Stand back, I am about to open a can of worms…… Brace yourselves!
I am a total convert to this healthy, nutritious way of eating, right? I’ve cut right back on the amount of meat, refined sugar, alcohol, simple carbs and other processed crap that I put into my body, so therefore it goes without saying that I’m doing exactly the same for my kids right? Wellllllll…….. not quite!!
On week one of my current course I watched a lecture given by Alicia Silverstone where she talked with great excitement and animation about her macrobiotic diet. She is a staunch believer in it’s many health benefits and maintains that her young son has also been brought up following the same strict regime. She said that he sees blueberries as a huge treat. Now, don’t get me wrong, my kids love blueberries, but I’m 100% sure they don’t see them as “ a huge treat”!
So all of this got me thinking about my diet and if, how or whether it should it impact on the kids? I think its safe to say that if as I mentioned in this post , I am now eating to get my body healthy (as opposed to just skinny!) then obviously it should follow suit that I should be working towards the same aim for my nearest and dearest.
But the truth of the matter is that with a 7 and 4-year-old, its not always that easy. Now maybe if, like Alicia Silverstone, I had fully embraced this way of living and eating BEFORE getting pregnant, then my children would have been weaned knowing nothing different from quinoa and kale, but that wasn’t the case. When I got pregnant (on both occasions) I was still locked in a full scale conflict with my body and although I breastfed both of them for the first 4 months or so, this undoubtedly coloured the the way I weaned them onto solids. With my first, I tried really hard with the Annabel Karmel school of puree-ing your own veg and making your own baby mush. But I can tell you, that as a sleep deprived, first time mum there are only so many point blank refusals you can take before thinking “bugger this….. pass me the jars!” With my second, partly because of the experience I’d had with my first and partly because she was my second and I was even more knackered, I bypassed the home pureeing altogether and headed straight for the shop bought stuff!
And I suppose that set the score. For a long while (and yes, even today) I have chosen the path of least resistance when it comes to my children and their food. Mum guilt definitely kicks in when admitting that, as far as picking my battles goes, I don’t always opt to fight with them over meal choices. Sometimes I’ll have the bit between my teeth and argue it out, but on other occasions, I figure that fighting about food is not the right way to encourage and embed healthy choices.
I’d like to point out here, that I have always been so worried about either of my children inheriting my food and body issues that right from the start, I’ve made a conscious effort not to mention diets or overtly criticise my own body in front of them. Now, I’m sure that some of my negativity over the last few years must have permeated through to them on some level, but I really hope that the positive messages that I’m pedalling at the minute will cancel out any subconscious negativity as they continue to grow.
So what do I feed them? Well, to start at the very beginning as it were, we have really tried to improve their breakfast choices. They currently have a choice between porridge, homemade granola, and cornflakes, rice crispies or weetabix. Now I know that the last three aren’t ideal, but in comparison to the myriad of other sugar laden boxes that are on offer in the supermarket, I think that they probably rank as the best options. After their cereal and milk, they regularly ask for a share of my green smoothie which I think is great and I’ve even bought them special little glass bottles to drink them from. I love the idea that a) they are getting a great hit of nutrients before school and b) they see drinking green smoothies as something normal and good. They also love to know what’s gone into their smoothies and they seem to get extra excited about the ones that contain the widest variety of fruit and veg!
When in school, they’re able to choose a piece of fruit or veg at snack time and then they both have………. a school dinner. Arghhhh, mum guilt strikes again!! I know that this in itself might be controversial coming from a budding health coach, but let me talk you through my reasoning. First and foremost is the fact that due to a current government initiative, they both get a free school lunch, and as my mother taught me, never look a gift horse in the mouth! Added to this, as an ex-primary school teacher, I also know that there has been a huge push over the last few years to improve the quality and nutritional value of the meals provided in our schools (thanks Jamie Oliver!) My other reason is that I feel that it is much better for them to have their main, hot meal in the middle of the day because with so many after school clubs, homework, and various other activities to fit in the 3-6pm window, it is often difficult to shoe-horn in time to prepare and feed them a hot, nutritious home-cooked meal. More often that not, dinner is often something light, simple and quick like eggs on toast or a cheese and cucumber sandwich.
When they’re at home during school holidays or on weekends, I try, wherever possible, to feed them same meals that Ben and I eat (I had a particular triumph this weekend with a lentil bake!) However, its not always easy as the meals that I cook are often quite spicy and to be honest, Ben and I sometimes like waiting to eat our meal after the kids have gone to bed, so that we can enjoy time and good food together without the pressure of child-tussling! If this is the case and I’m preparing them a separate child-friendly meal, I work on the premise of crowding out rather than cutting out. So for example, while I might bow to pressure and shove a shop bought pizza in the oven, I also make sure that I load up their plates with some lovely side salad that I know they will both go for. Likewise, their snacking habits have improved massively and while they don’t always immediately jump at the plain old fruit option, they are always really keen to munch on an almond butter stuffed date or some apple slices served with chunks of cheese or spread (again!) with almond butter.
I know that my children don’t eat an Alicia Silverstone- style perfect diet, but it terms of where we’ve come from and where (I hope) we’re heading to, I think we’re doing ok. I don’t want them to feel restricted or hugely different from their peers when it comes to the food that they eat, but I do want them to understand that the food choices they make, can have a huge impact on their health. I want them to make the links between eating to provide their bodies with fabulous energy, and not just because they’re bored (boy this is a tough one!) And I want them to be able to search for and spot REAL food in amongst all of the fake crap that they are bombarded with every single day.
It is undoubtedly, a tough old road to walk, but I hope that if we continue to take small steps then one day, those blueberries might just end up looking extra special!
*UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE*
So, a couple of weeks ago when I wrote a post about my exercise woes?? Well, almost immediately after I published it, this link popped up on my Facebook feed….. A 12 week group, for ladies who have never run before or who want to get back into running after a long break. And guess what, there’s course running in Truro and it started last week!!!! Errrrr, helllllloooo!!! Is it me you’re looking for?!
Needless to say, I immediately accepted this as a sign from the universe and signed up there and then. Even better news is that when I mentioned it to my friend Julie (my ex-Zumba buddy) she said she’d come too! Wa-hey!!! My chances of chickening out were diminishing daily because A) I’d found a wing man and b) I’d paid for the whole course up front!
So, last Thursday, in the pouring down rain, I donned my running gear and headed out to the first session.
How did I find it? Well, it felt good to be back out pushing myself and some internal brownie points were definitely earned, but I still found the running part (of which there were only short intervals) pretty tough. And the whole experience was marred by yet another of my post exercise migraines. These are something that I’ve been struggling with on and off for about the last 7 years and I’ve tried (and will keep trying) all manner of things to stop them happening. But as much as a I hate to admit it, they really do colour my judgement when it comes to pushing myself during exercise and for someone who is spending a great deal of time and effort on “listening to my body”, it feels as though they’re throwing me a pretty loud message! But I just can’t seem to accept that my body is telling me not to do cardio exercise. That would just be ridiculous, right?!
Anyway…… back to the running club! The lady who lead the group (Teresa) was fab. Really calm and encouraging and keen to tell us that she used to hate running and is now a total convert. She is a personal trainer and ex-paramedic so I felt we were in good hands, and it was also great that she was able to offer really helpful advice about our individual running techniques. There were only three of us in the group, which, although great in one way, also highlighted the fact that I was by far the slowest one there…..Some things will never change! And it’s also made me realise that although I will definitely stick with this group until the end of the course, I really do prefer to run on my own rather than with other people. I am 100% a headphones in, head down and get on with it kinda gal!
However, the good exercise karma doesn’t end there….. My friend Ellie (she of open water swimming fame) sent me a Whatsapp message last Saturday morning to ask if I’d be interested in going to see a personal trainer with her!!! Hell yes! Even better, this lady is all about great nutrition and body positivity and sounds right up my street. How good is that?! The only slight hitch is that the trainer is currently in the States and doesn’t get back until the end of the month, but as soon as she’s back, we’re good to go!
I’ve taken a couple of things from these developments. Firstly, it feels good to be heading in a far more positive direction with exercise (despite the migraine issues) but mainly, I am amazed at the power that has come from writing things down and sharing them with other people! I knew that I needed to up my exercise and I knew that I needed support to do it, but look what happened as soon as I shared those aims out loud! Now I’ve read this stuff umpteen times over the last few years, you know, how writing down your goals actually makes it far more likely that you’ll achieve them, but I have to be honest, I’ve always taken it with a pinch of salt. However, in the last few months, due to my increased journaling, goal setting and of course, blogging, there have been a number of occasions when it really, truly has worked. Amazing!
The other thing that has struck me, is how important it is to surround yourself with supportive people who share at least some of your goals. Gathering a tribe of friends and family who understand your aims and don’t deride or undermine your efforts is hugely important. I’m lucky that most of my best mates and my husband all “get” what I’m doing, but I’ve also been lucky enough to find some amazingly supportive ladies in some of the online groups I’ve been involved with. Now I know this may sound a little bit weird, talking about a group of people I’ve met on ‘tinterweb, not face to face, but it’s true, I feel as though I’ve found myself a little cyber tribe to be a part of and its lovely!
Some ladies are from the Green Goddess Academy that I took part in earlier this year, others are from the Wholeheartedly Healthy Mindset Makeover Group, and there’s yet another group for all of the Brits studying the Health Coach Training with IIN. Each group has a slightly different feel to it and I certainly feel able to bare my soul in some more than others, but each is undoubtedly playing a big role in my ongoing transformation. Whether I want to ask a question about making gorgeous, sugar free sweet treats, or let off steam about how tough I’m struggling to stay positive, or even about how best to prepare for a 10K (something that a group of us Green Goddesses are planning on doing together later in the year), I know that at the other side of a Facebook group are some gorgeous new friends who are always on hand to offer support, advice and words of wisdom. It has been a huge revelation to me, especially as someone who doesn’t make close friends particularly easily (I’m blaming the fact that I’m an only child) and who usually feels embarrassed at having to ask for help!
And what has made it different to the “Group therapy” offered by local slimming clubs is that there is no element of competition. There is no weekly weigh in or slimmer of the week. There is no one person who is doing better than all the rest. Instead, there is a group of people who are all trying to improve their minds and and bodies in a way that suits them. A group of friends who are all embarking on a new journey and who are able to discuss without judgement, the road that they are going to take. And like all of the best friendship groups, if you stray off the path at any point, you aren’t judged or mocked, but instead welcomed back with open arms and words of encouragement.
So I suppose that what I’m saying is, if you are trying to change your diet and exercise regime, it can be hugely beneficial to find yourself a team of cheerleaders. Friends who are willing to help you out when the going gets tough and who are also keen to walk alongside you and hold your hand whenever possible.
Good friends, even if only in cyber space, definitely make the world a better place!
Arghhhh! The wobbles are surfacing. And I don’t just mean the ones on my thighs!!
I have a problem. My old friend self doubt has been knocking at the door again. I’m finding it really difficult when someone asks what I’m doing at the moment. Initially I get really excited and enthusiastic to tell them about my course but then I get The Fear. The Fear and The Shame. Because here’s the thing, I don’t look like a health coach. Now I know that in the first instance that may sound a bit daft, a bit like saying that I don’t look like a teacher. Or that the fella who delivers our milk doesn’t look like a milkman. But honestly, as soon as you utter the words Health Coach, they undoubtedly conjure up very specific visions. Here we go, give it a try. Close your eyes and think “Health Coach”. Who or what do you see? Here’s what I see when I do it……. Some gorgeous 20-something with long lithe legs, a light tan, clear skin, no make up (ie natural beauty), a flat tummy with slight hint of a six pack. Looks ace in yoga gear, long unprocessed hair that does not need to be dried, straightened or in any other way wrestled into shape. The type of person who can go camping and step out of their tent in PJs first thing in the morning radiating gloriousness and health before they’ve even cleaned their teeth………… Can you see her? Can you picture my health coach vision? And does she look like yours????
Well, the crux of my current self confidence issue is that I am NONE of the above. Like, not even close. If I had spent some time being asked to describe someone who looked the complete opposite to me, then I would probably have come up with the same list. For starters, I’m a size 16 make-up-aholic, with short bleached hair and ruddy welsh skin!! Hmmmm, not quite the scandi-esque vision I conjured earlier eh?! Put bluntly, I’m really worried that people (future clients?) wont take me seriously. They won’t believe that I have the correct (visible) credentials to allow me to tout myself as a “Health Coach”.
So how am I going to deal with it? Well, I’m giving it a LOT of thought at the minute and its going a little like this………
I’m fat. I know I’m fat. I don’t know how much I weigh as I stopped weighing myself a long time ago when I realised that my fruitless obsession with weighing numerous times a day was doing me no favours whatsoever. However, as I mentioned earlier, I do know that I currently wear a size 16. Now I know that for many people that is a hideous thought which would send them hurtling headlong towards the nearest weight watchers meeting, but as someone who has also been a size 22, a size 16 doesn’t feel too horrendous. I know it’s too big for my 5.5” frame. I know that my GP would be eager to advise me on how to get myself out of the obese (or maybe even morbidly obese) category on the BMI chart and as I mentioned in this post I would happily accept a problem free miracle which would suddenly shrink me to a size 10/12! But I have to be realistic about a few things.
First and foremost is the fact that my poor old body has been stuck in a perpetual cycle of binge/starve for 30 of its nearly 40 years. This has undoubtedly had some impact on my metabolism and the way in which my body responds to the food which I put in it. I am learning to deal with this day by day. I am researching and educating myself on how to heal myself from this cycle of all or nothing. I am easing my body out of a damaging cycle and into a healthier sense of stability. But guess what? its taken 30 years to get to this state so it’s safe to assume that it’s not something my body is suddenly going to snap out of as soon as I throw a couple of green smoothies down my neck! It’s going to take time, reflection and continued work and perseverance. The complete opposite, in fact to what I’d conditioned myself to search for in a weight loss regime. Once I dedicated myself to a new plan, I wanted the weight gone, like yesterday! Well I’ve come to accept that that’s not how this stuff works anymore; and as a result, I feel that I’m putting myself in a good position from which to help others who have struggled with the same long battle against themselves. Who better to coach you through a problem than someone who has actually been there themselves?!
Secondly, with all of this experience of dieting behind me, I am now finally learning to take both positives and negatives from my past history. In effect, I am finally appreciating the fact that my fat (and struggles) with it, might well have taught me a few things. It has taught me that my focus has got to be health rather than skinny-ness. To be perfectly honest with you, this is a relatively new concept for me. When I used to diet, it was all about improving the way I looked. I wanted to lose weight because I wanted to look hot in my jeans! Well here’s the thing…..Maybe because both my mum and my husband have developed heart problems this year, I’m now improving my diet because I want to be healthy. I want to look after my heart. I want to be able to keep up with my kids for a long time yet. I don’t want to be put on long term daily medication just in order to counteract issues that could have been avoided with a better diet and more rigorous self care. I want to live for as long as I possibly can. I love my life. I want lots more of it! And I want to help others to do the same thing. I am finally moving beyond the superficial. Maybe that’s why all of my previous attempts have ultimately ended in failure (massive weight re-gain!) I wasn’t doing it for the RIGHT REASON……and now I feel that I am. Will my body respond to this shift positively? I really hope and believe that it will.
I am a work in progress. I am walking the walk. I can fully relate to others who have struggled with long term weight issues. I truly do understand all of the mental, emotional and physical struggles. And I hope that given a lot of work and the right training I will be equipped to help others effect such a huge, fundamental shift in their lives too. Who better to coach you through a problem than someone who has actually been there themselves?!
Too fat to be a health coach? Not on your nelly!!
When I embarked on the journey towards diet free, healthy eating, positive living that I’m still on at the minute, I started casting around on the wonderful world of ‘tinterweb for people that I hoped could help and inspire me. And boy, did I find some beauties! And as I feel that they have helped me so much and continue to help me right now, I thought I’d tell you a bit about some of them so you can check them out too.
Laura Agar Wilson – Laura runs a website called “Wholeheartedly Healthy” and she also completed the IIN Health Coach Training that I’m just embarking on. She has a gorgeous and really informative website filled with great tips and recipes. She also runs a number of on line programmes, one of which (Mindset Makeover Course) I’ve followed myself and really felt a great benefit from it. I think that the thing I like best about Laura is that she is not afraid to show the real her – warts and all! She has a toddler and often posts about the difficulties that she encounters when trying to balance her healthy living/health coaching business/busy life of being a mum. She talks openly about things that do and don’t work for her and I for one, really appreciate that. It can be so easy to be sucked into the instagram filtered version of life where everything looks perfect all of the time and end up feeling that your own life somehow doesn’t measure up. But Laura’s not like that, and that’s one of the reasons why I love her! Plus, when I was looking for a health Coaching course to sign up to, she was happy to spend some time on the phone chatting it through with me and gave me some great advice. She’s ace!
Sophie and Audrey Boss (Beyond Chocolate) – I can’t for the life of me remember how I discovered Sophie and Audrey Boss, but it is fair to say that their books (Beyond Chocolate and Beyond Temptation) were pretty life changing. I can honestly say they were the first people who brought me into contact with the anti-diet, trust-in-yourself, listen-to-your-body notion and on reading their books (and attending one of their day courses in Bristol) it was as though the scales finally started to fall from my eyes! I Sometimes struggle slightly with the vehemence of their anti-diet message as I worry that the way I eat (mainly plant based, limited refined sugar etc) would be classed by them as “too diety”. However, the main positive I took from their material was their insistence that everyone should “Be your own guru” and this fabulous phrase is something I stick to and remind myself of frequently. So hey, if it works for me, then I guess I am totally being my own guru!
Jessamyn Stanley – Oh. My. Goodness. At the minute, this lady really is lighting up my life! Yoga…… Yoga, yoga, yoga. It was always something that I desperately wanted to be involved with. I wanted the lithe toned limbs and the zen like post yoga glow. But whenever I attempted it, I ended up feeling fat, stiff and smothered by my own boobs. Rather than floating home from class in a state of calm and contentment, I would inevitably trudged back home sweaty, deflated and with a crick in my neck! I came to the conclusion that yoga just wasn’t for me. I would never be able to do it “with my build”. And then I discovered Jessamyn Stanley. A gorgeous woman with a belly and ass and boobs that do not get in the way of her being a truly inspirational bendy wendy! I recently bought one of her yoga series on CodyApp and I’ve been using it to practice at home and it is making me feel ACE! I am working hard while listening to someone who lets me know what I should do if my belly gets in the way and lets me pause if I need to adjust my leggings! Seriously, if you’ve ever thought that yoga isn’t for you, just go and find Jessamyn. She’ll sort you right out!
Julie Creffield– I’m sure that, by now, you’ve all heard of Julie. I started reading her “Fat Girls Guide to Running” blog back in the days when I was doing a great deal of thinking about running and I fell in love with her inspirational but bullshit free writing. She was undoubtedly one of the people who encouraged me to get up off the sofa and start moving. She’s since gone stellar, with slots on day time TV and even a range of running kit for larger ladies, emblazoned with slogans such as “too fat to run
Dana Falsetti– Dana is another yogi (get me using the technical terms!) from the codyapp studio and I actually bought her series before the Jessamyn one…. However, looking at it now, I’m putting her on hold and focussing on Jessamyn first, because for me, Dana is a little too advanced right now. However the general feeling I get from her is the same…..I will not let my wobbly bits stand in the way of my yoga
Adriene– How could anyone not love Adriene? She is the youtube yoga guru that anyone can turn to. She is nothing like Jessamyn or Dana in terms of body shape, but it feels a bit like wrapping yourself in a big cwtch (Welsh for hug!) of calm and positivity when you watch her videos! She is just lovely and encouraging and chilled out and constantly encourages you to “Find what feels good” which in my book, can only be a good thing!
Lauren Laverne – Not a health coach, yogi or body positive campaigner, but a BBC Radio 6 music DJ, co-founder of The Pool, and all round brilliantly fabulous lady, who I have a massive girl crush on! I listen to her show every morning while I’m studying and writing my blog and I love her. She would definitely be an honourory member of my Very Special Girl Gang which obviously also includes all of the amazing women above. And Claudia Winkleman. And Caitlin Moran. And Sali Hughes. And Marianne Keyes…………. Everyone does that, right??! Ok, I’m going to stop now!
I hope that you feel inspired to go and check out some of these awesome ladies, and if there’s anyone you feel I’ve left out, then please let me know in the comments below. I am ALWAYS on the look out for new inspiration!!!!