Category

Health

Resilience

Resilience – the ability to recover from setbacks, to adapt.

Hannah’s bikini quest got me thinking – how come so many of us are uncomfortable with our bodies? Studies suggest that as many as 90% of females’ are unhappy with their body image and resort to dieting to “improve” the way they look. Now before I go on let me just assure you that Hannah’s body quest has NOTHING to do with lack of self-esteem or feelings of loss of control (you can back me up here Hannah!!) but more about learning how much she can get out of her body – in the healthiest way (follow her regimen and health tips to understand this better), and I greatly admire what she’s achieved.

But back to the dieting thing…I have been “conscious” of my own body almost my entire life, highly critical of myself. I often wondered what triggered this constant concern of mine, what prompted this need to be “thin”. I don’t think I can blame media, social or otherwise because when I grew up it was much less prevalent, and there was certainly no talk in my home or suggestion from others outside it, that I needed to lose weight.

Over my life there have been key times when my body image has become more of an issue for me. A chat about this with a friend helped me realise that it has often been associated with major changes in life. I remember leaving school, leaving home, starting nursing, changing countries – they were all triggers for an what could be deemed an unnatural obsession with the way I looked or rather how much I weighed.

That said I’ve come to realise that it was most likely never really about my weight but more about my ability to control that element of my life – in times of flux or uncertainty I used food and the weigh scales to give me a sense of control.

On revisiting my own story, it has become increasingly important to me as a mother to ensure my own daughters don’t fall victim to the same obsession or rather the same detrimental coping mechanism as me. I find myself consciously and keenly promoting a healthy body image, a balance between good diet and exercise. I talk to them about fuelling their bodies to be at its best – it’s about strong not thin, healthy rather than unhealthy. In all of this of course is the need to promote resilience in children – my food issues were about control – so I am keen to teach my daughters a healthier way to deal with flux and change in their own lives .

I’ve done a bit a reading around this subject to help me help them and I thought that maybe these might be useful to share here!

So here you go:

  • Nurture their sense of self-worth – give feedback about their best qualities and what you love about them & high-five them when they do well. But don’t over do the praise if in fact they fall short of the mark. This new age notion that everyone’s a winner is not real world!!!
  • Give them responsibility – whether that is in the form of chores, taking care of pets, looking out for siblings. Set the task with context and meaning so they get to understand their part in getting it done, and can feel proud of themselves when task achieved.
  • Ensure they understand consequences and make sure to avoid failing to follow through with said consequences – they learn very quickly if you fail! This I would agree is often the hardest thing to do – I have often found myself following the path of least resistance and caving in – anything for a quiet life. But just know that this tact serves no-one  in the long-run.
  • Let them fail!! It’s so easy to take over and put things “right” but ultimately this is the greatest disservice to them. Again difficult to put into practice –as mothers we often step in too soon. An example of this in my house is when my 12 y.o takes on cooking/baking quests! When all is chaotic and awry I am compelled to take over – even when she’s pushing me out of the way and states “mum I’ve got it!” I must take my own advice and learn to walk away – let her get on with it, no-one ever died over a kitchen of dirty dishes or a cake under/over done!
  • Let them express and implement their own ideas – so long as they are safe. This allows them to explore ways of doing, and shows them what does and doesn’t work and allows them to learn what NOT to do next time around.

I think it’s important that we let our kids know this world is not perfect, that life is full of challenges and disappointments. We must teach them it’s not so much the failure but how they deal with it, is important. It’s ok to have the tears of frustration when they fail (even as adults a hissy fit can be good for the soul!) but we must teach them to move on, to help them figure out the lessons and identify what they would do differently next time.

It’s been suggested that it takes 10,000 hours of consistent persistence to become expert at anything worthwhile – a fleeting attempt at anything new is sure to result in a less than perfect outcome! I’ve shared this with my cherubs many times when they say “I can’t”.

I love to share motivational quotes to help get the message across, this one is a winner emphasising that failure is just part of the game of life!

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life… And that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan

ICN Bikini Competition Results

What an incredible day! I Couldn’t believed that I placed in each of my three divisions 😀

I had such a great experience and had so much support there with me at the show, thank you to Marie, Rachel, Michelle and Damiano who were my cheer squad in the crowd.

I’ve even surprised myself with what I managed to achieve in just 8 weeks, once I put my mind to it. I guarantee you the personal sense of achievement is much more rewarding than the recognition of trophies or winning.

For anyone interested in my bikini competition challenge, or have any questions please don’t hesitate to comment or email me at hannah@lifeofchoice.net

 

PS. Yes, the tan did take a long time to take off… it was probably the most difficult part of the whole experience!

 

 

 

The Power Of Food!

Food – essential fuel for the body (see Hannah’s recommended program if you’ve had too much and need to take control. She can help you understand macros, micros and everything in between. She will get you feeling lean, clean, healthy and fit!) But whist yes, food is our physical energy source I love how it can almost be a spiritual energy source – it’s such a great way to bring people together, it gets us talking, sharing time.

Unfortunately studies indicate that this modern age we live in has us eating alone and often on the run as we try to keep up with the demands of life. We know the downside of the irregular eating that can be part of our day – poor food choices, eating too fast (contributing to weight gain), alienation and isolation as we eat in the office/car/alone at home as the family goes solo with the pressures of extracurricular activities for kids and long hours for mum/dad.

But making time to eat together has many benefits – very social, a time to catch up, de-brief, chat over the day/week, share details about life’s events, etc. …but interestingly there is also some suggestion that literally sharing  food with others does more for us. The act of communal sharing of food where everyone brings something along and shares with others  is thought to boost altruistic behaviours. Seemingly we are more likely to ensure others go first or be mindful of making sure we don’t take too much it. We are more likely to embrace trying out new dishes/flavours/food experiences. This creates curiosity and connects us on different levels and gives us the opportunity to explore beyond our boundaries.

In Australia we call this concept  “bring a plate”  (when I first moved here I literally thought this statement meant bring a plate – on which to eat – I had the idea that maybe people didn’t own enough crockery.) But now of course I understand this means bring a plate of food that can be shared.

Just the other night I was invited to one such event. I experienced a fabulous feast courtesy of a new friend of mine. What came with the invitation was an opportunity to connect with new people from a predominately Indian heritage, and the absolute pleasure of experiencing a tantalising colour and taste sensation that was prepared by experienced hands. I tasted traditional homemade Indian fare, with a much talked about Biriyani sensation taking centre stage.  Sharing space and food got us all interacting, finding out about each other, and that connection gave way to a willingness to experience more Indian culture – think “Bollywood” style dancing, laughter and pure friendly fun.  Overall a fabulous impromptu evening that brought an eclectic group of people together to enjoy the simple pleasures of life – food, music, laughter and good company! All contributed to a lifting of the spirits, an endorphin boost and a sense that “we should do this more often”.  In this day and age where life is so busy this sort of community gathering is great for recharging the social battery and just feeling good in the moment.

So my advice next time you are invited to a picnic or other “bring a plate” event – go – have fun. Enjoy the sense of well-being that you are sure to experience – oh and don’t forget my invitation too!

For more on the benefits of food sharing Click here

The Challenge

About 2 months ago I decided I wanted to enter a bikini competition… not because I’m crazy, vain or self-obsessed, but because I have always had a genuine interest in health and am keen to know what my is body capable of.

I want to be clear this is not about dieting in the usual sense of the word (near starvation in my experience!) but about me better understanding how to have a healthy relationship with food and use it enhance my body’s performance and structure.

I’ve tried a range of the must try diet/food plans – you may have tried a number yourself! Remember the skinny tea, low fat, low carb, detox, raw, clean.. next best thing? My experience with many of these left me hungry, tired, sometimes bloated and most of all grumpy! And of course along with these fads and phases came the risk of dehydration, poor nutrition, fake weight loss (water loss), potential muscle wastage and little impact on fat loss, in fact the risk of fat gain… more on that another time!

So given that I am not a dietician, nutritionist or health expert, in accepting the bikini body challenge I put my ego aside and decided to enlist the help of someone that has more knowledge and experience in the field…enter my now personal coach, my mentor, accountability partner, my whip cracker!!

Already she has helped me to understand my body’s needs and what it really takes to go the distance. And yes a lot of it is about what you choose to put into your body, and the amount you are willing to exercise/work-out, but so much of it is about mastering your mind – discipline – on a whole new level!!

It’s one thing to have a food plan and a workout schedule, but what I have come to know already is that any success is completely dependent on my ability to master my mind in the weak moments…the moments of wanting to eat the “wrong” thing at the wrong time, the moments when I want to roll over – turn off the alarm and ignore the calling of the gym, or ignore the scream of my muscles as I push through the next bench press.

The mind is oh so powerful…. much analysis has been done on this, and I have learnt that to state your goal is one thing but the power is in writing it down, putting it somewhere that is easily review-able and saying it out loud. They say that you should read it aloud to yourself 10 times a day – connect with it and feel it.

In doing this I can honestly say I feel stronger in my commitment to me – to my goal – the end result!

But of course that in itself is not enough – next comes the action plan.

So what I’d like to do is share my progress – I invite you to follow me, feel free to ask questions, share thoughts and comments. Along the journey I have found many insights, wins and failures, and I’d love to share some of the expert tips that my trainer is sharing with me.

I believe we can help each other get what we want – you may not take up a bikini challenge, but if in sharing my journey and my own quest I can help to motivate you to set your own goals – help you feel better in yourself, more energized and vibrant, help you beat the 3pm slump, look better – more body tone, better muscle definition, drop a dress size – then job well done to us all!

Watch this space for the end result!

Next up: What are macros and how do you know what you need?