“Challenges”

Last year, I decided to run a half marathon every month for charity. I ended up doing 3 extra and completing 15 half marathons in 12 months for Beat.

It’s pretty rare for me to admit I am proud of myself. But on this one occasion I’ll admit it – I’m proud I set myself a challenge and accomplished it. A challenge that not anyone can do, nor will do. 

I run a lot and love it but that didn’t make any part of the challenge any easier. I forked out a tonne of money paying for entry to 8 of the half marathons; the rest I ran alone which isn’t exactly easy to motivate yourself to do when it is freezing cold out: or the opposite; baking hot on the hottest day of the year. Or when your legs no longer want to move forward and your knees feel like they are about to give up on you. Or when you are struggling so much mentally you just want to curl into a ball and cry. Or when you just cannot be bothered any more.

The fact that I did this, and that others set themselves and accomplish incredible challenges on a daily basis only adds to my frustration of how ridiculous some of the stupid-ass “challenges” I see pop up on my Facebook feed on what feels like a regular basis.

Downing a pint of alcohol based disgustingly adapted drink is NOT a challenge: it is stupid and in some cases lost people their lives. Jolly good show all round. Not.

So this weeks “motherhood challenge” hit several nerves. Nominating one of your friends who you think is a great mother? Seriously? Here are my various reasons as to why this is ridiculous:

1) 9/10 people would probably support their friends no matter what – even the worst mothers will have some dumb “yes man” friend nominating them.

2) you’re a good mum? Well bloody done – that is the least I wold expect from someone making a choice to bring a child into the world: if you aren’t going to be a good mum then quit having sex/put a “cap” on it.

3) do you have absolutely any idea how heart wrenching it is for someone struggling to conceive? It is difficult enough being thrilled for friends falling pregnant what feels like left, right and centre, sometimes without even trying – I am thrilled, of course, but I WISH I had the opportunity to be a great mother – but as it turns out – I can’t conceive at the moment. Currently – who knows if I ever will.

I love seeing and hearing about my friends and family: their lives and pictures via social media. That’s why I use it. I do not need to see every one of your friends children pop up in my news feed too because they are “brilliant mothers” in the “motherhood challenge”.
For those that think this is bitter – delete me – bye. To my mother friends – of course you are great mothers – if I thought otherwise then I would report you to social services and I wouldn’t be your friend!

Can we just take some time out to think realistically here people?

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Open Letter to Good Housekeeping

Well – here goes! After many suggestions to start my own blog, many moons spent thinking about it, what feels like forever in trying to understand wordpress….here forth begins myBlog!

I suspect it will become a little bit of everything – I’m a fashion girl at heart but after the last year of craziness, I’d really like to talk about Mental Health.
This wasn’t something I wanted to talk about at first. Few people knew when I was first signed off with Anxiety with Depression in March 2015. Those that did were banned from talking. It took another 7 months for me to start being a lot more open – now you’d struggle to stop me!
Because of this, I thought it fitting for my first “blog” to be the open letter I’ve just written to Good Housekeeping Magazine RE an article in their February 2016 issue..
Enjoy!
Karen xx
Dear GH

Let me start by saying; I love your magazine. I’m 28 so potentially one of your youngest readers and I don’t expect your target market, but ever since my mum had a subscription I’ve always loved reading GH. I honestly believe it is one of few remaining decent magazines that doesn’t glorify this new world culture of Z-List “Celebrities” that are famous for not really being famous, for example, the likes of “The Only Way Is Essex”, “Made In Chelsea”, etc. Television I’ve never watched – because I’d much rather be reading a good book or a good article; developing my imagination further or learning. Or living my life rather than wasting it in front of a box watching pointless endless waffle dumbing down my brain. I’ve suffered serious mental health issues the last year and because of this I feel like I’ve lost a huge amount of me, of my ability to focus or concentrate on anything for much longer than 30 seconds. I can’t read a book at the moment; because I take in nothing and loose focus quickly. After being signed off work for a third time I finally decided to leave. I’m lucky I am supported physically, mentally, financially, by my husband (and wider family) to be able to essentially “retire” at the age of 28. I digress – my point being that I struggle to concentrate and learn at the moment – my brain already feels “dumbed down” without adding to it by watching this kind of endless rubbish on television, so I have always admired GH for focussing on genuine, hardworking, talented celebrities – real actors, singers, musicians – or even the likes of real GOOD members of the public contributing vastly to society. Proper articles, interesting reads, no focus on how “thin” so-and-so looks or how much weight so-and-so has gained, etc.

I regularly make recipes from your magazines, in particular the “Energy Boosting Bars” which I edit from January 2015. Everyone I share them with enjoys them and feels like they’ve had a healthier treat. In fact as I typed some of this email I was mid way through preparing a batch.

I was pretty surprised, therefore, to notice this weekend your latest edition with the title “switch on your skinny gene – I lost 7 lbs in 7 days!” blazoned across the front in bright orange font. My weight fluctuates between a healthy 8 stone – 9.7 stone regularly. It does so because despite now being an adult and knowing what foods, exercise, lifestyle choices etc, work for my body, I still consistently find myself engulfed in disordered eating thoughts stemmed from an 18 year on-off battle with Anorexia Nervosa. I do not believe I will ever fully get over this battle. I do believe I can contribute to others not having to go through this battle – if I am ever lucky enough to have children of my own I will work tirelessly to ensure they do not have an unhealthy attitude towards food and exercise. The recommended and healthy weight loss is 1-2 lbs a week. For someone who is insanely obese – a half stone weight loss in a week would be easy for someone really working at it – however still probably not healthy. At 9 stone which is perfectly healthy for my age and height, I can still loose half a stone in a week. But I should not be able to: It is not healthy. At my worst I buy baby food snacks because they are lower calorie. I keep the packaging until they are all gone so I can keep track of those exact calories. I fill myself up on diet fizzy drinks. I weigh out every morsel of food; salad leaves included. I can force myself to eat little and move more. I track everything. My shockingly low recommended calorie goal provided to me by a tracking app on my phone; I always fight to be lower than. At best I’ll eat anything and everything but this too often comes with consequences; I’ll throw up, take laxatives, run further. it is this kind of disordered eating which has me wondering if I will ever conceive.
I didn’t have time to read the article initially. I wasn’t sure I wanted to; I was so disappointed, GH, that you seemed to have broken your morals and stopped to the levels of every other magazine in essentially encouraging rapid, unhealthy, unsustainable weight loss, and glorifying eating disorders in doing so. Eventually, I succumbed. I wanted, needed, to see what you had to say. Whilst I appreciate you admitted it was an out of character article for GH; I still feel it has been advertised in the wrong way; bright orange font glaring out at those so susceptible and desperate to loose weight in any possible way; proven by the fact that it was the first thing I noticed within a rare visit to a supermarket; it is what drew me to the magazine before I even realised it was GH. The article itself is reasonably sensible; talking down “fad” diets and discussing eating foods rich in nutrients, but that’s where it ends. You talk about no severe calorie restriction; however I would think that restricting to 1000 calories for 3 days and then a maximum of 1500 calories for the rest does sound somewhat extreme; and I am disappointed that although “staying active” is mentioned; there is no talk of a healthy amount of weekly exercise involved with the diet; I am no expert, but I suspect this is probably because it is a grossly restricted calorie diet, which leaves you with little left to burn in healthy exercise. I still feel like after a week, and people go back to eating “normally” that half a stone would quickly be put back on. The best way to loose weight and keep it off, if this is what you really want; is to eat well. Proper, whole foods, fruit, veg. Less refined sugars and ready meals. Cook from scratch. Exercise.

Please, please, rethink who you are. What you stand for – the wonderful magazine who embraces real women. I think there is a dying breed of this REAL woman. Healthy eating, healthy exercise, healthy attitudes, are the best way to lead this short time we get to live.

Karen