Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 – Sophia Ellis

Woman using Battle Ropes

Overcoming anorexia and bulimia

People face mental battles that some of us have no idea about. Sophia Ellis was one of those people – she was being consumed daily by her eating disorder and it was getting the better of her. Not only was she dealing with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and EDNOS, but she was struggling with depression. Understandably, all of this was getting on top of her. 

Sophia, 23, somehow pulled herself out of this deep depression and after joining Xercise4Less Southend, fell in love with fitness and became interested in powerlifting. 

Surviving a physical and mental health scare

When Sophia was at her lowest, she was throwing up more that 14 times a day and had regular scary and suicidal thoughts. She was terrified of food and sometimes even binged and purged until she passed out. She knew this period of her life wasn’t good but just couldn’t get herself out of this damaging mindset. Food made her anxious and her mind sometimes would tell her not to eat certain foods and that she didn’t deserve to eat them.

“I was consumed by my eating disorder. Isolated, lonely and felt worthless. I hated having the illness but couldn’t see a life without it. I was destroying myself and disgusted with who I was turning into. It made me feel dead inside, like I was in a constant destructive cycle that I couldn’t get out of.”

This was when Sophia knew that she needed to change something in her life. She went to her GP as she started passing out and experiencing heart problems and eventually ended up in hospital. Sophie is the first to admit that being aware of your eating disorder and illness is the first step. In her opinion, it’s all about being patient with yourself and taking one day at a time

Working on mental strength at Xercise4Less Southend

Once Sophia hit rock bottom, she wanted to work on becoming healthy again. Not just for herself but for her friends and family too. She was aware that her eating disorder and illness was having an impact on other people and wanted to work on it. She also knew it was getting a bit too much and wanted to do something about it. Sophia decided to join Xercise4Less Southend and starting taking the first positive steps on her personal fitness journey.  

“My brother designed my first training programme just to help me get out of my room but I ended up getting into weight training and eventually found a love for powerlifting and the rest is history! I used the free weights gym zone Xercise4Less Southend for my training sessions to help me prep for powerlifting competitions.”

Sophia’s biggest piece of advice to Xercise4Less members who are feeling similar to her – stop comparing yourself to others. You’re on your own journey so accept that, accept yourself and accept your body. Confidence comes through self care and self appreciation of yourself. 

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 – Mike Ryan

Man Lifting Barbell

Gaining confidence and motivation in the gym

After struggling to strap himself into his aeroplane seat on a flight, Mike Ryan felt like he had hit rock bottom and realised that he needed to do something about. Mike, 37, had been training at the gym every day using the free weights zone in Manchester but still managed to gain excess weight. The weight gain wasn’t caused by a lack of activity but overeating and unhealthy eating habits which led him to pile on the pounds.

Naturally, this caused Mike to lose his motivation and confidence in himself but by taking his gym workouts to the next level, he was able to push himself out of his comfort zone and improve his general health and fitness.

Work on health and wellbeing

Mike’s self esteem hit rock bottom during this challenging time of his life. He was having trouble sleeping, was experiencing real discomfort and struggling with breathing. He wanted to work on improving this and feeling better about himself – not just for himself but for his children too.

Mike said:  “My children were my biggest motivation. I wanted to be able to play football with them and more importantly, be around long enough to see them grow up.”

Despite weight training for 1 hour a day, Mike was the first to admit that he wasn’t really pushing himself out of his comfort zone. Whilst he was in the gym, he would spend time on his phone scrolling through social media and not really take his training seriously.  However, the biggest issue of all of was Mike’s diet. Because Mike was spending an hour lifting weights in the free weights gym zone in Manchester, he’d treat himself to a takeaway afterwards. Sometimes even having 4-5 takeaways a week and sometimes even twice a day. By adjusting his diet and taking his nutrition a lot more seriously, he began to notice positive changes to his life.  

Transforming fitness at Xercise4Less Manchester

Seen as Mike was finding himself stuck in a bit of a rut, he wanted to mix things up. He eventually signed up for one of our Transformation Camps and because he was getting bored of his typical training, he thought it might help him to make positive changes to his body. 

“The camps looked fun and I wasn’t really seeing the changes I was hoping for by training on my own. I gave my 8 week Transformation Camp not only hard work when in the gym but I was really watching what I was eating. It wasn’t long until I started to see changes in my body and was feeling better and sleeping better.”

Mike was also able to push himself harder in the training sessions compared to when he started as his fitness level and stamina was improving. When he started to see the numbers of the tape measure going down, this was the biggest motivation of all and kept him focused on his end fitness goal. Mike has only positive things to say about Transformation Camps at Xercise4Less following his experience.

“I know gyms can be intimidating places but remember, nobody is watching at you. We’re all there for the same reason, same goal – to be better than we were yesterday. I’d always encourage regular members to help others too. If you see someone new and unsure of what to do – be nice, help them, even if it’s just a smile or a nod of approval, it goes a long way. Remember, we were all newbies once.”

How The Gym Can Help You to Become Mentally Stronger

Woman doing Smith Machine Squat
Woman doing Smith Machine Squat

Using the gym to improve your mental health

Everyone is fighting their own battles that most of us are never even aware of. Sometimes you might feel like your head is going to explode because of everything going on in there and you’re not sure of where to start – but that’s where the gym comes in.

From the moment when you step into an Xercise4Less Gym, you will be greeted by our friendly staff who will make you feel welcome. You have the option of taking part in fitness classes to become part of our fitness community by meeting new people. You could do a solo workout; stick your headphones on and zone out to try forget about all the noise inside your head until you feel a bit better. Use gym sessions as a bit of escapism to distract yourself from the worries and stresses in your life. 

Gyms are heavily focused on physical health and of course, Xercise4Less Gyms help to get you fitter, stronger and tone your body, but they can help you with your mental health too. Mental health is just as important as your physical health and even plays a bigger part into your general health and wellbeing and how you feel day-to-day.

Sheffield Battle Ropes

Focus on your mental strength

Using the gym isn’t always about weight loss or muscle gain and as The People’s Gym, we understand that. If you suffer from an eating disorder and your weight is something that affects your mental health, the gym isn’t something you should avoid. The gym can actually help you to build up your mental strength.

After a hard day or week, take yourself down to your nearest Xercise4Less gym and see that as YOUR time. Make some time for you and make your mental health strength a priority. That’s your time to not worry about your weight and eating disorder but to be part of a friendly and inclusive community where your brain stops worrying and starts to think more positively. You can make your gym session as difficult as you like. You could do a 15- minute walk on the treadmill or a full hour using free weights; whatever it is that you enjoy doing and that will leave you feeling a bit happier and mentally stronger once your gym session is over. It’s proven that your body produces endorphins during exercise – endorphins trigger a positive feeling within the body and lift your mood especially once you’ve finished exercise. That’s something that we all could do with more of.

Men Cardio Cross Trainers

Work on your health and fitness journey

After a few gym visits, you’ll hopefully start to develop some kind of a gym routine. Again, this could look however you want to suit you. You may visit the gym every single or day or only 1-2 times a week. Whichever way, you’ll hopefully start to notice that the time that you’re spending in the gym makes you feel happier and makes you feel a bit mentally stronger. Once you start to build up more of this mental strength, you may feel more capable of dealing with the problems that are bothering you and at the centre of your mental health and eating disorder issues. This is a positive and may be the first step to you help.

Everyone that you see an Xercise4Less gym is on some kind of fitness journey. Just because you’re not in the gym to gain weight or lose weight in the first instance, doesn’t mean that you’re on an important journey and it’s important that you have the time to focus on that. It’s also important that you feel supported to make progress. At Xercise4Less Gyms you’ll find staff, instructors and personal trainers that can offer advice on how you can use your gym to suit you and your personal goals.

Whilst they won’t be able to advise you what to do regarding your eating disorder and your mental health, they can show you how you can use The People’s Gym to your advantage to suit your health and fitness journey. This may mean taking part in our gym classes and becoming part of a community which allows you to feel happier and included. It also presents an opportunity to meet new people who may share your problems. That may mean using the Ladies Only zone to spend some time focusing on yourself in a more intimate setting to allow you to build up some mental and physical confidence.

Ladies Only Workout

Join the Xercise4Less Gyms community

Take the first steps towards become mentally stronger by using Xercise4Less Gyms. We are proud of our friendly staff and inclusive community in our gyms and welcome people from all backgrounds and experiences to join us. Whether you’ve never stepped foot into a gym before or are an experience gym goer, join the Xercise4Less community today and take those all important first steps onto your health and fitness journey.

Our members find everything they need to reach their personal goals in regard to health and fitness from our friendly staff to dedicated Ladies Only gym zone, special Spin studio or group fitness classes including Les Mills workouts and also toning and conditioning.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020

Raise awareness: 2nd - 8th March 2020

Throughout the United Kingdom there are 1.25 million people living with an eating disorder, including cases seen in children as young as six years old. Here at Xercise4Less Gyms we are raising awareness for an ongoing problem, using real fitness stories from our members to help those affected by the illness to try and find a solution.

Xercise4Less: The people's gym

We stand for total inclusivity and body acceptance. No matter what your level of fitness is, you are welcome with open arms through the doors of your local Xercise4Less gym. We want to continue channelling that inclusivity and support all our amazing members with their health and fitness goals.

How you can show your support

With your help we can promote and support such a great cause. You can easily get involved and share your support for those suffering with an eating disorder. We encourage our members to share their experiences and help to challenge stereotypes by talking about what you’ve been through to help give others the confidence to seek the help they need.

Show your support on social by getting involved in the conversation and sharing posts around Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

To start your health and fitness journey with Xercise4Less, join now.

Find out more about this years Eating Disorder Awareness Week by visiting BEAT.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 – James Tanner

James Tanner - Eating Disorder Awareness 2020
James Tanner - Eating Disorder Awareness 2020

Surviving a health scare to kickstart my fitness journey

After a health scare and an uncontrollably poor diet, James Tanner knew it was time to tackle his health by embarking on a fitness journey, taking part in body transformation camps at his local Xercise4Less Gym. Having previously had treatment for brain tumour, James wanted to totally transform his life through exercise and diet, helping to prolong his life as well as making sure all the treatment he had been through was not undone by making a few adjustments to his lifestyle.

“10 years ago, I travelled to Sheffield and had stereotactic radiotherapy for a benign tumour on my brain. The treatment was to stop it from growing any more, so I said to myself; why go through all of that just to end up like this?”

As a result of this, James signed up to Xercise4Less Gyms and enrolled on a transformation camp to enhance his fitness and begin his weight loss journey. This gave James a starting point to begin the process of boosting his self-esteem, developing a healthy diet and an incentive to lose the weight.

“I joined the transformation camp and was given a plan of everything that would happen. I also had the food app on my phone to help log my food intake. The camp took place three nights a week and we were put through our paces with different exercises.”

Transforming my fitness with Xercise4Less Gyms

Taking the plunge to join the gym and enrol for the transformation camp was a real struggle for James as he was intimated about going into the gym. Thankfully, at friendly, inclusive Xercise4Less Gyms, James was welcomed with open arms and joining the gym was much easier, and much less daunting than he initially suspected.

“The thought of walking into a gym was quite intimidating but I convinced myself to go in and ask for a look around and I’m so glad I did! I felt a bit silly for being so anxious about it, as all the staff put me at ease immediately.”

“After that it was pretty straightforward. Listening and learning from the information you’re given is pretty much all you need to do.”

All bad foods must go - controlling my diet

With all the hard work he was putting in the gym, James knew he also had to stay on top of his diet and made the necessary changes to supplement his fitness. All the typically unhealthy foods were subsequently replaced with healthy snack options such as fruit.

“Almost immediately after joining the camp I started to count calories and switch up my eating habits. Processed foods went from being an every-day item to being pretty much non-existent. Sweets and chocolate were replaced by raisins and carrots. I knew I had to put 100% effort into my diet, or I would wane off and slip into my old habits.”

This is a far cry from what James used to incorporate into his diet. He would regularly turn to fast food for convenience, especially when going to and from work.

“A typical day would see me have a packet of crisps, a breakfast bar and a bag of sweets for breakfast. Then for lunch I would have convenience food such as KFC, McDonald’s or the chippy. After work I would grab a pizza or something similar for my tea. Finally, before bed I would take a packet of crisps, a small cake and that all important bottle of pop that I convinced myself I couldn’t sleep without by my bed.”

Fixing my physical and mental condition through fitness

Aside from his poor diet and lack of exercise, James has also struggled mentally. James works full time as a bus driver, spending a long time on the roads and being sat down for extended periods has not helped his physical condition. He spoke candidly on the impact this has had on his lifestyle.

“I have struggled with my mental health for a long period of time, especially since my father passed away when I was in my early teens. As a result, I have struggled with depression and anxiety during certain periods of my life.”

“I had put these bouts of depression to working long shifts but then it started to dawn on me that although they were part of the problem, they weren’t the root cause. The root cause was mainly down to me, and how my eating habits had killed off the very little self-confidence I had left.”

How to tackle your own body image/self-esteem issues

James has conquered his own battles, and now he feels in a much better place to live a healthier lifestyle. He firmly believes that you are the master of your own destiny and having a network of good people around you can really make the difference.

“Only you can change what you’re not happy with. There are a lot of great people who will help you and give you all the guidance and tools to make the changes, but you are the one who has to make the effort and make it count.”

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 – Liberty Buxton

Eating Disorder Awareness Week - Liberty Buxton Bike
Eating Disorder Awareness Week - Liberty Buxton Bike

Transforming my life through fitness

Liberty Buxton from West Yorkshire struggled with Anorexia Nervosa as a result of anxiety and bullying at high school. This understandably took its toll on Liberty, and following a scare from the doctor, she decided it was time to gain control and turn her life around, finding fitness through Xercise4Less Gyms.

Joining Xercise4Less was the starting point on Liberty’s fitness journey, giving her the confidence she needed to make the initial small steps on her quest for big results. Liberty admitted she felt nervous before walking into a gym but making strides with Xercise4Less has helped her to find her comfort zone and her happy place.

“I used to feel nervous walking into the gym, but now I’ll walk into Xercise4Less and be completely comfortable, deadlifting away!”

During the slump of her eating disorder, she weighed 6st 7lbs.

Feeling part of a gym community

As a friendly, inclusive gym, Xercise4Less is always on hand to offer support and help to members such as Liberty, and this is something she experienced first-hand, giving her the sense of being part of a team and able to ask for assistance when needed.

“I’ll be the first to admit that when I started weight training I had no idea what I was doing. The staff at Xercise4Less are always happy to assist if you’re stuck. With it being a much bigger and much more popular gym there’s always someone around to help.”

Making healthy progress with Xercise4Less Gyms

The facilities and convenient opening hours provided by Xercise4Less also helped Liberty to get into a structured training plan, ensuring she can come to the gym and do exactly what she wants to do and not be restricted by a lack of equipment or having to wait to use weights.

“Until I had made progress with my eating habits, I then started going back to the gym. Initially I trained at another local gym, but they didn’t have much equipment and facilities – nor were the opening times accommodating. So, I moved to Xercise4Less.”

Facing an eating disorder head on

Admitting you have a problem or are struggling with something is often the hardest part of the re-building process. Liberty accepts that knowing she had an eating disorder and not being in denial was the most difficult to comprehend.

“The first step was to admit to myself that I had an eating disorder, rather than be in denial. From then on, I slowly started to incorporate more food into my diet and tried hard to not feel guilty after doing so. I even quit the gym for a while to get myself back on track until I had a healthy view on fitness.”

Changing her habits and exercise regime was also a catalyst for Liberty to overcome her eating disorder. Finding the motivation was difficult, but luckily, through fitness, she was able to change her life for the better. This resulted in her mental state improving alongside her physical condition.

“Once I had realised the damage I had done to my body I began to change my eating and exercise habits. I hadn’t had a period for over a year and combined with the news the doctor gave me about conceiving, I slowly started to realise that the life I was living was not healthy at all.”

Eating Disorder Awareness - Liberty Buxton Hopper

Self acceptance: block out the demons

With the help of Xercise4Less and the drive, motivation and discipline to succeed, Liberty has been able to transform her life and finds herself in a much better place. She regularly works out and has dramatically improved her diet and state of mind to live a healthier life. There are many people out there who are suffering in silence with conditions such as an eating disorder. Liberty has some advice for anyone struggling with body image or self-esteem issues.

“Firstly, ignore anything anyone has to say about your body. It is your body for a reason, nobody on the planet has a right to say anything about your looks so don’t give them the satisfaction.”

“Secondly, stop comparing yourself to others. You are your own person and that person is beautiful regardless of what you or anyone else thinks.”

“Finally, true beauty comes from within. Reduce your time on social media and focus more time into yourself; have a long bath, go for a walk, read a book or go lift some weights!”

Liberty now weighs 9st 1lb. A fantastic effort!