Nutriri/Voom (08/05/18)

When I came across Helen James and Nutriri I was really excited at the prospect of body positive, supportive, self care groups to help people wanting to embrace positive change in their lives.  Helen’s no-nonsense approach, honesty and open attitude in setting up and running social enterprise Nutriri is innovative, refreshing and exciting. 

Her aim to have a Nutriri group up and running everywhere there is a restriction diet club is mind-blowingly positive and I’m really honoured to be even a tiny part of something so special.  It’s my dream to train with Nutriri and get a local group up and running as soon as I can.  Currently Nutriri are seeking votes on Voom – a chance to put Nutriri in front of Richard Branson and give Nutriri the support and funding required to get a training academy up and running.  PLEASE head over to the Voom site and give Nutriri your support by voting.  It will only take a moment and you will be helping edge Nutriri ever closer to being in your town soon and providing the support, nurturing and positivity every body deserves.

https://voom.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/pitches/nutriri-is-changing-dietland

Diets Suck! (22/01/18)

It’s that time of year again – new year, new you!  I’ve so done this most of my adult life.  Resolutions, weight loss, getting fit, being different to what or who you are right now.  Handing money over weekly to be weighed, measured and put on a plan that I knew would have me obsessing and counting and only losing weight while I stayed “on plan” and continued handing over my money.  I often thought that there must be a better way to be healthy that didn’t entail so much punishment and joylessness around food and exercise.

Well it’s here.  Nutriri has a (free for now) online course, which has been developed through Helen James’s personal experience of running a group for the last two years.  Nutriri is a social enterprise seeking to free people from restriction diets and to support them through mindful eating and compassionate self care as the means to achieve their goals.  The course can be accessed here and is constantly being added to.

I’ve just completed the course and it has really enlightened me on my own food habits and helped me to change my relationship with food.  I believe that engaging with the platform by commenting and by joining the Facebook group linked on the course is imperative to the course working for you and for others and would encourage anyone doing this to do so.

And if you want to hop on board Nutriri and join in a really positive movement for change then please check out these links:  Website, Facebook ,Instagram, LinkedIn

Anyone for a Dip? (29/12/17)

Every year in early June a group of women meet to go skinny dipping at a secluded beach in Wicklow.  In 2018 they are hoping to smash the World Record for the world’s largest skinny dip.  It promises to be an amazing event for all who take part and one which will you will definitely be glad you took part in.

Organiser Deirdre Featherstone says she decided to organise the first dip around two days after her mastectomy.  “I felt so crappy and I wanted some good to come of this.  I didn’t want a “normal” fundraiser I wanted something fun and then all of a sudden a skinny dip came into my head and cheered me right up.    One night I set up a FB event and basically blackmailed friends into coming with me… I said I am bald and only one boob so you can too…. so they did.   First year was around 65, next around 89, then 90, then 200 and next year hopefully around 1.5k.”

Deirdre chose Aoibheanns Pink Tie as the charity the event fundraises for.  “The reason I chose Aoibheanns Pink Tie is that it’s a woman’s event.  We are all either mammies, aunties, friends with kids etc. and Childhood Cancer gets very little funding as opposed to Breast Cancer.”  You can find out more about Ireland’s National Children’s Cancer Charity Aoibheanns Pink Tie here.  Further details on fundraising and FAQs are available here.

The ladies at Fabulously Flawsome know the magic that happened the day of our photoshoot – there was something special from us all being there together and it’ll stay with me always.  I really hope we’ll have a bunch of us together for this event too (currently there are three of us!).  Asked about her favourite thing to come from the swim, Deirdre says, “The best thing for me without a doubt is the camaraderie among the woman, the laugh we have, the unity and people who really didn’t want to do it and were pushing their boundaries coming prancing up the beach in the nip with not a care in the world.”

So what if you’re on the fence?  Shy?  Unsure?  “I would honestly say for anyone who feels a little shy about doing it and feel they do not have the courage:  there are many women at it who have lost breasts, there is a woman who has lost an arm, there are woman from a size 4 to a size 24 and NOBODY cares one bit – it’s all about us and having fun and inspiring others.”

The swim takes place on June 9th and you will need to register here for the event and pay a registration fee of €10.   It takes just a few moments. 

There is a Facebook page for the event here and you can head to the website.

So ladies, get ready to get your kit off and make a splash in June.  It promises to be an uplifting event that will be one to remember and perhaps even revisit in the years to come.  Will 2018 be the year  you cast off your shackles, fears and clothes to go skinny dip and break some records?!  See you there.  xxx

Many thanks to Deirdre for her time in answering my questions.

The Road to Here (19/12/17)

I’ve recently had to piece together my journey to this point for someone  in relation to my body positive adventure.   It was a really interesting look into my past that I found really hard at points, and really eye opening in others.  It also made me realise how totally epic this year has been (although it’s brought great sadness too).  It seemed appropriate to include it in my blog somehow both as a review and as I truly believe that by sharing our stories we inspire and connect with others we may not even know we reach.  I’d hope someone can relate and if it helps even one person then I’m made up!  Thanks Helen James & the nurturers for the prompt!

So how’d I get here?  My experience of being body shamed started early. I had an aunt who I used to regularly hear tell my mother that I was a) too quiet and b) too thin – it was high time she fed me properly and got some weight on me – I’m talking as early as 6/7 years old! Apparently way back then, I looked like a starving child. I was thin, quiet, introverted and happy in my own company. As a teenager I grew tall and terribly skinny – I was stretching up as some teens do – but I was too thin I was told. I can still remember one summer attempting to put on weight because I was told I was too thin. I had no idea at the time why it mattered, just that my mother had wanted me to put some weight on so I wouldn’t look so miserable (most likely prompted by that auntie!).

Somewhere along the line I must have been sufficiently acceptable weight wise (or I didn’t care!) and I forgot about my weight through my teens. I was tall, skinny and still introverted but with a great group of friends who all supported each other through those bloody awkward teen years with a dash of madness and good humour. I can remember reaching my late teens and thinking I’d like to be more curvy, but weight wasn’t something that I really thought about too much at that time. My mother was a regular dieter – we had weeks of very specific diets where she had to food combine and during those two week stints she’d knock herself out over feeding the rest of the family and jumping on and off the scales. It was a constant in our house.   She had her own health issues that contributed to this too which I guess I only really learned the true reach of much later in my life.

I never worried about my weight or dieted until my late 20s when I started to gain weight a little bit more easily. I did a few diets – I can remember going to weight watchers for the first time prompted by my sister so that I could look good for my wedding. I jumped right in and bought it all – I counted points and kept track of everything. I lost weight. I still wasn’t happy with how I looked though. I think at some point around 2 months before my wedding I decided I wasn’t going to stay miserable and that I would look after myself and maintain rather than beat myself up for not losing more. I vowed to enjoy it. I have a photo of myself on that day where you can see my lovely little round belly. I used to hate that picture, but now it brings me great joy that even then, in the midst of it all I knew I just had to love myself better.

Fast forward a few years and deciding to quit smoking – hardest thing I’ve ever done and definitely when I started to gain weight again. Probably another thing that set me off dieting like crazy again! I tried so many different ones. Atkins was a big hit and I lost whilst feeling well but being slightly carb crazy (I can remember my very lovely boss asking if she could go get me some pasta one day!). I tried weight watchers again, juicing, low GI, the list goes on and on and there are many books I purchased to help me find the right thing for me. I tried lipotrim and the weight flew off. I missed food though. But I was slim again so I persisted.

I had my first baby and felt even more acutely that the weight needed to go and spent a few years yo-yo-ing with the lipotrim diet again. I lost a heap of weight and had my second child. Then considered the old lipotrim to get back in shape – but it didn’t really work. It was harder, the weight was slower to come off and I was miserable. I realised that it wasn’t working because I’d possibly done it too many times. It felt like metabolism had changed and slowed. I stopped and started trying to eat healthy instead. I really didn’t want to have my children ask why I wasn’t eating meals with them. It was too harsh and unnatural. A friend was joining slimming world and asked if I’d go with her. We both had a bit of weight to lose so off we trotted once a week to be weighed in and shamed. And I bought into it – every week for a few months, before I realised that I had been eating far better food without it. There was big encouragement to low fat foods – what I like to call chemical shitstorm food. And the dreaded queue to get weighed in and asked why I hadn’t done better. And I was paying for this. I didn’t last at slimming world. I left when we got to Christmas that year and didn’t go back.

I was also struggling with depression at the time and feeling very low on energy and joy. It was a pretty bleak few years. My family situation changed hugely after the sudden death of my father and my mother currently resides in a nursing home with dementia and Parkinson’s.  After antidepressants and therapy didn’t leave me feeling any better, I decided to take a different approach a few years ago. I came off the antidepressants and did a month clean eating kick starter. I felt slightly but not much better physically but my mind definitely felt a lot clearer. I took myself to the doctor for full testing and he advised that I had hypothyroidism. I can still remember my visit when he told me that I just needed to take the tablets and that the weight should start falling off after about a month. At this point how I felt was more important but I took his word for it and started taking my tablets daily. I felt better after a month for about a month and then it all started to go downward again. My hormone level would rise and fall and my medication with it. I continued this way until a few months ago.

About a year ago I saw a trailer for Embrace and signed up for email notification of when it was coming to Ireland. I cried (I think it was sheer relief) when I saw the trailer and knew it that I had to see it. I saw it with my eldest daughter (who was 11 then) in January of this year and it has totally changed my life. It was like someone turned on the lights, or an acknowledgement of something I always knew deep down inside but was never able to express. It was exhilarating, liberating and sad in turn – exhilarated to embrace the rest of my life and feeling free to do so with vigour, but oh so sad at the wasted years and money and attention I had poured into being the right shape – for who?! How had I been so easily duped for so long? I can’t believe it took me 46 years to get past noise and BS I’d been spoon fed by a media intent on keeping me unhappy with my body no matter what I did. I wondered how to take this into my own life and grow it, but determined pretty early on that it was high time to take on some serious introspection and self-care. I knew this was something that I could do – it was a change that I could make all on my own and it was entirely in my power and will to change. It smelt like freedom. I applied to become an ambassador fully confident that I could contribute to a new conversation and encourage others to join me in throwing off the shackles of a life spent being at war with my body.

I hosted a screening of Embrace and well, then it just took on a life of it’s own. It was mostly friends and friends of friends. The feedback after the screening was incredibly moving and there were tears and laughter and heaps of embraces. We formed a local group (Fabulously Flawsome) and we took to the beach for a photoshoot in June of this year.  12 strong and wonderful souls met on the beach that day and created a bond that was utterly magic. We used the photos to promote a second screening and vowed to do all we could to promote the message of Embrace, the body image movement and to build a group open to all who want to live their best life, happy in their skin. The company of this group and the conversations and friendships that formed from it have been amazing and so inspirational. It is incredibly moving to see what support, love, encouragement and a sense of camaraderie can achieve. People’s lives have been transformed and there were others who were touched by the message, but who still struggle to truly embrace themselves as they are now. I would dearly love to help these people get to where they want to be.

Having had enough of the to and fro on my thyroid medication with pretty horrible side effects this summer, I stopped taking my medication. I did a three month coaching plan with a nutritional therapist and it turned into more of a mentorship than anything else! It has been hugely helpful in teaching me to listen to body and to eat and treat my body in a more intuitive way. I feel very lucky that this year I seem to have found just the right people to help me along my way at just the right time. I’m still doing heaps of work on myself but I’m doing pretty ***king fantastic so far and I can honestly say this year has been amazing!  I’m aiming to do a blog post just about this very subject in the new year and if she’ll agree an interview with her explaining how she works  her magic, but for now you can find out more about Aisling’s services by visiting her website  or Facebook.

I still have slump days when I am tired or I feel a bit frumpy or down on myself but they are no way near as bleak and dark as the way I had been feeling before. I feel so much more at ease and calm and trusting that whatever the feeling is it will pass. I’m happy in my own skin, I’m listening to my body and I’m more free and empowered to look after myself than I have ever been before. I want this feeling for anyone out there who has ever struggled with being happy in themselves for any reason. I want to help people to realise that they should feel empowered masters of their own lives and break the chains that bind them to old stories and thinking that keeps them trapped.

I’ve been asked lots, “But how do you Embrace?”  It’s a massive question and it is different for everybody.   You start with one small thing and build on it.  That can be whatever strikes a chord and resonates with YOU.  I can’t tell you what that is – you need to find it yourself.  I can tell you there are so many things out there to help you on your way though.  Google body positivity, self care, mindful eating.   Research the things you think will work for you, things that you know will enrich your life so much that you’ll want to keep doing them!  I’ve had a chain of things that lead me from Embrace to Unstoppable and beyond to sources of inspiration and transformation and connections I know have changed everything for the better.  I followed the joy – the things that resonated and felt like home.  The things that made me scream “FUCK Yeah!” or cry, or laugh, or both.  A tiny thing but one which was massive was a massive cull of my social media feeds.  I endeavour to keep them as positive and inspirational as possible – just for myself!  It makes a huge difference.  I’ve also somehow managed to do this in real life too and find myself surrounded by an amazing tribe of people who have helped grow my spirit, broaden my mind and embrace who I really am.  Life can be hard and it’s imperative to have that fabulous foundation of love and support to carry you through the good and the bad.

For those of you interested in learning more Embrace You has just launched recently and is a practical, inspirational and fun online course to prompt you to find your joy and Embrace.   I’m just about to have the time to embark on this myself so can fill you in more in a few weeks.  It promises to be more Taryn magic though and I know it’s going to leave me buzzing!  You can sign up at Embrace You!  Please note that I’m an affiliate of Embrace You and as such may receive payment if you purchase this product.

Another beautiful project and something I’m looking forward to being more involved in in the New Year is Nutriri.  Helen James has spearheaded this social enterprise and has been running a group in Axminster, UK, which encourages mindful eating over restrictive diet plans and providing those attending the group with the skills to feel at ease with themselves and their food choices.  I believe Nutriri is the much needed alternative to the massive business that is slimming clubs and diet culture.   I’m excited to be part of something so amazingly progressive and positive  and have  thrown my name in as someone willing to train and run groups in the future so watch this space for updates and please visit  the website  for more info and maybe get involved in this wonderful movement for change.

So my lovelies, that’s it for this year.  I am now officially finished work for Christmas and looking forward to blowing this sore throat/viral out of my system this week so that I can sit back and relax and spend some time with my tribe.  Please, if you’re reading my blog and interested in anything I’ve mentioned and want to get in touch do comment or give me a shout as I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you all a very Merry  Christmas and a Happy New Year.

xxx

Day 7 – It’s all Good! (06/10/17)

Well I pledged to do a week of my body is great because posts on Instagram.  (If you want to know what inspired this – it was a little picture from Michaela at BIM.  Your emails always spark some inspo babe!)  It’s been a blast.  I think I’ll have to come up with a new one for next month!

Today I wanted to blog about something that ties in with my day 7 post and give you some of the personal experience behind it!  Please don’t mistake this for wanting reassurance or likes or attention – I just hope that these posts and pics might inspire or help someone else.

SO!  My body is great because after years of abuse, neglect and selective hearing I am finally listening and it is all good.

Just over two months ago I embarked on a mission to tune in to my body, to start listening and understanding the messages it sends me, to help me to help myself and to spend some serious time and love on getting better, healthier, happier and (fingers crossed at the time!) as medication free as I could be.

This was no easy task when the thing that prompted me to take this route was the fact that I have hypothyroidism,  the symptoms of which doctor told me were perfectly treatable with levothyroxine – a synthetic T4 hormone to replace the one my poor little thyroid was lacking.    After a year and half of this treatment I found myself  not feeling any better.  In fact, before I decided myself to stop the medication I was feeling rotten and strongly suspect that perhaps I’d tipped over into hyper – having too much of said T4 hormone!  Anyway during a very candid conversation with my GP I was informed that I could either suffer the side effects I was experiencing with the medication and not have any hypothyroid symptoms, or drop the medication and learn to live with the symptoms when they returned.  I’ll be honest here and say I was totally gutted and very upset to think they were my only options.  My journey to diagnosis was a long one over many years of symptoms which never seemed to indicate that my thyroid should be checked.  I’ve been in the depths of depression and found it hard to fight my way back out.  I’ve been on antidepressants that didn’t work and wondered what on earth was wrong with me when talking didn’t work either! I’ve had days when it took all the strength I didn’t have just to get out of bed, and copious amounts of coffee and mind over matter to stay functioning all day.  My energy packed it’s bags and left on a pretty regular basis.  Quite often it took my joy with it.   There were a string of smaller issues that I have since found can be tied to hypothyroidism too.  I couldn’t seriously contemplate setting myself up for a return to that but I also couldn’t conceive of continuing to take a medication that not only wasn’t working but making me feel like shit.  Everything pointed to having to find another way.

So what’s a girl to do? I think I spent a day or two in a total funk unable to find my way out or come up with a plan.  This year there has been a massive shift in attitude one for me and choosing joy became my mantra for living.  To be so at odds with a body I do love seemed wrong and I needed a way out of this that would help me to help myself in as supportive, sensible and loving a way as I could possibly find.  I remembered a clarity call I had had early this year with Aisling Fitzgibbon which had hugely helped me but which I guess I was just not ready for at the time for a few reasons.  Aisling’s an occupational therapist and holistic nutrition coach – but don’t let that fool you as she is so much more than that!  Her philosophy to empower her clients by giving them the tools from within that they need to live happy, fulfilled, healthy lives with ease and joy sounded like it was too good to be true!  Thankfully it’s not.  I am so glad that I went back to her and that with her guidance I have returned to feeling  like my old self but with improvements.  I’ve worked on so much personal stuff that I had envisaged would be torturous and hard – but it has been joyous and liberating with the few tears I did shed being ones of relief and release.  I have let so much unneeded baggage and energy go that I feel lighter and better and so much more energised.  I won’t get into the details of it (yet!) but I can’t express in words how very grateful I am to be med free and well and happy.   I still have some way to go but am so glad that I made it this far.  There is no turning back.

I know my body, mind and soul are great, because I have finally reconnected with them and they’re being listened to and cherished and supported.   I know we are not just our bodies but they are our vehicles in this life and we are one with them and so we need to treat them with the loving care and respect we extend to everyone we love.   Mine has responded with joy to being slowly and gently loved back to health and I’m really feeling the influence of all the good that’s come flooding into my life this year.  Onwards and upwards with sparkles on!  xxx

http://www.instagram.com/joy.volution

My Body is Great! (29/09/17)

I get a fabulous email every second week from Michaela at Body Image Movement – full of news, inspiration and magic for us as ambassadors.  This week’s had a link to this news piece from included and I think it’s really worth a look.  My Body is great because…

I love Instagram mostly for the lovely pictures friends and the people I follow post.  I am pretty picky about the accounts I follow and keep it positive as possible.  I do my best to keep my own account varied and true to life as well as positive.  At the same time though, I can totally see how it is all about image and images – and how we need to fight back at filters and photo shopping and say enough already.

I love that this encourages us to see our own bodies and others in such a positive way.  I’m going to do a post a day on my instagram account for a week dedicated to “My body is great because…”  I hope you’ll join me over on my insta!  and help me celebrate all the reasons why our bodies are so great!

Selfie (26/09/17)

As part of a closed group we have on Facebook, born of the Embrace screenings and our photo shoot, we post a weekend selfie for two reasons:  1) as a self esteem shot of you being unapologetically you and doing your thing  and 2) as a check in for us all with each other as we don’t get to meet up often.  (My thing seems to be mostly hanging around talking about cleaning in my pjs by the way!)

Anyway, I usually post on a Saturday but last week was busy and preoccupied and didn’t feel like doing it as I was struck with a bit of a dark cloud of sadness.  On Sunday, because I felt sad and knew I just needed to go through it, I decided I wouldn’t post my weekend photo.  But there was a weird feeling that came with that and I couldn’t quite figure it out.  This is what my adventure this year (and probably way before that!) has been – getting in touch with the real authentic me and embracing that.  So why did I feel that I couldn’t/shouldn’t post a picture that said “I look like I feel”?  It felt indulgent and if I’m honest I was a little worried that it’d be perceived as looking for attention.  I didn’t want my “this is me” to be taken in any way other than “this is me”.    I knew it wouldn’t though – it was just an old habit of mine to think too much about what other people think and I needed to rid myself of that and be true to me.   And what better safe space than this wonderful group of flawsome folks who are keen to grab themselves and their lives and the lives of others with a big warm welcome embrace?  And so I posted…

It isn’t a pretty picture, but it was definitely 100% a perfect capture of that moment in time for me.  Sleepy, coffee in hand and making my way through the sadness.

And the response?  Well, that was what really made me sit up and rethink my own perceptions and see that what we need to connect with each other is honesty.   We have this insane notion that we need to present our lives as perfect to the outside world.  Mine is far from perfect.  I strive to make it lovely, and joyous and happy, but my perfect is a balance of lots of things that are far from faultless.  It’s mess and chaos and calm and sadness and happiness and all the things that life throws at you.  It’s taking it all and making sense of it to allow yourself room to live and experience life fully.   Sometimes perfect is made up of flaws – I see perfection in the strangest things and fabulous in some wonderfully quirky and beautiful flaws.   We are far more interesting when we are open and honest and real.   That’s not always easy, and it takes bravery to risk it and live with the outcome.   It takes digging deep and not being afraid to be vulnerable.   Bill would have said “it takes balls”.

One of Bill’s favourite authors was Ernest Hemingway.    I’m sure this was imprinted on my young brain quite early on, but I had lost it somewhere along the way.

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”

― Ernest Hemingway

Now I believe we are all best people.  I’m pretty certain I won’t be destroyed too but if there was even a shadow of a doubt, I then found this while clearing out my bookshelves this week.  Bill again.

On the flip side there’s happy and a short week later, coffee in hand, sleepy and feeling so much better I posted another honest photo.  I had nothing on my mind here, only my brew and birdsong and a day of impending room clearance!  I felt really happy in myself here and wonderfully at peace.  It’s rare.  It’s also lovely!

In a world of photo-shopped images that tell us what we need to buy to look different to what we are, I hereby vow to attempt to keep this blog as real and as honest as I possibly can in an effort to encourage you to do likewise!  This is me.  Unfiltered.  Not buying it!  Not standing on the sidelines.  Not afraid (well not too afraid anyway!).  Choosing Joy, belonging, embracing and rocking the shit out of me! I hope you’re doing the same.  xxx