MY STORY.

Eating disorders are stereotypically seen as something only affecting body-conscious teenage girls - not fit, healthy grown men in their twenties. However, I suffered from bulimia for two years, from January 2013 up until December 2014.

  • You can watch my story and challenge on CNN here

  • You can hear my interview for Marathon Talk here

  • You can hear me discuss my eating disorder with Jeremy Vine here

  • You can hear me talking about my experience on the BBC iPlayer here 

  • You can read an interview with me on Runner's World here

  • You can read about my experience on The Telegraph here 

  • You can read about my experience on The Guardian here

As an aspiring 24 year old marathon runner ranked 208th in the UK, I decided to self-fund a three month high altitude training camp to Kenya, the mecca of long distance running, in order to train for the 2013 London Marathon

When I arrived, I was recovering from an injury and was unable to train. Surrounded by world class Olympic athletes, such as Mo Farah, Asbel Kiprop and Wilson Kipsang, it was a very intimidating environment, and equally demoralising watching others return from training runs whilst I was resigned to the sun lounger.

Whilst sitting around the pool enjoying the African sunshine, another runner in the camp asked me how much I weighed. He said if could lose a few kilos, I could greatly improve my running. For some reason, whether it was because I was missing my friends and family, or the comforts of home, this comment triggered a light bulb moment. In the next three weeks, I lost over a stone.

I returned back to my home in Suffolk feeling like I had let everybody down after the fanfare of my departure, and I became obsessed with my weight. Physically, my body weight dropped by almost 25% and because of a lack of energy, I felt permanently exhausted. Despite how weak and frail I had become, I ran both the London and New York Marathons during this time, which I realise now was incredibly dangerous, and I was very fortunate to escape serious injury or illness, or worse.

The turning point was when I was experiencing toothache in December 2014. I went to my local dentist, and after my appointment, he asked to speak to me in private. He asked if I was making myself sick, because my teeth were badly damaged.

It was the first time I had ever been asked directly, and I had no choice but to confess to him. He informed me that if this behaviour continued, within six months I would lose my front teeth entirely. I had been able to hide my weight loss with my running, and my reclusiveness behind my dedication to training, how could I hide being twenty six years old with no front teeth? That was when I realised that I had to stop and overcome my eating disorder.

Initially I did not tell anyone out of fear and embarrassment, and the first few weeks were extremely challenging. However over time it became easier and I have now returned to my original healthy body weight, I am fitter and stronger, and happier, more confident and open. 

Nine months after beating my eating disorder, I decided to come clean to my girlfriend at the time, and my direct family. Two months later I told my friends. I have just passed one year in recovery, which I celebrated with my first Christmas dinner in three years! 

Like a lot of men, I initially refused to accept I had a mental illness. I felt it was something I could stop at anytime, even though I had tried and failed on numerous occasions. I was embarrassed by my actions and feared what people would say, so I decided to suffer in silence for so long. However, I realise now that eating disorders affect thousands of people, and just like any other illness, they are very difficult to beat alone.

Eating disorders claim more lives than any other mental illness., one in five of the most seriously affected will die prematurely from the physical consequences or suicide. Over 725,000 people in the UK are affected by eating disorders, but only 20% of cases are made up of men.

You can connect with me on LinkedIn hereYou can follow me on Twitter here, on Instagram here, or on Facebook here. You can also sponsor me via my Justgiving page here.

Thanks for your support!
Tom