and managed to find the person I was meeting!! Then she took me to the ‘backstage’ area where everyone was getting ready and preparing for the stunt. I was really reeeeaaaally nervous as I didn’t know anyone at all, but I managed to introduce myself to a couple of other girls who didn’t know anyone either...so we kinda stuck together throughout the day :) (and I somehow adopted the name ‘tinkerbelle’ as the day went on! Who knows!!)
During the early afternoon we were doing little bits and bobs of filming and generally just getting to know each other. Me and the two girls I was with snuck out one of the doors because we saw the T4 presenter Miquita Oliver out there, so we were sat with her for a bit having a bit of a chit chat (as you do) and I got a photo with her :) Then we did a walkthrough of the route we would be doing later. Even at this stage the Channel 4 camera crew were dotted around getting footage of the build up!!
Then it was back to the behind the scenes area to get ready!!!!
We all had to wear morphsuits. Either purple or white, with the slogan of the campaign ‘real images real people’ on them. Okay....so, if you don’t know what a morphsuit is, think an all-in-one, skin tight, lycra, not very forgiving type outfit...that was what it was! I had a mini freakout, but when I looked around the room at everyone else getting ready, I realised that although other people were a bit nervous about wearing them, I also saw that there were a lot of people of different shapes, sizes, ages, cultures all wearing them and not being afraid to do so. So I thought....if they can do it, then why can’t I?!
When everyone was all ready and in the suits, Miquita came through with her cameraman, and they did a bit more filming just getting us all hyped up and ready. She also asked a couple of us how we were feeling about it all. Including me!!!!!! :O She asked me how I was feeling about it, and I said that I was nervous, and that it was quite a big deal to me because I was in recovery from Anorexia. I still am not sure what possessed me to admit this out loud to a well known TV presenter, on camera, in a room full of complete strangers...but I did. And the response I got was pretty overwhelming....there was a big cheer (although a lot of this was the general excitement) and I had a few people coming to me throughout the day and at the end saying that they thought what I was doing was really great and brave :) So that made me feel pretty good!!
After that it was through to another room, which was filled with cameras and lights.....we all had to gather around a table with Kaya (the girl who created the campaign), Miquita and Kimberly Wyatt (ex Pussycat Doll/Got To Dance judge) in the middle...and we filmed a bit for the actual programme that was to be aired. Then it was time for the big moment!!!! :D
We made our way down to where we were going to start, and waited for Miquita to sound the klaxon....then there was music blasting throughout the shopping centre and the campaigns logo up on all the big screens. Off we went!!!!! :D Led by Kaya and Kimberly, we strutted and danced around the shopping centre, making our own little chants and cheers up as we went along. The crowds were massive and it felt amazing!! When we got toward the end of our route we had to all go down an escalator....at the bottom it was all fenced off and there were paparazzi there....the cameras were flashing like crazy!! We got to the end, did a bit more filming and then it was all over! It went so quickly. We all had to get these massive lifts up to where we were based....and I was in the same lift as Kimberly Wyatt!!!! That was a strange experience, and not one I thought I’d ever say I’d done! :P As we got back up I had a brief chat with Kimberly, and got a photo with her....she was so lovely and it was fantastic that someone like that was supporting the campaign!!
Then it was time to get changed into our normal clothes (we got to keep our morphsuits as souvenirs! Haha!!) We all went our separate ways. I made my way to the tube with the two girls I had made good friends with during the day and then we all said our goodbyes, hugged and said we’d keep in touch (we still are so far!!)
I got onto my train home, exhausted! There was so much excitement and adrenalin that day I think the tiredness all hit me at once! It was so worth it though. I learnt a lot about myself, and others....I saw that people of so many different shapes and sizes had really embraced the way that they are, and they accepted themselves as they were, flaws and all....people who were happy with themselves, who didn’t feel like they needed to change how there were....who didn’t want to be ‘perfect’. They were perfect just the way they were. I think seeing so many different people, all unique in their own ways, really touched a nerve.....it made me realise that I don’t need to strive for something other than to be healthy and happy....there is no such thing as perfect....and although sometimes having an eating disorder means that being able to see those truths is difficult, I know that deep down I know them......and I know that I don’t need to be a certain size/shape to be happy, or to be accepted by society.
I can be happy with myself just the way I am.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year 2011!
As you know, Beccie Simpson is no longer working with us at beat so I will be managing the project over the following months. As it’s a new year and a new start, I’m very keen to hear your thoughts on the website so far! What do you like? What could be improved?
If you would like to get more involved with any particular area of the site please do let me know on [email protected] (areas could be blog writing, writing downloadable content, creating videos and podcasts, writing news for the news section of the website – there are lots of opportunities).
We now have both a Facebook page and a Twitter page – if you have any content for these please let me know too: www.facebook.com/MyPersonalBest and www.twitter.com/MyPersonal_Best
Please do say hello, and if you have any further comments and suggestions you’d like to make please do let me know – the website is built by you, for you, so please do pipe up and let me know what you have to say!
Well what a few weeks we have had! The snow has decended upon the UK and many of us have been stuck! I think it is supposed to thaw slightly (note the slight disappointment in my voice, I love snow and would like a white Christmas!) Are any of you still snowed in?
On another note, I want to thank each and every one of you who have supported My Personal Best, I really do think it's a site that can help everyone boost their self-esteem and feel better about themselves. We put ourselves down everyday for the things we don't do, or can't do or mess up, so why don't we celebrate the stuff we do do, can do and do well! Hopefully My Personal Best can start to help you change this and make 2011 a more positive year!
On a slightly sadder but quite exciting note, I am going to be leaving beat and My Personal Best on the 31st December to start my own business. Feeling quite nervous about it but looking forward to the challenge. I will miss the team at beat because they are all really great people and I will miss working with all of you - you are all very inspirational and your challenges and achievements give others hope and self-belief. I will continue to blog though and keep you up to date with my new business adventures!
The lovely Leila is taking over this project, so please welcome her in the new year.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a great 2011!
Hi! I’m Leila, and I’m a Project Support Officer at beat working with our Young Ambassadors who do all kinds of amazing things for our charity, from media interviews and healthcare consultation work, to speaking at conferences all over the world.
Today, I’ve been supporting one of our many Young Ambassadors through an awards scheme so she’s recognised for all of the eating disorder awareness raising work she’s done for beat. The scheme is called the Youth Achievement Awards. If you haven’t come across the Youth Achievement Awards, or YAAs as I like to call them, then you should definitely look them up if you do any voluntary work that you’d like to be recognised for by future employers and universities and colleges. They’re run by UK Youth and the awarding body, ASDAN, and you can choose the level of award you’d like to do – Bronze, Silver or Gold. They’re a great for boosting your self esteem and if you’re a Young Ambassador for beat, we’ll guide you through the process. To find out more about them you can go to: http://www.youthachievementawards.org/InfoPack.aspx
And if you want to find out more about the work that beat does with young people aged 25 and under, you can visit the beat pages ‘For Young People’ (FYP) and become a member of our Youth Forum to be consulted with on projects and kept up to date with beat news http://www.b-eat.co.uk/YoungPeople/Forum
Wow! it's been over a month now since I joined beat! does time fly or what?
My name is Sian, I joined the Welsh-bit of beat, beat Cymru, as Project Officer.
I have never worked for a charity before. When I saw the post advertised it struck a chord immediately! I suffered with an eating disorder as a teenager, and although I have been recovered now for many years (I'm not going to be more specific - otherwise you'll know that I am now 34!!!!!!!!!), I still find it difficult to talk about, particularly with people who don't really understand.
When I researched beat, before applying for the post, it was a truly eye-opening experience, I was awestruck... reading about the work they do, their wonderful volunteers, the support for carers... so many amazing people.
I knew that if something like beat had exsisted when I went through it, it would have helped so much! Looking back I can see I was lucky to have a supportive (if ill-informed) family and a supportive boyfriend (who is now my lovely husband!).
I also knew, that I wanted this post! I wanted to help others to see that Eating Disorders CAN be beaten and I wanted to be there for people who have been through, what I have been through...
And my first month...? I can't stop smiling :-)
I am very excited - My Personal Best had over 2500 views on it's launch day (Friday) and currently we have over 120 people registered on the site - this is fantastic!
I really hope you are all enjoying using the site - the chat, the challenge plan, the forums etc but what we really need now is for lots of people to use it. As MPB is a community based website it is important that we get lots of young people using it - adding comments, suggesting forum topics, contributing to forums and joining in the chat sessions.
SO... I am calling on all volunteers and users of the website to join the My Personal Best - spread the fun campaign. Your mission is to get 10 friends to also register on the page - sound like a lot? But it's not! Most people have facebook so the easiest way to get people to the site post the site address on there.
If anyone has any fun and creative ideas on how to get the site 'out there' then please let me know!
Let's spread the joy!
Well this is the first entry on the blog, I feel honoured! Many of you will know me as I am the person who emails you daily (hopefully that's not too annoying) and goes on and on about the new My Personal Best site. Well I'm not going to apologise for that fact (although I will say sorry if all the emails have in fact becoming rather irritating) because I think this website is fab!
Many of you are familiar with the work that beat does and have probably wondered what My Personal Best has to do with beat. Well it's simple... everyone everyday does something great. It may not be a huge task like running a marathon or swimming the channel, it may something as simple as going out for dinner, making a new friend or starting a new course but this website is here to celebrate those achievements and recognise that achieving your personal best is something worth celebrating.
I really hope you will all enjoy using this site and get lots out of it. If you would like to volunteer to help run this website (blogging, moderating chats, making forum topics, uploading videos and lots more!) then please contact me on
That's all for now - the next installment of the blog will be from another staff member of beat