My Problem With This Article on Mothers Bodies!

I want to make a TRIGGER WARNING for this blog; it does discuss weight and weight loss.

Recently I came across an article with the title: “mum tells others to stop making excuses about their weight”, this just grabbed my attention straight away with such a direct targeted title. I knew going into an article with such a title I would have some issues, but I tried to keep an open mind.

However, moving onto the first sentence, the article states “A single mother-of-two has told other mums to ‘stop making excuses’ about not shifting their baby weight”. Now let it be clear I am not a mother, but I do take issue with this statement for a few different reasons. One in what right does someone have to say stop making excuses when they do not know peoples individual circumstances and health situations. Two what works for you in terms of health and fitness may not necessarily work for others. Three this statement to me appears to see something wrong with having a body after childbirth that is not toned, and forgets to celebrate the mother for holding a child in her body for nine months!

The article goes onto explain that Belinda (the mother of whom the article is about) realised that she was not stuck with her post-baby body, I just found this sentence in the article to have a negative tone surrounding a mother’s body that just did a fantastic thing and carried life! The whole article completely ignores the beauty of childbirth and what a woman’s body has to go through to have a child. It does not mention how hard it can be to be pregnant for nine months all those changes in your body, how hard giving birth can be and the aftermath. For some woman yeah they aren’t going to have their old bodies back, and that’s okay! Moreover, some will and that’s okay too! They just gave birth to a human, and that should be celebrated, and there’s no mention of that only how mothers should not make excuses, and they are not stuck in their post-baby body. I am not saying that mothers shouldn’t want to lose weight after childbirth if they’re going to for all means you go, girl! However, they should not feel pressured and should be doing it for them and not only for their appearance.

Within the article, it explains how Belinda was motivated to get her “new body” explaining that her then-husband told her that she would never have a toned body as the one they saw in a picture. To me, this sounds like her husband bullied her about her body and appearance which is never acceptable and I do hope this was not her only reason for wanting to change her body.

The article discusses how Belinda does personal rewards such as facials or massages but not chocolate. I do agree with personal rewards and self-care, but sometimes this is out of the question for some people, to spend a lot of money on themselves, particularly with this article aimed for mothers, I sure know my mother who was a single mum when I was growing up wouldn’t have been able to afford a massage. In whatever light chocolate is seen in the health lens it can still be a nice treat for someone whether deemed healthy or not, what people choose to have as their self-care is for them.

Moreover, the article talks about how Belinda went from 76kg to 60kg, I saw many of the before and after pictures, and the article forgets to mention that she looked fine before she lost the weight and looked beautiful in each image of before.  My problem is the lack of discussion around loving yourself no matter what, and the article depicts that Belinda was not happy due to her previous body, and now is magically happy due to her new one, when happiness as well as mental wellbeing, do not come entirely from your appearance and body it comes from inside you. Many individuals including myself who have lost a substantial amount of weight previously in the past and were still unhappy with themselves because weight loss does not answer all our problems to unhappiness. It kind of sets up this black and white thinking around weight and happiness which is not healthy for an individual’s mentality. I would also like to add that I have a similar body type of Belinda’s before picture (and I haven’t had children), and over the course of the year, I have learnt that my body is healthy and I love it with all that it is, regardless if it is toned or not. The way we look on the outside does not always depict how healthy someone is on the inside physically and mentally.

The article went into detail about what Belinda eats in a day and it does look delicious and some stuff I would love to eat. I am not saying that what she eats and does with her body is wrong and she should not share it, what I have a problem with is when people label certain foods as good and bad or clean and toxic, really having a black and white way of looking at food that can influence a vulnerable audience. These kinds of words such as toxic, bad and clean can trigger in some people to have disordered eating patterns which are not healthy at all. I am not saying this article or Belinda is to blame for anyone having an eating disorder or disordered eating, but we do need to think about how we talk about food and weight in the media and online and how that can impact on people.

Belinda does seem to have a positive attitude, and I do not have anything against her, in the article she even says it’s not about competition, which I loved and agreed with and I am glad she said that. Hands down fantastic to anyone who is a single mum because I know that can be hard and on top of that she has created her own business which is impressive, and I applaud. I do not have a problem with Belinda and how she wants to live her life and use her body what I do have a problem with is the article and how it can create shame for mothers and other women out there when reading it. I did some research into Belinda’s website, and Instagram and she does as I said before seem like a positive woman and very motivating, so the problem is not from her and what she does but how the article on her was written and spoke about weight and food.

I am all about women uplifting other women so my intention for this blog was to not tear Belinda down for what she is doing because she is not evil or bad in any sense and seems like a pretty amazing woman. But I do want to bring awareness to this article that shapes her message in a not so positive light for women’s bodies. We need to start shifting the thinking around how weight loss equals to happiness and once we get to that goal weight or goal body we will be happy when in reality we can still have a variety of issues going on around us and in our mind.

 

For anyone that is interested the link to the article is below:

https://www.heraldsun.com.au/lifestyle/health/mum-tells-others-to-stop-making-excuses-about-their-weight/news-story/2cd3473cefa65781e3b055924a2629a9

 

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Book review on Hope with eating disorders

The book Hope with Eating Disorders is a fantastic book and a book I would recommend anyone who is caring for someone with an eating disorder. As someone who has experienced an eating disorder I am incredibly grateful for how Lynn spoke about eating disorders and described them, she did an excellent job at stating that eating disorders are a mental illness and providing information on all of them some of which I didn’t even know.

The poem that was at the beginning of the book was just beautiful and brought tears to my ears reading it, it was so accurate on how it feels to have an eating disorder, I recommend everyone reading it!

Lynn did an excellent of explaining that eating disorders are a mental illness and have effects on the psychological state of people not just physical. It was great to read the psychological impacts to look out for instead of just looking at physical symptoms, for example, change in personality. The book did a great job of reminding the reader that people do not just wake up one day and decide to stop eating; this is an illness on the mind that can grow over time.

The book was able to highlight the importance of teamwork in recovery with the carer and the person experiencing the eating disorder as well as everyone else involved. What I also liked was that Lynn highlighted the importance of the carers also being well enough mentally to be involved and taking care of themselves. Which is defiantly so important from my experience the people in my life often blamed themselves and weren’t always taking care of themselves more worried about me and how they could have let it happen which in actual fact it is no one’s fault! Lynn had a brilliant quote in her book which was you cannot apply logic to something illogical, which is so true and I loved this, I could only imagine how hard it would be for family and friends to try and understand rationally what is happening to their loved one. The book also is great a reminding the reader that communication is vital and not to come from a judgemental approach when talking with someone who is experiencing an eating disorder, something I really appreciate and think is essential.

Lynn also did a great job at explaining that simple things that seem so innocent such as compliments to someone’s weight loss can be dangerous. As well as how dieting can be unhealthy and can be an escape from true emotions and issues, I thought this was really essential and glad it was in the book because diets can seem harmless but can also be a sign for an eating disorder down the track.

What I love is that the book also highlights that everyone that experiences an eating disorder has a different experience and reason, this was excellent because often people with eating disorders are put into the same category and aren’t seen as unique with different stories. Thus, also highlighting that everyone’s recovery will be different and treatment that worked for one person may not work for another, and that’s why we need to find the one that works for us. I enjoyed the books reference of describing the eating disorder like a bully inside someone, this is an excellent idea for explaining it to someone who has never experienced an eating disorder, and I how I often saw my eating disorder.

What I also loved was how Lynn explained that just because someone is weight restored doesn’t mean they mentally okay and no longer experiencing an eating disorder, weight does not take into account the issues that are happening for an individual.

As someone who has experienced Bulimia I really appreciate the way Lynn spoke about the disorder and what people are experiencing Bulimia will often be feeling. She brought up the feelings of shame and disgust which were so big during my disorder and something I wished at the time my family and friends would have been able to be told.  I loved when Lyn stated “ binging and purging is a physical expression of inner turmoil” and I could not agree more, I do think carers reading this will have a better understanding of eating disorders from Lyn’s writing and the way she describes things.

I also learnt a lot from this book as well about other eating disorders some I knew a little about and others I had no idea about, it gave me more insight into the different disorders and what to look out for in the future if I am concerned about a loved one.

If you are currently a family member or friend of someone experiencing an eating disorder I would really recommend reading this book. The book was able to explain things in such a way that you would be able to understand better what your loved one is going through and how you can support them. As someone who has experienced an eating disorder, I am incredibly happy with the book and wish I was around when I was younger for my family and friends to read to give them more understanding and support.

New year new diet

It’s that time of the year again; the new year new diet time, which I have grown to hate a lot! Every new year we are told we ate way too much over the holiday period and we must lose it to be happy for the new year. My google alert has been on fire right now with articles stating ways to shed weight for the new year and be the best version of yourself this year. Why must we lose weight to be the best version of ourselves, why does weight equate to our happiness and how successful we will be. This will be my first year with no new year’s resolution to lose weight, and honestly, it’s the happiest I have ever been going into a new year.

I have seen words describing the food as; bad, toxic or the superfood, when we label food and give it value we begin to internalise those labels and see ourselves as that label, for example bad, toxic or bad. Instead of just seeing food as the food we are giving it more meaning and life than it necessarily needs. Essentially the diet industry uses words such as bad and toxic to teach us to be scared of food and this in turn leading us to have unhealthy habits and ideas around food.

We have people who are not trained or qualified in nutrition giving health advice which can be incredibly dangerous. Just because something worked for your body does not mean it will work for someone else, and do you have substantial evidence that it did work for you, sure that quick diet may have got you to lose lots of weight but how are your insides and your mental health? If you are not a qualified health professional, you do not have the right to tell someone if they are unhealthy or overweight

These ads tell us that if we lose the weight we are going to be so much happier, but this is so false, if you do not work on what’s going on inside your mind it does not matter how much weight you lose you are going to be stuck with those same problems, and this can lead to further worsening your mental health.

It’s time we begin to question diet culture and take a stand against it, I will no longer listen to its lies and will not involve myself in the new year’s resolution to lose weight mentality.

 

Cancer council BANuary- my thoughts

I thought a lot about whether I should talk about this and I have decided that it is important to give another perception particularly from an eating disorder lens on the cancer council BANuary month.

Now I want to make this completely clear I fully support cancer council I have fundraised for them before, donated money to them countless times and think they do great work for cancer. I have had numerous relatives who have suffered from cancer, so I think they do a great job.

Recently Cancer council have come up with a campaign to help raise money for cancer called BANuary where you “ban” a bad habit for a month and have people send you donations through it. They include on their website ideas that people can give up which includes alcohol, chocolate, coffee or sugar etc. My concern with this new campaign is the idea of banning foods.  I noticed chocolate (we all know my love) and sugar was mentioned, sugar also wasn’t explicitly defined either, sugar is in many things, there is even sugar in fruits and vegetables, and this is where my concerns grow someone can take this innocent campaign and go too far with it. To mean the banning of particular foods for a month if not first discussed with a qualified health professional becomes a restrictive diet which is not at all healthy for someone to undertake. When we restrict foods, we crave that craving grows stronger and thus can lead to binge eating episodes and overeating rather than eating the amount you originally wanted.

While browsing the website, I also saw that they had a picture of a girl holding a piece of pizza and doughnut and a cross against those foods. I found this imaginary very interesting although innocent can send the message that eating those foods is shameful and I feel as though diet culture is creeping in there into those pictures. The website also has quotes such as “give your body a break this January “again I can really feel diet culture creeping in with these quotes that pin the idea that we haven’t been taking care of ourselves and we ate “too much” in the holiday period, this simple quote can really impact someone who is vulnerable. The promotion gives the idea that this will help you to become a healthier you while raising money thus implying you were not already healthy, and I can see the diet culture words popping up there

This campaign is creative and a great idea to raise money to have people give up something for a month, I have seen some people do alcohol, smoking and ubers for this fundraiser.  However the way it is promoted sends the message to give up something that is a bad habit this stating that what someone is eating is a bad habit, and when we begin to label foods we then internalise them and when we eat those “bad foods” we see ourselves as bad and then the guilty and shame floods through.

My issue is that people can take this too far mainly when it involves food and their diet, a whole month without something may seem simple and harmless enough, but some people may take it too far or see this as a chance to start afresh and begin to restrict in their diet. Particularly with the word sugar which is so broad someone may attempt to ban all kinds of sugar for a whole month, and our brain does need some sugar to function

I do know it is for a good cause however I would expect cancer council who are a health organisation to consider the health problems with this campaign, particularly considering eating disorders in Australia and remembering that eating disorders have the highest rate of mortality out of any other mental illness in Australia. There are impressionable and vulnerable people out there who will take this as a chance to start a diet and of course it may start of harmless but as I have already stated restriction is never healthy and leads to unhealthy consequences and further health problems. From my personal experience I know if I were still sick and were how I was this time last year I would have jumped at the chance to be part of it to start a new diet and ban all those “bad foods”  I thought were making me “fat”.

I am in complete support of raising money for cancer and always will be. However, I do think there need to be some adjustments to this campaign/fundraiser to ensure people’s wellbeing are being considered and protected in the process, mainly when it involves diet and health.

The way we view people who are overweight

I used to have a friend who would often express that they “hated fat people” often putting them all in a category of evil, mean people, as well as always adding that they were unhealthy who have done it too themselves (luckily we are no longer friends). I have heard a lot of people describe individuals who are overweight as lazy and, stating that it is their lifestyle choice that has put them in that position. But what if it’s not the case? It is estimated that 40-60% of people who are overweight are experiencing binge eating disorder, which is a mental illness. That is an extremely high percentage of people who are currently experiencing a mental illness and being told it’s their fault and their lifestyle choices.

Although I have not experienced binge eating disorder myself, it does have some similarities to bulimia which I experienced and can relate on some level with what these individuals can be experiencing. Through my research of binge eating disorder, it was outlined that while individuals who experience bulimia will binge and engage in acts such as purging and over-exercising after a binge, with binge eating disorder there is an absence of purging etc. However, individuals will still experience feelings of guilt, shame and self-hatred after binges, which I can relate to 100% because all those feelings were so intense during my eating disorder especially every time I engaged in a binge. I can only imagine how someone else would feel going through this, hating yourself is so tiring and having people blaming you for your health would just be so painful. It is also important to add that binge eating disorder is not at all the same to overeating, as it is reoccurring and more dangerous, binge eating is where you lose control of yourself, and it becomes a coping mechanism for many people. The research outlined that binge eating disorder often occurs as a way for an individual to cope with challenging emotions and events.

As was mentioned before individuals with binge eating disorder do not purge however research stated they can engage in erratic fasts and extreme diets in response to the emotions which come after a binge episode. I often remember that self-hatred after a binge and promising myself I was going to go on a stringent diet and stick to it, or just starve myself, none of which ever worked and almost always ended in a binge episode and then the self-hatred and shame would start again. It’s an extremely tiring and debilitating cycle, and until you have been through similar you will have no idea how tiring it is, and just to add having people blaming you for your mental illness would just be exhausting.

Although I do not have Binge eating disorder, none the less it is an eating disorder and a mental illness that I believe deserves acknowledgement and further education around it. It pains me to think about the number of people (40-60%) who are experiencing this disorder and are being blamed for it and told it’s their lifestyle choices and they are to blame for it all.

Before you go to judge someone based on their weight and size first think of what they are currently going through, whether it is an eating disorder or another mental illness or even just life struggles, stop to think about that and see them as a human. It is not for us to judge people for what they look like and to fit into the mainstream idea of a healthy body. My rule of advice is always unless you are a trained health professional you don’t get to give health advice on my body and tell me if I am healthy or unhealthy, you cannot determine someone’s health and who they are as an individual by merely looking at them.

 

Saying goodbye to the gym!

After much thought, I recently decided it was time for me to cancel my gym membership and no longer return to the gym. I love to exercise and have been incredibly active most of my life and can see the benefits of physical activity for mental health. However, I have recently been thinking whether the gym or the gym I attend in particular is a healthy place for my mental health.

For starters they provide scales, and for many people, this may seem like a regular thing to have in a gym and a way to track the progress you have made. However, for someone who is recovering from an eating disorder, it can be so tempting to weigh yourself every time you go to the gym and can trigger that need for weight loss at any cost. When I attended the gym, I would often observe women weighing themselves before and after exercise, and I found myself following in this routine as it became the norm at the gym I went to. I also noticed that the fact the machines count the calories you are burning was extremely triggering for my eating disorder because I would spend a ridiculous amount of time on a machine in an attempt to see how much I could burn off and putting my physical health at risk in the process. I would like to question why the machines do need to count the calories we burn, for me it does highlight the notion that the gym is designed purely for weight loss and does not have other purposes such as going out of enjoyment or for your mental health.

Further, the gym also promoted weight loss challenges, which again can be seen fine for some people, but I would like to highlight that personal health should not be a competition, and these challenges can be extremely dangerous for some individuals. These challenges run the risk of people comparing their bodies to others who may have lost more which I found myself doing, and nowhere within these challenges did the gym mention that we all have different bodies and therefore will have completely different progress! It was evident to me that I was only going to the gym to lose weight and therefore enabling my eating disorder to linger inside.

Moreover, the gym I attended was quite big on helping women get their perfect body mainly when summer was coming up, and it would be all about getting that bikini body ready (or as I like to say bikini body bullshit). There was this massive emphasis from the class instructors, the personal trainers and everyone there that there was only one perfect body which was petite and toned all over, which is not at all wrong if someone has that body or works towards that, but not everyone wants or can have that perfect body, but we are told that we do want that body, and that’s the only “healthy” body, which becomes quite confusing! We were given only one example of what a healthy body looks like, and it can become disheartening when you feel like you do not look like that perfect body and that’s when it can trigger unhealthy behaviours for people and enable eating disorders.

I will still be exercising but doing alternative things now, such as running, going for walks and joining yoga classes. Exercise should not be about trying look the best or fitting into what society says is attractive and perfect; exercise should be about making ourselves feel good and being healthy. I am not saying that no one should go to the gym and that if you do you are wrong, but I have accepted for myself that it is just not the place for me mentally; however it may be the place for others who have had an entirely different experience.

 

The “I wish I had an eating disorder”

“I wish I had an eating disorder”, or “I have tried so hard to have an eating disorder” are just some things I have heard from people and even friends, and it has made me wonder lately why eating disorders seem to be so glamourized when I know the truth, and it is far from glamorous. I am not angry at friends and individuals for saying these things, but it does make me so concerned that there are people out there wishing they could have this life. I think the media is partly to blame for this, people with eating disorders are often presented in the media as young underweight females with this magical ability to restrain from food. Often the media forgets to highlight that a lot of people with eating disorders are actually at an average weight or can be overweight, they can also be from a different gender, and it can affect different age groups. The media does not highlight that eating disorders are a mental illness that can affect anyone, and when you have one it can become one the darkest periods in your life, I would not wish an eating disorder upon anyone.

In Australia eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of any other mental illness, is that something people want? There are so many people out there who have no idea about eating disorders and think it’s a lifestyle choice, which it is not. This is not something I woke up one day and decide to do; this is a deeply rooted mental illness. This does highlight for me that there needs to be higher awareness in the media about the true extent of an eating disorder, as well as developing early intervention education programs within schools that educate young people on what exactly an eating disorder is.

For those who do not know, there are serious health risks that come with having an eating disorder.  My immune system is so low currently that I get sick instantly, and when I get a common cold it’s not a typical few days still able to function cold, I become very seriously ill which means taking time off work and missing out on social events. Something a little too TMI but should be told is that you screw up your bowels when you have an eating disorder, I become so constipated at times I have been in tears from the amount of pain and discomfort I was experiencing. I also lost my periods for a while and was told I had increased my risk of infertility, and as you get older this becomes a scary thing when you start to plan your future and consider the possibility of children and realise you may have ruined your chances. Due to the constant vomiting over the years I often get tonsillitis frequently throughout the year and have a severely sore throat a lot of the time, I have had an infected mouth and throat which was not pleasant. By the age of 21, I had my first tooth removed, and have been paying a ridiculous amount of money to try and save the rest of my back teeth.  Other people with eating disorders suffer from the ruptured oesophagus, stomach and intestinal ulcers and can develop osteoporosis. Moreover, people who suffer from an eating disorder can also have irregular heartbeats increasing the chances of heart failure, and can also be at risk of kidney failure. Above all, the most significant risk of an eating disorder is death, which scares me so much when I hear people wishing they could have an eating disorder while individuals are dying from the illness.

I could never imagine myself saying I wish I could have depression or I wish I could have anxiety, so why do people think it is acceptable to say they wish they had an eating disorder. Eating disorders are a mental illness that absolutely crushes an individual’s self-esteem and confidence. It becomes an obsession and a means of control for people, it becomes someone’s life and energy and becomes utterly exhausting trying to control it. Eating disorders are so much more than wanting to lose weight; it is a mental illness that takes that lives of so many people. So please do not wish you had an eating disorder, because it is not fun or glamorous, it is incredibly lonely and debilitating for people.