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  • Writer's pictureKadeena Cox

12 months to Tokyo

Kads maybe you should eat something before this session!?

No no, I’m fine. All I’m doing is drills and strides, I don’t need to eat before that session, its only small.

But you’ve not eaten in over 20 hours now.

I know that’s great right!? I’m going to keep going until 24 and then see how I feel.

Its been 24 hours now kad’s, you’re starving after that session.

Mehh I’ll be fine, i just need to go to sleep then tomorrow will be a doddle.

You’ve got 2 training sessions this am!!

I know but I’m just doing drills and a few 60m runs and then gyms. At this stage in fasting I’m sure I read somewhere that you can get better strength gains as well.

At 48 hours I allowed myself to have a bowl of porridge because I was about to go sit on a judging panel in a room that was probably going to be hot and from experience I know the chance of me feeling way to faint to focus, was pretty high. I then had an egg and plantain sandwich before driving home from Leeds because firstly mum was annoyed to realise I hadn’t eaten in so long and because driving home on limited food while tired was not going to be sensible.

HELLOOO and welcome to my blog. I thought I would start my giving you a short insight into the daily battles I experience in my head.

A short intro about me;

I’m Kadeena Cox, in September 2014 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) following what was thought to be a stroke in May 2014. I went from being a high-level national athlete, training 10x a week to being house bound for 2 months, unable to walk unaided, control my movements, therefore unable to feed/wash/dress myself. I had been put on steroids plus a multitude of other medications and consequently put on roughly 3 stone (19kg or 42lbs) in around 3-4months.

Thankfully due to amazing support from family/friends and everyone that helped me fundraise, I got into Paralympic sport. In October 2015 I become 100m world record holder and world champion, followed by the equivalent in the 500m TT (track cycling) in March 2016. I then became the first athlete in 32 years to gain a Paralympic gold in 2 sports, collecting a total of 4 medals and 2 world records. I have since added to my world championship title collection.

However, in May 2019 after some time battling with it alone, I finally gained the courage to speak out and was then also diagnosed with disordered eating. Which has proved to be my biggest challenge yet.

world champs 2017

With all the success, the happy/smiley pictures you see plastered on social media/in newspapers, the tiny or skin tight clothing I wear to race in, some might wonder how I got here. I ask myself the same question sometimes. I’ve gotten through and over so much so why has disordered eating stopped me in my tracks.

But that’s just it, everything I’ve done is about being the best athlete I can be, being the fastest version of me. Key to that is the fastest version of me was pre ms me. When I was sick and house bound, I had 0 control. My mum would get me food, sort my meds, help me dress, help me down the stairs if I could face it and there were even times my 6 year old sister would help me cut my food so I could eat. I lost control of my life and I also lost control of my weight. Maybe that’s why I’ve ended up here. My intake and my exercises are 2 things I can control.

I look myself in the mirror and I hate what I see, its rare I can see a difference in my appearance no matter how different the number on the scales. I don’t recognise the person I am right now. I’m so fixated on being pre ms Kadeena, I don’t want to see anything but her in the mirror and that confident girl I once was, is like a solar eclipse.

my last British university champs a few weeks before my stroke diagnosis

3/4 months of training and a few kg lost
my first british university champs 7/8 months after MS diagnosis

Here lays my problem, I starve myself and call it a water fast because they’re beneficial for you. I take laxatives and say it’s because my iron tablets are giving me constipation. I do extra training sessions so I can burn more calories but tell myself I need to because I’m doing two sports and everyone has more time to dedicate to 1 sport.

I binge because of a stressful situation, injury or becoming overwhelmed, or merely because I’ve not eaten for 2/3 days and my body craves sugar. But then the whole cycle starts again.

My challenge is, before every major championship my eating habits have got worse and worse, but my performances have got better and better. Just last week (which is what the intro refers to), I got down to race weight, in a way I shouldn’t have but I ran my fastest opener and went number 2 in the world in what was a horrible race for me. I’d been doing so well for months before that. Having at least one meal a day and limiting my fasting to a max of 18hours per day. But the pressures of performance, injury, my self-esteem, managing such a complex performance team and then health condition and it all just got on top of me. I feel like my hard work was undone but then I was rewarded with a fast time.

How do I walk away from the habit when the benefits seem so high?!

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Sep 05, 2019

Amazing honest post and I'm glad you finally managed to post it! Maybe turn this thinking on its head a bit - imagine how well you might perform if you are fuelling correctly?

I totally get the need to regain control somehow. I follow the Overcoming MS programme and that has given me a sense of control back. I am not sure I would recommend the diet part of it to you, at least not right now. But there are other components to the programme - exercise (ok you have that nailed) and meditation, which I think you would really benefit from. Also taking supplements and your medication etc.

I train hard though I'll never be on the world stage…


Sep 04, 2019

I'm looking forward to reading more about this! Had no clue that you were also having to deal with this as well as MS! And how complicated it must be to know that you have performed well in sport but not looked after yourself 😢 you're a trooper Kadeena! It would be interesting to read about your mental health too. Much love! ❤️


Sep 03, 2019

I'm so hugely in awe of your achievements, despite all your challenges along the way. Everything you say in your blog makes so much sense, but I'm sure you'll find a way through it and come out stronger and more confident for overcoming another challenge life has put in your way. I have every confidence in you and can't wait to see your next race! Xx

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