My eating disorder loved a challenge, because it meant for a prescribed amount of days I could pretend I was bettering myself and ignore the unhealthy relationship I had with food, exercise and my own body.
People praise those who can prove their mental toughness through health and fitness challenges.
‘You didn’t have a cheat meal for 30 days? Bravo - I could never do that’.
Those kinds of comments sustained me, and continued to feed a vicious cycle that I found myself in from childhood.
I was eight when I first did a ‘challenge’ with my friend.
We sat down and wrote out a list of all the things we could and couldn’t eat for the next week, and how much exercise we had to do each day.
We took photos of each other and measured our body parts.
I was 13 when my friend and I decided to only drink water for 3 days. I drank so much water that I filled myself to the brim, and I felt sick... sick enough to not eat anything. I think that was the point.
All through high school I dipped my toe in and out of restricted eating patterns and excessive exercise, followed by a period of binge eating.
This played on a loop as I envied my friends who brought a packed lunch every day and hadn’t cut any food groups out of it.
Watch: How to improve your daughter's body image. Post continues below.
I spent my evenings scrolling through 'pro-ana' Tumblr accounts looking for inspiration... and challenges.
When I left school, I became a vegan which was my biggest challenge yet. I was vegan for nearly 6 years.