Archive | October, 2011

Bigger through the years?

31 Oct

Two years ago I was still a big girl, at the time I was protective of ‘bigger’ people, I got angry about discrimination, the fact we didn’t have access to more clothes that fitted and that people should try to understand us more. I wanted big girls to be accepted and celebrated, I honestly believed that  women came in all shapes and sizes even as big as I was and that it was ok?

So now I’m not big anymore I’m thinking about a couple of things. I see bigger people now and feel guilty that I don’t feel sympathetic. I feel I should understand more because I’ve been there. Of course I do, I know the effort (both physical and the head stuff) to make the change. I also know the realities of what being big really feels like.

But what I know now is how good not being big is. Of course I can’t make anyone change unless they want to, I didn’t for god knows how long after all!  What I don’t want to do is celebrate obesity which is really what I was saying in my old life?

Is it more acceptable to be concerned about friends who are too thin than it is about the ones who are too big?  God forbid anyone says anything like ‘haven’t you put on a bit’ yet we can say ‘you look like you need a square meal’ and get away with it?

What I have concluded though is that we do need to understand how women ‘should’ look.  In the main women are supposed to have curves, we should have breasts, hips, and a bit of padding however that doesn’t mean over weight or obese.  As you know from reading my posts I still have wobbly bits which are going nowhere and actually I love my curves!  I accept totally that women come in a lot of different shapes and sizes and that our genetics will dictate to a big degree what our bodies will look like so some will have sporty frames and a lack of curves.  However without over eating and lack of activity a lot of women’s bodies should still be curvy, the key thing is being healthy and fit.  There is a real difference between an overweight woman and a natural curvy shape?

Through history there are plenty of references to women having curves – this blog was an interesting read in setting the scene.

But what is interesting is that we are celebrating a natural womanly shape  – not obese and not skinny.

So let’s look at the other side of the debate –  the Size Zero woman, this isn’t realistic or natural, it’s being unhealthy to the other extreme of obesity and just as damaging.

However what I am finding as I read more on the subject is that with young women, the emphasis seems to be educating them on the risks of being underweight and not being overweight?  Is that wrong, are we wrapping them up in cotton wool and giving the message that being bigger isn’t their fault and that we should be celebrating their size?   More girls are overweight than skinny – it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense?

A recent TV programme asked teenage girls to look at two pictures, one of a ‘normal’ healthy woman and the other of a ‘celeb’ type woman, underweight, enhanced boobs etc.  The girls preferred the second body, a lot of them were totally unaware of what a normal female body should even look like, so they were already struggling with what they should look like, but even here they were concentrating on the risks of the skinny rather than the obese?  It’s confusing and from what I can see very unhelpful for girls, I for one would like to see a more balanced approach to education about body image.

Are girls who are bigger just telling themselves all is well because they’re not skinny?  Do they feel that their problems aren’t worthy of any help?  Are we celebrating being big, making it acceptable and avoiding the issues?  Is that why as a bigger girl I felt so angry and protective about how I felt I was being treated. But because I did feel this way perhaps this was one of the factors as to why I took so long to do anything about it?

Leggings – good or bad?

29 Oct

I am old, I know this because I have lived through two periods of time when leggings were ‘in’.  The first time I was a size 8. luckily second time around I’m small enough to wear them.  I enjoy wearing them but they have raised certain questions for me especially as we head into winter!

Lisbon, Portugal

Image via Wikipedia

Should ‘anyone’ wear them?

I have come up after a considerable amount of time people watching with ‘The Legging Rules’.

I’m all up for freedom of dressing, it’s a bit like freedom of speech (ish???) but after having seen all shapes, sizes and ages in them, I think we could all do with some commonsense guidelines about when and how to wear them, as with most things, they aren’t for everyone.

So to avoid this:

Shape – this applies to you and your leggings!

  • Leg Shape – ideally straight, toned legs are my preference, in fact if your legs are too skinny then legging are as bad a choice as if you’re more rounded.
  • Material – too thin and every lump and bump will be on display, not a good look.  Beware very high amounts of man-made fibres, they search out all your bad-bits and cling to them, stick with a cotton lycra mix.
  • Colour & Patterns – stick with dark colours, anything lighter draws attention to any bumps and they do make your legs look bigger, and beware the patterned leggings, your bottom should never, ever be on show, for those old enough to remember, just think Rod Stewart?
  • Bottoms – If you have a ‘curvy’ bottom and thighs, make sure they’re covered……..you’ll look great if you balance with a longer length top, to draw attention away from your legs and bum.
  • Length – if you’re a bit curvy, beware ankle length leggings with shoes or ankle boots, it just doesn’t look right as the difference between your ankle and thigh is too extreme and the eye is drawn to the thighs, you can wear them with knee boots though as it does balance out, especially with a longer length top.
  • NEVER wear high heels no matter what your shape, I know the celebs do but even they don’t look quite right!

Are leggings the enemy of the girl wanting to lose weight and keep it off?

A friend said to me that leggings were her enemy because they stretched with her, disguising any weight gain. So how can you avoid falling into this trap and enjoy wearing them.

  • Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of only ever wearing leggings, wear your jeans so you get a better indication of your size?
  • Replace your leggings, they’re not expensive so when you’ve had them a few months buy new ones, the lyrca will be stiffer and you’ll be reminded if you have put on weight?
  • If you’re losing weight just in the same way that you’re buying other smaller clothes, buy smaller leggings too and ditch the bigger ones!

I love my leggings, I wear them to the gym, with boots in winter and under some lovely dresses I have for summer but I know when I was bigger they weren’t the right fashion choice and even now I am very careful how I wear them.  Of course they will go out of fashion again at some point!  It all falls into my thinking about wearing the best clothes for your shape, I hope even when I was bigger that I made considered decisions on the best things to wear that made the most of my shape.

If you feel and look good in what you’re wearing then you’ll keep motivated into losing and keeping off weight!

Smoking

27 Oct

I have pretty strong views about smoking. I don’t get it, I really don’t. I hate it when people blow smoke over me in the street, you can always tell a smoker by how their clothes smell, and yes ladies if you’ve smoked for years, you will age faster and your skin will be shot.

I understand about addictive personalities and yes for a long time I was addicted to food but I still find it hard to get why people smoke and always have. I find it very strange now to see the people from the gym who I see as fit, outside puffing away, what’s the point in getting fit if you’re filling your lungs with carbon?

Tobacco smoke in an Irish pub before a smoking...

Image via Wikipedia

The effect on yourself is proven, there is help to give up, my nephew at 23 is embarking on one of the NHS initiatives at the moment and I am very proud of him for taking some responsibility for his health.

I’d like people to take a bit of responsibility, I know it’s not easy, I’m not going to preach, after all it took me 16 years to get control over food and find the motivation and will power to change. However there was just me, I don’t have a partner or kids, if I did I am sure this would have had some impact.  If you do continue to smoke you are risking your health and your life and the people who love you will have to deal with that at some point?    Harsh but true?

Or what about the impact on those around you, I get really angry when I see people smoking near kids, there was a TV programme  recently which clearly showed a scientific connection between ear problems in kids and passive smoking. The adults didn’t even need to smoke around the kids, it was enough for the smoke to be on clothes etc for there to be a significant effect. So even if you smoke in the garden and you have contact with kids, you are risking their health especially if they are already susceptible? Surely that’s enough evidence to make you stop?

Ok I’m done. Had to be said.   There is help out there, give it a go, there isn’t really isn’t any excuse, and if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for the people in your life that you love and who love you.

 

The photo is of a pub before the smoking ban came in. We used to do a quiz every week in a pub, I hated the way my hair and clothes smelt when I got home even though no-one on our table was smoking, and I was angry that I was being made to passively smoke.

A sense of balance

23 Oct

One thing that has happened since I got smaller is a struggle with my balance.

It all makes sense really, I have lost a lot of me, everything has moved around, and my head has had to play a bit of catch-up.

Pilates has helped but there are still things that I have found quite tricky, initially coming down stairs felt very strange and now coming down a mountain is more difficult than I thought it would be.  I’m working at it, it’s the only way to re-set where my balance now sits.

Yesterday was another test – I went ice skating with my best friend and three nine-year old little girls. Now the last time I went I was very much bigger, it was Christmas at the Natural History Museum and I did enjoy it, however inside I was petrified, if I fell over would I be able to get back up?  I struggled getting up when I down anyway, without there being ice!  Luckily when I did, before I even knew it two burly stewards had deposited me back onto my feet.

So there I was on the ice again, there were no reasons not to skate, the knee surgeon said there would be no issues in giving it a go.  But it was weird, it took a few circuits of the rink to find where my balance was sitting and to gain the confidence that I wouldn’t fall. In fact I didn’t, and even when one of the girls did and I need to get her back onto her feet, I felt secure enough to squat down to help her and then be back up without even really thinking about it!

And the ice skating was fun and is another thing that I can now do without fear because I’m smaller!  It still makes me smile!

Often I just need to remind myself that it is all worth it and that now my world is full of opportunities I didn’t have before – as I’ve mentioned in other posts, that’s my motivation!

And the photograph – the rink in the Rockefeller Center in New York – one day I’ll be there!

Let’s talk pants

23 Oct

As you know I am a great supporter of support underwear! Given my wobbly bits they’re pretty much a necessity to make the most of all the hard work and they boost my self-confidence no end!

It’s relatively easy to find sexy, fabulous bras but knickers are a different thing. Due to the remains of my tummy which is going nowhere without major surgery, the little pants that come with the bras are not an option!  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone!  So I am in the market for ‘big pants’, of course when we talk about these Bridget Jones springs to mind, yes big pants are not necessarily sexy however when I’m in mine, with my flatter tummy and feeling fabulous I do feel sexy but it would be even better if they looked sexy!

So I have been on the hunt for sexy big knickers, I have some that are made out of thin fabric that leave no VPL which are really good and do hold in enough but what I really wanted was something with a little more ‘pull-in’ but that also looked pretty!

I am pleased to say that Marks and Spencer have made some effort in this department and I now have some with a clever lace panel around the top, they do look good.  However the choice is still very limited, and it is a great pity though that big knickers aren’t given more attention by retailers. I had a little look around the underwear department and the choice in the main is between knickers that will only sit under my tummy and do nothing for how my clothes will look or very functional ‘granny pants’.

Come on retailers you can do better than this, give the girls what they really want!  We want smooth lines under our clothes and underwear that makes the most of our bodies but we also want it to look fabulous and sexy!

Don’t dismiss support underwear though because of how it looks, it is so worth wearing it to control those wobbly bits no matter what our shape or age. Hunt around and try them on with your clothes to get the best idea of what you need to wear and how it works.  I have also found you need to buy the size above what you think, the amount of control fibre in them can make them very stiff, if you go too far and they’re a bit too small, you tend to get an overhang effect as they push your wobbly bits up, this ruins the smooth, slimming effect you’re looking for.

For me they boost my confidence, I’m still coming to terms with how my naked body looks, it isn’t going to spring back to pre-weight gain days, but I love my body and what it  now lets me do and as Bridget discovered, Mark Darcy loved her and her wobbly bits, my  hope is that will happen to me too!

Let’s talk cleavage

15 Oct

I guess this post is aimed at us girls however there are some messages within it which do apply to the guys too!

I’m inspired to write this following seeing a lovely picture of a friend on holiday, she has a great cleavage.  When I was in my teens, I was flat chested,  I remember staring in awe at the girls at school who had more than me but knew that the skinny me would probably never have anything to speak off.  There were of course advantages,  I did go bra-less a lot, often to my father’s disbelief, but it did make shopping for clothes tricky as there was nothing to fill a top out?

As I got bigger in my 20s, I did get boobs and in fact at my biggest I’d got up to a M&S 40D. It was getting more difficult however as it was becoming clear that my chest measurement was getting bigger. And of course despite having boobs now, they were well and truly disguised under my black cloak of clothes.

Getting smaller raised a question, would they disappear?  As my confidence grew and my clothes got more fitting my cleavage was going on show just a bit, I was amazed, I now looked like the girls I’d envied when I was 18!   I was rather enjoying them now and didn’t want this bit to go, although I was enjoying them privately, a glimpse was going public but not much more!

A year ago I decided it was time to give them some help, they deserved some respect and there was a bit of sagging going on despite the purchase of some smaller bras from our trusty M&S.  I was in London and for a change decided to Debenhams, mainly I think because I got a discount, they had a sale on and I had a thought in my head that I’d quite like some pretty non-functional versions!

I had a look around but soon realised that I needed to be properly measured,  the bra -fitter asked me to take off my top, she looked at my M&S bra (which had been recommended after a fitting a few months earlier), tutted, got out her tape measure and then disappeared.

She returned with a whole pile of bras,  I asked what size they were, she smiled and then put me in one.  By ‘put me in’, I actually mean that, she took my boobs and placed them into the bra,  moving them around into position, yes stunned does come to mind but she explained that part of the problem with a bra not fitting properly is that we don’t know how to wear them correctly.  The wire needs to fit under the breast tissue for example and if you are a bit bigger or like me having lost weight, you will get that bulge of flesh under your arms, however that actually means it fits?  It was all news to me!

After the final bit of positioning had been achieved, I looked in the mirror and the effect was stunning, my boobs had moved up a couple of inches, and well the cleavage was amazing!  The final bit of the fitting process was to put my top back on, now this is the really interesting bit, my top was now too big, I’d lost a good dress size on my top half thanks to a great fitting bra.

Now for the size, remember I was wearing a 38D,  well the new one was a 34F. I almost fell over. Firstly because of the difference in size and secondly because an F meant – well real boobs, impressive ones!

I discussed with the lovely lady, (who of course I was now in love with and the man-handling of my boobs was now forgotten and forgiven),  if as I got even smaller would I get lose my boobs, she said no, I wouldn’t lose much breast tissue however I would lose the fat which had been supporting them, so good support would become increasingly important.

I got a bit over excited at this stage and also bought a couple of ‘push-up’ bras, I was after anything that made my cleavage look even better – ok and bigger!

I walked out onto Oxford Street with my head held high and my cleavage firmly on display!

Since then the new bras (and knickers, I will post about those later!) have opened up a new world, I totally changed the clothes I’ve bought, I love a ‘V’ neckline now and two of the dresses I bought this week show my cleavage beautifully and probably a lot more of it than I ever thought I would have the confidence to show.

I have a love and respect for my body now thanks to them, I only ever buy good bras now, and I take the compliments when they come.

I will now look after my boobs and appreciate my cleavage, I have friends and relations who have had breast cancer, I check them regularly and am so grateful.

So never under-estimate how important a good bra is, spend money on them, get fitted properly, this is vital if like me you’re over a ‘D’ cup, this needs specialist attention, if you’ve been going to the same retailer for a while, it may well be worth going somewhere else for a fitting, you might be surprised.  And I am a firm believer that good underwear can result in smaller clothes, it certainly results in better posture and more confidence!

My cleavage really represents my growing confidence, ironically I have something now that maybe I wouldn’t have had if I had stayed skinny. It is also making me feel more like a woman and that I should be proud of that.

The key messages are though that even when you lose a lot of weight not everything will get smaller and as we get older this becomes even more relevant, however there are a lot of things you can do to help.

And as you lose weight look for those trigger things that really boost your confidence. It’s different for everyone but there is always something, embrace it, yes that applies to the blokes too!

For us girls though, let’s celebrate our cleavages (with the best support money can buy)!

Getting my picture taken

15 Oct

Yesterday we had some professional photos taken at work for a new project.  This used to be a big deal for me, I knew every trick in the book to avoid it, there are very few photos of me from the last decade.  I’ve written about how having some proper photos taken last year really helped me come to terms with how I now look, well over a year on it was great to have the chance to have some updated ones.

It’s been a week of feeling really confident about me, I bought new dresses, had the photos taken and did something that needed a lot of courage but as it turned out made me feel better about myself than I’ve done in a long time.

There are a lot of things I didn’t do while I was bigger, there were lots of reasons for that, but essentially it all came down to having very low self esteem. It has taken a lot of work and soul searching to get that back and I can’t even begin to tell you how good and also overwhelming that it for me.

It has to be taken a step at a time, it made me realise that my weight problems were down to a lot of ‘head stuff’  and that those things needed to be dealt with before I could confidently know that I could and would keep it off, there are still things that need attention but I’m now a long way down the line.

So a couple of thoughts for you, there will always be ‘head stuff’ and you will need to deal with it, either by yourself or don’t be afraid to ask for help. The second thing is to celebrate how you look, buy new clothes and take a deep breath and have photos taken, especially if you have avoided it, it’s a great motivator to have a photo that you look at and feel proud of your achievement!

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