Josephine Money, APD
When working with clients and explaining what I feel is happening for them in their relationship with food at that time or what I think we may need to work on I keep coming back to the same analogy; so I thought I might try and articulate it a little more!
I feel we need to find a balance between three things. I often talk about them as three balloons or balls we need to hold in the air at equal heights.
Inevitably my clients’ are trying to focus too much on one and this is leading to them feeling chaotic, out of control, anxious or leading to disordered eating.
Some non-dieting approaches don't discuss nutrition at all - and I must say when clients are asking question my answer is most often - what is your body telling you? What do you feel like? What would nourish you?
This will always be my first answer. But as there is so much mis- information about food and body physiology I think it is important to empower people with correct information and understanding so they can judge the facts from the crap!
We all have some nutrition knowledge; we are taught about foods at school; we have seen the healthy diet pyramid on the side of the Kellogg’s box. The catch unfortunately is that there is a lot of nutrition information freely available that is inaccurate and even dangerous!
We all eat and have emotional experiences with foods (i.e. family birthdays, cultural traditions) we all have a body and have an emotional relationship with it. We all live in a weight centric culture where we are lead to believe smaller is better and healthier!
We are not all scientists and as such we don’t all know how to decipher the accurate information from the crappy information. In the desperate mind frame of looking for answers and quick fix to change a body we feel is unacceptable we will believe anything.
A good example is the current ‘anti sugar’ hysteria. I feel this was spear headed by the book Sweet Poison by David Gillespie. Below is an excerpt from David’s website about who he is.
“David Gillespie is a ... corporate lawyer, a former co-founder of a successful software company and the author of eight bestselling books. His first book, Sweet Poison, published in 2008 is widely credited with starting the current Australian wave of anti-sugar sentiment.”
So David is trained as a lawyer; he has no scientific, medical or dietetic training. He is very good at articulating himself and marketing himself and as a result a huge amount of people hang on every word he says and even limit fruit because they are scare of sugar! What the?!
Now I’m not trying to pick on David (but feel free to read these great comments from Nutrition Australia about why his claims are unfounded). What I want to point out is that this is one example of thousands of unqualified media savvy people making millions from selling people diets – even when they are dressed up as public health campaigns!
I like to spend time with clients re-educating them about the body, metabolism, how it works, what we needs and why we can trust it! Bodies are pretty amazing, flexible and resilient and we need to nourish them and respect them instead of ‘beating them up’.
It is good to have a basic understanding of how the body works and what it needs. My experience is that people have way too much of the wrong information or a focusing too much on this area with no consideration of what their body is trying to tell them or devoting too much time in their life to thinking about, shopping, preparing food at the expense of more important things.
Focusing only on nutrition knowledge often leads to strict rules that can’t be adhered to and anxiety when people fail at this. Also I think people focus on every morsel of food that goes into their mouths thinking it needs to be perfect or they will ruin or hurt their bodies.
You will eat 4-6 (or more or less depending on how you feel and what your body needs) times every day for the rest of your life – it won’t always be perfect nor does it need to be!
Intuitive eating is connecting with the sensations in your body, hunger and appetite and using these to direct your intake. The phrase was coined by dietitian Evelyn Tribole.
Toddlers are great at intuitive eating. If they aren't hungry they won't eat; and if they are still hungry they will keep asking for more. It is about this age we start to impose external pressure for them to start ignoring these internal cues and respond to more external cues.
"Finish your vegetables and you can have dessert”
“If you don't eat it you have to go to bed”
“You can't possible still be hungry”
The amount of energy our bodies need each day is influenced by so many things and as a result our hunger each day will be different and unpredictable; but the best thing we can do is respect it; Feed our body and trust it.
Hunger is our body telling us it needs more energy. I think of appetite as the cues to what type of food it is our body might feel like Hot or cold; sweet or savoury etc.
We are so conditioned to ignore these and eat based on mood, location. time, rules, emotions; that learning to tune in, practice responding and learning to trust the body is a process.
Life is all of the reasons why we can’t always respond to our bodies cues or make a choice based on our nutritional knowledge.
Life is knowing you have a long meeting and though you aren't hungry now knowing you will be very hungry by the time you finish; so making the decision to eat before the meeting will ensure you have enough energy to stay attentive during the meeting.
Life is wanting to choose Low GI grains to manage your diabetes but being hungry, in a store and choosing what is available rather than nothing.
If someone is focusing too much on life when it comes to food provision it may mean they are not making any time or space for meal planning, shopping or preparation; so end up hungry and needing to buy food at most meals. This isn't of itself a problem but busy work, families and lives can mean we don't even realise we are hungry until we are very hungry; it is very late and the choices available may be limited.
We need to have self-compassion and understanding that responding to some of the situations that life presents is not failing at intuitive eating or nourishing your body but an example of being flexible and resilient.
As I mentioned in the beginning I don't think any of these concepts are more important than the other but in order to move past a diet mentality and move towards self-acceptance, self-care, and positive practices in self nourishment they all need to be considered equally.
Clean up your social Media
Josephine Money, APD
Social media has a much bigger impact on us then we realise. Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram being bombarded with images of bikini bodies, green smoothies and dietary commentary can trigger guilt, shame and insecurity.
When trying to build a healthier relationship with our body and food this can be very undermining!
Social Media can be full of positive, like-minded people to help make you feel better!
It may be time to look objectively at what you are scrolling thru – unfollow anyone who isn’t making you feel bad about yourself and perhaps add some of the suggestions below.
I have put in website you can have a look at and most (if not all) will have a Facebook, Instagram, twitter account you can choose to follow if you like what you see.
Another great way to find like-minded and inspirational pages to follow is that when you find a page you like who are they following and who is following them!
This is by no means and exhaustive list – please share other helpful organisations and people you find.
Body Image And HAES
Dr Deah Schwatz
Body Positive Australia
Centre Eating Disorders, Weight and Body Image
No Green Smoothies
A mighty Girl
Fat Yoga Australia
Dr Susan Albers
Exposing Nutritional Quackery
Body Image Movement
The Fat Nutritionist
Linda Bacon Haes
Dr Rick Kausman
The Nutrition Press
Health at Every Size
Rachel W Cole
The mindshift Foundation
Dare not to diet
Health, Not diets
Body Positive Health and Fitness
Sarai Walker –Dietland
Body Positive Panda
Underneath we are women
Dietitians Association of Australia:
Sports Nutrition Australia
Eating Disorders Victoria
The Butterfly Foundation
Something Fishy – Eating Disorders information Website
The Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED)-Victoria
ANZAED: Australian and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders
Eating Disorders Australian National Coalition
The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC)- Canada
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
The Eating Disorders Association of Ireland- Ireland
Eating Disorders Association (B-Eat)- United Kingdom (UK)
Eating Disorder Expert
Academy for Eating Disorders- United States
Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action
Eating Disorder Hope
National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders Inc.- USA
National Eating Disorders Association- USA
I find myself saying (again and again and again) if there was a diet that worked – we would all do it, everyone would be happy and someone would be very rich from it! But the reality is that they don’t work – or not in the long term.
It interests me that the outcome everyone is looking for is weight loss – there is something far more important that is rarely mentioned …. Health! It’s sad but true that there is research that shows that people would choose weight loss in exchange for years off their life. Years that could be spent with friends, family and enjoying themselves; being happy!
And people are not happy (mostly ‘cause they are hungry); not happy with their bodies, their lives, their looks; and they believe that weight loss could fix it. I also find myself repeatedly telling clients and acquaintances alike that if people are attracted to you after you have lost weight –are they really the type of people you want in your life?
Why do we believe that weight loss will solve everything? So many reasons! And no we can’t just blame the media anymore. We need to think about society as a whole and what we contribute to our society. Do we praise someone for losing weight? Do we judge people in our heads? What are we saying inadvertently to our family, friends, and children; when we complain about our own bodies’ perceived shortcomings?
I can hear the crowd cheering as I write this – but what about the obesity epidemic? People are going to die- they need to lose weight!
Obesity in Australia
3 in 5 Australian adults are overweight or obese (based on BMI). That's over 12 million people! 5%
more adults are overweight or obese than in 1995.
1 in 4 Australian children are overweight or obese.
Over 30% more people living in outer regional and remote areas are obese than people living in major cities.
Overweight and obesity is only beaten by smoking and high blood pressure as a contributor to burden of disease.
Yes as a society we are getting bigger and yes that can impact on health – but the connection is not the clear cause and effect relationship we assume. Also we have to consider why we are getting bigger, why are our habits changing for the worst? But that’s a completely different discussion!
What is Influencing our Eating Patterns?- Some things to consider that are leading to changes in our bodies
Dieting Isn’t Working
How to assess a potential diet:
If the answer is yes to many of these statements then it probably is a diet!
The Diet industry is big business generating approximately $58.6 billion annually in the USA alone (Bacon and Aphramor 2011). It promises quick results by developing food plans that can’t be sustained or by using supplements. Many of these programs can result in changes in the short term but are unsustainable and rapid weight gain results when normal eating recommences (Tomiyama et al 2013). One –third to two –thirds of all dieters regain more weight than they originally lost on their diet over the following 12 months (Bacon and Aphramor 2011). For some reason obesity research “seems to enjoy special immunity from accepted standards in clinical practice and publishing ethics” (Bacon and Aphramor 2011). Even though we know there won’t be good outcomes we keep trying something that we know will fail and will have possible detrimental effects!
Research clearly identifies that weight stigmatization is strong in all areas of life- peer relationships, work and even health care. This automatic judgement of people we visually determine to be above their healthiest weight assumes that they are intrinsically unhealthy because of their size, is leading to an overemphasis on weight loss often without thorough evaluation of lifestyle and health (Tomiyama et al 2013 ). Similarly there is an assumption that normal weight or thin people must be healthy leading to poor health evaluation and less discussion of lifestyle interventions (Tomiyama et al 2013 ). This stigmatization of fat actually demotivates people leading to an avoidance of health care, avoiding exercise, increased quantities of food, poor self-esteem, poor self-efficacy and a learned helplessness (Bacon and Aphramor 2011).
There has being no clear relationship between health outcome and weight loss (Bacon and Aphramor 2011). Weight does not equal health! What the research has shown is that the change of diet to include more fibre, more fruit and vegetables and more physical activity in any form is linked with an improvement in hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol (Tomiyama et al 2013 ) even when no weight loss occurs (Bacon and Aphramor 2011). Data further supports this idea that it is the behaviours rather than the weight loss its self leading to improvements in health. When we look at weight loss in the management of type two diabetes – there are initial improvements in blood glucose levels following weight loss followed by deterioration back to starting levels after 6-18 months even when the weight loss was maintained (Bacon and Aphramor 2011).
There is even an ‘obesity paradox’ emerging of the ‘healthy obese’; where obesity is protective against morbidity and mortality in some diseases (Tomiyama et al 2013) such as type 2 diabetes hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease. We are seeing larger patients with these conditions living longer than their thinner equivalents with the same conditions (Bacon and Aphramor 2011). Crushing the commonly held assumption that adiposity poses significant mortality risk (Bacon and Aphramor 2011).
Physiologically the body fights against weight loss and fights to regain lost weight metabolically and with an altered response to food in the brain, particular in the emotional response to food (Sumithran et al 2011). Post weight loss people have increased appetite, increased preoccupation with food and need to maintain a significant calorie deficient to maintain the weight loss (Bacon and Aphramor 2011) due to a permanent shift in metabolic needs reflected in the levels of leptin, ghrelin and other hormones (Sumithran et al 2011). Post weight loss muscles burn 20-25 % less energy daily and this is sustained up to 2 years post weight loss even when weight is regained (Sumithran et al 2011).
When investigating people who have lost weight and maintained that loss we see that some common behaviours amongst this cohort are daily weighing, calorie counting, less the half the time watching television then the rest of the population, no ‘cheat’ days, 60mins + exercise daily and overall less calories then someone the same weight who never lost weight (up to 500 cal day less) (Sumithran et al 2011). Sounds quite disordered to me and something only particular personality types would be able to maintain!
Repeated dieting can lead to weight cycling and overall weight gain, increased feelings of guilt about eating, rebound overeating and a sense of failure from having tried and seemingly failed. Physiologically weight cycling is more strongly correlated with morbidity and mortality then obesity (Tylka et al 2014); Weight cycling results in an increased inflammatory state contributing to development of hypertension, insulin resistance and dyslipidaemia (Bacon and Aphramor 2011).
Studies show that people with a BMI <18.5kg/m2 and greater than 30kg/m2 have the highest risk of illness but people with a BMI of 25- 30 kg/m2 have the lowest! (Bacon and Aphramor 2011). Diets also fail to address common reasons for non-hungry eating such as boredom or emotional eating which are important to consider for long term success.
We know diets are not working but until now we have had alternative they continue to perscribed. Commonly people find diets are too complicated to follow long term, too restricting on their social life or they feel deprived and rebel. They then feel that they have failed (rather than the diet has failed) and what we do when we feel bad – we eat! And the cycle continues.
Practitioners and patients have unrealistic goals of how much weight they should lose – and this is often based on aesthetic desire rather than evidence. There is limited research to correlate weight loss with actual health improvements and what we do see is most likely due to a change in behaviours rather than the weight loss itself. Interestingly to see sustained changes in clinical markers only 5-10% weight loss is required (Pinkney, 2001).
Benefits attributable to long term 10% weight loss
Mortality 20-25% fall in total mortality
30-40% fall in diabetes related deaths
40-50% fall in obesity – related cancer deaths
Blood Pressure fall of 10mm Hg systolic
Fall of 20 mm Hg diastolic
Angina 91% reduction in symptoms
33% increase in exercise tolerance
Lipids 10% fall in total cholesterol
15% fall in LDL cholesterol
30% fall in triglycerides
8% increase in HDL cholesterol
Diabetes > 50% reduction in risk of developing diabetes
30-50% fall in fasting blood glucose
15% fall in Hba1c
Jung RT Br. Med. Bull (1997) 53:307-21
“Recent investigations have shown that sustained weight loss of just 3—4 kg in overweight individuals with impaired glucose tolerance resulted in 58% risk reduction for diabetes at four years.” (Pinkey, 2001).
“Let's face facts. We've lost the war on obesity. Fighting fat hasn't made the fat go away. And being thinner, even if we knew how to successfully accomplish it, will not necessarily make us healthier or happier. The war on obesity has taken its toll. Extensive "collateral damage" has resulted: Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health... Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we're fat or because we fear becoming fat…Very simply, it acknowledges that good health can best be realized independent from considerations of size. It supports people of all sizes in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviours.”
An excerpt from Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon, PhD
Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honour your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:
Health at Every Size Rejects a weight focus:
Emphasis on internal vs External eating cues
Health at Every size (HAES) and Anti Dieting movement
Every person has the right to body respect, regardless of their body shape, size, colour, age, ability or health status
What does a non-diet approach look like?
Using Health Rather than Weight Focused Goals
Behaviour Change Focus
Wide variety of food- avoiding ‘food morals’.
Non Diet Approach Research
Carroll et al (2007). Short term effects of a non dieting lifestyle intervention program on weight management, fitness, metabolic risk, and psychological well being in obese premenopausal females with metabolic syndrome. Applied physiology, nutrition and metabolism. 32(1):125-42.
31 Obese Women with metabolic syndrome
Improved: BP (diastolic), HDL cholesterol
Improved Cardiorespiratory Fitness in previously sedentary
Improved general well being
Jackson( 2008).Eating order: A 13 week trust model class for dieting casualties. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour. 40:43-48.
39 female chronic dieters
Improved psychological variable
Hawley et al ( 2008). Sustainability of health and lifestyle improvements following a non dieting randomised trial in overweight women. Preventative Medicine. 47(6):593-99.
225 overweight women
Reduction in BP (systolic)
Improved diet quality, stress management behaviour scores and eating self efficacy
Dalen (2010).Mindful eating and Living (MEAL): weight, eating behaviour, and psychological outcomes associated with mindfulness based interventions for people with obesity. Complementary therapies in Medicine. 18(6):260-64.
10 overweight/ obese people (7F, 3 M)
reduction in CRP
Decreased depression, physical symptoms, negative affect and anxiety
Cutler et al (2010).Appetite for life: an evaluation of a primary care lifestyle programme. Journal of Primary Health Care. 2(4)281-87.
261 overweight women
Reduction in total and LDL cholesterol
Increased fruit veg, dairy and healthy fat consumption
Bacon et al (2005). Size acceptance and intuitive eating improve for obese female chronic dieters. Journal of the American Dietetic Association.105(6):654-65.
78 Obese female chronic dieters
Reduction in LDL and HDL cholesterol, BP(systolic)
Increased physical activity, self esteem, body image
Acknowledgement Fiona Willer and Fiona Sutherland 2014 www.healthnotdiets.com bodypositiveaustralia.com.au/
The research into Health at Every size, non-dieting approaches, and mindful eating is in its infancy and more is needed and underway – but the current findings are very promising.
“Randomised controlled trials indicate that a HAES approach is associated with statistically and clinically relevant improvements in physiological measures (eg blood pressure, blood lipids), health behaviours (eg eating and activity habits, dietary quality) and psychosocial outcomes (such as self-esteem and body image), and that HAES achieves these outcomes more successfully than weight loss treatment and…”
Bacon and Aphramor 2011
So How Does Eat Love Live Adopt a non-dieting approach to weight management
I don’t like to claim to be a Health at Every Size practitioner as I find – like in all my work – I adopt the principles into my work with clients but I am still flexible and respond to what each individual client needs and what works for them.
I tell my clients we are aiming to Find the Balance
Bacon and Aphramor (2011). Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradign Shift. Nutrition Journal.10:9.
Pinkney, J. (2001). Implications of obesity for diabetes and coronary heart disease in clinical practice. The British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease. 1:103-06.
Tomiyama, Ahlstrom, and Mann (2013). Long term effects of dieting: Is weight loss related to health? Social and Personal Psychology Compass 7/12: 861-877.
Sumithran, Prendergast, Delbridge, Purncell, Shulkes, Kriketos and Proietto (2011) Long Tem Persistance of Hormonal Adaptions to weight Loss. The New England Journal of Medecine. 365:1597-604.
By Josephine Money
Since the birth of my second child I have being working on a small personal project …. I have cleaned out my wardrobe! This is no small job – I.have.a.lot.of.clothes!
Becoming a mother is a huge change in your life – for me it meant changing from being out in the workforce 5 days a week and socialising 2 days and many nights to being at home 90% of the time! Quite a change and one that meant my plethora of dresses and skirts were a little useless (I remember a colleague once commenting that she had never seen me in pants!). Obviously there is a lot of adjustment needed to deal with this and clothes really is a minor superficial factor - but never the less because I enjoy expressing myself in my clothes, hair, shoes, make up; it was an important one for me.
As an aside my personal plan to manage the possible isolation that comes with this transition to stay at home included:
So I made sure I was honest with a few key people about when I was feeling sad, lonely, isolated, overwhelmed etc. This was helpful to have someone to check in with what was rational and what wasn’t; when I just needed some sleep or when it may of being more serious.
New parents groups are organised by the maternal child health nurses to bring together new parents in a geographical area and normally have a number of weeks of structured sessions and then participants are encouraged to continue meeting after the sessions have finished. This is a bit like big brother – a group of people you haven’t chosen to spend time with- and though they may not all be ‘your type of people’ you all have something very important in common – newborns!
This is a great group of women (and sometimes men) who you can talk about nothing but your babies with and that’s ok! You can talk wee, poo, sleep, and vomit, compare notes, ask silly questions. You can’t always do this with your friends from pre-children – especially ones who don’t have children. Of course they are interested but they are not as interested to the detail that you can share with other new mums.
So back to the big wardrobe clean out.
The reality is getting pregnant and having a baby changes your body. Some people’s bodies go back to what they were pre pregnancy and they can wear their old clothes; mine wasn’t like that. My whole lifestyle changed becoming a mother as I’m sure it does for everyone. I couldn’t exercise when I wanted, I didn’t have the time and flexibility to shop and prepare food as I use to, sleep deprivation made identifying hunger cues more difficult and I engage in more comfort eating when I’m tired and home more. These factors over two pregnancies have meant they my body size and shape has changed.
This of course means there were many items of clothing in my wardrobe that didn’t fit, feel as comfortable or I didn’t feel as comfortable in. Of course there are also those pieces that I just don’t have the opportunity to wear as much as I use to.
Now there are two ways of dealing with this – I could choose to let these clothes taunt me and given it to the perceived pressure to diet to fit back in to them –or I could get rid of them. Now being the positive body image warrior that I am I think you can guess which way I went! And that’s exactly why I am sharing the experience as I think too many people hang on to that magic pair of jeans they use to fit in to beating themselves up that they don’t fit them now.
I embrace the changes in my body. Yes I am bigger then I was. Yes I am rounder then I was. Yes there are curves and bumps in places there never use to be- But I earned these changes. I felt nausea, tired, itchy and swollen. I experienced incredible pain and incredible joy with this body and the result was (over two pregnancies) two very happy healthy and beautiful girls who have completely changed my life and are now the absolute centre of my life. Two girls who can make me smile and feel happy just by looking at me or smiling at me making all stressor melt away. That’s what these changes in my body represent to me. The fact that my body was able to create, carry and birth these two amazing individuals. So instead of trying to hide this experience by dieting and exercising I choose to embrace it and accept that I may need to let go of some of my old clothes.
I continue to exercise when I can, to help with my energy, mood and sleep. I continue to listen to my body and feed it when and what it tells me it needs. I am not perfect and I have my own struggles at time with non hungry eating and even ‘fat’ days – hell I’m human and I live in this body focused society too! But on the whole I am positive and I work towards staying positive.
So back to the wardrobe:
Now obviously this can be an expensive exercise as you may not be left with much- to manage this I tend to divide the clothes in to three piles:
Now my wardrobe contains only clothes I fit in to and feel comfortable in. This means less precious time getting ready, my wardrobe and getting dressed is now always a positive experience avoiding all that negative mirror time changing my outfit numerous times trying to feel comfortable.
As an aside to remain positive while I was pregnant and my body was changing I did something similar – anything my pregnant body didn’t fit into I put in to a suitcase and out away. This meant that again I wasn’t taunted by clothes I couldn’t wear making me think there was something wrong with my body. Instead I was able to embrace and enjoy my ever changing body.
These are a few small things I have done to feel good about myself – to avoid the negative self talk and giving in to the negative atmosphere around me- hopefully it gives you a few ideas too!
by Josephine Money
This is one of those times I'm being very honest.
I talk about positive body image, managing media and trusting your body all day every day..... And I believe it!!
But I am human and there are times I need to be more supportive with myself ... And leading up to the wedding was one of these times.....
Wedding dress shopping
Well I have taken the plunge – made the decision and ordered (and paid for) a wedding dress!!
I must say the process of shopping for it was harder than I anticipated – and I had really put some (emotional) preparation time in!
I was anxious, overwhelmed, excited, fearful, dreading and looking forward to the process all at once!
I think buying a wedding dress is difficult for a collection of reasons.....
Firstly – getting married is a big deal!
You are choosing to commit to the one person for the rest of your life. It is a public declaration that this is the person I choose and god I hope that they choose me back (none of us like to be vulnerable!).
Oh course, by the time you get to planning the wedding I hope that you are feeling fairly confident about that! I was lucky that I felt very confident that he was The One. But it's nothing like others comments and lovely engagement cards with very strong messages to fully appreciate the weight of the situation!
Then there is the fact that according to society and general culture the wedding day is ALL ABOUT YOU..... ALL EYES will be on the BRIDE! (That’s what all the bridal magazines are saying at least!). That is some major pressure and expectation just there!
Now for some girls – they realize this, they love this and they embrace this!
For me in social situations I'm usually chatting away to myself trying to calm my negative self-talk by thinking things like 'it’s ok everyone else is too busy worrying about how they look to be looking at you ‘
‘ it’s not your party no one will be looking at you anyway’... Don't think that is going to work for at your own wedding when you’re the bride!!
So what to wear? How to make a choice? And how will I feel in it?
Men are lucky in this decision about the wedding ( and as stereotypical comment as it may be..., my experience is that grooms are generally happy with most of the decisions about weddings being made without too much fuss, too much talking and not taking too much time so they can get back to the cricket/ football as quickly as possible!).
Weddings are one of the times men can’t get it too wrong – it’s like work wear; men are expected to wear a suit.
The colour, cut and accessories may change but it’s a suit!
Or maybe the majority of men in my life are just not that fashion conscious!
But for the bride there are way too many different types of dresses to choose from! Long, short, fabrics, colors (all a different shades of the white or ivory!
Or to go a different colour like red or black and ruffle a few feathers), straps, no straps’, sleeve or no sleeves, lace, taffeta, jewelry, hair, makeup, shoes!!
And then as bride you need to decide on bridesmaids’ attire too– long, short, colors, price, availability, varying body shapes, others likes, dislikes – it’s a lot of pressure without even considering the lifelong commitment!!
So trying to keep this building anxiety at bay I did the sensible thing – bought some bridal magazines and started looking through them.
Now I love clothes; I secretly love flicking through magazines ( though I moral object to the photo shopping, objectification of women in advertising etc!!) so this seemed like a great place to start- and it was! Provided I skipped straight past all the section on how to lose weight in the lead up to the wedding!!
I. Was. Horrified.
By the number of articles about weight loss, toning, shaping, zapping and even invasive cosmetic surgery discussed in bridal magazines! Talk about targeting a vulnerable audience!
I appreciate the importance of feeling good and wanting to look your best on your big day, but I don't like that people feel the need to lose a large amount of weight before the wedding – of course many people do. But then they are haunted by their wedding photos on the walls of their house forever mocking them and reminding them just how skinny they were and could be again if they just tried harder..... And so the diet cycle continues (but that is a whole 'other article!)
Oh course we know that the women who loose weigh for their wedding usually regain it plus more after their wedding! We just forget to talk about this bit!
Just like we forget to mention that the restriction of food has being shown to cause mood swings, anxiety, poor concentration and irrationality! Hello bridezilla!
I'm sure I'm not alone is knowing that trying to organize a wedding, or any large event that involves immediate and extending family members, respecting traditions and is enjoyable; requires a clear mind, creativity, patience, compromise , flexibility and a good sense of humor!!
I am lucky enough to have a full appreciation of how unhelpful weight loss dieting is and knew that it is something I didn't want to engage in in the lead up to my wedding; as people who know me or work with me know it is against my basic values as a person and clinician!
But if there was a time (other than my whole adolescence before the getting of wisdom) that I was going to feel tempted by the lies and fanciful promises - this was it!
Not only did I have the magazines (and blogs, another great wedding idea resource) telling me that I should be trimming up; people around me started to talk about their own plans to lose weight for the wedding!
Small innocent comments that I can normally choose to debate with them about or ignore- where really grinding on me!! I started to feel conflicted - don't these people know me at all! Can't these people remember what I do and what I stand for!
But then I was able to step back and appreciate that it's not all about me!! As significant family members and friends of the bride and groom these people were feeling the same pressures I was, getting the same comments and exist within the weight and image obsessed culture as me and I need to allow them to express their own anxieties in the way they find helpful!
Of course appreciating this doesn't make it stop or stop affecting you but it can make it easier to hear it, put it in the bubble and let it go!! I vented to close friends and my groom; some people l asked not to make some comments and some people I let it go! That was my way of dealing with it and it's important to find your own way.
So decision made, no dieting.
I'm perfect as I am!
It's just one day in my life and it was going to be very important to me- not because of the dress- but because I finally had the chance to make a commitment in front of my family and friends to the man I love and to consolidate the life we had built together.
Remembering and focusing on this was another very important coping strategy for me.
I love a function; I love organizing details, surprises and getting dressed up...... But this wasn't about a wedding- it’s about a marriage and that's what I wanted!
I spoke with my fiancé about what was important to both of us and made sure that we focused out attention on these things. To us getting married in a church was important, including many important family members and friends in the ceremony was important, thanking everyone and them knowing they were an important part of our life was important and celebrating us was important.
With this focus I was able to look at dress shopping with more perspective.
I wanted something I felt amazing in, that suited me (body and personality); but I accepted and appreciated that I would probably see dresses in the years to come that I liked more; and that I would probably look at the wedding photos with my children and laugh at how funny we looked and out bad fashion taste!!
My first experience of trying on dresses was better them expected. I hadn't planned it, it was spontaneous and luckily I found an incredibly helpful sales assistant. I had parked outside a formal store, I had time to kill so I ventured it to browse for ideas and when asked I decided to take plunge, dive in and try some dresses on.
The sales assistant noted the style of what I was wearing, asked what I liked or had in mind and what I didn't like, asked details about the wedding and tried to get a feel for what we were planning.
I instantly trusted her and appreciated that she had more experience at this then me and asked for her opinion. She made suggestions that were thoughtful and appropriate, she discussed what would and wouldn't suit my body shape; and what would make a dress more or less comfortable given my body shape. I was so thankful- she pulled a dress out I tried it on and it was amazing!
Then she let me try on all sorts of other styles to see the difference in how they suited me! This was one of the best things I could do!
I tried on the Disney ball gown (strapless make me look wider and self-conscious and the large full skirt make me feel overwhelmed), she let me try sheath style dresses ( hard for anyone that isn't a supermodel ) and lace. She read my body language and feed it back to me, noting what I stood taller in and when I looked uncomfortable.
As I said I was lucky- this was an experienced retail assistant who was honest but gentle and had much more experience with fitting these styles of dresses then me and this enabled me to relax and trust her!
Not all experiences will be like this.... As I was to learn!
Though I was secretly pretty sure I had found the dress I wanted to make sure and I wanted to try some others on and have a fun girl’s day out with my bridesmaids!
So, off we went to the bridal salon, we had our appointment and we arrived on time, and we're waved at and told to wait! 45 min later a young frazzled girl asked me what could she do or what did I want to try?
Umm ..... I don't know?
I thought I would talk to someone who does this all the time about the wedding, what I imagined, the style I felt comfortable in and she would know her stock and point me in the right direction!
But no, that wasn't going to happen!
I had a tried, disinterested weekend casual who didn't really care! She looked at me blankly and I looked back ... Panicking! Luckily my girls jumped to action, grabbed a few styles I had mentioned I liked and we started trying!
Oh the humiliation......
This bridal salon didn’t keep a range of sizes to try, all the dresses were sample sizes and the assistant didn’t seem to think this was a problem and started undoing the dresses for me to, all size 8 and 10!
I'm a very healthy, happy woman who is at least a 14-16!
(At least at the first store I went to when I pointed out dresses that she only had in a small size she gently informed me it wouldn’t fit and that I wouldn’t get a sense of the style!)
But she persisted and I was panicked so I went along with it! Of course they were nowhere near fitting at the back and looked awful!
So my creative assistant went and got an A4 piece of paper and bulldog clips and fasted the dress to the paper over my back and pushed me out it the busy shop, instructed me to walk and spin!
I wanted the floor to swallow me whole!
Of course this was when the lovely, long limbed lady next to me also came out in a dress that needed bulldog clips to hold it up! Easily fitting in to each dress she tried that day; each time coming out in her well fitted or too big dress while I stood wrapped in paper and clips!!
I saw her in many dresses that day each looking amazing. I'm not proud of it but it was one of those times that all my beliefs and things I talk to clients about went out the window and I was thinking- why me? Why can't I look like that? etc!! (of course latter on I remembered that I wasn't the problem the dresses were and that the lady next to me may of being having as much trouble as me finding a dresses to suit her body shape and that she could feel amazing in!! Shame we can’t always be that calm in the moment!!)
So I'm in the middle of a large store uncomfortably squeezed in to dress 4 sizes to small clipped together with paper and bulldog clips and I'm told to walk around and spin!
Yes, feeling numb!
My girls appropriately oohed and ahhhed and politely ignored the paper fastening but all looked at me concerned as I want just not smiling; I think I looked dam right miserable!
Luckily my girls are super honest and that's why I love them! There was lots of gentle ' I'm not sure that neck line is right’, ' I think the mermaid style is better’, ' no you look miserable in it!!'.
My girls and the assistant scatted off to grab more dresses to try in a whole range of styles, which was great cause it really confirmed what worked for me and what didn't- of course we had to use our imagination a lot as the backs of the dresses on me looked like they had being supplied by Officeworks!
The straw came as the assistant again presented me with a slinky size 8 dress to try. I looked at her with trepidation and she just started squeezing me in! And then, of course, I got stuck… halfway in the dress!
The assistant had lifted the dress over my arms and head and that is where it stayed! My arms were pinned to the side of my head by the dress, sticking straight up! As the dress precariously perched over my upper body, below it on full view were greying, fraying undies and bear legs (I’m surprised she didn't send me out to parade around the shop like that!).
Eventually I wiggled out of it and the she then suggested trying to step in to the dress and pull it up!
I lost it a little then and said I would not try any more in that size! We looked at each other, a little bit of a lone ranger stare down moment, and she scatted off again and left me to lick my wounds. Returning with a collection of plus size dress in the opposite style to what we had established I liked and suited me!!
I was done and I wanted out of there ASAP!
So needless to say, that day of shopping was not a fun one! I was quite and withdrawn the rest of the afternoon. When I got home I crawled in to my fiancées lap and had a cry and indulged myself pity a while.
Over the next few days I was able to support myself into appreciating that it wasn't my fault; and there is nothing wrong with my body. The dresses in that shop didn't work for me and I didn't communicate well with the assistant as I was overwhelmed and much less of myself than usual.
I was even able to appreciate that it wasn't all the assistants fault and she may of gone home complaining that I had being an annoying, withdrawn, sulky client!!
It took a few weeks, lots of self-talk and a few stiff drinks to talk myself in to trying again! I gathered the troops, and we headed off.
I actually found a lady on eBay who sold new dresses very cheap and had lots in my size, we headed off to her home to try them and it was a much better experience! Most of them didn't suit me and my girls saw me stuck precariously with ratty underwear and skin in all directions but I was able to laugh about it as I was surrounded by loved ones and was relaxed.
And then, I took them to the original shop and the first dress I had tried. When I came out of the change room, if I say so myself, I was beaming! The girls were quite for a moment- before erupting in smiles and tears! This is the one, I felt good in it, I felt confident, and I was actually smiling!!
As the wedding drew closer I became less and less worried about the dress or anything else to do with my appearance. I was excited, and nervous; but mostly excited about what the wedding day was all about; A time to celebrate with family and friends the commitment of myself to another.
This relaxed attitude helped through all the little dramas that enviably come up in organizing such an event! By the time the big day came around I didn’t care if I was married wearing my jeans, or a dress, or if the flowers were perfect. I just wanted it to happen!
This is of course my experience and I'm sure other have had lots of different experiences. Thinking about the above I have come up with a few ideas to help navigate the potential minefield that is wedding dress shopping!
Don't focus on the numbers
The thing about wedding dresses in Australia is that most of the ones we can buy off the rack come in European sizing, and European sizing is different to what we are use too. Firstly if u are usually a 12 in Australia you will be a 14.
Secondly, wedding dresses are generally a small fit, so most people need to go up a size as well. So as a size 12 usually you may need to order a size 16 for it to fit properly in all the necessary places and then of course there is fittings and adjustments so it is just right for your body!
Ask for help from people you trust
If you normally feel more comfortable or have more success shopping on your own, then consider going on your own initially. If you have a friend or family member that can be a little passive aggressive in their feedback or make you feel uncomfortable in your body or expressing your own style with these people then DONT take them!
Maybe if you feel you should take them shopping with you; go on your own first and when you are close to making a decision or sure of the styles you like, then organize a trip with them.
It can be hard enough with strange sizes, unusually shaped dresses, tulle and corsets, small change rooms, unflattering lighting and strangers seeing you in your underwear, let alone to be worrying about looking after other people or avoiding emotional grenades in their feedback!
Plan ahead and do your research
Know your budget before you start looking and stick to it. Going to different boutiques can be great to try on the different styles and see what suits you but buying new can be very expensive; as can brand names.
Try to focus in what is important, how you feel in the dress. You want to feel comfortable and feel good about how you look in the dress- a brand name can't promise you that!!
Once you find a style you like, or even a particular dress (get the brand and style numbers) have a look online to see if you can get it second hand on eBay, Gumtree or there are specialty websites and stores that sell just second hand wedding dresses.
Look at getting it made - then is can be fitted to your body (and none of those pesky numbers worrying about sizes). There are many tailors in Asia who you can order your dress from through eBay and have fitted by a tailor close to home. I know there are horror stories about this out there but the people I know have only ever had good experiences!
Also while you are on the web have a look at wedding blogs for idea and even goggle 'how to find a wedding dress for my body ‘.
Don't trust everything that you read
There are lots of different articles on the web and in magazines about what dress suits what body type, BUT, these are just a guide- yes they can be a helpful guide but you have to remember that we are all different, we don't all fit perfectly into a body type!
If there is a style you like and the magazines tells you it won't suit you - don't give up! Go and try it! At least they u will know for yourself weather you feel good in it or not!
Your wedding day is probably not the day to try a radical new hair cut or dress in a completely different style then you would be useful. (if you really want to try an extreme theme or look maybe use it for the hens night, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner or a birthday!).
Keep it in perspective
Remember that it is just one day! Yes a very important day, but, try to focus on the marriage rather than the wedding!
The people that are there to celebrate with you are excited about you and your fiancé committing to each other; they are your loved ones; they are not going to judge you on how you look!!
If you are worried they will judge you then maybe you need to do some soul searching about if this is you projecting some of your anxiety on to others- remember as much as we sometimes think we can we can't read minds!!
Speak your mind
Communicate. Tell your helpers and the assistant what you like and what you don’t. Tell them when you feel uncomfortable and be honest with them!! It is about you after all!!
So how did my day go?
The day was amazing; I felt fantastic in the dress and I was able to focus on the more important order of business. We had a wonderful day.
We had discussed in the weeks leading up to the wedding our expectations of the day and were realistic that things would probably go wrong. Nothing is perfect! We focused on the meaning of the day rather than the event. This meant we were both relaxed and able to enjoy ourselves.
The dress was perfect and when I got too hot at the reception I changed in to a much more comfortable dress I had made in a style I often wear and flat shoes! I was able to relax and join in the celebration!
I was myself! I was dressed in my own style; and I enabled me to enjoy the amazing day that it was. I hope that this helps people when they start their own adventure of wedding dress shopping!!
1 There is no quick fix
Permanent weight changes require permanent behaviour and life style change. So allow yourself plenty of time.
2 If it sounds too good to be true - it probably is!
We are constantly bombarded with tempting advertising promising a miracle product to assist with weight loss. If these worked there wouldn't be so many of them! There would be one - and one very successful company behind it!
3 We can't change genetics- be realistic when setting goals
Just like we are born to be a natural height and have a certain hair colour we have a predetermined natural weight and shape which is healthiest for our body. We can work to be as fit and healthy as possible within these limits.
4 Every body is different, what works for one person won't necessarily work for others
Because we all have different genetics and the environment around us influences us all in different ways we can not expect that an exercise or eating plan will have the same impact for us as it does for others.
5 Think about why you're eating - Non hungry eating
We are often so busy trying to decide what is the best choice to eat, that we forget to check if we are actually hungry and need to eat! We eat for a number of different reasons such as boredom, the food is there , the food looks nice, emotions, social pressure, the time on the clock, or to prevent getting hungry latter. Hunger should be the reason the majority of the time we decide to eat but often we create habits based on non- hungry triggers.
6 Think about what you are drinking
There is no particular food or nutrient that causes weight gain or weight loss rather it is about the total amount of energy over a period of time. Some drinks are very energy dense which we can sometimes forget! For example alcohol is very energy dense, not to mention what we mix it with or what we eat on the way home at the end of the night!
7 How are you eating - speed of eating
When we are distracted or busy we often eat with out paying attention to what we are eating, also we tend to eat more quickly. When we do this we don't have time to enjoy and register the foods and don't allow time to notice sensations of satiety, which can take 15-20mins to travel from the stomach up to the brain. If we eat quickly we feel unsatisfied and go back for seconds or thirds and then end up feeling overly full and bloated.
When people take time to eat slowly, notice and enjoy the taste and flavours of the foods they are eating, they are often surprised at how little they require to feel satisfied and no longer hungry.
8 Think about your portions
As we are bombarded with messages about the health risks of being above our healthiest weights we are also bombarded with quick and easy ways to supersize our foods. Convenience and take away foods are often more economical to purchase in larger sizes. We end up eating more of it because it is there or we don't want to waste the food. An easy way of keeping your meals in check is to aim to have half your plate covered with vegetables and salad, a quarter with meat and a quarter with grains and grain products.
9 Activity is important
Having an awareness of the types of foods you eat, how much of them you eat and why you eat them is one thing but it is also important that this is accompanied by some activity each day.
10. Think about long term lifestyle changes rather then short term crash dieting.
As hard as it is to believe when the media is constantly telling us something different , 'diets' don't lead to sustainable changes in weight, they are often expensive and nutritionally unbalanced; increasing long term health risks.
Also, putting yourself on a diet can lead to the diet mentality - thinking of foods as 'good and bad' or feeling deprived - which often leads to over consumption of sometimes food which you are trying to limit!
Living with Depression
See below an article contributed by a friend of mine for the website- thanks so much and I do hope it support others in their understanding.
Living With Depression
Look at what a wonderful life you have: a caring, loyal & committed boyfriend, a supportive, loving & understanding family,
a beautiful house and so much to be grateful for.
So why can't you be happy??
Depression is very hard to understand, especially for those who love you the most.
No-one can understand; it has nothing to do with circumstances yet everything to do with the individual suffering from the disease. It is exacerbated by the fact that no-one can possibly understand.
For those living with someone who is clinically depressed, it is particularly difficult, as the desperation to try to help the person can often result in a crevice expanding between the sufferer and the carer.
The worst part is, there is nothing that can be done. No amount of love, cuddles or reassurance is going to change the state of mental depression. All it does is put pressure and expectation on the depressed person to change, and to be happy, to make the worried people not worry.
This makes the process all about everyone else, not about the sufferer, and can lead to increased feelings of guilt; that you have let everyone down that cares about you. The only way to 'fix’ it is to therefore ‘be happy’.
Easier said than done.
If you love someone who suffers from depression, the best thing you can do is acknowledge that they are down and let them know that you are there for them, whenever they need anything. Whether that be as an outlet for raw emotion, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to laugh with, it is important you let them know you are trying to understand what they are going through. Give them permission and space to feel how they need to feel. They won’t feel like you don't love them, they'll feel relieved.
Letter to Self
A letter from a nearly 30- hopefully wiser self, to a younger and more impressionable self . . .
You are an amazing person
You are generous, always have being and always will be
You can generally achieve what you put your mind to
And you will realise you don't need to prove yourself by achieving everything
People appreciate everything that you do for them; they just aren't always good at telling you
You are loved, and you will always be loved
There is nothing wrong with you, you are not the odd one out, and other people feel the same way
Learn from mistakes instead of trying to avoid making them
I know school and its issues seems really important when your there, but really it's not, the issues you worry about now will pass
You actually have a normal healthy body, not too big, not too small - just right
People can be very cruel, you need to learn that it is often more about them then about you
No, everyone isn't looking at you, everyone isn't taking about you
It's not ok to keep going back to people and relationships that hurt you. Don't stay friends with people who make you feel bad about yourself, put you down, think they are superior or use you
You treat your friends with loyalty and respect and you deserve it back
It is ok to talk about how you are feeling and what you are thinking; no one will abandon you
Your parents are not perfect, never were and never will be. They too have made mistakes which you need to forgive them for
You will realise there is much more to life then work
You can't save everyone or make everyone happy
You are not always right; then again you are not always wrong
The majority of bad things you imagine won't happen
Pain eventually goes away be it physical or emotional
Eating, not eating, over eating, exercise and vomiting do not fix anything, ever
Appreciate your body as it is, it's only downhill as you get older!
Some friendships and relationships are not forever, and that's ok
It's ok to put yourself first, if you don't, no one else will
Trust your instinct; you have good intuition - listen to it
People don't change just because you want them to
Stop hesitating and take the opportunities that are presented to you
Don't sell yourself short
Hard work does pay off
Don't dismiss everything just because it's not logical to you or doesn't have scientific research; some things just are
You don't have to buy every book you think you should read, you often don't get to reading them
You will never be able to sing, but don't give up trying its fun
It is ok to have an opinion and stick by it
It's ok if others don't agree with you
Your body is pretty amazing it will survive everything you throw at it without too many complaints
It is ok if someone doesn't like you
Eat before you go out drinking and partying; take Panadol when you get home before you go to sleep!
Do challenges that scare you, you never know what you're capable of until you try
Most people are not thinking about how you look, they are too busy worrying about themselves
What you see in the mirror and what others see is often different
Accept compliments graciously, it's rude to repute them
Don't go to bed after a fight without saying goodnight, even if you're going to keep up the silent treatment in the morning!
You don't need the top mark, you just need to pass
You don't need to avoid difficult or negative feeling, if you sit with them they will pass- they can't hurt you
Thoughts are thoughts not truths
Not everyone has your best interests at heart
Bad moods are normal, they too pass. There doesn't always have to be a reason
Silence doesn't always need to be filled
Be kind to yourself
A bath helps with most things; too much wine doesn't
Pets always love you unconditionally
People will disappoint you, sometimes it's important to forgive them and let it go, but sometimes its not
Don't watch scary movies on your own
Don't forget you put something in the oven
Procrastination doesn't help, it still needs doing. Neither does denial or avoidance!
Make an effort to be better at saving money
It doesn't always need to be clean or in the right spot
Cleanse and moisturise more often
Ask for help when you need it
It's ok to be angry; it's ok to be sad; it's ok to grieve
It's ok to enjoy your own company; and to need it form time to time
It's ok to just sit and be
You are often happiest when with groups of friends and family
Don't over commit yourself, but know people will understand when you have to cancel things
It's ok to say no
Sleep will help most things; time helps many things too
Honesty; keep it up it
Write your names in books so they come back you
You don't need to keep everything! You will always have your memories - you don't need every cinema stub or card written!
Don't hold grudges they only hurt you
Don't buy the smaller size, you will not lose weight to fit into it and you will be uncomfortable
Love you, you are perfect as you are; everybody else can see it - you just have to learn to too.
The Beauty Myth 20 years on - have we progressed?
^Beyond BMI: Why doctors won't stop using an outdated measure for obesity., by Jeremy Singer-Vine, Slate.com, July 20, 2009
^"Do You Believe in Fairies, Unicorns, or the BMI?". Mathematical Association of America. 2009-05-01. http://www.maa.org/devlin/devlin_05_09.html. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
^"Is obesity such a big, fat threat?". Cox News Service. 2004-08-30. http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/featr/content/shared/health/stories/BMI_INDEX_0830_COX.html. Retrieved 2007-07-08.