This week’s member story follows Jodie, who is a member at PureGym. While Jodie has a healthy relationship with food and exercise now, it hasn’t always been that way. She struggled with an eating disorder during her early twenties, which involved overtraining and undereating. Find out how exercise helped her overcome Orthorexia and focus on being happy and strong.
I've always been sporty. I was scouted for gymnastics to represent Leeds when I was about 7 years old. They caught me doing 15 reps of chin-ups in PE class. I was also swimming competitively - training 10 times a week in the pool until around the age of 13.
I grew up in a sporty house too. My mum was a runner and my dad a cyclist. So, there's always been that drive installed in me to challenge my body through sport.
At age 20, while attending university in Manchester I had a blip mentally. I developed an eating disorder, which I recognise now was Orthorexia. It manifested as an obsessed with ‘clean eating’, avoiding carbs and over-exercising.
The triggers for this I believe were a mixture of diet culture on social media, heartbreak and my then undiagnosed IBS which caused me serious bloat issues which back then I viewed as ‘fat’.
I did a placement year in Vienna as part of my degree. This led me to further spiral. I was isolated and lonely – so my disordered thoughts were able to consume me.
In the peak of my eating disorder, I'd train for 2+ hours a day and live off a diet that consisted of primarily fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. I was stuck in the belief that having a 6 pack would make me happy. That being skinny would solve all the issues going on in my head.
The reality - I had no energy, was cold all the time, moody, and had lost my Jodie ‘sparkle’.
But on my return to England - I was diagnosed with IBS so I started to understand my dietary triggers better. I started to accept that carbs were not the enemy and rebuild my relationship with food ~ so much so that I went on to study a Masters in Nutrition and am known as #ChefJodie on Instagram.
Fitness wise – crossfit saved me. I joined Manchester uni crossfit team in my final year, whilst also training at PureGym Spinningfields.
Crossfit changed my mindset towards exercise. A space with no mirrors, no judgement - just people that LOVED moving their bodies, encouraging each other, supporting each other to smash each WOD.
I started to understand what exercise should really be about – challenging your body but more than anything ENJOYING it.
The endorphin rush. The time out from the busyness of the day. An hour dedicated to you. To be with your thoughts and know that you're doing something to better yourself both physically and mentally.
This was when I got really got into lifting weights. I loved it. I'd always been strong genetically so lifting was the perfect opportunity to really see what my body could do.
When I started my Masters in Leeds - I joined Leeds Uni Weightlifting society. From this, I competed in my first ever weightlifting comp.
I was again back at my day 1 gym, Pure Gym Leeds North ~ but this time I'd walk straight past the cardio machines. With my new confidence and fine-tuned technique to lift, I'd head straight for the weights area.
In February 2020, I moved to London for work. I treated myself to a PureGym Plus membership, so I could train at pretty much every London PureGym, as well as those around the UK for when I travel for work. With this, London Waterloo and Canary Wharf became my new second homes.
Then lockdown hit.
I’ll start by saying that the gym is my sanctuary, my stress release - it's a form of therapy for me. I could have had a horrible day and be in a grump mentally, but once I'm in the gym, sweating it out and directing all my feelings and frustration at those weights - my mood lifts, I can see more clearly and switch to the happy, positive gal that I can be.
So, the closures of the gyms hit me hard. I felt lost. I missed the environment, the people, the feeling of smashing a beautiful session so much.
I did manage to just about adapt to home workouts - but I had very limited equipment – just 7kg dumbbells and a few resistance bands. I had to create a playlist of old school R&B dance and house music songs - played at full volume just to feel the motivation to train. It wasn't the same though, but I coped. I just had to keep reminding myself that the closures were temporary and necessary, and I would be back before I knew it.
When the gyms reopened though. The HAPPINESS. It’s made me appreciate every session so much. Sounds cheesy, but I really do cherish every rep. I'm back to happy Jodes again – I feel capable, strong, and empowered.
I currently have a rough programme that is pretty much push, pull, legs, and rest on rotation. I have a community on Instagram of like-minded fellow gym-goers and we're like a support network. Applauding each other’s PB's, offering advice and have our dm's open for each other should we ever have a blip physically or mentally.
I really can't imagine my life without the gym. As you have read, me and PureGym have been through a JOURNEY, and I am so excited for what the next chapter holds on my fitness journey. Let’s get it!
While a healthy lifestyle includes fitness and nutrition, it should never be at the detriment of your mental or physical health. If you are worried you or a loved one is suffering with an eating disorder, speak to your GP. Eating disorder charity Beat has excellent resources to help, too.
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