Florence Swift, ED Recovery + Mental Health Awareness Champion

17 December 2018

For many, Christmas is a time for over-indulging in mountains of food, but for some this time is their idea of hell, when food is nothing but an enemy. Between 600,000 and 725,000 people in the UK are affected by eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa which are considered to be serious mental health problems. Some people attribute eating disorders to media and the increased importance that is placed on ‘needing’ to have a certain body shape or type. Although some see Instagram as a facilitator, one inspirational lady has turned this into a platform to assist her recovery of this terrible illness and by sharing her thoughts, worries, and musings with her adoring followers she is not only aiding her own recovery but helping thousands of people who are also suffering. 
Florence Swift, aka, Swift_Eats is one of Instagram's true gems, with it being so easy to get swept up in a sea of 'body goals' and 'unhealthy detoxes' she is championing being happy, healthy and confident in who you are. 

I caught up with her to hear her story..

At what point did you realise you had an eating disorder and how did you address it at the time?

I realised quite soon into my disorder that I had a problem, I studied Psychology at University so I knew the diagnostic criteria for anorexia but kind of thought I had everything under control and that it didn’t apply to me, so I was totally in denial. Luckily I was already seeing my therapist at the time and we would talk about my anxieties around food and food behaviours. I remember one session she referred to me as having anorexia and I felt so shocked because no one has used those words before and I couldn’t really believed that I’d unknowingly slipped into and full blown eating disorder when it had just started as a diet.
In terms of addressing it, I learnt that my food behaviours were a manifestation of my depression, anxiety and past traumas, so I really did the work to unravel the deeper issue. My ed was a coping mechanism so once I understood what I was using it to cope with I was more easily able to let go of it.


When did you decide to lay yourself bare on social media to help others? How has it helped you?

There wasn’t really a moment where I was like ok I’m gonna start being honest about what I’m experiencing. It kind of just happened. I think the first post where I was really honest about what I’d been experiencing was about 18 months ago. At first I just alluded to the fact that I’d experienced mental health problems. Mental health is such a taboo and I initially felt ashamed talking about my experiences, I didn’t want to put people off and now I don’t give a shit! I’m always talking about mental health, periods, whatever, I don’t care.
It’s helped me come into myself so much. It’s been so empowering. In the past I used to instagram to make it look like I had a perfect life, and it felt so fake, so it’s amazing to be able to be honest and be so accepted for that. My audience are the most supportive, amazing people. They’ve helped me grow and learn so much about myself. I’m so grateful for the space the give me to share and create.

What advice would you give to your younger self and what advice would you say to ignore?

Ah jeez. I don’t even know where to begin! There’s so much stuff I wish I’d know, but I’d probably say:
1. Trust your gut above all else
2. You are your number one priority
3. If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will either
4. How you look is the least important thing about you

In terms of ignoring - basically just ignore what everyone else is doing and telling you to do!
I think I knew a lot of this already, but I kind of needed to experience everything before I truly believed it. I had to go through a lot of shitty relationships, listen to a lot of shitty advice first. I guess it’s all just a part of growing up.

In the last 5 years what behaviour, habit or belief has improved your life?

This is so hard because I could honestly list about 20 things but, really, really, going to therapy is the best choice I’ve ever made. It’s changed and honestly saved my life. I’ve been paying to go to therapy for 4 years, which financially is kind of rough, but I’d rather invest in my mental health than buy clothes or go out drinking so for me it’s a no brainer.

What five things can you not live without?

1. Some kind of mindfulness practice - yoga, journalling, mediation
2. Sourdough
3. Moisuriser
4. My support network
5. Chocolate

Follow florence here

Stef Menga, Rocket and Dharma Yoga Teacher

2 December 2018

People come to yoga in different ways, as you will read many times over on this blog, Stef came to the practice when areas of her life were slipping away from her and out of her control, yoga became healing place and has remained a mental and physical safe place.  I've been following this lovely lady for a while on instagram so it's great to have her on the blog to hear her yoga story... 

How did you get into yoga what was the first thing you thought after your first practice?

I started yoga following a recommendation of a friend after the tendons on the back of my knees got badly inflamed in 2015. In September I then randomly joined a Rocket Yoga class at my gym and the first feeling I had was that of pure body and mind empowerment. Soon after that, I received the terrible news that the most important person in my life, my Grandma, would have slowly be taken away by an awful cancer. I immediately found in yoga a safe, physically and mentally, healing place. I then decided to join a Yoga Studio attending classes almost every day, mainly Rocket and Dharma.

In the last years what new belief, behaviour or habit have you most improved?

Through two dynamic, physical, but also very spiritual practices, like Rocket and Dharma yoga, not only has my body became stronger and healthier, but I have also learned to accept the present and to deal with mental pain. I learnt and am now a strong believer that suffering can be turned into positive energy. There is an inner happiness in everyone’s heart. That could be unlocked by being kind and bringing happiness to ourselves and other people. We cannot change the past, but we can change the future by working hard in the present. This is what Yoga teaches us. When you first start your practice, you may not be able to do any pose, but if you work hard, one day you will get there. The present is all what we have, and we have to make the most of it, by being happy. Happiness is possible for everyone.

Favourite yoga teachers?

My huge gratitude goes To Emi Tull for building my body strength and for teaching me the value of compassion and acceptance. Helen Russell-Clark, Melissa Zelaya and Katarina Rayburn for teaching the monst mentally and physically empowering yoga sessions. Marcus Veda and Leon London for teaching me the body alignment and engagment during the practice.

Morning routine?

I tend to get up early to do my yoga practice or going for a run before I do anything else.

What would you say your soul animal is?

Tiger: Symbol of strength, power, and energy. Tiger also stands for passion and sensuality.

Five items you can't live without?

Yoga mat, homemade lunchbox, phone to stay connected with my friends (some of my best friends live abroad and I speak to them very often as I cannot see them) and obviously with my beloved IG yogi community ;), running shoes, watch

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