03/03/2014 07:55 GMT | Updated 30/04/2014 06:59 BST

What Are You Giving Up for Lent?

New year's resolutions, start of term and Lent were always a nightmare for me. It was that time of the year when I had this alarm bell engrained into me..."time to turn over a new leaf, make a new start" from primary school assemblies.

Ever since I developed an eating disorder I have been haunted by the start of term or Lent or any of these times as opportunities to start a new leaf and remove from lifestyle any unhealthy bingeing that had been dominating life. Yes, the anorexia was utilising this as an opportunity to persevere into dangerous territory.

One particularly memory was David Blaine's 40 day stunt in a box. It stuck with me as an actual realistic possibility that someone could survive for that long without food and inevitably lose weight.

It was of course a stunt, but for someone trapped by an eating disorder it was very triggering.

And so yet again, we arrive at the Lenten fast. 40 days and 40 nights.

As someone who thrives under pressure, I have met that target, and depending on definition of a fast (as we may be talking of depriving ourselves during daylight or going without food we enjoy) I have exceeded this target.

For what benefit? I am aware of keeping this post impartial to all faiths, but as a devout Christian I am clear that Christ did not intend this sacrifice as one that would have such devastating consequences on my own life and indeed other peoples'.

So it's Lent, and magazines will encourage us to give up chocolate, snacking, alcohol, go on a diet, alter our lifestyle for Lent...all of which will terminate probably after the first week, because crème eggs are in the shops and they'll be a charity bake sale in the office with delicious cup cakes, and then a friend's birthday with a big night out followed by the inevitable visit to the chippy or the morning fry up...

Someone once talked about Lent as an opportunity to take up something new, a new hobby, a new way of thinking, even saying something nice to someone every day.

The average person receives five negative comments per day on a good day, and there is research to say that it takes at least 12 comments to balance out each negative comment. This is just on one day. So maybe start by paying a colleague or classmate a compliment a day.

Today someone asked me what I was giving up for Lent, and every year I have marked it out as another starvation opportunity.

Not this time.

Recovery is a long lonely battle. It is one that only the sufferer can take, even if they have all the support in the world, the decision to recover first and foremost remains with them.

But I live for recovery. Recovery is a world free from scales, diets, counting calories, ridiculous obsessions with weight deadlines (which are never reached because a sufferer keeps moving the goal posts). Recovery is where a person can go to the gym to burn negative calories, but exercise for enjoyment.

Recovery is being able to walk in spring and feel the warmth of the sun and not be wrapped in winter clothes, because you are cold.

Recovery is being able to enjoy new and old activities with friends.

Recovery is setting yourself new goals and challenges where others can appreciate your talents and everything you have to offer.

Recovery is living life to the full.

So as I said at the beginning, Lent is a time for a new beginning it is time to begin recovery.

In answer to my friend's question "what am I giving up for Lent?" My eating disorder. But the better question is, "what am I taking up for Lent, and beyond?"


I am doing a Skydive in aid of b-eat this summer to celebrate b-eat's 25th anniversary as well as turning 25.

"B-eat have supported me through some of the toughest moments of my life. Their helplines for sufferers and carers are invaluable, with training absolutely essential.

This is just a small part of what they do, so please do give generously."