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Self Worth

Confessions of a Binge/Starve Cycle Eater (& Drinker)

January 2019

What is the binge/starve cycle eating disorder?

I always thought there were only two eating disorders; anorexia or bulimia.  And although I came close to anorexia in my 20s it wasn’t until my official diagnosis of clinical depression at 32 that this eating disorder situation got more serious unbeknownst to me at the time. 

It is actually only since I declared myself fully recovered in 2016 of depression that I now recognize how serious my eating disorder was and of course now we have an official label.  I don’t recall back in the 00’s (when I was at my worst) the term binge/starve cycle being used but that was exactly my reality.  Goes hand in hand with my binge drinking party girl lifestyle that I had adopted but as I was eating more than I was in my 20s, weighed more and I wasn’t purging it never occurred to me I had an eating disorder until now!

Circa 2004 is when my issues escalated on the binge drinking scene and in turn the food challenges.  I started working in the finance industry and the rumors are all true regarding the lavish lifestyle of investment bankers and with all my issues I was primed to join the corporate, drinking, party scene.  It was a place I could block out my pain, run away from myself, dull the growing panic that I was aging and did not have the picket fence, get attention from men (albeit the wrong kind), attempt to fill the widening void inside me and of course meet a man…  The desperate, drunk, single girl is an oh so attractive look!

Free alcohol is provided every Friday sometimes more often in the investment banking world.  Expectations are VERY high and the hours are long even for “back office” employees.  My Friday night binge drinking escapades would begin at 4pm when the fridge was unlocked with Jane eagerly waiting to set up the free drinks & nibbles to load up prior to heading out on the town.   I was usually well oiled before I had even left the office around 6-7pm to find my perch at one of the many bars in the finance district in the heart of Sydney.

But the food binging had started well before the nights activities to prepare myself for the excess alcohol.  My Friday breakfast was Turkish bread toasted with extra butter and vegemite, followed by a huge lunch of pasta or pizza with a bottle of coca cola and followed by chocolate.  Nibbles were also provided with the free drinks which was usually chips & cheezels (I LOVE cheezels!)  so my calorie intake for food alone for a Friday would have easily been close to 5,000!

This would all now be considered a “cheat” meal for me and as I have eliminated sugar & alcohol from my diet when I do indulge I can physically feel the charge of sugar, agitation and adrenalin as my blood sugar level soars.  No wonder I had so much stamina to work all week and then party to the wee hours on Fridays!

It was not uncommon for me to drink from 4pm to 1-2am……  another thousand odd liquid calories consumed and then to top it off a detour to McDonalds or Hungry Jacks on the way home..  gotta soak up the alcohol somehow right?  And I had skipped dinner was my logic..

I would catch a cab home and often not remember the trip, pass out usually with clothes & make up still on and contact lenses still in.  I would wake up a few hours later with my eyes stuck together and throbbing feet (not often head) having worn high heels for up to 15 hours straight..  Would you believe I rarely suffered a hangover?! (although clearly I was shady…) And I would then drag my ass to the gym as punishment for the binge!  Jumping up and down like a crazy woman to burn off the calories and the terror I felt that the binge would result in weight gain.  My ultimate nightmare.  How could I possibly find a man if I put on weight??!!!

Afternoon nap and then it would all start again on Saturday night only this time drinks & nibbles were at home while I was getting ready.  No dinner again and no carb load during the day like Fridays so I was drunk before even stepping out of the house.  I was lonely, desperate, depressed, miserable and needed the alcohol hit to even find the courage to go out and put on that fake happy, bubbly, sociable persona.  But staying home alone was also not an option and even if I did I still would have been drinking.

Saturday nights were generally my “pick up” night (yes I was also a slut!) so if I did happen to score the late night fast food binge was diverted.  Giving my body away cheaply was another method I used to try and fill the gaping void in my soul.

Waking up Sunday morning was never a pretty affair! Who is this “boy” in my bed!  Think they call this being a cougar..?  They were usually more than 10 years younger…  After I extract myself from this awkward situation the day was spent trying to get my shit together for the work week ahead.  Life admin, zombie in front of the TV, early night.

With Monday comes the crash back to reality and the need to hide my shame of the weekend but more importantly punishment for the calories and self-destructive behavior.  The terror that gripped me that I would wake up fat on Monday would see me analyze my body in the mirror weighing myself every Monday.  The number would determine the severity of punishment I would inflect on my poor body.

The restrictions commencing Monday would involve limited calories; breakfast was a smoothie with just fruit & ice, lunch was salad with minimal or no protein, no carbs at all and my specialty double group exercise classes a day.  Monday was always back to back after work.  Tuesday to Thursday were lunchtime with a night time class at least once and more if I could find the energy.

Diet during this period also included limited water, I actually had cordial in my water at home.. I rationalized this with “diet” cordial so less calories…  4-5 cups a day of black tea with milk & 3 sugars…  I would often skip dinner but Lean Cuisine was a staple for the evening meal; isn’t this healthy diet food…?  Seems funny to me now but how I was I to know?  We are not taught nutrition at school??!

I have fluctuated with my night outs over the years.  Sometimes Thursday night was a big one in the city and I went through a period of time of going out on Sunday night… generally it would only be 2 nights a week but was always up for more if it was on offer!  And there was never a night that I went out and didn't get drunk.  It was the only way I could handle being out!

The other destructive habit I had during this period was the strongest over the counter pain killers I could get my hands on (codeine & ibuprofen)  These were used on the non-binge nights to sleep.  Sleeping was always very difficult for me; when you spend 24/7 trying to run away from the enemy in your head you will take anything to get some relief from the constant hurtful, destructive, depressing stream of thoughts.

This little vice turned into an addiction and actually saw me do damage to my bladder that resulted in an operation.  It is also no surprise to me now that I suffered gut issues as these tablets were often taken on an empty stomach.  My poor body…  Thankfully I have resolved most of these issues now.

This lifestyle seems so foreign me to me today but it is only 6 years ago this was my reality.  Even when I started bodybuilding I was still going out on Saturday night only to the wee hours and doing the fast food binge on the way home.  I think I took my cheat meal to the extreme…  I was terrified my new fitness friends & coaches would find out about my issues and forbade my party friends from posting anything on social media!  Containing it to only Saturday night however was a HUGE step forward for me.  And eventually it was eliminated altogether.

The really sad thing about eating disorders is although I am fully recovered from all my emotional issues I still have trouble with food when I have do a full “shred” as we bodybuilders call it.  All 5 times I have gone down that lean after the comp or photo shoot I battle with food and fall back into anorexic type behavior.  Eating disorders and food challenges run very, very deep for us women!  It takes three of the professionals supporting me to provide a well-deserved lecture, all with a different angle depending on their expertise, to pull me back out to normal eating. 

Eating disorders are epidemic in society and it breaks my heart that there are not more effective treatments.  Nor is there education in school around nutrition, nourishment & respect of our bodies.  Eating disorders, in my opinion, are no different to depression, anxiety or any other mental health challenge.  All these issues start and end in our minds.  Change your mind, change your lifestyle and you WILL change your life!

Please, please, PLEASE! reach out for help if any of this resonates with you.  I know it feels shameful to be in this situation but if I can pull myself out you can too!  And I would LOVE to support you to feel as AWESOME as I now do!

Click here to book our chat!

"The best way to defy the eating disorder is to pick up your fork and NOURISH your body"

Self Worth

My Darkest Hour

September 2018

Surprisingly NOT my two attempts to end my life..

In the midst of a very unhealthy relationship for me, with my heart broken by the same man over and over again..  (why do we women put up with men who don’t value us?) I decided that I once again couldn’t cope with the depression and suicidal thoughts.  This time however I was not looking for a fast track escape route from life altogether, I actually wanted help from professionals.

Having the deep seeded belief that I was broken, emotionally damaged and that something was seriously wrong with me I voluntarily checked myself into a private clinic for depression.  Surely this is the place that had the answers to my misery..?

As soon as I arrived I didn’t feel comfortable.  Here I am in a small facility that had maybe 12 patients and we were all being treated as mentally ill…?  Not sure why I believed that it would be any different??!!  But as my fellow inmates had actual physical signs of paranoia, anxiety, utter despair, and the like, I quickly realised that I actually was not as bad as I thought I was!

My emotional issues were will hidden.  I had trained myself to function at a socially acceptable level.  To look at me you would have thought I had it all going for me.  This was not the case for my new friends.

I couldn’t cope with the group sessions as a result.  So I didn’t go and just sat in my room either reading or staring at the four walls wondering what the hell I had got myself into.

I was given different anti-depressants than the one I had been on and immediately taken off all the natural supplements I was taking to support my physical and mental health.  From experience I know that psychiatric medication should be a gradual increase/decrease to prevent adverse reactions.  In addition, I was given nightly tablets that knocked me out cold for at least 10 hours.  (I actually loved that part of it!)

But I just knew I didn’t belong there and so I asked one of the nurses if I could go home.  I had voluntarily checked myself in, I had actually paid for the privilege of being there; surely, I was able to leave when I wanted…?

Apparently, that is not how things work in these private facilities.  You actually forfeit your rights on check in.  I was not free to leave unless a doctor gave me permission to leave.  But the doctor is not in until Friday..  two days away!  So I go back to my room and stare at the ceiling wondering what the hell I had got myself into!

Within an hour two paramedics appear at my door.  “We are here to escort you to a public ward.”  Say what?!  Why am I being taken to a public ward?  I have private health insurance and I have funded my share of the stay here.  I am told to pack up my things quickly and am escorted, complete with my arms being held by each, to an ambulance waiting out the front.  WTF??!!!

I sit in the ambulance and ask the paramedic what is going on?  She produces a court order (!!!!!) that I am to be transferred to a public ward.  Under the mental health act I am not able to discharge myself from a private clinic.  Which I can understand is appropriate in some cases but I was no danger was I? I hadn’t packed my bags, showed any signs of physically leaving, threatened anyone; I was sulking in my room!

We arrive at the public hospital and I am left waiting in a room for two hours for a doctor.  By the time he arrives I am visibly stressed an agitated.  Of course!  I am assessed and striped of all personal belongings and anything considered dangerous.  For example; nail scissors, nail files, tweezers, belts..  They also take my phone and my wallet..

I am put in a room by myself and am immediately given medication.  Take this it will calm your nerves they said.. Being the addict that I was I downed them without question. For the next three days…  that is 3!  I come in and out of a drug induced haze.  I can remember very little but do remember my ex-husband coming to see me to tell me he can’t get me out and neither can my brother.  The only way to be discharged is with parental consent!!!!  I am 38 years old..  I had not told my parents how bad my depression was or that I had checked myself into a clinic for depression…

My mother is away on holiday.  My father has to fly up from Melbourne to secure my release.

What could have happened to me if my parents were not alive?

What could have happened to me if I did not have people who cared enough to visit me in this psychiatric ward and see the situation I had got myself into to?

How is it that someone with depression and has no history of violence is drugged to a state of incoherence?

How is it possible to cure depression in such a clinical, foreign, drug induced, threatening environment?

How is all of the above even legal?

I walked away from this experience realising I was not only a very lucky girl and I was not nearly as bad as I thought I was.  But also with a deep seeded fear of the medical profession and vowed to never turn to doctors for help with depression again.

My depression continued however and I go on to a second attempt on my life at the age of 41 (the first was at 35) interestingly this warranted only over an overnight stay in hospital, no change in medication, and I was discharged the very next day to the care of my ex-husband.

It takes me another 9 years before I declare myself fully recovered.  Discovering bodybuilding at the age of 45 was the beginning to the end of my demons.  I have written a book about my journey of beating depression which you can read more about here.

To say I have turned my life around is understatement!  A journey that I am truly blessed to be given.  And I am still young enough to be able to enjoy the rest of my life!

If you are suffering from depression please reach out for help but please make sure you inform loved ones and that it is the right help for you!

Self Worth

8 Places this Depressed Girl Searched for Happiness

June 2018
Jane Curnow

I spent 25 years searching for happiness.  Ultimately that is what depression is?  I always believed there was something wrong with me as clearly I looked like what most told me should bring me happiness and with the constant feedback I received from family that was I was too emotional, too sensitive, too dumb, get over yourself, grow up, blah, blah blah I was miserable… So I searched and searched for the answer to my misery and how I could change myself and my life in order to be accepted and find happiness.

I used to hear and read over and over that happiness was an inside job and I just thought that was a load of crap! And it didn’t apply to me. How could I possibly be happy when I didn’t have the degree, career, money, man, house, kids etc. etc. I felt incredible pressure to “do” life in a certain order and without these things or circumstances I was miserable and felt like I had failed at life.

I also read that loving yourself was paramount to finding true happiness. But this brought up internal conflict for me as growing up loving yourself was a derogatory term. You were labeled “up yourself” and frowned upon so it was something I avoided at all costs! I was not taught to take pride in myself whether that be any achievement or taking care of my body. I was also not given any praise or positive feedback for anything so even before I have reached my teenage years and the influence of the media is greater I was already battling low self-worth.

So as an adult I spent 25 years chasing happiness through the external and the following channels.

  1. In my next purchase. I was a shopaholic. Mainly clothes like most girls. Usually on credit.. I was always combing the stores for my next bargain and then more recently online shopping meant I could shop anytime! I hated being seen in the same outfit more than a few times and was always so excited to go home with loads of shopping bags. My wardrobe was overflowing! The joy from shopping is always fleeting.. that’s why we go back over and over again to chase the next purchase.. and the next.. Sourcing happiness from material things whether it be clothes, a house, car, technology is a never-ending cycle.
  2. In my next relationship. Despite having a few long term relationships clearly with my low self-worth they were not going to be the right ones and although they lessened my depression they inevitable brought up other issues. Having a healthy relationship with a partner starts with a healthy relationship with yourself. My single years brought out the very (very!) desperate Jane and my depression hit an all-time low and would see my two attempts to exit all together. Coming from a space of desperation of course I got my heart broken over and over. But it wasn’t just romantic relationships, I have not been consistent with friendships either. As soon as my issues started to emerge I would move on or they would. I would put a lot of effort into searching for new friends online as well as a partner with the hope that the next relationship would give me happiness and resolve my depression.
  3. In the next person to solve my problems. I was always seeking out professional help. I have seen dozens of different psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoanalysts under the traditional therapy method. If I didn’t find the peace & happiness I was searching for I would move on sure that the next one would give me the answers. I also did the rounds of alternate therapist’s; energetic healing was one I stuck with for a long time and I do believe contributed to my recovery. I have also tried kinesiology, naturopathy, transformational healing, reiki & hypnotherapy.
  4. In my next home. I am a homemaker and part of my attachment to the picket fence dream was not just the man and children but the house. The breakdown in my second marriage saw my devastation not only for the relationship but over the loss of my house that I had spent 100’s of hours decorating, renovating and cleaning. So I very much resented the “shoe box” living (one bedroom apartment) which was all I could afford through my single years. So I would move regularly, trying different areas to live in with the hope that the next move would bring me happiness.
  5. In my next job. Changing jobs too often is still frowned upon in the corporate world which I totally disagree with but it depends on the reasons. There is a big difference in changing roles to gain more experience and skills in comparison to why I was changing jobs which was searching for happiness or because I had pissed off too many people! A corporate role was never going to give me happiness given what my passions are in life but as I was good at my job it was relatively easy for me to obtain a new one. So I did regularly sure that the next job would bring me my man and happiness..
  6. In my next physical enhancement. With my unhealthy obsession in my exterior naturally the aging process was not something I embraced or dealt with well! So I was always trying the latest painful skin treatment hoping that the next one would magically turn back the clock, make me youthful again but more importantly make me happy. IPL, fraxel, botox; all very painful! And expensive.. my dependence on my exterior was continually reinforced not only by the way society glorifies attractive women but youth and with the realization that I actually was one of the lucky ones the pressure I felt was massive. I am attractive so why don’t I have my dream life..? why am I so unhappy? I felt there was something seriously wrong with me! So keeping what I perceived as the only thing going for me consumed me!
  7. In my next escape. By this I don’t mean holiday escape, I mean escape from my reality! Drugs and alcohol do have a way of giving you some happiness… albeit brief! And can be a great way of relaxing and socializing if it is for healthy reasons. But for me it was an addiction and a means of escape from myself. When you spend every waking moment hating the very person you spend all your time with a temporary escape allows you to find a brief respite. Watching TV was another avenue to block out my pain and reality. But the high always comes down, the morning always comes, the entertainment always ends. Another never ending cycle..
  8. Recognition from others. Having had an unsupportive family my entire life, never feeling good enough and suffering with low self-worth I have continually sort out validation from others to feel happy. When you have no concept of your own worth the only way to source any positive feedback is from others.

Since my recovery from depression and regaining my self-worth I read back over these points that describe the old Jane with compassion and relief that I no longer feel this way! But too many of us fall into these traps as comparisonities runs rampant in society today. You only have to turn on the TV to see where we develop our insatiable need for material things and happiness from external factors.

Happiness truly is a decision within your own mind, it’s a perception, its focusing on the awesome things in life (and there always are no matter what the circumstances) its living in the present moment and not obsessing about the past (which no longer exists) or worrying about the future (which also does not exist) but ultimately its taking responsibility for yourself and your own happiness. Easier said than done!

Happiness is not a destination, its a way of life!

Nourish your Body

Are you approaching fitness in an unhealthy way?

January 2018
Jane Curnow

Are you a group exercise cardio addict fuelling your obsession to be skinny? Are your gym sessions punishment for what you ate? Do you starve yourself and skip meals to look like a catwalk model? Do you only care about the number of calories with no knowledge or care of nutritional value of food? Do you enviously look at other women’s bodies? Would you give anything to look like I do in this photo..?

I have been obsessed with my weight and appearance my entire adult life. For 25 years I would have answered a resounding YES to all of the questions above.  As I was so unhappy with myself and my life I sourced my self-worth and identity from my appearance.  Being blonde, slim and attractive seemed to be the only thing I had going for me so I clung to it for dear life.  I would look at the parade of beautiful skinny women on TV and have a running commentary in my head, judging and comparing every woman I came across on their weight and looks. And I can’t believe that I would gain satisfaction from the results of my internal dialogue and comparisonitis if I thought that I was better looking!

As I was exercising regularly and not overweight I believed I was healthy. I had no clue that my lack of nourishment of my body and the continual stress of high impact cardio style exercise without the necessary fuel was actually causing inflammation in my body. I would barely eat and then jump around like a mad woman for an hour.  I would binge drink on excessive amounts of alcohol and front up at the gym the next morning…  I would binge eat over the weekend (to recover from the alcohol intake…) and then do a double class at the gym on Mondays as punishment.. followed by a week of barely eating and more high impact cardio until next weekend… How could I have possibly believed that this was a healthy lifestyle? But all I cared about was being skinny and escaping myself.

I also cared little for the food I actually did eat. Having not been educated on this at school and any learning was via food labels or advertising.. My sole focus was low calories so I ate low fat, no fat, low carb, no carb, preferably no calorie food! And the binge on the weekend was of course to soak up the alcohol so not so healthy..  and then I spent the next 5 days punishing myself for weekend sins.  And while I would not have been officially labelled with anorexia or bulimia this was far from a healthy approach to food & exercise.  With the knowledge I have now I consider the old Jane to have had an eating disorder and this was my cycle for over 10 years!

There is so many things about the school curriculum that does not equip us to lead a healthy and successful life. And while we will always need to learn the basics of reading and writing I have a real issue with the fact that nourishing our body is paramount to lead a happy and healthy life and this is not taught in school.  Physical education (PE) is however but too many of us did not enjoy this school subject and endured it being forced to do things that were not enjoyable or we are not good at and often made us feel embarrassed in front of classmates.  Not really a healthy introduction to exercise that again needs to be incorporated into our lives to ensure quality of life.

After we leave school (or even during these days) we are then assaulted from all forms of media with skinny, flawless women and our comparisonitis is born. Too many of us enter adulthood already with this infliction that seems to plague us women.  And without the necessary knowledge to love, nourish and nurture our body we usually get away with it while our body is young but as we age things start to go wrong…  I am one of the lucky ones that although my first serious injury wasn’t until I was 45 I have managed to take my first big wakeup call and changed my life as a result.

It saddens me deeply to see so many receive a warning from their bodies but ignore it simply through ignorance. Chronic illness or injury is never a shock to the body; it has been brewing for some time we just never stop and listen. So it does becomes a shock for us when it makes its way into our conscious awareness.  Preparing your body for 100 years (?) means adopting a healthy approach to food and exercise. And when you do you become more in tune with your body and can pick up when things don’t feel right.

So what can you do if you are on the same merry go around that I was? Here are my top 6 tips to start approaching exercise in a healthy way to ensure enjoyment, premium health and longevity.

  1. Self-Educate. Your body is a one model issued and has to last a lifetime. What quality of life do you want in your senior years? Educating yourself on what micronutrients your body requires to run at a premium is paramount. Food labels and ads are not factual… the manufactured food industry employs very clever marketers to ensure you buy their product! We live in an age where libraries are at our finger tips. Information on healthy nutrition is just a few clicks away. Google it!
  2. Body Love. Learning to love and appreciate your body for the miraculous machine that it is rather than what it looks like will change your perspective on food and exercise. When your health becomes a priority over simply looking good a whole new world opens up. And the funny thing is that you end up looking better than ever before! AND you get your dream body! Trust me!
  3. Fitness for Enjoyment. You gotta find exercise you enjoy… There is no point enduring your exercise or viewing it as punishment as this only serves to raise cortisol, the stress hormone, and is counterproductive to your weight loss goals. And if you don’t enjoy it you will always find an excuse, you will stop/start and not commit fully. This is a lifestyle, there is no end, and ensuring lifelong health means ALWAYS incorporating exercise into your routine. Zumba, dancing, walking the dog, swimming, tennis, team sport, yoga, whatever!
  4. Self-respect. Along the lines of body love but one step further. If we truly love and respect ourselves then being envious of others plays no part in our life. It is the cure for comparionsitis! Honouring and respecting you not just the beautiful human you already are but the one life you have been blessed with leads you to nurturing the very vehicle that facilitates your life. I gained my self-respect through changing my diet and the right exercise for me. And you can too!
  5. Mindfulness. By this I mean take the time to be still, to quieten the mind, to block out the continual noise that comes from TV/media, spend time in nature, be present in the moment, listen and notice, smell and appreciate, express gratitude and meditate.
  6. Get a coach! I say this often but to me it is the only way to change habits, to change lifelong conditioning, to explore all of the above points as applicable to you and implement into your life. Life is busy! And we are lazy… and as we haven’t been equipped with these life skills having a coach to teach you will not only keep you accountable but you will have a much better chance of implementing permanent change.

If I can totally overhaul my health, fitness and approach to food after knocking on deaths door you can too. Change is never easy but the rewards on the other side are beyond my wildest dreams!

Have I missed anything? If you have any further tips for approaching food & exercise in a healthy way please comment below!


My Lifestyle

Are you “doing” life in the right order…?

October 2017
White Picket Fence Dream

Did you go straight to university from school? Then get a great corporate job with a clear career path? Meet your man through your 20s, marry around 30, buy a house and then of course next is having children? All your ducks are in a row by 40 and then we live happily ever after…?

Where are these rules written that life is supposed to turn out this way? Why are we conditioned that there is a pre-set order of adult life? And why do we feel so much pressure to “do” life in this order? Does this order of life suit all of us? And for us women if we don’t there is a chance we will miss out on having children.

I didn’t go to university despite my mother’s horror and claims that I will never make anything of myself if I don’t have a degree. I didn’t do well at school as I don’t have what I would consider academic intelligence, plus I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, so why would I endure more torture? So I just got a job straight from school and accepted that I was dumb and wouldn’t amount to much career wise.  But that’s ok I thought; I just wanted the white picket fence dream. My man can have the career, I will just (!) be the wife and mother.

I wandered aimlessly through my 20s which is acceptable, but as 30 looms the pressure starts to build. I had been in and out of therapy since 16, after an unhappy childhood, as I always felt something wasn’t quite right with me.  I never felt happy or fulfilled and clung to the belief that the white picket fence life was the answer.  Isn’t that what we women do? Isn’t that what the fairy tales are all about? The man in shining armour, a dream wedding, a lovely home in the suburbs and beautiful kids is what too many of us women grow up believing is what our life will be.

I was depressed for my 30th despite being in Las Vegas for the eventI had been living with my boyfriend of 3 years and felt that 30 was the time we should marry.  So when the fairy tale proposal was not forth coming I forced the issue.  Never a good idea… but all I cared about was that it was time to settle down so I grabbed the only man around at that age.  I am sure I am not alone in settling for the sake of settling down… tick tock, tick tock; the biological clock starts getting louder when you hit 30.

Needless to say the marriage didn’t last and I find myself back out on single struggle street at the age of 32. The breakdown of my marriage, the loss of my beautiful house and white picket fence dream sees me plummet into depression.  For the first time in my life I am officially diagnosed and labelled as clinically depressed along with the associated medication and therapy.  Despite being miserable at what had past I was not suicidal at this point as, well, I am still slim, blonde and attractive so I will find another man.  I have time..?

As each year of my 30s go by I become more and more desperate and depressed. I did manage a couple of relationships however with men that were over 10 years my junior and certainly not ready for what I was looking for. And of course without a healthy relationship with myself, my depression, emotional and eating disorders as well as various addictions, I was completely ignorant to the fact that I was no chance of finding the relationship I so desperately wanted.

40 is looming… and my drinking and partying is increasing as I try to block out my reality.  But also I just had to be out somewhere, anywhere, to find that man!  I was dumb, single and childless… how could this happen to me? I felt a complete failure despite holding a responsible corporate job (how was this even possible without a degree..?) But I still had my socially glorified appearance; I was still blonde, slim and attractive and felt that was all I had going for me. I also felt additional pressure as looking like I did means a dream life; doesn’t it? So where is my dream life?  There must be something seriously wrong with me… My obsession with my weight and appearance is now at dysfunctional levels and I am doing all I can to maintain and fight the aging process even if that meant going into debt further and abusing my body.

41 comes and goes… and I decide that I can’t wait for the man any longer so I attempt IVF with donor sperm to become a single mother.  I did 3 fresh cycles all of which I fell pregnant but only for a few weeks.  The 4th and final cycle was with frozen embryos and I did not fall pregnant this time.  It was at this point, with hormones being pumped into me at dangerous levels, I decided to end my life.  Dumb, single and now truly childless.  I had an abortion at 27… the regret and hate of myself and my life was too much for me to go on.

There are many factors to my depression over the course of my life but it is this pressure of “doing” life in the right order by the right age that I feel contributed the most to my feelings of pressure and defeat. I hear all the time of parents pressuring their children to go to university or to marry to give them grandchildren, of married women’s judgement of single women and the condescending remarks of why some women can’t find a man as if they have failed, of how the media portrays the “wallflower” or indeed how the media glorifies the white picket fence life.

Some of us are just not meant to fit into that mould. And the ones that don’t but find their passion in life early on and become successful as a result seem to be accepted.  But what about the rest of us? The ones who missed the boat but haven’t found anything in life to replace the “norm”? The ones who haven’t found their passion in life but also don’t have the career, man, house, kids?  Have we failed in life?  Why does society frown on this group as non-achievers? Is this how we measure success? What if the person who doesn’t have the career, man, house, kids is the kindest most generous person you will ever meet?  Doesn’t that count..?

And what about the ones who actually achieve the acceptable order of life but aren’t happy? I know of a number of women who fall into this category. They have fallen into the trap of “doing” life in the right order, giving up on their dreams and are miserable.  And with the responsibility of a mortgage and children it is very difficult to change course.

Well you know the end of my story. I found my passion at the age of 46 and I am not joking when I say that bodybuilding literally saved my life.  My full story here. If my journey has taught me anything it is that we are never too old and it is never too late.  The portrayal of a woman aging is another misconception we hold on what we should be “doing” and looking like at a certain age.  At 50 I am supposed to be fat, frumpy, complaining about menopause and wasting away in front of the TV as I don’t have the energy for anything else. I celebrated my 50th birthday on stage in a bikini and am planning my next photo shoot at 51. I also enjoy no symptoms of menopause despite being well aware that this time of life is upon me.

Our beliefs about aging and what we should be doing at a certain age are seriously all in our mind. We have been influenced and conditioned that our bodies and life should be a certain way and deteriorate after mid-life. And they will if we believe that this is the case.  If we allow the influence of the majority or what we see on TV or what our doctor says or what happened to our parents to determine our story. With the right support anything is possible.  Twice I have been told by misguided doctors that I will never lift again and I need surgery.  I just shop around until I find a doctor who tells me what I want to hear.  Now I have found my passion in life nothing, and I do mean nothing, will stand in my way!

If you have a dream you owe it to yourself, to your life, to chase it!  It doesn’t matter what stage you are at in life if you know what sets your soul on fire incorporating it into your life will change your life.  Life is too short! How will you feel when you wake up at 60 and realise that time is running out?  If you don’t know what your passion is then hire a coach to help you find it! And to help you manage your life to be the best you can be.  Please download my free eBook on how I have come to embrace the aging process, achieve what most would consider impossible and defy the norm on this “doing” life in the right order crap!

Nourish your Body

Detox for Weight Loss

June 2017

Who really enjoys doing a 3/5/7 day green smoothie detox..? The headaches, the disgusting green juices, the hunger pains, the life disruption, the light headedness, the lack of focus, the nausea, the bowel movements… Or you could do it without the deprivation and have a colonic irrigation procedure.. Some people swear by it, some people endure it for their health’s sake, some people have never done one and wont! Seems to be almost fashionable these days. It was part of my protocol when I first started bodybuilding so I have done a few however with my gut issues and the last one I did saw me vomiting on a peak hour bus… I have not revisited doing another one and wont anytime soon. However, I am passionate about detoxing not just for weight loss but for premium health and ensure I incorporate into my daily routine. What? Detoxing without days of green hell?!

Before I share with you my tips I wanted to briefly go into why detoxing is so important. So let’s go back in time, way back in time to cave man days. If we look at our ancestors bodies, relatively little has changed on a biological level to the bodies we own today. Now have a think about the foods they ate and the environment in which they lived. Vastly different to today! There is no doubt that we enjoy incredible benefits of modern day living however there is a price that we pay and most of us are not even aware of it.

 The toxic load that our Stone Age bodies endure every day is enormous. This incredible machine we own works tirelessly to digest and process what in Stone Age terms are space age foreign substances; some it does, clever machine that it is, but some are stored until it can figure out how to process and eliminate. And guess where these toxins are often stored…? In your fat cells! And your body will create more fat cells to store more toxins.. And with continual bombardment of more toxins on a daily basis the number coming in is faster than your body can figure out how to eliminate. And in some cases it never figures it out. So the number of storage units aka fat cells grows along with the number on your scales!

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison” – Ann Wigmore

So where do all these toxins come from? Here are 10 avenues that chemical substances enter our bodies:

  1. Whole Food – if you are not buying organic produce then every crop is not only sprayed with dangerous levels of pesticides and herbicides but may also be genetically modified to produce a luscious, aesthetically appealing crop. I am old enough to remember when strawberries and tomatoes were not nearly as big as they are today…. We are recreating nature to suit our modern day demands. Farmers are no different to the rest of us trying to make a living and like any business, reacting to supply and demand. If the farmer down the road is producing a crop 10 times bigger and tastier then competition will drive them to seek more and more chemicals & modifications to support a profitable crop. Same goes with non-organic livestock and while pesticides are not directly sprayed on the animal they will be injected with growth hormones and antibiotics as well as consuming produce that have been laced with pesticides. Again with the same profitable goal in mind.
  2. Non sustainable farming practises – sees all the repercussions of the above absorbed by the soil and environment. The impact this has globally is huge (and a major contributor to global warming) but as far as your body is concerned it means that fields are not only continually overused which depletes the mineral resources within the soil but the chemicals continually being sprayed are being absorbed directly into the earth. This results in not only crops absorbing more chemicals but reduced nutrients within the soil and why nearly all of us are deficient in such minerals as magnesium.
  3. Processed/manufactured food – this is any food in a box/packet/bag/container/can and is generally made in a factory rather than grown on a farm. Manmade food is literally laden with chemicals, preservatives and additives. Have a read of the ingredient list; do you recognise anything listed…? It reads more like a chemistry experiment!
  4. Beauty & Personal Care Products – main stream brands are 100% chemicals. This includes deodorants, make up, perfume, soap, aftershave, shaving cream, moisturiser, toothpaste, shampoo; basically anything in your bathroom. Whatever we put on our body is absorbed by our skin and these chemicals enter our blood stream. Again, have a look at the ingredient list; would you eat anything listed….?
  5. Household Cleaning Products – goes without saying that these are chemicals. But have a think about the fumes, the surfaces we spray to clean and then eat from or wash from, the air freshener we spray into the air; we may have gotten rid of the germs and nasty smells but what chemicals have we replaced them with…? This also directly impacts the environment as all these chemicals are washed down the drain and may be recycled back into the water system.
  6. Water – Do you really know where your water comes from and what chemical process it goes through before it comes out of your tap…? Tap water may contain residual chemicals from the so called purification process plus hormones and pesticides from unsustainable farming practices as mentioned. And what about the quality of the pipes that deliver the water to our homes..? How often do you think they are dug up, cleaned and/or replaced…? Fluoride is now identified as toxic and it is added to our water! Bottled water is also not safe as the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the water particularly when left out in the sun.
  7. Air Pollution – cars, buses, trucks, planes, power plants, industrial facilities; at least with this one we can now see the pollution in the air.
  8. Electro-magnetic radiation – Computers, mobile phones, Fitbits, microwave ovens all omit radioactive waves. Think about all the information that is literally flying through the air. Our poor Stone Age bodies don’t have a clue what these are! And yet we are exposed to these radio waves almost 24/7!
  9. Medications – match the pill to the ill. We reach for drugs at the slightest sign of ailment which generally just masks the symptom. Why do we take in more toxins rather than searching for a natural, Stone Age body friendly alternatives first…? Sure the drug may fix our problems but there are always repercussions for drug use.
  10. Smoking/Alcohol – don’t think I need to go further into these two…

Do you recall seeing any of these points in the history books with our cave man ancestors…? And while our bodies are super-efficient machines and we all process these toxins differently there is a growing concern that this overload is the cause of many modern day illnesses some of them fatal.

I know for the majority of my life I just assumed that if all these products were on the shelves to buy they must be safe. Surely there is a government watch dog ensuring we are protected from any nasties that would endanger our health? But the truth is the regulations that do exist are very, very loose. Our society is ruled by business, big business and with the main goal of business to make a profit… and with no one policing the toxic levels of chemicals in these products our health is the price we pay. And we are all getting sicker and fatter…

Once upon a time we were not warned of the dangers of smoking and sunbaking. It wasn’t until science proved that deaths were being caused by these two lifestyle habits that the messages we were being given by main stream media changed. I think we are all aware of the law suits against tobacco companies. Have a think about the ramifications if it is scientifically stated that many of our modern day illness are caused by the above points…? Many scientists already believe this but how do we navigate the structure of society to accommodate? These are all huge political questions that I am not going to go into here! The tide is slowly turning on the food industry and the businesses responsible for all these chemicals. If you haven’t watched Food Matters or Hungry for Change yet I strongly recommend you do!

Back to the purpose of this post which is how do we support our bodies to efficiently eliminate all these toxins to promote weight loss! Without the green smoothies for days or a very uncomfortable procedure. Although you will no doubt feel amazing after enduring one of these, and you will lose weight, if you return to your bad habits then you will wind up right back where you started and having to do another cleanse/procedure in a few months time. Incorporating the below into your everyday routine will support your Stone Age body to process these space age substances.

My top 14 tips to Detox for Weight Loss:

  1. Warm lemon juice – first thing in the morning. Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials in part because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Therefore toxins are released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy. The citric acid in lemons helps maximize enzyme function, which stimulates the liver and aids in detoxification. Add a dash of bi-carb soda to further enhance these benefits.
  2. Water – filtered water! And lots of it. Our bodies need a minimum of 2 litres a day just to function effectively. Drinking adequate amounts of water will not only improve your overall health but is key to supporting the liver and kidneys to flush out toxins.
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother!) – half an hour before a meal. Cleanses the body and kills nasty bacteria, aids in digestion and cleaning of the intestines.
  4. Breathe Deeply – to allow oxygen to circulate thoroughly throughout your entire system assisting your blood to flush out toxins. Air pollution can often reside within the lungs and taking deep breathes assists in elimination.
  5. Sauna – toxins are also released through the skin via perspiration. A weekly sauna promotes deep cleansing and additional perspiration to eliminate toxins.
  6. Massage – pushes on pressure points where toxins can often build up as lactic acid and cause pain and tightness. A regular massage improves circulation that aids the blood to remove toxins. Drink additional water after a massage to support this process.
  7. Exercise – Physical movement stimulates internal movement of the body assisting in flushing out toxins alongside an increase in perspiration and water intake.
  8. Dry skin brush – just before showering exfoliate to remove dead skin and promote the release of toxins through the skin.
  9. Green tea – loaded with anti-oxidants that actually go after the toxins in your body to support elimination.
  10. Go organic – imagine the toxins you would eliminate from your daily intake from the ten points above if you simply swapped to all natural, organic produce and products..
  11. Sup it Up – there are numerous supplements that will support your body to eliminate toxins. I take glutathione, green tea extract, turmeric and probiotics.
  12. Sleep – sleep is a time when the body rests, rejuvenates and recharges giving your body a break. With no food coming in it allows your body to catch up on elimination and processing of toxins. Aim for 7-8 hours every night.
  13. Eliminate Sugar – sugar increases your toxic load as it has an oxidant affect which has the opposite effect of an antioxidant. It is as addictive as cocaine and many would argue is just as toxic.
  14. Fasting – a controversial one but worth mentioning. Fasting can have many health benefits whether for a day or the evening meal. Gives the body a rest however many would argue that nutrients are needed to aid in detoxification. Do your own research and work out what is best for you.

Recognize any of these from My Top 10 Tips for Health & Weight Loss and My Top 10 Pro-Aging Tips…?

I am sure I would still benefit from a juice cleanse or colonic irrigation procedure but I will pass… My body is the healthiest it has ever been, my last blood test results had my doctor in awe at some of my markers and how efficiently my body runs in particular my liver. And as I believe that stress plays a huge part in our health; I don’t think I am alone in feeling stressed and anxious at the prospect of a green juice detox for days!

What do you do to detox? Maybe you enjoy the greenness for a few days? If you have any other methods do share below!

Self Worth

What does Low Self Worth Look Like?

May 2017

I am going to put a spot light on this rarely discussed topic. Let’s face it; who wants to admit they have low self-worth? We seem to have structured society in such a way that we all need to look, be, behave in a certain way to be accepted, happy, liked, loved..  I have stumbled through half my adult life in complete ignorance that I had low self-worth.  I didn’t realise this was my issue until it no longer was my issue!  And while there are a rare few who are self-aware enough to realise they lack self confidence too many of us bury our real self, put on a façade to the world, are not really happy but just accept mediocrity as life.

Why don’t we talk about the importance of self-love? Why don’t we diagnose low self-worth as the main contributing factor to depression?  And whose responsibility is it to teach us this invaluable life skill?  Should it come from parents or the school system? Do we even recognise that this is a quality required for a successful, happy life?  And if we can’t articulate what it looks like or its importance how on earth do we teach it?

I grew up with the firm belief that loving yourself was a derogatory term. Those who were judged as loving themselves where labelled “up” themselves and frowned upon so it was something I avoided at all costs! I was not encouraged to be proud of myself for any achievement and praise was limited or even withheld for fear that I would become “up” myself.  And I certainly was not encouraged to look in the mirror and love my body nor was I brought up to nurture and appreciate my unique gifts.  When I did attempt to express myself I was told I was too emotional or over sensitive and I was told this well into my adult years.  So I spent a lot of my childhood desperately trying to just blend in, keep the peace and be like everyone else.

In retrospect I see this “up” themselves mentality as being derived from people who themselves suffered from low self-worth. Of course they need to put down those people who openly displayed pride in themselves!  Anyone who has self-confidence and is at peace with who they are would not feel the need to judge others negatively in the first place…

If we are not provided with role models in parents who radiate self-love and as a result are not supported in feeling good about ourselves we are already on the road to failing in this critical quality without any awareness. And then as girls we are exposed to all forms of media who promote constant comparison with the air brushed parade of perfect female forms.  Coupled with very clever advertisements from the beauty, diet and cosmetic industries who have us looking in the mirror and criticising what we see so we are desperate to buy their products to cover up and change ourselves to be like the models or celebrities promoting the product!  Gees; is it any wonder that low self-worth is so rampant in society today?

But what saddens me more than all of the above is that so many of us don’t even realise that we have low self-worth and we stumble through life without ever achieving true peace and happiness. Now that I have finally got my shit together, after 46 years of suffering, I so clearly see women all around me who suffer from this unspoken issue and what makes it worse is that the negative feelings they have about themselves are too often projected onto all those around them without any self-awareness whatsoever.  I know because that used to be me!

Ever noticed how some people are really easy to be around? They are calm, consistent, peaceful, positive, reliable, happy, quietly confident and they actually make you feel good to interact with. You seek out their company and opinion, you trust their feedback, their energy is positive and inviting, encouraging and supportive. You feel you can be honest and open with them, you feel like you can be yourself around them.  This is what healthy self-worth looks and feels like.

And then we have..

The Loud – “Confidence is Silent. Insecurities are Loud!” The girl who speaks loudly, has an opinion on everything and makes sure everyone hears it.  Is constantly talking (loudly) about herself and steers the conversation back to her all the time.  She might ask you a question but once answered immediately turns the conversation back to herself without hearing what you have said.  She also may ask you the same question the very next day! You find yourself avoiding her and limit interactons to necessity only.

The Eggshell – you never know what mood she will be in.  Sometimes she is so sweet and nice and the next day or even hour is so abrupt and rude!  She will have you questioning yourself and doubting that maybe you have done or said something wrong.  You never know what reaction you are going to get so you are in a constant state of apprehension when dealing with her.

The Overly Confident – knows her stuff, confident in her job and is generally in a more senior position. But she is just plain rude to those beneath her (if she acknowledges them at all) or those that are not in an influential position.  She may even ignore you completely even though you have sat 20 meters from her in the office for 6 months!

The Backstabber – takes every opportunity to talk about others behind their back and then sickly sweet to their face. And trust me, if she is going to gossip to you about others she is gossiping about you to others also.  Thrives on office gossip and will elaborate the truth in order to sensationalise the story and make her look like she is in the know.

The Workaholic – the job is all there is to life. First in and last out at night. Rarely takes leave. No outside interests, hobbies, relationships even.  Or there is a relationship at home that they are trying to avoid!

The Obsessive Mother/Wife – cannot talk about anything else but her children/husband. They are the centre of her universe and nothing else exists. Will tell you in minute detail about whatever stage her children or relationship is at and she will always manage to turn the conversation around to mention her child or partner.

The Yo-Yo Dieter – constantly complaining about her weight, (even if she is not actually overweight) starting a new diet every other week and either barely eating anything or is always the one going for seconds or even thirds at morning tea!

The Make You Feel Bad – condescending… has an definite air of being in a higher class and will subtly put you down on any topic.  Appears to be giving you a compliment but long after the conversation has ended you realise that it was in fact an insult. Subtly critical of everything and takes pride in pointing out what YOUR problem is.

The Martyr – puts everyone else before herself and is walked all over. Is stressed, tired, running herself ragged to please everyone and often overweight and/or unhealthy and always sick.  Constantly apologising.

The Fashion/Beauty Addict – you never see her in the same outfit for weeks on end. Constantly shopping and must have a new outfit for every occasion as you cant possibly be seen in the same dress twice! And usually immaculate with makeup and hair; constantly touching up and checking to ensure all is in place.

The Social Media Addict – portrays the perfect life on social media and constantly posting to gain likes and followers, usually in revealing outfits. Stalking and comparing herself to others is a daily sometimes hourly habit.  Often the life that is portrayed in cyber world is very far from her reality.

The Change Hater – stays in the same job for years and years. Still lives with her parents. Still single perhaps. Still doing nothing to make changes to her life to find herself or happiness.  The smallest upset is devastating as without life experiences of change there is no reference point of past challenges or pain.

The Just Plain Unhappy – has the man, kids, house, money even but is not happy and cant figure out why.

Jane – I was loud, eggshell, make you feel bad, fashion/beauty addict and overly confident. I was a shocker!  I cant believe how badly I have behaved.  I seriously had very little awareness of how I impacted others.  As I disliked myself so much and felt so insignificant I honestly thought no one even noticed me.  Even when I would get feedback during an annual performance review I still didn’t believe it!  Surely no one pays any attention to me?  I had spent a lifetime hiding the real Jane and trying to blend in, I couldn’t comprehend that anything I said or did actually mattered. Depression and low self-worth is a very inward focused view of the world; you are literally blinded by your own issues as you are trying so hard to cover them up!

Many of the above will have a closet issue that is not obvious on the surface. For me this was debilitating depression; no one at work had a clue how bad I was! Very few people knew as I was so busy hiding the real Jane.  Living a façade is just second nature when you have low self-worth.  Other issues may include eating disorders, anxiety or substance abuse all of which I dabbled with over the years.  In addition to addictions to shopping, TV, celebrity stalking, partying (which are more socially acceptable) anything at all to either take me out of myself, not spend time with myself or to obtain the next material fix to attempt to make me happy.

I am sure reading through that list you can instantly recognise people in your life like this. Or maybe you recognised yourself..?  It is sooooooo hard to face!  And trust me, I did not wake up one day and decide self-worth was my issue..  I seriously had no clue this was my issue.  I stumbled across the answers to my misery purely by accident; by chasing further vanity and external satisfaction.  My full journey here.

So if we have the courage to admit we have this issue where did it come from and what do we do about it? It is very clear to me where we learn self-hate and I primarily blame the media and the beauty/fashion industry.  (Please read my blogs on these two topics)  But for me I know it started well before I was old enough to be influenced by the media.  When your parents struggle with their own inner demons it is very hard to instil this in children. With a broken home from an early age and the pursuing conflict fuelled by more insecurities on both sides put together with this whole “up” yourself mentality I seriously was no chance.

Children learn behavioural patterns far more by roll modelling the adults in their lives than anything they will learn at school. I am not sure that self-love needs to be taught but rather influenced and inspired.  Parents can certainly foster a more positive environment to nurture this life skill which I have outlined in my blog about raising empowered girls. However, we cant blame our parents, or anyone, and once we are adults we need to take responsibility for our own life and happiness.  We must take control of our own wellbeing and destiny rather than allowing conditioning by society to dominate our lives or continually blaming events of the past.

So what do we do about it…? Isn’t that the million dollar question…!! There is no quick fix and it does require a lot of self-reflection and inner work. Yep; all that hooey crap that I dismissed and resisted my entire life! We are not taught how to tend to our emotional wellbeing and main stream does little to promote and encourage such practices although I do feel the tide is turning. The answers to all our problems truly are inside us; yeah I didn’t believe that either. But once we reduce the constant noise that surrounds us we can hear the answers. I know because it happened to me!

Self-worth has now become the core of my coaching and mission. It breaks my heart to see so many women blindly suffer as I have.  As others in the office dislike and complain about the behaviour of the women who display the above traits I find myself filled with compassion and sadness.  And desperately trying to find a way to connect with the lost soul that I see as the struggling old me.

If anything I have written makes you feel uncomfortable and you would like to explore further I would love to have a confidential chat with you to see how I can support you. Please leave me a comment or contact me here.

My Lifestyle

My Journey to Stage

September 2016
Jane Curnow

Do you aspire to own a body like this?  Do you set a goal to achieve, start on the diet/exercise and then beat yourself up when you can’t stick to it? Do you constantly feel bad and inadequate about your body as you see so many images in the media of bodies like this or similar?

This photo was taken two days after my recent bodybuilding competition. I want to share with you what I actually go through to achieve the body you see in the photo attached to this blog. The mindset and routine I need to adopt when I am preparing for stage and/or a photo shoot. I am surprised at how many people think I look like this all the time! That hopping into a bikini and strutting around on stage, or in front of a camera, is just like a day at the beach. Only those that see me every day, that have to put up with me every day (!) appreciate the hell I actually go through. And trust me, I am not in this condition for very long, a week, two at most. I hope by sharing my journey it might bring awareness that achieving and sustaining a body like this can not only be unhealthy it is an unrealistic goal that too many women aspire to and then berate themselves for giving up or not achieving and then end up hating the miraculous machine (body) that keeps them alive.

Let’s start with the very core of what I have to battle with to look like this…  How do you feel when you are hungry? I mean really hungry. Not just the oh its dinner time I will have something to eat now hungry.  The kind of hunger that is hours past dinner time and your belly is screaming.  Sometimes you can trick yourself with a distraction of some sort and you can make it go away for a little while.  But you know it is going to return and the growling seems to re-emerge with a vengeance.  And the cravings…  when we reach this stage (or even the previous stage!) the body wants carbs aka sugar; something that enters the blood stream quickly to alleviate the hunger. Our bodies need food for survival and once that hungry sensation kicks in, unless you are flooded with adrenaline such as in an emergency situation etc. the only thing that will make it stop is to eat!

But hunger is not just about the physical aspect is it? What emotions play out for you?  How do you feel on an emotional rather than physical level?  We are all very different and how we deal with hunger can vary for everyone. Do you get anxious? Jittery? Teary? Can’t concentrate? Snappy? Snippy? Downright cranky…?!  And depending on how long it goes on for this can elevate to feeling faint, dizzy, even visual impairment if you try to stand or move suddenly.  (At this point your blood sugar levels have dropped and your brain is literally starved for nutrients)  Whatever it means for you it is not pleasant and as with too many emotions associated with food they are not positive!

Before I start explaining what I go through, I should note here that just like any industry, the fitness industry has many different methods to achieve low body fat.  And just like every industry there are conflicting opinions and points of view. The regime will also depend on what division you are competing in; I have previously competed in the bikini division (which is not as strict) but this comp, with my muscle gain over the last few years, I decided to go up a division and I competed in figure which requires me to be leaner.

Depending on your current BMI statistics (so this is basically fat/muscle ratio) restrictions start from the moment the decision is made to compete.  For some girls this might be 20 weeks out or even more; for my recent competition we started at 12 weeks out which is a little late but still achievable for me.  My body knows how to be lean and although I was sitting on an additional 10kgs of weight, the majority of that was muscle. It is very important to do this slowly, losing weight quickly is not ideal on the metabolism and many can experience serious digestive issues, among other things, post comp if this process is not done carefully. It is also important to gradually peel away the fat to retain my hard earned muscle!

My off comp season diet is very, very clean as you can imagine.. I only eat whole foods and I am also alcohol free, gluten free, sugar free and most of what I eat is organic. Yeah; we know I am obsessed!  But I do have cheat night where I indulge or over indulge..  but this is one meal (not day!) a week.  You don’t get to train to the level I do and maintain a body like this if you don’t have a supreme diet.  Let me say that again… you don’t get to own a body like this unless you are dedicated and disciplined not just in preparation for a comp/shoot but it is full time, ongoing, 24/7 commitment to a healthy lifestyle.  I am sure you have heard that at least 70% of your achievements in the gym are determined in the kitchen and this is very true! But don’t get me wrong there is plenty of enjoyment from food, albeit different to perhaps what you may enjoy, but as I was coming out of a huge bulk (muscle building) phase where my daily calorie intake was between 3,500 – 4,000, and I had gained 10kgs, it was going to be challenging to lean out again. But I am always up for a fitness challenge 🙂

I have done a full “shred” (as we bodybuilders call it) a few times now, I have also studied nutrition and I am very in tune with my body so I am very aware of where I need to cut back. In the early days I was given a strict nutrition plan from my coach, but these days I basically know what I am doing so we do a weekly “pinch” (check BMI manually through skin fold tests) and we decide on the game plan for the week. And so we begin the journey of gradual removal of all enjoyment from food…

We start with cutting back carbs. To build muscle it is not just protein I need but carbs; good carbs. For me this is brown rice or sweet potato. I still keep my oats for breakfast however but the quantity is halved. All other meals are protein, fats and salad/veges.  This is still a healthy diet, calories are around 2,800 and is what I would call my maintenance diet so bearable, enjoyable and although I am noticing an increase in hunger due to the recent drop in calories it is manageable.  I start to lose fat immediately so I retain this regime for a few weeks.

The next thing to be reduced is fat; this is good fat so is very healthy for you on many levels but is particularly good for the brain and supports cognitive function. Good fats for me means nuts, avocado, seeds, olive/coconut oil, greek yogurt (full cream) and bone broth.  First we eliminate the bone broth and greek yogurt, halve the nuts and seeds and olive oil goes from my salad dressing (so just balsamic vinegar) although I am still cooking dinner in a little oil. The hunger is not a constant but is noticeably more.  2,200 odd calories is still manageable for most but I am training with intensity so my body is running at a deficit in order to shed fat. The oats are truly a life saver and I savour them! Temptation is everywhere and I am now drinking more green tea in the office…  If you have read my blog on Resisting Temptation you will know what I usually do to beat temptation but it is getting a tad more challenging now!

I cruise along like this for another few weeks and my fat loss continues at around 1kg a week.  My body is responding perfectly, albeit a little fast, as no significant muscle loss yet. The body remembers and as I have been underweight most of my life I am not surprised at the rate my body responds to the change in conditions.

Cheat night is also toned down through this phase. The chocolate, chips, pizza aka trans-fat need to go. Diary is also removed so with the loss of greek yogurt through the week I also lose cheese and sour cream on cheat night…. Cheat night now becomes clean (er!) with white potato and fruit on the menu in addition to protein. I don’t socialise much anyway but clearly going out anywhere is out of the question now for me; the hunger is beginning to rule my life and I don’t want to be anywhere near anyone that is serving/eating food I am so desperately craving!  Without cheat night I find it far more challenging to stay focused. Usually I really don’t mind missing out through the week as I know I can have what I want on cheat night; but without that to look forward to and with the enjoyment of food decreasing tenfold I need to dig deep. Isolation works best for me!

Next nuts and seeds are removed altogether and the only fat I am left with is half an avocado a day plus a little olive oil to cook with for dinner.  I still have red meat however and as I only eat organic, grass fed this is also considered good fat as well as protein. The weight continues to come down as the hunger is intensifying now.  I am eating 5-6 meals a day (as always) so every few hours however as I am not eating carbs or fats within around 30 mins of eating I am hungry again and must wait another 90-120 mins for my next meal…  with only green tea and water to console me.  I am going to bed earlier and earlier.. sleeping away the hunger works well for me. As every day passes I feel relief that I have managed to get through another day; as food is so central to our lives and existence it is a constant mental challenge to overcome

Red meat is the next to go and is replaced by white meat.  White meat is a lot leaner. I don’t eat fish…  which is a bummer through this phase. So it is poached chicken for every meal…  now I am not a good cook! So getting the chicken nice and tender is a challenge for me plus I am running out of patience to hang around in the kitchen watching a saucepan boil and simmer. As I am eating organic chicken breasts that are not exactly the cheapest item in the poultry section… I have to eat it moist or dry! I still have a variety of salad and veges (steamed only now) to choose from so am thankful for small things because I know what is ahead. Surprisingly I still have my oats for breakfast, due to my steady weight loss, which I am eating with a teaspoon now to make it last longer..  ensures I eat it more slowly and can savour it. After I have finished there is a huge sense of dread as this is the only enjoyment I am getting from food for the entire day.

Hunger is a now almost a constant state while awake.  With the loss of nearly all fats it is also starting to affect my brain, I am very tired and my fuse is very short…  I am still training to a high level, working full time and I have to find the time and energy to practise posing for stage every single day..  The 4.30am starts are becoming very, very hard…  I feel a little out of control at times… like when a colleague eats toast right in front of me…  The smell!  Finding it hard to control myself; I want to scratch her eyes out!  I can feel myself being rude but I just don’t care.

BUT my abs are coming up nicely now which is very exciting! I am beginning to see the muscle that I worked so very hard for during my last bulk phase.  I catch myself in the mirror at the gym or bathroom and I can’t quite believe it is me!  I hold on to that image as I dig deep to find the motivation and discipline to stick to the diet, to ignore the hunger pains, to get control of my emotions, to prepare and swallow this incredibly bland and unenjoyable food and to find the energy to get through my workouts. But the worse is yet to come…

The last week… the entire prep had been easier than on previous occasions so I am actually feeling pretty good about the last week.  It’s only a week right…?  Five (yes that is 5) litres of water a day, sodium loading so lots and lots and lots of salt on every meal, double dosage of a herbal diuretic, poached chicken and either lettuce or steamed green veges only now with a dash of butter for dinner; for 5 meals a day…  no intra or post workout shakes either (so no protein powder).  And thank God I don’t have to do two training sessions a day!  This would be standard for the last two weeks but I have escaped this time due to the rapid fat loss. I am one of the lucky girls… 1,200 calories a day from Sunday to Wednesday… and training every day.. plus dozens of trips to the bathroom… I was beyond grateful to have a boss who was very understanding and allowed me to work from home on and off in previous weeks but this week I just can’t cope with the commute. In fact I can’t cope with people, shops,traffic,life!

Carb load is Thursday so only four days of hell to get through…  Wanting to sleep lots now but am averaging six trips to the bathroom every night… I am only dragging myself out of my apartment now to train.  We are well past the snippy, snappy and cranky stage… I am feeling faint and dizzy on and off…  nails, waxing and hair to organise.. still posing.. and training on most days.. I find myself in a daze a lot of the time just staring off into space.

Not really sure I should be driving… but have no choice. I manage to do some work surprisingly but I need the distraction. Otherwise I just sit on the lounge like a zombie watching crap TV which is VERY unlike me!  (if you haven’t read my blog on a Media Free Diet click here  Oh and posing..  must get the heels on and practise….  Carb load is 3,600 calories!  I go from a sparrow to an elephant forcing the food down. The carbs go straight to my muscles with the idea that we pump them full of glycogen to give the illusion of fullness.  And then we tighten back up again with only 1,000 calories for the final two days…  no training these days thank God!

To give you an idea of the calorie intake, your body needs around 750-1000 calories simply to lie in bed all day.  This is the minimum required for your body to breathe, heart to pump, digestion etc.  So 1,200 and 1,000 calorie days leaves very little left over!

Water, diuretic and sodium is cut at 12pm on the Saturday so 24 hours before I am on stage.  The water/sodium loading and then eliminating is a scientific bodybuilding technique to purge as much water as possible from the body to highlight muscle definition. Our bodies are 70% water so the more we can drain out before show day the more definition.

I also have laxative tea as my last liquid; its not just water I need to get out of my system….  I had been constipated up until Friday (is it any wonder!) so I also had to use a depository….  And would you believe with all this weight loss my period still arrives like clockwork when due the day before comp. As if I don’t have enough to worry about!  But wait, things do get worse…  after I get the 5 layers of thick bodybuilding tan on Saturday afternoon my bowels decide to explode…  yep; I sure am empty now and I have ruined my tan and my bathroom has brown smears everywhere…   Wow!  And I have to get up on stage tomorrow and look sexy??!!

I do this all with no personal support so comp day arrives and I must leave at 6am to drive to get my hair and makeup done and then to the venue.  After two days of 1,000 calories, following the week from hell, diarrhoea that I could not have any water for my body to recover from, (nor have a shower due to the tan!) needless to say I am beside myself and came very close to a serious car accident on the way.  I sit in the chair while my hair/makeup is being done barely being able to speak and wondering what the hell I am doing!  I want to pull out and go and eat! My savour is carbs; once my coach assesses my condition, I am allowed sugar to pump up the muscles again. Having gone over 4 weeks without sugar at all I am suddenly bouncing off the walls!  Sugar really is a drug which you don’t realise until you eliminate it from your diet.  And so I make it to stage on a sugar high lol!

Not only is this all extremely unhealthy with so many basic necessary nutrients removed, it is also far from glamorous and what many would consider dangerous. How I find the strength and willpower always baffles me after I am through it but at the time I really am just on autopilot. I am well schooled in the food is just fuel theory and the daily battle with hunger and controlling emotions is only for a short period of time in the scheme of life; that’s how I look at it anyway.  And for me it is not just about the rewards I can see in the mirror, it is the empowerment that I feel that truly is the ultimate prize. There is nothing that makes you feel more alive and exhilarated than to overcome what most consider impossible, to have total control over your body and overcome the fear of getting up on stage.  When it is all over the feeling of satisfaction and achievement is hard to describe. It is a life changing journey and only deepens my inner strength and devotion to this bodybuilding lifestyle.

So next time you look enviously at photos of fitness models and wish you had a body like that, ask yourself how much of life are you prepared to give up in order to achieve this media driven obsession? (please read my blog on why we all so desperately want to look like this) What you see on TV or in magazines is a snapshot in time of 1% of the population, this is certainly not what we look like every day and you definitely don’t get to see the (un)happy snaps of what we go through to get to that point in time. I am totally in love with this lifestyle which is why I get the results but it is not for everyone!  And now you know what is involved that it truly is a 24/7 commitment, that it is a unique way to live, that it involves tremendous discipline and focus to achieve and, what most would consider removal of the simple pleasures in life, please be kinder to yourself for not looking like I do!

Self Worth

How I Beat Depression! My Top 6 Tips

August 2016

I have spent a lifetime obsessed with my weight and appearance, a lifetime chasing the white picket fence dream, and a lifetime suffering from depression!

My life has been littered with addictions, heartache, broken relationships, eating disorders, anxiety, depression and insecurities. I have been in and out of therapy since the age of 16. I have had two attempts on my life, been hospitalised three times, on and off medication and I have searched and searched for the answers to my misery in books, therapists, healers, courses, diets, pills, jobs and relationships.  And while I did have periods of, what I thought was happiness, they were always short lived. I had no real clue as to exactly what my issues were despite all the therapy and my happiness was always derived from the external; people, circumstances and material things. 

If you ask any therapist or self-help guru they will tell you that to get over any emotional issues it all starts on the inside.  Happiness is an inside job right…?  I always thought that statement was a load of crap.  Happiness has nothing to do with your body or appearance…?  How can I possibly be happy when I am too old, fat, ugly…? When I don’t have the man, job, kids, house, money…?  Where does this incredible pressure on women come from?!  And gees; I was slim and reasonably attractive so why the hell wasn’t I happy?!

After missing out on having children and plunging to my lowest point to date which was closely followed by the sudden, suspicious death of my mother…  I suffer an injury that sees me having to completely change my gym routine.  One of my many addictions was cardio/aerobic exercise (to ensure I stayed slim) so weight training was not something I had done previously but was now the only exercise left available for me to fuel my dependence on my body and appearance.  Isn’t weight training what fitness models do…? And once again, I find an avenue to reinforce my need to derive happiness from my body and appearance only this time I get to show it off on stage?! Surely then I will be happy…?

Driven by vanity and low self-esteem (that I was completely oblivious to) I took on the ultimate attempt to satisfy the ego by becoming a fitness model and competing on stage at the tender age of 46. It wasn’t until I was well past the point of no return that I realised I had completely over committed myself. What was I thinking?!  With all my issues I was, of course, very shy and introverted despite mastering the art of covering it up. How was I going to get up on stage and fool the world, like I always had, of how broken I really was? Was I crazy?!  It is through this intense journey that I inadvertently stumble across the answers I had been searching for my entire life. Ironic isn’t it? I started down this road for all the wrong reasons and I ended up on my spiritual journey and curing myself of lifelong misery! So here are my top 6 takeaways of how I have managed to beat lifelong, debilitating depression:

  1. Diet. A funny thing happens when you start to feed your body with nutritious, whole, organic food, drink lots of water, take premium supplementation, give up binge drinking/eating, substance abuse and junk food..  All for the sake of vanity and achieving the perfect female form I had to treat my body with respect; like the temple it actually is.  Not abuse it and take it for granted!  After a life time of self-neglect, being under weight and under nourished my body began firing on all cylinders!
  2. Strength Training. Exercise is not a new one as far as elevating depression however having only done cardio I was very fit but not strong.  And quite frankly I didn’t think as a woman I wanted or needed to be physically strong and anyway didn’t lifting weights make you big and bulky?  This is a myth!  As I started to lift heavy weights my body became more defined and shapely, with more muscle I could burn more calories while resting but what affected me most of all was the physical strength.  It is so god damn empowering!
  3. Lifestyle. The bodybuilding lifestyle is extremely disciplined. There is no room for partying, lack of sleep, eating on the run, skipping meals or the general disarray that was my life.  I had to start cooking real food from scratch, take my food with me wherever I went, get up really early and be organised for the day ahead, sleep 8-9 hours a night and follow a routine that was very foreign to me!  To obtain results, consistency is critical not just with the diet and training aspect but with every facet of life.  It truly is a 24/7 commitment.
  4. Mind. After managing to adjust my lifestyle for the training and diet the next, what seemed to be insurmountable, challenge was to find the courage to strut around on stage in a bikini. I was having nightmares about it!  I knew I had to work on my confidence and I knew I had none! I started seeing a hypnotist and then followed my own nightly routine of meditating, affirmations and visualisations.  I started feeding my mind on all levels with positivity, inspiration and nourishment, blocking out the media and anyone or anything that had a negative influence on me.  I had heard about all these self-help practises before and had always thought it was a load of hooey.  But my vanity was surging through my veins; I would try anything!
  5. Mentor v Therapy. I have seen dozens of psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, therapists, psychoanalysts. All traditional therapy based involving talking about, dissecting and rehashing painful events of the past to establish my misery of today.  Clearly it wasn’t working after 20 odd years of going over the same ground.  And although I had deviated and tried alternate healers it wasn’t until my journey to stage I engaged with professionals that supported me in a way I had never been supported before.  And while the goal was not to cure my depression (they weren’t even aware of how broken I was!) they actually believed in me, respected me, they lifted me higher, they moved me forward in life.  Far more positive!  Having a mentor or coach is a relatively new concept and yet you will not find any successful person in the world who doesn’t have one or even two or three! I now believe this is the best way to change your life if you are stuck.
  6. Passion. While my recovery truly is a combination of many factors if I had to pick one it would be this.  Finding my passion and purpose in life has me jumping out of bed, without hesitation, at 4.30 in the morning, has given me the strength to adhere to the discipline that most can’t fathom, has seen me enduring incredible pain and gives me a feeling of personal empowerment and reward like I have never known.  We are all here for a specific reason and I had searched and searched for mine believing it was hiding behind that allusive picket fence.  But your passion in life has nothing to do with others, has nothing to do with your family or relationship.  It is all about you and the unique gifts that we all have to offer that are just waiting for you to discover.  Life is too short to not live each day with passion and purpose.  I spent 46 years of my life in mediocrity and misery; what a waste!

I now fully understand and appreciate the incredible power of premium health in body, mind and spirit.  And no one should have to go to the extremes I did to work this out!  The lessons I learned and many of the habits I adopted can be easily incorporated into anyone’s life without the extremity.  I have now dedicated my life to supporting women to sparkle with that inner glow that comes from the heart, to find their passion, to reignite that lost mojo that too many of us trade in as we try to fulfil the many roles that society expects of women.  It truly doesn’t have to be so hard!

If you would like more details of my journey and how you can incorporate all I have learned into your own life please click here to purchase my newly published book! Alternatively, please contact me as I would simple LOVE to support you on your own journey of self-discovery. And if you have your own experiences of overcoming emotional issues that I have not covered I would love you to share and leave a comment below.  Lets all help and learn from each other!

Self Worth

8 Tips for Raising Empowered Girls

July 2016

Where do we learn about the importance of self-worth, self-confidence and self-love?  Whose role is it to instill this invaluable quality in our children?  Is it the responsibility of the school system?  Or should it come from parents?  And can anyone even articulate that this is a quality that is so critical to future success and happiness?  And if we can’t articulate it, how do we teach it?!

When I was growing up, loving yourself was a derogatory term; you were said to be “up yourself” so it was a feeling and/or behaviour that I avoided for dear life!  It was frowned upon if you were openly proud of your achievements or portrayed behaviour of feeling good about yourself.  I was not encouraged to love or take pride in my body or celebrate my uniqueness either physically or mentally.  In fact, I spent a lot of my time trying to blend in and be like everyone else.

The school curriculum is still similar to what it was 100 years ago. And while learning to read, write and basic arithmetic is still and always will be critical skills,  I am not sure we have kept up with the incredible fast pace that technology has imposed on us.  We have certainly started teaching the technical skills, I am astounded to see children as young as two using iPads! But it is not just the use of these incredible devices that needs teaching but the associated change in values and behavior that this technology has impacted and the over exposure of what once was private images and topics.

The rate of depression, anxiety, emotional issues, eating disorders, mental illness is at an all-time high.  From 1995 to 2005 the prevalence of eating disorders doubled, 1 in 5 females have an undiagnosed eating disorder, 1 in 100 adolescent girls develop anorexia, 5 in 100 bulimia, emotional issues and depression in teen girls from 2009 to 2014 rose by 55%,  the stats go on and on.  Why is this?  Basically if you look at an average class in school at least 5 girls within that class will have some form of emotional disorder.  What are we doing to vaccinate our children from this suffering?  Childhood is where our belief and value system is installed and with so many of these behaviors in bedded in our subconscious minds it is very difficult to change once we are adults.

I have spent a lifetime trying to work out how to resolve my issues.  I have spent 20 years depressed and miserable; in and out of therapy since the age of 16.  If my parents were more aware of how these issues eventuated in my childhood I am sure they would have done all they could to prevent it.  There is no degree or qualification in being a parent and yet it is one of the most important roles in life and we receive no formal training.  And while we can ensure our children have food, a warm bed and an education how do we know how to raise children to have a strong sense of self?  To foster self-worth in a technological world that bombards us with competition, comparison to others and messages of unworthiness?  If parents suffer from their own self-worth issues it is often passed on but having blindly walked through the majority of my life without realising self-worth was my issue I am not sure that many people/parents actually realise this is the issue!

Unfortunately I missed out on being a mother.  My issues ran so deep that I was not able to sort myself out in time and my biological clock expired.  At the time, it nearly crucified me and I reached an all-time low after numerous failed IVF treatments to become a single mother.  Looking back now, reaching rock bottom was a turning point, as is so often the case, and I can now say that I am at peace with not being a mother.  My children have fur 🙂

So it is from the standpoint of a wounded child, disturbed teenager and then suffering adult, from a woman that has nearly lost her life due to low self-worth. From a woman who is now fully recovered and very self-aware I have concluded the following of where my lack of self-worth originated and what I wish I had been given in my childhood.

​1. Unconditional Love.  Seems to be a throw away term but what does it actually mean? The definition that resonates with me is it means love without any limitations or conditions.  It’s about caring about and making a priority your child’s happiness and well being above all else, and in some cases above your own, and without any thought of what you might get for yourself.  For me this translates to making decisions in life with the welfare of your child in the forefront of your mind, loving and accepting your child no matter what they are good at or not good at, through successes and failures, especially failures, not expecting your child to be anything else but themselves, forgiveness in all and every circumstance and constant encouragement and reinforcement through actions over words that the love of a parent is eternal and will not waiver no matter what happens. Providing security and safety; a place of comfort and an environment where they are able express themselves openly without fear.

​2. Good Health. The basics of nutrition and what our bodies need to achieve premium health is not really taught in school.  Involving children in shopping, preparing and cooking food is a vital life skill and is also a good bonding activity.  Educating children on the differences between manufactured, man-made food and whole food is a lesson that I stumbled across; lucky for me it was not through necessity of physical illness.  Society as a whole falls victim to clever marketing and advertising of the food industry; reading labels, checking what ingredients are in foods that we eat needs to become part of our lives.  Promoting regular exercise and incorporating it as a normal way of living is critical.  Family walks I think are a tremendous way to bond while getting some fresh air and exercise.  I recovered from my depression partly due to achieving premium health; I now believe that to be successful in life, to be strong in mind, a strong, healthy body is key. Learning to nourish your body is learning to respect your body.

3. Relationship Model. 
 One of the reasons I have found it so difficult to find a loving, committed, life-long relationship is due to not having a parental relationship worthy of modelling.  I have no clue what a loving, committed relationship looks or feels like. I have no idea how a man and woman in a loving relationship behave and treat each other.  I feel very strongly that if parents don’t feel they belong together they need to part ways; staying for the sake of children only ensures that they model a dysfunctional relationship and repeat the same pattern in their adult relationships.   
4. Self-Care As women, we seem to put the needs of others before our own.  We wind up feeling guilty if we want to indulge in a manicure or go the gym or even just spend some alone time shopping or taking a bath.  And although there is definitely a need to sacrifice for our children there still has to be balance. We can’t give from an empty vessel; we need to fill ourselves up first before we can be there for others. Teaching children to take care of themselves through good health and exercise, making time for their passions and interests, the importance of alone time and balance between activity and quiet time, that looking after yourself is not something to feel guilty about but is a normal part of life.
5. Body Love. This is the number one source of anguish for teenage girls.  Teaching girls that the endless parade of perfect bodies on all forms of media is not reality.  Being aware, and protecting where possible, that media, both mainstream and social, is where so many of these messages of competition and comparison are derived. Fostering a love and respect for their bodies as the miraculous machine that keeps them alive and has to last a very long time rather than the source of their self-worth. Treating the vessel that houses their soul with the utmost respect, grooming it, bathing it, nourishing it, exercising it, lovingly appreciating and taking care of every part of it. Celebrating the uniqueness and differences in everyone’s body and instilling a sense of pride of their own personal style even if it is different from your own or their friends.

6. Quality Relationships.  Teaching the difference between genuine friendships and acquaintances and the importance of maintaining the good ones is another skill I wish I had learnt throughout childhood.  Women are notoriously bitchy!  Often driven by low self-worth…  but learning to recognise and foster the sincere relationships, learning how to be a reliable, caring, trusty worthy friend, the importance of having a couple of close confidants over a dozen acquaintances who barely know you, that being popular is not the goal.  Also, respect and loyalty to family; fostering a family unit and placing a priority on family love over romantic love.  Unconditional love is not just for the parent/child relationship but should extend to the sibling relationship. A parent is in the unique position to ensure that sibling love is one of the quality relationships that must be fostered and respected as it has to last and serve as a replacement after parents have passed.

7. Respect Individuality.  This is closely related to unconditional love but I want to be a little more specific. I was a shy, introverted young girl and more so through my teen years after an interstate move at the age of 14. I felt constant pressure to be more sociable, to be outgoing, to talk more, to be what I so clearly wasn’t…  I was told I was too sensitive, too emotional, that I over reacted to everything and I was told this well into my adult years. Pressuring a teen (or anyone) to be a certain way that doesn’t come naturally to them is not going to foster self-worth. The message being sent is that you are not good enough the way you are.  If the temperament is quiet and reserved, encourage interests and passions that are aligned with this kind of personality; reading, writing, individual sport, music, while also encouraging the quality friendship aspect with obviously a one on one rather than group activity.  If sociable, then encourage the group activity concept but also ensuring that the importance of alone time is also understood. Either is ok!

8. Personal Tool Box.  In times of stress, pressure, confusion, sadness, grief or any other negative challenge that is inevitable, a suite of tools that can be utilised to ride through the down times.  We are not taught in school how to deal with the challenges in life such as death, depression, divorce, heartache and while these are usually adult dilemmas I wish that I had been taught through my childhood and teen years the mental and spiritual tools I used to recover from depression.  These could be personal mantras or affirmations, the benefits of meditation or yoga or tai chi, journaling, how to visualise to achieve goals and move forward in life,  the importance of gratitude, the value of having a coach or mentor outside the family unit, the importance of personal development and ongoing learning about oneself. Or any other spiritual tool that resonates.

​I have used the word teach a lot however children learn far more by observation of their parents behaviour and attitude to life.  If a parent is not comfortable with any of these points it is going to be very hard to incorporate them within the family environment.  I now understand why I missed out on having children as I would only have passed on all my negative beliefs and issues to my children.  I naively assumed that having children of my own would correct my own difficult childhood.  And although I would have taken care to not repeat the few traumatic events of my own upbringing it is the lack of self-worth that has plagued my adult years, that I wasn’t even aware of, that would have shone through and affected my children.

I am no expert by any means and these comments are all my personal opinion formed from my own heartaches.  And I can hear many parents saying that discipline is necessary which I am not denying.  If discipline is conducted with respect and with all these suggestions in mind then maybe, just maybe, we can tackle the increasing number of wounded children, teens and therefore adults and empower girls to go out into the world being the best they can be from the outset.  And not waste 46 years like I have!

“A mother who radiates self-love & self-acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem.”

Naomi Wolf