A massive thanks first of all to all the lovely people that follow my blog on Tumblr but this post is to tell you all I have moved!
I realised quickly that as I have several blogs, on several different subjects and several different websites it was a wise idea to move onto my own website.
You can now find me over at www.nickjwatts.com
I do hope you will all continue to visit me over there!
Much love and a happy new year from me!
2011 has been a whirlwind year for me, Men Get Eating Disorders Too and of course my colleagues and I think this year we have seen some brilliant recognition of not only the charity but also the very reason we exist. While we still have a long way to go in what we do and what we want to achieve as it is the last day of 2011 I thought it would be a good idea to recap what has gone on!
First off at MGEDT we released our first ever national leaflet and poster campaign which was distributed around the UK to healthcare professionals, voluntary organisations and distributed heavily at events and conferences we attended throughout the year. This was shortly followed by our first ever national conference to address the issue of men and eating disorders, which featured some of our supporters, professionals and staff from the charity. We also had some good media coverage this year, including appearances live on national television, national and local radio, print and online articles and various blogs and guest columns.
Possibly the biggest achievement this year was the launch of our first ever live support chat sessions, the only sessions of their kind worldwide to offer specific support to men with eating disorders. This pilot session will continue to run into early 2012 but I personally feel it has been a massive success, giving men the opportunity to speak out about their issues in a safe environment, easing the isolation they have as a result of their issues.
Personally, I have had some fantastic experiences this year, from media appearances to challenges with Sarah, all the way to sitting on a research panel for Oxford University and the Men’s Health steering group. If anything it proves that the issues of eating disorders and body image in men are starting to be taken seriously, with more organisations and bodies realising the need to have representation of these issues, which is a big step in the world of men’s health.
It has also been a fantastic year for press, with several high profile research studies and figure releases highlighting the very need for increased service provision, better awareness and more support availability, both peer and professional.
In July 2011, the Royal College of General Practitioners released figures showing a 66% rise in the number of men being admitted for the treatment of eating disorders in the UK, urging GP’s to be more aware of the symptoms of eating disorders in men.
In August 2011 another set of statistics were released regarding the rise in eating disorder cases in young people, including a large amount of boys. This again led to national scale publicity in most major publications, radio and television.
In September 2011 there was a slightly different release which was all about the rise in weight loss surgery in young people, including a large amount of men. This was a good release as it is important to recognise that eating disorders are not necessarily restrictive but lesser known disorders such as binge and compulsive eating can cause just as many problems for sufferers and yet are not seen in the same light in restricting disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
A lot of other stuff went on too, including the UK’s first ever fat talk free week, a highlight of self-harm in young people and a lot of focus on the effects of bullying to the mental health of all young people. We also saw really busy periods in both men’s health week and eating disorders awareness week. So much more happened in what I think has been our biggest and busiest year yet, but I have concentrated on some of the really key points here.
Undoubtedly, we still have a long way to go to make sure the appropriate recognition is given to male body image, eating disorders and mental health as a whole, but I would like to think that in 2011 we made a very good start. We have lots of stuff going on in 2012 to make sure that eating disorders and men’s mental health will remain firmly on the agenda and hopefully go that extra mile, building on what we have achieved this year. I would personally like to get out to more universities, deliver more training to professionals and stay on the media train to get our message out there.
All that is really left to do is thank everyone that has supported our campaigns, told their stories and contributed to the massive successes this year. It has been a good year for our cause, we have a long way to go still, but all in all, I think we made a good deal of progress.
Here I am, watching Jack Whitehall on E4 who I find absolutely hilarious and within his material is of course a section of fat jokes, one that struck me in particular was on the labelling of food, that we should do it like we do cigarettes and cake should have “have a photo of a fat woman crying, coming empty handed out of Topshop”.
I then saw a mini rant on twitter about the same joke which this person clearly took a lot of offence to, in how it was offensive, hurtful and belittling. But is this really any different to the endless amount of racist, political, ageist and every other joke out there?
I personally don’t think so, I really think you can take a joke too seriously and you can also take a topic too seriously too. In fact, from my experience some of the most powerful health awareness campaigns out there are fronted by comedians or take a jovial approach to the issue which it is talking about.
Yes there is such a thing as a comedian taking it too far, but if they can’t poke fun out of stuff, what can they actually be funny about. It is a completely different story if this sort of thing is directed at an individual, it then becomes offensive in my eyes, but from this standpoint I seriously see nothing wrong with it.
Does the fact I laughed at it make me a bad person? Does it make me any less passionate about the causes that I work with? Well no I don’t think it does, it just means I found something completely jovial rather funny!
Sometimes, I think people can be so wrapped in their causes that they fail to see the funny side of something which is there to be taken in complete jest. I also feel it would be rather silly of me to say that fat jokes should be banned from TV, because then we would have to ban anything which anyone would consider mildly offensive and we would end up with a 2 hour show of a comedian standing still, randomly blinking.
More importantly, I think that we wouldn’t find these things offensive if we were comfortable with ourselves as a whole. So instead of concentrating anger on things which are at the end of the day meant to be funny we should look at things which damage people more, diet advertising, airbrushing, pressures we feel to fit into a mould.
My message from this one is simple, sometimes people just need to chill out and look at the bigger picture.
We are coming close to the part of the year that annoys me the most, the seeing in of the New Year. I must admit, I love the party, the party poppers and the immense amounts of champagne I usually have until I wake up at 3pm on January 1st feeling like someone beat me over the head with said champagne.
What do I hate about it then?
It has to be the time old tradition of the New Year’s resolution! They are there and they are made to be broken most of the time (in fact I don’t know a single person who has ever stuck to it). We seem to go for the top three resolutions when it comes down to it, to lose weight, to get fit or to quit smoking. But today of course I am concentrating on the get fit and losing weight!
I feel the need to point out that there is nothing wrong with getting fitter, providing you’re doing it for you, but I really feel that the wasted New Year’s resolution is not the way to do it. First of all why do we need s resolution to tell us we need to do it, this only makes it feel like a chore or challenge and frankly there is no chance of succeeding if you don’t want to do it. Secondly, there is no need to go to drastic efforts, crash diets or hours of exercise to achieve it, rather, it comes down to being mindful about your body and just treating it well and with respect.
We all seem to have this mindset that the “all or nothing” approach is the one that works, that to be healthy we can’t have anything “naughty” or as some anger inducing diet plans likes to put it “sinful”. There is no such thing as naughty food, it is only food after all, we can have our cake and eat it, but the wonderful saying of everything in moderation comes into play.
It’s the time of year when everybody feels it is the socially acceptable thing to diet, because of course we should all feel guilty about our Christmas indulgences, right?
Well no, this is what the hours of post-Christmas diet advertising wants you to think, same time every year, every channel you turn to will be the usual pressure, lose weight with this plan, join this gym and within 45 seconds you will have the perfect abs, utter bollocks. Yet people flock in their thousands to try out this latest fad, only to forget about it by time February comes along.
If we want to make changes to our fitness regimes and our diets then we can do it at any point of the year and more importantly by making small changes, not having to deprive ourselves of what we love, what’s the point in doing that! Also, we need to do it because we want to do it, not because something is telling us we should. Add an extra walk or jog into your week, get off the buss a stop or 2 early, simple things that are very achievable, yet can have a great impact. We can eat what we want, but instead of having an entire bar we have half. Simple changes that mean your whole life isn’t taken over by your New Year’s utter rubbish resolution.
Instead I would like to see everyone make a different kind of resolution this year, the love your body resolution, which isn’t just for Christmas, or New Year, or the month of January but a lifelong commitment to love your unique, amazing body. We don’t need to change for anybody; we just need to happy with ourselves and maybe we do want to do a little more exercise next year, but we do it for our health, not to look better for somebody else, as frankly, it’s your body, not society’s.
So, I was totally planning on writing for Mental Healthy about coping over the festive season with an eating disorder, but I ran out of time, didn’t have a chance and so I thought I would make it a quicky on here.
Christmas is notorious for being an especially hard time for dealing and coping with mental health issues, especially eating disorders. Looking back, I can remember the time when Christmas was massively difficult for me.
I thought this was for many reasons, including the amount of food on offer that everyone thought I devour and then how on earth I could correct all that wrong. Then there was the guilt, surely I didn’t deserve Christmas and as for all the people around, what on earth do they think of me?
Notice I used the word thought, because that’s not what I think now. If I was to be perfectly honest, now I would say that the reason Christmas was so hard is because I overthought it, worked myself up into a bundle of nerves and in effect sabotaged myself without even knowing it.
In the run up to Christmas I would sit there planning, listing and working out escape routes, panicking about how the day would turn out, worry about other people, how would they react if I didn’t take that extra potato, would they think I was ill again?
In reality, is it really any different to any other day? There might be a few more chocolates about but it is like any other day. It doesn’t need to be treated as differently as any other day, if you have a meal plan you can still stick to it, if your full you don’t have to eat anything more and if it is all the people around that is causing your anxiety, there is nothing stopping you leaving the room for 20 minutes. This is where mindfulness and relaxation comes into play, understanding and working with your body, what it wants and what it needs and not what other people expect of you.
Probably the most important part of all of this and something I have intentionally left until this point is that Christmas isn’t all about food. This is what I needed to get into my head, I would be so consumed with the food side of Christmas I would forget about the rest of the day, the part of the day I loved, seeing all the people I know, having lots of lovely gifts and watching crappy films until my eyes bled.
Christmas is about all those things that we all know and love, the tree, pretty decorations, presents, family, friends having a giggle and a glass of 10 of wine!
And as for Christmas dinner, it is but another meal, nothing more, nothing less and if we look it at like that, it is really not as scary as we once thought it was.
That’s all from me, wishing everyone a fabulous and happy Christmas!