6 Reasons I Exercise (that are absolutely NOT about weight loss!!)

Some of you may be aware that I’ve recently been selected as one of this year’s This Girl Can Essex ambassadors as part of the local drive to get the women and girls of Essex moving and shaking! 

In the This Girl Can spirit, I wanted to share some of my personal reasons and motivators for exercising – which are absolutely not about weight loss! just incase you weren’t aware **NEWSFLASH** Fat People Don’t Just Exercise To Lose Weight! Over the past 3 or 4 years since I recognised these motivators, my enjoyment and approach to exercise has changed completely!

(In fact, in the preceeding 15+ years before I discovered this revelation for myself – when weight loss was, sadly my ONLY motivation to exercise – I would get to a point where my weight would plateau and I would eventually give up… The cycle ultimately made me miserable and unmotivated…).

Why Exercise Then?! Here’s why:

1. To improve my wellbeing 

This is about looking after my body AND mind – and not in a self-righteous “holier than thou” way! I experience less stress and depression when I exercise. I sleep better. My knees and ankles cause me less pain. I’ve finally found exercise (mainly dance based group classes) that I love – so much so, I sometimes find my cheeks ache from smiling so much during a class! 😄 Knowing it will make me feel good keeps me going back!

2. To see progress 

I love seeing my strength and stamina improve – particularly when I started circuit training and managed to do a burpee over that sodding little bar!! I’d kicked it off weeks and weeks! But then I managed one, then a couple, then a few more! I had a similar experience with planking. Now, I go through it on an almost weekly basis as I’ve joined SOS Dance “crew” training so I’m being pushed to learn more complicated choreography. I start off thinking “I’ll NEVER do that” and then hours, days or weeks later I’m doing it! It’s basically competing with myself over and over. Recognising the progresses really keeps me motivated and looking to see what I can try and achieve next! 

3. Excellent instructors

I’ve been very lucky to find instructors who choreograph amazing routines – particularly zumba and street dance (with SOS Dance). I’ve generally found the instructors at Colchester Leisure World to be positively encouraging without pushing me too far (except the spin instructor – I couldn’t stand her! But I know other people who love her). Not one of the class instructors made me feel like I wouldn’t be able to manage their class or was patronising. Having a membership for a while meant I could choose lots of different things while I sussed out what and who I liked. Through this trial and error I discovered I was as motivated by who was running the session as much as having a class preference. I’ve had more than one situation when I was tempted to walk out of a class because I didn’t like the cover instructor! Find the right people – it makes a huge difference! 

4. To spend time with people

Writing “make friends” seemed a bit of a cliché but basically that’s what it is. Sometimes I guess it’s making acquaintances – for example: there’s a purple haired lady I see at lots of zumba classes. We chat regularly, I know she commutes home from London but I don’t know her name! I enjoy chatting to her and the other regulars. I like dancing together, laughing when we get it wrong or when we have to do a cringey ‘freestyle’ bit! Joining “crew” and being part of a mini dance family with 15 other dancers (who’s names I do know!) is a lovely experience. I’m a people person so being able to let my hair down and shake my bootie with a lovely bunch of ladies brings me joy.

5. To keep dancing

I have always loved dancing and the way it feels to move in my body. I did ballet, tap and modern as a child and gave them up as a young teen as my peers were going ‘en pointe’ and I was embarrassed to be left behind (I didn’t see the point in messing up my feet and ankles for something that would only ever be a hobby). I did Performing Arts A-level and danced throughout. My uni days were spent on the dance floors of the bars and clubs. I returned to adult tap and ballet and tried a bit of street dance in my mid-twenties before I had kids. Dancing just for the sake of dancing has always brought me joy! Having that as part of my regular routine is a just brilliant!

6. As an act of self-love 

Rather than a grueling regime to “work off” something I’ve eaten, I now view my exercise routine as a kindness to myself and my body. It has taken me an awfully long time to begin to love myself and my body and now that I have I want to treat it with kindness. It’s a bit of breathing space away from my job and my kids. A time to focus my mind and let go of my inhibitions. Be a little bit free. It’s my own weird kind of indulgence!

I’d love to hear about what your body positive (i.e. not weight loss related!) motivations are! Or is there is something that worries you or prevents you from exercising? I’d love to know more about your experiences.

Tomorrow night I’m off to a celebration event to meet some of my fellow ambassadors – I’m bound to be sharing a photo or two on my Instagram

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Health is More than Just a Number

A few weeks ago I shared this image on my personal Facebook timeline:

To which my Facebook friend replied:

​This particular friend happens to be a health professional, although not my health professional! So here is my response:
Basically I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been in terms of body and mind – strong, more resilient, more positive sense of self, able to enjoy high impact exercise regularly (for years now). But I’m fat. Very fat. ‘Morbidly obese’ fat. I shouldn’t have to justify my fatness by saying “but I exercise and eat healthy food”. I’ve been lucky enough to have no medical conditions linked to my weight, 2 healthy pregnancies and births. I’m reasonably well educated and have always had a job since leaving school. Yet society sees my body shape as a problem. It urks me a little.

Before my wedding I was not in my current body confident mindset and I did what I thought was the standard, socially expected pre-wedding diet to drop a few dress sizes ahead of my big day. I can’t even remember which diets I did but I had some success and lost a stone or so. My doctor then offered me some (now banned appetite suppressant) to give me an extra boost. I took these for almost a year, I dropped about 4 stone and was the thinnest I’d ever been in my adult life at a size 16/18. 

Me at my thinnest and on my wedding day

I thought I looked pretty good but emotionally I was a mess. The pills made me anxious, stressed, unable to sleep – they were making me ill! When I came off them I joined an NHS weight loss group and followed their programme but was unable to maintain the weight and managed to put some back on before I got married. It had little bearing on how happy and amazing I felt on my wedding day.
Both mentally and physically, I was definitely less healthy when I was thinner. Not to mention the risks attached to the medication I had been taking. I appreciate that there might be a time in my future when I may be healthier AND thinner than I am now but that will not come from society telling me that I’m a fat, ugly, lazy, worthless, unhealthy human being. It will not come from a crash diet or from excessive exercise because all of those things will have an overall negative impact on my emotional wellbeing. If it were to happen it would be from a place of self-love and self-care…and if it doesn’t I will make the most of the body I have now. I’m not going to hate it any longer!

I guess my Facebook friend is right – it probably is just as inappropriate to suggest fat is healthy as to comment on someone’s health without knowing their medical history, just the same as it can be wholly inappropriate to comment on how healthy someone looks if they lose a lot of weight. I recently overheard a conversation between two breast cancer survivors who were commenting on how their weight loss as a result of their gruelling chemo and surgery was in some way a benefit of having cancer. It’s great that they’ve found a silver lining but seriously – surely society should see that’s a terrifying way to think! 
It’s not just the cancer patients either. I have friends or acquaintances who have lost weight due to depression, bereavement, stress, eating disorders, excessive drug or alcohol use and other illnesses who have had comments made about how ‘well’ they look because they no longer inhabit a fat body. These are just more examples of the fallacy that fatness equates to poor health.

My point is that you cannot judge an individual’s health by just looking at the skin they live in. Good health and wellbeing is made up of lots of different factors and it’s not as simple as thin=healthy and fat=unhealthy. For some people this may be true but for me and many other people it certainly is not. 

If I’m looking for advice on my health I will go to my GP who knows about my overall health. If I don’t ask then I don’t need you to make an uninformed comment. You cannot tell by looking at me how healthy I am so don’t even try to.

The point of the original post wasn’t even really about ‘health’ for me. It was about it being OK for fat girls to feel comfortable in their skin. To be confident. To dress how they like. Regardless of their health, the number on the scales or the label in their clothes – surely everyone has the right to feel good?

Who I Met: Curve Fashion Festival 

Who I Met: Curve Fashion Festival 

Oh God, I’m absolutely useless at getting the things I plan to write about out of my head and typed up into any semblance of a blog post! Sorry! I promised to tell you more about my adventures in my last CFF post. So, as they say ‘better late than never’ – here’s a quick update on who I met at Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool the other week and why meeting them was so important to me…

The Celebs 

I’ll be honest, there wasn’t really anyone on the celeb line up I was particularly desperate to meet. But I figured I might not get the opportunity to meet these plus size icons again so decided to say hello – and I’m so glad I did!

I met Sandra and Sandi from Gogglebox, who were great fun! So friendly and chatty. Loved their matching outfits!

They also walked the catwalk (I think for Want That Trend but I might be wrong!) and looked like they were enjoying themselves! I’m a huge Gogglebox fan but Sandi and Sandra haven’t ever been my favourite on it but they were so lovely in real life! 

Hayley Hasselhoff was there launching her new collection with Elvi, the clothes looked sleek and very high-end on the catwalk. I particularly liked the chunky knit jumper on the left:

I’m not so sure about the idea of wearing your PJs and dressing gown as regular clothes (right) but I guess if my night attire looked that glam, I might be tempted! 

Hayley had her very own photo booth where she snapped a few pics and chatted while the photo printed. She was an absolute delight! Complementing everyone, looking flawless and generally not seeming like she was sick of the day (the queue for photos was pretty massive at times!). She was happy to pose for selfies and signed the photobooths print – she gets 10/10 for effort! 

Finally, I also managed to grab a quick chat and photo with the plus size poster girl pioneer herself – Tess Holliday! I know the jury is out amongst the plus size community on Tess, but I figured I may never get another opportunity to meet her and much God, she is a stunner! 

Tess was polite and professional in her manner, she chatted a little but was probably tired by the time I bowled over requesting a photo! I actually asked Kat
 to ask her because I thought she was more likely to say yes to her! 😂 I was happy with my pic and she didn’t refuse so I’m happy! 

The Bloggers 

I’ve said before that I feel like a bit of a fraud calling myself a “blogger”, well coming face to face with real bloggers (the ones who have inspired me to love my body) was a bit intimidating but I needn’t have worried – they were all lovely! I didn’t manage to get photos with everyone I spoke to (and I didn’t manage to speak to everyone I wanted to either) but here’s a selection of the bloggers I’ve followed and chatted to for (in some cases many) years – finally meeting them in the flesh! This was where I got really excited – swoon!

Clockwise from the top there’s Lottie L’AmourFatty Boom TattyPlus Size and Proud,  Fuller Figure Fuller BustLolly Likes and Not So Secret Diary of a Wannabe Princess. I’m sad I didn’t get more photos of the others. Each of these ladies have given me something – either motivation, inspiration or practical tips on how to live comfortably in my skin. Spending a bit of time with them was the highlight of the day for me. It’s a huge boost being part of a community of plus size women, especially when they are as kind, encouraging and beautiful as this lot!

I was almost too nervous to go and speak to Georgina from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust but just before we were due to leave she was stood chatting to some bloggers I know so I decided it was my last opportunity… I didn’t introduce myself or anything because I didn’t expect her to know who I was and didn’t want to look like a crazed super-fan! So I kind of awkwardly asked for a photo. 

George was one of the first plus size bloggers I followed on Twitter and she has inspired me to change my style, wardrobe and attitude towards my body. So I’m so pleased I didn’t pass up the opportunity to meet her.

It was such a fantastic day! Connecting with fellow plus size women is good for the soul! Tickets for next year’s event are already on sale!


 

 

 

I’ve talked a bit before about my poor relationship with food and I imagine these posts will explore that relationship. I believe I am body positive and very much comfortable in my own skin, but I know that some of the obsessing I do around food is not contributing to a healthy mind. It’s part of my own self-love to take steps to rectify that. If that kind of discussion is likely to offend you or make you uncomfortable then these posts are not for you! Head back over to the fashion and make up pages and forget all about what you’ve seen here! 😊

Anyone still with me?! OK here goes…

Tonight I’m starting a 7 week course called “I Eat What I Need” which claims to offer “a different way to resolve eating issues”, to give participants the opportunity to explore their eating and body “challenges” and to find peace in yourself. Pretty big claims! But for someone who is looking to change their mind rather than their body, there was something about the course that made me think it was worth a try.

After years of “failed” diets and interventions (I’ve tried lots) I’ve learnt everything there is to know about a healthy balanced diet. I’ve also been super lucky to have the recent realisation that it’s OK to be happy in my body regardless of it’s shape or size – which made it easier to stop the faddy diets and get rid of the guilt associated with eating ‘bad’ foods – now I just call it all food. 

Despite this (literally life changing) realisation I’ve come to the conclusion that I still have an unhealthy relationship with food. I self-medicate, using food to help regulate my mood, as a reward or a punishment. It’s a way of thinking I have control when actually I’m completely out of control. In order to truly demonstrate self-love I believe need to address this little food demon in my head because regardless of the physical impact it might be having on my body, it’s absolutely having an impact on my emotional wellbeing.

If I can find a way to “eat what I need” this course will be worth it. If I can share my body positive message with others it will be worth it. It’s possible that I could lose weight as a by-product but it isn’t my primary reason for going. I’m doing it from a place of love rather than a place of self-loathing.

I am definitely sceptical. But I’m open to trying something new. Especially if it will make me a happier, healthier person.

I’ll be updating my progress and my experience of the course as it progresses. Wish me luck! 😄 

Hearts and Flowers at CFF 

Hearts and Flowers at CFF 

It’s been a whole week since Curve Fashion Festival and I haven’t blogged about it at all yet! I had loads planned – like, a “who I met” one, a “what was in my VIP goody bag” one and a “what I bought” one as well as some about the brands I particularly fell in love with. But I came home from CFF (it was a bloody nightmare of a journey!) and basically got poorly immediately! I spent my evenings after work sleeping and recuperating! I haven’t even looked through my goody bag properly yet!

So in order to restore my blogger mojo I thought I’d start by telling you about MY outfit for CFF! 

I chose one of my Silly Old Sea Dog dresses – this heart print, sleeved number was originally available for Valentines Day but I figure love isn’t seasonal so I’ve been wearing it all year! 

The dress itself was a statement piece so I hadn’t really intended to wear any jewellery but when I spotted the camera heart necklace on Pamper and Curves selling page on Instagram I thought it would go perfectly! 

(loads of people commented on the necklace on the day but as I bought it second hand I don’t know where it was from and can’t find it for sale anywhere I’m afraid!). I also added a pair of Babycham graffiti print trainers (I have various pairs of Babycham trainers – it’s an obsession!) so I could comfortably stomp around all day long!

…my new Paperchase satchel (which isn’t on their website…Sorry!).

…to finish it off I added a Rosadior hair flower accessory in my vintage inspired hair-do…

I was a bit nervous about going to a place filled to the brim with plus size style icons dresses in something less than subtle! But I felt that it was important to wear something that I loved and that I felt a million dollars in. Silly Old Sea Dog dresses never fail to give me that feeling. They’re so very “me” and kind of sum up my “vintage toddler” vibe.
My confidence was given a massive boost when I was approached by a reporter from The Liverpool Echo who was doing a feature on the festival’s “Best Dressed”. I feel like a bit of a fraud when compared to those stylish goddesses – but I’m still enjoying the compliment. 😊

Finally here’s a photo taken by the amazing Kitty Rambles A Lot – I really want to book a proper photo shoot now!

I had the most incredible day. I have so much more to tell you about the event and the impact it has had on me! Watch this space.

Did you go to CFF or have you seen pics of the event? Who were your style faves?!

 

A Day at the Races!

A Day at the Races!

Last Saturday was one of those magical days when everything seems to fall into place… It was my 35th birthday and I was lucky enough to spend it at Newmarket Races in their VIP bit (it was my husband’s work do) where we were treated to horse racing and a Little Mix performance! By some lucky coincidence my cousins were also there celebrating my cousin’s 30th birthday (her birthday is the day before mine) so I was able to gatecrash their party too – result! 

I’ve not been to the races before (except for doing agency work at Newmarket when I was a student) so wasn’t really sure what to wear… I wanted to look fancy without feeling overdressed so decided to go vintage as I feel less self conscious if I’m dressed up for some reason! I also wanted to save some money by shopping my wardrobe so I decided to go for my Pin Up Girl Penny dress in Harlequin print (mine is a different colour from a previous season – bought from my lovely blogger friend Tanya from Secret Plus Size Goddess). I teamed it with another blogger purchase – a domino Red or Dead clutch (from the fabulous Lolly Likes FATshion -and I’ve seen a couple on EBay) a Rosadior hair flower, and some sparkly silver sandals from Evans (previous season).

 

And here’s a few pictures from the day:

Our view from the VIP bit across the track

My gorgeous cousins 😍😍
Husband and I may have had a few Pimms
Got a bit nearer for Little Mix!

I had an awesome day – I’d definitely recommend the races for a special day out! The added bonus of a concert at the end was a real treat – even if we were a bit cut off from the gig atmosphere across the racetrack (which is why I went nearer!). You’ll need pretty deep pockets if you’re a big drinker though, as drinks were really expensive (£6 for a can of Pimms, almost £30 for a jug of Pimms! Single mini bottles of Moet we a stonking £20!). But we had a bit of beginners luck with the horses and managed to back a winner which helped with the drinks kitty! 

One of my favourite things about the day was dress watching – there were just so many gorgeous dresses to ooh and ahh over! I was also approached by a lady complimenting my dress!

Have you ever been to the races? What did you wear?!

Pretty in Pink – with Simply Be!

Pretty in Pink – with Simply Be!

Hello all! I recently Instagrammed this little sneaky peek of my latest Simply Be haul:

I thought maybe it was time to share the full ensemble with you as my next contribution to the lovely Leah (from LoveLeah)‘s Outfit August – where a wee band of blogger babes are dressing up and sharing their outfits (right up my street!)

I ordered the Sprinkle of Glitter pink scuba skirtSole Diva cross strap pumps (in pale pink) and a twist knot top (in black). But the top wasn’t quite right so I’m going to try a different size and look for alternatives too… 

So here’s how the final outfit came together… 

I love that this skirt comes with a belt so I’d tried to pick out shoes to match the colour of the belt Louise (Sprinkle of Glitter) is wearing in the photo on the Simply Be site but unfortunately the belt that came with my skirt was more of a hot pink rather than the dusky/light pink I’d expected. Thankfully the belt was long enough (it’s a common issue for plus size belts to not fit the waistline of the dress they’re intended to accessorise!) but the holes weren’t far enough along the belt so I’m going to have to punch my own (yep I’ve got an industrial-strength leather hole punch!). It’s not a huge issue for me.

I really like the flower print pattern of the skirt – the variety of pink and purple shades there to pick out in accessories and/or a pretty casual or going out top makes it pretty versatile. As someone who generally only wears dresses, this offers me a lot of options. 

For some reason I’ve always avoided pointy shoes in favour of round toed ones but (because I thought they’d go well with the skirt/belt) I decided to give these pointy toe (wide fit) flats a go. I’m so pleased I did! They’re comfortable and cute (a winning combination for me!). Expect to see a lot more of them in future posts!

I added a pretty pink headscarf and my #TeamFatsApp necklace (custom made by Funky Laser for a group of us who used to chat a lot on WhatsApp). The skirt goes so well with the necklace I was thinking of wearing them as part of my outfit to Curve Fashion Fest when I’ll get to meet lots of my fellow Team Fats App babes (and lots of other amazing ladies) but if I do decide to wear it I think I need to find a more suitable top…

I’ll be posting a wishlist of contenders in the next few days – keep your eye out! 

Check out the other lovely bloggers taking part in Outfit August for some awesome outfit inspiration:


LeahHannaChristyNikkiKate