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How Jessica Overcame Anxiety and Binge Eating

How Jessica Overcame Anxiety and Binge Eating

"I overcame anxiety and depression by looking at what I was eating and why I was eating it. I got up and went to the gym instead of hiding away and feeling sorry for myself.” 

How Jessica Completely Reformed her Eating and Exercise Habits

How Jessica Completely Reformed her Eating and Exercise Habits

Jessica was diagnosed with high cholesterol and hypertension at a very young age. She decided to get her health on the right track in order to avoid medication. When Jessica downloaded PumpUp 8 months ago, she sought motivation that was exclusively related to fitness. "I wanted to be held accountable every single day over the course of my new journey," she insisted. "With PumpUp, I am held accountable every day. Every time I log in, I see motivation. The people and comments keep me going."  

How PumpUp inspires Jessica to be her best self

How PumpUp inspires Jessica to be her best self

It all started with a gym membership. Jessica was eating healthy food, but didn't have the motivation to experiment with her recipes or workouts. "I didn't start getting serious about health and fitness until about a year ago," she elaborated. "I joined a gym for the first time - that was around the same time I joined PumpUp. Why not be surrounded by daily motivation and people who enjoyed bettering their lives just as much as you do?"

This is what eating disorders feel like

This is what eating disorders feel like


There's a misconception that those who suffer from eating disorders just 'decide' that they 'don't want to eat'. Often, others make the generalization that an eating disorder is a cry for attention. This is wrong, and I speak from experience. What do eating disorders feel like? Some eating disorders begin with tiny realizations or goals. "I can't fit into my jeans. I should lose a little weight." I started to run at first, then cut out sweets from my diet. When I started to see results and received compliments from my friends and family members, I felt a rush. The rush became an addiction.

Eventually, I started to eliminate more types of food from my diet and exercised more. Little by little, it spiralled out of control. I felt like I couldn't control the way my thought process was working. I became consumed by food, sizes, and numbers. The inner voice inside my head told me that I was never good enough.

I’ve suffered from anorexia for nearly 10 years. I’m not really sick anymore, but I know that it will take a lot of time for my body and mind to rebuild. One year ago, my weight was down to 82.6 lbs. I couldn’t really do anything because my body was so weak. I still forced myself to exercise constantly. I hardly ate anything: 10-15 bites of whatever my boyfriend had cooked for dinner. Most poignantly, I remember the feeling of guilt: not only because I ate, but because my boyfriend spent time cooking for me, and then I wouldn’t, couldn't eat it.

This past year has been the toughest, but I decided to find a way out of the eating disorder. I had to. It destroyed my life, my boyfriend broke up with me, I got kicked out of school, I lost my friends, and my mother was miserable. Finally, I contacted my doctor, and he wrote a reference to a treatment center that took me in for three months.

what eating disorders feel like

At the treatment center, I was placed in a group with five other girls, a dietitian and two therapists. Though the therapists were sympathetic and knowledgable, one thing that helped me the most was talking to others who were in the same situation as myself. We did self-esteem exercises, made timelines about our lives, and talked about how we were thinking and feeling. I never imagined how great talking to others about the problem would be or feel.

My weight is now 110 lbs, and I feel much better. Now, I'm striving to find a balance. I exercise three times a week for 1 hour, and I eat six times a day. It’s a struggle not to add some extra hours on the workout schedule, and I don’t eat all six meals everyday – but I’m trying! Old habits are hard to get rid off, but I know I can do it.

Getting out of (what I call) “Anorexia-Hell”, is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m finishing school this summer, my boyfriend and I are back together and happier than ever, and my mother, my dear mother, is no longer looking at me with a broken, worried and scared look on her face.

If you’re suffering from an eating disorder, I highly recommend treatment and that you find a supportive community like PumpUp to help you. I know it seems like an impossible thing to do, but try to talk to someone about it and talk to your doctor. You will thank yourself later in life, I can assure you that. And remember that you’re not alone.

'What eating disorders feel like' was written by PumpUp member @jessicanielsen. Have more tips to share about ways to boost your self-esteem? Let us know in the comments below! 


How PumpUp helped Jessica beat anxiety

How PumpUp helped Jessica beat anxiety

If anxiety and tide pools of profound unhappiness have ever burdened you, Jessica knows exactly how you feel. Freshly out of university in July 2014, Jessica decided to do something about it by joining the PumpUp community. “I turned to fitness and a healthy lifestyle in an effort to lose weight, boost my mood, and combat my anxiety,” she explained. “My lifestyle has completely changed since I’ve been using PumpUp. I can’t even express how much healthier I feel!”

Prior to PumpUp, university-induced stress got the best of Jessica’s eating habits. “I would constantly snack when writing essays, a form of comfort eating I suppose,” shrugged Jessica. “There was quite a lot of partying and drinking so I put on quite a bit of weight while at university.” Frequent fast-food trips didn’t help her case either, as much as she tried to stick to lean meat and fish at dinnertime. Her snacking habit and lack of exercise became two of her biggest obstacles next to her 3-year battle with anxiety. “I would suffer from frequent panic attacks and avoided many situations because of it,” she recounted. “PumpUp was the beginning of my fitness and health journey. The community was so positive, uplifting and encouraging. I began to appreciate what I had and learned that positivity is key. I started to say yes: I will live my life to the fullest, believe in myself, and face my fears.”

Life with PumpUp: less anxiety, more positivity

Suffice it to say, Jessica has be true to the promises she made since she began to share her story with the PumpUp community. She eased into the groove of a different routine and was stunned by the palpable impact it made upon her physical and mental health. “What’s so great about PumpUp is that I can track my progress since I first started my journey,” she insisted. “It really helps me to see how far I’ve come with the added bonus of such a motivational community.” Not only are Jessica’s eating habits much more balanced, they are less so dictated by her stress level. “I started my job as a teaching assistant in September—this keeps me busy because I don’t get many breaks,” she elaborated. “There is less time and no temptation to snack.”

Once work finishes, you’ll be able to find Jess at the gym 4 times a week, tracking her progress on PumpUp as she goes. “When I especially don’t feel like working out, I’ll go onto PumpUp and it’ll instantly motivate me to get back in the gym,” Jessica enthused. “I’ve never regretted a workout and really do feel so much better after. Not only is she motivated it exercise more consistently, Jess’s mood is discernibly more positive. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an ounce of negativity when you’re around her. “I used to be extremely pessimistic, always worrying about what I looked like,” she recalled. “I’m happier and healthier than ever before since I joined PumpUp. I’m an optimist for the first time in my life and I’ve been able to help encourage others with their own journey.”

If there’s one thing that Jessica recommends to others looking to lead a healthier lifestyle, it’s perseverance. “Believe in yourself,” she affirmed. “If you’re struggling to maintain an active lifestyle, set goals and believe that you can achieve them. Change doesn’t happen right away. It takes time. Often I feel like when you're close to giving up, you begin to see change!" 

Jessica’s biggest motivation

Initially my biggest motivation was wanting to love my body. PumpUp helped me to achieve that. Now I'm constantly motivated by the wonderful and supportive PumpUp community but in particular, Lorrin (@lorrin) and Dan (dmccarthy). I've been following their journeys since I downloaded PumpUp and they have always been so encouraging and supportive, not just to me but to so many other users too. Both have come so far and I'm so grateful to be surrounded by such inspirational and supportive people like them!

Jessica’s meals

I usually eat porridge with chia and flaxseed for breakfast, a banana as my morning snack and I make a salad every night for lunch, which consists of spinach, chicken or salmon, olives, tomatoes, humus, falafel, avocado and a grain such as quinoa or bulgur wheat. Sometimes I'll have a protein bar an hour before I go to the gym or oatcakes with almond butter (my favourite snack!) A typical dinner for me now would be salmon and sweet potato or a chicken casserole.

Motivational Mantra

My biggest struggle was learning how to be happy and not to worry so much, so Helen Keller's quote "Be happy with what you have while working for what you want" is a fantastic reminder to enjoy life. 

Favourite Exercise

To stay active I mostly go to the gym and do running here and there. I like to start off my gym session with 15 minutes on a bike followed by 5 minutes on the rowing machine. I then use various different weight machines but I particularly like the roman chair (even if it looks scary!) to work my abs and I enjoy doing lunges with 8kg dumbbells. 

Fun fact about Jess

I'm British but I'm also bilingual, I speak English and French and lived in Paris for a year in 2012! As well as fitness, I have a huge passion for makeup and beauty and I have my own beauty blog. 

Keep Jessica pumped on the app @_js and follow her on Instagram @jessbabeszz!