Many years ago I met Sarah Harry, one of Australia’s leading specialists in Body Image and Disordered Eating. In my years of work in the plus-size Industry I have honestly never met anyone more authentic or effective at walking the walk when it comes to positive body image and how we feel about ourselves. I have valued the opportunities I’ve had to work with, refer to and receive guidance from Sarah over the years. I’ve especially enjoyed my Fat Yoga Classes and was so thrilled to see how Sarah managed to spread the word and influence women around the world to practise yoga.
Sarah believes you can’t heal the relationship with your body without doing some work to feel more comfortable in your body (your one and only home), so she has added the yoga component to help you find an embodied sense of peace in your body. The course is the first of its’ kind to blend psychology with yoga to help you heal and blends a healthy sense of humour and fun from Sarah with the latest research and her 15 years of clinical practice working with people with body image issues.
I don’t pretend to know everything about being body positive or correctly using the “politically correct” terminology to avoid offending or triggering others, I’m human, I don’t always get it right. I know sometimes we go off on a tangent and mean well, but don’t get it right. Perhaps this is one of those times. But I don’t think so.
At almost 46 years old I’ve learned a lot about myself and my body – lots of it things I wished I had learnt much earlier in my life – for example; that listening to fad diet advice is not healthy, that years ago I was convinced by the powers that be to not eat eggs every day because they would higher my cholesterol; or that I should eat low-fat everything – the list could go on for pages. Flash forward a number of years and low- fat suddenly equals too much added sugar and now it’s no sugar I should be touting – but now it’s ok for me to eat eggs everyday. Oh lord give me strength – who do you believe? Let’s face it whatever makes money for those that can benefit drives the media cycles and the marketing of all things.
These days I ignore the fads, eat in moderation, do my best to exercise regularly and know instinctively what is right for me. I don’t get caught up in the hype, I am head down, bum up working on my dream, raising my family and living my life.
Why? Because I listen to me – what makes me happy, what feels right.
Because I don’t need to BECOME, I already am.
Humans are driven by fear.
What would happen if we just stopped listening to the scare mongering when it comes to our bodies and just did what felt right for us?
My personal answer is – acceptance and love. I know, I did it.
Don’t think for a second that I feel perfectly happy with everything 100% of every second of every day, I don’t. Life is a journey, we are an ever changing being. I’m human. Fear lives within me. But these days, and for at least the last 8 years I’ve happily managed to feel happy, content and love myself and what I stand for and how I look with next to no effort.
So when two nights ago I saw the advertisement for Michelle bridges 12wbt challenge I sat bolt right off my seat and glared at the tv. I was appalled. My 13 year old son was watching with me, and he just looked at me and said “Wow”. Enough said.
The ad aired on prime time channel 9, and I’ve since seen it everywhere. It’s a collection of women living their “dream”, stereotyped of course because what’s depicted is not necessarily everyone’s dream.
The ad includes a voiceover spoken by Michelle Bridges. This is exactly what is said by Michelle in the ad:
“Become Inspired, Fulfilled, Motivated, Energised, Strong Body & Mind
Become your Dream
Become a Team
Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Training
WHAT???????????????????? Seriously???????? This dialogue is wrong on so many levels.
Immediately I start thinking to myself, hang on, I AM all those things and so much more!
Michelle, PLEASE stop insinuating that our bodies define who we are and I couldn’t possibly be any of these things without being part of your program. Or that there is something wrong with me.
There’s not enough space to write all the things I feel when faced with irresponsible advertising like this. Simply put, if someone chooses to join a program to lose weight, gain weight, exercise, learn, find a friend, create something new in their life – whatever it is, that’s absolutely fine. BUT NEVER should it be insinuated that there is something wrong if you don’t, that’s it’s not possible to be all of these things without joining.
Is it really so inconceivable to others that someone such as me (obviously the type of body that the ad is appealing to) who is a size 20-22, 46 years old with an apple shape and considered obese could be perfectly happy in their own skin, can be successful, liked, loved, happy, inspiring, inspired, fun and living her dream? I challenge you to give me a call and spend some time with me, I’d be more than happy to share some of my time with you and let you see that it is indeed possible, maybe even inspire you to let go of these unrealistic insinuations and images.
It IS possible for women of all ages and sizes to be all of these things – regardless of their size. Being a perfect size 10 (not my ideal, but the ideal portrayed in such advertising these days) and projected as medically fit and healthy does NOT ensure that you are happy, fun, fulfilled or any of the other things. It simply does not. That is a myth and it’s high time that it was understood as such.
Exhilarating and empowering – those two words best describe my experience at the 1st plus-size women’s hike held by Escaping Your Comfort Zone.
The morning was overcast and drizzly, yet mild. I packed my small back-pack with some water, my phone and a rain coat. I tied my shoe-laces and was met at the door by my hubby Pete who had made me a coffee “for the road” – now that’s a man that understands me and my relationship with coffee 🙂
I pulled into the car park at Lysterfield Park and immediately saw a group of women chatting to Richelle, founder and leader of Escaping your comfort Zone. Richelle had her favourite Pink hat on – as promised, so she was easy to identify 🙂
The mood was excited and calm all at once, it was just so comfortable to arrive to some familiar, and some new faces. I was thrilled to see Kate, who also attends yoga with me of a Wednesday, she always has the most amazing smile and hug ready every time I see her.
I LOVE how this hike was planned, not only were we with like-bodied and like-minded women, but we ranged in experience and ability. Richelle, with years of her own outdoor experience under her belt, had cleverly planned the trail the week before, and had a team of 4, including herself, who were tasked with being spread throughout the pack to ensure no one was struggling and we were all supported. This worked so well because all 4 of the team were super friendly and engaging women who ensured you felt at ease immediately. Perfect.
With a group of 12 curvy women including the team, we set out at 9am on the pre-determined trail. One gorgeous lady bought her son in the pram – he was such a cutie, and he enjoyed the ride too. Richelle had planned alternate routes for the pram in two areas where the track changed into single track and wasn’t accessible with the pram.
We headed around the lake, across the “beach”, up the small set of stairs onto the bridge, across the bridge and around a corner – then we headed UP a hill – by the time I got to the top I was feeling puffed and my legs were telling me that was a long hill. At the top we stopped for 5 mins to enjoy the scenery and catch our breath. From that moment on I got the most amazing burst of energy and adrenaline and I felt like I could walk for ever. We continued along a wide path, then split off down to the lakes edge to stand on the jetty… the views were spectacular.
From there we enjoyed a trail that was single file with the added excitement of lots of fallen large tree branches which just added to the fun. There were kangaroos everywhere and we had a lot of fun taking “kangaroo selfies” along the way.
Richelle put together this video that shows our adventure – I just love it!
The two hours went by so fast. As we rounded the corner to the car park I was disappointed. I didn’t want this time to end.
I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. I want to be active. I don’t like exercising on my own. I don’t like walking alone to exercise. I know, I know – it’s “me time” etc. and that’s true, but it’s just something I’ve never enjoyed. When I walk with someone, or a group, I feel like I can walk forever. I feel motivated and happy. When I walk alone, I feel like it’s a chore. Does that make sense?
We walked just over 5 1/2kms in 2 hours, the pace was comfortable, the scenery was beautiful and the company was friendly, fun and supportive.
Escaping Your Comfort Zone is a brilliant idea, I’m so excited to be part of this exciting group. I’m really looking forward to regular outings and exploring our countryside.