Body positivity at School

School is a very confusing place… not only are you learning a lot about different subjects, but you’re also learning a lot about yourself and your body whether you recognise it or not. For me, school was a bit up and down in terms of body positivity as throughout my 7 years I was a variety of shapes and sizes. I would say in Year 7 and 8 I was just your ‘average’ 11/12 year old, although I was a little chubby around the belly area but at this stage I like to refer to it as ‘puppy fat’ like my mum always says.

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This is me on my first day of Year 7 (obligatory first day photo #milestone)

Then when it came to Year 9/10 I really started to notice a difference in my body shape and my chubbiness was no longer deemed ‘cute puppy fat’ anymore, it was just ‘fat’. By this point the social pressure to ‘fit in’, wear the ‘right’ things and look a certain way really kicked in and I’m not going to lie this is one of the reasons which spurred me on to losing weight, but the main and most important reason was to get fit and live a healthier lifestyle. I remember I used to bake loads of cakes and cookies because I was fundraising for my expedition to Ecuador, but this soon just turned into an excuse for me to eat the cakes and cookies myself and of course any leftovers. I knew I had to make a change because how was I going to survive in the Amazon rainforest lugging massive logs up a hill and even just walking in the humidity alone. So this was another reason why I started to lose weight.

 So when I came back from Ecuador people started to really notice a change, as this was the lightest that I had ever weighed (9 stone something, I can’t remember exactly).

It was all well and good that I had lost all this weight but I’ll be honest with you it was very very hard to maintain. So when I finally broke out of school and came to university I was bound to put weight on because A this is the first time I could buy my own food and  basically eat what I want when I want and B there’s so many new changes and things happening that my hormones were all over the place (and still are now to a certain extent).  But the difference between school and university is that you no longer strive to ‘fit in’, instead you’re able to discover who you are and ultimately BE YOURSELF. It may have taken a year for me to be comfortable with the body I have but I wouldn’t have it any other way because every experience is a valuable lesson. I am a slightly bigger build than before as I now have hips, a big bum and a belly but I lead a healthy lifestyle and thats the key thing here. I spent months beating myself up about the fact that I don’t look like my friends and I don’t look like how I used to when I was ‘slimmer’ but I don’t waste any more time thinking these negative thoughts.

So if I was to give my 11 year old self advice at the start of this journey I would tell myself  these three things:

  1. Don’t worry. I am a great believer that things happen for a reason and I was meant to be fat (as weird as that sounds) because now I really appreciate my body and strive to lead a healthy lifestyle. Worrying is one of my worst traits but it ultimately gets you nowhere and the less time you spend worrying, the more time you can spend living.
  2. ‘Fitting in’ isn’t necessarily the be all and end all. At the time wearing something from Jack Wills or having a Hollister bag may seem like the most important thing in the world, but believe me being yourself and being unique is far more credible than following the crowd.
  3. Don’t try to impress others. Now this one might be a bit confusing as I said earlier that one of the reasons I decided to lose weight was because I became aware of my body shape and others around me. Yes this is true but I never once started losing weight to impress anyone else but myself. In life its important to do things for yourself and this was definitely one of them. So to put it into context now with my Instagram, my blog and my fitness… this is all for me and it doesn’t matter if 2 people read them or 100 people (and yes I do have to remind myself this sometimes) but its my way to express myself and keep track of what I’m doing.
  4. Change is not a bad thing. Change is something that a lot of people don’t like at school and if you change then sometimes this is not well reciprocated. But in all honesty the whole point of growing up is about changing and discovering the person you’re meant to be. It’s okay to change. I can tell you now that I’ve changed a lot since moving to university and some may not like this and others will but thats just life.
  5. You can’t please everyone. As much as you’d like to be friends with everyone, this is just impossible. In life there are going to be people who don’t like you or don’t appreciate what you’re wearing or what you’re posting on social media. This is something that I’ve definitely learnt to deal with since starting my blog and posting more regularly on Instagram. In a way I’m grateful for this as its enabled me to be a lot more confident and not care what other people think of me. Yes I have my good days and bad days but it just shows that I’m human.

10 healthy swaps for the foods you crave

So it’s been a long bank holiday weekend filled with chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate thanks to Easter and the joys of Easter eggs. But now the joy of chocolate has subsided and you’re back to work with the harsh reality of knowing how many calories you’ve consumed over the past few days. So you might be thinking right lets start a super strict diet that cuts out all sugars, carbs and basically anything nice. While this might work for some people, this definitely does not work for me as I’ll be really good for about a week or so and then the cravings start to kick in and in the end I just give up, resulting in a massive binge of anything sweet and naughty basically. Then I’m right back where I started in the first place. Instead I prefer to take the more controlled and healthier route while still allowing myself some treats from time to time as I know my body and I know that I can’t live without sweet things. Cravings are my worst enemy so here are a few healthier alternatives to my ultimate mouthwatering foods.

  1. Chocolate for hot chocolate. Now the reason this is number 1 is because chocolate is something that I crave pretty much once a day and I can amazingly trawl through whole 200g bar in one sitting (which isn’t really that amazing now I think about it because it’s not good for my body). So instead of devouring a whole bar of chocolate I get my chocolate fix with a hot chocolate instead as they contain a lot less calories but you still get to taste that chocolatey goodness.

2.  Ice cream for frozen yoghurt. Everyone has the same two best friends in this world and they’re called ‘Ben’ and ‘Jerry’. This is the king of all ice creams, the best of the best and they just keep getting better with all their new and exciting yummy flavours. But I’m not here to promote ice cream, instead if you fancy something cold and creamy why not try frozen yoghurt. Frozen yoghurt is a great alternative, there are so many flavours, even chocolate! Just make sure you scoop a reasonable portion into a bowl instead of eating out of the tub because we all know eating out of the tub means finishing the whole tub.

3. Sweets for dried fruit or just fruit. Sweets are something that I never seem to crave but if I come across some then I end up eating and eating until the bag is finished; I simply can’t stop. So to tackle this I introduce to you my favourite snack ever….. DRIED FRUIT and more specifically dried MANGO! I am obsessed with dried mango because it genuinely does taste like sweets without all the added rubbish. Yes I am aware that dried mango and other dried fruits can be a little high in sugar but its a whole lot better than eating an entire bag of Haribo. But if dried fruit isn’t your thing then just simply go for normal fruit instead as this should satisfy your sweet tooth cravings and you know what they say if you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple then you’re not hungry at all.

 

4. Crisps for crackers/carrots and salsa dip. If you’re craving crisps then you’re craving something crunchy and perhaps salty, so to overcome this you need something that will fulfil this texture and satisfy your needs. My answer to this is either crackers or carrots dipped in salsa (or without salsa if you prefer). Now the reason behind salsa and not sour cream and chive or any other creamy dip is tomato based dips are a lot better for you than the creamy ones. As for the crackers, I tend to use are either multigrain crackers or melba toasts which are great for that crunchy texture. I usually limit myself to 4 crackers or 1 carrot so that I’m not over dipping.

 

5. Chips for roasted vegetables. This swap is not only a healthier alternative but can be a cheaper alternative too which is always a bonus. Instead of buying frozen chips and wasting more valuable freezer space why not buy a load of veg bung it in the oven to roast with some herbs and olive oil and you got yourself a pretty good healthier alternative. Whether it be broccoli, peppers, onions, sweet potato, butternut squash or carrots, you can chuck practically any vegetable in there. This is also a great way to use up any veg that might be going off and avoid waste. So not only is this healthier and cheaper, it also helps the environment.

6. Pizza for tortilla pizza. I LOVE pizza. Whenever anyone asked me the famous get to know you question of ‘What’s your favourite food?’ My answer would always be pizza and still always is pizza. But unfortunately it isn’t the healthiest thing on the menu so to overcome this and satisfy my pizza needs I make tortilla pizzas which was a household fav when I was at home. All you need is a tortilla wrap (wholemeal is preferred), tomato purée, cheese (low fat or not any at all if preferred) and then any toppings you like.

 

7. Cake for banana oat cakes. If you’re a banana fan then this is the swap for you! There’s nothing complicated about banana oat cakes, its just bananas and oats, mash them together and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes and thats it! (I added chocolate chips to mine which is naughty I know but its all about balance and moderation)

 

8. Biscuits for popcorn. We all know biscuits are one of those snacks where you can’t just have 1 or 2 because it always develops into 4 or 5 until suddenly the whole pack is devoured. To battle this biscuit devouring, swap this for popcorn but be careful not to eat the whole bag of popcorn too. Take a handful or two and pop it into a bowl then put the bag BACK or buy a multipack of popcorn if you don’t trust yourself in the portions department. The propercorn sweet coconut and vanilla is one of my favourite flavours of all time!

 

9. Pancakes for banana oat pancakes. Another swap for you banana lovers. I love bananas they’re so versatile and you can use them as a basis for so many recipes whether they’re ready to eat or ripe, plus they’re pretty cheap. So instead of loaded maple syrup pancakes, why not make a banana oat pancake drizzled with honey and some fruit for toppings. All you need is banana, oats, eggs and baking powder, mix it all up and fry it in a pan until golden brown.

 

10. Burgers for veggie burgers. Last but not least if you don’t want your last meal of the day to be a heavy one then swap your normal burger for a veggie burger. I was always skeptical of vegetarian food before trying vegetarian bean burgers which are honestly so delicious and have a lot more flavour than anticipated. My recent favourite bean burgers are from Morrisons with their spicy bean burgers which kind of taste like a samosa in a weird way but I love them.

 

*Disclaimer. I’m not saying any of these alternatives are the most healthy option but these are healthiER alternatives that work for me and satisfy my cravings. This is always open to interpretation as its just about finding what works for you and your body. We’re all unique so what works for one person may not work for another, just do YOU.