You can listen to the podcast from my interview on Spin 1038 absolutely delighted that due to the positive response they would like to do a feature sometime!
As far as body confidence is concerned I have been both ends of the spectrum. I have been the women (girl, teenager) in the statistic below I would have had many more than one "I hate my body" moments in a day.
Over the course of last year when I started my experiment I started to leave that part of me behind. To see that I was so much more than a body. I started to see that how people saw much more than simply what my body looked like and it felt good. I won't lie though moments would come when those old critical thoughts would pop back in. But I found ways to help them pass.
One thing I can tell you for sure is it's much nicer to feel good about yourself than not and to bridge that gap,cross over from body shame to body confidence.
It's not an overnight process.
If it was as simple as going on a diet to feel fulfilled and confident we would only ever go on one diet.
I began dieting aged twelve what followed were 22 years of disordered eating & hating how I felt in my body. When aged 34 I first began my experiment to change how I felt about my life & my body I was still following a diet plan but the difference was that time I chose to try and start each day as my friend rather than my enemy.
Bridging the gap from body shame to body confidence is not possible without a willingness to see beyond your body and the part of you that has no reflection. It comes from a willingness to start loving you now, not waiting until the way you want to look in six months after a new diet or exercise regime.
Accepting that to criticize yourself and be ashamed of your reflection is not being kind to yourself means you can start trying to change that. Seeing I was in a destructive relationship with me was a huge step at first as I found it difficult to accept that I couldn't hate my body and love me.
Eating and binging in secret wracked with guilt, restricting foods for years on end, missing social occasions because I felt so horrible, crying for hours before a night out surrounded by piles of clothes I thought looked horrible on me - these were not things I would have wished on an enemy yet I was doing them to myself.
It's not just about weight- every day if you listen you will hear someone complaining about a part of themselves freckles, hair colour, nose, teeth, eyes, too tall, too short and so on.
Accepting that you are horrible to yourself can be hard- but of all the habits to try and change becoming your friend rather than your enemy is something that gets easier and brings with it only positive results. The first step is simply to be aware of your negative self talk and be willing to try and make it kinder!
Start to treat yourself the way you would treat your friends or your children.
I know that I don't want my daughter to stand in front of the mirror pinching at her flesh and wanting it changed but to see all the beauty in her uniqueness. I don't want her to start an exercise class proclaiming "I'm here to try and get rid of this disgusting belly" ( I taught classes for years and this sort of talk was common - including my own) but to exercise for the enjoyment of seeing all our amazing bodies are capable of. I don't want her to see food as good vs. bad, reward vs. punishment but for what it is something we need to live and to nourish our bodies.
I heard a well known hypnotherapist talking about how she helps her clients get thin and how empowering it is to stand in front of a table of sweets and cake knowing you don't want that anymore.
I think it's empowering to stand in front of that table of food and not be afraid of it, knowing if you actually want it you will have it without it being a binge or a cause of distress and that "thin" is not a goal that brings lasting happiness.
"Changing how you feel about your body doesn't come from changing your body but by learning to love the part of you that has no reflection"
I'm not saying that no person should ever want to change their body - it's almost two years since I competed and I'm ready to return to the gym. Not because I don't like who I am, not because I think I'm only good enough if I'm lean but because I love training (I trained as a Personal Trainer because I love seeing what the body is capable of and I know that exercise can be so positive for mind and body) it's a joy trigger for me.
** 3rd August 16' -I have to return and add here that my return to the gym ended up being somewhat sporadic! I still love exercise but that part of me that loved following a structured plan seems to have disappeared and I'm truly happy listening to my body and doing what it feels like when it feels like it! I also made the decision to give up personal training and focus on emotional fitness and speaking. Exciting times ahead!***
But I know that fulfilment, inner confidence and feeling good enough cannot come from gym sessions alone. If you don't feel good about who you are beyond your reflection now that won't change by only changing your reflection. The recent revelations from winners of shows like The Biggest Loser,the many conversations I've had with lifelong dieters and my own experience have shown that.
We are all so different and that is what makes us so amazing.
Let's celebrate our differences, our uniqueness, lets take our so called flaws and see that they are a part of us now in this moment.
I don't think it needs to be "plus size" vs. "fitness" no one should be made feel ashamed of their body type or their lifestyle choices. It would be fantastic for there to be no distinction between anyone's bodies but we're moving in the right direction.
Let's try and change "I hate my body" moments to "I love me" lifetimes.
Image from Swimsuits for all http://www.swimsuitsforall.com/Shop-All-Swimwear
Image from Amber Dawn - Amber supported me with my nutrition at the very beginning of my experiment in 2015 when I wanted to introduce balance but couldn't trust myself to set healthy guidelines.