Suffering through, and recovering from, an eating disorder is one of the most difficult and emotionally challenging things a person can go through. It’s hard enough for women and girls, but when an male is suffering, the isolation and stigma can be even worse.
An eating disorder doesn’t have to be about having an extremely low body weight (though that’s often an outcome). Obsessive calorie counting, food restriction, weighing ourselves and scrutinising our bodies are symptoms of disordered eating. If you suspect you have an eating disorder, please reach out to your doctor or somebody you can trust.
I was lucky enough to get to speak with Jack Blossby, who suffered from Anorexia as a teenager and now speaks about his journey through recovery, bravely paving the way to help other people going through similar experiences.
Hi Jack, it’s great to speak with you! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and what you do?
I’m a 23 year old fitness nerd with a massive passion for breaking norms and talking about topics that most men would consider taboo.
I talk a lot about anorexia and eating disorders in general through my social media platforms and have been blown away by the support I’ve been receiving!
My number one objective that I will always pursue is to make it cool to have recovered from an ED and not something that we hide away from and feel ashamed for having dealt with.
What made you decide to speak publicly about your struggles with anorexia?
When I realized I had anorexia, I remember doing a lot of research and trying to find males in similar situations in order to help ease my situation. I recall finding mainly women that talked about it and sharing their recovery stories through various platforms. With that being said; props to all the women for being so open about it, you girls are super strong!
However, when I was 15-16 years old and dealing with my own ED, it didn’t really help that I mainly found only women talking about it. In fact, I remember feeling more weird and more lonely since my perception of eating disorders at the time was that mainly women dealt with it – which couldn’t be further from the truth.
I now talk openly about it because I want to be the person that I myself needed when I was younger.
What are the most important things you learned during your recovery process?
To always trust our gut feeling and not be afraid to put ourselves first, even if that includes making choices that may scare us at first.
After having realized I had anorexia and saw the damage that I have done to myself, my whole world collapsed and a long period of recovery and somewhat of a depression started.
Even though my recovery process wasn’t pretty and I several times felt grossed out by all the extra food I was eating (which wasn’t much to begin with), I still had this gut feeling that I should keep going. During my period of recovery I said no to a lot of things: parties, social gatherings and celebrations amongst others. I’m not saying this this is the right thing to do if you have an ED (in fact, the presence of others might be exactly what you may need!).
For me however, I felt like I couldn’t truly enjoy my moments with others as I felt so malnourished, lost and empty after having realized that I have had an ED for the past year. So I listened to my gut feeling which told me to put myself first and recover in a way that I felt was right for me.
For a younger Jack at the time, that meant to find my own identity again along with a healthy relationship to food. Part of finding my identity again included going to the gym a lot – which was something I didn’t like doing as much pre-anorexia. Fitness is to this date one of my biggest passions in life and I’m not sure I would have found it if I didn’t listen to my gut feeling.
Always go with your gut feeling, it’s there for a reason!
How has your definition of health changed over time?
Health for me is now just as much mental as it is physical. I have realized that it’s very hard to stay in a physically good shape if our mental state is not also at peace. They’re both connected and need to be in equal balance in order for us to be healthy. After all, an eating disorder starts in our minds which then causes us to make decisions that harms our physical selves.
How do you look after yourself?
I look after myself through training and as of right now that includes weightlifting 4 -5 days a week along with running!
Obviously there’s many different ways to look after ourselves and my way to do it is through fitness.
For me, training is my “me time” as I don’t not have to answer to anyone except for the weight on the bar or the distance I’m running – all whilst also looking after myself physically in the process.
What do you do if you go off track?
I try to analyze why I got off track in the first place – am I being too strict with myself or am I no longer truly enjoying what I’m doing?
If that’s the case, then I look at the slip-up as a clear indication from my mind and body that something needs to change in order to make it fun and sustainable again!
I also write off a lot of my slip-ups to simply being human – sometimes life happens and we can’t really blame “life” or being human.
What advice can you give us about having a positive body image?
Appreciate all that our body can do!
Our body allows us to laugh, dream, run, lift stuff, jump, smell good, dance, breath, keep us alive – the list is endless.
Obviously there can come a point where we might not be happy with our bodies and in my opinion there’s nothing at all wrong with that. What’s also a fantastic feature about our body is that it can change. We literally have the power to change how our body looks and performs.
Even if we’re not always happy with it’s current state, we can always take solace in knowing that it can change in the direction we want!
Sometimes we just need to give it some time to accept the changes that we’re giving it.
Do you have any advice for people who suffer from emotional eating or overeating?
I firmly believe that awareness and communication are two very powerful tools to overcoming any kind of struggle.
A slice of pizza isn’t necessarily bad and working out isn’t always healthy. It all comes down to how we’re doing and using things, and by really looking ourselves in the mirror and acknowledging the issue at hand we can then take a step back and look at ways to change it.
If we think about it, how can we fix a problem if we don’t truly accept that it exists in the first place?
My second advice is communication because sometimes we can’t always see the problem at hand and therefore not having awareness of what we’re doing. By then talking to someone else about the things we feel is off allows that person to give us awareness of why we might be making those unhealthy choices.
Also – dare to like yourself for being different!
What resources do you recommend for people seeking help for an eating disorder?
Seek up the local doctor or psychologist and give them awareness of your situation!
If that’s not an option then try one of your nearest and many times our best resources: our family, friends or relatives.
Getting help isn’t as hard as it may feel and you don’t necessarily need to know where to even begin – but by talking to someone close to you about your situation can allow them to give you a helping hand with finding the best help.
If this is not an option then chances are you might have a smartphone in your pocket or a computer at home, so hit up Google Maps for the nearest professional!
Finally, describe your life using film titles!
Storm of Love, The Grinder, Me myself and I, Pursuing Happiness!
Thank you so much to the amazing and inspiring Jack Blossby for sharing his experience with us! Do you know someone who has been on an incredible journey and would like to share their story with us? Get in touch in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org