anxiety, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

My postnatal depression story

I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I have trouble remembering the first two years of my sons life. I can not tell you at what age he got his first tooth, his favourite food as a baby, his first word or when he began to sleep through the night.  I’m not even sure of what age he took his first steps.

My second child, I can tell you all her milestones. I think that’s mainly due to the amount of times I’ve had to go over them with paediatricians, therapists, doctors. She has autism, and was finally diagnosed at age six just last year.

My youngest,  Emily. I know all her firsts. Mainly because I was extra vigilant looking out for any red flags we had with my eldest daughter.

Each pregnancy was different. All had the usual sickness and discomfort.  But my third pregnancy, I just wasn’t feeling those feelings you associate with pregnancy. The excitement,  the happiness, the eagerness. I didn’t really feel anything.

I brought my feelings (or lack of) up with my midwife whilst getting my bloods done. I was assured it was perfectly normal , due to hormones and it would all settle down probably by my next appointment.

Only it didn’t.  I didn’t take joy in shopping for baby clothes, I was in no rush to pack my hospital bag, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was emotionless.

I booked a 3D scan around the 32 week mark, hoping that would make everything feel more real, I don’t think it did. It was a wonderful experience, of course it was, but the sadness continued.

The years which followed my daughters birth in September 2011 were dark, very dark. I was dealing with the likelihood of my oldest daughter having autism, which was causing stress along with that lingering feeling of worthlessness. But before even falling pregnant with my daughter, I was dealing with body image issues. I hated my appearance to the point it was affecting my everyday life. These feelings got worse. I’d stay home all day unable to face the world, or I’d only leave the house when it was dark. I’d avoid mirrors and my reflection in windows. I’d panic if we had a party or wedding to go to. I hide away in the toilets to avoid any social interaction.  And my heart would pound and my  head spin if I saw anyone with a camera.

I’d apologise to my children, as small as they were and unable to understand, for being a useless mother. I’d tell them I loved them as the tears rolled down my face, and that I was doing my best. I’d ask my husband why he was with me and give him the option to leave, which always left him gobsmacked and confused.

I’d go to bed each night and secretly wish I wouldn’t wake up. I’d have dreams of living a life where I am happy and have friends around me, and wake up devastated when I realised they were just that. A dream

My husband found me a video on Youtube about the ‘Black dog’, and asked me to watch it. I did. I broke down and he told me to get help.

I went to my GP, told her my feelings and filled in a questionnaire. From that she gathered I had depression and extreme anxiety. I was referred to the Mental Health Team. Again. I was already in therapy before falling pregnant with Emily dealing with body image issues. Hence my panic when faced with the prospect of having my photo taken. I was a mess. An absolute broken mess

That was September 2013. From then on I had fortnightly visits from my Health Visitor. She didn’t come to pry or check up on me. She came to lend and ear aswell as advice and support, and I thanked her for that.

October 2013 I began attending well-being courses. I picked up techniques to deal with stress, become assertive and gain confidence.

Summer 2014 I had my first appointment with I think it was a life coach. She pretty much assessed me to see if she could help. She couldn’t. My condition was too extreme.  I was then referred to a clinical psychologist. Again

I met with my therapist every two weeks and I think I had around 10 sessions before I decided I felt ready to face the world alone once again.

I learned through these sessions I was suffering with post-natal depression, and that the depression had even grown DURING pregnancy. I found out through a quick glance at my notes at the doctors surgery as they came up on the computer screen during an appointment, that  I had been suffering with PND after the birth of my second child. I found out through a letter sent to my doctors and a copy to sent to me, that I’d even been suffering with PND after the birth of my first child way back in 1999. I had my son at 21 so I’d spent most of my adult life with depression. I genuinely thought I was just useless, unlikable, disgusting. I was non of those. I was depressed.

PND took away my memories of my first child growing from baby to toddler, it kept me indoors, it filled me with fear, took away my self-esteem and stripped me of my confidence

When the therapy ended, I took up blogging. I decided to chase my dreams and enrolled on a distance learning course. This both occupied my mind and my confidence began to grow. I‘ve taken up exercise, and spend most days either in a gym or an exercise class. I’ve made new friends. I even spend two hours on a Sunday night as part of a team for a local radio station. I’m still building up my confidence to become more involved, but I know I will. I know I can do it. I can do anything if I continue to believe in myself.

Over the months I’ve thrown myself into situations I would usually avoid. I’ve done things I could never imagine doing and I am in a place now where I have never been in before. A very good place and although I am an anxious person by nature, I have my anxiety under control and I will never let depression take over my life or steal my memories again.

anxiety, depression, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Dear Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

It is not often that we personally address something which we cannot physically see, but I can feel you, and I have been able to for as long as I can remember. You’re part of me and I dislike you as much as the lumps, bumps and flaws I’ve beaten myself up over for the longest time, which I can see. The lumps and bumps and flaws which aren’t even half as bad as you’ve had me believe. I was even convinced at one point in my life that I was too ugly to leave the house, so would spend my days in doors, hidden away from the world. But I wasn’t too ugly, I was too anxious.

I have periods where your toxic thoughts take over my mind and fill my soul with negative feelings and take away every bit of self-belief I have strived to gain. I have no photos of me holding my three children as babies, not one single photo.  No visual memories of days out or birthdays with their proud mum – until this year. I did not want to look at myself as I could not deal with the repulse I would feel, or have anyone else look at me and squirm. And I hate you for that.

You’ve stolen hours, days, weeks and months from me,  even a large part of my childhood where I struggled to make friends. The school days where I sat in my chair with my head down avoiding any kind of eye contact with the teacher during reading, filled with dread and fear that I would be asked to read aloud to the class. My heart pounding. My head spinning. Sitting knowing the answers to questions, but not daring to raise my hand for the fear, the absolute humiliation of being wrong.

University wasn’t easy either. Believing I wasn’t smart enough to be on the course and I was heading for a fail from day 1. Luckily, every single assignment I got back, proved you wrong. I graduated with a 2:2 which I worked so hard to get, and around being a single parent. I was good enough, and my confidence hit an all time high. I thought I’d beat you.

I hadn’t. You’ve been the most prominent part of my life for the last three or four years in particular. Where I have battled with you literally every, single day. You’ve made me tear myself up inside to the point where when asked what it is I don’t like about myself, I had a list. I hated everything from the colour of my hair to my overly bitten fingernails. You had messed with and taken over my mind to the extent that when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see what everyone else saw, but a horrific, distorted image. You made me want to hide away. So I did. I isolated myself. I couldn’t deal with the world of thinking people are pointing and laughing at me. Thinking that everything that came our of my mouth was just plain, insignificant rubbish. Convinced I’m unlikable, and undeserving of friendships, which I find incredibly hard to make and maintain.

Eventually I went for help. And it’s from that help I was given the ammunition to fight you. I was put in a position where I had to identify and talk about my positive qualities, and given the tools to challenge negative thoughts. I was given enough self-belief to realise I can be anything I want to be, and began to pursue my dream.

I’m fully aware of you now. I can feel how you flood my thoughts and infest my mood with dark paralysis and despair. You are literally a demon.

I’m now at a place where I’ve become completely mindful. I’m finally in tune with my body and emotions. I can feel you creeping up on me, and as recent as three weeks ago, you had me convinced yet again that I’m a failure. You drained me for days. All the tears, the effort of pretending I’m fine when around other people whilst forcing a smile. The listening to my husbands words of positivity but choosing to ignore them, makes me exhausted, and him frustrated. But just like any illness, I knew it would pass and just had to ride it out. You’ve gone now and yet again I’ve gained more strength. I’m winning.

So thank you anxiety, for giving me the courage to chase my dreams. I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t be working my way towards a diploma in journalism, and I wouldn’t be taking care of myself and working out so much to release the natural endorphins which help to keep your evil thoughts at bay and act as a must needed distraction as I feel you creeping around me, smirking.

I’m taking back my life, anxiety, so next time you try to worm your way in, don’t worry, I’ve got this.

(Origionally Published on Cultnoise Magazine)

 

 

 

birth, general, health, humour, lifestyle, parenting, post natal depression, pregnancy

The truth about pregnancy

We’ve all read stories and watched documentaries where mums-to-be talk about feeling so maternal and womanly and fulfilled now that their body is doing all the things it’s made to do, and how they are fully embracing their expanding bodies.

But maybe we should talk more honestly and openly about pregnany and realise it’s perfectly ok to admit you’re finding it tough and wishing the 9 months over without feeling inadequate or ungreatful.

So I thought I’d share an insight into what to really expect during pregnancy, based on my own experiences

‘Morning’ sickness

How naive was I when I thought it would just automatically stop at I around 12 weeks, like it’s on a timer. It lasted all day, every day, with all three babies. I’m not talking just little bouts of nausea as you go about your day. But a full on hangover. I spent the majority of 9 months with my head in the toilet. Any toilet.

Baby brain

The pregnancy-induced fog which many women experience and scientist ‘claim’ may exist. It does exist and we don’t need a dude in a white coat in a lab to confirm it.

You’ll forget everything where the ability to remember even your own name becomes difficult. I was asked the DOBs of my two children whilst pregnant with my third, along with my due date at a doctors appointment. All I could offer was a blank stare which just screamed ‘are you freaking serious’?

I ended up skint for four days when I incorrectly entered my pin number in the cash point three times and said goodbye to my card.

It’s not just a pregnancy thing either. You’ll still be going to Boots for nappies but leaving with toothpaste and finding your keys in the fridge well after the birth

The sonographer isn’t always correct

From my 20 week scan with my first, we eagerly awaited the birth of ‘Chloe’  and I built up a collection of pretty little frilly dresses and dinky pink shoes.

Some went back to the shop once Callum arrived into the world at 42 weeks, and some my sister dressed him in anyway for a giggle and photos which we will get blown up for his 18th

Obviously technology has progressed over the last 18 years, and they were bang on the money with my other two. But I’d hold out on decorating the nursery pink or blue until little one arrives, and have a back up name of the opposite gender.

Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t just leave the sex as a surprise, but there is no bigger surprise than expecting a girl but giving birth to a beautiful baby boy.

It’s not just 9 months,

The first 20 weeks are the longest, although probably not as long as the last two weeks, or the two weeks after your due date

And if you have pregnant friends or know anyone who is due round the same times as you, they’ll give birth before you. Guaranteed

My hubby made the mistake of telling me one of his work mates had just gone on paternity leave as he walked through the door one night. My eyes widened as he realised he shouldn’t his error. I was due before his wife. I was due before pretty much anyone I knew who dropped before me

Everything makes you cry

News articles, songs, films, pregnancy books, adverts, Call the Midwife, the price of prams, everything. Especially the price of prams

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum when you get ‘the rage’. I’m not a jealous partner. And that’s not because I’m all confident in myself, I’m not. I just don’t seem to feel jealousy as an emotion.

Except whilst with child.

My hubby went to an open day at a gym with his friend. I was fine with it as first, why wouldn’t I be? Till I started to envisage hot girls in gym gear, with a tiny little waist whist mine was that of a baby hippo, and the texts went from ‘are you having a good day’?, to ‘SO ARE THERE ANY WOMEN THERE’. Yeah I felt a slight niggle of jealousy that day

The ‘glow’

Spots, dry skin, bloodshot eyes from sickness – absolute radiance

Food aversions

I remember smuggly discussing diet with my midwife right at the start of my last pregnancy. I had just lost around 50lbs so obviously wanted to gain as least weight as possible,  so sat and confidently told her how disciplined I now was and would 100% be sticking to a healthy nutritious diet of fruit and veg

I could literally only stomach bread, chicken and mash for around the first 5 months as I found myself unintentionally on some king of beige coloured food diet as anything with any colour made me want to barf.

I gained around 60lbs and only just under 9lb of that was baby, lets attribute about 20lbs to fluid, placenta, boobs and uterus, and you do the maths.

bump

Fail

Heightened sense of smell

We’re talking that of  a blood hound. It drives you crazy and it makes you nauseous.

I wasn’t living with my now hubby till about 7 months into the pregnancy, and he knew to remove all the plug-ins before going to his. My new sofa got doused in olbas oil (hubs idea) making the smell even more unbareable than that of leather which was knocking me sick in the first place, and all plastic bags went in the bin. Yes, plastic bags have a smell

I got the bus home from work during my first pregnancy and some fool got on with a pizza. I suffered for 30 minutes with the overpowering meat feasty smell wafting around in front of me.  Ran (or wobbled quickly) home down the never ending street (I lived at number 208), opened the front door and thank god there was a downstairs toilet as I just made it in time

Luckily, it doesn’t last the whole nine months, I’d say 8.

I’m gonna be a good blogger and make this more balanced. The best, most special things about pregnancy, which you think about for years and years after giving birth, probably forever, is the tiny little flutters you feel at around 16 weeks, which turn into little patters then tight squeezed wiggles and kicks which wake you up in the night and keep you awake for hours as you lie and watch growing bump knockout some rather impressive shapes.

It’s without a doubt, the best, most precious feeling in the world.

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So maybe like almost everything else in your life, the best, most wonderful, most amazing things come from the hardest, darkest and most difficult of times.

 

birth, general, health, humour, lifestyle, pregnancy

The truth about labour

Between Hollywood and old wives’ tales, there’s a lot of misleading information about childbirth out there. But until you’ve been through it, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.

I’ve had three children, all natural deliveries. Two induced, one spontaneous labour, each experience different. So thought I’d clear up a few myths and expectations and tell it like it is based on my experiences

It’s nothing like One Born Every Minute

First off, I can’t speak for other mums and dads, but there was no playful chatty excited banter in the delivery room with my other half. None.

Mainly because soon after my  first dose of induction gel with my second child, my hubby was given a bed, snuggled down and went to sleep. Which worked out fine anyway, as I wasn’t able to think of anything other to say other than repeat ‘I am SHITTING myself’.

I then labored very quietly an hour later, for around three hours, before waking him. Then once again repeatedly told him I was shitting myself.

How do I know I’m in labour

If it’s your first time you may be expecting your waters breaking will be your first sign of labour. This was the case with my first two children, but with my third, contractions started soon after my second sweep.

They actually started as we went to do our weekly shop in Morrisons. Intensified throughthe night, so off to hospital we went at 5am, via McDonalds drive through, for carbs.

I was checked over. Confirmed  I was in active labour, but sent home. They got stronger as soon as my waters broke whilst bouncing on my yoga ball watching ‘Thismoring’. So straight back to hospital we went. Me sat in the passenger seat on a pampers changing mat to protect the seats. Seriously.

I was convinced I wasn’t going to make it from the car park to the delivery room. Rushed through the hospital recption area pulling my overnight hospital bag replying ‘NOW’ as someone asked when I was due, and stood in the lift insisting ‘it’s coming out’ whilst thinking ‘phew, we’ve made it just in time’ and ‘go me’ for doing it all drug free.

I went another 5 hours

Your birth plan goes right out the window

Nobody can predict how a birth will go. With my first I stated I’d rather not have any students present, yet I had 3 or 4 stood at the end of the bed, watching intensely and taking notes as I was stitched up after labour.

I hoped for a water birth with my third. I had a vision of this completely calm, earth mother, serene drug free experience. Just me, the midwife, and the hubby

My daughter opened her bowls, ruling out a water birth. I panicked every single time the midwife left the room and continuously sent my hubby out to look for her, snapped up her offer of ‘pethidine’ without hesitation, and again welcomed a few male student doctors in the room. Pretty sure I kept asking them random questions, although I have no idea what – I was off my face.

They congratulated me and left as soon as I’d given birth, turning down the opportunity to watch the needlework.

The birth plan goes right out the window, along with your dignity

The truth about the poo

Yes, you might have one, no you will not realise this, yes your partner will find great joy and hilarity in telling you, and no you will not care

The tea and toast

I think I was more focused on the tea and toast I knew I’d be getting after labour than the hugs with my baby whilst laboring with my third. I knew the drill at this point, baby, placenta, repair, toast.

I swear my hubby even spurned me on with ‘Think of the tea and toast, Lou’ as I pushed through the final contractions with my third

Post birth tea and toast is the best tea and toast you will ever have in your life

Your hospital bag

Pack underwear, plenty of it or like me you’ll be texting your mate asking her to pop to Peacocks on their way to hospital to visit, to pick up a few packs of big black size 18s

This is also the one occasion it’s perfectly acceptable to rock a nighty and pair of fluffy socks. But trust me, it’s gonna get messy so make sure they’re cheap ones.

And just when you think you’re done

You have to endure the not so rewarding third stage of labour, which nobody tells you about. The delivery of the placenta. I think it just pretty much slipped out with my first two, but with my third I was convinced it was twins and powered through it with gas and air. There was a moment of panic as I heard the words’surgery’, but out it popped just in time

The hospital exit

Boy is it emotional. Not only are you  met with ‘congratulations’ off hospital staff as you pass them, you also feel a slight pang of ‘we’re on our own now’ anxiety

I’ll always remember filling up with tears as I heard my other half say ‘welcome to the world, little one’ as we exited through the doors with Emily.

It’s a special moment, take it all in

 

You’ll probably vow ‘never again’ 

Whilst in the final stages of labour, then whisper ‘I’d do it again in a heartbeat’ the second you hold your long awaited perfect tiny little bundle.

b

Find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LouAlex

Twitter @LouAlexa

Instagram loualexaa

 

 

anxiety, asd, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, metnal health, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

Who am I and why do I want to volunteer with Tots & Tums?

I,m Louise, I’m 39, and I am a mum of three gorgeous children, and married to Andrew.

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Me and my youngest, Emily

When people ask me ‘what I do’ I’m never quite sure what to say. I mean it’s easy to tell someone you work in retail, or in education, or something along those lines, but I write, and I blog, and I probably use social media way more that society suggests I probably should.

But I do all of those with reason and my intentions are always to spread messages of positivity and hope for those who may need it.

I do this because I have suffered with mental health issues pretty much all my adult life. Once I hit 16, I went off the rails and spiralled into a life which I can see now, is not the kind of life any mother would ideally want their daughter to have.

I had my first child at 21, ended up a single parent at 22, got into relationships with the wrong kind of people, made bad choices, found myself in not exactly ideal situations, but luckily I decided to try and make something of my life by going back into education at 26 once my son started school.

I met my now husband just before I turned 30 and as I was about to graduate from uni, and from then I finally got my life back on track, or more or less. We had our first child together in November 2008, then our second child September 2011.

Our oldest daughter was diagnosed with autism in April 2015, and it was at that point I said I was going to change my life. I had answers now. I’d spent so many years anxious, worrying, stressing. We had answers, a diagnosis and I needed to move forward.

So I set about making changes to my life, little by little and I can say now that I am completely through my depression. I still have moments of anxiety, but I think we all do, and I am now aware of how to control them.

I started by working towards fulfilling my childhood ambition of becoming a journalist and signed up to a distance learning course. From this I pushed myself to travel down to London on my own to do workshops, then smashed another barrier by taking my first exam, and passing. I then made myself completely familiar with my surroundings and what is going on in the area, what’s topical? What do people want to read about?, and started writing feature articles for newspapers and magazines.

I then started blogging and sharing my personal experiences of being an autism mum and living with depression and anxiety. I then took up exercise and it’s through that which I’ve made so many friends. Which brings me where I am today…

Beating depression has made me want to help others beat it too. I want to find people who have lost their way in life, and help them find it again. But I don’t want to do it sat in an office, taking notes, or as an employee who’s able to listen, but not able to give advice.

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I want to do it as me. As the girl who woke up one day and decided to take her life back. I want to find men and women who have lost all belief in themself, lost their identity, lost their path in life. I want these people realise their self-worth, identify their dreams, break their comfort zones and achieve them.

I want to be someone who helps reduce the mental health stats which fill me with tears every single time I read them. I want to be someone who makes a difference to the world, I want to potentially save lives.

And I want to do it all by sharing my experiences of kicking mental health issues and give others the confidence and belief that they can do it too.

anxiety, celebrity, depression, general, health, mental health, wellbeing

Nailing Mental Health

 

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year

9 out of 10 people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination

Somebody loses their life every TWO HOURS due to mental health

For every one female to take their own life due to mental health struggles, 4 men take theirs

In 2015 in the UK and ROI 6,078 people suffering with mental health issues, took their own life

2015 is also the year I finally took back control of my life, and fought the hardest battle I ever have, and won.

This is why when asked by Beauty Therapist Alison Mitchell,

ally2
Alison Mitchell, just one of the 350 nail techs who’ll be taking part in the event

if I could give a little assistance promoting an upcoming event aimed at raising awareness surrounding mental health and to raise funds to go towards the provision of care of those suffering, I’m all behind it.

A celebrity nail artist from Dartford, Kent, has set up event  ‘Nailing Mental Health’, which will be taking place on Sunday 2nd April at InterContinental O2 Hotel, London from 10.30am where herself and approximately 350 nail techs will attempt to break a world record by doing at least 6,078 shapes and paints in green glitter, which is the colour of the mental heath ribbon, over 8 hours to mark each of the lives lost to mental illness.

Stephanie Staunton, whilst suffering her own battles, came up with the idea after suffering a break down and suicide attempt in August 2016. Stephanie, and her team aim to raise £30K, with a donation of £5 from each person who has their nails painted, and the funds raised will go towards MIND, Samaritans and Stephanies charity ‘Nailing Mental Health’.

steph
Stephanie Stuanton showing support with green nails

All funds raised will be used to cover the cost of therapy which will be offered to those suffering with mental health issues, as current waiting lists on the NHS can be anything between 12-18weeks, which can have devastating consequences.

But the event is just as much about raising awareness as it is funds. More shocking statistics show that

1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder – that is around three children in every class.

Between 1 in every 12 and 1 in 15 children and young people deliberately self-harm 

There has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self harm. Over the last ten years this figure has increased by 68%.

This is why we need to act, and we need to act now. We need more understanding around the issues surrounding mental health, and how we can help. We need more funding to provide the potentially life save care these people desperately need.

The event has already drawn some celebrity support, with some names set to attend on the day. But there is still an urgent need of nail techs to help set this record, which will be judged by Guinness Book of Records), and members of the public to attend the venue to have their nails painted.

To be part of this event and help raise awareness of mental health issues and funds for the charity, contact Stephanie via the Nailing Mental Health Facebook group.

http://www.nailingmentalhealth.org.uk

info@nailingmentalhealth.org.uk

Instagram @nailingmentalhealth

 

 

anxiety, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, post natal depression, wellbeing

A week of inspiration

At some point in your life, you will be lucky enough to meet someone who inspires you. Someone who in some way contributes to making you a better person. They will make you want to strive for things you always dreamed of and help you realise what really matters in life.

Not only will they be a role model, but they will also be one of the best and most genuine people you will ever have the pleasure and privilege of meeting.

I’m lucky. I have grown such a strong circle of friends over a very short period of time, and every single one of them fills my life with so much happiness and they are all helping me create memories.And I can’t possibly go a single day without talking to or seeing at least one of them.

But this week, I’ve been left feeling completely in awe and so inspired by three of them in particular, and this blog is for them.

Firstly, Debra. Debra very sadly lost her sister to a brain tumour in March 2015. I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing that. She has since dedicated all her time to fundraising for Marie Curie Care, the charitable organisation which supported not only Debras sister in her last days, but also her family. In the short space of time I have known Debra, I have only ever seen her smile. She has such a positive outlook on life which makes me question any bad days I have. As we get older I guess we’re all guilty of having a little moan as another birthday approaches. I did just last year, until Debra mentioned that she’s just grateful each year to be alive. Just to be around to celebrate another birthday. I’ll never complain at growing older again.

Then there’s Rachael. I’ve met Rachael only a handful of times, but this has been more than enough for her to leave a lasting impression. Rachael suffered firstly with anxiety, which then turned into depression, and the depression got deeper after the birth of her daughter Evie. She not only shares her experiences and talks about them openly on social media to raise awareness, but also runs a voluntary support group for other mums and dads feeling the same. Rachael does this all whilst still suffering bad days herself. She does it because she just wants to help others. To provide a support network for those suffering with post natal depression to let them know they are not alone. I strongly believe we need more advocates like this to talk about their experiences of living with mental health issues.

And Melanie. I’ve known Mel for almost 2 years now and she has had such a massive impact on my life. Overtime, I’ve realised she’s had a massive impact on quite a few lives. She’s our dance fitness instructor and she has brought so many women together, and she has literally transformed lives. It’s through going to Melanies classes I met both Rachael and Debra. I can’t talk for everyone else, but she’s give me back everything I ever lost, and everything I’ve never had.

But not only that. Melanie has also raised funds for a variety of charities. Her last one just last night hosting a family disco and raising £380 for Northumbria Bright. Melanie does all this whilst having a very busy life as a teacher, and mum of two gorgeous girls. She is truly awesome

These are just three women I know who selflessly spend so much of their time, making a difference to the lives of others, and they need to know just how amazing they are.

So next time you are touched by someone, what someone says, what someone does, tweet, blog, text, post, comment, and let them know how they or it made you feel. Tell people and tell them often just how much they matter. Not only to your life, but to the lives of others too.

dance, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle

Class review – Pound Fitness

Forever on the look out to try something new at the minute, I came across POUND. A  fitness trend coming from Los Angeles, which after watching a YouTube demo, I just knew I had to try. I get to step into the role of a clubber/dancer four times a week, now I’d like to be a drummer.

POUND is a full body cardio jam session which fuses cardio, Pilates, isometric movements, plyometrics and isometric poses, burning  between 400 and 900 calories per hour.

It both strengthens and sculpts infrequently used muscles, as you drum your way to a leaner, slimmer physique whilst rocking out to a wide range of tracks from rock to current chart.

All you have to do is grab a pair of fluro green sticks, and let rip.

In case you’re wondering ‘how can a pair of drumsticks give you a good workout’?- the purpose of the sticks is distraction. NOBODY likes doing squats or lunges, right? Add a funky beat to pound along to with the 1/4lb each sticks and it takes a boring workout to a whole new level.

The other benefit of drumsticks (known as ‘ripsticks’) is that they force you to go much lower into your squats, stretches and reaches than you otherwise would, as the idea is to actually hit the floor with your sticks. Again, without really thinking about the fact that you’re squatting really deep. You’re just getting those sticks where they need to be when they need to be there.

During the class I found the choreo got progressively more complex (as you would expect), and gained speed, but I found the routines quite easy to pick up, got into a groove and actually lost track of time (to the point that three classes in and I’m still not sure if we’ve been rocking out for 45 minutes, or an hour).

I was rather hot and sweaty just two or three tracks in, and really started to feel the burn as the squats became more frequent, but surprisingly I actually found my brain was too busy trying to keep up with the drumming sequence to even realise I was squatting or lunging. The inventors of Pound call this strategic distraction. Which is pretty fricking genius

But it’s not just the arms and legs which get a workout, it’s the abs too at you sit legs in front of you slightly risen, stomach pulled in, back lifted working your abs to stabilise whilst you drum frantically from side to side.

I returned the following week, and again the week after. And it’s now my Monday night thing.

As mentioned above, I’ve done three classes now and I’m finding both my coordination and speed improving, and I’m really noticing and becoming more aware of the beat in music now, which I’m also finding is even improving my Clubbercising.

No matter what age you are, where your fitness levels are at, whether you’re male or female, if there is a POUND class near you and you like exercising to music (I can’t exercise without), and up for trying something new, I’d definitely give Pound a go.

I’ve actually just discovered another ‘coming soon’ dance fitness programme thismoring. Shanu T’s ‘CIZE’. I NEED to try this.

 

dance, general, health, health and fitness, mental health, wellbeing

WARNING – Things THAT will happen to you when you start to exercise

It’s just gone 2 years since I went out and purchased my first pair of trainers since school (I’m not even joking), threw on the leggings, bit the bullet and ventured into the world of ‘fitness’.

So if anyone is thinking of doing the same, I should highlight some of the changes, in both body and mind, you can expect to experience.

These aren’t a load of scientific facts I’ve googled and threw together, but all based on personal experience.

First off, expect to feel an increase in energy. You know when you find it really difficult to get up in the morning, particularly in the winter? You’ll find yourself waking up rearing to go. Especially if it’s a class day. And if that is the case, you’ve probably went to bed the previous night excited for morning. I mean who actually looks forward to 6am? That’ll be me

Your physical co-ordination will improve, helping you navigate even the most cluttered of tasks or busy crowds like the ninja you are

You’ll find yourself feeling good. Like really really good, less stressed and so much more relaxed. That’s the beauty of serotonin

You’ll gradually notice you are feeling so much more confident. You know all the things you wish you could do, but believe you can’t? The things you’d love to try but worried you’ll be no good at? The changes you’d like to make in life but are held back by the ‘what ifs’? You’ll do them. Because you’ll have the self-belief and confidence to have a go at absolutely anything you desire. And if it doesn’t work out as planned – you won’t care because at least you’ve given it a go

Your wardrobe will change. I have way more gym gear than ‘normal’ clothes. Barely any of them fit and I prefer to stick to black or gray, but I saw, I liked, I bought, and I’m sure they will at some point. Trainers will become the new heels. Especially if you go out for a few sociables after class. It happens

You’ll experience a sense of pride as your self-esteem begins to rise as you set and smash those goals you will start to set. Some fitness related, some not. Whether it’s to run a mile, fit into a pair of jeans or go along to a new class. There is no better feeling than that of achievement and you’ll reach a point where you believe you can have a go at pretty much any thing, although it’s important to not become too delusional. Don’t think after two weeks of pumping iron you’re ready to fly a plane. Keep it real

You’ll meet new people. People you’ll strike up friendships with, as you’ll all share a common interest and passion. Friends you’ll look forward to seeing, who cheer each other on, lift each other up and will play a special part in your life.

You’ll start to care so much less about what others think of you. As your confidence grows, so does a layer of thick skin which any unwanted negative comments you may unfortunately find being thrown your way, just can not cut through. There will be no room for negativity in your life. Good vibes only, people

In addition to all the above, your body will inevitable change. Not only will you be losing the pounds, your shape will change. You’ll notice you look and feel toned as muscle starts to form (especially if mixing weights with cardio).

So unless you want to feel utterly fabulous, completely change your mindset and open doors to a whole new you, you best avoid the gym and all the funky new fitness classes I just can not get enough of

 

 

 

 

 

 

anxiety, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

10 Stepts to Body Confidence

Low body confidence is an issue which affects all of us from time to time, irrespective of age and gender. It is recognised as a significant social and public health problem in the UK and throughout much of the rest of the world. Statistics show that 60% of adults say that they feel ashamed of the way they look. This feeling of shame often leads to engaging in less social interaction, leading to isolation, and in turn poor mental health.

Sadly we live in a culture where a woman’s thinness and beauty are highly valued, and where wealth and success are often considered to go hand in hand with this image of perfection. We’re fed images via the media of ridiculously thin but extremely glamorous women, and devastatingly, these images are seen by teenagers in a time when they are particularly susceptible to peer pressure.

Low body confidence is not exclusive to women and girls; men and boys suffer negative body image too – but are less likely to admit to being affected, as it is seen as less socially acceptable for men to admit to caring about what they look like enough to experience any hang-ups.

It is the aim of many advocacy groups to change the way the media portrays women, with national and international efforts being made to make marketers take responsibility for displaying unrealistic and achievable images of both men and women. But we cannot simply rely upon a change in the media to change the ways we feel about ourselves, but instead we need to act as individuals and change the way we perceive and feel.

So, what follows is ten tips for achieving body confidence: a mental detox to have you feeling better about yourself in no time.

Surround Yourself With Positive People.

Every day we are surrounded by and spend time with a variety of people, but negative people can affect your own outlook, particularly of your body image. Choose to be around people who will make you thrive, even if this does mean some drastic changes to your social life. The transformation should empower you, lift your mood, self-esteem and body confidence.

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Recognise the Use of Image Manipulation, and That Altered Images Are Altering Our Minds

These ‘perfect’ images we see in media aren’t all they seem. Celebrities have spent hours in make up, photographed under strategically placed lighting and air-brushed to perfection. Blemishes are removed, limbs are lengthened and stomachs are flattened, as demonstrated in the below clip. Learn to recognise that these alterations are unrealistic and recognise the harm that they are doing to your own self-image.

Celebrate Your Body and All the Amazing Things It Can Do

Shift your focus away from what you body looks like to what it can do. Our bodies are our means of getting about, seeing, feeling, smelling. It is the means in which we come in contact and get to know the world. We should appreciate and respect it for that.

Make a List of Things You Like About Yourself, Read and Add to It Often

These things don’t have to be physical attributes. What you look like is only part of who you are. Think of all the things you do and do well, such as your ability to make others laugh when they most need it, your quirks, or your ability to smile even when things get hard. These are all qualities that need to be celebrated. And when the critical voices start making themselves known, there’s some evidence to the contrary.

Overpower Negative Thoughts With Positive Ones

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We affirm statements about ourselves and the condition of our life with every thought and word we speak, and we practice this habit subconsciously. As we ponder over specific thoughts again and again, those thoughts become beliefs. Pretty soon these beliefs become our reality, and the condition of our wealth, health and relationships depends upon our habit of perception. Practicing positive affirmations is life changing. Use more positive self-talk. When you find yourself in the midst of a negative thought pattern, stop and replace it with an opposite statement. So stop hating yourself because you ‘look horrible’ and learn tell yourself that you love yourself unconditionally.

Exercise

Research indicates that exercise can help to improve body image. People who exercise and workout regularly are more likely to feel self-confident than those who are largely inactive.

exer

Body image is a strong component of self-esteem – and taking part in an activity that you enjoy, and that you gain a sense of accomplishment from, will help to build your self-esteem. Other benefits gained from exercise include overall better mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress and depression. Exercise also releases endorphins which create feelings of happiness through euphoria.

Practice Self Acceptance.

Self-acceptance is embracing yourself as you are right now.

“You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say, ‘I’m proud of what I am and who I am, and I’m just going to be myself.”

– Mariah Carey

To get to a place of self-acceptance you have to be able to know and understand who you are, which is likely to mean making some changes. You may have to face some fears and step outside of your comfort zone. It’s about separating who you are from what you’ve done, and understanding that everyone makes mistakes, and that’s how we learn and grow.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Everyone has something they wish they could change about their body. Wishing you had someone else’s hair, smile, or teeth takes away from what uniquely is you. Learn to accentuate the qualities you like and minimize the things you don’t. Start to look for beauty everywhere, particularly in places you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to find it, then you will learn to find it in yourself. You might not be able to squeeze into those size 8 jeans, but you still have that killer hair.

Focus on What You Have the Power to Change

If you want to change something about yourself, do it. If it’s your hair you don’t like, try a new haircut. If you’re unhappy about your weight, look into changing your diet or maybe joining an exercise class. The sooner you start making the changes, the sooner you will start to feel better about yourself.

Invest Your Time and Energy More Wisely

Rather than worrying about food, calories and your weight, use that time and energy to do something to help others, whether it’s an individual, or even getting involved in charity work.

Sometimes reaching out to other people can help us feel better about ourselves and make a positive change to our world.