PERSONAL BLOG – From Fitness to Reading: How I Got Back Into Books

**TRIGGER WARNING: The mention of disordered eating**

Today’s blog is something a little different to book reviews, but I’m still keeping it bookish (sort of). I’ve realised that I haven’t ever really shared anything about myself on my blog, Twitter or Instagram, despite having had my Bookstagram account for 7 months now. This entire topic is something which has been playing on my mind for a while now and I need to get it off my chest, so I apologise for babbling on.

I’ve felt a little bit reluctant to share much about myself on social media due to a previous habit of oversharing. This time last year I was at the absolute peak of my physical fitness (you wouldn’t believe that if you saw me now, I look a bit like a potato). Exercise was everything. I prioritised it over university and just about everything else in my life. I had a fitness / weight loss related Instagram account and I had around 6.5K followers on it, which looking back at now, is kind of crazy! From January 2018 to October 2019, I was part of various weight loss clubs and my mind had been completely brainwashed. The only thing I could think about was calories. Calories in and calories burned. Looking back on things now, it was 100% disordered eating and a stupid way of living, but at the time it was the only thing my brain knew. I shared EVERYTHING on this account and most of my friends and family followed me. One of the reasons I ended up getting rid of the account was it simply became too much for me to handle. With people I know secretly (and not so secretly) judging my every post, I got to the point where I was embarrassed and very anxious posting anything online. There were also lots of creepy men sending me messages, but that’s a story for a different day…

Rewind 10 years.. I was just leaving primary school. In primary school I loved to read. I remember being one of the first people in my class to finish the Reading Scheme (the set books you worked through as your reading developed), and I was one of the first to be able to read my own books which at the time was SO exciting. I can’t remember exactly when I stopped reading but I think it was probably around the time I left primary school and transitioned to secondary school. It was like someone had flicked the ‘off’ switch in my brain. For 10 whole years I considered myself to be ‘too cool’ to read a book (which is absolutely hilarious because I’m about as far from ‘cool’ as they come). In this ten year period, the only times I picked up a book were if I was made to in English lessons or I might have bought myself a book in the airport when going on holiday, but I don’t think I ever finished a holiday book. I have recollection of reading and finishing a grand total of two books; Great Expectations and Lord of the Flies (both books were at school which I was forced to read). I had the excuse that I was a slow reader, so there was no point in even bothering.

In October 2019, I don’t know what possessed me to do so, but I bought and read my first book in years; The Goddess Revolution by Mel Wells, and this book changed my life. The book is about ending the ‘diet’ lifestyle and basically getting your life back after being brainwashed by diet culture. HOW FITTING. I think it was this book which made me realise that the way I was living was a problem… I mean I knew it was a problem, but I wasn’t willing to accept it because I followed so many other people doing the same, and this made it seem like it was alright. It took me a little while to break myself out of the ‘Fitstagram bubble’ I was in, but I can’t even begin to express how glad I am to have done so.

I think I deleted the fitness account on the same day I made my Bookstagram (November 2019) and without sounding completely mad, I think my quality of living improved by 300% from that day on. Like I previously mentioned, I used to be so caught up with being a wannabe social media influencer that I’d given up with university (I mean that wasn’t the only reason I gave up, but it was a huge factor towards my near-failure). Generally speaking, I’ve always been one of the more clever kids. I definitely peaked at GCSE and it started to go slowly downhill from there. I scraped by at the end of second year with a very, very low 2:2 which was a major low point in my life.  Since ditching the diet and picking up books instead, I have academically become a lot more successful. I found out this week that I will be graduating from my undergraduate degree with a pretty solid 2:1 which I haven’t stopped smiling about yet. I had told myself I would only graduate with a 2:2 because I simply wasn’t good enough. I’m so glad I proved myself wrong.

From picking up my first book in October 2019 to today (1st July 2020), I have read 35 books, which I know some people read in a month but for me this is MASSIVE. I think on average I’m reading about 1 book per week, but I’m working hard on upping my reading to 6-8 books per month. I’ve also just been accepted onto a Master’s degree which I am unbelievably excited to start in September. I’m hoping when I’m back at university to incorporate a little bit more study content into my posts as revision and studying is something I really strangely love doing. I also really want a first.

Finally (this is where it gets a bit soppy), I just want to say how lovely the reading and study communities are. I did honestly believe that I’d delete my Bookstagram after a few hours or days but here I am in my 8th month of having the account and I absolutely love it. People across all the different social media have been so kind to me and made me feel like part of a big family. This time last year I’d have never imagined I’d have a book based Instagram with over 1000 followers, be part of different virtual book clubs, have a bookshelf with well over 100 books on, or own 2 different library cards but I am SO glad that this is how things panned out for me! I also really love how only 2 of my friends know about it and that it’s my best kept secret. I definitely think things are better that way!

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