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.

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.

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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, 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.

 

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.

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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.

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

What happened since my last blog..

So my last blog was an update of how my life has changed in a year since deciding to make a bit of a lifestyle change. I always planned to write it, but I didn’t actually sit down and plan what to write. I just knocked it up in about half an hour off the top of my head. I wrote a quick update and didn’t really think much of it. I actually thought ‘who even cares’?

But after I wrote it, and noticed people were actually reading, and sharing it, I felt kind of weird. I think it then sunk in that I’ve talked openly about my difficult times for a while now and I’ve done it not only for me, but for other people too. Right now, as I write this I’m still feeling like I’ve been given this thing called life and I’m still getting used to it. It’s like I’m adapting to freedom.

So, I feel I’m at the point now where I want to do a little bit more than just blog (although I’m know I’m not very consistent with that). Now I want to actually be there to help anyone who can relate to the feelings I talk about.

I want to offer hope, and encouragement and if I could help change someone, even just one person – to pull them out of that black hole I spent way too long in, that would be freaking amazing.

So, I want to reach out to as many people as possible living with mental illness and tell them YOU CAN BEAT IT. I know you can. Everyone can. I’m proof you can.

There are so many women who look in the mirror like I did and hate every single bit of what they see. Who believe they aren’t attractive because they have a tummy, or they have ‘cellulite’. I want to make them change their thoughts and understand that you ARE beautiful.

There are full-time mums sat at home with children all day who feel they’ve lost their sense of identity. Who feel they’re ‘just a wife and mum’. You aren’t. You’re more than that. You just need reminding

I want to find the women who struggle with anxiety. The ones who really want to go along to something new, but don’t yet have the courage to go it alone. And tell them to just bloody well go for it

I want to find the women who are experiencing loneliness, and bring them together. It is to me, the worst feeling in the world. Loneliness IS a soul destroyer.

I want to find the women who feel they want to improve their health and join a class or gym, but are hesitant that they ‘won’t fit in’, or worry they will ‘feel silly’, or even just don’t have anyone to go with. I want to tell them to forget all that and again, just GO FOR IT. Do it. Do it today (or tomorrow depending on what time I press the ‘publish’ button on this)

If I can reach out to anyone who lives near me, I’d happily accompany someone who wants to give the gym a go but has no one to go with. Or even bring them along to a class with me one night. I’d even pay for them because I personally believe that exercise is the answer to fighting anxiety and depression. I feel like exercise is what’s ‘found’ me. It’s the music, the dancing, the other girls, that feeling of just letting go for a while. It has given me a total mindset makeover.

I’ve actually found it better to go along to classess on my own. That way over time you find yourself chatting to the other girls rather than whoever you’ve gone along with and there is so much potential to make some amazing friends. I know this

And how do I plan to do this? Over the next few days I’m aiming to set myself the task of setting up a Facebook page aimed at women who can relate to any of the above together and we can all kick depression/anxiety/insecurities/lonliness  in the ass.

I want to do it because I mentioned the idea to my hubby and he keeps telling me to go for it and asking what’s holding me back (that would be the tiny bit of anxiety I do still have). Friends I’ve spoke to it about have been encouraging, and I’m experiencing that thing where everything around you seems to remind you of that something which you keep thinking about.

Every single person on this earth has so much potential, and so many reason to be happy. We just lose our vision sometimes and need a little help, encouragement and guidance to find that key which will unlock it. And when you do, life becomes just truely awesome.

 

 

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

10 Sure Fire Steps to Body Confidence

BY LOUISE SHARP | July 10, 2015

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.

Worryingly, evidence gathered by the YMCA shows that low body confidence in young people can lead to unsafe sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and youth unemployment. In addition to this, a report commissioned by the Government Equalities Office found that low body confidence is undermining academic confidence and performance in adolescent girls, with some even missing school due to their body image concerns. Some women are going as far as simply not turning up to work or job interviews, showing that body image concerns are even preventing women from reaching their potential and contributing socially and economically to society.

But 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 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 unachievable images of both men and women. But we cannot simply reply upon a change in the media to change the way we feel about ourselves, as body confidence is not solely down to what we see. There are a range of social, cultural, psychological and biological factors that influence body image.

We need to act as individuals and change the way we perceive and feel about ourselves. So, what follows is ten tips for achieving body confidence: a mental detox to have you feeling better about yourself in no time.

1)  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.

2) 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.

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) Overpower Negative Thoughts With Positive Ones

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.

6) 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. 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.

7) 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.

8) 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.

9) 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.

10) 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.

And that’s it! Do you have any tips we haven’t covered here? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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

Title – there isn’t one

Started the morning with another 20 minutes of exercise, rowing machine again unfortunately, but I did also have a little dance in the kitchen whilst making my breakfast. Everything counts

I attempted to make the time go faster this time by listening to music on my phone, rather than watching a music channel. That way I could sing along to music I actually like, rather than the likes of Little Mix and Olly Murs yesterday. I need motivational, fast paced music. So that made it a little less painful, and the time did seem to go quicker.

I have ate very well today. Nothing exciting or which took a lot of thought or prep, so I won’t bore anyone with food photos.

After exercising thismorning I had a protein shake. We bought it over christmas after being advised which would be the best shake to not only add protein to our diet, but also assist weight loss.

 

So my hubby made it for me whilst having a shower and handed me a shaker full of really gross looking water. It tasted pretty vile, and not of chocolate at all. I was feeling doubtful I could drink it.

whey

However, upon reading the instructions of how to make it up, its 200 mils of water and one scoop of the protein powder. For some reason he decided to randomly add it to 500 mils of water. So after doing it correctly, it tasted much better. I’m not saying it was nice or anything, but it’s a small amount doing a lot of good so easily do-able. I bought unsweetened almond milk to make it with in future.

I’ve also had a shot of Aloe Gel. I’ve used it in the past as part of a detox, and it is really good and I do feel a difference when taking it, I just frequently forget.

aloe

I also tried a strawberry and cream Pro2go bar. Really, really nice. Also really, really expensive (£1.50 on offer, not sure of usual price). So doubt I’ll be buying many of them.

pro

So today is the last day of the holidays, and usually I would be feeling really sad round about now. Andrew is back at work, the girls are off school till tuesday. In the past I’ve hated the idea of going back to normality and spending my days alone and at home with the kids. But this year I’m feeling really grateful to have had such an amazing two weeks with my family. The girls have really understood and got into the Christmas spirit this year. We’ve had so many great days out over the last two weeks, and spent time with friends and family and I just feel really happy. I am focused, determined, and very excited for the days, weeks and months ahead.

Blogging is a great help and it’s like a diet tool. Seriously, if you’re going to do something you would normally give up on after a few days, blog it.

 

 

depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, metnal health

Twenty sixteen

It’s here, a new year and I’m hoping this year will be even better than last. My aim for 2015 was the typical ‘lose a bit of weight’ goal. But as suspected, months in and it just wasn’t happening.

It took me till the summer to start shifting the pounds, and that’s only because I discovered a love for exercise. I doubt I would’ve seen any difference at the end of the year had I just ‘gone on a diet’.

So this year I plan to continue dropping the pounds, as well as building strength both mentally and physically. I’m not aiming or aspiring to be ‘slim’, or a particular weight or dress size. This is about being in the best shape I feel I can be. I want to be healthy in both body and mind.

I’m hoping to achieve and stick to this by blogging, hopefully daily. I am going to share some of my meals, document any exercise I have done, and the scariest part, take photos. I want to see how much my body (not size but shape) can change over a year if I stick to my plan.

I’m also aim to keep track of and share my mental state over the year. On the days when I’m not feeling so good, I am going to identify why, and what I do to change it. I’m curious to see just how much absolutely anyone can change over a year.

Today is New Years day, and should really be day one. Only we still have food (cheesecake, crisps, chocolate) left over from Christmas, but very little and I suspect it’ll all be gone by tonight.

So tomorrow is day 1. Tomorrow is back on a healthy diet, only stricter than it has been and hopefully I can fit in an hour in the gym, or possibly even a run. But tonight,  I’m having a bath and finishing off the vino from last night.