Getting over slim

Oranges

The surprising things that can happen when a plus-size positive blogger turns up to a weight management class.

I have a happy job. Whether I’m writing brochure material for people choosing their next holiday or website content helping walkers to find the best baths and breathtaking views, the words that help make someone’s day brighter, also pay my mortgage.

Lucky as I am, there are gremlins in the tools of my trade: namely pet hate words. The first two on the list are ‘nice’ and ‘tasty’. Rather benign words and their bland nature is exactly why they rarely come across my keyboard.

Third on the list is the word ‘slim’.

Let me explain.

I’m a bit of a liberal feminist in that I believe the spirit of equal concern extends across all of humanity, not just womb-men but during my studies I was fascinated by texts by the likes of Jeanette Winterson, Susie Orbach and Michelle Boulous Walker. A vast area of reading, discovery and discussion, I was intrigued by how society tells us what our body means and how to use it.

For example, take the backlash against plus-size model Tess Holliday Instagramming pics of herself at the gym or blogger Callie Thorpe looking fabulous in her curvy, white wedding dress last year. These are women getting on with their lives, being creative, making waves. Why is their size the first thing people think about? Why do everyday people suddenly turn into metabolism consultants, all concerned about their health? Would people dream of giving feedback on any other aspect of someone’s life? Like high-profile people who drink, smoke or take drugs? What about shifty politicians who take away benefits from vulnerable people and call it austerity? All that cortisol can’t be good for them.

So, back to the word ‘slim’. What does that word mean?

A child of the 70’s, to me it conjures up slacks -beige, tailored polyester trousers with an invisible support panel. It’s rows of women on their backs in a church hall, raising their leotard clad legs in unison: “and lift, ladies, lift”.

Slim is the goal, slim is acceptable, slim is what women should be. The onus is on us to be slim – whether pushing a small child in a trolley around the supermarket or pulling a workbag on wheels into a conference room, valid women are slim. Why would anyone want to take a fat woman seriously? We’re mumsy, ill-disciplined and have clearly let ourselves go.

And this is my problem with slim. It’s a political word. It doesn’t just mean you’re lean – you’re also hard working, controlled, an achiever.

But where does that leave the rest of us?

Should those of us who’ve fought podge since childhood be left on the heap? I have a First Class Honours Degree – I earned this while I was a single parent to a toddler and holding down a part-time job in order to survive. I think I have self-discipline aplenty. I enjoy my job, have a happy family and now post-forty I’m more comfortable in my fat body than ever before.

But I’m not slim.

I have not achieved slim.

Not ever.

And the outrageous soul within doesn’t want me to conform. Even if I lost all the weight, I don’t think I’d ever want to be considered slim. It’s just not me.

So, when I found myself sat in a Slimming World class for the first time earlier this week, I thought “why am I here?”.

I thought I’d feel compromised but I didn’t.

I thought the inspirational chat at the beginning would make me run out through the community centre fire doors screaming but it didn’t.

I thought the terminology would annoy me (as so often jargon does) but it didn’t.

And now I’m left wondering why.

And I think it’s to do with my mate who brought me along. She’s a savvy lady. Seen a lot, done a lot. There’s little she doesn’t know about raising plants, nurturing children, crafting and ushering warm dishes to the table. But she’s also a trusting soul with a realistic view of the world – she knows where to place her cynicism, where to make compromises and she has a deep perspective that reaches out into the long-game.

And my childhood friend who made me feel a foot taller with one phone call earlier this week. This body is beautiful, it’s valid, I’m loved.

It’s also that the focus of the eating plan (‘diet’ is naturally my forth most hated word) is all about nourishment, not going hungry and realism: cocking up is not just tolerated, it’s expected.

I know that I have an intricately marvellous vessel (check out You Are Already Amazing) and it’s bumps and curves tell its story of survival. I believe that we all can feel good now. Right now. Not in some far-off future. And without this belief, you’ll make minor changes that bring temporary results but to make a lasting change, you have to be convinced of your value. Right here, in this moment.

Like everyone, I forget this sometimes: and I think the word slim just doesn’t help.

But I also have diabetes peppered throughout my family – something I can’t afford to ignore.

So, because I love this body and I want it to continue, I’ll put up with the word slim. Perhaps I’ll reinvent it, make it mine, unload it. Who knows.

I’ll check back in and let you know about slim when I get there.

How do you feel about ‘slim’? How do you feel about ‘nice’ and ‘tasty’?  Do you feel like you need to defend them? What are your pet hate words? I’d love you to share them.

And if I’ve made you think about what values are written on your body, check out some of my other ideas on being body positive like The Tibetan  Proverb and What I’ve Been Doing Wrong All This Time and The Damaging Lack of Control that Could Sink the NHS.

An autumn warmer for World Vegetarian Day

Is there any better time than World Vegetarian Day to find a new, meat-free way to embrace the flavours of autumn? Check out my warm, easy-going family-pleaser: Comforting Bean Stew.

The season has now well and truly turned – it’s the time when my trusty cast-iron casserole comes out, along with the spice jars, rolling pin and my stockpile of hearty storecupboard ingredients.  My sofa is piled high with cushions and throws, abandoned crochet projects get finished and I rediscover the pleasure of thick socks and my flowery DMs.

So, looking at a couple of abandoned cooking apples in the fruit bowl and cool rain running down the window one day last week, I thought it was a day for hot pot. With a whole day of writing ahead of me, and a full schedule of errands after the school run, the idea of something simmering on the stove all day felt like the best option.

The result was a warm, thick, beany stew which I served with a warm, fresh, crusty loaf (the breadmaker’s first outing of the season as well).

 

Comforting beany hot pot

Serves 4

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, garam masala, corriander, cumin, paprika, ginger

1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

1 mug of dried beans

1/2 mug pearl barley

300ml vegetable stock

Method

Put a large, lidded, heavy casserole pot on the stove to warm. Pop in the oil and let it warm too.

Meanwhile, rinse the beans and barley and rinse thoroughly. Place in a separate pan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer vigorously for 10 minutes.

Add the onion to the casserole pan and allow it to soften but not brown.

Add the carrots and apple, mix a little and then add the spices, along with a little salt and pepper to taste.

When warmed through, well coated and starting to cook, add the beans and barley, when they’ve finished bubbling.

Add the hot stock and mix well. Pop on the lid.

Leave for 8 hours (which will seem like eternity if like me, you work from home) but return now and again to check water levels. Bear in mind the barley and beans will thicken the stew as it cooks.

It’s ready when the beans are soft and the barley is plump.

Put the butter dish and bread in the middle of the table along with the casserole dish and call everyone for dinner. It’s also great with a little strong cheddar crumbled on the top – it melts in wonderfully.

*a note on beans*

I have jars of beans in my cupboard – red kidney, cannellini, flageolet, yellow split peas, green lentils – and a mix of these usually does the trick. You can choose to use as few or as many varieties as you like. Some supermarkets do a great line in mixed beans (the best is Waitrose’s ten-bean mix). Some people soak their beans overnight but I find this can ruin their texture. Simmering them for 8 hours or more should be more than enough to make them good to eat.

If you don’t have the time or you’d rather not buy dried beans, 2 tins of canned beans will do. Reduce the cooking time or the beans will reduce to goo. If you still use pearl barley (the comforting thickness it adds is well worth it), you’ll still need to cook the stew for a couple of hours.

Earthy smells and riotous colours – I love running in autumn. With darker mornings and evenings, there’s more reason to make sure I sharpen my schedule to make sure I keep moving. Check out my plus-size running posts if you need a little inspiration.

Getting in a fizz: Lidl and the prosecco fiasco

Bubbles without the price tag? When news of Lidl’s upcoming prosecco offer came out, it was bound to be a Bank Holiday hit but at 6 bottles for £20, was it all too good to be true?

I’m ashamed to say I found myself part of the desperate woman’s prosecco club this morning. Five of us, strangers, parked up in my local multi-storey, long before the rest of the shops were open. Desperate to get to the doors just as Lidl opened, we had to take the same, unscheduled detour and discovered we were all on the same mission. One had left her four month old baby at home with her husband, another stomped along in flip-flops, the fourth member of our group had her face set to the morning sun, determined to reach her goal on time.

All of us were in on the secret that Lidl had six bottles of prosecco for twenty quid. Twenty quid. That’s just £3.33 a bottle!

8.03am we got through the door, red faced from our race around the roadway. Abandoning the idea of a trolley, I scouted from aisle to aisle. Would the cases be at the end, with the special offers, with the alcohol? We went up and down, getting a little more frantic moment by moment. Where were the cases?

When it became apparent that there were none, we started grabbing bottles off the shelves. One of our impromptu group had stopped for a trolley and could carry more than me. I looked down at my basket, knowing that it was now inadequate. Would she watch my six treasured bottles for me, while I went to get a trolley. I looked at her eyes. Could I trust her?

One of our number went off to look for a member of staff.

Why can’t you find one when you need one?

Then came the news that the bottles on the shelf weren’t included. They needed to have screw tops, not corks. An assistant shrugged his shoulders and said there was a pile of boxes earlier. But where were they now?

Where were they now?

The shop has only been open for a few minutes, I thought to myself, where are all these people at the checkouts with their cases of prosecco?

Something fishy was going on. Hysteria was beginning to build.

“Should have gone to the one up the road” I said to myself.

“No, I’ve been there” someone replied, “the car park was jammed at 7.30, I’ve just heard from my wife, they were all out at 8am too.”

It was clear we were too late. We stood around, dazed, dismayed, confused. It had all been for nothing.

I picked up one, lonely bottle and putting it through the checkout, looked down into my neighbour’s basket to see she’d managed to get the golden ticket. I sneered quietly. I felt less than neighbourly.

“Honestly” I heard one sales assistant whisper to the other “these women, it’s only prosecco”. Yeah, I thought to myself, because you managed to shove a few boxes in your locker before the shop opened, didn’t you, you smug thingie.

I limped up to Costa and sat with a latte awhile, deflated. Where had all the angry, half-rabid women gone?

And what had happened to us all in there? We’d gone from relatively placid humans into semi-feral beasts, grabbing and shoving in our pursuit of a bubbly bargain. Perhaps lions on the Serengeti have the kind of temperament that could bake pies and pull up socks nine tenths of the time but put a carcass in front of them (in our case, a box of Italian fizzy wine) and that’s when the savagery, bubbling under the surface arises.

I know they say we’re all only two meals away from barbarity but this was just ridiculous.

So I brought home a few Perlenbacher instead. That’ll do just nicely.

But what happened to the Prosecco? I guess we’ll never know.

Prosecco is just a hobby – by day I’m a writer, blogger and runner. Sign up for more of the same, share with your mates (go on, it’s a happy thing to do) or read more about the small things you might miss if you don’t stop and look once in a while.

The positive power of no

“Who taught her that word?”

A toddler takes off across a park/snatches a toy off a fellow playgroup attendee/refuses her favourite dinner.

From a young age, we’re taught that this, the tiniest of expressions of non-conformity is a negative thing. Something that shuts things down, creates havoc, ruins plans.

No is just not welcome.

But I turned 40 a couple of years ago and in a wonderful revelation, discovered a new side to these naughty little digits.

10 ways no opens up new possibilities:

  • Rejecting an idea creates space for new perspectives and new ways of thinking.
  • Rejecting a way of doing something can stimulate the acquisition of new skills, exploring the way other people do things and can bring about better procedures.
  • Unpicking the things that people hold on to as ‘common sense’, gives an opportunity to hold core values up to scrutiny. Are they really sensible? Are they common?
  • It stimulates conversation – rather than shutting it down: a collaboration to find new ideas and new common ground.
  • It brings about ‘what if’ – exploring scenarios and creating new combinations of ideas.
  • Things can’t always go to plan – but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Alternative solutions are often better ones in hindsight.
  • No one is perfect – rejecting a behaviour or pattern of behaviours creates an opportunity for growth, for everyone.
  • Healthy relationships rely on well-communicated boundaries. It’s a constant negotiation, of course but it needs to be balanced on both sides. Telling someone when they’ve strayed off-side is an important part of this.
  • Deciding to change direction is often upsetting: we’re creatures of habit. When one path is blocked by an obstruction, working around it is an invaluable learning opportunity and it inevitably opens up new paths, new experiences and new ways of thinking.
  • The experience of parting company with someone you’ve worked with/lived with/spent time with sits somewhere on a sliding scale from elation to utter devastation. But it also opens up the chance to meet new people. The person who’ll be a major player in your life in ten years, you may not have even met yet.

It’s not easy – I struggle with boundaries on a daily basis but what I have learned is that I own this word. It’s mine. I can use it when I see fit – it’s just a matter of having the belief that I can deal with the consequences.

And there are times when, no matter how empowered I feel, I’m just not brave enough. But I know that if I stay true to my core principles, in whatever way I can, things will work out for the best in the end.

Please let me know how you get on with your own ‘no’ projects. I’d be delighted to hear all about them.

Because sometimes saying no is answering in the positive

Oh heart, I’m doing this for you

I went for my second run in ages this morning. Early sun lifting mist off the nature reserve, leaving naked branches in silhouette against the whitewashed vegetation. The first shoots of daffodils poking up from the brown of last year’s fallen leaves.

Birds singing obscenities to each other.

And I thought to myself – I like this, why haven’t I run for so long?

For a while it was anaemia (I couldn’t understand why I was getting so out of breath). But, I guess it was mostly despondency. I didn’t feel like I was fast enough. Didn’t think I was losing any weight.

I’d lost my mojo.

And with most high-street retailers not selling fitness gear for plus size women and some running apps not acknowledging someone seriously runs at my speed, it’s no wonder.

Am I just too fat and slow to be a serious runner? Does running do my overweight body any good, or am I just slogging my lumbering guts out for nothing?

Sound familiar? From talking to people on Facebook, my friends and from what I’ve read, I’m relieved to know it’s a common thing.

So, consider this.

A US study into women’s heart health found that lack of strenuous exercise was more likely to lead to heart disease and heart attack than being overweight alone (read my ramblings about it here).

Think about it.

If the numbers on the scale or the stopwatch are an impediment to my body getting more efficient at pumping life-giving blood around itself, are they helpful?

I think not.

So, scales and running app back in the cupboard of sadness where they belong, I put my running shoes on this morning and enjoyed  a bit of spring sunshine.

And I got thinking about the mate of mine who I met in the supermarket the other day. She’s a plus-size honey and she’s been working with a personal trainer. Oh my, she looks sweet.

“But I’ve fallen off the wagon” she said.

“Doesn’t matter, just as long as you get back on it” I replied. I think I was talking to myself.

Weight, speed, whatever – all to one side for now. They’re not helping.

I’m doing this for my heart.

Fancy taking up running but don’t know where to start? Check out my top ten tips for plus size running. Good luck.

Misty walk

Why I never give up on new beginnings

Autumn. A time when nature starts to shut up shop for the winter and the humans turn their attention to retreating indoors for cooler, darker days. Odd that it’s also a time of new beginnings, but it is.

And it’s not just the new term that I’m talking about: although whether you’re a four-year-old starting school or a forty-eight-year-old beginning the final year of your Masters, there’s the potential for new books, new people and new ideas.

It’s the concept of the summer providing a fire gap. On one side, the wind up of the old term, work schedules geared towards taking time off for a holiday and a season of barbecue weekends and cold beer in the garden. Then the disruption to the normal routine – whether there’s kids at home or not – and eventually a return to what went before.

Or is it? Do we really go back to what went before?

I spent some time working as a childminder a few years ago and during August the phone would ring off the hook with new enquiries: usually women who, with the upcoming new term, were re-evaluating their employment status or taking on new studies.

Likewise, it would seem that some women re-evaluate every aspect of their lives as they edge towards autumn, including their bodies. Social media has been wall-to-wall this morning with introspective comments, some positive, most negative, about how lazy and unfit people feel. Is this really the case? Could it be that with children back at school and/or the distractions of summer out of the way, there’s some time and space for these women to think about who they are and where they are heading?

The new term brings new beginnings for everyone, I guess.

So, I started running again this morning. I walked around the supermarket afterwards, remembering the buzz and how strong my legs feel. And despite missing the lazy, warm days of summer with my children, how exhilarating it is to be out alone under the trees, with this new beginning stretching out in front of me.

I love the chance to start again, no matter how many times I’ve done it before.

Thinking of new beginnings yourself? If you’re looking for inspiration, check out my Top Ten Tips for Plus Size Running and for a little motivation, why we should ignore the doubters and just get out there for the sake of our heart health. If you want a giggle, there’s my retort to Nicole Arbour’s fattist outburst and if you’re looking for a re-stabilising moment of calm, what the body obsessed modern world can learn from an ancient Tibetan proverb.

 

Eat Half, Walk Double, Laugh Triple and Love Without Measure – the Tibetan proverb and what I’ve been doing wrong all this time

Not a day goes by when I don’t see something that makes me think. Articles in the papers, snippets on newsfeeds, posts on Facebook. Some things get my goat, make me angry but at the weekend, I saw something that really made me sit up and think.

A Tibetan proverb that someone posted on line:

For a long, healthy life you must –

Eat half
Walk double
Laugh triple
Love without measure

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like much but I know this works, I’ve seen it. I live in a town that is home to a large Nepalese community. Not Tibetan, I know, but by the way they live I can see there is a similarity in philosophy. The elderly walk, laugh and browse the market with a real joy and interest on a Thursday morning – you could almost believe they hadn’t seen carrots and onions before. And I was saying goodbye to my Mum as she left in the car with her boyfriend yesterday morning, when two ladies wandered past – brightly coloured, well-shod. Both easily north of 70, they jumped and laughed when we offered a Namaste. I later saw them perusing the root veg in Morrison’s – their need to walk, explore, laugh, interact is strong, inbuilt, vital.

And then this morning, someone posted something on one of the pages I follow on Facebook to remind me about a fabulous plus-size yoga teacher by the name of Dana Falsetti. I’ve known about her for years but her approach to whole body and mind connectedness served to crystallise in my mind the key reason why extreme diet and exercise programmes don’t work long-term. We’ve concentrated on the first two principles of the proverb for so long, we’ve forgotten the second two. And in terms of quantity, it would seem they hold more weight, as it were.

I can offer some suggestions why this might have happened. Food intake and activity are easily measured, not to mention even easier to make a charge for. But how can you eat half and walk double if you don’t laugh triple and love without measure? It’s so clear to me now, I have no idea how I’ve not seen this before.

So what does it mean? Well, what if it was more than just OK to kick back and have a giggle with your friends and family, what if this was essential to living a healthy, happy life? What if laughing and loving were treated not merely as additional elements but critical components of a health regime? What if we dumped self-hatred and body-loathing in favour of acceptance, confidence and joy?

What if we took the brave step of connecting and thinking?

Eat half, walk double are key to the commonly held notion of calories in vs. calories out, granted (and there’s enough research out there to support the health benefits of fasting). But this principle is meaningless without the second half – the balance is way too out of kilter, too many grand efforts are bound to fail, too many people lost to empty diets and self depreciation.

So, today I ate a modest breakfast and climbed a hill in the North Downs to catch some early sun. I laughed with my Mum on the phone this morning and now I’m sharing this with you.

Have a great day x

 

Time to breathe and think

Time to breathe and think

Walk double – I suppose climbing the 115 steps and running down the sloped route would count?

Let’s be Part of Something Bigger

Pun intended. And here’s why.

There is a new energy out there. Only last week a bevy of beauties appeared on This Morning in their bikini-ready bodies. Curvy, confident, ready to shame the body shamers, they strutted their stuff in all its beauty.

The reaction? Across Twitter declarations of irresponsibility on the part of ITV, shouts for this kind of obesity lifestyle promotion to be abolished, assumptions made about these women and the way they live their lives.

Shaming the body shamers, Melanie Cohen, Hollie Burgess and Anne-Lise Barber: beach body ready and part of something bigger than their waist sizes
Shaming the body shamers, Melanie Cohen, Hollie Burgess and Anne-Lise Barber: beach body ready and part of something bigger than their waist sizes

But beyond the initial storm, I believe there is something way more positive going on. Sections like this on daytime TV are going to cause a stir but if you stop to look at what the girls are wearing, they’re adorned with tassels, pretty shoes, gorgeous hair, defining makeup. No, it’s not ok to promote being unhealthy but that’s not what it’s about, it’s about being beautiful, confident, valid. This is far more about big earrings than it is big bowls of mashed potato.

Stop and think:

A plus sized body brings with it judgement but who is questioning that judgement?

I’ve read too many reports that have indicated that fat people are less likely to land the best jobs. Shallow on the part of employers, I know but it’s true. And why? Because there’s some kind of assessment being made of an individual based on their body size? Perhaps it’s assumed that an plus size person doesn’t have the commitment and discipline to eat well and exercise often? But how would you be able to tell if a thin person lacked self control and discipline? Are all fat people sofa surfing potato eaters?

Many of us are professionals. We are lawyers, accountants, architects, writers – some of us are bloggers, researchers. Some of us are nurses, carers, parents. We are educated, skilled, adept. Do we really lack commitment and discipline? Or are there some inaccurate value statements being made about bigger bodies?

How do we change this?

By getting out there.

I moved my plus size body along the riverpath this morning to finish my run in the sun

With every plus size model that gets on the catwalk or on the cover of a magazine.

With every mother that feels good in her brand new polka dot swimdress while she splashes in the shallows with her toddler.

With every girl that shakes her stuff on the dancefloor on a Saturday night in a divine sequinned frock and a pair of killer heels.

With every smart executive who comes to the conference table in fine pinstripe almost as sharp as her eye for business.

With every girl that takes to the gym, the footpath, the pool, confident in the knowledge that she is doing right by her strong, valid body.

This society will have change its view of our bodies.

We will make a new aesthetic. One where health and looks are removed from each other. Moral judgements will not be made according to a waist size. But it will take time, people will need to be educated.

For now get out there and run, write, blog, photograph, design, create, swim, flaunt, be beautiful, whatever – and know that every time you step out and feel confident in the skin you’re in, you buck the trend, you are part of the difference.

There’s room for improvement in anyone’s life but remember we’re not the only ones who need to change.

Four lessons in the bag this morning

I’m up to a lot at the moment.

After having had a four week break from running due to illness, I’m currently trying to recover the whole minute I’ve managed to lose off my km time but that aside, I’m ploughing through my novel, learning new skills and getting busier on the freelance writing front.

So, I snatched a few hours out of my busy schedule this morning to finish making this little bag, all thanks to my Christmas gift to myself – the very useful Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam.

An extravagant use of time, I thought to myself sitting in front of my sewing machine post school run, but skimming the iron over the finished project at lunch time, I decided I’d learned/relearned a few lessons:

  • No matter how often you read the instructions, make meticulous notes or draw complex plans, the only way to learn something new is to get stuck in (and make mistakes).
  • Creative projects never sit in isolation (my novel notepad is now full of scribblings).
  • Doing what makes you happy probably will.
  • Maths is everything.
It might look chaotic but bag making and novel writing happen in the same space, both mentally and geographically
It might look chaotic but bag making/novel writing happen in the same space, both mentally and geographically
Hidden zip, hidden inside pocket, hidden cockups in the striking blue lining
Hidden zip, hidden inside pocket, hidden cockups in the striking blue lining

Rookie mistakes carefully stitched into the lining, I’m off out for my (slow) run.  It occurs to me that I have extra creative time today because my daughter is staying behind for her after school stitchcraft club this afternoon

As my Dad would say, she didn’t get it off the carpet.

Lisa Lam's brilliant guide to getting the bag you want
Lisa Lam’s brilliant guide to getting the bag you want

You Are Already Amazing

It’s the New Year and although we chinked glasses and wished everyone the best over a week ago, it’s taken for the normal routine to kick back in for me to get back to my computer and write about the subject that’s been burning away for days. In fact, it’s been burning away for years and no more so than at this time of year.

To kick this off, these are a few of the comments I have read on social media over the past few days:

“I’m overweight, I have no confidence.”

“I feel so fat, I don’t want to go out on a date with my boyfriend.”

“I lost 5 stone last year and put half of it back on, I’m such a slob. How could I let this happen?”

The diet industry has this brand of self-loathing well stitched up. Join our club, pay the fee and we’ll turn this all around for you.

Now, I’m not knocking diets. They work for some – I know plenty of people who have lost weight and kept it off. But they don’t work for everyone and I think in this case, it has less to do with the body and more to do with the mind: in particular, self-worth.

So, for everyone who’s ever felt like a big, fat, lazy failure, let me tell you something:

               You are already amazing.

Do you know why?

Your liver performs over 500 vital functions, scientists don’t know about everything it does – you’d not live a day without it. Supplying glucose, fighting infections, storing nutrients, recycling waste and detoxifying your body it is a chemical powerhouse that gets on with its job without your knowledge.

Your skin spans 21 square feet, weighs nine pounds and contains more than eleven miles of blood vessels and 45 miles of nerves. Home to 1,000 bacteria (most of which are vital to its health) it rejuvenates itself every 28 days.

Your stomach produces hydrochloric acid (up to 3 litres a day) to digest your food – an acid so powerful that the stomach also produces its own neutralising agent in the stomach wall to protect itself.

Your strongest muscle? Your tongue. The smallest? Only 1mm in length in your ear, holding in place the smallest bone in your body. The hardest working? Your heart – 115,200 beats a day, 42 million beats a year, over 3 billion in a lifetime.  It’s mind boggling.

And your brain? The only organ in your body to feel no pain, it contains 100 billion neurons (and there are 10,000 types of brain cell), weighs 3 pounds and contains 400 miles of blood vessels. Laughing at something uses at least five areas of the brain and it’s estimated that we have 50,000 thoughts a day, 70% of which are negative. The organ is 60% fat and it houses 25% of the body’s cholesterol: and without this, it would not be able to perform the estimated 100,000 chemical reactions a second. Information can travel at 260 mph.

Sit for a moment and think about all this.

Really think.

You are already amazing

Granted, sometimes bodies fail but there is still so much to marvel about.

So:

  • How can a body be devalued because of a number on a scale or a measuring tape?
  • How does the size of someone’s clothing demean the complexity of the valuable gift they’ve been given?
  • How can something so vital, so unfathomable so irreplicable end up ready for the rubbish heap when really it’s nothing of the sort?

It’s nonsense.

However you feel today about your body and what it can do, know this: the fact that you are sat reading my blog post means that you are already amazing.  The work of heart, the eyes, the brain, the liver, the lungs, the skin, the hormones and the millions of other processes going on have brought my ideas to you.

You love, you live.

Dammit, you rock!

Just breathing makes you amazing.

Consider:

  • Walking uses over 200 muscles. It is thought that it helps expand the hippocampus area in the brain: concerned with learning about new places, its shrinkage in women over 60 has been linked with dementia.  Far from being a passive, ineffective form of exercise, there’s nothing like walking.
  • A recent American study found that female heart disease is more likely to be caused by inactivity than excess weight.
  • Swimming requires the rhythmical stretch and relaxation of the skeletal muscles, naturally inducing a restorative, meditative state. It releases endorphins, uses free floating to relieve stress and fight or flight hormones and regulates and strengthens the cardio vascular system without putting undue pressure on joints.
  • Regular movement like running or sport strengthens the digestive tract, making it more efficient.

So:

  • What if you didn’t need beast yourself at the gym or nigh-on starve yourself to be a valid human being?
  • What if you were to rethink the things you’ve been told about size, weight and dieting?
  • What would happen if you chose to nourish your body because it’s an unbelievably complex, unique, living organism?
  • And what harm would come from moving your body your way: making it stronger, more able to carry out your dreams, more capable of interacting with the people you love?
  • What if we found new and helpful ways of linking health and self worth?

Because there are those who will tell you that you need to be a certain shape or size, deny yourself life-giving food or beat yourself up on a daily basis in order to be an acceptable human being.

Ignore this: their thinking is self-defeating and counterproductive.

Because you are already amazing.

Use this as a starting point and allow everything else to follow.

 

I’m passionate about this subject so check out my other body confidence and plus size fitness blog posts using the tag cloud to the right.  And if I’ve motivated you to re-engage with your most marvellous body, then drop me a line and tell me what new reasons you’ve found to love yourself.