I have never, ever, written an article or a Blog in my life (unless you count the copious newsletter articles I have written as teacher!) But I got thinking about this and this topic is something I am becoming so passionate about that I really feel that I should give it a go, even if it just once! Even if it just lets one other person relax, reflect and think, “actually I am wonderful. I don’t need to lose weight to be a better person.”
I am a 40-year-old wife of an incredible guy, mother of two spunky, easily-loveable kids and a bit of everything else: teacher (Assistant Principal), part-time cook, tidier, taxi driver, gardener etc. I love wine, reading, lifestyle shows, games, camping, walking and socialising. Sound like anyone else? I’m not special, I’m not overly ambitious – I just enjoy life. But as I grow older (and oh so wiser!) I am starting to think that this love of life could have been easily lost if I had continued focussing on the things that didn’t matter – my weight, how I look, how I fit into my clothes.
Now before I go any further I need to provide context – I am what I would consider very average! Depending on the brand I am usually a size 12 but if you were to take a look in my cupboard and drawers you would find garments ranging from size 8 to size 14. Years ago I would have also had size 16 in there because I preferred to hide curves rather than show them off. My BMI is in the overweight range (I’m 168cm tall) and so to be at the top range of healthy I would have to lose 6kg. But get this…..since the age of 18 and not including four pregnancies (two miscarriages) I have only every fluctuated between approximately 68-78 kgs. One would think after all the programs, meal plans, fad diets I have been on I would be far lighter or heaver. So, I decided to stop. Stop the stress. Stop the worry. Stop the committing to things that didn’t suit my life style. Stop comparing myself to others. I decided to be KIND to myself.
I don’t believe epiphany is the right term but over the past three or four years I have certainly had a change in tune regarding my body image and there is no exact time or moment that can really be attributed for this alteration in my beliefs. I just got SICK of worrying all the time about how I looked and what I could do to alter that. I was exasperated with obsessing over meal plans and points and inflicting these strict guidelines on others. I used to feel embarrassed of my tummy. I hated my arms. I thought my nose was too big. I thought my clothes looks silly on me. All that time and emotional energy spent on worrying about something that really didn’t change my day-to-day life.
I chose to be kind, I chose balance. I now enjoy many healthy foods and I enjoy items that some would consider treats, “sometimes foods”, “only on celebrations” type foods. I love to walk but I hate the gym. I walk copious amount of stairs at work each day but I also enjoy lounging on my couch with a book or a good reality show (if there is such a thing!). I drink brilliantly healthy green juices every day that have really helped me with my digestive system but I also love a chilled glass (or three) of Sauvignon blanc. I choose clothes that suit me and my shape. I choose exercise options that raise my heart rate but don’t make me want to vomit! I choose to eat things that me feel good: tasty, non-bloating and fresh produce.
I seek advice when required but don’t obsess over it. I spoke to a wonderful friend who is a nutritionist who has provide me with invaluable advice in term of types of foods I can eat to feel good and look after my body. She’s an inspiration as she too is about balance; food choices, exercise and work-life. Mental health and wellbeing is just so vitally important and beating yourself up because of eating a donut is really not worth it! Trusting someone who understands this balance is essential.
I have read a lot of articles and auto-biographies from celebrities, people dying of terminal diseases and inspirational people in the past few years and the message from all of them; “eat the cake, drink the wine.” They also have other personal messages – be as healthy as you can for you, your body, your situation. We are not the same but one thing we do have in common is wanting to feel good and happy. I want that for me, my family and my friends. I want to be strong role-model based on my actions and attitude, not someone who is miserable because how I look in the mirror.
Now before I have people jumping up and down screaming at me about inner-health, my organs, my skin etc. etc. I know a lot about healthy eating and good choices. I know that your body needs nutrients and everyone is different. I know vitamins and minerals come in all types of packages - natural and produced. All I am trying to say is – be KIND! Do what is right for you but don’t beat yourself up what you have or haven’t eaten in a day. If you want to go to the gym to tone, do it! If you want to commit to a vegan diet because it suits your ethics and makes you feel great, do it! If you want to prepare for a marathon by running every day and eating a specifically planned-diet, do it! But please don’t hate yourself for what you look like or what you weigh.
I really am very lucky. I am not denying it. I have a brilliant family, extremely supportive beautiful friends and my life has progressed without too many disasters. Some of you may be thinking, “yeah right, she’s got easy” and maybe I do but I’ll ask you this: no matter how easy or hard your life is, why would adding the extra stress of self-bashing about your weight and looks be beneficial? At some point we all have family issues, financial concerns, job worries as well as the everyday stresses of work. We are busy ferrying kids around, worrying about their health and wellbeing plus the multitude of other things that can impact our lives positively or negatively. There is no one answer to cope with stress and of course we all do it differently. My go-to would definitely be those chilled glasses of wine, particularly with some great friends but I still come back to this; life is hard, life is challenging and life is also bloody grand so let’s not add one more negative, self-loathing element if we don’t have to.
Today I have purchased the ingredients to make some cracking, delicious salads that will be for dinner and lunches this week – meal planning – go me! It’s not so I can focus on losing that five kilograms that would see me be slimmer, it’s so I can be organised, enjoy what I am eating and know what I am putting into my body will be nutritional and energy rich for another busy week. I will also take the kids to the beach, go for a walk and then enjoy some fish and chips and a glass of wine. Balance – foods I like, foods that are good for me, family time, relaxation and exercise. That’s what is right for me, right now.
I’ll probably look at my body in the mirror in bathers and do a slight shudder but I won’t self-hate, I won’t not enjoy my time at the beach and I won’t start planning the strict diet I HAVE to go on to look like what some might see as ideal. I will continue walking, I will continue eating a range of food options and I will continue making health a priority but I WON’T kick my self for not being “good” last weekend. I won’t cover up just because I’m not as toned a I was before. I won’t sulk or feel embarrassed and annoyed that I have a bit of extra weight around my tummy. I’ll enjoy my family. I’ll enjoy my relaxing time at the beach. I’ll enjoy the wine and my life. I’ll be kind to myself.
Be kind to yourselves.