Does My Mum Look Big In This? #NoDietDay

International no diet day

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What Does a Photo Say To You?

Photos, we treasure them.

Whether in albums, frames or on phones they are the visual journal of our lives. Photos prompt our memories to recall those feelings and nuances that often fade from recollection.

‘A picture speaks a thousand words’, but some of those words are the ones I don’t want to hear!

I can’t remember the last time I looked at a photo of myself without checking out if it made me look fat. Only very recently did it occur to me how many of life’s precious moments have been tarnished with the voice that whispers inside my head:

‘Look how fat your belly is, you look disgusting’.

Pictures that captured a moment of laughter with my kids would be pushed aside because they spoke to me of belly rolls, bulges and bingo-wings!

 

Never Slim Enough

So it will come as no surprise that I have been on a perpetual diet for as long as I can remember.

As a child I remember wanting to have a figure like my Sindy doll (a UK version of Barbie) but I became ‘plump’ as a pre-teen and overheard plenty of comments like ‘how much are you feeding her?’

In my teens I discovered the relationship between food and exercise and exploited it, training daily and thinning down. But I was never as ‘slim’ as my friend, or as attractive as her mate.

When I was in my early twenties I reached a body weight where everyone said how well I looked, and praise about my appearance flowed in.

I loved that feeling, but I still didn’t love myself. I didn’t feel as slim as the competition.

Insecurity and self-doubt dogged my perception of body image and I dieted, often unsuccessfully.

 

Eating For Two

And then I became pregnant. The only time in my life where I could love my body regardless of its shape because it carried something precious inside.

And every body else loved my body shape, because a pregnant belly is big and beautiful.

Nine months of bliss.

But all good things must come to an end, and as a first time Mum, I resorted to survival eating! This means consuming whatever you can, whenever you can, with little or no thought to the consequences!

By the time survival mode had eased up, I was pregnant with baby number two and eating for 2!

 

International No Diet Day

So where am I now? Why the reflection on body image today?

Because tomorrow is International No Diet Day, and it gave me pause for thought.

In 21 Lessons I Don’t Want My Children to Learn From Me! I wrote that I eat when I’m happy, sad, stressed or bored saying:

Don’t fill your stomach when you could fill your brain or heart instead!

Good advice but how do I apply it?

I question that gnawing empty feeling in my stomach, asking is that really a message to eat? Could it be a feeling of discontent? Wanting something but more but not knowing what? Could it be a feeling of emptiness in my heart?

When I was grieving for my Dad, that gnawing empty feeling made me want to eat, continually.

But it was an unfillable space.

When I recognised that food couldn’t comfort me, I felt lost. Food had been my friend, comforter and confidante for years. It had abandoned me.

 

When Food Fails You

When the moment arrived that I realised that food is neither my friend or my enemy, it was a wake-up call.

Food has been the object of my emotions, but I can re-direct those emotions elsewhere:

  • Into writing.
  • Into fitness.
  • Into my children.
  • Into my marriage.
  • Into travel.
  • Into adventure.
  • Into passion.

I re-directed my focus.

I choose to talk about myself with respect and care, I choose to eat for health and vitality, I choose to challenge myself, I choose to value myself based on my goals, talents, accomplishments and character.

Take the Pledge:

So join me tomorrow, on May 6, International No Diet Day, and take this pledge;

I will accept myself just as I am
I will feed myself if hungry
I will feel no shame or guilt about my size or eating

…and I will LOVE MYSELF for who I am, not who I feel pressure to be!

Check out the No Diet Day Facebook Page  and don’t diet for 1 day!

 

Decide to avoid judging others and yourself on the basis of body weight or shape.  Turn off the voices in your head that tell you that a person’s body weight or muscularity says anything about their character, personality, or value as a person.

National Eating Disorders

Resources:

The Health At Every Size Blog promotes size acceptance and has a huge range of posts supporting acceptance of a range of body shapes and sizes.

National Eating Disorders Association NEDA (Australia) provides a comprehensive Parent Toolkit as a downloadable PDF or e-document.

Psychology Today runs through a history of how No Diet Day originated in 1991 with Mary Evans Young.

 

 

It’s Funny How Things Begin…

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Find your open road and just go wherever it takes you!

Comfort zones, what wonderful things they are! Warm, soft and safe, you know just what to expect and nothing ever changes. I enjoy being in a comfort zone, but it doesn’t take me long to feel the need to stretch my wings and push the limits of that space.

It often begins with a luxurious feeling of contentment, rolling in like ocean waves on a calm day.  I relax, breathe and enjoy it.

My comfort zone.

But it isn’t long before I feel fidgety here. My fingertips begin to tingle, my mind starts to look beyond the present and I start to imagine something more.

That’s why I’m here today. Pushing myself out of the comfort zone of my once-a-week blogging, and into this awesome link-up Friday Reflections. Leading the way are two amazing women who open my eyes to new possibilities and encourage me to raise the bar, Janine Ripper and Mackenzie Glanville.

When I think about why I started blogging, I can’t help but think about those comfort zones.

Last year my family and I decided to travel Australia off-road for 3 months in a camper trailer, I quit my job and started blogging! I left behind 3 of my bread-and-butter comfort zones for challenge, adventure and freedom.

This was not gentle shift …I went ‘cold turkey’ overnight!!

  • I loved my job, finding it totally absorbing as a full-time primary school teacher, considering the 30 children in my class like my extended family. Although I left them as their teacher in July, they didn’t leave me until September! I dreamt about them and constantly thought about things I should have passed on to their new teacher!

 

  • Leaving the house and working from a camper trailer was not so hard, I love roughing it without electricity or showers, but leaving my phone reception behind was painful!  Because we had such limited internet access and opportunities for phone calls were scarce I starting to write about our travels in my blog Speedykniebe.

 

  • The blog was a way to keep friends and family updated and I thought my children would enjoy writing posts for it too. It’s funny how things begin, they don’t always lead where you expect! I should have known that writing is not considered pleasurable by many teenage boys, especially when there are campfires to be built and fish to be caught! So I took on the job of the blog.

 

Just Writing

I just wrote whenever the laptop had charge (which wasn’t that often), jotting down exciting new discoveries, unexpected break downs (mechanical and emotional) and stories about crazy characters who spoke to crows. I found that I was starting to look forward to writing, and prioritized it above other things, such as washing clothes or feeding the family!

But there is one moment I remember that particularly stands out as a turning point for me.

I hadn’t figured out how to enable comments on Blogger so although  I posted every couple of weeks I never got any comments on my blog. While enjoying the luxury of a phone connection in Cairns my gorgeous friend Karen asked me impatiently ‘when are you going to put up another blog post?’ She told me with some irritation that her family had been reading them all and were waiting for the next post.

That was my watershed moment.

Somebody was waiting, impatiently and expectantly, to read my writing.

 

Reflecting on this now I think it really captures everything that makes me passionate about writing. Cliché though it may be, I love writing!

It takes me to a place within myself that I didn’t’ know existed, and something creative just flows.

I get such a buzz from the process of refining and expressing ideas in words, that to find someone else who enjoys reading those words is pure joy. It’s like seeing friends enjoy a delicious meal you’ve created, it nourishes the soul and connects people though a shared pleasure.

So the blog has grown from a travel journal to a journey of personal growth. It’s constantly growing and changing, therefore so am I.

Comfort zones are easier to recognise once you’ve left them behind, so my advice is don’t stay too long in places where nothing changes.

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Ten Tips to Kick Worry-Brain into Touch!

Blog wordle feel the fearSo I’ve admitted it, I have been a Helicopter Mum and I’m sure that I will be again! But it could be a whole lot worse if I didn’t kick Worry-Brain into touch!

Here’s my top ten tips for calming the mind when embracing your teenagers new-found independence: 

  1. Get some perspective – use Rational-Brain to counter argue with Worry-Brain. Look at the statistics – and remind yourself how important it is for children to get outdoors on their own to learn resilience and problem solving skills.
  2. Create a dialogue – talk to your children about your feelings and explain that you want to work with them to enable them to enjoy their new independence.
  3. Set reasonable limits – work together in consultation to agree an achievable goal that you can both stick to. For example, I set a time that Berry has to contact me to touch base and this reassures me he’s ok and give him the flexibility to change plans.
  4. Welcome friends – encourage your children’s friends into your home, stock the freeze with goodies to encourage them to stay for lunch, facilitate entertainment like using the pool, x-box or games room. This has a triple benefit – you to get to know the friends they’re hanging around with, gain a reputation as a ‘Fun-Mum’ and you get to supervise them at your place so Worry-Brain really can take a break!
  5. Network – link into the parenting community in which your child is circulating. Get one another’s mobile numbers, this helps everyone to feel supported. Send a communal text as the children leave or arrive at your house, then everyone is a linked into their activities whilst refraining from obviously keeping tabs on them!
  6. Plan for risks  – help your child to think through some risk scenarios and discuss how they would handle these situations. Remember to allow them to do most of the thinking – you’re there to prompt, encourage and question!
  7. Build confidence – theirs and yours! Stay positive, focus on the good things that happened  during their time away from you. If you are a nervous wreck every time they leave the house an unhealthy cycle of guilt and dependence is created. The message you are unconsciously sending says ‘I don’t believe you are capable of this’ and plants the seed for future self-doubt.
  8. Lead by example – be a positive role model, believe in yourself and them. Talk about times when you take risks in your life, how you assess the potential dangers and take action. The bestselling classic ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers is a good start to reflecting on what makes you feel fear and how to break through the paralysis this can create.
  9. Celebrate – in the new-found freedom that your children are achieving, congratulate yourself on having taken a step towards parenting an independent teen and enjoy the new ‘me-time’ that you will have while they’re out having fun! Do something positive for yourself and enjoy your own new-found independence!
  10. Re-connect – Spending time engaged in independent activities adds a new dimension to your relationship with your children. Enjoy hearing about their adventures and re-connect with them as developing people in their own right.