Today you can meet Ross Brannigan. This guy astounded me. He is just 23 years old but bursting with life advice, honesty and positivity well beyond what you would expect. In fact, after recording he said he is often told he can make silver out of sh*t with his positive outlook – and I can see why!
Ross has an incredible level of self-awareness and perspective on the experiences he has been through, and the confidence to talk openly about them. He managed to talk about sticky, complicated struggles with an infectious energy. I ended the conversation feeling uplifted.
In his late teens, before university, Ross started to encounter gremlins in his mind. He began restricting calorie intake, slipping down the dangerous slope towards obsession, and soon he was entangled in the vicious cycles of anorexia nervosa. He knew he was ill but couldn’t seem to say fight back against the continual instructions in his mind, and life darkened for a while. But he did manage to get through it, and make a recovery that enabled him to go to university. Now working in communications for the conservation sector, Ross is thriving, and finds solace in hill running and writing for his stunning blog, Up to Summit.
We talked about:
- What life was like in the grips of anorexia
- What life and his relationship to food is like today, in recovery
- Gender stereotyping and eating disorders
- Mentors who have helped him through the experience
- The therapy of hills and the outdoors
- Staying aware of the dangers of exercise addiction
- The pitfalls of comparison to others
- Making a change with obsessive thinking patterns
Thanks to Ross for being up for talking to me about such a personal experience, and shining a light on the prevalence of eating disorders in men as well as women.
Final thoughts? Age really is not reflective of how much someone has learnt or has to pass on. I’m taking away a few learnings of my own from our talk, most of all remembering to measure the value of an activity in more than distance, pace or performance, but in the fun it brings. If I lose sight of this, I'm not treating myself with kindness. Strava needs to get with it and add the fun factor in as a metric.
If you find our conversation helpful give us a shout out on social and let Ross know. Enjoy!