I first started lifting weights at university. I had been active my whole life; I took part in most school clubs, and ran and danced competitively. But this was entirely different.

Instagram had only just started,@kayla_itsineshadn’t even released the BBG ebook yet, and the weights area in the gym made downstairs look like it was ‘men only’. I had no idea what I was doing.

But I had just started a health & fitness Instagram to help me with my recovery from my ED, and with that had found the likes of@lornajaneactive (HUGE in the fitness space at the time) and this website called

@bodybuildingcom. I started to come up with mini routines and after my run (which felt like the most important thing in the world back then) I would do ‘abs’ or ‘arms’ or ‘legs’, sometimes using the dumbbells that were kept in the ‘safe zone’ upstairs.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was diagnosed with osteoporosis, and with that was no longer allowed to run. I was however allowed to lift weights under the guidance of a personal trainer, and so for the first time I used a barbell to squat, bench press, deadlift.. I fell in love. It was around the same time I found yoga.

The next few years were much of the same. Finally able to train alone I tried out different programmes, I made stuff up, I went to classes… but I remember feeling frustrated. I tried really hard, I never skipped a training session, I ate ‘healthy’ foods, and yet I never felt like I progressed: both in the weight I could lift and the shape of my body.

What I didn’t understand was that undereating made it very, very hard to gain the muscle I needed to achieve my goals. And that the circuit style training and a love for HIIT was running my physical and mental health into the ground (all these things adding to stress on the body).

Where I am now: Hours of education, podcasts, qualifications, reading later...

Being sweaty and exhausted is no longer a marker of a successful workout to me. Instead I ask how can I improve? Get stronger? Increase my range of movement? Better my form?

My workouts often look pretty similar. Because although ‘swipe workouts’ are great if you just want to get in the gym and have some fun, you get better at what you consistently do, which means repeating movements.

The shift is to something much kinder. Trusting the process vs constantly struggling for it. I wish I could go back to 21 year old me and say, you do not have to starve yourself or punish yourself to get the body you want; and actually interacting with that kind of self hate makes any kind of self love impossible. Instead you can train intelligently, you can train to be strong, to be empowered. And when you eat enough, fuel that movement, and look for something else in your workout other than how thin it can make you, you will find that you, and a FULL life, is about SO much more than the way you look. And I think, ironically, as a by product you end up closer to your goals than you have ever been.