How to deal with a body that’s changed.

So, over the last year or so I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my body.  And I don’t mean like, growing hair in strange places.  I mean that I’ve gained some weight.  Not a huge amount of weight, but enough that I feel uncomfortable in my own skin (and in most of my jeans).  And I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been pretty hard for me to deal with this change in my bod.

Now, I’ve written before about gaining weight, and how it’s troubled me. And a lot of the feelings I discussed in that post are still ringing true.  I’m finding it quite hard to manage the feelings that are cropping up with the weight that I’ve gained.  So in an effort to move forward, I sat down and thought carefully about why I’m so bothered by a few extra kilos.

wp_20160318_19_05_46_pro_zpslsyditsw

While my negative feelings about my body are complicated, there are a few key issues that have bubbled to the surface during my ruminations.  The first is the realisation that even though I try hard to be body positive, even though I try not to internalize the messages I’m bombarded with about how thin is better, and how being fat is a terrible thing, I’m still affected by them.  Even though I know countless people with a wide array of body shapes and sizes who are all incredibly gorgeous, even though I constantly tell people to be kind to themselves, I still feel the weight of those messages.  I still feel like I’ve failed in some way because I’ve gained weight.  I still feel less attractive when I notice that my jeans won’t zip or that my belly pokes out more than it used to.  I still feel like I should be ashamed of my weight gain.  It makes me pretty angry that even though I’ve done my best to resist that negativity and shame, it’s still wormed it’s way into my consciousness.

I’ve also felt frustrated with myself because I keep having this idea that my weight is something that I should control.  And that if I’m gaining weight, it’s because I’ve done the wrong thing.  I feel ashamed and lazy.  I feel mad that I have to manage my depression with drugs that have caused me to gain weight.  I feel burdened by my full-time job, which takes up much of my time and energy and makes it much more difficult to eat well and exercise. And I curse my genetics which make it more likely that I’m going to have a rounder figure as I get older.  I feel impotent because there are so many factors working against me, and I imagine that I should be able to manage them and keep my figure because that’s what women are “supposed to do”.

I also feel uncomfortable with the way I look.  Now, I need to point out that I don’t think that fat=ugly.  The reason that I don’t feel comfortable is that I’m not used to the way my body looks now. Even though the shift in my weight hasn’t been dramatic, it’s enough that I feel strange in my own skin.  I look in the mirror and it feels weird to see more rounded hips, and a curved tummy  and actual boobs.  My figure has become more hourglass where it was always fairly up-and-down and very skinny.  My clothes fit me differently and hug me too tightly over my new curves.  Outfits that used to make me feel confident and sassy now make me feel like a sausage in a too-tight casing. I don’t feel like I look like “me”. It’s so difficult to learn to love a new shape when I’d barely become confident in the one I had.

But I’m doing alright.  And there are a few things I’ve been doing that have helped immensely.  I’d like to share those things with you, in case you’re also struggling with a body that’s changed.

Talk about it.

Discussing my feelings and insecurities has been extremely helpful.  I’m lucky enough to have many people in my life who were kind to me, who listened attentively and empathised.  Talking it over with a few of my favourite people helped me to feel so much better.  It made me realise that my feelings aren’t unique, that these struggles are something that most people go through.  It gave me comfort to know that those special people didn’t think any less of me because I’d gained weight, and still valued me just as much.

Decide what action you want to take (if any)

Let me be absolutely clear: you don’t have to do anything about your weight gain if you don’t want to.  I’m the last person who will tell you that you need to go on a diet.  But I do think that if your weight gain is causing you pain and grief, then you need to do something.  For me, I’ve taken stock of my  lifestyle and realised that I could definitely improve my eating habits and exercise routine.  I know that I need to plan a more well-rounded diet and move my body more often.  At the same time, I know that unless I starve myself and stop taking my medication, I’m never going to get back to my old body.  And so as well as taking better care of myself, I’ve decided that I need to work on accepting my body and coming to terms with the changes that have taken place.  So whether you want to change up your habits, or look at your emotional patterns, or a bit of both, I think taking some action to get yourself feeling better is a good idea.

Recognise that bodies change

All bodies, particularly female bodies, go through massive changes over the course of a lifetime.  And whether those changes are caused by a lifestyle shift, hormones, medication, illness, age, growing a human inside you or some other reason, it can be difficult to manage.  As difficult as it is, it’s really important to accept that our bodies alter and shift as time passes.  It’s perfectly OK to mourn the shape and size you once were, but I think it’s also a good idea to begin to celebrate some good things about your new shape.  For example, I’m trying to feel chuffed about the fact that I finally have boobs, after years of struggling with push-up bras.  Find something that you like, celebrate that and build from there.

Get rid of clothes that trigger self hate.

This one has been hard for me, because my clothes are a huge part of my life.  I love getting dressed in the morning, and I place a lot of emotional attachment to the items in my wardrobe.  For me those skinny jeans aren’t just a couple of denim tubes and a zipper, they have the power to make me feel fierce and sexy.  And when those fierce jeans will no longer zip, their power changes….they become a trigger for self loathing.  Lately I’ve been taking a long, hard look at my clothes, and I’ve gotten rid of a few things that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wear again.  There are some I’m hanging onto because there’s a chance that they’ll fit someday.  But the ones that made me feel the shittiest had to go.  It’s hard to let go of those items because of the memories attached to them, and because in a way it feels like the end of a part of my life.  But sometimes you have to take a deep breath, let them go and then buy some new gear that makes you feel fierce and fabulous.

Do you struggle with your body when it changes?  What have you done to make that change easier?

Advertisements

Things I Love Thursday 6/8/2015

It’s Thursday and I’m ready to throw myself headlong into this week’s Things I Love Thursday list.  So let’s jump right in, shall we?

This week I love:

– Body epiphanies.  A few nights ago I was looking at some old photos and feeling shitty about my body.  I was so upset when I compared how my body looks now to how it looked a few years ago.  I’ve gained a bit of weight over the past few years, not a lot but a bit.  And I’m insecure about it.  But I realised that my body looks amazing now.  I’m super strong from yoga and I’m very toned.  And I also reminded myself that mentally I’m a lot more stable now than I was then and I take much better care of myself.  Back when those photos were taken, I was abusing my body to look the way I did.  I restricted the food I’d eat and I was using exercise as a punishment.  Nowadays I eat a more balanced diet and I enjoy my food.  I’ve found that I love yoga and prefer to do a daily yoga workout than several grueling  running sessions a week.  I think that my happiness and sanity is a fair trade off for a thinner body.

-Cupping massages.  I had my first one in a year and it was amazing.  I got the most terrible bruises from the gliding cups but my back and shoulders feel looser than they have in ages.  It’s brilliant.

– Finding an amazing craft shop while on a date with my girlfriend.  Rah and I were shopping in the city last weekend and we accidentally stumbled across a store called Morris and Sons.  It was a wonderland of yarns and patterns and I went crazy buying beautiful balls of yarn.  I could have spent hundreds of dollars in there, but I restrained myself.

– Oolong tea.

– Dried apricots.  So delicious.

– Celebrating my brother’s new job.  I’m so proud of him.

– Great work weeks where everything seems to just fall into place.

– Working on some new knitting projects and being utterly chuffed with how each one has turned out.

– Sleeping with a cat tucked under each arm.

– Lazy, rainy afternoons with a blanket and a book.

– Sweet kisses from my man.

– Being able to taste and smell things again after weeks of blocked sinuses.

-Finally getting my blog reader to zero.  I haven’t cleared it out in almost six months and it was so good to get back into reading my favourite blogs again.

What do you love this week?

Things I love Thursday 5/3/2014

Hello to you, my lovely reader.  I hope that you’ve had a smashing week thus far and that you’re ready to leap forward into another list of things that are awesome.  Let’s go for it!

This week I love:

– The anticipation of going to see The Wizard of Oz on the big screen.   Our local cinema is showing The Wizard of Oz as part of their “retro movie” series and I can’t wait.  The Wizard of Oz is my favourite film but I’ve never seen it on the big screen.  This is going to be a wonderful opportunity and I’m super excited.

– Duck watching.  I spent my lunch break on Monday down the lake checking out the antics of the local duck population.  Once the ducks were satisfied that I wasn’t going to share my food with them they settled down and went to sleep, some less than a foot from where I was sitting.  It was so cool to be able to watch them from such a close vantage point.

 

– This video, because I think it illustrates a really important point that we need to be reminded of occasionally: that the idea of “The Perfect Body” is a social construct which is constantly in flux.  There is no such thing as one perfect body type, all bodies are beautiful and the way we view beauty shifts.  Just because your body type isn’t the current fashion doesn’t mean it isn’t gorgeous.

 

– Doing the Arrested Development Chicken Dance with  my brother on his birthday.

 

This Bill Murray key holder.  I would be so chuffed to have Bill Murray hand me my keys every morning.

 

– Cooler nights.  Blankets on the bed.  Robes in the morning.

 

– River God by Wilbur Smith. I just started reading this epic tale of love and adventure set in Ancient Egypt.  My gosh, it’s fantastic.  I haven’t been this hooked on a historical fantasy novel since the Game of Thrones series.

 

– Compliments

 

– Grandfather clocks

 

– Peanut butter Tim Tams

 

– Eating a pomegranate roughly with my hands, which become stained a deep red.

 

– Taking a step closer to securing a spot at one of our best local craft markets.

 

What do you love this week?  Drop a comment with your own list of Thursday loveliness.

Product review: Bandelettes.

 I’m a card-carrying member of the Chub Rub Club.  I have generous thighs that touch at the top and generate enough friction to start a fire when I walk long distances.  I like to imagine that my thighs like each other so much that they just can’t keep their hands to themselves. But all this thigh-action can cause some pretty painful chafing. So I’ve been on the lookout for something that will prevent the chub rub.

I came across a product called Bandelettes.  Bandelettes are bands that you wear around your thighs to prevent chafing.  The kind folks at Bandelettes sent me two pairs of their revolutionary thigh bands to try out.

My Bandelettes arrived just as the weather in Benalla reached scorching temperatures.  It was perfect timing and I was eager to take them for a spin.

[Imgur](http://i.imgur.com/K4aqGYl.jpg)

The first step to getting the best performance out of your thigh bands is ensuring that you buy the right size.  To do this, you should measure your thighs with a flexible tape at the point where your thighs touch.  Then, refer to the sizing chart to make sure that you select the correct size.  The reason I got two pairs is because I’m on the cusp of size A and B.  The website recommends to size down if you are in between sizes to ensure a snug fit.

I got two different designs and colours.  This design is called Black Onyx. As you can see, the Bandelettes resemble the tops of stay-up stockings.  They are lined with two non-slip silicone strips to help them to stay in place.

This design is called Beige 1004.  My first impression of the Bandelettes was that they are so pretty!  So many shapewear and utilitarian underwear designs are ugly and matronly, but these look downright sexy.  If I happened to be wearing these on a date and things started to heat up, I wouldn’t be at all embarrassed to let my companion catch a glimpse of these.

To wear your Bandelettes, simply pull them up onto your thighs and position them at the point where your thighs touch.  This will be slightly different for every person.  Make sure that the bands aren’t twisted and are lying flat against your skin.

After I’d positioned my Bandelettes, I threw on a maxi dress and headed out for dinner.  I had to walk quite a long way to get to the restaurant, and I didn’t feel so much as a twinge.  The Bandelettes were so comfortable to wear.  They didn’t rub, slip or roll at all.  I was worried that they might make me feel even hotter in the humid summer air, but actually I felt cooler without the friction from my thighs.

The following day I wore my beige Bandelettes to go shopping.  I walked for hours without any chafing.  Once again, the bands didn’t budge at all.  I experienced similar results with both sizes.  The bands were also extremely discreet, and weren’t visible at all under my clothing.  I had been concerned that the lace might create a static effect that would cause my skirt to cling to them, but this wasn’t the case at all.

The bands are very easy to wash and dry.  I hand-wash them with my delicate items and then lay flat to dry.

Bandelettes retail for $14.99 each  and come in a huge range of colours, including black, red, beige, white and chocolate.  There are even unisex bands if you don’t like the feel or look of lace.  The unisex bands would be a perfect addition to your active wardrobe to prevent chafing while jogging or cycling.

I would highly recommend Bandelettes for my fellow members of the Chub Rub Club.  Not only do they look cute, but they work brilliantly too.

These items were provided for my consideration.  The opinions contained in this review are my own honest views.

Yoga for body confidence.

A few weeks ago I read a really interesting blog post about yoga and body image.  The post really tugged on my emotions and got me thinking about how people of different shapes and sizes experience yoga and I feel compelled to respond to it.

I should start by saying that I’ve never been fat.  I’ve only ever had a thin body with varying degrees of fitness.  However I’ve struggled quite profoundly with my own body image and perception of my body.  I’ve gone through long periods of hating my body and periods of tentative tolerance.  Only recently have I begun to make peace with my body’s appearance and ability, and I truly believe that yoga has played a huge part in that.

DSCF9324

I have spoken with many friends who are bigger than me, and they have told of similar experiences to those described in the article mentioned above.  Hearing those stories was heartbreaking for me.  Not only because I don’t like to hear about people being shamed or discriminated against because of their size, but because I find it upsetting that these people are being excluded from a practice that could truly help them to accept and love their bodies.

I find yoga to be an exceptionally healing and energizing practice.  The reason I’ve stuck with it for so long is that it not only exercises my body, but it calms my mind as well.  I’ve found so much peace and acceptance during sessions on my mat.  It sounds a bit silly, but it’s the truth.  Here are some of the ways that yoga has helped me to create a better relationship with my body:

–  I’ve learned to focus on what my body can do rather than what it can’t do.  I’ve learned to appreciate all the amazing things that my body is capable of and rejoice when I manage to reach a little further or balance with a bit more stability.

– Yoga is very introspective.  It’s not a competition to see who can bend further or get into the most mind-bending poses.  It’s about scanning your own body and working with yourself to create space and ease in each pose.  It’s about noticing pockets of tension and gently working them out. It’s about easing into a pose over time, rather than cranking yourself into a certain shape.

– Over time, yoga has helped to tone my body.  I’m much stronger, my posture is better and I feel more balanced than I did before I began practicing regularly.

It is my belief that yoga should be for everybody.  There are so many different styles and types that there should be a variety of yoga that is suited for your particular body and abilities.  It shouldn’t matter what shape or size you are, or how old you are, or if you have limited mobility.  Yoga is a wonderful practice that should be accessible to anyone who wants to give it a go. And I find it upsetting that so many teachers and classes have turned it into a competition, or are peppering their classes with discrimination and shame.  If you’re interested in trying yoga, but are worried about feeling left out, self-conscious or being discriminated against there are a few things that I can suggest.

– First of all, research different yoga classes in your area.  Some gyms and yoga centres offer a variety of classes which target different groups.  You might find that there is an awesome Fat Yoga class in your area, or a group that specially caters for people who are recovering from injuries.  Do your homework and see what’s available.

– If you can’t find a specially targeted class, consider arranging a meeting with the teacher of a beginners class in your area.  Chat with them about your concerns and highlight any areas that you are likely to struggle with.  Then ask whether they can keep these in mind when planning the class.  If they are rude to you or if you feel like you might be treated poorly during the class, don’t go.

– If there are certain poses that you find difficult or impossible, try researching some variations to common poses.  Many of the most basic yoga poses can be targeted to different levels of fitness, strength or flexibility.  Use these variations during class when you come to a pose that is difficult for you.

– Try practicing at home.  I find it much easier to practice when I’m by myself.  I’m less likely to compare myself to others and I find that I’m more focused on my practice when I’m by myself.

– Look for at-home yoga videos that are size positive.  One of my favourite channels which I recommend to everyone is Yoga with Adrienne.  I love her videos because she gives loads of variations of poses for different levels and her videos focus on achieving the sensation of each pose, rather than attaining the perfect form.  She uses body-positive language and is really laid-back in her approach.

– Add a short meditation to the end of each practice, where you thank your body for all that it’s done and congratulate yourself on any progress.  I find it’s also helpful to give myself a little pep talk on days when I feel as though I’ve gone backwards with my yoga.  Taking the time to nurture yourself and doing that positive self-talk is very helpful.

Yoga is something that has helped me so much with my self esteem and body confidence.  It truly angers me that certain groups are being left out of this practice because of their size and abilities.  Yoga is for everyone, and nobody should be made to feel less-than when giving it a go.

Why I don’t have a tattoo

I was chatting to one of my mates the other day about tattoos.  My friend is definitely a body-art aficionado.  He has a couple of gorgeous tattoos and is planning on getting many more.  As I we talked, I spouted off a number of ideas I’ve had for tattoos, describing beautiful tattoos that I’ve seen and discussing my favourite tattoo placements.  After a while, my friend asked, “So, why don’t you have any tattoos?  You seem to love them, so why don’t you have one?”

 

DSCF9241

The truth is, there are a number of reasons why I don’t have a tattoo.  Before I begin talking about my own reasons, I would just like to point out that I think that the decision to get a tattoo is incredibly personal.  I don’t judge anyone who elects to decorate their body in this way, for whatever reason they choose.  I think that what you do with your own body is your own business.

 

The first reason that I don’t have a tattoo is that I think it’s too much of a commitment for me.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll notice that my personal style is incredibly varied.  I tend to chop and change the things I wear pretty often.  I don’t like to stick to a single style and I am pretty contrary when it comes to fashion.

 

I honestly don’t trust myself to choose something that I would want on my body forever.  My tastes are ever-changing and I find inspiration in so many odd places.  I don’t want to commit to permanently changing my body by tattooing it, because I know that I would grow tired of my tattoo in time.  I’d much prefer to celebrate my style with items that I can change, like clothing or jewelry.  I know myself well enough to be sure that I would regret the decision to permanently ink an image or phrase onto my body.

 

The second reason that I don’t have a tattoo is that I don’t like the way that tattoos degrade with time.  I’ve seen so many incredible designs that I think would make incredible tattoos.  The problem is that a tattoo doesn’t remain the same.  Tattoos change with time.  Lines blur, colours fade and the skin underneath changes texture.  I don’t like the idea of selecting a beautiful image to display on my body, only to know that it’s going to be altered with time.  For me, I’d much rather to celebrate that work of art by hanging it in my home or having it rendered onto a piece of jewelry.  That way it’s more permanent and is less likely to change as time passes.  I can appreciate it in it’s own form forever, without worrying that time is going to wear it out.

 

I do realise that there are a lot of things that you can do to preserve a tattoo.  I know many friends with incredible tattoos who put in a lot of effort to keep them looking fresh and bright.  Once again, I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn’t be able to make this commitment.  It would be very difficult for me to afford the cost of tattoo maintenance, and there are a lot of things that are more important to me that I’d prefer to spend my money on.

 

So, that’s why I don’t have a tattoo.  Although I adore tattoo art and I love tattoo culture, I know in myself that it’s not a commitment that I could make.

 

Once again, I’d like to point out that I think tattoos are rad.  If you’ve chosen to get a tattoo (or many!) then I support your decision and I’m glad that you’ve made the move to express yourself in a way that’s important to you.  I don’t judge anyone who DOES have a tattoo, I just know that it’s not the right choice for me.

 

Do you have any tattoos?  If not, why not?  If you do, what made you decide to get a tattoo?

How yoga has helped with my depression.

I’ve mentioned before that yoga has played a huge part in helping me to manage my depression.  Since I began doing yoga on a regular basis, I’ve noticed that my moods have been much better in general.  I’m better at coping with stressful events and when I do hit the skids and have a depressive episode, it tends not to last for as long.

So how does a bit of stretching and deep breathing help me to manage a mental illness?  In lots of ways, actually.

DSCF7804It gives me a shot of endorphins

Exercise in general is great for depression.  Exercise produces endorphins, which are naturally-occurring happy chemicals in the body.  They act like anti-depressants, balancing the chemicals that are lacking in depressed individuals and improving mood, appetite and motivation.  My daily yoga practice gives me an endorphin boost which helps to keep my depression at bay.

 

It gives me a sense of accomplishment

When I’m feeling really depressed, I have this little voice in my head that feeds me all sorts of negative messages.  It tells me that I’m a failure, that I can’t do anything right and that I’m pretty much worthless.  Overcoming that loop of horrible self-talk can be really difficult.

 

When I practice yoga, I find myself improving little by little.  Some days I’ll be able to stretch  a little further than I did the day before.  Perhaps I’ll find that I’m able to hold a balance pose without wobbling.  Or maybe I’ll manage to pull off a pose that I’ve never done before.  It’s these little improvements that give me a sense of accomplishment.  It gives me the evidence to shake my head and prove that I CAN do plenty.   Those small victories are a huge deal when you’re battling depression, so doing an activity that gives you the opportunity to improve and grow is a great idea.

 

DSCF7026

 

I have a greater respect and appreciation for my body

A big part of my depression stems from a pretty dreadful relationship with my body.  For years I hated the way I looked and tortured myself to get to a point where I could be happy with my body.  The problem was, that point never came.  No matter how much weight I lost, I still hated my body and could always find some fault with it.

 

I’ve spent the last few years working to improve my relationship with my body.  And that means taking steps to take care of myself and finding ways to make peace with my body.  Yoga has been a huge help in this area.

 

Yoga is very introspective.  It isn’t a competitive sport and you don’t need to worry about doing every pose perfectly.  It’s largely about doing what you can do, appreciating your body’s abilities and respecting your limitations.

 

Through my yoga practice, I feel as though my view of my body has changed.  I’m more able to appreciate what my body can do, rather than focusing on how it looks.  I’ve begun to realise that if I treat my body well, it serves me so much better than if I starve and punish it.  I feel that yoga has given me a greater sense of respect for my body, and I feel more at peace than ever with my physical self.

 

It’s great for stress relief

I am a terribly anxious person, and I tend to stress out about the littlest things.   That constant anxiety can be debilitating.

 

Yoga forces you to slow down and take a few deep breaths.  It’s really about focusing on what’s happening in the here and now.  After a yoga session, I feel about a million times more relaxed than when I started. When I’ve had a rough day, I try to come home and spend 20 minutes on my mat rather than curling up into a ball and panicking.  Before, I used to get anxious about my stress, which would just stress me out more!  I’d work myself into a terrible state just trying to figure out a way to settle down.  It was very counter-productive.  Now, I have an activity that I know works to help me de-stress, which takes a lot of the tension out of my day.

 

DSCF7024

It gives me something to look forward to each day.

I used to get really worked up when I was having a bad day.  I remember standing at work, feeling the tension bubbling up after dealing with a difficult customer.  I’d be so upset because I was feeling so horrible but I had no idea what to do to pull myself out of that slump.  I felt so frustrated and worthless, and I would become convinced that my feelings of sadness and despair would go on forever.

 

Now, I can reassure myself that I’ve got my yoga practice to look forward to.  While it doesn’t work every time, most days that twenty minute practice is enough to lift my spirits and calm me down.  Knowing that I’ve got a plan that is usually effective is a huge relief and gives me something to look forward to at the end of a hard day.

 

Do you use yoga to manage a mental illness?  Do you have another method of managing a mental illness or stress that works for you?  I’d love to hear about it.