Tuesday 19th December 2017

A Very Personal Post About My Weight. 2017.134.

A Very Personal Post About My Weight. 2017.134.

In this, my last post for 2017, I am finally unlocking what I have kept inside more than I have let out. Into the world beyond my conversations with my husband who is my trusted confidante.

This is about my weight and what I see and think about the place it has had in my life as an adult. We are talking over 48 years.

Mid 2014 Left. Recently 2017 on Right.

It has been always, and yes it is a not very good analogy, the elephant in the room.

I do not mention my size, weight or fluctuations other than in written form in my diary or in saying something to my husband.

So, where to start with what I want to say….it’s here. As a young woman.

My Twenties.

  • I was 20 when I left home to teach in north-western NSW. I was free to be me. Well, in some ways and I do know I had the first sense of freedom around food. I believe I was a less than normal eater in my teens, still living at home and preferred ‘junk’ food over the better food.
  • I think my parents did what they could but in some ways, I had/have that sweet tooth which I used to calm and comfort. I was not overweight at all but like many young women moving into their 20s I saw the faults of hips and thighs. In fact, being told by a teaching colleague I had child-rearing hips was not taken as a compliment. In the photos above you can see I was a normal  looking young bride and then mother.
  • However, the very first notion that I needed to diet (i.e.) lose weight came at my 6 week post-pregnancy check up where the OB told me I needed to get those (back then in pound/stones) half a stone off me to be back to wedding day weight.
  • Thus it set something off in me about not being good enough AND to add to this, I was one miserable stay-at-home mum (very isolated in the NSW bush for 8 hours a day for 6 months) so I comfort-baked and ate.
  • Onto a new school and a new house and our baby grew to be a pre-schooler and my weight did too. I ate to soothe. I ate to calm and I ate, interestingly enough, because I could not fall pregnant even though the first time round was too easy!
  • We moved to an even more isolated area where we were both on staff: hub was the principal and I was the teacher and our daughter started school with us. We enjoyed the teaching stint because it was incredibly challenging but in the meantime, and the downtime I baked for ourselves and others and I put on even more weight.
  • When I saw my parents, family and friends in the school holidays  it was not a topic for conversation but my imagination took over and there were many judgement of ME by others (that they never said but I imagined). I was already ashamed to be the size I was but I was not going to talk about it to anyone. Some diets were tried to limited success and as someone who hates deprivation it was never going to last.
  • The doctor who told me I would never fall pregnant without losing weight was hated by me. I did so much want to have a second child but it appeared not to be something that would happen so I accepted the fate of one child.

My Thirties.

  • I became pregnant! Not by dieting, oh no. The  next specialist I saw once we had settled back into Sydney, diagnosed multiple ovarian cysts and other things inside that were preventing pregnancy and following major abdominal surgery…and a bit quicker than the specialist recommended, I was with child.
  • I was at a lower weight (still around 18 kgs above my wedding day weight) and kept that weight consistently with no increase until the last couple of months of pregnancy. Gave birth, went well, breastfed (the weight did not drop off!) and back to work full-time when the baby was 18 weeks old.

STRESS: This time in our married lives were amongst the worst as my husband was made to medically retire due to ill-health and the next 4 years or so were pretty grim. I was teaching full-time and seeking promotions as I was the only one now in education. Our kids were growing and whilst their Dad did some things for them, he was very unwell and a lot fell to me. How did I cope? Well, good old food. Comfort foods of course. However, noticing that I was getting bigger did not help my self-esteem and I would put myself through rigorous exercise and restricted eating in the hope that would help.

  • And no, I would not talk about it ever. My GP always checked my BP and bloods and even though I did have highish BP medication helped that and it was not weight-related. Blood tests were awesome. I was healthy.
  • But I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror or photos so I stayed behind the lens as the family photographer.

My Forties.

  • As a mum I used to wonder if my kids (who were of so-called normal weight) were ever ashamed of me and I hoped at the same time that they would never mention my weight. They did not.
  • But I sure told myself stories about how my parents must have felt about me as neither of them was overweight.
  • So, there I was on the outside trying my best to look good: I had nice clothes, I had my hair done regularly but my mind told me I looked fat. Always. And that others must be saying that behind my back too.
  • I went on diets at least 3 times. I lost and re-gained the same 18kg each time. Diets included weight watchers (who never could explain to me how NOT to be an emotional eater) and attending a dietitian.

My Fifties.

  • Life was good in many ways. Our children were now adults and independent to a degree and both eventually left home.
  • My husband was reasonably well and we had the trappings of success outwards (new house, cars etc) but there was more happening inside.
  • Interestingly I never ate when stressed but I ate to soothe when I felt overwhelmed or needed what I would call a ‘reward’ or treat.
  • I became a school principal at this time of my life and the days might not have had time for me to eat but I made up for it when I got home.
  • I liked cooking for others and enjoyed sharing my culinary skills with plenty of leftovers, always making I had put aside food for me that I liked too for another time.
  • By now I realised that I used food emotionally. Yes. Crunchy foods helped soothe anger and frustrations. Soft food, like chocolate and cake soothed my sad or loneliness.
  • I visited psychologists about my weight, I went on exercise plans and I did diaries and I even took a prescription tablet to help me reduce my cravings. That worked for a while but it gave me side-effects so off that I went and back on came the weight.
  • By now I decided NOT to be the number on the scales anymore and threw them out.

From a Slimming Mag Article on Me. Early 2000s. Made up me, around 70kg on left, Grandma me in 2001 much heavier on right.

My Sixties.

  • I was in the decade of when my maternal aunt died. This was a bit scary as she was overweight and I know she comfort ate and her death was related to an unknown cancer.
  • I did get blood tests done annually and it was as a result of one of those around 4-5 years ago that I got my first warning of what ageing, lack of exercise and excessive weight could do. I had raised blood sugar and my GP wanted me to have the Glucose Tolerance Test.
  • She really did understand thought that I was trying to live my life without being a number on the scales. But I HAD to do something myself. I then agreed to be weighed and then I asked her to give me 6 months to do something about this.
  • Six months later, and 3 kgs lighter, thanks to more attention to the amounts of what I was eating AND to increase my walking each day, there was no need to have a GTT. Phew.
  • In this period of 2014-2017 I was affected (still am from time to time) by the immense stressors of the trifecta of transitions as I like to call them: selling our house, moving away from family and friends, retiring from all education work.
  • Enter: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) …it had emerged for the first time in my 30s but had gone till now. Suddenly, and over time I found I HAD to limit what I ate. I also found I was…ahem, going to the loo much much more.
  • My GPs (I was still going to one in Sydney and then I found one up here) re-assured me that this unintentional weight loss was OK as long as I was managing OK. I was but not always.
  • Stressors such as loneliness and sadness of the trifecta of transitions saw me settle into a healthier and better eating pattern which probably halved meals on most days.
  • I no longer went out for coffee and cake as I was too stressed to do so but I missed it. However, this helped me too.
  • I often asked the doctors “are you sure this is OK?” and they always said “yes”.
  • It took me a LOOOOONG time to believe (and I still have doubts) that this weight loss could be sustained.
  • Over the 3 years or so I lost around 33 kg. It goes up a bit then down a bit but I have gone from Size 22/20 clothes to Size 16/14. Interesting!

WHAT ABOUT GETTING CANCER?

  • Interestingly, in the 2014-2017 times I used to ask the GPs and even the Gastroenterologist “do you think I have lost some weight because I have cancer?” and this was always answered no!
  • I do not believe my cancer was weight-related either now but I also know that somewhere along the line our bodies can change inside when we are under stress. The last 3-4 years were those for me. My Professor and GP both have no idea why I got this cancer (neither a smoker nor drinker) either but they have said it can be found in older women (check) and is quite rare. Lovely. Not.
  • So, yes since having a cancer diagnosis IN my mouth it was already hard to eat as my gums and the bridge with teeth at the front of my mouth was tender. So, too sore to eat much. Weight comes down. How do I know? Clothes are loosening.
  • Time to get real about food. After the surgery I had to take responsibility for feeding myself with a very limited selections of food that can be soft, easy to swallow and are generally nutritious.
  • It was impressed on me by the dietitian before I left hospital in July that I was not to lose weight. And THAT was something I had NEVER heard in my life before.
  • Staying the weight I was and am is a bit of an up and down juggle and I weigh myself every few weeks. I have not lost much weight and have even gained a kilo or two since my lowest a few months back.
  • The importance of the nutrition in healing and staying well is something I have accepted more easily. I am eating foods I never chose before. Weetbix is my breakfast and I will even eat some scrambled egg with tasty cheese in it. I am adept at slippery and soft foods and right now, mangoes and avocadoes are my friend. Little cakes and some biscuits I can dunk for softness are my treats.

SELF-IMAGE AND CONFIDENCE.

  • I admit it took me at least 6-7 months to realise once the weight loss had settled  it is likely to stay.
  • I did donate mountains of Plus Size clothes to local charities but could not (yet) bring myself to do that with all of the size 16s so they are in a box in the linen press.
  • As time goes on, I can see with the changes I have made since cancer made me eat differently and consider food as nutrition more than for enjoyment (that still counts!) I will not re-gain those 30+kg.
  • I gave myself permission to buy new (usually on special as we have a limited income now!) clothes and over time I have begun to see myself differently.
  • The person in the mirror has more wrinkles than ever (the fat held the skin more taughtly) but she is looking, in her 60s, more like what she remembers her mother to look like. This has taken quite some time as I never thought I could be good enough to look like Mum.
  • Deciding to share my story, in bits and pieces on the blog has been good for me but until this post, I had never explained the WHOLE story.
  • Taking part in a daily outfit challenge for everyday style has given me such a lift as I do get some very encouraging and positive comments.
  • I like who I see in the mirror and in the photos now and I love seeing my husband’s eyes light up when I appear in something he likes me wearing. The day of my birthday when I wore a dress for the first time in 15 years was one such landmark.

WHAT NOW?

  • I need to remember to be kind to the ‘person who was not at an ideal weight’. I need to forgive her and tell her she was doing the best she could at the time. I do.
  • I see the ‘me’ keeping on keeping on. I know so much more about the why of what I was doing. I also think I know so much more about how to stop that continuing.
  • Getting my mouth re-construction completed in early-mid 2018 will be interesting for me as for the first time in close to a year I will probably be able to eat all foods. I have missed crunching and chewing a lot.
  • I know if I am seeking comfort for something I am not prepared to admit or talk about I want something food-wise so I will keep an eye on that.
  • My IBS is well-controlled now thanks to a medication my GP has me taking.
  • My anxiety levels (which were incredibly high PRE-cancer) have reduced by around 90%. In other words, they are not out of control.
  • Telling my story has, for the first time in ages, been both cathartic and brave. I hope, that if you got this far it has proved to be of interest.

Me: Sun 17 Dec 2017. Off to Granddaughter’s 21st and 7 months post- cancer diagnosis. I miss smiling! It will be back next year sometime.

 

I understand this is a tough topic for many of us and it took me a LONG time to own up to what has been going on for me here.

Thank you for reading and let me know what your thoughts are about weight and self-image.

Denyse.

Yes, it’s the last post in 2017! How DID that happen.

Last linky with IBOT and Kylie on Tuesdays until January 2018 and with Leanne on Thursdays for Lovin’ Life. I know Leanne is returning in the same week I am with #lifethisweek. My Monday link-up is back 1 January 2018. Leanne’s is Thurs 4 Jan.

 

 

 

 

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Learning MY Lessons. 366/306.

Learning MY Lessons. 366/306.

The statement below is an excerpt from my blog’s page in the header. The commitment to blog daily until the end of 2016 remained true until recent weeks.

In 2015 blogging daily was my focus on some days as it was the ‘only familiar’ routine in a much-changed world for me. Retirement from my work life in education and schooling means finding other ways in which to connect with people. I am still learning! A work-in-progress!
The connections I have made and re-established via blogging have re-energised me and helped me focus on the on-line community I value. I look forward to making more connections in 2016.

So, whilst nothing significant happened, I started to realise I have been learning more about what else I can be doing and experiencing as part of my life’s major transitions. Yes, art and mandalas have figured high in that list. So too has been interest in learning more on-line about ‘self compassion’ and about ‘writing to heal.’ In addition to those I have been reading widely and learning much!

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Remember, I am a life-long learner!

I remain, like all humans a ‘work-in-progress’.

It has taken me a while to let myself actually stop blogging every day! I know! Sometimes the thoughts in our minds are not the best ones nor what we should listen to. Therefore, I am not committing to blog every day any more from today! I am not even thinking about blogging every day anymore.

I have to admit there have been some days where my motivation to ‘do a post’ has been AWOL but it was the commitment and the self-belief I am a finisher that made me keep going.

So, last week, just like that, I said to myself “why would I make myself continue to the end of the year for reasons that I made up?”

Silence. Then, “of course, I do not have to do that”…but I do have to add with some pride and accomplishment that today’s post makes it:

671 posts written and published since January 1 2015. 

Here are MY lessons….at least some of them, in messages from others wiser than I am ….and I am in debt to them.

Thank you, wise people.

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My plan for blogging is less rigid and more flexible. I will continue to blog on Mondays for my link-up and keep to my prompts for Life This Week until they do not work any more. I will blog a new post for Tuesdays for I Blog On Tuesdays. I will blog and link up photography and other posts to link-ups I have followed for some time. I may blog using a variety of topics listed here and no longer on specific days. There will not be a post every day any more.

I am fine with this!

I am blessed and grateful to have many supportive readers and commenters and not everyone is a blogger which is also special for me. It has been such a great time getting to know people here and your encouragement has helped me more than you will ever know! I hope it will continue through this new stage and into 2017!

Thank You All!

Have you learned lessons from yourself and others?

What blogging practices have you changed about?

I welcome your responses and look forward to continuing to connect…because:

I Blog To Connect.

Denyse.

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Joining Kylie Purtell and friends here for I Blog On Tuesdays, where an original post is part of the link-up requirement.

 

 

 

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My 5 Reasons Not To Do a Sea Change. 366/244.

My 5 Reasons Not To Do a Sea Change. 366/244.

In recent times I have read of others who are not only considering doing a ‘sea change’ but are making firm plans for just that experience.

Yes, we did this too.

We made a sea change from city living in Sydney to coastal living on the New South Wales Central Coast.

From the decision to do this just over two years ago, and living it, as I am now, here are my 5 reasons NOT to do a sea change:

  1. You will not change from moving from one place to another unless you have already begun making changes to your life, behaviours and attitudes wherever you are. The place does not change anything.
  2. There will be a serious period of adjustment from one style of living to another and, ouch, you “may” not like it nearly as much as you thought so do plan for a LONG adjustment because it may be for you too.
  3. The visitors to your new place on the coast will come often and you will see more of your family now that you are living there. It started like that for a few months but ‘life’ takes over for everyone and their commitments so prepare for greater isolation if that is an expectation.
  4. There will be a lighter style of life with the beach beckoning and the natural surroundings for all the walks, adventures and so on. Yes, that IS true, but like life in the city, the daily life chores and tasks remain as does the need to work (be it paid or voluntary) so time becomes a factor here too. You “may” not even see the beach you longed to be close to for weeks.
  5. Money will be saved as you move to an area where there is less cost in housing and so there is but there is not always the choice of what comforts/lifestyle you may be seeking and the choices are far fewer than in the metropolitan areas.

These five reasons are mine. I share them because it has been quite a cultural and societal change for me to make the sea change we have. My husband is finding all of it fine. He is far more adjustable to different living places and spaces as his personality is more ‘cruisy’.

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So, what about this list of mine? What’s the outcome for me? In terms of my mental health THIS has been quite  shock to my internal world if you like. However, we were in a no win situation by staying where we were. The mortgage was unaffordable as I was 65 and no longer wanted to work. We took a practical step and I hadn’t quite counted on the effect on me. Nevertheless, the resilience in me is building now I have accepted the changes I need to continue making within myself to ‘go with the sea change’. One day, when we are finally able to buy somewhere coastal (but not on the water as that is out of reach!) I know that the hard yards of settling, discovering what is around have been done during THIS transition time and so I am grateful for that!

Update: an interesting and timely article about making a ‘sea’ or ‘tree’ change.

Have you considered a sea change?

Tell me more!

Denyse.

health

Joining with Raychael over at Agent Mystery Case for Worth Casing Wednesday.

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About Grief. 366/223.

About Grief. 366/223.

I know a little about grief from personal experience and at my age that would be pretty normal.

However, I do not think that many of us realise that grief is not always about death.

Grief takes many forms relating to loss of some kind.

Yes, death, illness and those we love take from us via distance or being unwell or in faraway places not wanting to be contacted.

Grief is also part of life’s transitions I have found personally but I was not always able to recognise what was happening was in fact;

GRIEF.

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This was from a US natural disaster recently. It tells such a story of both grief and comfort. Source: News

When we leave our much loved family…and move away there are some times when we grieve for what was but can no longer be.

When anyone finishes up at the workplace and or/career, there might be a retirement looming but it is a type of grief to ‘stop having the life you have been used to’

Then of course, when anyone relocates or moves away from the familiar to the different. Grief in the form of homesickness can occur.

My grief, when our daughter left home aged 21 more than 24 years ago, wasn’t apparent at the time for me. I took it as a part of what we do as independent adults. In fact, I left home around a similar age to live in the country to teach.

One day, months after our daughter left I was suddenly engulfed in tears (driving in the car by myself) and I wondered ‘what the…’ and then it dawned. I was grieving the loss of the life(style) that was no more which had our two kids with us at home. It is a rite of passage to leave home and ‘normal’ but can affect us, the parents. My mum apparently cried most of the way home to Sydney from Barraba after leaving me in a new and strange place. Dad told me that only a few years ago.

It made me think.

So, don’t be surprised if you get emotional, cranky or tearful when life’s events pass. Remember that this is a part of life..as is grief and there is no plan, no beginning, no normal and no real end….except that over time it softens. I know that I need to speak more kindly to myself and perhaps share with a trusted friend or family member or counsellor how I am going.

Recently I have  subscribed to a great blog and site and this post is related to grief in all its forms.  I also have this link from BuzzFeed that was part of the article. It was so helpful!

I am also comforted by words at times like this and this part of a work by John O’Donohue resonated for me:

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For Grief. To Bless This Space Between Us. John O’Donohue.

How are you going today?

Denyse.

If you are having difficulties and managing grief is part of this, please know that there is always someone who can take your call at Lifeline: 13 11 14.

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Joining with Raychael at Agent Mystery Case for her link called Worth Casing Wednesday.

 

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Settling In. 355/365.

Settling In. 355/365.

Three hundred and fifty three posts ago…..I wrote this.

Then about 50 days into the journey of US

….from Sydney and working life and family life…to the Central Coast, with no more work (by choice) and leaving those we love….I wrote this post

Regular readers, who do not all comment (I know, that’s cool too) will recall that I have found the moving and more very stressful on some days and it’s affected my general well-being for days at a time. It’s not been helped by some IBS at times which has complicated my goals to be independent and drive to Sydney and other places more….

Yes, I wrote about this from time to time too…here.

But today, 355 days into this year of blogging every day, and just about 3 weeks away from the anniversary of the physical move to the coast, I am starting to feel I am settling in.

How do I know?

It’s a feeling of greater physical connection to what we always thought we would like about the coast…the waterways, the temperate climate (not always) and the slower pace of life.

I am also becoming more at ease with the no-working, no easy family connection thing too. I have had to ‘adjust’ to what is my new (very!) normal.

So, I am settling in.

Have you made major life changes?

What were they?

How did you go?

Take care, everyone!

Denyse xx

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How To Be Vulnerable. 239/365.

How To Be Vulnerable. 239/365.

I read that social worker, academic and all things ‘vulnerability’ Dr Brene Brown is all about ‘letting ourselves be vulnerable’ because by doing that we become courageous and more able to feel the joy in life. Read more, much more, here.

I remain unconvinced.

I am in a HUGE and ON-GOING transition-in-life stage and disliking it very much.

Right now, I feel a LOT of vulnerability.

Unsure.

Unconfident.

Not the ‘me’ I think I am or thought I was.

I am definitely a w-i-p as my husband says, we are all ‘works-in-progress.’

What’s your view on this?

Denyse xx

Here’s Brene saying it here, as she has been viewed over 20 million times, on TED.

Grace kindly hosts Flog Your Blog Friday here: go visit!

With Some Grace

Joining with Anne@domesblissity for Thriving on Thursdays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Perfect Moment. 180/365.

One Perfect Moment. 180/365.

I’ve been having some issues with anxiety and it’s to do with my transitioning in life…sigh. That happens to most people in a major life change – and I’ve had 3! Moving house, leaving family and retirement.

However, this past week has been a little more ‘edgy’ and despite all the self-care I write about and practise at time I need to ‘go with the flow’ of what it is.

This has been helpful and learned (as I continue to do) via Headspace and where I meditate with guidance every day.

Now into my week of coming up to 100 days of meditation without a break I am going to allow myself a ‘pat on the back’ for continuing despite the challenges as I KNOW it’s making difference.

This week I am hosting an educators’ twitter feed as @EduTweetOz and it would not be ‘true’ for me if I did not admit to needing some guidance to self-care.

So, THIS is my ‘one perfect moment’…..realisation that despite the challenges, I can still care for me in the best way I know how. Joining Kylie Purtell for this meme on a Monday.

Here’s one way I found in the past few days where I became absorbed in an activity and my anxiety diminished! ART…always rocks for me! I’ve also discovered the benefits of colouring-in for adults and now make my own patterns!

Here’s to art..or whatever you do to help you!

Take care everyone, and do tell us what you do for self-care!

Denyse

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Beautiful Sydney Day..on my way to TEDxSydney in May

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Original Pattern designed by me and coloured in using good quality pencils.

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Ideas for buying ‘cheaper’ colouring-in books!

 

If you are struggling with issues that could be affecting your health, please ensure you visit your GP for a chat. There are also people at the end of telephone to talk with you at Lifeline on 131114 and Beyond Blue 1300 224636.

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