self worth

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The great weight debate, and my inner critic and @womenfoodgod

Published May 26, 2015 by Crystal


I was content to keep weighing myself.  Despite the fact that the scales have not moved much in a year.  I was content to believe that I needed that external monitoring, because I can’t be trusted to rely on myself.  I mean, look at me, overweight, unsuccessful dieter.  Letting go of that external monitor to tell me that at least I’m not gaining weight, it would be a mad idea for this untrustworthy woman.

But then Geneen Roth, in her kindness and her wisdom, called me into my body, and pointed out who I was listening to when I believed that I can’t be trusted.  She calls it The Voice.  That authoritarian voice that points out all the flaws it perceives, that reminds me of all the things that are wrong with me, that reminds me moment after moment how I am incapable of change and progress and success.

And she showed me how The Voice is not me.  It is a lying critic, born out of childhood memories of chastisement and hurt.

Calling me into my body, with the belly meditation was a first step to calling me home.  I think, in general, we are used to going through our day on auto pilot.  To become aware of internal sensations in silence and for a dedicated time is a powerful thing.  Or it was for me.  To feel my breath, my lungs expand, my tummy rise and fall.  To notice my fingers tingle as I breathed deeply.  To inhabited my body with awareness, after being separated for what feels like the longest time, is an altering thing.  And I admit, I was sceptical.  While I love it, I still scoff with embarrassment at naval gazing activities.  And a belly meditation was no different.  But already, in two days, it feels a valuable tool in coming back and finding myself and finding my calm.

Back to The Voice.  It’s an interesting thing to become aware of.  Because it does sound like me.  And I thought it was me.  And maybe it is easier to distinguish as something else, now that my depression seems to be blurring away.  I can hear that inner critic and know, that like depression, it is a liar.  Today, on going to weigh myself, and discovering that, oh, I’ve gained after a weekend of food and drink, that Voice said loudly to me “You need to keep weighing, because look, you gain so quickly.  You can’t honestly trust yourself to lose weight without it.  And you’ve attempted to lose weight without diets so many times before, why should this time be any different?  Keep weighing.  You know, just in case.”

And I could believe ever word.  Because it all sounds so reasonable.  But then I realised.  It is criticising me, and robbing me of my own strength.  Stealing any self belief.  “You can’t honestly trust yourself…”

I have decided to call bullshit.  And I have decided I am going to trust myself!  I am going to keep coming back to my body.  I am going to keep practising mindfulness, and I am going to keep going to those feelings, and sit with them, and let them happen.

It might not work.  I might be unsuccessful yet again.  But while I continue to listen to The Voice, I’ve lost before I’ve started.  And a year of weighing has made virtually no difference to my weight.  So The Voice is already wrong!

hot fudge sundae


The post holiday critic.

Published August 27, 2014 by Crystal

It is half a week since we returned from our holiday.  We’ve unpacked, unwound, and uploaded the photos.  I decided at some point the holiday mentality of wine every evening had to stop, and food has become more filling and rewarding the last couple of days.  But I was looking at my photos today and those nasty little voices started to creep in.  “Look at your tummy.  You didn’t get anywhere near that size 14 wetsuit!”

And then I compare the holiday of last year to the holiday of this year;


2013 Durdle Door


2014 Pembrey Sands










Last year I felt huge.  I covered my form with baggy clothes, I refused to get into the water.  My wetsuit wouldn’t get past my thighs.  I spent a lot of time sitting and drinking, and watching the others run around.  When we were in Bude a few weeks later last year it was that lovely time of month, and I used it as an excuse to avoid excessive movement.  I was tired, and that tiredness penetrated through the whole holiday.  It was the same delightful situation this time around, but fortunately I was less tired during the holiday.  I refused to let it stop me getting into the water, or enjoy the walking around, and while I was probably more grumpy and tired than I like to be on a holiday, I got a good hour of body boarding in and it was only the last couple of days that exhaustion limited me more than I liked.  Fortunately once home I could flake, and flake I did!  Flake and moan and grumble.

Anyway, I looked at that photo on the right, and others, where I was boarding with my son, and those little voices highlighted that tummy of mine that was totally relaxed and not sucked in at all, and those little voices didn’t comment on the exercise I was getting, or the invigoration of being in the sea.  Or the time spent with my youngest while he was brave enough to try body boarding for the first time.  Those little voices are vain.  Image and appearance is all that matters to them.  Not the fun, not the memories.

I look at those photos and I know I had a good time in Dorset.  Even with the limitations I felt I had, or that I set myself.  I can look back fondly.  Yes it was a larger me, but there was a pub with the most awesome onion rings I have ever tasted!  Yes it was a larger me, but the afternoon wandering around Weymouth was lovely!  And the time in Bude a few weeks later, sitting in the van near Crooklets Beach and reading Anne Rice while the menfolk hit the waves, I actually enjoyed that peace and quiet.  I felt it restorative. Which reminds me, I still need to get the next book! Lasher, I think…..

The walk down to St Nectan’s Glen, standing in the pool.  It was peaceful, it was calm, it was what I needed at that time.

So I didn’t hit that goal of the size 14 wetsuit this summer.  But it didn’t limit my holidays, or the memories my kids will have of the awesome family holiday.   We walked and explored, we sat and socialised, we braved the windy beach, we sat and watched kids play together in a playground.  There was enough activity and enough rest.

Two photos, two different holidays.  Both with happy memories.  And really, when I look into it, my weight has had the smallest impact in affecting what those happy memories could have been and what they are.  I don’t loathe last years photos, or look at myself in disgust.  And I refuse to do that this year either.






Honour Your Health

Published August 14, 2014 by Crystal

Last week I was stressed, and out of sorts, and stroppier than usual.  It was a combination of things, but the result was 3 bottles of wine  and a fair bit of vodka over the week.  I’m not ashamed.  I didn’t reach for a bloody mary the minute I woke up.  I wasn’t sneaking glugs out of a bottle hidden in the ironing pile. But it was a lot.  And it was more than I need.  And it was more than I drink normally.  It was a conscious decision.  I chose wine over weight loss this week. And the result was a gain on the scales at my Slimming World class.

I felt a bit disgruntled.  I’d kind of hoped for a miracle, a maintain, maybe even a half lost.  But wine hinders my weight loss, not least because my choices around food can become questionable the day after the night before.  But disgruntle dissipated quickly enough as I accepted the result, and looked at the week previous and mused over the week ahead.  I have a fridge full of lovely fruit and veg, meat, fish, cheese and so on.  I have everything I need to make all manner of meals, and this week I have enthusiasm and determination. This week I am choosing to eat more healthsome foods and drink less wine!

I’ve been thinking and looking back on the principles of intuitive eating today.  The final one, which stands out for me at this time is this

10 Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.




I started to muse on how sometimes so much emphasis is placed on legalising all food and saying “NO” to dieting that the whole “Honour Your Health” principle is left as something we’ll do later when we’ve got ourselves sorted with the legalising.  The problem for me is that I embraced the legalisation, and forgot the health bit.  I forgot to notice when foods left me feeling sluggish, or with indigestion.  I wanted to eat and eat all those foods that I had deprived myself of during years of dieting.  To make up for those rotten evenings staring at a salad when what I wanted was sweet and sour chicken.  The fact that I could have had something better than a salad and probably tastier than a chinese take away if I’d made the effort didn’t really enter into my thoughts.  In fact, looking back, a lot of my perceived deprivation was my choice.  A form of martyrdom.  A “look how good I am and how much weight I’m losing by not letting myself have all the things I love!”.  I think it’s a pattern many dieters fall into.  Somehow there’s more merit in being a miserable dieter.

The fact is that with every diet we choose to partake in, we have a choice.  We choose how much we do or don’t commit.  We choose how much effort we will put in to cooking and following recipes.  We choose to deviate from the diet plan, or we choose to stick.  Last week, I chose to deviate.  I did it with awareness and accepted there would be consequences.  But I chose to deviate.

The same could be said for Intuitive Eating principles, I feel.  I can choose to observe them all, and follow them to the letter. I could choose to not eat my feelings away, or I could ignore that principle for the evening and follow my own choices.  I already know that eating too mindfully bores me to tears.  But I am aware that I don’t need as much food as I used to and so will plate up less and go back for seconds if I want it.  And as time goes on, I realise more and more that a really important Principle is the one of Honouring Health.  There’s no getting around it.  All the mindful eating, legalisation, exercising, will only do so much if I’m still filling my body with less nutritious foods more often than not.  And here is where a slimming club supports me in the healthier choices.  This is where having syns, or points, and making the more filling and nutritious food decisions is made a little bit easier because a great big diet club has done all the hard work for me.  OK, Weight Watchers may be obsessed with touting their foods and calculators and scales.  And Slimming World may promote their sweetener laden HiFi bars.  But I make the choice of whether I want to buy them or not.  I make the choice of how much money I put into buying the slimming club merchandise.

Of course The first Principle is to ditch the diet mentality, and I would urge every woman and man in the world to learn to love themselves, to accept they are great people as they are, and to know the scales merely tell them their weight, not their self worth.  But for many folk, there is support and friendship at clubs, and for many, their lives are improved through learning about better food choices, and being able to move more freely as weight is lost.

Diet clubs are not the devil.  The lies spread by the media are what is evil.  The perverse messages that physical beauty is everything, and physical beauty includes thinness.  The arrogant messages that obesity is the root of every illness, and that fat people are lazy and just need to eat less and move more and their lives will improve.   These are what hit us in the heart, and lead us to feel inadequate and failing.   And there are times when we are vulnerable, and those messages will puncture deeper than usual.  They will rob our self esteem and devalue our life if we let ourselves believe them.  But it isn’t the diet clubs.

So, Honour Your Health.  My current mantra.


Size Acceptance, what it really means to me.

Published June 1, 2014 by Crystal

To me, size acceptance does not mean I have accepted my weight because I’m too lazy to do anything about it. It does not mean I am giving myself (a la) carte blanche to eat take out every night and chocolate morning noon and night, and to sit on my sofa getting bigger and bigger. What it means to me is an acknowledgement that my size, whatever it is, is just one part of me, and that having fought with myself year by year has not left me happy and fulfilled, but instead miserable and sub standard in my own eyes. Size acceptance, to me, means learning to love and value myself right now. At. This. Size. And to develop the relationship with the current me.
But it is a step. A promise to myself to start taking care of myself. That I am worth that love and care. And part of that care is to start paying attention to what nurtures and what holds me back. To discover a way of moving the body that is enjoyable right now. And a commitment to move a little bit more each time I feel able. To push myself a tiny bit each time I am ready, knowing when I do, the benefits it brings are wonderful for me physically, mentally and emotionally.

Listening to negative messages telling us we’re.”Lazy lardies” is not kindness. It is not helping us realise what we didn’t know. It might surprise you to know I am already aware I’m fat. And hating myself and loathing my body into submission has not helped change my physique for any decent length of time. So let us swing those doors wide, wide open on size acceptance groups. Let us realise the power within. And let’s love from the ground up!

Channeling the frustration! Emotional Eating

Published May 20, 2014 by Crystal

The husband ordered some new tyres and inners for my bike last night.  After a very emotional week it’s a relief to know at the weekend I can get out and do some non weight bearing movement with my family.  Because contrary to the popular consensus of those that have no clue about disordered eating, I’m not constantly on my bum, doing absolutely nothing, but then I’ve mentioned that already this week, so I shall move on, slightly, or sideways, to the topic of overeating, and more so, responses to the idea of overeating.

“It’s an excuse to eat all the food people love”

“It’s what lazy people say because they can’t be bothered to look after themselves”

“Childhood, depression, anxiety, they’re all excuse for people to keep eating”

These are the sort of comments from the internet warriors, who refuse to accept Emotional Overeating is a real psychological situation that needs support. So let me explain, as so many have before me, what happens during a binge.

First come the feelings, unbearable, crushing emotions.  I don’t want to deal with these.  I don’t know how to deal with these.  I want it all to go away.  I want to shut up these voices, this constant chatter going round and round in my head “You’re worthless, useless, ugly, your life would be better if you were thinner, more in control, more fit”.  I make a journey to the shop, grab a basket, fill with crisps, chocolate, all those foods that have brought comfort in the past.  Silently going through the check out, rushing to the car, ripping open a bar to eat as I drive.  Getting home I grab the food, run inside, throw the food into the lounge and sit and eat.  Not thinking, not tasting.  Just eating.  Bite after bite. Crisp after crisp. Then the last packet is empty.  I sit there.  Realisation starting to dawn of what has just happened.  How many thousands of calories did I not taste?  If I don’t make it to the shop, I may start by looking in the freezer, cooking some oven chips, then it takes off I’m raiding the kitchen, piles of bread slathered with margarine, bowls of cereal.  Everything to numb the mind and silence the chatter.  But then it is all over and I sit there, disgusted, still anxious, still with the previous worries that led me here in the first place.  For me, this would end in the inevitable purging to get rid of it all.

During all this, I know what I’m doing isn’t helping.  I could probably even tell you the calorific value of it all.  I love food, but that’s not why I’ve binged.  I’ve binged because I know that however temporary, the worries and stresses vanish, and the taste of foods I love pass fleetingly through my mouth.  But what makes it even more tragic is that not only do I sit with the mental and emotional guilt of having eaten all that food, but I sit with the physical discomfort of overeating, the burst blood vessels around my eyes from bringing it back up again. I feel even more disgusted and self loathing than I did beforehand.  This is not because I love myself so much I want to treat myself.  It’s more because I loathe myself so much that punishment and temporary comfort go hand in hand.

So it saddens me when people who don’t understand say it’s because we love food.  I guess there are different levels of emotional overeating.  Not everyone goes to the extent that I have described.  Some people just eat a little more than they should.  But for those of us who find feelings and emotions virtually impossible to deal with, we do need support.  Maybe it is counselling, maybe it is just good friends to talk to.  But what we definitely need is to learn to love ourselves, to accept ourselves, and to be allowed to nurture ourselves. Calories in/calories out isn’t even an issue here. Exercising more is lovely advice once we find something we enjoy and learn how great the endorphins are that come from exercising.  But what we need is for the people who don’t “get” overeating to just Shut Up.  We won’t eat you.

Successes and weaknesses. Accepting it all. Confessing the hard.

Published May 17, 2014 by Crystal


This is me at the start of the Moonwalk.  Fresh faced, eager to get going.  Months of training had brought me to this moment. The longest training walk had been 20 miles, with lots of 8 and 10 mile walks.  I was certainly far more prepared than my previous endeavor.  I was ready.  And felt strong and healthy.  Unfortunately no two walks are ever the same.  Add in tiredness from having been awake since 6am, standing around for hours before the walk, and horrendous wind and, at times, rain, this was no easy walk.  And the three of us felt it from the off.  It took an hour to complete the first two miles.  But we accepted these things.  It’s not meant to be an easy challenge.  It’s meant to be physically and mentally trying.  I made it through the training with only one blister.  No lost toe nails, no torn ligaments, not even much muscle ache after the first couple of long walks.  But even all that training can’t promise an injury and pain free walk.  At about 10 miles I started to feel shin splint pain in my left leg.  I commented on the irony of feeling very little discomfort throughout the training and certainly not shin splints, but knew there was nothing to do but keep on going.  I wasn’t the only one in pain.  The three of us were feeling pain and discomfort in various ways, but were united in the fact that we wanted to keep going.  The pain got progressively worse, but we would stop and stretch and carry on.  Mile by mile we got closer to the end.  The miles felt particularly long.  It wasn’t with the ease of the training walks that we made our way through the London streets.  We finally made it.  Over 9 hours after we’d started.  We crossed the finish line together.  It was a welcome, lovely sight after a hard night.




The pain in my leg was bearable.  Hobbling with my husband, who’d met me at the finish line, to a taxi, my thoughts were firmly fixed on breakfast, bath, and a wee kip in bed.  But it was also a day for us to spend together, so I just wanted the pain to go so we could enjoy a day of exploration.

The pain continued.  Bath, painkillers, champagne, nothing shifted the pain, that felt like hot irons through my shin. I strapped it up with a tubular bandage and off we went.  We went for a wander to the O2, and explored the South Bank, and as time went on I had to stop and sit more and more frequently.  I was devastated that I was ruining a day out together.  I couldn’t enjoy the Tate Modern, I hadn’t been able to appreciate North Greenwich.  Finally, husband said it was time to head back to the hotel and just relax.  Clearly I wasn’t comfortable.  And so that was the day somewhat ruined.

Monday saw the journey home.  But by the time we were back in our home town I was barely able to hobble from coach to taxi without crying in pain, and by 5pm I was in the doctors office.

The news could be worse, but a week on it’s looking like it’s definitely a stress fracture.  I still can’t walk on it for any length of time, am using crutches for most journeys and it hurts day and night.

This has caused a rise of emotions and a return of anxiety this last week.  I’m writing a bit of a confession here, because I want others to know they’re not alone when old habits surface through emotional stress.  But I also want to admit it, so I own it.  But a couple of times the purging inclination returned, and it’s a slippery slope if it isn’t addressed.  A very real panic over not been able to exercise for several weeks has left me feeling very out of control, and this week, the need for control brought back those old coping mechanisms.  But I know they’re not healthy mechanisms, and that actually self care means treating my body more kindly and dealing with the inability to exercise, in a gentle way.  I guess the thing that surprises me is how reliant I have become on walking.  I wasn’t losing pounds and pounds, but I felt healthy.  I had started to become very aware of how irritable I would become if a few days went by without walking.  And getting out, releasing those happy hormones, and freeing up some of the stress was a great thing.  And so of course not being able to walk freely leaves me feeling frustrated and irritable, along with worrying about how I will manage my weight, because extra weight isn’t going to help the injury, but stressing won’t help deal with it either.

Time to step back.

Time to open up those supportive Intuitive Eating Books and remember the good things in all this.

Time to be kind.

Time to remember what I’ve achieved in the last week, and the potential I hold.



Dear Jamie, on Food Revolution Day, it’s not just about food.

Published May 16, 2014 by Crystal

Oh Jamie, Jamie, Jamie.

I do love you.  I love your passion.  I love your drive and enthusiasm to educate the world on food.  (Read about his goals here;

The thing is Jamie, much as I do love your enthusiasm, and believe schools can do more in inspiring children to cook wonderful things from scratch, I’m in a quandary about the language you are using and the way schools are already dealing with the need for healthy eating.  My youngest son returned home from a day during a Healthy Eating Week telling me he could eat pasta “because it’s healthy”.  The quantity was irrelevant.  The message was that pasta was healthy and that’s all that stuck.  Oh, and “I’ll get fat if I eat other stuff”.  My youngest is a little bean.  Nay an ounce of extra fat upon him, but I’m a large lady.  With food and body issues as far back as I can remember.  I have worked hard to give my children a healthy attitude to food, and importantly alongside that, a healthy body image and balanced self esteem.  Their diet is fairly balanced, admittedly sometimes more heavy with chocolate and sweets than other times, but they see an apple and a chocolate bar equally, and will choose a piece of fruit over a chocolate biscuit when they want to.  They are active children.  Yes the XBOX sometimes takes up too much of the day, but it’s balanced with days out scooting, cycling, walking and so on.  Importantly they are assured that they are fine as they are.  Their bodies are good and functional, they’re at a healthy weight.  Food is a fuel predominantly but also to be enjoyed.  I made a conscious effort when they were babies and toddlers to not hush them with food when we were out and about.  From their birth, I have been conscious of helping them create a healthy relationship with food.  I carried toys and crayons and paper, and as many distractions as I could so that they and I did not establish a pattern of comforting with food.  We have children of similar ages, you and I, and I know this because I remember following Jools throughout her pregnancies and post birth.  You know, one thing that sticks with me, and it was probably a throw away comment for lovely Jools, but she said that she was having to fold her post baby tummy into her jeans in the months after giving birth.  And she looked so confident.  I thought here’s a sensible woman, not rushing back on to the treadmill, not living on the maple syrup diet to achieve her pre-pregnancy size and weight.  A “normal” mum that we can relate to.  Someone with a healthy relationship with food, and importantly a healthy body image. So take it in all honesty when I say I really do admire you and yours.

Your idea is honourable. Many families do struggle to give their children balanced meals.  BUT where will you be when the taunting starts in those food education classes?  When Jack starts to comment on Rae’s family and eating style and general body image?  Because it will happen.  That competition between the kids that eat better than the others.  The kids that know a carrot from a cucumber and more crucially (to you) from a chocolate cookie.  Where will you be when the child goes home and relays to the parent that the parents are responsible for them being fat, and need to change their cooking habits?  Have you assumed every outcome to that will be a happy one?

I honestly do admire your drive.  But my worry is that you are sending a very top heavy message.  A message that kids are getting fatter and they need to learn to cook, because their parents can’t do it, because on their own they cannot be trusted, because they cannot rely on their parents to look after and nurture them, because it is important to be thinner.  Because you are driving this forward for health, and I appreciate that, but unfortunately the message is there that fat is unacceptable and thin is desirable and achievable.  And that children need to educate their parents, because their parents are ignorant of what their children need.  I accept that you alone can only do so much, and you’re a man with life experiences that are your own.  You can’t place yourself in every child’s frame of reference.  You can’t possibly visit every family you’re trying to help.  I know that.  But you surely know that the issue of obesity isn’t purely based on food and whether people can cook or not?  You do know that, don’t you?  You do understand that children develop complex relationships with food through their experiences with those close to them?  That those patterns are established early on?  You do understand that positive body image and self esteem can actually play a huge part in whether a child reaches for the chocolate bar or two?  And if you do understand this, then does it not worry you, even a little, that all your work will be in vain if the curriculum you’re helping to change doesn’t put forward a more balanced message to children?

In it’s simplest form;


I know your intentions are wonderful, but I worry this lopsided learning will do very little, and not even hit your 5% target of reduced obesity if you don’t address the healthy self esteem issues that need addressing

So I am thinking.  You want food health.  Didn’t Gok Wan wants self image health?  The two need to go together.  They’re two halves of a missing whole.  Can’t you start to work together?  Or at least start to meet with people that deal with food and body issues every single day, and come from a new place of understanding?

You’re so very nearly there.  You really are so close to impacting such a positive change.

Yours Sincerely

Little Miss Cackle.