I thought I'd write a little bit tonight about something that has really been rubbing me up the wrong way recently - this is all the more relevant with the beginning of the new year; dieting.
I hold my hands up as being someone that has probably tried every quick fix I can think of to lose weight; appetite suppressants, meal replacement shakes, boot camp - I even attempted a 3-day juice cleanse once but somehow ended up in McDonalds 4 hours after starting...whoops.
I've tried Slimming World, I've tried detox tea and I've tried throwing up (not too proud of that last one). I've tried it all, but I've never come away with a healthy relationship with food or feeling healthier.
I would say Slimming World was my main success; I put on so. much. weight after my first year at uni - so much my mum cried. I spent the entire summer in the gym and going to SW meetings, and I lost 3 stone in 3 months. I was the literal star child of the SW group, every week I was given certificates and stickers but it became a weird obsession; I became this intensely competitive slimming world authoritarian. Although SW markets itself to change your lifestyle, it's easy to reinforce a negative relationship with food - I wouldn't eat the days of the weigh-in, just to make sure I didn't lose all my progress over something as silly as lunch. I would weigh myself about 6 times a day, just to make sure I wasn't self-sabotaging if (god forbid) I went over my syn allowance that day. Although I lost weight, I still did not have a healthy relationship with food.
It seems, at the moment at least, social media is bombarding us with adverts for 'flat tummy tea', appetite suppressing lollipops and various promises of losing weight fast. Not only do these campaigns capitalise on people's insecurities, but they're also a load of bullshit. It's okay to eat; it's necessaryto eat, so why are celebrities promoting these companies that villainise having an appetite?
I also think it's important to remember that there is no way in hell the influencers even use these products that they are happily selling to the millions; they're simply being paid to promote them whilst they carry on their lives with personal trainers, dieticians and various other luxuries that us normal folk simply can't copy. Even worse, these weight loss brands are using plus-size influencer's photos, without permission, to use as a 'before' picture - they're selling laxatives, that aren't even effective enough to warrant real 'transformations'.
Although I am trying to eat healthier and follow Slimming World recipes, I no longer feel like my life revolves around my weight. I put all the weight I lost back on (lol), but I don't feel the need to weigh myself 6 times a day or feel sad if I have a little comfort eat here and there. Our eating habits should not be weaponised, but unfortunately, that is a side effect of diet culture and the companies that sell it being so present in society today.
It makes me so sad that companies are profiting off of promoting disordered eating, so thank god for people like Jameela Jamil calling out the influencers supporting these brands. I think if you are looking to lose weight, for whatever reason that might be, there are so many other healthy pathways to pursue - and I think the first step is ridding your life of the word 'diet'.
Recently I've been trying intuitive eating (click for link); basically eating when your body tells you it wants to eat, and stopping when you're full (none of this appetite suppressant crap, mama's got a big ol' appetite) - there are some really positive books surrounding it; you're not depriving yourself, and you're listening to your body and what it needs. It also encourages you to 'make peace with your food'; allowing yourself to enjoy what you're eating, and getting rid of the guilt that can sometimes be associated with food.
If you're not trying to lose weight, please don't feel pressured from all of this 'New Year, New Me' propaganda and flat tummy praise on social media; it seems that brands are constantly trying to trigger insecurities by trying to grab our interest in waist trainers, teatoxes and various other 'quick-fixes'; but it's important to not play into the false advertising.
Thank you for reading!
When I was younger, I went to an all-girls school and I was one of the tallest there (I'm 5'11) - I remember once being in Year 7 and getting moved to the Sixth Form section of the whole school photo; because I was just too tall to be with the other girls my age. I've always been the tallest of my friendship group, as well as the biggest - I think because of this, I always assumed that it meant I needed an even bigger boyfriend so I could feel like I was in a stereotypical rom-com relationship.
For me, there is a huge lack of representation of relationships in the media - there is by no means enough representation of the LGBTQ+ community, of mixed-race relationships or of people of colour in general. I saw a tweet a few weeks back about how every low-budget Christmas film has the exact same movie poster (please see below)and it's such a good example of how the media feed us a cookie-cutter template of what relationships should look like, and it very rarely shows a female being larger than her male partner.
I met my boyfriend Alex whilst I was doing an internship, he's my best pal and I'm absolutely smitten - he's probably a good 3 inches shorter than me, and wears a size small whereas I veer more on the XXL side.
In my head, I never considered dating someone smaller than me - I didn't have many dating prospects, but I had still completely ruled out an entire group of people because it just isn't what we're told is standard for a heterosexual relationship. I constantly see tweets making fun of short men and tall women, saying that the girls aren't feminine and it used to make me feel mortified of my body; I would feel like I was some sort of girl-zilla that needs to find a 6'6 Viking to feel small and pretty and how you're 'meant' to feel when you're with a man.
At the start of our relationship, I felt so self-conscious about my height; I felt like I needed to give people a warning that I was taller, so they wouldn't make fun of me for being so much bigger than my boyfriend. I was worried Alex's friends would make jokes about him being with a female reincarnation of King Kong or that we couldn't have cute couple pics because I would look manly. Being completely honest; no one cares. I feel silly for feeling self-conscious about other people would think, because they don't care and frankly why should I?
I was definitely concerned about being with someone smaller than me (sorry if you're reading this mum), I thought I was this huge lump that would crush anyone who took a risk on me. In the beginning, I felt self-conscious constantly; I didn't want Alex seeing my cellulite or my stretch marks, I didn't want him touching my tummy or seeing my rolls - I didn't understand how he could possibly fancy me, because how could anyone find someone with my body attractive? I started to push Alex away because I just hated my own body so much, and even did stupid things to try and look better for him.
Alex never cared about or saw the things I was concerned about, and he tried so hard to make me feel good but in the words of RuPaul, if you can't love yourself how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?! (Amen)
It's so easy to pick out bits we don't like about ourselves, but it's important to remember that others don't see your body the same way. Here's the thing: my size was never a secret - you can't exactly hide being big, Alex knew my body type and he still wanted to be with me. Looking at it from that perspective, it's so silly that I constantly chastised myself when there was really no need - I was projecting all my insecurities onto the relationship, which just made me feel more self-conscious than ever.
Although my body type hasn't changed, I'm trying to change my relationship with it. I have wobbly bits, but wobbly doesn't necessarily mean bad- it's also okay that my boyfriend doesn't have the same wobbly bits. I still get a bit iffy about him touching my tummy, and sometimes have days where I get angry that I don't feel as feminine as I imagine slim, petite girls do but we're so much more thanjust a body; it feels ridiculous to place worth on something so insignificant when there are tonnes more meaningful aspects of my relationship.
If I could give any advice to those in a similar situation, it would be to forget what the media paints as a cute relationship - it's okay to be bigger than your partner! People don't feel the same way you do about your body, so don't let it affect your relationships with the people you love. Tall girls can be feminine, big girls can be feminine, anyone can be feminine - partners have no impact on that. Your partner would not be with you if they didn't want you; they don't see chub or cellulite like you do, they see something they find attractive. Above everything else, your relationship is no one else's business- as long you are happy and healthy, who cares if you're a bit bigger?
Thank you for reading!
As I mentioned in my last post, the past year has seen my anxiety reach an all-time high. I've always struggled with a little bit of anxiety before lectures during my first and second year, but returning to uni after completing an internship seemed to be a larger challenge than I expected.
Coming back for my final year of studies, I found myself struggling to breathe when thinking about attending lectures - I'd sit in my room trying to get myself together and ready to roll, but the overwhelming feeling of dread would always take over leading to me missing lecture after lecture. Not only has my attendance suffered, but I was also sleeping for only 3 hours a night, binge eating and not leaving the house - the thought of socialising made me feel sick. Anxiety took complete control, and I did not feel like myself one bit.
For me, it's difficult to explain how it feels when my anxiety kicks in - this was even more frustrating when I sought help with the uni wellbeing advisor, the university mental health team and my GP; I was met with constant "oh you study psychology so you understand all this!". In my experience, my anxiety feels like an ugly little gremlin that's on my shoulder - I feel him constantly there, even if I don't feel anxious I feel there is something looming that I should be anxious about. However, I am finally making headway and plan to continue throughout 2019, with medication and CBT.
So as January exams approach, I think now would be a good time (for both myself and anyone who reads this) to go over the coping methods that have really come in handy during my low points - just a few tips to give a helping hand when you feel overwhelmed.
If you are really struggling with anxiety, Anxiety UK is a great charity with loads of helpful resources - the tips below can be an added extra and definitely make me feel calmer, but I would 100% recommend having a look at the website x
1. Painting, colouring, anything creative
I was in a really low spot when one of my housemates came to me with her arts and crafts box, and we just sat and painted. When you're painting, even if it's just painting a blank page one colour, you're focusing on something that isn't stressful or weighing you down. For me, painting trees really helps me slow down my breathing and get myself together - it's also a really get-handsy activity. I always find it easier talking to my family or friends about my anxiety whilst painting or colouring - the conversation feels less intense and your feelings don't feel so all-encompassing.
2. Speak to your university!
I know this is scary; my friends had to push me but your university can put concessions in place to make your experience just that bit easier. At first, it was frustrating; I felt that no one was listening properly and I was being palmed off left, right and centre with 'try taking 4 deep breaths before a lecture'. FINALLY, I was taken seriously and the uni jumped into action.
Rather than taking my exams in a room of 800 people(no exaggeration, Loughborough is huge), I will now be in a room of maximum 40 people. Although I won't be pursuing CBT through the university, it's an option that is there! Universities can put plans into place where your attendance is not monitored, you study from home, etc. Knowing that things can be altered if you're struggling is reassuring, and I would recommend getting in touch ASAP if you are having an anxious downturn - you can also be eligible for special consideration/mitigating circumstances in exams and coursework if you are struggling with mental health (you'll need a doctors note).
3. Bedtime routines
I used to be that one kid that would ask their parents if they could go to bed earlier, rather than asking to stay up late - sleeping heavily was the easiest thing ever. Since being back at uni, I've found my sleep schedule is shot to pieces. It takes hours to fall asleep, I wake up constantly and never feel fully rested anymore. Over the Christmas break, I've managed to somewhat try to save my sleeping pattern.
No more phone before bed! I think it adds to my overthinking. Constantly checking social media, googling various ailments I'm suffering from at the time, looking at my bank account, the list goes on. I now put my phone away about 45/30 mins before I want to sleep, and crack out the old Kindle and grab a hot drink. Reading really does help relax you - it doesn't have to be anything intense (I'm quite fond of the free romance novels, even if a lot of them seem to be cowboy themed), but it gives your brain some time to settle down before attempting to sleep, rather than coming straight from stalking the Jenners on Instagram.
I know you're probably thinking, reading is not a revolutionary tip for helping you sleep BUT when I settle down for a little bit of literary flirting, I like to turn on my aromatherapy diffuser.
I love the idea of aromatherapy. I've got loads of little rollerball bottles for my wrists when I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed, and they really do work! My diffuser was about £17 (I can't find the exact link but there are loads from Amazon)and I just put in a bit of water, a few drops of any scented oil and leave it to bubble away whilst I'm reading - the lavender oil especially knocks me out and is great if you are struggling to sleep. Side note - this diffuser is also really good if you've got a cold, pop some tea tree oil in it and it's like a Vicks dream.The diffuser is fab because it's a cold vapour, so no risk of accidentally burning yourself during your zen time.
Thank you for reading. Leave a comment below if you have any other top tips for dealing with anxiety at university!
Hello there, welcome to my blog.
It's the first day of January 2019, and what better a day to try something new?
I suppose now is the right time to introduce myself; hi, I'm Flo. I'm a 21-year-old Psychology student in my final year of university. I love horror films, dogs and makeup (especially big fat off fake eyelashes). I'm looking for a grad job, I'm completing my dissertation and I'm revising for exams - all whilst trying to embark on a journey of 2019 self-love and care.
I'm hoping this blog can be my little piece of sanity; talking about my student experience, my anxiety, my health journey - I'd like to welcome you to join me along the way; hopefully, we can both gain something from this.
2018 has officially come to a close, and I have a really good feeling about 2019. The past year has been full of highs - I travelled around Australia for a month with my best friends, I completed an internship at a global company, I've been in a healthy and happy relationship, etc. - there was a lot to be thankful for.
However, in other aspects, 2018 was one of the toughest years I've had in a while. I put weight back on after a big loss in 2017, I struggled heavily with mental health, specifically anxiety, as well as going through illness after illness - Glandular Fever was a particularly low point.
Because of these aforementioned troughs, I'm starting 2019 fresh - new and healthy recipes, new gym routine, even new bedtime traditions - but let me stress, this is to become a healthier human; NOT for anyone else's benefit or ideals. I'm hoping to improve my relationship with my body and my mind, without neglecting my strict deadlines and job applications.
My 2019 mantras are as follows;
Thank you for reading!