08.07.2019 – Woodlands

Woodlands Animal Sanctuary, Work experience/volunteering

With the sun blazing through my bedroom window and following the distinguished ringing of my alarm, it was time to wake up.

The time was 6:00am.

I got out of bed leisurely, in preparation for a long (yet enthralling) day ahead. Today was to commence the beginning of my work placement at Woodlands Animal Sanctuary. I had been pining to volunteer at the sanctuary for quite some time, but had always encountered problems along the way, including sudden transport alterations and exam commitments.

I was soon washed and ready, rearing to go. Dressed in my casual green t-shirt and black shorts, gladly ready to match my work (or hiking) shoes alongside.

I headed to the bus stop and approached Bolton ready for my first train to Preston at 8:25am. The journey lasted approximately 30 minutes, and I then caught a train to Rufford. A brisk 30 minute walk, where I was faced with extremely narrow pavements, from the station lead me to the animal sanctuary.

I was directed to the reception area, I rang the bell (which turned out to be louder than anticipated) And was welcomed by Louise – An animal career at the sanctuary. We had spoken a few times prior, she was even lovelier in person! I was guided to sign in and to hang up my limited belongings before heading back outside to meet the animals.

I began with cleaning out the stables, which house the resident goats and equines overnight. Throughout the day, the animals spend time outdoors – a necessary freedom to express natural behaviours.

This was a simple process of removing the old substrate, which was placed into large troughs and placed into the skip, and replacing it for new.

The afternoon feeds were then arranged, with the hay being placed into designated hay nets which were then placed outside the enclosure doors. Hay nets are an excellent way of encouraging natural feeding behaviours, they also help to enhance both mental and physical stimulation as the individuals have to work for their food.

The stables and their surroundings were cleaned. Alongside the stock room, which rooms a collection of tools, food and bedding materials. And situated on the wall was a feeding and medical rota tailored for each individual at the sanctuary. I was then tasked with cleaning out the resident hedgehogs. Woodlands take in injured hedgehogs throughout the year and nurse them back to health to enable them to be released back into the wild. Hedgehogs encounter all kinds of medical conditions, from weight loss, to dehydration and a loss of appetite. They’re housed in large plastic drawers (the most convenient material to disinfect) which are then filled with newspaper and hay, alongside food and water.

Rescue, Rehabilitate & Release.

Two of the larger, healthier hedgehogs were chosen and carried away into carriers ready to be released. All available drawers were prepared ready to house future hedgehogs, and the current hedgehogs underwent a full clean – The removal of wet newspaper in replacement for dry, and the providing of fresh hay, food and water.

I weighed and recorded the hedgehogs weights before placing them back into their temporary enclosures. This is essential to monitor any signs of drastic weight loss/gain to enable further measures to be implemented if necessary, to ensure that the individuals remain in good overall health.

Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal animals, and are therefore increasingly more active during nighttime hours. Some of the individuals were curiously wandering around the enclosures, while some opted to stay cornered into a tight, compacted “ball”. Fascinatingly, this behaviours helps to fend off predators in the wild as it acts as a protective armour. It also allows the individuals to feel safe.

I then cleaned the small chicken coop, refilled it with fresh substrate and replaced the old food and water for fresher alternatives. The sanctuary has a vast selection of resident poultry, ducks and a stunning, flamboyant peacock.

The rabbit enclosures were then cleaned to house current and future sanctuary residents and the underneath area was swept for general upkeep.

The goats (Bert, Ernie, Chips and Isaac) were then fed and fussed over admirably. They were highly inquisitive and played alongside Dolly the sheep.

The Goats are commonly taken around Rufford to aid fundraising efforts and have previously been taken into local schools to teach the children about animal care, welfare and management.

Social media is NOT real life

Mental Health

Whilst scrolling through Instagram, and other means of social media, it’s important to remember that social media isn’t real life.

As a society, we’ve become programmed into believing that the images we see upon our screens are a realistic perception of reality. When in hindsight, this isn’t merely the case.

I’m an advocate for mental health, positivity and I’m working on self-love. I aim to make my social media as honest as possible, an outlet where I document my journey (including the positives and negatives) But this comes with the understanding that the content we stumble across can often be misleading.

We often post content that suggests that we’re constantly living our best, happiest and healthiest lives. When the reality is – We have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors for others, and a person who may exhibit “perfection” (a mythological concept) could quite possibly be going through hell, secretly. The people who appear to be the happiest and most supported could well be battling Depression whilst incoherently feeling isolated, friendless and withdrawn. Those who seem all “put together” may slowly be falling apart. The reality being, nobody has it all figured out. Social media modifies our assumptions on others, whilst it simultaneously leads us to questioning the stages we’re at personally. We’re constantly competing to be our best selves, whilst shielding away our true selves and our feelings. And I believe we should be increasing our support networks, both virtually and in reality, and focusing our energies towards loving and appreciating ourselves for who we are.

But… Why?

Simple.

We’re afraid of the judgement gained through sharing the realities of our lives and our situations. Sharing a personal post could lead to being branded as a weirdo, which is obviously up there with the WORST things in the world next to receiving no likes, being unfriended and unfollowed. I encourage everybody to be honest on social media. Share your situation, share your story, reach out for support. From experience, people will be inspired by your journey, will be supportive and be encouraged to share theirs too! 

Photo editing

Images are posed, planned and often edited to counteract an unrealistic standard of typical every day life. App stores are compiled with a variety of editing apps and within a split second, we can achieve our dream bodies, remove evidence of acne and filter out our imperfections and insecurities. Instagram captures the “perfect” and most memorable moments in people’s lives, without the recognition that people behind their screens are often struggling. Struggling with self acceptance, low self esteem, and a collection of other issues. This only leads to vulnerable people falling into comparative habits.

”Why can’t I look like _____” 

“____ is dieting, so OBVIOUSLY this means that I should be, too”. 

We see images of people on holidays, sitting in 50°c heat in stunning locations with an ice-cream in one hand and a margarita in the other and quickly assume that this person is happy and privileged. The image instantly receives over 300 likes, and with this lies the judgement that this person is doing well. Again, we can’t assume this based on images and minimal background knowledge. Which is another reason why I advocate kindness, ALWAYS. Kindness is free, spread it everywhere you go!

With modern day technology, it’s easy to manipulate images to boost our egos and to increase the engagement we receive on Instagram, and the likes we rally up on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. It’s all about angles. People pose to attitudinise thigh gaps (which, by the way, are genetically based features and definitely not the route to happiness and fulfilment) and toned abs, only catch glimpses of forced smiles, moments spent in the gym and spend minutes allowing their breakfast to run cold in order to catch a picturesque glimpse of it whilst it’s laid out beautifully, rather than focusing on the nourishment and satisfaction gained from eating.

Social media isn’t real life. Its a virtual, fictional reality which can often, unfortunately, bring more damage than necessary. The only people we should be aiming to outdo is ourselves. We cannot distinguish a “norm” between the reality we know and edited versions of our own, and edited people’s lives.

The lives we see on our screens aren’t fully being lived, the mirrored images displayed right in front of our eyes simply don’t exist. And I believe it’s important to consider this when flicking through social media news feeds. A realisation being: The people you see on Instagram don’t look like the people on Instagram.

Self- love, starts with self

We all have our quirks, our insecurities, our struggles and our downfalls. All of which we shouldn’t be ashamed of. Nor should we feel obliged to hide away. Nobody has a perfect life, we’re a generation constantly in a state of self improvement and growth, and part of the process is sitting back and acknowledging that we’re Human.

You’re loved, valid and important. Even with your downfalls, your insecurities and when you make mistakes. And mostly importantly, beautiful.

And your worth can never be defined by social media.

Helplines

Helplines

Here you can find a series of Mental Health helplines. The helplines provide support for those in need, and can be reached via phone (text/call) or email.

BEAT:

0808 801 0677

0808 801 0711 (Youthline)

0808 801 0811 (Studentline)

Website: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk

MIND:

0300 123 3393

86463 (Texting details)

Website: https://www.mind.org.uk

THE SAMARITANS:

116 123

jo@samaritans.org

Website: https://www.samaritans.org

PAPYRUS:

0800 068 4141

0778 620 9697 (Texting details)

pat@papyrus-uk.org

Website: https://papyrus-uk.org

Woodlands Animal Sanctuary (08.07.2019)

Woodlands Animal Sanctuary, Work experience/volunteering

Monday 8th July will commence the start of my 4 day placement at Woodlands Animal Sanctuary, Ormskirk. Where I plan to be involved in all aspects of animal care and husbandry.

Woodlands is an incredible sanctuary home to a vast collection of animal species. Including: Goats, donkeys, horses, hedgehogs and birds. They are a non-profit charitable organisation who work under the clock, with the hard work and dedicated volunteer and staff members, to enhance the lives of each individual in their care. I’m honoured to have an opportunity to help out, whilst expanding on my knowledge and currently evolving experience.

Journey planning is well underway. 1 bus and 2 trains which will land me in Rufford, followed by a short brisk walk to the sanctuary. With the assistance of Google maps and my rusty navigation skills.

Here I will be documenting my time at the sanctuary alongside the information I gladly learn along the way. Stay tuned!

Jacobs Ridge Animal Sanctuary (18.07.2019)

Jacobs Ridge, Work experience/volunteering

I’m going to Spain!

In just over 2 weeks time, on the 18th July, I will be flying to Murcia (JMU) Airport. And I will be staying in Murcia for the duration of 1 week. 

I’m embarking on my first solo venture, and I’m excited. I’ve never flown alone, and being Autistic this can be challenging: Busy airports, new people and dissimilar surroundings. The task isn’t impossible, though. Over the years, I’ve developed coping techniques and an abundance of strength to assist me in my journeys. And with a new mindset, “My Autism doesn’t define me, I define Autism”, I refuse to be restricted in life. I’m determined to achieve and to exceed my own expectations.

Jacobs Ridge is a Vegan Animal Sanctuary located in Murcia, Spain. It houses hundreds of animals rescued from slaughter, individuals branded as unwanted pets and those otherwise destined for short lived and torturous lives. Species including: Goats, sheep, donkeys and cats.

An essential component of the mission statement placed by the team at Jacobs:

We believe that every being has a right to live and to live life without fear. Thus, it is our mission to create a safe environment to last as a forever home to animals who need it, one where they don’t have to work or provide for us. One where they can just be what they are and do as they please. 

I stumbled upon the sanctuary following a Google search. The reviews were outstanding, the animals were the heart of the sanctuary and a clear compassionate side was viewed. After the completion of my Florida field course earlier on in the year, I quickly became encouraged to participate in more overseas work. I was eager to expand on my knowledge and experience within the animal care industry, yet, I wanted to work alongside people who share my beliefs – Veganism and compassion to ALL beings. Jacobs Ridge seemed perfect, and becoming involved in such an incredible cause issued me with happiness, fulfilment and joy.

I eagerly contacted the ridge and secured a place, ready to tackle my anxiety hands on. I’m excited for what the week will bring, to meet new animals and to broaden my horizons.

Here I will be documenting my time at Jacobs Ridge Animal Sanctuary and sharing my first experience as a solo flier. Stay tuned! 

Self harming – Where I’m at, healthier coping mechanisms and hope!

Mental Health

I’ve been in a constant turmoil against self harming. A behaviour I began engaging in years ago.

4 years ago, my Teacher voiced her concerns regarding myself and my behaviours. She checked my arms daily for evidence of self harm. As did my Mum, Therapist and everybody involved in my care. I felt hopeless and embarrassed and I wished for nothing more than to disappear. I shrugged things off at first, I denied allegations that I had engaged in hurting myself and often lied about how my injuries occurred. I hated lying, but lies become bigger lies and the truth eventually unfolds.

I now feel hopeful and motivated for a future free from self harm, whilst assisting those who struggle with the same.

The mental torment I endured left me feeling agitated and drained. My mindset encouraged destructive coping mechanisms to handle the things I struggled to express verbally, and to tolerate the torment occurring frequently inside my mind. I felt an epitome of sadness. The minds works in often surreal ways, and I believe that the negativity and hurt we face can only strengthen us for a brighter future.

“There can’t be a rainbow without a little rain”.

It’s essential to take things day by day. Accept the stage you’re at, regardless of how agonising, and reach out for support. Understand that you’re not a failure for slipping into old habits, and you can never be defined by your struggles. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or become flooded with urges, don’t be afraid to reach out.

Thankfully, after years of therapy with various teams and specialists, and many self help guides (some helpful, some questionable) I am well on my way with stopping self harming for good. I cannot remember the last time I hurt myself intentionally, and I’m proud of my progress. I’m doing well! It’s not an overnight process, healing takes time and lots of gruelling perseverance. But my episodes are occurring less frequently and I’m determined to replace my self harming behaviours for those that promote self care and land me closer to happiness.

“Laura, if you carry on this way you’ll have lifelong scars. Is that what you want?” Of course not. But when I feel compelled to hurt myself, future prospects are the last thing on my mind.

I may have lifelong scars, but I’m working on bettering myself with the strength I am constantly developing to override every destructive urge I face. I am not my thoughts, my experiences cannot define me.

Although I remain encouraged by those who speak up about their issues -past and present- I am also well aware of the stigma surrounding self harm. Unfortunately, the subject is still broadly misunderstood and this can make reaching out for support increasingly more difficult. People believe you can “just stop” hurting yourself, when the process becomes addictive and difficult to stop. Habituation has to occur, negative behaviours need to be replaced for positive ones. The behaviour enlisted as a coping mechanism and a way to release negative thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than a form of attention seeking.

I’ve touched upon self harm in precious blog posts, which can be reached here

The truth is, lots of people who self harm feel compelled to hide themselves away due to the fear of being judged, the worries over being questioned and ridiculed. This shouldn’t be the case, and we should be working towards a more accepting and understanding society. People cope in different ways, and although it can be upsetting to see, it’s important to stem away from judgement.

We cannot be certain of what a person is going through. Choose kindness. Instead of staring, share a smile. Instead of assuming, consider asking the person how they’re feeling. It takes a considerate level of strength to show your scars in public, believe me. I used to feel compelled to hide my scars away, but I’ve come to realise that my scars do not define me. They symbolise the battles I’ve won.

I believe that distractions are the key to refraining from self harming, but I cannot speak for everybody. I also appreciate that techniques may not always work as they often require focus and patience, which can be difficult to obtain with racing, loud thoughts. I’ve been in situations countless times where distractions have felt impossible to comprehend. I’ve lacked the concentration to settle with a book and recommended distractions often failed to work in my favour.

Self harming behaviours cannot be mended solely by holding ice or by the encouragement to paint our nails. The root of the problem must be dealt with in order for people to make sufficient progress.

Our minds can easily manipulate us into believing that harming ourselves is the only way out.

Honestly? Things WILL get better. It’s cliché, but it’s true.

To access support/guidance:

If you’re struggling with self harming, please seek support. In my experience, this can be reached through accessing your GP and asking for a referral to local services, such as The CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) or CAMHS.

MIND: 0300 123 3393 or text: 86463

The Samaritans: 116 123

Zookeeper for a Day (2019).

Animals, Keeper for a day, Work experience/volunteering

Mum and I arrived promptly at Blackpool Zoo at 9am, following a smooth 45-minute drive, in preparation to be a Zookeeper for a Day.

Much to my delight, we were the first on the car park (aside from the keepers!) and we excitedly cooed over baby rabbits hopping around the vacant area. 

I had previously carried out a Zookeeper experience in November, 2017. I had the most incredible time and enjoyed expanding on my knowledge surrounding a collection of animal species. So when Christmas 2018 arrived, I kindly asked Santa for the same opportunity.

Beginning the day at 9:30, we were greeted in the reception area with 2 keepers. Willeminj and Amy. Willeminj had been working as a zookeeper for years, and previously worked in Antwerp Zoo (Belgium) and the other was a trainee keeper, named Amy.

My first task of the day involved working with the Camels, who had been relocated to the ex-elephant enclosure shortly after the building of Project Elephant. We headed eagerly into the enclosure, armed with a large purple wheelbarrow and a series of tools, in preparation of spot-cleaning out the enclosure. This simply involves the removal of faeces, as opposed to the full removal of substrate. 

MAMMALS

A warm-blooded vertebrate distinguished by the possession of fur, and Females that secrete milk as nourishment for the young.

I then fed the Camels, who soon appeared to the front of the outdoor paddock after hearing the shaking of the carrot filled bucket. They were highly inquisitive animals. We had to be wary of the possibility of being spat on, especially since Camels spit stomach acid, rather than just saliva.

Following my experience with the Camels, we headed over to the Giraffe and Tapir enclosures (Yay!) ready to feed them their morning snack and to issue them with lots of cuddles!

We firstly stopped at Giraffe Heights – Home to the four stunning Giraffes at the Zoo. With a wonderfully built suspended viewing area, allowing visitors to closely see the animals in both their indoor and outdoor spaces.

The Giraffes at Blackpool Zoo are all Female. They are very unique individuals, since they are hybrid (they have been interbred between species) meaning they aren’t allowed to reproduce. All the same, they were curious, friendly and (obviously) my favourite African mammal – So cute! Additionally, they evidently have a black tongue (as pictured above), as this helps to protect them from sunburn.

The Giraffes were given carrots. However, their diet also consists of browse (naturally, they feed on acacia leaves), hey and pellets. Alongside other vegetables, such as cabbage.

We then wandered to the Tapir enclosure, home to two beautiful Brazilian tapirs: G’kar and Pocahontas. This being, the third time I’ve worked with both individuals! Interestingly, Pocohontas has managed to retain spots from birth, which usually fade with age. And she is significantly more wary in comparison to G’kar, who has the personality of a playful labrador.

We fed both G’kar and Pocahontas a collection of carrots, gave them lots of cuddles and tummy rubs before proceeding to our next location.

The Aardvarks were next. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these fascinating mammals. They were clearly highly inquisitive and curious, aswell as being playful and mischievous. 

Upon entering the enclosure, the individuals were playful and clearly aware that it was meal time. One excitedly ran out of the enclosure and was soon caught by Amy – whilst the other climbed all over me (much to my delight) as they sought mealworms and sniffed me with their extended, adorable snouts. 

They were fed mealworms. I issued this with both hand feeding and scatter feeding methods, to encourage natural foraging behaviours, alongside increasing both physical and mental stimulation, and wellbeing.

The Anteaters were next. Again, both the male and female were fed mealworms. I cupped then through my hands to allow the animals to use their long, sticky tongue to reach for them. This encourages natural behaviours, and prevents boredom.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go into the anteaters enclosure. The reason being, because of the sharp claws, not necessarily due to aggression. The claws are extremely sharp and could easily tare through human skin.

REPTILES

Reptiles are distinguished by having dry scaly skin and because they lay soft-shelled eggs on the land.

After taking a quick break, we were ready to meet our next keeper (Angela), by the Tortoise house. Angela guided us into the enclosure, in preparation of feeding the Zoo’s oldest resident, Darwin, aged a respectable 101! Darwin’s breed have a life expectancy of 200 years. And he’s been living at the Zoo since it’s opening in the 1900’s. 

We fed Darwin a handful of carrots. He was on a higher diet in comparison to the other individuals due to illness, and it was vital to ensure his health didn’t rapidly deteriorate. He confidently crunched them and then went on to having lovely neck rubs.

MARINE MAMMALS

We then walked to the Otter enclosure, which housed both a Male and Female. Otters are carnivorous and have cat-like teeth, therefore, their diet consists of mainly meat.

Both individuals were fed separately to ensure they had full access to their food. And they had to wait quietly and patiently before the food was thrown in. I chose to feed fish, which the otters soon excitedly delved in to.

BIRDS

A warm-blooded, egg laying vertebrate, distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings and a beak.

After our experience with the Tortoises, we headed over to the penguin kitchen. Angela briefed us on the penguins names and gave detailed information into how she can confidently distinguish them. Flipper tags are fitted onto the wings of the individuals, but can easily fall off or start to fade away due to the chlorine filled water.

Some of the penguins were located from other countries, so have coloured flipper tags. The penguins from Germany have red, and those from Italy have black.

We then walked to penguin beach to feed the penguins and to listen carefully to the given talk. Fish (some loaded with essential vitamins and minerals) were carefully thrown in as we had to simultaneously watch for sneaky seagulls in the process. Angela proceeded to carry out a “kan-kan like manoeuvre to kindly gesture the seagulls out of the way. 

We then fed the Pelicans, wandering from penguin island, past the red pandas, to the pelican enclosure. We threw in fish as the animals elegantly caught them with their widely expanded mouths, some helped to feed the babies as they hadn’t quite mastered the art of fencing for themselves sufficiently yet.

ELEPHANTS

Of course, Elephants are mammals and one of the largest, but the Elephant section is separate from mammals in Blackpool Zoo as they are classified as a priority 1 animal.

For the Elephant section of the experience, I had the pleasure of working alongside Zookeeper, Lauren, for the second time. Lauren worked with my cousin and I during our first Zookeeper experience in 2017, and she works primarily with the Elephants and big cats.

We headed to Project Elephant – An incredible project development at Blackpool Zoo, which provides the 5 resident elephants with a new state of the art enclosure, consisting of a large indoor and outdoor area. Project Elephant better suits the animals needs, and helps to encourage natural behaviours whilst working to prevent stress and discomfort.

Kate (The oldest in the herd), has temporarily been separated from the other elephants. This is due to her and Tara initially struggling to get along. So, the individuals have been kept within close proximity of each other to (hopefully) encourage them to become friends. Kate is due to return back with the others shortly.

Lauren kindly showed us around the enclosure, which included viewing behind the scenes and gaining a glimpse into the hefty moving crate, which was used to relocate the 4 newest herd members.

The indoor enclosure has a vast collection of fixtures and fittings – including: Suspended hay nets, which randomly drop at different times throughout the day, feeding boxes, 6-feet of sand, tree trunks for scratching (which can easily be moved around with the assistance of a small vehicle).

After touring base camp, we headed back outside ready to feed the Elephants. Blackpool Zoo offer their elephants a variety of food and important supplements to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. To which also includes daily heath checks, weigh-ins and behavioural observations.

Health checks are important in all animal species. Especially in Elephants, as every individual carries a strain of the EEHV virus, which can be fatal if left undetected/untreated for increased periods. The keepers are currently monitoring one of the youngest elephants daily, and to allow them to habituate to treatment methods if they should ever be required.

Further information on the lethal EEHV virus can be sought here:

PRIMATES

Flexible hands and feet with opposable first digits good eyesight and a highly developed brain.

My final animal encounter of the day involved working closely with some of the Zoo’s resident primates – Ring-tailed lemurs and spider monkeys.

We met keeper, Joe, by the lemur enclosure before venturing in armed with a bucket filled with a variety of different fruits and veggies.

Soon, we were armed with lemurs and feeling highly content as we observed them munching elegantly on grapes, apples and more.

We then headed to the spider monkeys, again, armed with a large box of fruits and vegetables. Including: cabbage, peppers, cucumber and apple. The monkeys were housed with capybaras and ducks, who were also simultaneously fed too!

With that being the end of yet another incredible, and highly memorable Zookeeper experience.

I would like to take the time to wholeheartedly thank the keepers and animals at Blackpool Zoo for making the day so special, and for inspiring me greatly with such amazing animal care and conservation efforts.

Good bye scales, hello freedom?

Mental Health

Very recently, I braved the decision to ditch my scales. A step forward in recovery.

I have successfully managed TWO WHOLE WEEKS without weighing myself. Crazy, right? I’d been weighing myself obsessively (up to 5 times a day) for numerous years and I bravely opted for the choice to follow my heart and not my head.

The praiseful messages I receive encourage me greatly to continue on my path. Although my decision often feels wrong, those around me assist me in thinking otherwise.

Good bye scales, hello freedom…?

Or at least, I hope.

It’s still very early stages. My mind has been filled with increased anxiety levels, worries and unkind thoughts. I’ve unfortunately slipped into alternate behaviours, and have spent mornings shaking and crying because of the rocketing urges and discomfort levels I feel with relation to the number.

Distractions are the key.

I’ve created a list of distractions to turn to when my Anorexia rears it’s nasty head. Distractions differ between individuals. I personally benefit from writing and spending time with animals. Oh, and repeatedly watching Mamma Mia!

But realistically, my current intake will not increase my weight. And even so, this would be okay. Weight gain should never be demonised. It is important and I understand that I cannot narrowly avoid it forever. (I aim to blog about the importance of being a healthy weight once I’ve reached the milestone myself and have educated myself further on the matter).

I believe that scales should only be used for medical purposes, which is why I’m putting all my faith and trust in my team to allow them to continue to monitor my weight. It’s hard to let go. And it’s very easy to become obsessive, and to slip into disordered or competitive rituals, but I know that my current feelings will pass, similar to a storm.

I highly encourage EVERYBODY (not just Eating Disorder sufferers) to ditch the scales. Freedom awaits. Life is incredibly short and way too precious to spend time fixated on numbers – The numbers in our clothing labels, on the scales and on food packaging labels. In the long run, they are massively irrelevant and only curb our happiness, alongside successfully destroying our mentality.

The number on the scales simply highlights our relationship with gravity. It cannot measure our worth or our intelligence. 

We should all be encouraging each other to practice self love and to appreciate our bodies regardless of them not always meeting societies ideal expectations. I can list multiple factors that are extensively worse than cellulite, pimples and tummy rolls. Photoshop has forcibly wormed its way into our minds and disallowed us to focus on the things that really matter.

Our weight naturally fluctuates throughout the day, as a result of various activities and alterations in hormone levels. Weighing ourselves daily contradicts the definition of health, and leans more towards obsession. Eating and drinking adds to our weight, but this is only temporary. Bloating occurs, this doesn’t equate to weight gain, this demonstrates the movement of the digestive muscles after eating, or symbolises that our periods are due.

It can be hard to understand healthy habits with mixed messages frequently submerged in the media, and often in our own minds and disordered thoughts. With instagram and magazines often filled with posed and filtered images, laxative disguised “hunger curbing” lollipops and fad diets. It can be difficult to avoid comparative habits and ways of thinking.

You may be wondering, how I suddenly opted to ditch the scales.

I’m fighting for the days I no longer think about the number on the scale. The days the number can be altered to the number of animals I save.

The decision wasn’t lighthearted. The number became my focus for years, and I figured it was time for a happier one. I felt a sudden burst of positivity one morning after listening to one of my favourite podcasts. This took at least 6 years to occur. I remembered that habits cannot change unless we are willing to face our fears, and so that’s what I did.

I realised that the number never satisfied me. Even after significant decreases in my weight, I only ever felt the urge to lose more weight. But this incidentally brought the loss of happiness, freedom and health.

The choice to ditch my scales equated to “short term pain for long term gain”. Ie: I currently have to endure high discomfort levels, but this will only lead to a positive outcome.

It’s been 2 weeks since I last focused my energies on a number. And I remain encouraged that time will pass, my strength will increase and I will continue to flourish.