Last year, I took on a challenge of a lifetime – I trekked the Sahara Desert to raise money for Beat. At the time of registration, I truly believed that I could get mentally and physically ready for the trek, despite living with binge eating disorder on and off for the past five years.
What I didn’t know however was that when the time for the trek came around, I would be absolutely terrified. The trek consisted of seven days in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, totalling 100km over sand dunes and varying terrain, with walking time amounting to six to eight hours per day. And the moment I stepped foot in Morocco, I was sure of only one thing – I would not be able to do it.
On the first few days of the trek, my body was in for a real surprise. My knees took a toll. My feet ached. My body protested. At that point, the only thing that kept me moving was remembering why I was doing the trek in the first place. I was doing it not just for myself, but also for others who have ever lived with an eating disorder. And so I carried on through the heat and the dunes and the endless stretches of sand.
Then on the third day, I realised that despite the aches, I was still walking. My body was keeping up with the challenge. And this realisation sparked something in me. After years of abusing and disrespecting my body, it was still strong enough to carry me through the desert. I was amazed, relieved, and most of all, extremely grateful.
I started noticing the sun, the stars, the palm trees and the beauty all around me. The trek was still challenging physically, but my mindset had shifted. I realized that eating disorders come in many shapes and sizes, but one issue that presents itself in most eating disorders is body shaming. If we truly want to eradicate eating disorders, body positivity is a huge and necessary step towards this goal.
It is time to speak up against the pressures to look a certain way and have a certain body size and shape. Our bodies are wonderful and they are so much more than how they look. My body carried me through a difficult trek in the Sahara desert. And for that I am grateful.
Would you like to get involved in fundraising for Beat? Find out more here!
Particularly with binge eating disorder, it’s so easy to get trapped in your own head and convince yourself that you are the problem and are unworthy, and this can be so, so dangerous.
To this day, my relationship with food is a complex one, but I am very much of the belief that next year will be better, and the year after that will be even better.
I always questioned “will I be taken seriously” or “perhaps I’m a just greedy person” or “everyone gets low and comfort eats” or “how can I have a disorder when I seem to have a normal life”.