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.
Wide Feet, shoes to fit orthotics, bunions? I get asked often about where to find quality shoes for problem feet, but not just any shoes – shoes that look GREAT!
Here’s the solution. Kolourful Kati designs and produces beautiful shoes that tick all the boxes.
Kati has an incredible collection of styles available. Her designs are ethically hand-made in Mexico where she visits regularly to oversee production. Kolourful Kati footwear is designed and styled to support you, help with your posture, help you to feel safe, and stylish and attract compliments like “Where did you get those shoes?” They are made of high-quality cotton-based elastic straps and offer slip resistant soles and cushioned inner soles for safety & east of wear.
Just take a look at her contemporary timeless designs to dress up and dress down.
Available in sizes 5-11 (in most styles), these amazing shoes and boots are super light-weight and super comfortable and a must-have for any wardrobe.
Kati is having an Invitation Only Exclusive Winter Private Showing at her Shoe-Dio in St Kilda, Victoria on Saturday 2nd April from 11:30am-3:30pm. To RSVP, please click the link here.
I’ve always enjoyed being active outdoors and on a recent holiday with my hubby Pete in Ubud, Bali, we took the opportunity to rise bright & early (those that know me well know that I’m not a morning person – so this was commitment!) and head to the starting point in central Ubud of the Campuhan Ridge Walk. We set off at 7am trying to avoid the heat, unfortunately the day was one of the clearest we’d had so far in this wet season visit to Bali, so the humidity and heat were not kind to us that day. The trail starts at a beautiful temple and gently winds its way up the ridge between the two ravines and rivers that run through this area.
To say that the scenery is spectacular is an understatement. The trail goes for approx. 3km before you come to a gorgeous village with art shops along the road. The road is unpaved but if you keep going about 500m you’ll come to an incredible café, Karsa Kafe with a beautiful lotus pond full of frogs and lovely coffee, juices and snacks. This is the usual “rest point” for serious hikers, but for us in the extreme heat this was our end point for our hike.
This is how I looked half-way through the hike…. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much! It was an exhilarating morning.
On another morning during our holiday, we also awoke early to the roosters crowing and decided to get up and do some photography. A gentle amble down the road through the village from our villa bought us to the top end of the Rice Paddy walkway that runs approx. 6kms to central Ubud through the most beautiful rice paddies, villages and views. That day we walked 13kms in total. It was bliss, (including the incredible breakfast and views at Sari Organic on the way) and despite how much I despise humidity and being drenched in sweat continuously, I had an incredible time and loved every minute of it.
With the busy life that I lead as a mum, wife and business owner, it’s easy to prioritise things away from my own active enjoyment. I LOVE my weekly yoga classes with the gorgeous Sarah Harry at Body Positive Australia (I’ve missed 3 weeks in a row due to my trip to Bali and the dengue fever I’m still recovering from since I returned – but that’s another story!), and my family and I regularly enjoy weekend outings walking, photographing our local countryside and being as active as possible. I have to admit though it’s easy to not step outside of my comfort zone when even if the hectic life I live isn’t enough of an excuse, I find it difficult to schedule activities without having the security of like-minded or like-bodied women around me. For example, I have never walked into my local gym and just signed-up for a Zumba or Boxing Class – even though these are two things I enjoy and would dearly love to do. The thought of a room full of not necessarily body positive people puts me off. My fear of not being able to keep up overwhelms me. I know how stupid that sounds – and given that I AM body positive and highly confident, I still suffer from these restrictive thoughts. Hence when the opportunity came along for me to attend the Body Positive Yoga Classes I jumped at the chance! I absolutely LOVE the opportunity to be guided by a teacher who understands that EVERY body is different and EVERY body is capable of different things. Sarah gives alternatives for every pose – oh the freedom of being able to have choice to participate and to enjoy. Priceless.
This year I wanted to start creating some new habits for myself. My work often means I spend hours in my home office behind the computer and on the phone, often not moving far at all for most of the day, then other days I’m out and about at meetings and showings and I’ll do kms of walking. The point is, I want to be as active as possible, because when I’m active, I feel better. I can think straighter and I feel calmer – oh yes, and being an insomniac, I also sleep better too! So I’ve actively put into place regular yoga classes, bought a walking machine for those days when my work dictates a low-activity day – I can just take my smart phone and walk a few kms in between work, and I’ve been incorporating some outdoor activities with my family.
But I still want more.
Guess you can imagine my excitement when just this week I stumbled across Escaping Your Comfort Zone – THE most exciting idea for plus-size women since, forever!
PLUS SIZE WOMEN CREATING ADVENTURES TOGETHER
A community of plus size women with a taste for adventure and exploring the great outdoors. We want to inspire people. We want someone to look at us and say because of you I didn’t give up. This is your community to share all the insights and inspiration you need to allow you to be the absolute best version of yourself.
This photo caught my eye because I’m obsessed with clouds. I have copious amounts of cloud photos, and I’m sure I drive my husband crazy with my constant comments on how amazing that cloud formation is! Then I was drawn into the vista, then I clicked further into the website and then I read the words on the Facebook event I was looking at … Plus Size Women’s Hiking For Beginners – YES that’s me!!
I want to introduce you to Richelle Olsen. She’s an Aussie 30-something, plus sized, and she’s cycled 6,500kms from Canada to Mexico, hiked to Everest base camp, run a 25km mountain race in the Spanish Pyrenees, trekked the Inca Trail, scuba dived in oceans and freshwater caves around the world, raced over 20 triathlons, solo hiked the Queen Charlotte Track in NZ and had a whole lot of other adventures in between. I feel tired just listing those incredible achievements!
But Richelle says she’s just an everyday woman, not overly fit, loves the outdoors, and wants to inspire and support other plus sized girls to experience what she has, without limits.
Richelle says “You don’t need to be fit, you don’t need to “look the part”, it doesn’t matter what size you are, all you need is a sense of adventure, and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone”.
Now that’s a woman after my own heart, and I’m guessing yours too right?
And if that isn’t enough to get you excited – how about joining me at this one? I will be attending this incredible weekend and am honoured to have been invited to add value with a presentation on Mindset and Curvy Women. I can’t wait for the upcoming PLUS SIZE WOMEN’S OUTDOOR RETREAT WEEKEND to be held on the Surf Coast in Victoria.
Stay tuned for some (no doubt hilarious) photos of my first attempt at Stand-up Paddle boarding. COME AT ME!!!
This time of the year I get so frustrated and often feel quite concerned for the health of many plus-size women. In the Australian climate it depends on your location as to how our temperatures affect us. For me here in Melbourne, summers are usually a few days of extreme heat followed by cooler days before the next heat wave. This year in particular our summer has been very changeable with extreme humidity and then intense dry air, a real roller coaster of weather. A few weeks ago during a particularly hot and humid day I was sitting at a local café enjoying some time with my son Zac. As we sat and chatted I watched a plus-size woman in a lovely dress collapse into a seat at the café, sweat dripping off her face. Her dress was lovely, clearly sleeveless as she had paired it with a long-sleeved cotton crop cardigan. Her back was wet with sweat too. She ordered a cold drink, and sat mopping her brow and pulling at her crop readjusting it and pulling it off her sweaty back. It was 36 degrees! I sat wondering how on earth she was still standing with so many layers on. If only she had felt comfortable enough to have just her lovely dress, baring her arms. Now I know this is my assumption, and I know she (like me, although sleeveless on this particular day) would still be sweating, but there is no doubt in my mind that she would have been a lot cooler than she was with that extra layer on.
I’m a big girl, a size 20-22 generally and I have BIG arms. I also have very white skin – (which I know for some is also a cause for concern and cover-up) and learnt a long time ago to ignore the pressure of tanning and maintain my white skin for the sake of my health, so for me wearing anything showing my lily white skin showing doesn’t bother me at all.
When it comes to my arms, I know the feeling of anxiety that comes from baring arms… I have wide shoulders, large upper arms, VERY white skin and freckles. I know that society doesn’t generally see that as attractive. I don’t care! I’m 44 years old and I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I will bare my arms! I will not torture myself wearing shrugs or cardigans trying to cover up my arms (yes I have done this in the past!). I will be comfortable.
This summer, and many before I have watched curvy women everywhere torturing themselves with heavy shrugs, cardigans or long sleeved shirts trying to cover their arms, but sweating and overheating themselves at the same time. This not only looks painful, it is quite seriously causing you harm. STOP! Let’s face it, even when you wear a garment to cover your arms, your arms are still your arms, if they’re big, they’re still big! Why are we telling ourselves we have to hide and be uncomfortable?
I understand that body confidence is not something that comes easily, but isn’t it time to just get over it and move on?! I know when I made the decision years ago to just stop caring about my arms, I did, I stopped worrying, and I started wearing what I wanted and more importantly what suited the weather of the day.
SOMETHING happened though when I stopped covering my arms – I felt cooler, more comfortable. Full stop.
Yep, that’s good right?!
Perhaps you expected that I was body shamed by others? Stopped by strangers in the street and scolded for daring to bare my arms?
If I reflect back on all the times I’ve been tempted to cover my arms, and have, only to be most uncomfortable, hotter than ever and really wishing I’d just stayed at home – sometimes in the past I’ve even chosen to not participate in something because I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable and feel too hot. I decided a long time ago it was time to stop that approach and just get over it and enjoy every second, because life’s just too short and my arms are my arms.
So you will see me out and about with my arms out, and moving on with life. You will also see me with some great options for covering my arms – BUT – this will only be if it suits the outfit – AND – the weather – NOT because I am covering my arms out of shame or fear.
You know, just looking back over the past few years, I would have missed out on so much had I enforced wearing something over my arms. Our family holiday to Northern Bali in 2014 for example, it was 34 degrees with 70%+ humidity every day. And then there was our trip to Cambodia last September, rainy season, horribly humid and there I was again arms out.
I enjoyed every day without my arms covered – my white large legs and arms on show for the world to see, no make-up (it just melts off your face anyways!), and no hair styling – just ME – enjoying life with my family. Just how it should be.
I know body confidence doesn’t come easily, it’s something you can’t buy but it’s something no-one can take away from you. I feel so much happier just making the MOST of who I am today, and everyday – at every size that my body is throughout my life.