Weight Is Just A Number

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No one likes stepping on the scales to be faced with the horrible reality that they probably ate too many slices of cake last week. The chances are you’ve had your suspicions about those extra couple of pounds for a while but have been in a firm state of denial with yourself. Finally, you pluck up the courage to see for certain and can deny it no longer – the numbers don’t lie after all. While to most, a little weight gain is a minor confidence blip, an inconvenience, for me it’s a minefield. No matter what size I am, I spend my life both dreading it and trying to avoid it, in equal measure.

So when I started to return to health after an illness that saw me shrink to just under 8 stone, the joy and relief of recovery was tainted by the fact that I would inevitably gain weight. I knew it was something that needed to happen – I was the thinnest I’ve ever been, even when in the throws of an eating disorder, I just wasn’t prepared for how horrific it would be when it started to become physically noticeable.

I didn’t notice for a while, I was too busy thinking about what I was going to eat next, high on the excitement of being able to enjoy food again and while I was aware that the food I was shovelling into me wasn’t particularly good for me, I was powerless to my appetite. White bread, smothered with Lurpak became the staple of my diet, I would go to bed dreaming about McDonald’s double cheeseburgers and my boyfriend watched in awe as I devoured sticky toffee puddings every weekend at dinner. Concerned by these new eating habits, I broached the subject with my dietician and of course, there was a perfectly reasonable explanation. My body was starving. I should point out that by this point I had been ill for a considerable amount of time, struggling to eat barely anything most days and what I did manage to eat, my body wasn’t absorbing any nutrients from. It turns out the human body is a pretty intelligent organism and it knows what it needs. I was craving these calorific foods, high in fat and carbohydrates, because my body was severely lacking the nutrients that they provide. The dietician reassured me that once my health and weight began to return to normal these cravings would stop and my diet would stabilise and she was right. Now that my body is nourished again, the bizarre cravings have stopped and I’m back to eating the balanced diet I had before, I’m back to myself again.

What isn’t quite as simple however, is accepting myself. As much as I know that gaining weight is a good thing, I can’t help but be disgusted every time I look in the mirror. When I step on the scales and the dial inches up a few more notches, my heart sinks a little bit more. Each time I’m offered a well-meaning compliment along the lines of,  “You’ve gained weight,” I die a little bit inside.

My arms – the only part of me I have ever considered as slim enough – now appear twice the size they used to be, my collarbone is no longer protruding and the gap between my thighs is getting smaller by the day. While all of these are positive signs, physical indicators of good health, I hate each and every one of them and I also hate the fact that I hate them. I’m happy my body is healthy again, yet I can’t accept it in its healthy form.

The worst part is not knowing if what I’m seeing in the mirror is as it really is or if my mind is lying to me, distorting my view with it’s dysmorphic tendencies. I might feel bigger than I’ve ever been, but the scales say I’m no heavier than I was before I fell ill – a healthy weight – and the numbers never lie, right?

I may be healthy physically, but mentally there’s still some work to be done. I need to listen to my body and to trust it, if I’m craving that slice of cake it’s not because I’m fat and greedy as the voice in my head would have me believe, it’s because my body needs sugar. I need to train my mind to work with my body rather than against it so that the dinner table is no longer a battlefield. I need to learn to love my body and to look after it, because it is healthy and for that I am grateful. For me gaining weight is the first hurdle, but the real recovery begins after.

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Meet the Models Who Are Changing the Face of Fashion

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While Cara Delevinge and Jordan Dunn are busy holding their own against Carole White’s comments that British models are “shit,” aren’t driven enough, and eat too much, there’s a selection of models who are making their own movements in the fashion industry, changing the way we see models for good.

Personally, I hate the term “plus-size”, with its negative implications and stereotypes. This is what the five models featured in Bust Magazine’s photoshoot are branded because their body types differ from that of the average size 0 models we are used to seeing up and down the catwalk. The magazine portrays five up and coming models all with athletic and curvy silhouettes, but more importantly with confidence and self-assurance.

This is why I admire these women and why these are the women young girls should be looking to for role models, not because of they are “plus-size.” In fact, not because of their looks at all – although they are all undoubtably gorgeous – they are role models because they are comfortable in their own skin. They are happy, the most attractive quality of all.

“I’ve been called a plus-size model for 15 years, I don’t have any shame in it; I don’t really care. If you want to call me plus, that’s fine, but at the end of the day I know I’m a model. My name is Ashley Graham and I am a model.” – Ashley Graham

Meet some of the models who are changing the face of the fashion industry.

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Ashley Graham

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Julie Henderson

Inga Eiriksdottir

Inga Eiriksdottir

Marquita Pring

Marquita Pring

Danielle Redman

Danielle Redman

Candice Huffine

Candice Huffine

Myla Dalbesio

Myla Dalbesio

Overcoming the Post-Holiday Blues

Features, Fitness

They say all good things must come to an end, so what happens afterwards?

I hadn’t thought much past the four flights and two days of travelling which I faced in order to get home. When I had thought about returning home, it consisted of the very basic and shallow luxuries such as sleeping in my own bed, not having to worry about toilet roll and eating copious amounts of cheese. It hadn’t occurred to me that after the jet lag had worn of, reality would kick in and I didn’t have a plan for reality.

After a few flight extensions I had spent a total of four months in South East Asia with little else to worry about apart from what I would have for dinner that night and whether I would get any sleep on the night bus. I hadn’t had a moment on my own (aside from showering) the whole time and this was perfect for me. When you’re on the other side of the world with your whole life confined to a backpack, problems I faced at home on a daily basis were non existent. My own head was no longer the enemy, it was my survival kit.

Life was much simpler and I had subconsciously gained perspective and a contentment with myself, but on returning to the UK, familiar feelings of anxiety, emptiness and a lack of motivation had me wondering if this had just been circumstantial.

Most people are familiar with that impending feeling of dismay that surfaces in the final few days of the holiday and sticks around for at least a good week afterwards. Returning to reality after having a week – or a few months in my case – of escapism is an anticlimax to say the least, everything seems dull compared with the sun-soaked greener grass. It seemed I had an extreme case of the post-holiday blues.

I’m sure I won’t be the only one to find themselves suffering this summer, so here is my tips for dealing with a case of the blues.

 

1. Sort your life out

I have a terrible habit of not unpacking when I return from a trip, usually because I’m depressed and I hate unpacking. Actually, as soon as you get home you should unpack your clothes, do your washing and de-clutter your life. It will give you so much space – both physically and mentally – and make your home a much nicer environment to be in.

2. Relive the memories

As painful as it may seem at first, getting all your photographs together and looking through them is a great remedy for holiday blues. Put a slideshow together to show your family and friends, they will appreciate it, plus you get to relive all the best times through them, you’ll soon be laughing as you try to explain that photo!

3. Go outside

If you’re lucky enough to have a bit of British sunshine, make the most of it. If you’re not working have a day out, go on a picnic or even just sunbathe in the back garden. It might not be as spectacular as your previous surroundings but the sun has the same effect wherever you are, and vitamin D is your best source of happiness.

4. Catch up with friends

Make time to see friends you haven’t seen for a while, this will cheer you up instantly, they will be dying to hear your stories and you’ll find yourself eager to tell them.

5. Eat well

Summer is the season of strawberries – and all other fruits – so there is no excuse not to be consuming them by the punnet. For me, coming home meant I could indulge on all my favourite foods I had craved whilst being away, but getting back into the routine of eating a balanced diet is so important to help you feel good. If you’ve overindulged on the all-inclusive, make sure you go back to a balanced diet as soon as you get home. Eat well and you’ll feel well.

6. Get moving

This point needs little explanation, but get exercising (outside if possible) and you’ll have your positive frame of mind back in no time. Especially if you’ve spent the last two weeks lying on the beach, it’s time to get moving again. The longer you’re stopped, the harder it is to get going again.

7. Grab a new book

The bookworm that I am, finding a new can’t-put-down novel always cheers me up and keeps me occupied. Summer is a great time for new releases and must-reads so engross yourself in that book you’ve been meaning to read, to help pass the long summer hours.

8. Think positive!

Thinking positive can seem impossible when you feel surrounded by negativity, but it is so worth it. Just one small positive thought can make a world of difference to your mood. Try and look for the positives in every situation, you might be feeling miserable because your trip is over but that is only because you had such a damn good time.

 

 

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Have Yourself a Healthy Little Christmas…

Food

It may be the season to eat, drink and be merry, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of the healthy body and mind you work hard for the other 364 days of the year. The meaning of Christmas isn’t ‘eat yourself into a coma’ or ‘calories don’t count today’. Christmas is about family and tradition, though for some reason, Britain can’t help but turn it into an excessive eating and drinking binge, packed to the brim with parties, buffets and leftover turkey sandwiches.

At the same time, you don’t have to be sat in the corner with ‘humbug’ on your Santa hat if you decide to go for the healthier options this year. By making just a few simple swaps and altercations to your Christmas menu, you could save yourself from a sack load of calories, fats and guilt.

Satsumas

The days of getting one in the bottom of your stocking on Christmas morning might long be gone, but the satsuma is the fruit of the season. They are great for adding to desserts, such as trifles (soak in 15ml of Brandy) or a simple fruit salad and the peel can be soaked in chocolate for that cocoa fix. They’re full of vitamin C too to keep the winter colds at bay!

satsumas

Pretzels

At parties and buffets, swapping a bowl of crisps or salted nuts for a bowl of pretzels reduces the amount of fat and calories but is still a great snack. In 30g of pretzels there is 0.8g fat, a much healthier (and more original) option!

Less Pastry

The less pastry, the better! Cutting back on the pastry means you can still enjoy the same Christmas pleasures, but they don’t have to be guilty ones. For example, make mince pies without tops on, choose cocktail sausages rather than sausage rolls, and nibble on breadsticks instead of cheese straws!

Vegetables

This is obvious. On Christmas Day, load your plate with vegetables, they are fat free and full of vitamins and though it is tempting to give those sprouts the wide birth, they are probably the best veg on the table. To keep your vegetables clean, flavour with herbs rather than butter.

Copyright of theguardian.com

Copyright of theguardian.com

Potatoes

Although potatoes have a bad rep, there is actually barely any fat in them, and it’s okay to allow for a little extra carbs at Christmas. Boiling or baking, rather than roasting the potatoes for your Christmas dinner, is a much healthier way to enjoy them and still just as tasty and traditional.

Dates

Granted, dates aren’t for everyone, but they are a great alternative to snacking on chocolate and sweets on Christmas afternoon. If you can’t be persuaded try other dried fruits instead.

Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is THE festive drink, it has the ability to make  even the grinch feel christmassy instantaneously, and the best part? If made with 50% orange juice, it is much healthier than a glass of regular red wine, so you can enjoy a guilt free tipple – or five!

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Most importantly, my final tip for having the healthiest Christmas you can is to enjoy yourself. Don’t get too bogged down worrying about what is passing your lips and how long you’ll have to spend on the treadmill come January. ’Tis the season to be jolly, after all.

‘It’s Okay to be Overweight’ – Say Size 16 Mannequins

Fashion, Opinion

As fashion department store Debenhams take the bold and brave step of introducing size 16 mannequins to their high street stores, I’m wondering if this is a step too far? Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a positive sign that fashion retailers are starting to acknowledge the unhealthy body image issues that surround their models and campaigns, I just fear that this is the right move but in the wrong place.

It is quite a remarkable move for Debenhams to make, although they must believe there is a profit to be made from these, equally unrealistic, overweight mannequins. Size 16 might be the average women’s size in Britain, but generally speaking, size 16 is not a healthy size to be. Britain is not a healthy nation. I’m not discriminating against those who are naturally a size 16 and for whom this is a healthy weight to be, I’m talking about the majority of those size 16’s who are so because they lead an unhealthy lifestyle, of eating too much and not exercising enough.

I don’t believe shops should be promoting the message that it is okay to be overweight, it is not, and the government spends millions of pounds telling us this. This isn’t because the media says a size 16 is fat and only size zero is beautiful. It’s not okay to be overweight because its dangerous for our health. This is mind, I can’t help but wonder why Jo Swinson has decided to undo some of those millions by reassuring and encouraging people that – to put it bluntly – it’s okay to be fat.

It is the attitudes of the media, and women themselves that need to change, not the size of the shop mannequins. Of course the mannequins are not a realistic model of the average size 16 woman, with flat stomachs  and legs slimmer than my own ‘size 10’ legs, but that is because they are just that, mannequins. Dolls. Not real. Therefore, I am doubtful about how they are going to make real women feel better about their bodies. This change needs to be applied to the real women who front the fashion industry, then maybe we will get somewhere in the battle for better body image.

 

Copyright of itv.com

Copyright of itv.com

Robyn Lawley – Fashion’s Breath of Fresh Air

Fashion

Robyn Lawley

 

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Robyn Lawler: chair

 

The strikingly beautiful model in these photographs has modeled for Ralph Lauren and appeared in Vogue. She is Robyn Lawley who, at 6ft 2in and 12st is classed as a “plus-size” model. Since appearing on the cover of Vogue Italia, Robyn has won various awards for her work and now has her own swimwear line and food blog. She has defied all obstacles of today’s fashion industry to become a supermodel who is recognised for her jaw dropping features and indisputable talent, rather than her size zero frame. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that she is a downright inspiration to all women alike.

However, it would seem not everyone agrees. When a photo of Robyn wearing a corset was posted on Facebook recently, users replied with an array of hurtful comments such as “Pig” and “too fat.” This is because, despite having more sex appeal than all the models at fashion week put together, Robyn doesn’t have a “thigh gap.” Yes, like the most, her thighs touch, but according to the latest women’s body craze this is just not acceptable, even though, for most women, a “thigh gap” is a physically impossible body shape to achieve.

Robyn’s response to the comments was sensational, writing on the Daily Beast ‘You sit behind a computer screen objectifying my body, judging it and insulting it, without even knowing it’ and ‘The truth is I couldn’t care less about needing a supposed “thigh gap.” It’s just another tool of manipulation that other people are trying to use to keep me from loving my body. Why would I want to starve and weaken my natural body size?’

It is responses like these which lead me to believe that Robyn truly deserves to feature on the fashion covers she has graced and has every right to travel the world enhancing the truthful idea, that healthy is beautiful. These are the exact views and attitudes that the fashion industry should be encouraging.

The fact that Robyn Lawley is classed as a “plus-size” model means, shamefully, she might never be “perfect” in the critical eye of the public, but in my eyes she is the most refreshing supermodel out there.