It’s been a tough few weeks for Celia Learmonth. Known better as the woman behind top blog, LondonFitnessGuide.co.uk, Celia made headlines when she admitted that her seemingly perfect online life – that showed her clean eating and dedicated exercise regime – was actually hiding a worrying food and fitness addiction, and she didn’t want to cover it up any more.
When the news broke, she came under fire from everyone from health professionals to fellow fitness bloggers, who said she was ‘bad for their industry’. But now, in her first interview, Celia fights back and tells us why she’s not the liar she’s been made out to be…
‘I never had plans to be a blogger, let alone a fitness blogger. I started writing about what I eat and how I exercise as a simple online diary just for me, and me alone.
I didn’t know it would turn into something bigger and I ran with it. But unfortunately for the majority of the time I’ve been suffering silently. Without wishing to label a condition some people have called it an anxiety issue, some an exercise addiction, some call it orthorexia [the term for those addicted to extreme healthy eating], but I don’t have a name for it. I just know that I felt like I had to come clean. I was just trying to better myself. I really thought that by blogging about clean eating, training regimes and sportswear, would mean that my feelings would catch up with my posts. I thought if I could play this role of the girl whose life was on track and exuding positivity, perhaps eventually I would embody her. I didn’t know then that the pressure of keeping up with it would lead me into a downward spiral, more vicious than I could have ever predicted.
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I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with food – something I’ve been open about. I was an overweight child and despite being very sporty, I always felt like I looked different to the other girls. In my early teens though, what had just been a feeling originally, became crippling anxiety. I would restrict my diet, until I was down to minute portions. In just two months, I remember going from a size 14 to an 8.
It triggered major panic attacks. My muscles would lock, my body would shake furiously and I couldn’t breathe. The stress affected my eating pattern and my weight began to rise again.
When I began my dream musical theatre course in London, I still felt like ‘the big one’. That’s when I started working out . I would go everyday for an hour and then do a spin class straight after. Whenever I could fit a class in, I would.
At the same time, I’d begun posting pictures of my workouts and my healthy food on my old Instagram account. I really did it as a personal diary but somehow, by the end of 2013, it just took off and I set up my blog.
For the first part of my journey, my blog helped me and I felt healthy and in control.
But after a turbulent family time, which resulted in me having to leave my university course, all I had left to fall into was the fitness world and my online presence. The trauma had caused my perception of my body and worth to become distorted once more.
I was more focused on my body than my social life, and I lost friends. I knew I had to get help and by the start of 2014 I vowed to get healthier.
A company reached out to me and asked if I wanted to become a personal trainer with them and I took them up on the offer. I started eating a healthier diet. Eggs and avocado in the morning, a salad for lunch and a proper dinner. I began to post more photos online of my diet and people would comment and say lovely, encouraging things.
But anxiety always creeps back. My family issues remained and the stress intensified with time. Suddenly, I was back to where I’d started; surviving on small portions and exercising extremely. I was spinning so much that, even now, I don’t consider it a work out because my body has become so accustomed to it.
At this point the blog was doing so well, I didn’t think I could admit to my problems. I felt like people didn’t want to see that side of me.
But eventually, I decided enough was enough. I couldn’t cope anymore and I had to say something. Saying “I’m suffering with an eating disorder” in an Instagram post was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I wanted to be honest.
Since I did it, earlier this month, I’ve had mixed responses. Some people are telling me I’m brave, but I feel like I’ve been such a coward.
Some fitness bloggers have said it’s bad for our industry, some people have blamed me for their weight problems. One woman commented and said fitness bloggers like me are responsible for her daughter’s anorexia. I feel horrific, I really didn’t want to mislead anyone. I really thought I was doing the right thing. And I’m not the only one who has ever felt like this but I have felt very alone.
Because I’m still technically a healthy weight, some doctors don’t seem to be able to take my problem seriously. I’ve now taken a break from training temporarily. As for the blog? I’m trying to continue with it but I’m going to document my struggle as much as I can. I’ve also started seeing a nutritionist. What I will say, is that I’m just a 21 year old woman, trying to do the best I can every day, and with support I hope I can beat this.
If you think you’re experiencing similar issues to Celia, you should talk to a health professional. Contact b-eat.co.uk or speak to your GP