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, 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.

pos

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

pos2

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.

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.

 

 

anxiety, clean 9, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Making a lifestyle change – two years on

On National Fitness Day September 2015, I  blogged about the affects a lifestyle change was having on me. That was 4 months into the decision to try and change my life.

It’s now two years since I decided to make the change and live a healthier lifestyle, and thought I might give a little update.

Going back just over 2 years ago, I was in a very dark place. I had zero confidence – to the extent that some days, I even avoided leaving the house. I had really low self-esteem and a negative body image. I hated my appearance so much I ended up having weekly appointments with a Clinical Psychologist for CBT. That was way back in 2011, and what I believed was my last resort and attempt to break free from this awful feeling which was both ruling and ruining my life. However, 10 weeks in, the treatment was proving unsuccessful as I was making no progress, so the sessions came to an end.

My days were spent at home on my own. Just me and my youngest daughter. I couldn’t face taking her to soft play like other mums. I couldn’t handle the social anxiety I’d feel in toddler groups. I’d spend my days on my own.  The only people I would see week in week out was either family members, or my hubby. They were my only source of adult conversation, not that i had any conversation. I mean what can you talk about when you’re sat in your living room all day with a toddler.

I felt lost. I was lost. I didn’t know who I was, what I liked/disliked, or why I was even here. I felt empty, I felt drained and in pain. Mental pain

Then on Facebook I just happened to see something about a dance fitness class about to start in the area. I’d already heard about the new fitness trend and I was actually on the mailing list for one class, meaning I would get an email once a place in the became available. But every time I got that email, I made an excuse to myself why I couldn’t go. But this time, as nervous as I felt, I decided to go along to this new class and give it a try. I had absolutely no idea that by just making that small move, I was about to change my whole life.

Over the next few months I progressed from one class, to two and by august 2015, I was attending all 4 classes a week. In addition to that, I’d also started training once a week with a PT I’d had recommended to me. I’ve since had to stop the PT sessions for the moment, but go to the local gym two or sometimes three times a week.

I went along to the first class thinking I might drop a few dress sizes, since that’s what working out is all about, right? Obviously my body has changed shape, I’ve lost weight and I am stronger, both mentally and physically, but I don’ want to highlight the physical changes, I want to stress the mental changes.

Over the last two years my confidence has gradually grown. I’ve done things I never thought I could do. If I want to do something, anything, there’s no thinking about what could go wrong, or doubting myself. I just go for it.

I can’t even remember the last time i felt ‘depressed’. I may have had a few bad days, who doesn’t? But the depression, those horrible dark days where I just did not want to get out of bed in the morning, they’ve gone. The anxiety, the inability to even some days go shopping as I just didn’t want anyone to even look at me, that’s gone too. The massive void I had in my life where most people have friends, that’s been filled. I have made so many friends throught Clubbercise, and as new girls come to class, I’m making more all the time. And our friendships don’t just stay within the classes. We see each other quite often. We go out for lunch, we’re in contact via messenger, I spend days during school holidays with Melanie (our instuctor) and we go out with our children, we go to each others houses, we have nights out. I can safely say these girls have been my saviour

By making that small but to me brave decision to go along to a fitness class a year ago, my whole life has completely changed and I now I have everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

 

 

 

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

Fitness Review – Clubbercise

BY LOUISE SHARP | June 19, 2015

So after spending the last couple of months of 2013 and most of 2014 working on ‘the inside’ and after going though mentally challenging times, I decided that 2015 was going to be the year that I started to work on the outside. It’s now June and apart from dyeing my hair ‘Blackcurrant’ and updating my summer wardrobe, I haven’t done much to change. I want to be slim, toned and healthy. However there is one vital problem, like an awful lot of people, I hate gyms. I hate them with a passion.

After forking out around £300 to join the local ladies gym nearly six years ago, I reluctantly dragged myself there most nights for less than a month, making excuses to never again return. My nights were simply too busy, what with all the time spent watching tv and eating jaffa cakes. To be fair though I even gave the ridiculous (aptly named) ‘Insanity’ a half-hearted whirl a year ago, but found that I was literally gasping for breath after just 30 seconds of sprinting on the spot.

But then I heard about Clubbercise, a new rapidly growing fitness trend which seems to be taking the UK by storm, who claim to bring ‘a night out to your workout‘.  A keen clubber in my twenties, but now having other commitments and rarely having the time to go out, usually at home with my pajamas on by 10, I decided to give it a go. I tracked down the nearest class, and made the self promise to actually attend. night arrived, I threw on the black leggings and neon top, dug out the trainers and rocked up at the venue, a local scout hut. Being a Friday night made it the perfect start to my weekend.

As I walked in I was pleasantly surprised to see thirty to forty other neon clad females, aged from as young as fifteen to those who were probably in their forties. I paid for the class (a bargain £2, a half price offer), purchased my pink disposable glowsticks and before I knew it the room sank into darkness. Laser and disco lights filled the room, and I took my place (at the back of course).

This was actually the first session of a new class, so most of us were new to Clubbercise. After a brief introduction and being told to go at our own pace, the tunes began and within the next hour I had burned up to 600 calories dancing about to 90s classics such as the rave tune ‘Set you Free’ and to the recent beat of ‘Up Town Funk’. The hour passed in no time, and ended with us all winding down to stretch it out while also singing along to an upbeat version of ‘Man in the Mirror’. I felt great. Sweaty and hot, but fantastic. I left the venue feeling like I’d left a club, yet only sober.

The next morning I awoke only slightly feeling the burn. I surprisingly felt full of energy and on a bit of a natural high from the night before, only without the hangover. I eagerly went along to a different class the following Monday, but this one had been going a while and I was the newby amongst a group of regulars who already knew all the moves to Sigmas ‘Nobody to Love’. I didn’t and caused an injury. I’ve only made it back to one more class with having other things happening on a Friday night the past couple of weeks, but I will be there this week and I’m determined to make this a regular thing.

If you tend to feel intimidated by the usual aerobics, fitness classes and gyms like I do, and would rather  dance like nobody is watching, then Clubbercise can most definitely be your thing. And after watching the video above, who wouldn’t want to give it a go?

clean 9, depression, diet, excercise, forever living, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Diet Review – Clean 9

BY LOUISE SHARP | July 14, 2015

We’re a nation obsessed with losing weight, but slimming is not an easy task for most. Last year it was all about juicing and the Paleo Diet, but figures released by Google at the end of 2014 show that the most searched diet of 2014 was Clean 9. Created by Forever Living, who amazingly enough don’t advertise their products but rather rely up word of mouth, this diet claims that you can loose up to 12lb in just 9 days.

Following a proven step-by-step plan called Forever Fit, which is an advanced nutritional, cleaning and weight management program, Clean 9 is designed to make you look and feel better. The Forever Fit plan starts with C9. The premise of Clean 9 is that it will help you begin to remove stored toxins from your body and feel lighter and more energised. Then it is followed by Fit 1 and Fit 2, which concentrates on sustaining weight loss and toning up.

Clean 9 involves taking a small variety of products supplied in the pack, along with an eating and exercise plan. It works with a combination of the effects of cleansing the body by drinking aloe vera gel, taking supplements like garcinia and forever therm which boosts the metabolism, and drinking a meal replacement shake.

The first two days will involve putting nothing into your body other than the products which are in the pack. However, there is a long list of GI free fruit and vegetables which can be eaten if necessary. Days 1 and 2 are aimed at resetting the body and mind and purging toxins. During days 3 to 9, one 600/800 calorie (women/men) meal a day is introduced for lunch or dinner, alongside the shakes and supplements.

So that’s what Clean 9 entails, and I decided to try it out for myself.

Most people weigh themselves before the detox, and take measurements.  However, I chose not to do this for a couple of reasons, which others may find strange and I appreciate that. Primarily, I wasn’t doing Clean 9 to lose weight; I was doing it to kick-start the healthy lifestyle I’ve wanted for so long, but always sabotaged within a couple of days with some kind of sugary snack. I wanted to have nothing but positives to report about the Cleanse. I was worried that if by day 9 I had only lost as little as 2lb, I would feel my efforts had been wasted and dwell on that rather than focus on the positive benefits of the cleanse.

The other reason is that I threw the bathroom scales out a few years ago after finding myself up in the night checking my weight, as well as several times during the day. I do want to lose weight. I want to finally say goodbye to the extra pounds I gained whilst pregnant with my youngest 4 years ago, and I’m hoping this will change my relationship with food and get me on the right path to feeling comfortable and happy with myself as I once did.

I planned exactly when to start the Cleanse. I wanted to do it during a time without any temptations. I had a weekend away planned, followed by family visiting. I knew there would be high calorie food and the odd glass of wine during those occasions that I wanted to partake in, so I chose the monday after as my starting point.

The sunday before the cleanse I made the most of eating whatever I liked, so I went out for a carvery, followed by a big slab of chocolate cake. I wanted that full feeling, the feeling when you’ve eaten more than you needed to and I wanted to remember it and how awful and unnecessary it can feel.

I really thought I would struggle on days 1 and 2. But I’m surprised to say that I didn’t actually feel hungry over the first two days at all. Breakfast was two capsules of Aloe Gel, which doesn’t taste pleasant. However, by day two I’d worked out a technique of doing the two shots of gel first, whilst holding my nose, followed by the two gel tablets and therm tablet. This way I could completely avoid the taste. But to be honest, by day 4 I wasn’t bothered by the gel at all. I was already feeling the benefits and they were worth the unpleasant taste.

On the first day I mixed the chocolate shake with water. I didn’t enjoy this at all, so switched to either rice or soy milk for the remainder of the cleanse, which gave it a much more enjoyable and palatable taste. I also gave it a good shake which made it quite frothy, and more like a McDonald’s milkshake and who doesn’t like a McDonald’s milkshake?

On day three I felt quite proud of myself for getting through the notoriously known hardest part of the diet, and really looked forward to my 600 calorie meal that night. I put a lot of thought into what to make, and went with chicken wholemeal wraps, with peppers, onions, lettuce, cucumber, a homemade salsa, and sour cream. On that same night, my daughter had two friends come for tea and I actually had no problem at all resisting the cake and crisps I had laid out for their tea party. I was also already starting to find that my clothes were starting to feel loose, and my skin looked much brighter and healthier than usual.

By day 5 I started to wish I had noted weight and measurements. My clothes were again feeling looser, and I was feeling more energetic by the day. I was also finding that at dinner time, I was feeling really full after my evening meal, even though my portions were much smaller than what I would have served before the cleanse.

On day 6 I tried on a maxi dress I didn’t anticipate wearing this summer and it fit. I also tried on a short, colourful cropped cardigan, which I had bought a few weeks earlier without trying on in the shop, got home and realised it was at least a size too small and surprisingly, that fit too. It was a Saturday and usually a takeaway night. I made a whole wheat noodles, chili and ginger salmon and prawns, steamed carrots, peppers and pak choi, which I enjoyed much more than the usual Singapore noodles, lemon chicken, fried rice, curry and chips.

Then day 7 arrived and I realised that shakes for breakfast were starting to feel routine now. I was actually really enjoying them, but not so much for lunch; I was longing for a healthy wrap of some sort. I also noticed the shakes were starting to taste slightly sweeter. With not eating chocolate for a whole week now, I was really starting to taste the natural sweetness in foods.

By this point, each morning I was filling my water bottle and putting an apple and banana in my bag to take out with me in the morning, without giving it any thought. With just two days to go, I felt like this was becoming a lifestyle which I was more than happy with to adopt.

On day 8 I’d expected to feel really excited about reaching the end of my cleanse, only I wasn’t. What was once the dreaded aloe gel in the morning had now become my routine and drinking it no longer phased me. Taking the daily supplements (8 tablets a day), were never a problem. Meal times were what they were before the detox, I never eat processed food or ready meals, but my downfall was often tucking into a couple of doughnuts whilst cooking a healthy meal.

When day 9 arrived I woke up feeling a massive sense of achievement. I had stuck to the cleanse and done everything by the book, even measuring quantities of rice to go with a delicious red Thai curry I’d made. I really enjoyed my first lunch in 9 days – two wholemeal pittas filled with prawns and salad that replaced the chocolate shake.

I felt the most energetic I had in a very long time. My mood felt uplifted throughout the whole 9 days, my skin was clearer than ever and my hair thick and bouncy. At no point did I ever experience hunger other than the normal hunger you might feel as lunch or dinner time approaches. I had no negative side effects what so ever.

I really wished I had taken note of my weight and measurements, as I would say in 9 days I felt like I must have lost near a stone. The differences were very noticeable. Some of my clothes were almost too big, and some fit much more comfortably and some I thought I wouldn’t be wearing this summer, now fit.

Today it’s a week since I completed the cleanse and I can proudly say I haven’t gone back to my old ways; I haven’t eaten any chocolate or biscuits, although I do admit I have had a handful of crisps and literally 5 Haribo hearts. But I’m not thinking about cakes, I have no interest in chocolate, and snacks are now fruit or a handful of nuts. My meals are still completely clean, and the portion sizes remain what they should ideally be.

I’m actually missing the aloe gel in the morning, so much that I may invest in some. I enjoyed the feeling of knowing I’m putting something good into my body each morning. My daily water intake has increased. I realise now how dehydrated I was before the cleanse and it showed in my skin. I exercise each day with a long walk in the morning and a Clubbercise class on a Friday night, I also plan to do another class during the week.

I will definitely be investing in another Clean 9, possibly in January next year as I do plan to have a small indulgence over Christmas. If anyone is thinking about doing the cleanse, stop thinking about it and just do it. It may be pricey at £116, but it is worth every penny.

It claims to be lifestyle changing, but if you’re like me and constantly battling with your weight and yo-yo dieting – which in turn affects your mood – it could be life changing.

(Origionally published on Cultnoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction)

https://www.facebook.com/cultnoise

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

Stop Body Shaming

Canadian comedian Nicole Arbour sparked outrage September last year with her highly controversial ‘Fat ShamingYouTube video. The video, viewed by over 10 million people, contains a barrage of abusive slurs including ‘Obese people should be repeatedly embarrassed to encourage them to lose weight’ and ‘Fat shaming is not a thing. Fat people made that up’.

The 30-year-old comedian voices her belief that ‘People who are obese should be made to feel bad about themselves until they stop eating‘. As a result of her ‘fat shaming’ rant, Arbour was fired from an anti-bullying film she was due to work on, with claims that the director said he never wanted to see her again.

Despite the backlash and criticism, Arbour continues to remain unapologetic about her ‘Dear Fat People’ video, defending herself by calling it satirical and claiming that she was merely ‘having a bit of fun’.

Arbour does actually make a valid point in the 6 minute clip as she briefly addresses heart disease, diabetes and highlights ‘you only have one body’. Her approach, delivery and remaining content, however, are all completely and utterly the wrong way to ‘help’ anyone, and much like her UK counterpart Katie Hopkins, she’s clearly more about the followers, views and attention.

Contrary to Arbour’s belief that her outrageous opinions that her fat shaming may have a positive affect (motivating those who feel targeted to lose weight), research and studies in fact show the opposite and highlight the devastating effects and negative impact body shaming can have on an individual. Not only is it mentally harmful, it’s physically damaging too.

Expressing an opinion on someone’s physical appearance can have immediate effects, but alongside the emotional hurt and sense of being ostracised, this kind of discrimination may cause serious long-term damage. Body shaming has been found to have a more profound negative impact on both physical and psychological health than prejudices against more fixed characteristics such as gender or race.

A recent UK study of 5,000 adults indicated that discriminatory experiences contribute to poorer psychological wellbeing in individuals with obesity; furthermore such experiences cause a 70% increase in symptoms of depression.


rev


Results by a report also published this week show that making overweight or obese people feel bad about their bodies doesn’t do anything to motivate them to lose weight, but in fact does just the opposite.

Negative body image and weight-based discrimination has a negative impact on self-esteem, decreased life satisfaction, and problematic eating behaviours such as binge eating.

Celebrities have been hitting back at the recent rise in body shaming outbursts, with many believing that body shaming should be made illegal, including Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, who was recently a subject of concern over her thinner frame. Cheryl said ‘I can take whatever they (the press) throw at me after 13 years. What worries me is what it is doing to the younger generation. And some of the people writing this stuff are women. There is no sisterhood’.

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 legally protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, disabilities, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy or gender reassignment; maybe it’s time body shaming should be included too, so we no longer have to watch, read or see vile outbursts like Arbour’s.

(Origionally Published on Cultnoise Magazine – currenly under reconstruction)

https://www.facebook.com/cultnoise

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

Don’t say ‘goodbye’ to January

Many people today may have just experienced their last ‘dry’ weekend after pledging to stay clear of alcohol for January, giving their bodies a much needed detox after a month of festive drinking and over indulgence.

If that is you I’m guessing you’re feeling more energetic, especially after the better sleep you should be experiencing. You may also be noticing your skin is clearer, and feeling less bloated and whether you weigh yourself of not, you’ve probably dropped a few pounds.

I would guess you’re currently feeling pretty awesome. Especially with the added sense of achievement. So if you are reading this and this is you, a massive WELL DONE

But, why stop now? Before you arrange a big night out next weekend, or a weekend blow-out, think for a minute how you’re feeling right now. How does your body feel? Your mind feel? Acknowledge the changes which have occurred in your life over such a short space of time.

I’m not suggesting anyone reading should completely kick the drink and sign up to a life of sobriety. Like everything, it’s fine in moderation. But now could just be the perfect opportunity to become more mindful of alcohol consumption and how it affects us both mentally and physically.

But along with staying dry this month, more than two thirds of us will have also started the year in the gym, with the intentions of making this the year we really will live up to the ‘New year, New you’ motto.

But research shows that by the end of January, over a third of us will have quietly cancelled our sparkly new gym membership before even working up a sweat.

With this in mind, what I would really like to do is to encourage anyone reading this who made that promise to change their lifestyle this year, to stick with it. Keep to your goals. Keep aiming for that healthy lifestyle you want to achieve. If you’re looking at your body and thinking you’re not seeing the differences you’d maybe hoped for, that’s because you haven’t given yourself enough time. We’re a month into a year. Four weeks. A healthy weight loss round about now would be around or just over half a stone (2lb a week is a healthy average, possibly more in the first week as we lose water). You’re not going to be seeing abs yet if that’s your aim.

But physical changes aside, this is not all about changing your body, but changing your mind. Have you found over the last four weeks you have woke up feeling happier? Less stressed? More confident? Less anxious? If you’ve been hitting the gym or taking part in some kind of physical exercise either high or lower impact, your answer should be yes to all of these

I’m not going to bore anyone with facts, or statistics but I will share that one thing I’ve learned over the years and found I’m really good at is completely pulling myself apart. I had a knack and skill of being self critical. I’d even do it through humour.  (I still do, but it’s mainly tongue-in-cheek)

However, I’m REALLY pleased to say, that I am now the very proud owner of a little thing I’ve lacked most of my adult life called confidence. I mean I’m still not going to walk into a room full of people and spark up a conversation (Urgh, I’m still shy) but just a ‘this is me, this is my personality, this is my body, this is how I carry and convey myself, and I don’t really care what anyone thinks of me’ sense. There is nothing more liberating than feeling comfortable in your own skin

I’ve gained it through taking control of my life. By eating right (there is often a slight blip once a month. Any girls reading this may be completely with me on this) and I exercise regularly. I’m not even sure of the last time I felt depressed, or down, or sad. I think it was probably around a year ago. I do have the occasional ‘episode’ where I feel I just need a good cry, into a bag of Maltezers usually, but again, what can I say except I’m a woman and I’m sure I’m not alone.

So tomorrow, don’t start February, but continue January. Don’t feel as if you need to drink at the weekend to have fun, you don’t. Don’t ditch the gym membership, or miss classes. Sick with it. Your life will change if that is what you really want.

I also want to point out that I have nothing to gain writing this. I’m not endorsing any products, sponsored or paid by any gyms. I’m speaking from personal experience. I just want to offer words of encouragement and inspiration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, special needs, wellbeing

So I clearly can’t blog daily. But I’ve had a really hectic weekend. My hubby spent all day yesterday in hospital after feeling ill most of this week. He’s had a virus, but by saturday morning it was getting worse so he thought it best to go get checked out.

Obviously having two young children, I had to stay at home with them. There was no phone signal at the hospital, or wifi so I couldn’t get in touch with Andrew to find out what was happening and he couldn’t contact me, so I had an anxious few hours. I did the one thing that’s really not a good idea and googled his symptoms, then started to fear meningitis.

Oh and the central heating decided it wasn’t gonna work, so I had that to stress about too.

But thankfully he’s feeling much better today, but it feels a bit like we haven’t really had a weekend as he’s spent most of thisafternoon in bed. And I had a lonely saturday night infront of the tv with no one to talk to :o(

I hardly ate with stressing out yesterday, which i know isn’t good, but I have today.

We’re also having a diffucult time with my oldest daughter since returning to school. For anyone reading this who hasn’t read my blogs about her, she was diagnosed with autism last year. The diagnosis wasn’t a shock, we expected it. But she can be quite a handul, and her younger sister copies her behaviours so it’s often like having two children on the spectrum.

Jessica lives her life at a million miles and hour and want’s everything done instantly. She’s ready for school each morning an hour and a half before transport even arrives to collect her. And Christmas morning, she asked at 7.30am if Christmas was finished yet, and if it’s Valentines day next? Not sure why a 7-year-old would even be interested in Valentines day, but it’s Jess and she loves occassions.

She did seem to calm down and stop the demanding and shouting, and running around the house over the holidays, but she’s back to being her hyperactive self since going back to school. So it can get a bit mentally exhausting. If it wasn’t for having things in my life now which I enjoy and keeps me sane, I hate to think how I’d be feeling tonight.

I’ve done the usual 4 Clubbercise classes this week, my last one being thismorning, and it’s great to be back. I have found them more tiring than I usually do, particularly the first one on thursday, but I’ll get my energy levels back up again in no time (hopefully)

I’ve ate nothing I shouldn’t have this weekend, absolutely nothing, which I’m really pleased about. It’s so easy to justify something fattening just because it’s the weekend.

So this weekend has threw things at me which I may have resolved in the past with overeating. I didn’t sleep too well last night worrying about Andrew, but I was still up and ready for Clubbercise at 9.30 thismorning. I knew if I didn’t go, I’d only lounge about, and then regret not going, and feel crap.

So here’s hoping for a better week.

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

How to make the change

Over the last few months I have realised why I’ve failed to maintain the healthy lifestyle I’ve wanted. The only changes to my life I made in the past, was my diet. But this isn’t about changing your just diet, and needs more of a holistic approach.

I’m finding I’m gradually falling into the healthy lifestyle I want, and a lot of things have happened naturally. My thought process and the way in which I look at food and exercise has changed completely. I’m now in the mindset I’m not investing so much time, effort, and money into exercising, to undo all my hard work with a McDonalds. Rather than I’ve workout out for an hour so I can justify a mars bar.

Listed below are a few tips which I find will help you change your lifestyle. Things which I’ve found myself doing

SET THE RIGHT KIND OF GOALS

I didn’t really make any goals last year. The only goals I could think of were goals such as ‘lose 2lb this week’, or ‘lose 8lb by’ whatever date. I’ve done goals like that in the past when I joined weight watchers, and would spend the whole week worried I wouldn’t achieve my goal set by the leader, or even myself. And felt a failre if I hadn’t.

Make goals more about achievements. Aim to do a charity event in the summer, such as Stampede, or Color Rush, for example. Train for them. Start by running a small distance and increase the distance each week. Set target distances, in a timeframe.

goals

You’ll get a much bigger buzz out taking part in an event, whilst raising money for your chosen charity, than losing a pound in a week. But remember to keep your goals realistic

SWAP POUNDS FOR INCHES

Ditch the scales and concentrate more on your inch loss than weight loss. If you’re working out and eating right, you’re changing shape and no doubt feeling great. Why should it matter what the scales say?

After only a couple of weeks will probably also be noticing change in your confidence, and general mood and be feeling a lot more positive.

inches

CONSIDER PERSONAL TRAINER

Everyones initial concern is the cost. But think of it like this. If you enjoy a takeaway and a few bottles of wine, or beer at the weekend, if you’re getting serious about your health you’ll be cutting those out, why not use the money for a PT instead?

To reduce the cost, train with a group of friends. The more of you there is, the cheaper the cost per person.

I know it’s cheaper to join a gym, but without someone there to push, motivate and support you, are you really getting a full workout?

USE SOCIAL MEDIA

Look out for people who use Facebook to talk about health and fitness and either follow or add them, or ‘like’ pages which may inspire you. Share recipe ideas on your timeline, motivational quotes, blogs if you have one.

At the minute with it being New Year my Newsfeed has a lot of people tagging themselves at various gyms or classes, sharing food pics etc, which I’m finding motivational. Do the same as it may be motivating others

Use Instagram to find and share recipes (I’m not too Instagram savvy, I’ve only used it in the past for the filters).

Use twitter to…I don’t know. I don’t like twitter much but I’m sure it can be helpful. Use the #, you can’t go wrong with a # on twitter. It could be useful for finding classes in your area.

It’s strange how you can actually feel support from people just over social media.

JOIN AN EXERCISE CLASS

But don’t just use it for exercise, see it as something fun which you look forward to.

If you can’t get any friends to go along with you, go alone. It may feel daunting at first but you’re there for yourself, not anyone else, so don’t rely on always needing someone else to go along with you.

regret

Talk to and get to know other people in the class. I’ve found this happens naturally and 8 months in and I look forward to seeing some of the girls each week.

Find a class which suits. If you go along to one and don’t enjoy it, don’t be put off, maybe it’s just not the class for you. There’s so many different classes to choose from at the minute, it’s about finding the type of exercise which you enjoy.

MAKE MORE FRIENDS

I know there is a saying keep your circle small. I don’t agree with that. Find and spend time with people who share your interests, support your goals and who bring out the best in you.

friends

The more, the better. It may even be worth re-evaluating your friendships, if someone doesn’t support you or trys to hold you back, are they really a friend?

POSITIVE THINKING

Don’t use the words ‘I can’t’, because you can. If you’re thinking about trying something new, or making a change, do it. We all have the ability to be absolutely whoever we want to be, so don’t be held back by ‘what if’s’ or fears.

best