What's This Blog All About Then?

I'm on a mission to roadtest ways of overcoming negative body image. For years I have struggled with feeling I don't look 'good enough', I'm too fat or flabby. Even when I was a UK Size 8! During each of my two pregnancies I fell back in love with my body, marvelling at the amazing things it was doing and at my feminine voluptuousness.

Now that my most recent baby has been outside of my body for a while, the mum tum and stretchmarks are starting to bug me. I have decided enough is enough. I want to feel proud of my body like I did when I was pregnant. I don't want to wait until I'm a certain weight or dress size to feel good about the way I look. I want to love my body just the way it is right now. And I want to help other women to love their imperfectly perfect bodies too.

Join me on my quest for a better body image. During my journey to (I hope) total body confidence, I'll be posting useful resources, tips and research on body image and self acceptance. There will also be posts from other people shedding light on how to feel comfortable in the skin you're in - maybe you'd like to send me an article? Contact me at annacolette(at)gmail(dot)com with 'Body Image' in the title.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Yoga During Menstruation & My Next Experiment - EFT

I've got my period and am feeling relieved that I have only committed to doing a posture a day. I've only done a few minutes of yoga for the last few days. But I'm missing the feeling of having a really good, long stretch so I've trawled the internet for some advice on postures to try during menstruation.

There seems to be conflicting advice on whether you can do inverted postures (where your head is lower than your heart, for example in Downward Dog)during your period. The best rule of thumb is to listen to your body and do waht feels good to you.

There are some suggestions here and here which I'll be using to replace some of the more strenuous postures from my Daily Dozen.

Today is Day 22 of the Yoga Experiment and I'm really sold on yoga. So much so that I've asked hubby for a block pof 'mum and baby' yoga lessons for Christmas. I'm pretty sure I'll continue with my daily yoga practice once this month is over.

My next experiment in improving my body image will be to try the Emotional Freedom Technique which is supposed to be good for overcoming all sorts of emotional issues.

Basically, you tap specific acupuncture points with your finger while focusing on a specific thought you want to get rid of. EFT is said to produce results in just minutes. Here's a demo of the technique.

Intriguing, hey?

So, from 1st January I will be trying out EFT every day for a month. I'm not yet sure how to use it to combat negative body image but will read up a little more on it and let you know what I plan to do.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

I am Postnatal Woman. Hear Me Roar (or Rather Say Ommmmm)!

I had a breakthrough moment today.

We were staying with friends in Kent this weekend. Another couple who live close by came over to see us and the baby. It was late morning and our hosts were still padding around in their dressing gowns.

I had been comfy in my pyjamas until my boobs leaked milk onto my top. I wanted to still feel Sunday-ish so I dressed in my old maternity velour jogging bottoms (they look nicer than they sound!) and a skimpy vest top before the couple came over.

Thing is, I often wear this outfit to do my daily yoga. And somehow wearing it in front of people I haven't yet seen as a postnatal woman, I felt really proud of my body and of how much I have snapped back into shape (relatively speaking. Relative to my huge bump of six months ago).

Now, I still have a big tum, overly large thighs and upper arms and big ole saggy breastfeeding boobies. I don't look like a postnatal celeb*. At all. But I felt strong, like my body is in pretty good shape considering and really proud of myself that I'm the sort of person who does yoga EVERY day.

Yup, that's me. A regular little yogini.

I felt all hard bodied and fit chick-like. Although I'm not. But feeling like that was amazing. I was channeling those yummy yoga mummies with their flat tummies and tight bums encased in designer yoga pants.

Talking to this couple in my fairly revealing outfit, I felt proud of my body and what it can achieve. Did you know that when I do my seated forward bends now my nose nearly touches my knee?!

When I started the Yoga Experiment to improve my body image I needed to use a dressing gown cord to do that posture cos I couldn't stretch far enough to get hold of my foot.

My body is stretching beautifully. I'm amazed at how quickly what seemed so difficult my body can now do with ease.

But the biggest progress of all is that I am starting to feel proud of my body again. Just like I did throughout both pregnancies.

I still look the same as when I started the daily yoga. But hell, I'm not trying to change the way my body looks, just the way I feel about the way my body looks.

And I'm really starting to feel better about my body and what it can do (and has done - made two gorgeous daughters for a start!!).

I think the yoga is beginning to work wonders for my body confidence:-)

*Thank you Kim Kardashian for speaking out and letting us mere mortal mamas know that celebs have postnatal bellies too. They just get photoshopped out to entice us to buy certain magazines. Shame on you, OK magazine. Check the before and after photos here

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Yoga for a Better Body Image - Day 8

So, it's day 8 of my yoga experiment and I'm just waiting for my dinner to go down before doing my eighth session.

I'm being uncharacteristically determined. By taking the pressure off myself and only committing to a minimum of one yoga posture a day, I feel more inclined to do all of the twelve postures that I originally set out to do.

It also helps that I am being realistic and fitting the yoga in even if conditions aren't particularly conducive. Yesterday, for example, I did my 'Daily Dozen' postures joined by my eldest daughter. She very sweetly spent three minutes copying me and then spent the ten twenty minutes singing "Alouette gentille Alouette
Alouette je te plumerai' over and over and over again. I breathed through it for a while and then helpfully suggested she play her Nintendo DS while I finished off my yoga (to the background music of Junior Brain Trainer).

How am I feeling about the way I look? A little better - suprisingly. I didn't expect to feel any different so quickly.

I feel as if I'm being kind to my body by stretching it, and working it out, a little. I feel stronger in my core and am holding myself more proudly. I feel good that I'm sticking to my word and am practising some regular self care.

I still feel disappointed and a bit ashamed when I look at certain parts of my body in the mirror (oh how I wish that would change!) but I find myself initially looking for the good things, the improvements - noticing where I look stronger, leaner. I really don't think my body has changed at all but my attitude to it has shifted a little more towards the positive.

I think a little daily yoga could really help to centre me in my body more. I feel more grounded already, not living from my head as much but also having my awareness in my centre, my core. If that sounds a bit esoteric or airy fairy, let me assure you that this small shift has taken me a few steps away from body criticism and towards self acceptance. In only seven (nearly eight) days I think that's pretty good going.

I'm thinking of shifting from my current body focus to a more mind-based tactic next month. Perhaps practising daily affirmations to(hopefully)implant more positive body-loving thoughts in my brain or trying out EFT techniques that my hypnotherapist friend suggested I could use to tap away negative body image thoughts and feelings.

Do let me know which technique you'd prefer me to test next, or if you have any other suggestions of things I could try.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Real Mummy Tummies

I love the real mummy tummies on the Mama Baby Bliss website
we should be proud of what our bodies can do and resist the pressure to look perfect!