Body image and health

I’ve always been a supporter of positive body image. Everyone should embrace their own body without having to feel that they must conform to the masses. Everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin.

It’s quite a common occurrence now to see ‘plus size’ models being portrayed as loving their own bodies, especially on Instagram. When I was growing up all I saw in the media was, what I used to call, ‘stick thin’ women which most girls wanted to be like. Dieting was an important issue for young girls while I was at secondary school, when we were just aged between 10-14 years old.

I consider myself plus size and I had the confidence for the first time in my life to wear a bikini last year when I went to Spain for a short break. I felt fabulous and I plan to wear it again soon when I head over to France on holiday this Saturday.

In Spain last year

 

What initiated me to write this blog is when I read an interesting article the other day while I was browsing my Facebook feed. While the article supported body image, it was very frank about how the UK is facing an obesity crisis, and that people are not looking after their health how they should be.

We all know how to eat healthily, but it can be very challenging. It can be a struggle for me, as I have a sweet tooth and probably eat more food than I really need to. I am also on a never ending journey of trying to lose body weight, which I’m finding difficult for various reasons, but it’s probably mostly due to lack of motivation in this area.

The article then went on to suggest that even though it is good that people are becoming more body positive, they are doing so at the expense of their own health, e.g. models who are very/extremely overweight but are not attempting to lose weight.

We also all know that being overweight carries a lot of health issues, including high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart attacks and diabetes. It’s also a big cost for the NHS in the UK; medication to help with diabetes is on the rise as well as the amount of people having heart attacks due to being overweight.

However, there is still this increase in positivity towards larger people who are models or those who have the confidence to wear clothing which was once deemed only suitable for ‘thinner’ people.

After reading the article I must admit I found it hard to comprehend and get my head around at first. I support people who have the confidence to wear what they want, especially larger people since I class myself as ‘large’, but I also support those who are working hard to lose body weight. I guess it’s because I support people in how they want to embrace themselves and if they want to change their body to make themselves happier, then I support that too.

I am also a big supporter of the NHS and I think that a lot of money could be saved if people did look after themselves more, such as taking up exercise and eating healthily, since these would decrease the risk of heart attacks and other diseases related to being overweight/obese.

Another interesting point raised from the article is what constitutes being healthy. We are all different shapes and sizes. For example, there are some larger people who eat healthily and exercise, while on the other hand there are some thinner people who do not eat healthy food and rarely exercise. Of course I’m generalising here, but they serve as examples that we are diverse and everyone’s bodies are different.

Not all larger people are unhealthy and unfit. I know that I’m overweight, but I consider myself fitter than I ever have been in my life. I ran 18km the other day and then stuffed my face with birthday cake later on to satisfy my sweet tooth.

The article does raise some good points, I’m annoyed at myself that I can’t find it now as it was an interesting read. It certainly made me think about myself and my opinions on body image and health. I don’t really know how to conclude, but I do agree that while we all should be body positive, we need to look after our health as well.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear

18km round #1

In three months’ time I will be running the half marathon in Leicester! I can’t quite believe how fast the time is going by, but my training is in full swing and I ran 18km for the first time today.

I was going to have a lie in this morning but my body clock woke me up at 7am, so I decided to go out for a long distance run. While the weather was a bit muggy at first (it rained later on), it was quiet which was ideal for running. There were a few runners, some cyclists and dog walkers out and about, but it’s much easier to go for a run in the early morning rather than later when more people are about.

Before 18km

Before going out I planned my route and decided to go for 18km (my next step from 15km was originally 17.5km). Once I passed the 15km mark I was entering into unknown territory, as in I had never ran further than 15km before. It felt exciting when I passed the 15km mark, even though my legs were taking their toll at this stage.

Luckily I felt no pain in my shins today, although my right hip was hurting slightly. It seems that I experience mild pain in different areas of my body in long distance running, but I guess that my body is still getting accustomed to it. I carried on and slowed down when necessary. I had to walk a bit after the 16km mark as there were some steep inclines, but then I ran the rest of the distance to reach 18km.

I forgot to set the timer on my iPod, but I ran 18km in about 2 hours. I’m very pleased with this, as I was expecting the time to be a bit longer. I’ve averaged 15km in about 1 hour and 43 minutes, so I’m thrilled with my estimated time today. The first 10km of the route is what I’ve ran when practicing for the Race for Life, so I’m very accustomed to this route and this probably helped with my time.

After 18km 😛

I probably won’t get to run 18km again now until August as I’m off to France for 12 days next Saturday, but I am so glad that I’ve achieved the next step of my training. Once I’m back from France I will run 18km again, maybe even a few times so that I become accustomed to that distance. Then the final step of my training will be 21km, the distance of a half marathon!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Race reflection

Today the Race for Life took place in Leicester- I hope that everyone who participated had a great time and enjoyed the experience of walking, running or dancing alongside hundreds of women who all support a worthy cause, Cancer Research UK.

I decided not to do the Race for Life this year. You may remember that last year one of my aims was to run a half marathon, but I focused too much on training to run 10km as quickly as possible. I did manage to beat the time of my first 10km Race for Life, which was 1 hour 12 minutes. Last year I completed my second 10km Race of Life in 1 hour and 4 minutes, which I thought was a great improvement.

How I was after last year’s Race for Life

 

By the time I had got round to running further than 10km last year, I was struggling and I decided that three months of training wouldn’t be enough time to run 21km/13 miles.

One year on, and I am now accustomed to running 15km. I have just over three months left until the half marathon in Leicester and I feel more comfortable about achieving this than I was last year.

Ideally I’d like to run 21km at least once before the 15th October. The next stage of my training is to run 17.5km, although I am tempted to push this to 18km, maybe even 19km. When planning my route I’ll see how I can extend my 15km routes.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #18

My blog has been on the quiet side recently. In fact, I only wrote 3 blogs last month: my previous update, one about my current situation and the other about my third attempt at 15km.

While my blog has been a little inactive, I got up to some fun things in June, which I thought would be nice to mention about for a change.

On the 9th June I went to see a stage version of Willy Russell’s play Shirley Valentine in Coventry with my parents. We’re all big fans of the film version and we admire Russell’s works (Blood Brothers is my favourite musical!). The production was really good and it was fascinating that Russell wrote the play with only one character on stage: Shirley Valentine.

The following weekend I went on a small trip to the National Justice Museum in Nottingham. It was an educational day out where I learnt about the history of the judicial system in Nottingham. There was also some history about women’s campaigning for the right to vote during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I liked the artwork that I saw below:

National Justice Museum, Nottingham

I also had a go at putting my head in the stocks, which was harder than I thought it would be (I have a big head!).

What crime did I commit?! 😛

The weekend after Nottingham I went to Skegness for the day with one of my best friends. It was my first time driving over 200 miles in one day, which I actually enjoyed as the route was nice with pleasant views. We got up to all sorts including shopping, walking on the beach, a game of pirate crazy golf, trying our luck on the 2p machines and eating ice cream and fish and chips, although the fish I had was more like a whale!

A huge portion of fish and chips!

The weekend just gone was a very social one- my parents held a surprise birthday party for two friends who have recently turned 65. My father cooked on the BBQ and we had lots of scrumptious food over the weekend. Yesterday I ended up going to an afternoon tea with my mother, which was delicious (and a sugar overload!).

Yet another afternoon tea

My blog will probably be similar to last month, but I will try to post some content for the next few weeks. I have some more exciting stuff coming up this month. I’m off to France for two weeks for a much needed break on the 22nd July, which I can’t wait for. I will definitely write a blog about my fortnight away in France.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

 

15km round #3

It’s been just over two weeks since I last posted on here- sorry about that!  I’ve been busy again recently and some weekday evenings I feel so exhausted that I don’t have the energy to write a blog.

Moving on, the last blog I wrote was about my current struggle to get down to the gym before work in the morning. I still haven’t been as of yet, but my training for the half marathon is getting better.

Despite feeling tired after a lovely and full day out in Skegness yesterday, I managed to run 15km this morning! It’s the third time I’ve ran this distance, and I felt that it went pretty well.

For a start, my shins didn’t hurt. This felt amazing as I’ve experienced pain in my shins recently when going out long distance running; it doesn’t make it any easier having this pain. I forgot to put Deep Heat on my legs, but I didn’t need it this morning. This was certainly a boost.

The weather was ideal for running today- the sun wasn’t too strong and there was a cool breeze. It tried to rain towards the end of the run which I didn’t mind, as it was refreshing.

I also ran a lot of the route on meadows and fields, which I prefer to running on hard pavements. The grass wasn’t wet so I didn’t get blisters or feel any rubbing on my feet. Some of the fields were a little overgrown which made it a bit harder running, but it feels nicer to run on grass.

I completed 15km today in about 1 hour and 48 minutes. This is not my fastest attempt, but considering the last time I went for a 15km run was over a month ago, I think I did well.

The next step now is to run 17.5km. The next time I go out for a long distance I will have a go at adding an extra 2.5km to my 15km routes. I’ve got about 3 1/2 months to go until the half marathon, so I need to be able to run another 6km in order to reach 21km, i.e. 13 miles!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Step back/step forward

I wasn’t sure how to title this blog, or how to go about it at first, but here it goes.

I mentioned recently that I’ve been going through a rough patch. I’m better than I was but it’s still a bit hard, which has been affecting the fitness aspect of my life.

I still haven’t been able to get down to the gym on my way to work. I feel so tired when trying to get up earlier for the gym, so I end up going back to sleep and waking up at the latest time possible. I need to give myself a kick up the backside really as the gym is on my way to work, which is very convenient. Going to the gym will help to relieve my stress and start to make me feel more awake. I certainly felt a boost when I went to the gym before going to work for my previous job.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t want to go to the gym after work because I don’t finish until 5:30 and it gets really busy at that time. Plus I wouldn’t have much of an evening left by the time I got back home. I like time in the evening to relax, socialise or write blogs. It’s been two months since I started my new job, so I’d like to get down to the gym for an early morning session before I reach the three month mark.

However, I have been down to the gym recently; I went last weekend and today!

I wanted to go for a long distance run last weekend as part of my half marathon training, but I decided against it. This was because there was a festival along the canal, which was the way I wanted to go. If the grass was drier, I would’ve ran along the meadows but from past experience, I get blisters from running in wet trainers.

So last Sunday I went to the gym for the first time in two months! I wanted to have a go at running 15km on the treadmill, but then I remembered than running long distances on the treadmill is very different compared to running outside. I find it easier to maintain a decent speed when running outside, and I’m not constantly checking the time. I stopped running when I burnt 1000 calories on the treadmill- I ran 9.22km in 1 hour and 12 minutes.

Today I had a session on the cross trainer which actually went really well. I was expecting to find it difficult to maintain the speed I like to go at, but I managed to complete 3km in 47 minutes and 33 seconds while varying the intensity. I felt better in myself and having a good session on the cross trainer.

Even though I’ve been struggling to go to the gym recently, I have been walking on average 5 miles a day. My commute to work is 2.5 miles which I can walk in 40-45 minutes. I like walking to work as I sit all day in the office, it helps to maintain my fitness.

Onwards and upwards as they say- that’s the mentality I need for going forward in my training for the half marathon.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear

Update #17

Wow! We’re half way through the year already! Last month seems to have flown by in a blur, but I got up to a lot looking through the posts on my blog for May.

My blog was busy food wise last month. I made two lemon drizzle cakes, one for a bake off at my new job and the other for a ladies’ night in. I preferred my second attempt at making lemon drizzle cake. I used a metal tin rather than a silicone mould and using plain flour with a little dash of baking powder seemed to make a better sponge.

I recently went to a food and drinks festival at Alexandra Palace called StrEAT Life. This was a fun day out where I got to catch up with one of my university friends, and where we got to try some tasty food (and drink a lot of Pimm’s!). Last weekend in general was a binge food weekend, as I also went to a lovely afternoon tea and had fish and chips in Cromer.

Fitness wise was a series of ups and downs in May. I managed to complete a second 15km run and my 16th parkrun, but I have started experiencing pain in my shins. This has made it rather difficult when running. I attempted to run 15km at the start of the month but I only managed 5km because my shins were hurting a lot. I intend to go out running this weekend, so I’ll make sure to put some Deep Heat on my shins which my father has recommended to help ease the pain. I’d like to complete another 15km run before I move onto 17.5km for my training for the half marathon (which is only 4 months away!).

Despite the pain in my shins, last month marked one year since I discovered the parkrun in Guernsey. I am so glad that I was told about the parkrun; I enjoy going to my local one when I can make it on a Saturday morning. I ought to have a go at other parkuns around the area for a bit of a change and to meet more runners.

I mentioned about a night out for the fitness aspect of my blog, which was Peter Kay’s Dance for Life. It was a 3 hour dance-a-thon, which I think counted as a good form of exercise. The Dance for Life was so much fun and everyone was knackered by the end of the evening from dancing so much, but everyone had a big smile on their face.

I’ve been very quiet on the feminist front as of late. There’s lots of things I’d love to write about, but it takes me more time to write a feminist blog. I think it would be good for me to write at least one feminist blog this month. Do you have any suggestions for what I could write about?

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂