Can Instagram really make you more body positive?

body positivity instagram mental health blogger UK

Since ditching the dieting lifestyle that gave me the ‘perfect’ body and a twisted mindset, I’ve made a conscious effort to redefine what beautiful means to me. I’ve retrained my brain to realise that not everyone can or should look the same.

We can’t all have a tiny waist, a big perky butt, a generous bosom and golden, cellulite-free skin. The constant quest to be a bit skinnier, more toned and overall more aesthetically pleasing to others is exhausting. I wondered if maybe I could use that energy trying to love myself the way I am, instead of picking apart every flaw I saw in the mirror.

So decided to take action and unfollow any accounts on Instagram that made me feel bad about myself. It’ll come as no surprise to you that Instagram is a big player in how I construct my idea of beauty in the modern world. I’m sure it is for you too, even if you don’t realise it.

body positivity instagram mental health blogger UK

I thought following fitspo accounts (FYI I am an avid gym-goer) were good motivation for me. I thought looking at their chiselled abs and jiggle-free triceps everyday would make me workout harder and stick to my low-calorie diet with ease. I thought I was tapping into an endless source of will power; just what I needed if I was going to succeed at creating my dream body. Unfortunately, all it was really doing was convincing me that my body would never be good enough.

It’s not that slim, toned, Caucasian female bodies shouldn’t be inspirational. Every body needs representation. It’s that they shouldn’t be the only type of body we see in mainstream media. It might be inspirational to someone else, but to me it was an unattainable goal that was damaging my self-esteem and mental health. We all need people to look up to, but the pool available to us has become rather exclusive in my opinion. You only have to look at a magazine stand to see that there is a certain type of ‘look’ that gets to bask in the glory of front-page status.

mental health blogger UK

I choose to follow women who are fuller-figured, because that’s similar to my own body shape. When I’m feeling crap about myself I want to scroll through my Instagram feed and see Megan belly-dancing in her underwear and Grace talking about her lopsided boobs, because that shit gives me life. It’s relatable. It makes me feel worthy.

So I’ve surrounded myself with women who don’t normally get media attention, but I forget that the rest of the world hasn’t caught up yet. Every now and again I catch sight of a new celebrity promoting laxatives to teenage girls, or hear that the latest Kardashian show is grotesquely named ‘Revenge Body’, and my heart breaks for the pain and torment our young women are forced to go through as the result of what is forced down their throats.

The good thing with social media is that if we want to, we can control what we see. Don’t like it? Unfollow. Easy. Unfortunately it works both ways and we only see what our Instagram idols want us to see.

The fit-chicks show you their bulging biceps and monstrous pancake towers stuffed with Oreos and Reese’s Pieces. They don’t show you the 5am starts, sleep deprivation, endless cardio and egg-white-only omelettes they endure 90% of the time to achieve their look. I adore images of real women sat in their underwear exposing their tummy rolls. It’s not until I spot the caption underneath – explaining how they felt fat, ugly and reluctant to even share the picture with their fans – that I realise even Instagram-famous girls have insecurities.

The truth is that neither of these images is better than the other. There are the preened models like Ashley Graham who show us that plus-size women can wear designer clothes and walk on catwalks. Then there are the ladies like Melissa who show themselves rocking mini-skirts in the bacon isle . Both are equally important. They are showing the world that we can be whoever we want to be.

The power of what Instagram can do is down it it’s users. We can continue to filter the shit out of everything or we can start posting real images like Kenzie Brenna. She started a campaign called Cellulite Saturday and it’s one of the most fantastic acts of positivity I’ve seen. She actively encourages others to share pictures of their own cellulite and they did.

Guess what? No one dropped down dead at the site of dimpled legs and bums on their screens! Women can be real and authentic and beautiful and empowered all at the same time!

Without Instagram that may not have been possible, so we should be grateful for that. With more women using social media to make their voices heard and their supposedly imperfect bodies represented, who knows where we’ll end up? I know for one I’ll be using it as a tool to spread the word that we all deserve to love our bodies, no matter what.

#LoveMyBody

Talk more with me about body positivity on Twitter

 

#LoveMyBody Twitter chat starting Monday 8pm

body positivity twitter chat mental health

I’m so excited to tell you that I’ll be hosting my very own Twitter chat starting this Mondat at 8pm.

As you know, I’m a huge advocate of body positivity and have gone through a lot of issues with food, dieting and body image. I love the positive messages that are out there regarding body acceptance and want to bring everyone together to a safe space, without judgement where we can all lift each other up and work towards loving ourselves unconditionally.

Add me on twitter and be sure to join me at 8pm to share the love!

#LoveMyBody

Why I’m not dieting this January (even though I’m a size 16)

no dieting mental health January body positivity

A few years ago I would’ve planned a fresh new blog post ready to go live featuring my favourite fat-loss tips for January, or how to ‘get back on track’ after Christmas. Now, I can’t be f*@ked with all that. 

I still love eating healthily because it gives me the energy to do the things I enjoy, but apart from that I’ve kind of given up on weight-loss. I’ve been there, living the ‘fitspo’ life, and I’m done with it. Here’s why…

I’ve been thin and it wasn’t all that

A lot of people look back on pictures of themselves when they looked different and have distorted memories about how they really felt at the time. When I look back on pictures of myself aged 18 and weighing approximately 200lbs, I was overweight but having the time of my life. I had just moved away from home, started university, was meeting new people everyday and learning who I really was. I was socialising like mad and I was incredibly happy. When I was at my leanest – aged 27 – I was battling depression, anxiety, obsessively over-exercising and following a very low calorie diet. I was still happy but I was very tightly wound and had strict rules about what I ate and was constantly hungry, leading to poor brain function and irritability. I’m not saying that you can’t be thin and happy; but don’t put all your eggs in one basket thinking that it’s the answer to all of life’s problems. You’ll still have problems no matter what weight you are.

Restriction isn’t sustainable

It took me years to understand that pretty much every diet is destined to fail. It’s not your lack of will power that lets you down; it’s the fact that you’re restricting yourself so much for so long that your mind and body inevitably cannot do it any more. The penny started to drop when I read a book called Intuitive Eating, although I still did a few years of crash-dieting before what I read began to make sense in my head. I’ve tried to explain to people that a)learning to love your body as it is will stand you in better stead than trying to change it and b)dieting is almost 100% guaranteed to fail in the long term. The truth is, I didn’t believe it myself until I’d dieted for 12 years, lost approximately 60lbs and gained it all back in the end. Sometimes you have to live through that to see that you’re not the one person that’s going to ‘stick to the plan’ and prove everyone wrong. I get it. Just take it from someone who has restricted food groups for most of my adult life; IT DOESN’T WORK.

You’re not defined by your aesthetic

I’ve written before about how when I feel really low about my body image, I like to remember how I look at other people. I very rarely look at someone and think much about what they look like in a typical sense. I’ll perhaps notice a nice necklace they’re wearing, the smell of their perfume, how friendly they were, if they smiled or held eye contact with me. When I look at my friends and family I see their personality traits; I genuinely don’t think about what they look like in a negative way whatsoever, so the chances are no one else is giving a crap about what I look like either. No one is noticing my double chin, my muffin top and my hairy legs and if they ARE then frankly, they need to get a life. I know that what I bring to the table is more important that a thin body, so why fixate on that small, insignificant part of me?

Your brain can do so much more than just count calories

When I was fixated on counting calories it honestly didn’t leave time for much else. I was always on my phone figuring out what I could eat that day and scrutinizing food labels to see which had the fewest calories. I was always trimming calories at every opportunity, but never eating a proper meal to compensate. I ‘had to’ exercise for a minimum of 60 minutes per day (ideally double that) so my mind and body were both exhausted. I didn’t realise the perpetual use of will power combined with a low calorie diet was draining away all my brain power. Since I’ve stopped fixating on food and exercise I’ve had the energy to socialise and write everyday, which are two things I don’t want to give up.

Food is amazing

I’m sure you’re aware of how flippin’ fantastic food is. We can’t survive without it and we are lucky enough to have almost any kind we desire at our fingertips in plentiful amounts. It’s a great way to socialise, show gratitude, celebrate and commiserate. We don’t need to overindulge but sometimes it’s nice. It’s such an important part of our world that it seems wrong to cut it out and stop ourselves from enjoying it. I’m not saying we should eat what we want, when we want all the time; but maybe its time to loosen up and appreciate what we have?

Have you given up on dieting?

 

 

3 ways the beauty industry has affected my mental health

mental health blogger UK beauty industry

I’ve spent years rejecting the idea that the beauty industry can have a positive affect on my mental well-being. How can a lipstick make you happy? Why are young girls caking their faces in concealer when they don’t even need it? It’s taken me until by thirties to understand how the beauty industry has shaped the thoughts I have about my own body, and how I can reclaim them and make them positive.

It helped me develop a self-care routine

I don’t believe that possessions can make you happy, and for years I refused to spend money on beauty and skincare products because I believed I didn’t need them to feel beautiful. I definitely DO NOT need them to feel beautiful; but taking care of my physical self is something that I’ve done more in 2016, and something that’s sincerely helped me feel less worthless when I’ve been going through a bout of depression.

When I spent weeks primping and preening myself for my wedding day in 2015, I remember thinking there was no way in hell I could keep up this level of attention to my body. Who has the time? When I stepped out in my wedding dress, I felt so happy with myself from the inside out, that I could finally see the value in carrying on a few of the beauty routines I have developed in the run up to the day. I don’t spend much money on make up, but I do have a favourite cleanser, serum and moisturiser that I use religiously and a few face masks that I reach for when I need that extra special care. I don’t think this is the only way to practise self-care, but for me it’s a daily addition to my coping strategies that I do without thinking and gives me a regular lift.

Make-up can help me feel confident

There’s no denying that wearing make-up can make you feel more confident. In the same way that a new haircut and your favourite dress can make you feel like you can conquer the world, I’m not ashamed to say that a smokey eye and bangin’ highlighter make me feel sassy. But I also feel confident when I DON’T wear make-up and I think that’s important.

Washing my face and slapping on some moisturiser is all I do when I’m going to the gym. I like to look in the mirror and see my true self. For me, the gym is a place for honesty. It’s where I’m alone and focused with my own thoughts, listening to and observing my body to see how far I can push myself as well as when to rest. I find it’s healthy to have time without make-up, to appreciate the impact it can make when you really want it.

I realised need representation in the media

I grew up reading the same magazines as everyone else my age – Mizz, Shout, Smash Hits, Bliss – so I believed that to be beautiful I had to be white, thin, blonde-haired and blue-eyed with big breasts. I began dieting around 15 and didn’t stop until I was approaching 30. The penny dropped for me when I saw Ashley Graham on the cover of Sport Illustrated. She’s by no means a fair representation of the millions of ‘plus-size’ (whatever that means nowadays) women who look to the media for inspiration, but for me she’s an inch closer to that dream. In that cover I saw someone with a body shape vaguely like mine, and I’d never seen that before.

That’s when I realised I’d been conditioning myself to believe that my body shape, hair and face was all wrong by consuming the images that were handed to me. Now, I actively seek out women who have bodies I can identify with and a style which I can understand. I feel You Tube is particularly helpful when it comes to the beauty aspect of this, because it’s really relatable for me to watch a woman by age talk about what skincare and make-up brands they use in their everyday lives instead of relying on magazines which are heavily biased towards advertisers.

Check out this podcast called Unsorry, in particular their recent episode talking about feeling beautiful.

 

 

10 dieting habits I’ve given up in 2016

giving up unhealthy dieting habits and learning to live a healthy balances lifestyle

One thing that went unnoticed when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety was my fixation on food. As my condition got worse I was obsessed with fitness and eating healthily, two obsessions which are often seen positive factors in someone’s life. For this reason I’ve never had my eating problems medically diagnosed, and have struggled to get my eating habits back to what I consider normal. In the past year I’ve come on leaps in bounds in this aspect of my life, as well as working towards a more positive body image. Here’s what I’ve stopped doing in 2016…

Tracking calories

I used to have My Fitness Pal on the homepage of my phone screen so that I could input everything I ate throughout the day. Ideally, I would record all the food I was planning to eat the night before so that I could plan exactly what I would eat and what ‘treats’ I could fit in throughout the day. The problem with calorie counting for me was that eventually fitting in treats became the main goal, so I would eat very low calorie foods like salad and vegetables in order to eat a bar of chocolate straight afterwards. Fat has more calories per gram that protein or carbohydrates so I would avoid most fats to keep calories low. Little did I know that fat consumption is extremely important for maintaining a healthy body and it started to affect my hormones and brain function. Ultimately I became too focused on calories instead of the quality of the food I was eating, so I gave up.

Eating clean

No one can actually define what ‘clean eating’ is, so why the hell should I try an emulate a vague statement that so many people are hailing as the next big thing? Some people include honey, sweeteners and cereal bars and others don’t even allow the use of salt or heaven forbid, shop-bought products. They would have you grow everything from scratch in your own garden and eat it raw, whilst others are publishing books packed with ‘clean’ brownie recipes. It takes way too much brain power to figure out the rules never mind actually abide by them.

Always choosing the ‘healthy’ option

After years of reading tips on how to eat low calorie meals the go, at work or in restaurants I became a seasoned pro at selecting the ‘healthy’ option in any given scenario. This meant substituting fries for salad, bread for more salad and dessert for a cup of tea. I still try to eat a well balanced diet most of the time but when I’m in a restaurant or in a rush I don’t stress as much as I used to. I try to listen to my hunger cues and eat to satisfy those instead of making a ‘perfect’ meal.

The ‘all or nothing’ approach

I’ve had those bad days which involve eating family size boxes of biscuits, pot noodles and peanut butter straight out of the jar. I’ve even planned for those exact days after weeks of restrictive eating where I munched on only carrots and chicken to get my goal weight. I would load up on all the junk food I wanted and cram it all into one massive binge session happy in the knowledge that I would be back on my low calorie, no junk plan the next day. The guilt associated with this was extremely upsetting, as the binge never made me happy in the way I thought it would. Days later I would be sick of restricting and be planning another mammoth eating session and the cycle continued. I’m now a firm believer in “a little bit of what you fancy does you no harm”.

Eating less than 1000 calories per day

This is just stupid, and anyone who advocates this type of meal plan should be avoided like the plague.

unhealthy dieting habits I've given up in 2016

Meticulous meal-planning

Obviously planning your meals is a great way to get organised and helps with creating shopping list and sticking to a budget. I still like to batch cook meals in the form of soups, chilli and cottage pie and have them in the freezer for when I’m in a rush or have nothing fresh in the fridge. I am however, totally over the idea of planning every single meal and snack for the entire week. A meal plan which is that detailed is perfect for someone who needs educating on portion sizes and which foods are best in a balanced diet. I feel like I know enough about food and how my body works to make those choices myself. It also means I can eat more when I’m hungry, less when I’m full and go ‘off plan’ without feeling like I’m a total failure.

Relying on caffeine

When I was creeping towards my goal weight (just writing that makes me feel slightly sick) I was at the tail end of a year-long diet which was starting to take it’s toll on me mentally and physically. I was constantly tired, hungry and cranky whilst nervously counting down the hours to my next meal. I would stay awake with black coffee and caffeinated diet sodas only to find I would crash an hour later. If it wasn’t time to eat I simple cracked open another drink and waited nervously. I dread to think what my body was doing to cope with the lack of calories and the excess caffeine. Now I have one or two coffees a week, sometimes none at all.

Cutting out carbohydrates

Not happy with cutting out fats I tried to limit my intake of carbohydrates too. I considered them ’empty calories’ as protein is supposed to help you feel satisfied for longer so I decided they weren’t worth worrying about. I would eat bolognese without the spaghetti, a bacon sandwich without the bread and roast dinner without the roast potatoes. I’ll never go back.

Exercising to compensate for over-eating

I used to exercise everyday for at least 90 minutes and up to 3 hours per day. I was so terrified of gaining weight that I would factor in extra workouts before or after a big meal to try and burn off the extra calories. This is reasonably sensible but probably not essential when my idea of a ‘big meal’ was a slice of toast. Now I exercise a few times a week and try to fit in classes like yoga to help with my mental health.

Avoiding eating out at restaurants

The prospect of eating out at restaurant was extremely stressful when I was in a severe calorie deficit. On one hand I knew it was safer to eat the food I cooked myself to know exactly what was in it, but on the other hand every fibre of my being was screaming out for a big plate of something delicious. The cravings were so intense that I would normally go but I had to know in advance exactly where we were going so that I could plan what I would eat, ideally with a look at the menu beforehand. It really took the joy out of what is supposed to be a fun, sociable experience. Nowadays I eat out 2-3 times a week and eat until I’m full with whatever I’m craving at the time.

What diet habits have you given up? Are you ready to start 2017 with the aim to love your body more?

 

 

10 things only a diet addict will understand 

diet addict binge restrict quit mental health

I’m done with dieting.

I’ve been on a diet for the last ten years and I’m so exhausted from it all. I got thin. Now I’m a bit chubby. Life goes on. There are so many worries in the world that I don’t have the will power to count calories and fight cravings any more. I’m free.

The hard truth is that it’s not that easy to free yourself from dieting. I’ve trained my brain to see foods in a certain light, to view exercise as punishment and to see clothes size as a way to categorise beauty. I was a serial dieter for such a long time, and looking back now the habits that I formed were very strange indeed. I know I’m not alone either; because magazines, books and slimming clubs everywhere have created little subcultures of calorie-counting women who all practice similar behaviours. Here is a humorous look at the things that only a serial dieter will understand…

1.Buying two miniature bottles of wine instead of one full sized bottle because it’s the only way you can exert self-control on a Friday night. This almost always results in a late night dash to the corner shop for a full size bottle after consuming said miniatures. Cue hangover.

2. Eating only vegetables throughout the day so that you can eat a very specific amount of cheese later on. This means being hungry all day as well as bloated and gassy from all the vegetables. At least you get your romantic moment with 40g of cheddar.

3. Spending money on diet magazines because you need ‘motivation’. You may also seek so-called ‘motivation’ from buying clothes that are too small in order to give you something to work towards. This never works.

4. Buying branded diet ready meals to make life easier when you’d rather eat a piece of cardboard smothered in peanut butter. The ready meal will undoubtedly be chucked in the bin in favour of some Warburtons Thins which are equally as disappointing.

5. Knowing the exact number of calories in a tablespoon of peanut butter and knowing that you could never just have one. Smirking with glee when you see the peanut butter sachets now available and shamelessly licking the packet clean on several occasions.

6. The obsession with stocking up on things that are labelled 100 calories or less. Muller Light Yoghurts and Special K Bars are your favourite, and your blood sugar levels are being carefully controlled hour by hour by these bad boys.

7. Living on diet drinks and espressos in between meals to distract from hunger pangs and keep your energy up. This leads to the odd migraine but you find more caffeine tends to sort that out in a jiffy.

8. How exciting it is when you’re going out for dinner, and you find that the restaurant’s website provides calorie information for every meal they sell. Obviously you can’t eat a full meal, but an interesting combination of two starters and a side salad with no dressing should just about suffice. Then a good long sniff of your friend’s chocolate pudding.

9. Refusing to buy clothes from H&M because their sizes come up small and you KNOW you’re no bigger than an 18. New Look are more forgiving so let’s stick with them.

10. Looking in the mirror and thinking you look pretty good today, only to have a rude awakening when you step on the scales to find that you weigh exactly the same as yesterday. How can this be? The detox starts today.

All joking aside, isn’t it time we all started forgetting about the calories in our food and instead concentrated on nutrition? Shouldn’t be be eating fatty avocados and avoiding sugary cereal bars? Isn’t it obvious that ‘diet’ foods are often void of the amount of energy we need to sustain a healthy lifestyle? In fact, the low calorie plans most of us try to stick to are destined for failure from the outset. Maybe not instant failure, but inevitably these crash diets are unrealistic for most people. Let’s all rejoice in the fact that we live in a part of the world where we actually have enough food to eat, and work on retraining our brains to pick the best of the bunch.

What’s your worst ‘dieting’ habit?

What you need to know about my period 

period tampons sore boobs truth

If you consider this post TMI then that’s exactly why you need to read it. Periods are a natural bodily function for half of the world’s population so they deserve to be spoken about. Read on for an honest snapshot of my monthly flow! 

1. I don’t use tampons. I’m nearly 30 and I had my first period aged 10, so I’ve had ample time to try out the blasted things but goddamnit they’re just not for me. I can barely get them in, I can’t get them to stay there and I just don’t like them. Maxi pads for life. 

2. I can’t wear light coloured tshirts in fear of – you know – splashbacks. Same goes for pale underwear, jeans and bath towels. I also can’t comfortably go to the toilet, if you know what I mean.

3. I eat my feelings. This month has been sponsored by Dairy Milk Oreo, Five Guys fries and a milkshake (weirdly no burger though), flapjacks and Heinz Tomato Soup. 

4. I fly off the handle. I bought web hosting and instead of paying for it monthly I paid for 3 years worth in one go, resulting in me being almost £300 out of pocket. Of course, it was entirely my fault but this didn’t stop me blaming the rest of the world and sobbing uncontrollably for 20 minutes. 

5. I wear what is essentially a training bra for 2 weeks, due to sore boobs. I know all you females have been there. Under no circumstances should my breasts be touched, tapped, rubbed or squeezed intentionally or indeed in error or I WILL explode with rage. The tender little ladies need as little disruption as possible just before and during the period; so a wireless, seamless stretchy bra is the only option during this time. 

What’s your period like? Have you got any tips to share? 

3 practical ways you can encourage a more positive body image

how to have a positive body image

Lying curled up in a ball, crying, wondering what the hell you’re going to wear today because nothing looks good. Jeans are too tight. Boobs are too saggy. Arms the flabbiest they have ever been. To top it all off you’ve just seen the latest Kim Kardashian beach snaps and she looks phenomenal, having pushed not one but two babies out of her seemingly unaware midriff which gets flatter by the minute. This is what real women all over the world are going through on a daily basis; we hate every inch of our bodies but many of us really want to change that mentality. We want to learn to love out bodies at ‘any size’, like all the plus size models proclaim. We want to be comfortable flaunting our belly rolls like Megan Jayne Crabbe or bravely strut our stuff in fashionable gear like Felicity Hayward.

The truth is getting to that place of acceptance is hard. It’s incredibly hard. Telling that sobbing woman with nothing to wear just to ‘Learn to love your body!’ is so much easier said that done. It’s basically like we are having to retrain our own brains to stop seeing ourselves as unworthy because we don’t look like supermodels or celebrities. I’ve been looking for more practical ways to start building a more positive body image and I wanted to share a few simple tips that you can implement today.

Curate your wardrobe

One of the major things that makes my feel shit about my body is my clothes. If I put something on and it’s a little too tight, or pulls in the wrong places you can guarantee that I’ll automatically start putting tearing myself apart internally with every other outfit I try on. It’s all well and good keeping hold of clothes because you like the idea of them, or have memories of how they looked on you in the past, but let’s be honest; keeping clothes that don’t fit any more does nothing good for your mental state. It’s like keeping a picture of an ex-boyfriend up on your wall years after you’ve broken up. You’re not fooling anyone. Rip it up and move on. Instead of trying to make old clothes work for your new body, go shopping and find a style that you’re comfortable with. I’m turning 30 this year and I’ve come to realise that being comfortable is a main priority for me. I like long-sleeved shirts. I like tops to be oversized, but with a deep V-neck to show off my collar bones. I like elasticated waists. My best asset is my butt and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to make the most of it. Get rid of anything that doesn’t make you feel like yourself, or is restricting you in anyway – physically or a otherwise. Throw away everything from your teenage years.

Quality control the images to consume

We’re all so overwhelmed with images of the female body it’s inevitably going to contribute to your low self esteem if you’re feeling inadequate. I really enjoy exercise and going to the gym, so over time I’ve followed quite a few Instagram girls who have enviable bodies from working out. Instead of inspiring me to eat well and workout regularly I realised that I was basically trapping myself in a world of unrealistic expectations, where I never felt like my body was good enough. I was restricting my diet and exercising more and more as a form of punishment, adamant that my gruelling regime would earn me the body I thought I deserved. The women themselves have beautiful bodies, and I’m not bashing them and what they do for a living – it’s just that their genetics are different to mine. I dieted hard and lost a lot of weight but was exhausted, lacking energy and still nowhere near revealing the washboard abs I dreamt of. I’ve tried to update the media I consume by changing my Instagram, Bloglovin, Facebook and Twitter feed to surround myself with healthy messages about body image. I follow plus size models, bloggers and people who promote a more balanced approach to food and exercise.

Talk to other people who are struggling

Trying to love your body the way it is can be testing when magazine headlines still promote crash dieting and taking fat burners for breakfast. We are all trying to fly the flag for body positivity and although online it can seem like everyone else is on board too, in the real world not many people are talking about themselves in a loving way. Everyone is ‘starting afresh’ on Monday, or calling today a ‘write off’ after an 11am doughnut delivery to the office. How do we surround ourselves with other strong men and women who believe they are worthy of happiness no matter what their size? I think  we can help instigate that change by being verbal about what we believe to everyone we meet. Sometimes talking to others who are struggling with the same body issues can highlight how distorted our own views are of ourselves. Listening to friends point out their jiggly bits, wrinkles and grey hairs always takes me by surprise; What are they talking about? I can’t see any of their apparent flaws, in fact I envy their figure and their fabulous dress sense! This happens all the time, and although I’m sympathetic to the mental turmoil they are going through (I totally geddit), I always make sure they know why I think they’re beautiful the way they are. The way I see it, if I can get as many people as possible into this new way of thinking, they’ll help support me when I’m feeling low and vice versa. If you can create a community of people who will lift you up then you’re onto a winner.

Are you learning to have a more positive body image?

I’m not thin and that’s OK…. I think

 

ok with being fat not thin

I’ve used this blog as a way to document my health & fitness journey. I’ve focussed a lot on losing weight because this has always been my primary concern, and I just assumed that everyone else was worried about that too. I know there are some people who just don’t gain or lose weight, they just happily maintain a healthy shape, but they must be the minority right? Surely at least 80% of the population is in the same boat as me and makes every mealtime decision on the basis of their future dream body? It seems that maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time. First of all, there are a lot of people who’s bodies I seriously envy, but they themselves feel fat and ugly. There are also a lot of women who are considered overweight and don’t give a fuck. They feel confident and look damn fine. I mean, they look proper good (and by ‘good’ I don’t mean they are actually a size 12 in real life but by comparison to runway models they appear to be ‘plus size’ or ‘curvy’). There are women out there of every shape and size who are killing it right now by being sexy, stylish and above all themselves.

If you haven’t seen any of these women you aren’t looking hard enough

Grace Victory is a British blogger and You Tuber who is brutally honest about her struggles with eating, depression and body image. She has her own style and offers a healthy perspective on mental health, relationships and working in the media.

Emma is a breath of fresh air in the blogging world. If you’re sick of looking at twentysomethings in Topshop bralets and American Apparel disco pants then walk this way. She will swither about spending £30 on a Tesco coat and swoon when she sees Hugh Jackman on the red carpet. Finally, real humans on the internet! She has won an awards for her You Tube channel thanks to her efforts in plus-size fashion, although I feel her appeal isn’t specific to plus-size ladies. She’s just your everyday woman who’s comfortable in her own skin and I find that fantastic.

Katie H Willcox started out as a plus-size model who was encouraged to gain weight to stay suitably appealing to clients, but found no happiness in an industry that forced her to be either stick thin or overweight. She now runs a successful agency called Natural Models and Healthy is the new skinny which aims to spread the message to young women that their value is not defined by how they look or how sexy they appear. Whenever I feel shit I look at the organisation’s Instagram account and I literally feed off of it’s imagery. Go look. Now.

This general message has been chipping away at my brain for the past year or so; No one else cares what you weigh, and obessing over it is a waste of your time. It’s a waste of your life.

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When people say that it’s not money that makes you rich, they know their shit. I recently got married and realised how many kind and generous people I have in my life. I’m not just talking about people giving gifts (although we did receive some wonderful things) but instead other ways in which people show love. One of our friends played piano during the ceremony, even though afterwards he told me how nervous it made him. My uncle’s baby was born literally days before the wedding but he flew up to be with us for just a few hours. Many of my husband’s family and friends travelled for a day and told lies to get out of work just to attend the wedding. A few of our guests brought professional cameras and took photographs all night so that we could have lots of images once our main photographer had gone home. Some of these things cost money, but a lot of them just took time and effort – and I am dumfounded that so many people care enough to do that for us.

I looked around the room at our wedding and thought how lucky we were to have so many wonderful people in our lives. It made me realise that I value a person based on their personality traits (obviously) not their job, salary, dress sense or how many notches they need on their belt. At that moment certainly wasn’t looking around judging how people looked physically in their outfits of choice. So why on earth do I define myself by a different standard?

Another thing you don’t go looking for at a wedding is abs. Is it just me or is everyone obsessed with having abs these days? OK actually it might just be me. I did have a fascination with ladies with abs for quite some time. I told myself that I too could have those square, washboard muscles if I simply ate well and dedicated my life to the gym. After researching further I realised that those Instagram pictures are of ladies who have less that 10% body fat and have purposely dehydrated themselves for the photoshoot and they will most likely lose those abs a few days later, and crave Ben & Jerry’s like mad after sticking to a low calorie diet. Those abs are beautiful but they are not the only kind of beautiful. I also realised that I can eat Ben & Jerry’s whenever I want because I live in Scotland and don’t ever have to bare my stomach unless on holiday. I recently went on holiday and did bare by stomach to a resort full of other British ladies who all had lovely soft midsections just like me. Maybe I can have my cake and eat it.

I’m not content with my body. I don’t look in the mirror and admire my flat stomach,perky breasts and toned legs, but I don’t think there is anyone in this world who does. I keep reminding myself what I admire in other people; beautiful skin, an infectious laugh, the confidence to not wear make up, loyalty and the ability to remember other people’s birthdays are a few things that come to mind. So here is a photo of me in a bikini to prove that although I’m not thin, that’s OK.

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