Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Why do we find it hard to celebrate ourselves?

Do you think back and analyse things you’ve done, cringing a little? Would you find it hard to list 5 things you are proud of doing this year but could easily list a handful of things that you feel you did wrong? Do you ever think oh god I hate myself when you look back at things that you think you could have done differently or better? If you do, then you’re not alone as I’ve done all of these things and probably multiple times.

I’m rather introspective by nature and I’ve recognised that I frequently live in a spiral self loathing. I can see when this spiral deepens now and take steps to try and cut it off but I’m interested in why I think like that, in the first place. I think it is a state of mind more common to the female psyche but what triggers if? And what are the possible consequences of living with this negative mindset?

I think one of the general issues in society that could be having an impact is the fact that we live in a society where achievements are prized and honoured. This builds a competitive edge in our brains that may be subconscious but means that we are constantly setting ourselves incredibly high standards and considering ourselves failures if we can not reach those levels. Social media can also have a highly negative effect. You can look on Instagram at women who seem to have the perfect body, the perfect partner, the perfect job and basically just a completely perfect life. We don’t think about the fact that those posts show only a small part of their life, instead we feel failures that our life doesn’t measure up to theirs. So what do we do about that? Actually in my personal experience I used to just stuff my face with food like I was trying to eat my negative feelings about myself.

Celebrate our successes is not something that is built into our society so can easily be overlooked. The potential for negative  comparisons is everywhere though and easy to find.

I think some of the issues start in childhood and become so ingrained in our subconscious that they are difficult to shake. Certainly my own personal experience bears that out. I have the built in feeling of rejection from never knowing my real father. Plus a host of hang ups from my smothering and emotionally controlling, manipulative mother. There is certainly enough issues in that relationship to fill a lot of blog posts and a decade of therapy would probably start to help. Suffice to say that the feeling that I could never live up to her expectations left me with life long feelings of inadequacy.

This conditioning left me blaming myself for my extra husband walking away when I found out about his cheating. I felt I could never be good enough as a single parent and spent fortunes on the girls to compensate. Sadly this left me with horrendous debts that I am still repaying. People have praised me for being a good parent, my eldest says I am her role model but that inner voice still berates me and says I should do better.

Even now, I will continually feel bad. I will feel that I need to apologise to my girls that our little family is just us three though their dad does turn up for events when he can. I was criticised for not correcting my youngest, who has learning difficulties, when she jokingly told someone to shut up apparently in front of me. Instead of thinking how petty it was to complain about something so minor, I nearly cried and took it as a personal criticism of my parenting.

So, how do we break this mindset and start praising ourselves for all the good things we do in our lives? The quick answer is that I don’t know. I’m happy that I’ve realised that this is definitely an area that I need to work on though and I think that it may have a positive impact on my relationship with food too.

Look out for a follow up post to this when I will update you on what steps I’m taking to celebrate me

Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Know your breaking point and find your balance

If you follow my blog then you will know that finding a balance in life is something I find difficult and something that I continually have to work at. Working freelance and having a mountain of debt means that work often has to be the dominant factor and other things in my life suffer. Issues that throw me out of a routine also put a lot of pressure on me and sometimes I just don’t know how to cope with that. Emotional eating is still a huge issue for me and if I start to feel under enough strain then the temptation to try and bury myself in food can be overwhelming.

The last week put me under pressure. It was half term so my youngest was at home. I normally work while she is at school and then late in the evening once she is in bed. Last week I had to work most days because we needed the money and I had bills to pay that couldn’t be left. This made me feel rotten as I couldn’t take her anywhere. I was also working really late so lack of sleep was making me feel worse. I was cheating on my diet with sugary snacks to try and boost my energy which also made me feel rotten about myself. Finally my stupid fluctuating hormones made me want to sit on the floor and howl. Basically it wasn’t good.

I should have seen the signs and I should have prepared better as I knew half term would be difficult. Instead I let that little tight ball of anxiety in my stomach grow and grow until today, after a heated row with my dsughter’s school in which I nearly cried, I realised that I needed to stop this before I reached a breaking point that I couldn’t pull back from. That happened last year and I slid into months of overeating.

So tonight I’m going to bed at 12 instead of 2:30am, I will give myself regular breaks during the day tomorrow and I will treat myself to a bath instead of the shower sprint that I usually go through.

I know that this post doesn’t really have much to do with losing weight but for so many people, their mental state will have a huge impact on lifestyle changes that they might be trying to make. I realised today that I wasn’t in a good state and if I had read the signs then I might have realised even earlier. So try to be aware of yourself. Look at what issues could trigger mood swings or problems for you. If you start to feel that it is all getting a bit too much for you then do something immediately to try and lift your mood. It doesn’t have to be anything large or expensive. Just something that will make you feel happier. It’s important to recognise what could be your breaking point. It’s the only way to make sure that you don’t actually break.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Can the Menopause make it harder to lose weight?

I turned fifty last year so I knew then that I was at the age when menopause is literally just around the corner. I hadn't really had any symptoms up to then but within a month of my birthday, out of the blue, I literally felt like menopause had jumped up and slapped me in the face. I've always had a problem with fluctuating hormones and have found herbal supplements have helped but this time my hormones went haywire and I found it stated to get harder to lose weight. I also found that if I lapsed with my diet or had to cut down on my workouts that I put on more weight than I expected. I felt awful, was bloated and constantly exhausted with no energy. I started reading about how the menopause can have an effect on your weight and ways to help combat it. I found out quite a few interesting things.

The most important impact of the menopause is that any weight gained will go to a different part of your body. Hormone changes make your weight move from your hips and thighs to your belly. This can cause the so called middle aged spread. The weight gain can be made worse by fluctuations in the levels of oestrogen in your body. Either very low or very high levels can mean an increase in the amount of fat that your body stores.

You will also find that your metabolism slows although this is also a part of general ageing so that diets that have worked in the past are not now as successful. As we age, our bodies generally need less calories so portion control becomes more important. This is one reason why an exercise routine alone will not be enough to prevent weight gain during menopause.

Menopause can be a stressful and worrying time especially if you are experiencing distressing symptoms such as hot flushes. Unfortunately this can also have a detrimental effect on your weight. When our bodies are under stress, this causes the production of cortisol to increase. A high level of cortisol can cause you to develop more fat stores around your belly. Stress can also cause comfort eating which is always a huge problem for me.

So the answer is that yes, going through perimenopause and menopause can have an impact on your body both in terms of your weight and also how you store fat and the shape of your body. This was interesting to find out as it partly explains why, when I fell off my diet last year, I was able to put weight back on so easily and so quickly. The extra weight also definitely all went on my belly.

I've been trying a few different things to help myself adjust to this new stage in my life and I will write a post soon to share some of them with you and explain what has worked for me and what hasn't.

Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx


Friday, 16 February 2018

Blueberry Bites

I had a lot of blueberries left in my fridge yesterday and, as I felt in the mood to do some baking, I thought I would see what I could create with them.

My initial thought was to try and make some sort of Blueberry cookies but they sort of evolved into these instead. I've called them Blueberry Bites and they remind me of little mini scones in taste with a little bit more crunch. Here's the recipe.

800g Self Raising Flour
150g low fat margarine
200ml skimmed milk
1 egg
250g blueberries
150g caster sugar

  1. Beat the margarine into the flour 
  2. Add the egg, sugar and milk and mix well until combined 
  3.  In a separate bowl, mash the blueberries with a fork until they are broken up into pieces
  4. Fold the blueberries into the mixture until fully combined
  5. Take a small piece of the dough, roll it into a ball and then flatten with your fingers
  6. place on a greased baking sheet
  7. carry on until you have done this to all of the dough.
  8. bake near the top of the oven at 175 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until browned on top.
  9. Leave to cool slight before removing from the tray

 This recipe makes an amazing 75 blueberry bites. I know that this is a lot but they will keep for about 5 days in a airtight container. Each bite is 2 weightwatchers smartpoints.

If you feel that this is too many for you then you could freeze half the dough until you want to make another batch or you could make larger version of the blueberry bite and just double the number of smartpoints.

As I said, I had intended this to be biscuits but they turned out to be gorgeous little scone bites, perfect with some spread and a cup of tea.

I find that I need to have a little snack available that won't completely ruin my smartpoints total for the day so these are perfect for me. Let me know if you try making them.

Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx


Saturday, 27 January 2018

Treat Yourself

I said that I was going to make 2018 a year for self care and I’m trying to stick to that. It’s just been little things so far just to make myself feel good. My thinking behind this is that it will help me keep on more of an even keel then I might have more luck in keeping my anxiety and depression under control. I think that anyone who has any sort of mental health issues needs to find their own strategies for dealing with things. Things that work for one person may not work for somebody else. So far it seems to be helping me.

In the spirit of this, I took a day off last week and took a trip to London. Financially I should have been working and I did have freelance work available but it was my birthday so I thought I would do something just for me instead.

I went to London with no real plan in mind. I just wanted to walk around and just see where I ended up.

Here’s some of the places I visited.

I love Covent Garden and it was lovely to wander around when it wasn't busy.

I hadn't been to Fortnum and Mason for years. Their window displays are amazing. Each one is a teapot made of different things.

I even had time for a quick selfie in their loo.

For me no trip to central London is ever complete without a visit to Whole Foods. I always find something new or unusual to try. I just wish we had one that was closer to home.

Another favourite shop of mine is Petersham Nurseries near Covent Garden. If you ever get the chance to go there, do it. If I come into money then I will refurnish my house from their shop, it's incredible.

I finished my day in London with a quick walk along the Thames. It was actually a really peaceful and calming thing to do before getting on the train home.

So it wasn't a huge thing to do or an expensive one. I thought I would tell you about it though because that simple act of taking a few hours for myself made a big difference to me. Just wearing something nice with make up and jewellery and pleasing myself for once lifted my mood. I think we all forget how important it is to look after ourselves sometimes and this can mean emotionally as well as physically. This is definitely something I'm going to try and repeat every now and then as it really did do me good. Remember as Ferris Bueller said

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

My first week on Weightwatchers Flex

I have had such a good week and I can’t believe I’ve lost 6 pounds. I think that is probably the best start I have ever had to any diet.

My first impressions after a week on Flex are that I like it. It gives that little bit of added flexibility that I need. Things like eggs being zero points are incredibly useful!

I don’t feel that I have had to deprive myself particularly. Sometimes I have had to make decisions over choosing between two types of food but that’s been OK.

I’ve signed up for the online 3 month plan with weightwatchers. This is a big thing for me as it’s the best time I’ve officially joined since the very first time I tried it when I lost 1.5 stone going to meetings but ended up with bulimia! I just felt that this time I wanted the extra support. This means that I have use of all the facilities on the Weightwatchers app and that’s been really helpful.

I know the weight loss will slow down but I’m really buzzing to have had such a good start to my Weightwatchers journey in 2018.

Hope you are all having a great week! Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx

Sunday, 31 December 2017

2018 - No New Year’s Resolutions

Last year I made very specific resolutions for what I was going to achieve in 2017. I just read back though and I didn’t keep to a single one. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I don’t actually think I know anyone who makes them and actually manages to stick to them.

I have decided that, for me at least, making New Year’s resolutions is just putting another unnecessary pressure on myself. If I don’t make them then I can’t fail and break them and end up feeling really crap about myself.

So instead I am setting a theme for 2018. I want it to be my year of self care. I want to be kind to myself for the whole year. Yes, this does involve looking after my body and dealing with my weight as that impacts on my health. But it also involves recognising the fact that mentally I can be quite fragile and I need to protect myself in that respect. Perhaps it just means acknowledging the fact that it is OK to put myself first occasionally.

I hope you all have a wonderful start to 2018. Good luck if you are setting specific New Year’s resolutions and try not to be too hard on yourself if you slip up!

Speak to you next year!

Love Erica xxx
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