What one does when faced with the truth is more difficult than you’d think – Diana

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Another Sunday and another blog posts. This makes my fourth posts this year already (mashing last years quota of 1 blog post) what can I say I’m on a roll! As the weather was pretty miserable this afternoon, I decided to give my new Faber-Castell pens a whizz which was gifted to me by a certain someone.

I wanted to draw a strong woman or a woman who portrays a strong woman. The first woman that popped into my mind was Gia Gabot who plays Diana/Wonder Woman (because modern day Wonder Woman is pretty baddass right!) and off I went, ripped the seal off the case that contained the pens and got the ink flowing.

I admit it felt strange to use these pens again, the way the ink glides across the paper was alien at first; I was used to the more vigorous approach of the ballpoint pen. It soon came back to me, a bit like driving for the first time after 2 weeks off (going from “What are these pedals for?” to “Oh yeah, now I remember!”). It made me realise that I really should have bought some new pens way back when I first ran out, maybe then I would have drawn more often, but hey you live and you learn (should have, would have, could have and all that!).

As per, I started with the eyes, then the nose and then the lips which I’m quite happy with. Okay maybe the lips need some work and are a bit wonky but (and this is a big but) at least Gia doesn’t look like she has fish lips (ah, the relief, it washes over me!). Next was the outline of her face and neck before attempting the hair! (Oh the hair!) I’m notorious for being awful at drawing hair, but for the first time in ages I’m content with how I’ve drawn Gia’s hair (I mean I’ve drawn worse…much worse, right?).

The part that I struggled with was her dress. She was wearing a beaded dress, but I messed it up so badly that I just made it into a black dress (admittedly there are still remnants of the old attempt in the drawing). I have no idea what the design of the dress is meant to be (I’m no fashion designer…evidently!), but I like to call it creative.

Of course, no drawing would be complete without a bit of input from my old faithful ballpoint pen! I did some shading with my trusty pen and then finished off with lighter shading with pencil.

Overall I’m pretty pleased with this drawing considering it’s my first time in years since I last used any Faber-Castell pens. Thanks to the certain someone who gifted them to me (you know who you are!).

Well, that’s all for know folk. Hopefully, another drawing will be on the cards soon!

Ciao for now,

JB

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Beating Bulimia with IF

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Ahh Sunday, I find Sundays are often a day of reflection on past events, and so I thought today I would share with you a very personal experience of mine, by battle with bulimia. I’m not much of an open book but I hope that sharing my experience will help others and give them hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Not many people know about bulimia, even I didn’t know what it was until I was consumed by it. So at its basic form bulimia is an eating disorder which is characterised by a cycle of binge eating and then purging. I think it’s worth mentioning here that purging can happen in 3 ways, by forcing yourself to vomit the food back up (this was not for me), taking laxatives (again not something that I did) or an extreme amount of exercise (this was me). My journey with bulimia started last year, and I have now been bulimia free since the end of September.

The weight loss journey

Since I was around 18, I started playing more attention to my body. I think it happens naturally to most young adults, you want to look the best you can and I was no exception. I stepped onto the scales, Googled my weight to height ratio and noticed that I could lose a few pounds and still be in the “normal” weight range. This ultimately led me to restrict calories and living in fear of becoming fat for the next 8 years of my life.

The beginning

In the beginning, I only changed what I ate, clean eating as they say. I refused to eat chocolate, cake, biscuits anything that could make me put on weight (“fair enough” I hear you say, but wait it gets worse…much worse).

Eventually, weight loss stalled, so I decided to track everything I consumed in a calorie counter app, it suggested I eat 1,200 calories a day to lose weight. So that’s what I did. I reduced my calorie intake and indeed weight loss resumed.

Inside I was happy, I was determined to get to the lowest point of the “healthy” weight range and I was creeping closer to my goal. My body, however, was not happy. My mood was up and down and I felt tired all the time. As my body began to realise what was happening it slowed down my metabolism, meaning it was using energy more efficiently. At this point my family had warned me I was getting too thin, but I thought: “What do they know, the chart online says I can lose more and still be “healthy” and the app still says I can lose more weight safely” (because an app knows better than your own family right?!) how wrong was I.

At this point, I had lost around 5-6lb and weighed around 7st 12lb. Weight loss stalled again and so I decided to join the gym. I went as often as I could, and if I couldn’t make it to the gym, I’d do HIIT workouts at home. If I’d consume over my measly 1,200 calorie goal I’d exercise it off and make sure I didn’t eat back the calories I’d burnt through running like a headless chicken on the treadmill. My body at this point was at breaking point, cravings were so intense that I’d always be having inner battles with myself. The fear of becoming fat had consumed me.

I’d become dangerously low in weight, I was a mere 7 stone 5lb, I started having chest pains and bouts the of light-headedness, but I kept going because the online chart still said I could lose a few pounds and I genuinely thought I was still fat. At one point I ran 16km just because I’d had a meal in a restaurant with a chocolate cheesecake for dessert!

Caving to cravings

Then it happened, out of nowhere, I caved, the cravings were just too much, I binged on chocolate, crisps (and I’m not even a big fan of crisps), cake, biscuits. Mainly anything edible, processed and quick to eat, I indulged in. I ate past the point of being full, it was like I was in a trance. Eventually, with a full swollen belly, my consciousness returned. Guilt and shame swallowed me along with panic. I’d consumer over 4,000 calories that day. I googled what’s the worst damage I could have done and be glad to hear that most of the weight would be bloating and water weight, no lasting impact. So I wrote off the day as a mistake, a “one of those things” moment and vowed to cardio my butt off the next day and restrict for a few days “just to be safe”.

The binge-purge and restrict cycle began

My plan, however, did not follow through. Over the next 6 months, I would fall into a cycle of binging, purging (in the form of excessive exercise) and restricting the amount of food I consumed. I’d binge every couple of days, and I quickly put on weight, which my family and friends thought was great. I looked healthier to them, but inside I was miserable, ashamed and felt guilty. I was even too conscience-stricken to tell anyone of my eating disorder.

Hiding the eating disorder

It was easy to hide that I had Bulimia, I could sneak food into my room, up my sleeves, in my pockets or in my bag and chow down without anyone suspecting a thing. I ate in the car on the way home from work, I even ate a whole box of Nature Valley granola bars at one point (I can no longer stand their taste). After a binge, I’d wear a baggy top and bottoms to hide the bloat. No one suspected a thing, not even when the chocolate peanuts (my kryptonite at the time) started to run out quicker than usual. I was at my worst when I was home alone, nothing stopped me from raiding the cupboards. Purging was also easy to hide, I would just go for a long run, but if anyone asked where I’d been I’d say I went for a “long walk” instead, it was that simple. I felt guilty for eating so much, wasting so much food because of my gluttony, I felt awful, so ashed of myself that I even took down my mirror because I couldn’t bear to look at myself.

Understanding what caused my bulimia

I know you may be thinking “why couldn’t you just stop eating?” but it’s not as easy as that. It’s very hard for someone who hasn’t had an eating disorder to understand what’s going on in the mind during that difficult time.  The best way to explain it is that one voice in your mind is saying “I’m hungry, eat, eat, eat!” while the other side is saying “No, pig, you binged the other day!”. These two mindsets battle with each other until you give in to one of the voices and usually binge. After the binge, you feel awful and side with the other voice thinking that you’re a fat pig, you exercise like mad to try and make up for it.

I googled, researched and read many self-help books, but only one helped me understand the condition; Brain over Binge by  Kathryn Hanson. Her experience was very similar to mine and she explains in her book that the intense cravings or the voice that makes you want to binge are caused by the oldest part of the brain, the part of the brain that ensures your survival, she calls it the animal brain. I’d restricted for so long my brain was in survival mode making me eat to ensure I survived. But over time the pattern became a bad habit. She teaches you that the animal brain cannot make you do anything, it can only give you thoughts, but you control the action. It might say that you need to binge, but you control whether you pay attention to the animal brain and put the cake in your mouth, chew and swallow. Many people have written that this book alone helped then beat bulimia. This was not the case for me but it certainly helped me understand why my brain was doing what it was doing.

I tried other methods, such as writing down trigger foods (that is, what food I ate that led to a binge), writing down my emotions before binging (to see if it was related), did video blogs for myself and documented when I binged. I went for walks when the urge to binge came, but nothing seemed to work.

A road to recovery with intermittent fasting 

Then one day I was trawling the internet looking for other people’s experience with bulimia and saw a post on Reddit about someone successfully beating bulimia through intermittent fasting (or IF for short). I did some research about IF and discovered that it is basically fasting (not eating) for a set number of hours a day and not restricting anything when you do eat. I thought I’d give it a go, thinking there was nothing to lose and starting fasting for 16 hours a day and ate for 8 hours. It was hard at first, I had to bargain with myself, pushing my 8am breakfast to 9am then 10am but eventually I went from 8pm-12pm without food, only water and black tea and coffee to keep me going and when I ate, I had two hearty meals a day.

Of course, the binge eating monster inside me didn’t disappear overnight, it actually took a good 3 months, but something astonishing happened. When I fasted I never had an urge to binge, even though my tummy rumbled, I never felt like raiding the cupboard. My binges became less severe when I did eat, I had fewer cravings and went from binging every other day to binge once or twice a week, before I knew it the voice in my head that told me to binge disappeared. It was almost like fasting allowed my body to somehow reset itself. I know fasting helps the body in many ways, including; autophagy, increase in the human growth hormone, depletes the glycogen stores and burns stored fat and improves insulin sensitivity etc. But I never expected it to help me conquer bulimia, if I’m honest, I’m quite amazed. I continue to fast to this day because I personally feel more awake and alert when I’m fasting, I can get so much work done in the morning compared to after I’ve eaten.

I also made other changes to my life when I started fasting. For one I stopped counting calories, and I didn’t give myself a target of calories to eat. I no longer punished myself by stepping on the scales after a binge, in fact, I stopped stepping on the scales altogether. I never extended my fast to punish myself for binging. I ended doing cardio and instead started strength training, which shifted my mentality from concentrating on my weight to the weight on the barbell. But more importantly, I started concentrating on loving myself, and my body instead of hating it, after all the body we have is the only one we’ve got to carry us through this world.

Fasting may not be for everyone. I know many do not recommend fasting if you’re suffering from an eating disorder (I most definitely agree that if you are anorexic, then you should not fast!!!) until you have a better relationship with food. But, I took a punt, and it worked for me, admittedly I may be the exception rather than the rule though.

If you are interested in pursuing fasting, I do recommend giving Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore’s book The Complete Guide to Fasting a read to better understand the science behind fasting and what to do and what not to do. You might also want to check out the intermittent fasting subreddit on Reddit.

I hope my experience has been of use for others who are suffering from bulimia and given them hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if you don’t feel like there is it at the moment.

You can do this, you are stronger than you think and most of all, an eating disorder does not define who you are.

JB

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A representation of a Queen

 

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It’s Sunday, my least favourite day of the week, I mean it’s the day before we all head back to work after a weekend of chilling! (Oh 6:30am wake up call…how I despise thee!) So along with going for a nice 5-mile walk with the pooch and with all the cobwebs blown away, I thought “right, this is the right time to pick up the trusty ball-point pen and lose my thoughts on the paper.” And that’s exactly what I did “Hooray, I hear you say!” (see I told you I’d get one day, sooner rather than later).

As Christmas time, which seems a lifetime ago now (like seriously it’s only been a month?!) and winter generally is often a time for watching historical and period dramas, (I’m a sucker for a good period drama, I know, I’m romantic at heart really!) and as I’d recently watched The Crown (a must for all historical drama lovers out there) I thought: “I’ll draw Claire Foy who plays The Queen.” My hand and pen had other ideas though, turns out they didn’t want to draw any representation of The Queen even if it was the fantastic actress Claire Foy. Her eyes went well, her nose wasn’t so bad, but her lips, oh the lips, I made her look like she had fish lips (I’m sorry Claire!) and due to the shame, I will not be sharing that awful depiction that I created.

So round two, I decided to draw Queen Victoria instead, or at least Jenna Coleman. For some reason, I had a good feeling about this drawing (the type of feeling you get when you know you’re going to have a good day) and so I turned up the tunes and lost myself to the ink. You see, even though it’s my first drawing in what feels like forever (okay, in about a year or so) I’m delighted with how this one has turned out. I tried not to overshade, which is what I tend to do, and decided to use a pencil to add the softer shading. Of course, the usual suspects regarding faults are there. The lips are not quite right (at least they don’t look like fish lips though right?!), overshading on neck and chin line, and the hair. Oh, the hair, I can never get that right, but I’m going to say “it’s my iconic style” from now on because I doubt it’ll ever change.

Anywho, let me know your thoughts, and hopefully, I’ll get another drawing done before long!

Ciao for now,

JB

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You’ve put on weight? Hell yeah!

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“She’s finally written a new blog post” I hear you say, yup but unfortunately, no new drawings though (I know, shame on me) but I promise I’ll get one done…sometime within the year (okay, within the next 3 months). Anyway, If you follow my Instagram or Twitter, you’ll notice that I have taken up weight lifting or strength training or weight training (whichever term you prefer). I have always been into fitness, or should I say, I’ve always had an obsession with being slim, to the point of nearly developing an eating disorder (more on that another time). I did a lot of cardio, and by a lot, I mean killing yourself cardio. Yes I was that person on the treadmill, face like a tomato, sweat dripping from me (practically showering the poor people on the treadmill next to me), running like a headless chicken, thinking “Yes Jess, you can become the next Jessica Ennis” (I mean, have you seen her bum?). At the end of the session, I would have to peel my skin tight clothing off my body and collapse from exhaustion.

Like many who are into their fitness, I was also obsessed with my weight. I used to weigh myself every day and punish myself if I’d put on a pound here or there (no, I don’t mean the money kind), restrict calories and do (you guessed it) even more cardio. Then one day as I was trawling through #fitness on Instagram I started seeing more and more women looking incredible. I thought “they must spend hours in the gym to look that good” turns out they didn’t, turns out they spend an hour 3-5 time a week lifted heavy things and only did cardio on occasions. I was sceptical at first, the only weights I’d lifted was some dumbells for the HIIT workouts I used to do (because nothing says strong like a neon pink 2kg dumbells right?). I thought “I don’t want to get all bulky” (Looking back, that was such a rookie thought). The more I’d researched, the more I realised how wrong I’d been. These women weren’t bulky, they weren’t killing themselves on the treadmill, they were fit and strong, and that was exactly what I wanted to be.

At first, I didn’t want to be the newbie “girl” at the gym trying to lift weights for the first time (I know, where was my backbone!), so I bought a small barbell that could be made into dumbells along with some plates off Amazon.  I quickly discovered that I’d found a fitness regime that I loved. Within 3 months I’d bought a 5ft Barbell, heavier plates along with a bench, squat rack and other accessories. I went from skinny (to the point that my family were warning me that I was too thin), to strong and curvacious!

Not only has my strength increased (I can deadlift my own weight which I’m totally excited about!) but my mentality towards weight and food has changed. For once I’m concentrating on the weight I was putting on the barbell, and not paying much attention to the weight on the scales. When I do go on the scales, I no longer punish myself if my weight fluctuates, because weight can naturally change from day to day; honestly, some days I’m 4lb heavier thanks to water retention (the joys of being a woman!). I no longer treated food as punishment; instead, I treat it as nourishment (you need to feed those muscles for them to grow!) I went from “have I had too much food” to “I haven’t had enough food!”.

Below is a picture of me in December 2016 next to a picture of me in January 2018. It took me quite some courage and deliberation as to whether to post these pics (please be nice!), but I think it clearly shows how I’ve transformed (okay, slight exaggeration!) and that it’s okay to put on weight. On the left I was a mere 7st 5lb, now I’m 8st 5lb, that’s right, I’ve put on a stone! Of course, not all of it is muscle, some of it is fat too, and that’s okay because I feel so much more confident, I’m much happier and enjoying life so much more!

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So my message to all who are going crazy on the cardio trying to be as slim as possible, pick up a barbell, you might be surprised by the results!

Over and out,

JB

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P.S. you might be wondering how much cardio I now do well the simple answer is…none! Unless you count walking the pooch that is.

 

 

 

Looking back to move forward

 

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“Not another soppy blog post!” I hear you say, well have no fear this blog post is going to be about my latest drawing above. Why the title? Well, I could be clever and relate it to the fact that it’s a drawing of soldiers during the First World War, but in reality, it’s for an entirely different reason. Since I have finished all of my college work (woohoo) I now have more time to draw again (hooray I hear you say!). So off I went eager-eyed pen in hand, a fresh sheet of paper in front of me and what I produced was something a two-year-old could have drawn, my enthusiasm was dampened. My hand wouldn’t do as it was told (no honestly, it was like a naughty dog running off from its owner!), so I decided to give it a rest for the night.

 

I couple more tries on consecutive days and still no results worth sharing (no honestly they’d be an embarrassment to see), so I thought I’d go back to what I used to really enjoy drawing. Representation of War.

My tribute to armed forces day

You might recall the image to the left, I drew it a few years ago. It’s interesting how my style of drawing has changed since then and how I’ve moved away from using Faber-Castell pens to simple ball point pens (okay I admit, I ran out of the Faber-Castell pens and never got around to buying new ones – whoops!). With new found enthusiasm and inspiration after watch Testament of Youth (a harrowing film but worth a watch), I turned the music up and lost myself in the black ink.

It took more than a few hours to complete the drawing above (doesn’t my hand know it), the foreground was a bugger to do, but I think it has the desired effect of looking like upturned earth and mud. What I really dislike about the drawing is the man on the right, well his legs to be precise, I feel like I could have shaded them better. Actually, the entire right-hand side of the drawing could have been shaded better. At least you can tell what the drawing is…right?!

Anyway, not my best drawing, but onwards and upwards. My next drawing will be better, hell I might even buy some new Faber-Castell pens!

I shall leave you all with a trailer for Testament of Youth (2014).

Ciao for now,

JB

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“Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world, the disarray. I choose to see the beauty” – Dolores Abernathy

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So last night I was catching up with the TV series Westworld, if you haven’t already watched it, you definitely should! To put it simply it’s a futuristic theme park for adults full of human-like robots that the humans can do anything they like to them, only things strat to change as the robots go rogue (I know I’m not exactly selling it to you, but honestly it’s a brilliant series, slightly confusing at time but stick with it!). It also stars Anthony Hopkins (possibly the best actor out there), and you know just from his presence that it’s going to be worth the watch. Okay, that’s enough of me trying to encourage you to watch the show  (or failing, I’ve never been very good at these synopses! ), let’s get down to the drawing.

My favourite character from the show is Dolores, her character has grown so much from the start (but I haven’t yet watched the finale so no spoilers!) and I was inspired to draw her,  and that I did. I started just after 10:30pm and didn’t finish until around 1am but I really do like the finish on this one if I do say so myself (late night drawing must suit me!).  I did most of the drawing with pen and then shaded with pencil, something I don’t do very often at all, but after this drawing, I think I shall start using pencil more. I’m not happy with how her hair has turned out (I know, that’s a standard comment from me), I will try and get more practice in to improve.

Well it’s a short blog from me today, been busy with putting the outside Christmas lights up, which is always a nightmare (no seriously  it is, we checked that the lights were working before putting them on the tree and by the time we put them up…nothing, not even a flicker of hope from the silly things !) and now it’s time to write the Christmas cards!

I leave you with the trailer of Westworlds, see if you can spot the scene that I used to draw Delores 😉

Ciao for now!

JB

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‘Imperfection is beauty’ – Marilyn Monroe

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You’ve guessed it, my latest drawing is of Marilyn Monroe – I’m hoping you all came to that conclusion from looking at the picture and not the title (right?!).

So after my last blog post I remembered what one of my favourite hobbies was (before the turbulent times) – drawing! (I know, how totally obvious right, I mean my blog, Twitter and Instagram are all called JBArtDrawings but…read my previous post, and you’ll understand). I have done a few sketches here and there but none that ended up being filed away (admittedly most of them ended up in the recycling or in the log burner), so I thought “Right that’s it, I’m going to get my pen and paper out and start drawing.” But there was a problem, a rather big problem for artists…I had no pens! My old faithful ballpoint pen that I used to use had lost it’s will to live, not even a bit a spit would get it moving (I know, kinda gross, but it works most of the time!). So I delved under the bed into my office reserves box and managed to salvage a black ball point pen – hope was not lost!

So pen went on paper, and it remained unmoving for about 10 minutes as I tried to decide what or who to draw. Santa? No, I’d drawn him last year (or was it the year before?) and got fed up with all that hair. A reindeer? No, I’d try to draw one not long ago, and I watched it’s deformed head slowly being engulphed in flames before it resided in it’s final resting place at the bottom of the log burner (it was quite traumatic!). A celebrity? Yes! After much deliberation, I decided on the actress I used to be obsessed about (not in a pervy way, I was fascinated by her life), Marilyn Monroe.

I searched the internet for a pic that I could attempt to draw and realised that this wasn’t going to be an easy task. I was rubbish at drawing teeth, or an open mouth, (they always looked like they were about to eat an apple when I drew them, and no one wants to be represented looking like a horse) and I doubted that after months without practice I would have improved. Did you know, most photos of Marilyn are with her mouth open?! Anyway, I finally found one I thought I could draw. I started with her eyes, then her nose and then her mouth. It then came to the part I was dreading most …her hair. I always suck at drawing hair, I start off with such good intent but then as the drawing dragged on I got more and more impatient. As you can tell by the end, I was cross-hatching.

I don’t think the end result was all that bad, you can see who it is (right?)  plus as Marilyn herself said ‘Imperfection is beauty’! Although a fellow on Twitter did point out, her hair does make her look like Cruella Deville which is pretty hilarious but I can definitely see it. Maybe my next project should be to merge Disney characters characteristics (gosh that’s a mouthful!) on different celebrities!

Anywho today I leave you with Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell singing Two little girls from Little Rock

Ciao for now!

JB

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