Why I hate ‘Thinspo’ – and why I want it banned

 

When I see Thinspo or Thinspiration, whether it’s on social media or on TV or in magazines, it makes me physically shudder. Maybe that’s because it’s usually accompanied by an image of an impossibly thin person, all rib bones and protruding hip bones; maybe that’s because the connotation for it for me is far from innocent and in fact represents something very dangerous.

I’ve said this before on the blog but I have to say it again for the purpose of this article making sense – ‘thin’ is not healthy. Looking at people as ‘Thin’ and ‘Fat’ is like looking at everything in ‘black’ and ‘white’ – there’s always a grey area. If you fail to be categorised into either you’ll force yourself to fit – it’s human nature. Of course, not many people want to fall into the ‘fat’ category – hence the absence of the ‘fatspiration’ hash tag.

Some people are naturally slim and that is fine. We are all built differently, that’s what’s incredible and diverse and interesting about us as humans. This isn’t an attack on the naturally thin.

What I want to highlight is that ‘thinspiration’ encourages us to become slimmer than we are supposed to be; it shames us into thinking and feeling that we are somehow inadequate because we are not thin. For people with body dysmorphia, every single person they see is some form of this ‘inspiration’. Inspiration of how to be, how to look. Whether that’s hair, skin, height, or weight. This isn’t something which needs to be highlighted and then spread via Social Media.

When I look at images of celebrities and models and these so-called ‘inspirational’ images, I feel worse and worse about myself as a consequence. Hashtag or no hashtag attached, they’re inspiring me to obsess over how I look. They’re inspiring me to believe that I am somehow ugly or strange or ‘fat’. When I am none of those things, factually speaking, even though I believe that I am.

I advise fellow sufferers of BD and people with eating disorders to ration social media. I do this because of the huge exposure to this sort of thing – which consciously or unconsciously damages us and compounds our negative beliefs about ourselves. ‘Thinspiration’ wasn’t around when I was poorly – if it had been, I’d have been all over it. That is to say, my eating disorder would have latched onto it within no time and I actually think over-exposure to it would have made it more difficult for me to recover.

I’m anti #Thinspiration and I hope you can see that it is false and absolutely not how you ‘should be’. There are so many different types of beauty, which I try to celebrate here on the blog. You are individual – unique, and beautiful the way you were made. It might take time to realise it but for now start to see the falsehood in the media and know that it is NOT a reflection on you!

Who else hates #Thinspo?

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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Dalai Lama – a source of spiritual inspiration (even if you are not spiritual)

 

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Even if you are not Buddhist, there is a lot to be learned from the Dalai Lama. His wise observations on life are really thought-provoking – they simplify things whilst not trivialising our own personal struggles. My favourite is the Paradox of our Age:

Is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers

Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints

We spend more, but we have less.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families

More conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less sense

More knowledge, but less judgement

More experts, but more problems

More medicines, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often

We have learnt how to make a living, but not a life.

We have added years to life, but not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back

But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.

We have conquered outer space, but not inner space.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted our soul.

We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We’ve higher incomes, but lower morals.

We’ve become long on quantity but short on quality.

These are the times of tall men, and short character;

Steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare,

More leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are the days of two incomes, but more divorces;

Of fancier houses, but broken homes.

It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom.

A time when technology can bring this letter to you,

And a time when you can choose,

Either to make a difference …. or just hit, delete.

 

The Dalai Lama was also asked what he found most confusing about humanity. His answer was incredibly resonant:

“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.

Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Isn’t this so true?

How can we get out of this mentality though? We are conditioned to run the rat race, after all.

Do you have any favourite quotes of the Dalai Lama to share?

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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Regrets of the Dying – a Must Read

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When you’re young, you feel like you have forever, even though you know you don’t. An inherent complacency influences every decision we make (even when we are older) until we realise we don’t have forever left.

In a lot of ways, I think that those who are unfortunate enough to experience the possibility of life being cut short are blessed. They gain a sense of urgency, the elimination of the fear that hampers and holds the rest of us back as we complacently drift through life believing we have all the time in the world to fulfil our dreams and fantasies.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing – yet there are some tips that can help us appreciate the time we have more and have the courage to do the things we want to do. A lot of my friends are older than me and they tell me to enjoy myself while I am young, yet as I have spoken about before on the blog when you live on a modest income, it’s a difficult balance between enjoying yourself whilst making provisions for later in life.

Nurse Bronnie Ware began a blog documenting the trend she saw in what people told her their biggest regrets at the end of their lives were.

It’s a poignant time in which we are able to, with clarity and urgency, reflect on what we really want, when ironically it is all too late to change our circumstances.

She compiled a list of the most frequently expressed wishes, and they really do make you think. I believe it’s important to share these, especially with younger people because they almost force us to re-evaluate and realise what is really important. Take a look and as always, please share your thoughts!

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

 

  1. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

 

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

 

  1. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

 

  1. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

The above is Copyrighted Bronnie Ware from her blog, Inspiration and Chai.

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6 things we can learn from Maya Angelou

Many people had never heard of Maya Angelou until her passing earlier last year. Yet she was a woman who spoke her mind and turned the adversity she faced throughout her life into a catalogue of insightful, inspirational commentaries to encourage and bring positivity to others.

There are simply too many of her quotes that I take inspiration from to list here, but I’ve managed to shortlist just 6 to share with you today.

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‘If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.’

We are under so much pressure to conform in this life. If we stand out or are different, we are ostracised and singled out, we are ‘wrong’ somehow. But what is ‘normal’? We are all different. Plus, conventions are different no matter where you go – and everyone can ‘fit in’ – you just have to find like-minded people. What is ‘cool’ or ‘fashionable’ in one country or one era differs from one to the next – doesn’t that show that none of us are ‘wrong’? Trying to be someone else wastes everything that’s good about you; and prevents you from reaching your full potential.

‘You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.’

It’s easy to see one more negative thing at the end of a string of unfortunate events as the ‘last straw’. But think back now to something which at the time was equally as challenging – chances are you feel fine about it now, and possibly can even laugh about it. Part of life, and individual aspects of life, is dealing with the downs as well as the ups. Without the downs, there wouldn’t be any ups! And allowing yourself to go through them and deal with them means you can enjoy the ups even more.

‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.’

I often say that perspective is everything. This quote is very black and white – most of the time if we are stressed over something, chances are we can’t change it – that’s why we’re stressed. Especially if we have control issues.  

Often the worst things that happen to us are blessings (wearing a very good disguise!) and with a bit of reflection we can find something good in them. As human beings we are fighters, we rarely accept defeat. It’s this dogged determination that keeps us ploughing on. And how do we do that? We adopt a different attitude, see the positives and continue.

‘If you only have one smile in you, give it to the people you love.’

It’s easy to reserve the best side of ourselves for strangers, taking out our anger and frustration on our loved ones because they are there for us unconditionally. These people are there for you no matter what – they won’t judge you for how you treat them, but think about the effect it has on them. They deserve your kindness – and whilst of course it’s important (and sometimes imperative) to spend energy on people we dislike or who don’t deserve it, make sure you reserve at least a little bit for the best people in your life.

‘We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely acknowledge the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.’

Success doesn’t come overnight. Our society with its vacuous celebrity culture perpetuates the mistaken view that quite simply and with little talent or experience each one of us can be destined for great things. But it’s simply not true.

Each one of us has experienced our own struggle – even the ones who appear to have ‘made it’ have bad days and good days. We need to praise people for their achievements but also ask them: ‘What have you gone through to achieve this?’ Recognise that nobody is perfect, and behind every success there have often been hardships, failure and missed opportunities along the way.

In addition the more good you have and in being successful, the more you lose sight of how lucky you are and become greedy for more – that’s why gratitude is so important.

‘I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.’

Everything ‘negative’ that happens takes a little piece of us, sets us back a little bit. But often in time we replace that little piece which allows us to grow and move on. I think this is just a little reminder that we can and should learn and grow from bad experiences, rather than be reduced little by little to eventually be broken down by life.

It’s very much easier said than done – however I genuinely believe that it can be achieved with a shift in perspective.

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What’s your favourite Maya Angelou quote? (If you can pick just one!)

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The Generation Gap  – how and why do expectations differ?

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‘Life begins just outside your comfort zone’

For a twenty- or thirty- something in today’s society, there are a heck of a lot of pressures and stresses which seem only to have transpired in the last 10 years. Is it technology? Feminism? The economy?

As I have spoken about in ‘You can’t do it all’, women are expected to be and do lots of different things, all to a high standard. Yet we can’t do all of these things – at least not all of them very well. None of us are superhuman.

When I look at my parents and speak to them about their own experiences, I see stark differences worlds apart from even the chasm between their generation and that of their own parents.

In the 1980’s (which wasn’t THAT long ago), women still trailed behind men considerably in the workplace and in education. In schools, there was still a tendency to encourage girls to do subjects such as home economics and boys to do woodwork. Whilst many shunned the norm and set us on a path to where we are today, many women did just as their own mothers had done; met someone at school, had children, bought a house and became a housewife.

Nowadays, women (and men) of our generation are told they can ‘be whoever they want to be’. We are all talented, we can all do whatever we wish to do – we just have to believe and work hard and we will succeed. An increasingly materialistic society has only been encouraged by social media, upon which we are assaulted by an onslaught of photographs depicting luxury resorts, fast cars and millionaire beach houses.

What’s the problem with this? Well, it’s unrealistic. We can’t all be successful. There are always people at the top of the pile, people at the bottom, and people in between. Telling people they can all be successful and have potential if they work hard is really an untruth – hard work doesn’t always equate to financial abundance. There are other factors such as luck, economy and skill, and of course what you choose to go into.

If a woman is seen to be dependent on a man, or looking for a man to ‘settle down with’, she is looked upon with a certain level of disdain by today’s society. Where’s the ambition? How dare she expect a man to share his fortunes with her? Why can’t she or doesn’t she have her own?

I myself am fiercely self-sufficient, and I often find myself harbouring the same views on other girls who tell me it is their ambition to ‘find someone rich to marry’. Yet I also find myself struggling to afford the lifestyle society tells me I should have (and am entitled to) as single woman. If I focus solely on my career, I can’t have an amazing body because I have no time or energy for the gym. I can’t go out every week because I am knackered. Yet if I don’t focus on my career, I could keep up an unsustainable party lifestyle on a low wage for an inordinate amount of time but then where would that leave me? I’d have all sorts of memories, but I’d also be 30 and still living with my parents. Something I very much wish to avoid.

‘Life is for living’, yes, but how? And isn’t that often motivated by what we want but dictated by what we need? A difficult balance to achieve, if you ask me.

I think the important thing to remember is that whilst a lot is expected of us from many different parties (parents, friends, partners, work, society), all that really matters is our own personal happiness. Your instincts and personal preferences dictate what you really want in life – and even though it’s scary to take a leap of faith (especially when everyone is categorically telling you it’s a bad idea) regretting not taking a chance is much worse than ‘failing’ (as I’ve said before, there’s no such thing as failure!) The best things are apparently ‘outside our comfort zone’ – yet our comfort zone is exactly that – a protective bubble which we place around ourselves for a reason.

This is something I am convincing myself of at the moment. I think we all are! I know it is true – but risk-taking really is scary and I understand that.  Watch this space as I travel out of my comfort zone to see what’s really out there and prove it’s not as scary as we all think!

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Why BMI and Weight mean absolutely nothing

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The massive importance of BMI and Weight – one of the biggest myths of our time.

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, weight is a number on a scale which essentially tells you what your relationship with gravity is. It doesn’t tell you anything else; it doesn’t take into account other physical or personal qualities. I wanted to expand a little bit on this though because I get a lot of people talking to me about ‘weight loss’ and when I explain why I disagree with that so much I’m often met with a lot of confusion and questions!

I think the main reason for this confusion is the conditioning we have all been subject to over the last 30 plus years, which has seen the idea of ‘weight loss’ painted as a positive and ‘fat’ as a negative.

Of course in the 40’s, there was an influx of adverts promising ‘curviness’ for ‘skinny’ girls, who were ostracised just as bigger women are nowadays for their ‘undesirable’ size. Doesn’t that just go to show the power of the media, and the consequent effect it has on society? Someone, somewhere decides what is ‘normal’ or ‘good’ and we all follow blindly as we are told to do. At the moment, ‘skinny’ is in, and as a consequence we have all become obsessed with how much we weigh, with fat as a rule avoided like the plague.

BMI has long been painted by health professionals as an accurate and reliable gauge of a person’s health, based on the correlation between their height and weight. Contrary to this, many will now tell you that it in fact does the opposite and tells us very little about a person’s physical make up and overall health. Here’s an example: take a body builder who is very lean but has a heck of a lot of muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat, so they weigh quite a lot. They are however lacking in height – meaning their BMI indicates that they are clinically obese. Yet this person does not have a scrap of fat on them – so how can they possibly be obese?

This outdated system lumps people into categories of ‘healthy’, ‘unhealthy’ and ‘really unhealthy’ on opposite ends of the scale.  Another example is a naturally slim, tall person whose height and weight indicate that they are drastically underweight and dangerously so. Yet this is simply how they are made up naturally – it’s impossible for them to put on any weight.

What concerns me about this reliance on BMI is that many people are being told they are ‘clinically obese’ when that simply is not true. It focuses us even more keenly on a number on a scale, and not the health of our bodies as a whole. More recently, worrying stories of children and young adults being berated for the product of their BMI results have emerged in the press, which of course is unhelpful to say the least at such a formative stage both mentally and physically.

 

This brings me back to ‘weight’ as a whole. I admit I weigh myself once a week, same time, same day, so I absolutely cannot sit here and tell anybody not to weigh themselves at all, even though in all honesty that would be the ideal alternative. I know people who weigh themselves incessantly; sometimes twice in a day. When you have body dysmorphia or an eating disorder, gaining one pound can alter your whole perception of yourself and how you feel for the rest of that day. Clothes feel tighter, imaginary rolls of fat appear in the mirror. ‘Weight’ means nothing. The weight of our bodies depends on many different factors and varies from hour to hour, day to day, week to week. Women especially are subject to daily hormonal changes and don’t forget the contribution of our digestive systems to how much (or little) we weigh.

So what’s the alternative? Whilst I don’t suggest that this is widely used and suitable for everybody, I think it’s better to look to more accurate techniques such as fat calliper testing to get a clear indication of someone’s overall health. This coupled with other investigations can really give a true picture of how a person is made up, and where. If you are carrying excess fat, where it is on your body is important, as this often determines whether it poses a risk to your health and also the cause of its presence. Not everyone who carries excess fat eats cake for breakfast!

Next time you find yourself at the doctor’s and they insist on working out your BMI, please don’t lose heart if it isn’t favourable. It is a vague indication, if that, of your health and physical components. Not only that, there is more to you than a number on a scale. You are a wonderful person on the inside, and as long as you are also healthy, that is all that matters.

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Gluten-free – it’s not for everyone

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I talk about fad diets on here and my hatred of anything that encourages you to cut anything out of your daily routine completely or starve yourself as I believe that these are harmful and unhealthy – I think that they normalise a difficult relationship with food.

You may have noticed from the blog that I don’t eat gluten. I don’t eat any foods with gluten in them because I have IBS as a result of my anxiety disorder, which means I struggle to digest food in general because of my constant state of anxiety, but especially ‘heavy’ foods like bread and pasta. It’s not simply an issue with gluten; I wouldn’t be able to eat any gluten free breads and I struggle with potato too. So essentially it’s not intolerance as such and more an inability to process heavy foods rather than an intolerance to gluten in an isolated way.

Some people have gluten intolerances or allergies (known as Coeliac disease), very much like lactose allergies and intolerance. These are serious medical conditions which cause people to become very poorly if they consume the foods in question – in the case of allergies, all precautions must be taken to ensure sufferers’ foods have not at all come into contact with any gluten. In the same way if I eat heavy foods I feel very poorly but Irritable Bowel Syndrome is still an illness with very little known about the causes, triggers and treatments and therefore it’s a grey area compared to the above.

Contrary to the seriousness which is widely associated with nut allergies, we’ve become very ignorant and dismissive about gluten allergies and intolerances and often group them as the same thing, or worse group them with those on fad diets who don’t have intolerance or allergies at all. Similarly, it’s more difficult to tell now whether somebody has a medical issue, or whether they’re just avoiding the food group altogether because they have read an article in a magazine and decided to go on a fad diet. Unfortunately, all those who are avoiding gluten for genuine reasons find themselves subject to disapproval and a fair amount of eye-rolling, tutting, ridicule and sometimes anger (yes anger – it’s happened!)

Gluten-free has become the latest fad diet on the market. Celebrities have taken it up in force and magazines rave about the benefits including a ‘flat stomach’ and the fact that gluten causes undesirable effects in even the most robust digestive system. This often means that when I turn down a sandwich or tell somebody I’m not able to eat that cake or biscuit, they snort and say ‘Oh, you’re on low carb?’ or look at me disdainfully because clearly I’m just being a faddy eater and being incredibly inconvenient (having had an eating disorder, I’m used to this look as I’m sure you can imagine!) Generally, people don’t believe me when I tell them about my IBS and how it affects me (and I really don’t fancy going into detail about my bowel movements to convince them that I am telling the truth!).

I think this misunderstanding is because the popularity and promotion of gluten-free has led to people who have no history of intolerance and who have not been to see a doctor self-diagnosing an intolerance and cutting out gluten altogether in favour of expensive gluten-free alternatives, of which there is now an increasingly diverse range in the supermarkets (isn’t that just proof of the adoption of gluten free?) The problem is that because people see it as a diet and weight loss method, and not as a necessary (or unnecessary for most, as it happens) lifestyle choice, they feel they can consume as much gluten-free produce as they please and that they will be healthy and lose weight as a result. Sadly, they’re wrong.

Processed gluten-free products are often full of the same nasty chemicals and preservatives as are in foods containing gluten – and in fact sometimes they have more because they are not made in a ‘traditional’ way as some ‘normal’ products are. They contain just as much sugar too, so eating a gluten-free pack of biscuits instead of the occasional ‘normal biscuit’ is absolutely no good for your body.

There’s varying schools of thought scientifically as to whether cutting gluten out of your diet is beneficial medically-speaking, however a fair few of these contradict each other ,with some saying it may help, others which categorically deny that, unless you have medical reason to, gluten has any reason to be excluded from your diet. As I always say, eating a healthy, balanced, as natural as possible range of foods is absolutely the best thing for your body. Gluten-based foods have been around for centuries and whilst our variations of them (such as refined breads and processed cakes and biscuits) aren’t the best, gluten itself is only the enemy for a select few who genuinely struggle to process it.

Have you experienced any prejudice because of a genuine allergy or intolerance?

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Procrastination – the thief of time (and sanity)

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Lack of motivation and high levels of procrastination are frustrating traits we all harbour. Yet for those with anxiety or depression it’s multiplied by 100% or more, meaning it’s harder to get out of that rut you’re stuck in. Couple that with self-esteem issues ‘I can’t do it’ and you’ll never get things done. Having a huge to-do list and having achieved nothing due to your lack of motivation only serves to impact your low self-esteem further.

I am the sort of person who gives myself a million things to do – and I control that with just as many lists. But I realised that I was just re-making lists neater when I’d crossed a couple of things off to pacify my OCD tendencies – and I was not actually getting things done. When I realised that the biggest tasks such as arranging all my photographs from the past year (which had now become two years) had been on the list for 12 months or more, I decided I needed to sort out my procrastination as it would help to increase my productivity, subsequently easing my anxiety.

How do you get that magic motivation?

It takes a lot of stern words with yourself (which may well be deserved) but it’s definitely possible to at least minimise procrastination. I say this so candidly because it is so important to conquer the little urchins in your head that give you insignificant things to do; in fact it is imperative to recovery and improved mental health. I’ve included a few tips below that I have picked up over the past year or so which I am implementing in my daily and weekly routine – little tips which have made a huge difference to my productivity!

  1. Break down big goals. Staring up at a HUGE goal just gives way to self-defeating thoughts of ‘oh my god I can’t do this’ or more likely ‘I don’t want to do this.’
  2. Get your ‘worst’ job out of the way first. Your least desirable job of the day or week is best tackled first, if possible. It gives you the motivation to go ahead and do the other jobs because they don’t seem so monumental once you’ve got the one you were least looking forward to out of the way.
  3. Prioritise your to do list. Some of the things on your daily or weekly to do list don’t really need to be there. Break the lists down into manageable smaller lists – how many tasks can you physically do today? If it’s ten, cut it down to ten. Less imperative tasks can wait till tomorrow.
  4. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you don’t complete the tasks within the allocated time, don’t beat yourself up. Just take it as an indicator of what you can manage in one day and cut your lists accordingly for the next day.
  5. Putting it off won’t make it go away! When you prioritise, make sure you do so in order of actual importance and not in the order of what you want to do or feel like doing. If a bill needs paying and it stresses you out and you can’t be bothered with it, putting it at the bottom of your list will make it disappear. If you tackle it first (as in point 2) you’ll be laughing!

I would love to hear some of your own tips for minimising procrastination and getting motivation to do mundane every day jobs. Please share them below!

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Alicia Douvall – an example of society’s misunderstanding of Body Dysmorphia

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I’ve not watched Celebrity Big Brother this series; but nowadays you don’t really have to to get a feel for what is going on in the house! It is all over the media, and understandably so. This year seems to have introduced one of the most controversial series yet – indeed they appear to be getting more and more complaints with each new series and each new episode!

When asking my friend who was in the house this year, she rattled off a list of washed up Z-listers along with an unapologetic commentary summing up each with very little mercy. She eventually came to ‘a glamour model whose had a shit load of surgery – ugly’. Straight away, I knew who she was referring to. And I actually found myself upset about what she had said.

 

That’s because Alicia Douvall has openly talked about her battle with Body Dysmorphia, a battle which clearly is being won on a daily basis, and not by her. Yet still people are so cruel and judge her only by her apparent ‘stupidity’ and shocking looks – the type of judgemental behaviour which causes many to become overly self-conscious in the first place.

The power of Body Dysmorphia can’t be underestimated. Couple that with enough money and a ‘good reason’ to continue ‘improving yourself’ (in Alicia’s case, her career), then you have a really potent combination.

Despite having spoken at length and even having done a television programme talking about her BD, (albeit not a necessarily informative one which seemed to concentrate more on her not winning the battle than winning it) still she is ridiculed by a society who through no fault of their own really are ignorant and misguided in the way they see her, and others like her.

When I do have the courage to open up and explain to people what having Body Dysmorphia means for me, I’m often met with surprise and disbelief. I’m invariably asked why I feel that way. People’s perception of me changes instantly; whoever they thought I was, they then see somebody who doesn’t see themselves how everybody else sees them and whose actions and behaviours are influenced and fuelled by their need to be approved of, by themselves and by others.

If Alicia Douvall had instead been somebody with a birth defect which had disfigured her face, I’m sure that any negative comment passed on how she looked would have been met with a fairly large amount of disgust and negativity by the British public. But because Alicia’s condition is not something we can see, and appears to be ‘self-inflicted’, she is subject to what can only be described as bullying. Especially poignant as for most of us being bullied is what caused us to develop BD in the first place.

There’s others too – Lauren Goodger, Katie Price, Heidi Montag. All ridiculed, but to someone with BD it’s blindingly obvious that they are actually crippled with insecurity.

Yep, she put herself in CBB, she put herself in the public eye, as all these people do, and in these cases there is of course an element of ‘asking for it’. But what concerns me is public perception as a whole of BD because let’s face it, how many people even know it exists? How often is it mistaken for vanity?

Do you ever come up against stigma or unkind and unwanted criticism relating to your Body Dysmorphia?

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Positivity – Good things are just around the corner!

Light in the Forest

There’s a saying – ‘An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.’

So essentially, when life is pulling you back and taking things away it is preparing for new things, making room for better things.

Have you noticed that ‘bad things’ all come at once? Life as I knew it a few months ago has been turned upside down and my physical and mental health have deteriorated as a result. But I’ve had an amazing year this year which I am incredibly grateful for and unfortunately that’s life – there are ups and downs and good times can’t be good without the bad.

Yet the bad things aren’t really bad. Perspective is everything – you see them as bad, but if you look at them they are only bad to you because of your opinion and circumstances. Look at what it is you are unhappy about. You may not see a way it could ever be viewed as good. But something good will have (or already has) come from it. You were expecting another outcome – so when the outcome is unfavourable, it’s an understandable blow and knock to your confidence and self-esteem and the plans you had.

It’s also a gift that they all come at once; as happiness often does.   Here’s why I think it’s good sometimes to have a complete ‘meltdown’:

  • You’re forced to re-evaluate, and often see that things can now be better. You take a step back and see that perhaps you’d fallen into a comfort zone which whilst it may have felt like it suited you actually wasn’t the best.
  • Perhaps you lament the way things were and struggle to cope with the changes which have suddenly come about in your life. We are creatures of habit; no-one likes change, especially when it is unexpected and unwanted. But these things happened for a reason. Try and remember the last time things fell apart for you – chances are you felt exactly the same then. But when things were good afterwards, you were pleased that they had done or had perhaps forgotten how hurt you were in the first place.
  • It gives you the opportunity to reflect and learn from your mistakes. You now have time to think about what has happened, and how you can learn from the experience to ensure that in the future you can employ the knowledge and strength you are gaining. Don’t, however, beat yourself up over your mistakes (I’m a perfectionist, I do this daily). It’s draining, counter-productive and unnecessary. At the end of the day we all make mistakes – and that’s okay, as long as you learn and grow from them.

 

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