Body Positive

I had something of an epiphany this morning after reading a piece about the model Liza Golden-Bhojwani who traded in her tiny figure and restrictive diet for beauty and wellness. I found reading the piece about her, that I could relate. Not that I’ve ever been a succesful runway model (at 5ft 5.5 i’m far too short) but her struggles to stay slim through what can only be termed a starvation diet …… yes, that is familiar.

Liza Golden-Bhowjani before and after
Liza Golden-Bhojwani before and after

Up until my early thirties I lived on fresh air and a lot of exercise to maintain a 33-23-36 figure and weighing in at 7 stone 10 llbs. I know this isn’t exactly teeny-tiny in the world of the size zero model but it was very small for me and totally wrong for my build. I was hungry all the time, prone to fainting, my moods were erratic and despite being the smallest I could be I had absolutely no self confidence. Somewhere in my thirties -I can’t remember when- other things became more important and were eminently more fulfilling like my family, friends and academic career; naturally with this loosening on the reins my weight rose and flutuated between 9 – 10 st 4 llbs and I was completely ok with that.

Last year my weight rose sharply due to an underlying health condition,from both an aesthetic and health perspective I was alarmed. I had gone up a size and my BMI had been pushed from the healthy range to overweight. My health problems coincided with those of a friend’s, who was advised by her Doctor to lose weight. My friend started following the Slimming World plan and was soon looking svelte, slinky and glowing with health. Her journey really inspired me, so I followed her lead and started following Slimmimg World too.

My weight losses have been erratic but I have managed to notch up a 7llb loss, which I am simulataneously pleased and disappointed with. 7llbs off is 7llbs off at the end of the day, so yay! However I’ve noticed recently that the obssession I had, had in my younger days was starting to creep back in and the losses weren’t high or regular enough for me. I started to restrict my diet again and I stopped losing weight altogether. A couple of days ago I decided I would keep a tally of my calories to see just how many I was consuming each day. I was astonished to discover it was around 900. A woman of my height and age needs to consume 1200 calories per day to lose 1llb of weight per week -no wonder I have been struggling with my energy levels and weight loss!

I’m in no way disparaging the Slimming World plan, from all the things i’ve seen on various Facebook groups dedicated to the plan I can see it gives amazing results and has been life changing for thousands upon thousands of women, my friend included., but it doesn’t work so well for me and here is why. First of all i’m a gluten intolerant Vegan, i’m hypothyroid, I don’t eat a lot of processed foods everything I can’t or chose not to eat are the foundations on which the Slimming World plan is built. But most important thing to remember about diets is that there isn’t a one size fits all solution. We are all very different with different needs and for that reason Slimming World just doen’t suit me. That being said my time on plan for has been amazing in terms of teaching portion control and making good choices. These days when my resolve is low i’m definitely more inclined to reach for an apple instead of a bag of crisps. So thank you Slimming World, but it’s now time for us to part.

So, here I am back where I started at the beginning of this post with Liza Golden-Bhojwani. Before this morning i’d never heard of her; but after seeing her pictures and reading her story her my only thought was what a beautiful and vital looking woman she is. After reading the article  I had look at Liza’s instagram account and was astonished to discover that -height aside- our vital statistics are very similiar and yet all I saw when I looked at her was her strength and beauty whereas I’m highly critical of myself. This realisation stopped me in my tracks. I’m starting to see myself in a totally new light.

Liza Golden-Bhojwani: strong, healthy and beautiful. A perfect role model.
Liza Golden-Bhojwani: strong, healthy and beautiful. A perfect role model.








Instead of dieting I’m going to adopt a healthy eating plan, not overeating but not being so restictive either. I’ll probably calorie count, but only to ensure I eat enough each day to give me the energy to enjoy each day to the max. This morning I was aiming for thin, this afternoon I’m aiming from strong, healthy and beautiful.

Wellness and the road to equilibrium

I haven’t been great at blogging over the last couple of years, with the number of times I post dwindling to about once or twice a year.  I assumed it was due to waning interest and a lack of things to say on my part, but it transpires that my apathy was medical and not indifference or laziness. In March I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, not exactly life threatning I know, but debilitaing when left untreated. Which it had been for over 12 months. Given that both my Mother and late Grandmother also had the condition you would think I would have recognised the signs. But I didn’t. What I saw was weight gain and assumed my diet was to blame, so went on ever stricter diets to counteract it. I was sleeping poorly so embarked on a mission to eliminate all stimulants such as caffeine. I was fatigued all the time; just walking upstairs would leave me so exhausted I would have to lie down for a while. My mestrual cycle became erratic, so I assumed I was going through early menopause and spent a fortune on supplements to help ease the transition. I ached and assumed it was my age.

It came as a relief when I discovered what was actually wrong.  It took about 8 weeks for ther thyroid medication to enter my system fully, but I did notice changes after 2 weeks.  I have been slowly building up my activity from about then, and have adopted a proactive approach to my health and wellbeing in the months following diagnosis.  I think the activity that has most impacted on my wellbeing both mentally and physically is my Yoga practise. Having practised at home for years on and off,  I decided it was finally time to seek out proper instruction so that I could get the most out of my practise. Fortunately for me our local Health Centre has just moved into a beautiful new purpose built building and offers an array of activities including Tai Chi, Pilates and of course Yoga.

Twice a week I do a Kundalini Yoga class and the once a week a Yin Yoga class. Both present enormous challenges for me and are helping me with both my physical limitations – years of HIIT training and weight training has left me with short tightened muscles, likewise an injury sustained in dance as a teen has resulted in a very sore and tight left hamstring-  but also my emotional and mental wellbeing.  Kundalini is very breath focussed and is cleansing and uplifting, whereas the Yin is concerned with holding each Asana for anything up to 5 mins, so isn’t the most comfortable experience but is incredibly rewarding. Interestingly both practises have stirred up emotions concerned with my past that I thought long forgotten, but as the tension in my hips, back and chest is released so are the negative emotions. Slowly with the help of my practise I am able to let them go and feel for the first time in a long time I am starting to find my equilibrium.


Sleep Play Move

Being in my forties has been amazing. I’m happy in my own skin. I say pfft things that used to really bother me, I’m braver with my clothes and generally much more confident. That being said, I’ve noticed that my health and wellbeing – things I took for granted before- need a little more TLC than they used too.

indexI’ve always struggled with poor sleep and just accepted it as part of my lot. However over the last year I’ve been more proactive about improving it, not least because I’m not as resilient I was in my twenties and thirties. A bad night’s sleep these days = a really crappy day.  The road to better sleep for me has been a combination of inclusion and elimination.

First on the elimination list was caffeine. I’m not exaggerating when I say I used to drink an obscene amount of caffeine loaded drinks everyday….coffee, cola, tea…I did them all in ridiculous quantities and had the jitters to prove it.  I read so many horrendous accounts of caffeine withdrawal  that I expected mine would be a living hell,  but you know what….It wasn’t too bad. I had a terrible headache for a day or two and then felt a bit tired for about a week but that was it and the improvement to my sleep was almost immediate. Having replaced caffeinated drinks with decaff and herbal teas I drop off to sleep these days without too much trouble. My sleep is by no means perfect but at least I don’t spend most of the night staring at the ceiling like I used too.

ec2a0fdb6c8afab838cc0383f162511d_playing-children-clip-art-group-play-kids-clipart_519-525In my twenties and thirties I was a total stress head. I worried if I was doing the right thing, what other people thought of me, what other people were doing and constantly compared my life and achievements with other peoples and found my own wanting. Much of my insecurity stemmed from one toxic friendship. This person made me feel like all my achievements were insignificant and my tastes, hobbies etc. inferior. I removed the person from my life and learned to celebrate all I had achieved and love. I really appreciate the small group of good friends I have for their honesty, caring and support. They taught me to play with wild abandon and I love that we do some slightly bonkers stuff together.

imagesThe sight of me in my exercise gear is not always a pretty sight but I don’t let that stop me. Every day I hit the sitting room floor for either, cardio, strength or flexibility work. It’s not always easy but I stick at it because I know the difference daily exercise makes to my mood. I’m brighter, more optimistic and the aches and pains I get in my hip if I’m too sedentary, disappear. Plus I have the joy of finding ever brighter, ever crazier exercise wear. It’s a win, win.