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All posts for the month September, 2013

I cannot do it all!

Published September 24, 2013 by Crystal

cant-do-it-all

 

I have had a mini revelation as I sit here on a coffee break during a dining room clear out and clean up.  I saw a picture of someone doing squats in their morning routine and started thinking about exercise and fitting it in to my day.  And I realised a lot of my stress comes from worrying so much about trying to do everything and be everything.  Trying to get fit and healthy, trying to be the perfect mother, trying to keep the house tidy.  And it all ends up paralyzing me!  I end up sitting, doing absolutely nothing because I feel so utterly overwhelmed.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that if I can fit in an exercise class, it’s great.  But if I can’t because I’m doing other things that are important to me, that is fine too.  If I’m rushing around all day doing this, that and the other, and get to the evening exhausted, and don’t want to go out to walk, that is ok.  Health is about all aspects.  It’s time to step back, take a breath and just enjoy life as it happens.  I’m not a gym bunny, I’m not a domestic goddess, I’m not a perfect mum or wife.  But if I take away the belief that I have to be all things to all people I can be a lot more than the stressed out nervous wreck shaking on the sofa.

Thought I’d share this, because I doubt I’m alone in this.

If you can’t do it all, IT’S OKAY!

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Those sneaky diet thoughts.

Published September 21, 2013 by Crystal

There are times when everything seems so easy.  Leaving behind the diet mentality seems the most simple thing.  Eating what I want can be done without thought or guilt.

Then there are times when something has struck me again and I find myself going back over old ground with the same mental fights in my head, the horrid little voice taunting and ridiculing me.  “You need diets.  You can’t do it alone”  “You need to be told what to do.  You’re too stupid to manage on your own.”

I want to lose weight.  It’s not something I can get past, and I don’t feel that it is a flaw of any kind to want to lose weight.  I feel better when there’s less to carry around, and my body feels healthier and happier on many levels.  It isn’t a cure all.  My life will not suddenly be perfect, I won’t suddenly travel the world in a decadent journey of air land and sea the perfectly behaved, exceptionally educated children falling behind me as I strut my slender stuff.  I won’t suddenly be the most organised Mum, or the best cook, or have the cleanest, wonderfully decorated house.  I won’t suddenly be a great actress and get the role of Doctor’s companion in one of the top escapism programmes on television.  And I doubt I’ll ever wear a bikini.

But I want to do this, and develop the skills so that it isn’t a stress.  I don’t want to be reliant on a little audio coaching session every night before I sleep, out of fear that I can’t trust myself.  I don’t want to have to go to a class once a week to be chastised or celebrated for that half a pound.  I don’t want to look longingly at foods that I can’t have.  In fact.  I don’t want to really think about food much at all.  Dieting takes up mental space.  Far too much mental space.  When on a diet, I wake up thinking about food, I go to bed thinking about food, and throughout the day I am planning every meal.  Trying to maximise flavour from a minimised list of ingredients.

And now, thankfully, I can go for fairly long periods without thinking about dieting, or food, or what I should/shouldn’t/can/can’t have.  My weight isn’t drastically increasing, but it’s not going down all that much either a lot of the time.  And then it dawns.  Little food thoughts start to creep back in.  Mentally totting up calories.  Asking myself if I am having enough veg.  Avoiding a certain food because it really isn’t that good for me.   Diet thoughts. Diet rules that are surreptitious.  They don’t march in waving banners.  They don’t shout at me from pages of weight loss magazines.  They sneak up and whisper.  Calorie counting has been a part of my life for 30 or so years.  It’s what I grew up witnessing.  The little yellow book of calories.  And every so often I realise what is going on and I throw out all those stealth  diet thoughts and feel free again, for a time.

Today is one of those days.  After a week of walking around thinking about Slimming World every so often, and thinking about the weight that I’m not losing, I decided I needed to read some positive words.  Some good ANTI DIET literature.  And so I picked up my Kindle and started reading more of Thingenious .  Josie Spinardi has a wonderful way of explaining things, and one of her examples hit me like the proverbial brick.  She writes about how when our body receives a cut, it doesn’t need us to work out how to heal it.  Instinctively the body knows to send in the white blood cells, it knows it needs to prevent infection, it knows it needs to clot.  It knows.  Without us having to think at all.  Our body has a natural optimal weight that it will work best at.  Naturally slim people are at their naturally optimal weights, and it happens, well, naturally.

I am liking her book.  She mentions time and again we are not to make her goals into new non diet rules, and mentions that even “Wait til you’re hungry” can become a rule we fixate on if we’re not careful.  And for me personally, this couldn’t be more true.  I realised that yet again I was getting rid of all the obvious dieting rules, but had been allowing those sneaky subversive rules to affect my decisions and knock my confidence just a little.  Well, quite a lot, really.

The irony is, I don’t actually want junk food all the time these days.  Certainly I have legalised an awful lot of foods, and I don’t see foods as good or bad.  But then like an onion, I am back needing peel off more layers, and it feels a bit like two step forwards, one step back.  I legalised a lot, but not all.  I gave up most rules, but I still don’t trust myself completely.  I still worry about feeling out of control, or not recognising my full signal.

It’s all ok, though.  The layers are coming away.  Today I am starting over.  Legalising absolutely everything and allowing myself to enjoy!  Eating when hungry, maybe eating when not hungry.  It doesn’t matter for now.  It isn’t a rule.  It isn’t a diet.

The great thing about these anti diet books, is that they give advice and tools for you to go off and experience and practice for yourself.  The authors don’t want you to become reliant on them and their products.  They want to sell a solution, not a pill.   I like that.

How many pounds can you lose over 10 weeks?

Published September 18, 2013 by Crystal

Sharing this again, because it’s September, and that pre Christmas push of diet clubs is taking place! All that money spent in the next few weeks at clubs, think about what you could buy instead.

Stepping into yourself

I won’t pretend the idea of joining a weight class again didn’t appeal in just the slightest way the other day!  The excitement of getting the plan in your hand.  Reading it all through, absorbing it all.  Learning what’s off limits, what you can have in excess.  Planning your menu for your first week, looking forward to the triumphant moment of stepping on the scales after your first week, anticipating the success after 100% determination and devotion. Joining fee was £9:95, weekly class fee £5

And maybe the next week goes well. The euphoria of first week of successes, obediently avoiding the bread, or having some diet slice of air.   Making sure at least a third of your plate at each meal has fruit or vegetable.  Another £5 on class fees, but it’s worth it, because you’re losing weight and you can’t do it by yourself.

The third week…

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“Hey fatty! Don’t you want to become a success story?”

Published September 17, 2013 by Crystal

 

 

A friend in a Beyond Chocolate group received the inevitable “Come back to fat club, you need is, you’ve obviously let yourself go, and given up on life” letter from her former class leader today.  It invited her to think about the possibility of a slimmer Christmas.  After all, don’t we all dream of the little black dress, and the endless parties where we won’t actually be able to eat or drink anything for fear of piling on the pounds, but at least we’ll have done the zip up on our outfit?

What it really led me to think about, though, was the weight loss awards that each diet club has.  Not the little stickers you get at each half stone, though I remember eagerly awaiting each one  of those to add to my diet club portfolio.  No, I mean the ones where the winner gets a photo shoot and makes it into the magazine for hundreds of thousands of desperate dieters to view and think “Wow, she did it, she’s wonderful, she’s clever, and she weighed about the same as me, so I must be able to lose weight with this club too!”

I never lost enough at class to be nominated for one of these super prizes.  Even when I lost 4 stone, it wasn’t enough.  I hadn’t made it to goal.  I was a failure in my own eyes and I perceived myself as a failure to the rest of my class.  And it mattered.   I felt that my failure at losing all I wanted to lose was just typical of me.  I failed at so much other stuff in my life, I couldn’t even get weight loss right!  I wanted to be congratulated for my weight loss.  For other people to look at me and to see me as successful at something.  Successful at one thing.  And it was a pattern I followed throughout my weightloss life.  Every new diet, an opportunity to show the world around me that I’m not the big failure they all think I am.  I can get one thing right!  But every time I failed, and didn’t make it anywhere near nomination status, or weight loss success story status, enforced in me the belief that I was no good.  A belief that I didn’t have the power to achieve anything.

 

It’s taken a long time, but it’s dawned on me today, these awards, these success stories, they’re not here to make us feel good about ourselves.  They’re created and used to show us we NEED their weight loss products.  They are putting across the belief that alone we are incapable of looking after ourselves and becoming slim.  And that if we’re not slim, we are Big Fat Failures.  To achieve slimness is to be the best we can be.  We are not our best if we do not achieve it.   And to achieve it we must deprive ourselves and remove various food stuffs from our diet.  We must follow their rules to the letter, and accept that we cannot do it with out them.  We need their food products, we need their support.  We need to give them money, week in, week out.

For so long I wanted to be one of those success stories.  Thinking adulation and praise of others would somehow complete me.  But I realise finally it wouldn’t.  The praise of strangers is nothing compared to the love and friendship that I have now.  Genuine love of people who value me for more than a dress size.  Sure, a photo shoot and new outfit would be nice, but so is a guilt free avocado whenever I want it!  Weight loss continues to be a gradual thing, but it is happening.  Quietly, without adulation or condemnation, and with no “You need us” letters coming through the door.

Those stories in all the magazines are there to encourage you, right to a seat in the nearest slimming club.

Didn’t get my medal :-(

Published September 15, 2013 by Crystal

If things had gone as planned I would still be out doing the Cheltenham Half Marathon.  As it is, I’m home, under a blanket, feeling shivery and still a little dizzy.  I made less than two miles.  I couldn’t catch my breath, felt more and more dizzy with spots in front of my etes, until I got to the point where I thought I would black out.  Today the half marathon just did not happen.

Honestly I feel a failure.  Those nasty voices in my head are telling me what a fat useless lump I am.  “Couldn’t even make two miles” they chant.  “Look how fat you are, how unfit you are, compared to all those proper athletes”

Those nasty little voices are also telling me I should seriously think about dieting “You eat too much.  You’re fat and lazy.  You need a high protein diet, you obviously need to start eating meat again”

I can’t really process too much of this all now.  I do feel like a massive failure.  But on the other hand I am going to list things that I’ve done and can do, in spite of my size, and that indicate my health is better than it was 18 months ago.

  1. I can do a full zumba class and keep up with almost all the moves, and I get out of breath far less than I used to, and can jump far more than I could.
  2. I can walk 4 miles in an hour, normally, and feel tired, but not need to stop.
  3. I completed the Moonwalk in May
  4. My recovery rate is much better than 18 months ago.
  5. I am trying out new things to see what I enjoy, rather than telling myself I’ll fail before I start.

Food wise, I honestly don’t know what to do at the moment.  I enjoy eating vegan.  I generally feel better.  But I wonder if I am neglecting certain vitamins and minerals while I eat this way.  I’ve been feeling drained and dizzy for some weeks now on and off, and I don’t know if it is linked to what I am or am not eating.   One day on holiday I had very little energy and felt I might fall off the harbour wall. 😦  I’ve cut my wine nights to two a week…..believe me, it’s virtuous compared to what I’m capable of, and if I’m honest, there’s no way I’m giving up any more.  I like wine.  I enjoy eating a variety of vegetables, and nuts and beans, but maybe it’s not varied enough.

Maybe I just need to take all goals away from myself and get back to moving for fun!  Back to finding things I enjoy doing.  Like dancing around the house to crazy music, and walking into town because I can, and because I enjoy feeling energised by it.  Maybe I just need to take some pressure off me for now.

 

And maybe, just maybe I need to stop worrying about failing.

Because failing isn’t a bad thing.

It meant I tried.

I tried.

 

Self Love.

Published September 12, 2013 by Crystal

Body affirmation, establishing self worth, encouraging self esteem.  Loving yourself, body and all.  It’s a powerful message that is slowly trickling out into the world.  That we don’t need to hate ourselves into submission.  That we can act with care and kindness to ourselves, physically, and emotionally, and change from the inside out.

But I was mulling this over as I did the school run.  What does self love mean?  Because I believe there is a fear for many of us, who have grown up criticising ourselves, and working hard to please others, that if we start to love ourselves, we will become selfish and self centred.  There are many “inspiration” pictures around at the moment that tell you to do what makes you happy.  And it’s a great thing to encourage and say, when inspiring people to try new ventures, to maybe go to that class they’ve been wanting to, but have been holding back from.  Or maybe trying something completely new and exciting.   Taking some time for ourselves is important.  It recharges our batteries and invigorates us.

Do what makes you happy

 

But we have all witnessed people who will take this to another level.  Who will do whatever makes them happy to the expense of those around them.  Sometimes we may admire the visible confidence and self belief in these people.  Their determination in making themselves the focus of their lives.  Other times, we may shake our heads, and wonder about those around them who suffer for their happiness.    We can’t imagine a life where we regularly put ourselves first at the cost of those around us.  Maybe it’s something we grew up witnessing, and as a result, we’re terrified of becoming what we feared and despised.  Maybe we were the ones who suffered for another’s happiness.  And that’s why we’re here, in this position where self love is so hard now.   And on those occassions when we have done something for ourselves, hasn’t something gone spectacularly wrong, just to prove that we shouldn’t be doing it?  Didn’t the house almost fall apart, or some family member angrily condemned us for being so utterly selfish?

But self love is NOT selfishness.  In fact, I’d wager that those who are this selfish, do not feel capable of self love any more than we might.

There is an achievable balance, I believe.  Because self love isn’t purely about doing what makes you happy.  It’s not about making sure you’re ok at the cost of those around you.  It’s about valuing yourself as much as the next person.  It’s about realising that you have needs that are just as important as those around you.  That while you give and take to please and accommodate others, so others must give and take to accommodate you.

For me, I’ve grown up wanting to please.  Mine is a fairly common tale.  Bullied in school, I believed I had to be a certain way, or do certain things to make people like me.  I didn’t ooze confidence in any way, shape or form.  Making me happy involved pleasing others so I would fit in and be accepted.

So this self love thing, it’s been an alien concept for a large part of my life.  Not feeling worthy of love, or esteem.

It’s so much easier to criticise myself, to pinch and pull my shapeless belly, than you smile at my reflection and say to myself “I did good today”.

It’s easier to condemn myself for being fat, than to congratulate myself on a long brisk walk, and making it to the end without flaking.

It’s easier to knock myself for not doing everything that needs doing, than to thank my body for achieving what it has.

Self love isn’t about pretending I am what I’m not.  It is about accepting me in the now.  It is about finding out what will make me happy, physically, emotionally, mentally, and then putting some effort in to allowing myself to be happy.  By fitting in some time for a class, or by paying attention to how my body feels after certain meals, or activities.  It’s about being a little bit assertive to those that are used to us being “YES people“, and actually saying no, or saying what we feel, rather than what we feel people want us to say.

It’s a process.  That can take years.  Little by little we change, and see ourselves in a new light.  In a light tinged with affection rather than hostility.  Self love is a true love.  A love that reaches us on all levels.  It’s not about getting cheap thrills, or quick fixes.  It’s about establishing a deeper level of understanding and acceptance.

Doing what makes you happy is a great first step to take in learning to love yourself, if you don’t know where to start.  Maybe taking 20 minutes out of your day, for some peace and quiet, is enough for you to be able to start valuing your importance among those around you.  And it doesn’t mean you’re selfish.  It means you’re realising you matter too.

 

People will judge you. But that doesn’t make them right.

Published September 9, 2013 by Crystal

I read the most annoying response to an article about the devious Special K adverts.  I’m going to quote this man, who clearly knows so much more about how the world runs than the rest of us!

99%+ of men don’t find being overweight attractive in the slightest. Instead of whining about conspiracies and fat shaming, fix yourself to be attractive to the other sex. Or more than likely, attractive to the members of the opposite sex you are attracted to.

I can sum this piece up nicely for you: Unattractive women butthurt that attractive men are not interested in them, while “unattractive” men of their own level show overt interest that reflects poorly on little princesses self image (she can do better!) Instead of accepting deficiencies and losing weight/taking care of their bodies, unattractive women try to lower the playing field by making unattractiveness “ok” for women, so that everyone can sink to their level instead of actually having to put effort into changing and self acceptance of their current level of attractiveness.

 

A couple of years ago this response may have sent me spiralling into an emotional binge.  I mean someone on the internet is telling me that over 99% of men don’t find being overweight attractive.  It’s there in black and white, it’s a statistic, and statistics, for whatever ridiculous reason affect us.   Wow, 99%+ of men don’t find being overweight attractive.  My husband must look at me in disgust.  I should get to the gym, and I should stick to eating dust.  Because my sole purpose on this earth is to be attractive to men.

Fortunately now, I can look at a comment like this and laugh.  And laugh.  And laugh.  Here is someone who clearly has no awareness that women are not there simply as art work for the opposite sex.  Here is someone who feels that women have no other uses than looking for a man, and who must be grateful for whatever attention comes their way.  He’s shallow, and he has no understanding of women, whatsoever.   He is selfishly writing, because he doesn’t want the world full of women he deems unattractive!  But what men find attractive is not universally identical.  99% do not find blondes attractive, for instance.  Nor do 99% find the hour glass the perfect shape.  Some men love tall women, other men prefer short.  Some men love short hair cuts, other men want long hair.   Attractiveness is subjective, and goes far deeper than looks.  It’s a cliché, but how many people say that a Good Sense of Humour is higher on their list of priorities than appearances?  How long could you spend with someone who fitted all your ideals physically, but who, on a mental level you could not relate to in the slightest?  We are so much more than our appearances, but yet we spend so very long worrying about our weight, and being an acceptable size.  I wonder, if suddenly education was the most attractive thing in the world, how much time and effort we’d spend learning as much as we could.  If we’d lose sleep over agonising about what we didn’t know.   If we’d cry over the fact that we weren’t as smart as all the popular people on the tv and magazines.

But his words will be cutting someone somewhere, and that is his intention.  To diminish us all.  To feel superior.  To rile and upset.  It’s easy to be a keyboard warrior when you don’t have to see the face of the one you’ve hurt.   Body shaming, whether it’s about weight, or height, or chest, or waist, or colour, is WRONG.  On every single level.  And woman shaming is equally wrong.  To diminish a woman down to no more than an object for the amusement and appreciation of men.  To deny and ignore all the roles and achievements women make daily.   It is not acceptable and it is not a truth.

 

But it isn’t just men who do it.  We women can be equally diminishing of others.  There’s endless competition, and the attempt to be superior.  The side long glance from another woman, when you have made that effort to dress up, that false smile they give as they reach your eyes, having determined what they need to know about you in one second.  It can be temporarily dibilitating.  You went to so much trouble to put together your outfit, getting your make up just right.  Or you just worked your arse off in the gym, running 5k and are covered in sweat head to toe, while the young woman on the treadmill next to you has just finished a marathon and is barely out of breath.  And you got that look that says you’re still not good enough, that you didn’t get it quite right.

You don’t have to take their judgements.  You don’t have to let those criticisms sit on your shoulder.  Fat, thin, rich, poor, blonde, brunette.  You have a right to look, do, and be as you want.

When I feel judged or criticised now, I practise reversing the situation.  Why are they feeling critical?  Are they feeling insecure in what they’re doing?  Do they worry that others may be judging them, so they’d rather get in there first?  Maybe they’re not even thinking anything of you, maybe they’re just not thinking of you at all, and instead are worrying about a work issue, or bill to pay.

Maybe that keyboard warrior is making up endless excuses as to why his relationships never last, and trying to blame everyone else.

 

And maybe you are perfect as you are.  Comfortable in your clothes.  Ready to face an awesome day.  Not letting some part of your body stop you doing what you want to do.  And certainly not letting someone else’s opinion of you affect your plans.

 

Go out there and live your life!