Strong not Skinny
As a recovering anorexic I never thought I’d be able to do exercise again and truly enjoy it. When I first started to loose weight I thought it would make me feel happier, prettier and more confident, but these were lies that I was telling myself. The more weight I lost, the more miserable I became.
My life was being ruled by over exercising and calories. All I could think about was what workout I was going to do and what limited amount of food I would allow myself to eat that day. I put loosing weight as a top priority in my life, and as a consequence to the lack of food I was giving myself, I was miserable and moody all of the time. I was loosing sleep, spending all night trying to convince myself that the next morning I needed to do a cardio workout. It didn’t matter that I hated it.
It didn't matter that I would cry myself to sleep because I was dreading doing it the next day. And it didn't matter that I couldn't concentrate at school and on my GCSEs because I was too busy thinking about food and exercise during the day. I needed to do it, otherwise I couldn’t eat. I didn’t enjoy life at all and isolated myself from everyone, sat in my room looking up the calories of foods for hours and hours. My life only had one purpose- loose weight because that’s what’ll make you happy. I told myself that I could eat whatever I wanted when I got to X kg because then I’d be considered pretty by society, and that’s all I cared about. But this never happened.
I’d reach that weight, but it would not longer by a satisfactory amount and I told myself I had to loose more. When I was younger I used to love going out for meals, but I could no longer do this as it caused me so much anxiety. I used to go for long walks with my parents, but I no longer enjoyed them because all I could think about whilst walking was how many calories I’d burnt. I was far from healthy- I’d lost my periods, I was weak and tired all the time, I was moody and I couldn’t hold a conversation because my mind was foggy. I got to a point where I was very, very, poorly and was hospitalised. I spent nearly a year in hospital, relying for a long period of time on a nasogastric tube to give me the nutrition I needed. I couldn’t exercise at all, which was something I really struggled with, as I had been so dependent on it. At first, I was put in a wheelchair and my independence was fully striped from me. All of this is the price I paid for chasing an unrealistic goal. A goal that could never be achieved. A goal that would make me miserable, lifeless and leave me suffering from the physical and mental consequences for the rest of my life. Hospital was tough, but it saved my life. I thought that even spending a week not doing any exercise would make me look different. But it didn’t. I received therapy and slowly but surely as I began to gain the weight I so desperately needed to, my mind became more clear and I realised the destruction I had been doing to myself. Despite loosing weight, I’d never once been happy with how I’d looked. I’d never once felt confident in my body. It was a long and hard process, but eventually I was discharged. Despite not being a fully healthy weight yet, my mum had spoken to my doctor whilst I was in hospital and they had talked about doing strength training to help build my muscle up. There was a lot of worry surrounding this and whether I’d loose weight again, and despite being at home now, my current eating disorder team are very critical of any exercise that I do. This is mainly sue to the common misconception that people going to a gym are there to loose weight, but for a lot of people that is far from the case. My mum got in touch with Mike and organised for me to try 10 PT sessions. At first I was really weak and could barely deadlift 3kgs. I’d only ever tried cardio, so strength training was something totally new for me, and I really enjoyed it! Each session I looked forward to and it really helped to have someone creating a fitness plan that was suitable for me and watching over me to ensure I wasn't going over board and was doing the exercises correctly and in a way I would benefit from. I had found something I enjoyed, therefore I didn’t dread or force myself to do it. With the right nutrition, I slowly began to gain muscle and I found that I was finally becoming more confident in my body. I began to see the body I had always wanted -strong and defined, and it’s crazy to now think I thought the way to achieve this was by eating less and doing crazy amounts of cardio, when in fact I’ve done the opposite! I have done 4 sets of 10 sessions now and can now deadlift 40kgs! I’m so proud of the achievement I’ve made, and these sessions have really helped me mentally. I am more confident in my abilities and I’ve gained a better relationship with exercise and food. I have energy and I no longer live to eat, but rather eat to live. I have got my life back and have learnt that there is so much more to life than my appearance. In fact, I barely ever even look in the mirror anymore! Mike has helped me so much with everything. His constant support inside and outside of the sessions have helped me to stay motivated and not to focus on my weight anymore, as after all it is just a number. Hospital may have saved my life physically, but Mike has been a big contribution to saving my life mentally and helping me have a realistic goal. I am not focused on what number I am on the scale, but rather how I feel in my body. I now challenge myself to how heavy a weight I can lift, instead of how few calories I can survive on. I'm so much happier now. I’m so grateful for all the support Mike’s given me, and for giving me the biggest leg up in my recovery I could have asked for as it has enabled be to become stronger and healthier in both my body and mind. Anorexia is very much mental illness, so by helping me change my focus and thinking, Mike has given me that extra bit of armour I needed to defeat the beast, which has taken up too much of my life. I've missed out on so many great opportunities and memories due to spending all my time following a strict set of instructions.. but now it's time to stop. Stop demonising food. Stop living your life to be a certain number. And stop idolising unrealistic body figures online because behind those pictures is a life full of pain and misery and deprivation. And that's not a life at all, trust me.
Melissa Jayne McNulty April 2019
As a competitive runner and triathlete I usually focus quite one or two sessions per week on strength work – in the past this usually meant dragging myself to the gym and force myself to do the same or similar reps week in, week out. Yawn.
That was until I discovered Mike’s Wednesday night (and Saturday morning) bootcamp! Everybody (whatever your level of fitness) is made to feel welcome at the sessions which are professional, well organised and there is always a little twist to make sure you are pushed to your limits. You leave the session feeling like you have had a full body strength, agility and cardio workout. It did not take very long before I started feeling and seeing the benefits in my body and performance.
Mike is also great at providing valuable advice on correct posture and technique for each of the exercises, and is always ready to lend an ear if anybody has any questions.
I no longer dread the facing the boredom of an hour in the gym, Mike’s sessions are a blast and something to really look forward to.
Jon Ferguson – April 2017
Since working with my personal trainer Mike, I have massively improved my upper body strength, core strength and cardio; and my overall fitness levels have increased dramatically.
Each session planned is tailored to my individual needs & Mike is constantly changing & adapting the programme to challenge, encourage & improve my fitness & lifestyle.
Mike is positive, enthusiastic & inspirational; who will push you to your absolute limit and make it possible for you to achieve your fitness goals.
He always helps you realise and reach your full potential in each training session, so that you feel you have accomplished your aim. I would recommend Mike as a personal trainer to anyone who is looking to lose weight, gain muscle, build body confidence and improve all over body fitness.
Hayley Lori Taggart - Feb 2016
In 2010 my whole life changed, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After six months of intense chemotherapy and 20 days radiotherapy my fitness levels were at rock bottom.
For the following three years I found exercise and mobility difficult, but struggled on. Feeling very unfit, I was convinced that this was how I had been left from all the treatment I had previously received.
Mike has changed my outlook on life by showing me that exercise can overcome a negative state of mind, with a can do approach. I have never found the gym enticing, finding it boring. Mike works with me on a one to one basis pushing me to limits I did not know I could reach.
The results are, in six weeks with one hour per week sessions I have dropped two dress sizes, have become unrecognisably active as opposed to being a couch potato. If you recognise this as being you, please I urge you to make changes and contact mike as you really will benefit from the experience and feel very energised.
Karen Weaver - July 2015
Before I started training with Mike I was overweight, conscious of my appearance and lacking confidence, I had never trained before or entered a gym.
Mike was recommended to me by a close friend who had been training with him. I thought, 'what have I got to lose', so I contacted Mike, explained my concerns and was asked to meet him for an informal chat.
Since then Mike has been training me on a one to one basis, I have lost weight, become fitter, my stamina has improved so I can go on walks that I never did before, but best of all my confidence has returned.
I am a better person than I was a year ago. I 100% recommend Mike and I am sure that he can do for you what he did for me.
Karen - June 2015