Book Review: Body Positive Power by Megan Crabbe AKA @bodyposipanda 

So I finally got my hands on this book and after months of anticipation I couldn’t wait to read it. I also happened to be thoroughly knocked down by the worst head cold of my life and having taken to the bed for the past five days I could get really stuck in. It didn’t disappoint. 

Megan is an incredible women. Her Instagram following currently stands at 938k. She posts about everything from the evils of diet culture to how to love your tummy, and get posts are alwats super upbeat and positive. I’ve been following her since day 1 of my own bopo journey and always turn to her fees when I need an injection of body positive power. So it’s really no wonder that the book is so fantastic. 

Megan unpacked and explains all of the ways in which society conditions us to hate our bodies in such a convincing way. There’s no chance anyone could read this book and deny thst fatphobia is rife. She uses studies and research in a great way too that doesn’t feel too academic but still manages to really hit the message home. 

Megan’s story is also super relatable. What girl can’t identify with spending decades trying diet after diet, ignoring hunger pangs, lusting over pictures of models ripped out of magazines, and jumping on every new fitness trend that comes along in the blind hope that this one might actually work? Her body shame ran deep in her veins, like it does for most of us, until one day she stumbled across a body positive account online and everything changed. 

This book is a brilliant first read for anyone embarking on their own body positive journey. She has such a lovely way with words that it feels like you’re just chatting with a friend. Even when discussing the most depressing aspects of body shane and diet culture, Megan manages to keep things lighthearted and even witty! Not only does she help you to see just how society has taught you to hate your body, she also helps you to begin to love and accept your body. A must read for the bopo beginner! 

4 Self Care Tips for When You’re Feeling Blue 

We can’t be happy all the time, can we? No. Defininetly not. Even the most positive people have their moments when it all gets a bit too much for them. Whether it’s work related anxiety, relationship problems, a family feud, a fallout with a friend, financial woes, or just your period playing havoc with your hormones (thanks again Mother Nature). We all feel blue from time to time. 
I think the really important thing to keep in mind is the ratio of happy to sad days. Are you sad twice as often as you’re happy? If so, it’s probably time to talk to your gp. Depression is on the rise in Ireland and though it can develop so slowly and subtly that you barely even notice it, left unchecked it will catch up with you and become a very big problem indeed. 

However if your ratio is better then that, if you tend to feel happy more than you feel sad, but still experience the occasional blues, this blog post is for you and will hopefully give you some ideas on how to stop your bad days from turning into bad weeks. 

I recently had a very bad day. I woke up feeling teary. I mean before I’d even put my feet on the floor I felt sad and weepy. Initially I couldn’t figure out what had me feeling that way so early in my day, but once I’d had some coffee and woken up a bit I noticed a particular set of thoughts were swarming around in my mind. I am not good enough. I’m not enough enough to find a job I love. I’m not good enough to earn a decent salary. I’m not good enough to succeed. I’m not good enough to live the kind of lifestyle I want. There was a very clear theme at play and it became pretty obvious why I was feeling so low. 

I decided immediately to let myself feel the feeling. I don’t believe in sweeping our feelings under the rug and putting our positivity hats on just to mask what’s really going on inside. I think the only thing we ever really achieve by taking that approach is delaying and prolonging our pain. If we try to ignore it, it could last for days, even weeks. Whereas if we just own the feelings, accept them, allow them to do their thing and pass, and priotitise our self care in order to minimise the pain, it could all be over by the end of the day. That’s what I decided to do on this particular day. 

Here are some ideas for how you can spend those days practicing self care. 
1. Identify the bare minimum

Unfortunately most of us don’t have the luxury of just wallowing in bed all day when we’re feeling low. For those of us with real life grown up jobs or kids, a certain amount of adulting has to be done no matter how much we want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world. But that doesn’t mean you have to power through the day as normal and neglect your own needs. Start your day by identifying the bare minimum. What can you get away with not doing today? Planning on some light lawn mowing? Leave it for another day. Or maybe you were supposed to have the in-laws for dinner, or meet friends for post-work drinks? Text and cancel. Say you’ve a headache or whateveer you need to say to get out of your plans. Today you’re only doing the bare minimum. Don’t miss a day of work or forget to feed the kids, but beyond that I wouldn’t be bothering with much else. 

2. Fair Warning

I think one of the really terrible legacies of the social media age has been the expectation that everyone should be positiviely pulsating with happiness at all times. NO. Just no! When we’re having a down day it’s actually really important to tell the people we’re going to be spending time with. The thought of it might make you feel anxious, but saying to your work colleague that you’re having a really bad day and just want to get through it as fast as possible will make them more aware of how they interact with you throughout the day and more likely to give you some extra space. If they immediately respond by asking you what’s wrong and offering a shit tonne of solutions, don’t hesitate in letting them know that you don’t want to talk about it and either walk away or change the subject. You don’t need to be apologetic about this. You’re not obliged to be cheerful. You don’t owe that to anyone. Cut yourself some slack on these days, and don’t be afriad to ask others to do the same. 

3. Eat the Food 

At some point in the years gone by, emotional eating became a bad thing. I personally think that weight loss clubs are responsible for this, because as an alumni of them all I remember well the emphasis they always placed on the evils of emotional eating. Well guess what? That’s horseshit. Food is there to nourish our bodies and our minds equally. When we’re feeling really great and bursting with energy we tend to eat more nutrious “clean” foods right? How is that not emotional eating? It is, and it’s totally fine, no problem, awesome! As is eating chocolate fudge brownie ice cream when you’re sad. On the days when you’re feeling blue, food can really help to process what you’re feeling. It won’t neccessarily fix the problem, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find comfort in tucking into a pizza in front of the telly instead of cooking up the spinach fritata you were planning to force yourself to make even though you just want to curl up and cry. Indulge. You’re allowed. 

4. Be nice

Be nice to yourself for Christ’s sake! A really great rule that I try to follow everyday no matter how I’m feeling is this; never say something to yourself if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend. I apply that to my life everyday and while I do still slip up occasionally, it has really helped me think more positively and cultivate a true sense of self love. But on the days when we’re feeling blue it’s more important than ever! We tend to berate ourselves for complaining when we think we have no right to. We feel guilty for not feeling hapy. What is that even about? Who knows. But it’s most definitely not helpful and that’s for damn sure. So the next time that you’re having a bad day, try to apply this rule to the way you speak to yourself and you’ll notice a big difference in how you’re feeling. You won’t suddenly be happy again, but choosing not to punish yourself will mean you won’t feel as blue as you did before, and you won’t prolong it either. 

My Christmas 2017 Review 

January is a great month for looking back and reflecting on the year gone by. I know we’re kind of supposed to do that in December, but who has the time when there’s so much cheese to be eaten and wine to be drank? Anyway so far this January I’ve caught myself reflecting on Christmas a lot. Maybe because Christmas can be such a difficult time for anyone who’s dealing with mental health issues. I know that my first suicidal thoughts began at Christmas time (2015) and that’s probably not a coimcidemce. Being reunited with family really does bring out every little insecurity and every old resentment that we may have thought was burried deep down. In my family, it’s all about competing with my cousins for respect and admiration, or at least it used to be for me. So I thought what better way to reflect on Christmas 2017 than with an aul blog post! 

I’m glad to say that this Christmas was different. This Christmas I felt very relaxed and comfortable around the fam. I won’t say that I didn’t feel even the teeny tiniest bit insecure, of course I did at times. My career is still a source of embarassment for me sometimes. My cousins are all very successful or on their way to success in their respective fields, whereas I’m really still pretty clueless as to what I want to be when I grow up. The usual questions came up in the usual conversations. “So what have you been up to”? “What are you doing with yourself these days”? And yeah I’d rather have not had those conversations. Being forced to validate and justify everything you’ve done in the past twelve months is uncomfortable, especially if you’re less than happy with your answer. I still don’t really know what to say. On the whole though, I felt significantly less insecure than I have done in years gone by. 

In terms of body confidence, I felt great this year. On St Stephens night in particular, I wore a very tight gold velvet dress that left pretty much nothing to the imagination. Last year I wouldn’t have been caught dead in that dress, never mind sat through a long night of dinner and drinks with my entire family in it. I felt amazing, and that felt amazing. In previous years I’d have been so wrapped up in my self conciousness that I couldn’t relax and enjoy my night. I’d be constantly thinking about my posture, the way my clothes were sitting on me, my hair, touching up my make up every ten minutes, hiding from photographs and lurking around the perimeter of the room, too afraid of being seen to get involced in the fun. But this year, I was the total opposite. I was still the fattest person in the room by a long shot, but this time that didn’t make me feel ashamed of my body. I felt proud of my body. It was a Christmas miracle!!! 

I think one of the best things about this Christmas was the fact that, for the first time, I didn’t let myself give in to the pressure to be prancing about full of festive cheer 24/7. Just because it’s Christmas we’re all expected to be positively joyful at every moment of every day. As if all of our problems just dissappear on December 1st. The truth is, we’re never as broke as we are at Christmas. We’re never as stressed, or as body conscious, or as run down. The weather plays havoc with the moods of most people. Loneliness and the loss of loved ones is never more intense and painful as it is at Christmas. And we’re forced to spend time with the people we love, but don’t particularly like. It’s a bit shit really. So it’s only natural thar most people struggle to get into the Christmas spirit and festive cheer from time to time. I think what was great about my Christmas was that I was ok with not feeling merry 24/7. I wasn’t depressed, my mental health has never been so strong as it is right now. But even the most mentally healthy people experience lows every now and then. So allowing myself to have bad days, giving myself permission to cry when I was upset, and (probably the most important thing of all) letting myself say no to doing the things I just didn’t want to do was refreshing, liberating, and definitely self loving. 

All in all… a great, imperfect, fun filled, exhausting Christmas was had. I drank all the wine and ate all the cheese and rolled my eyes at my family and danced with my friends and wore clothes that I love. Thank Christ it’s over! 

My New Years Resolutions for 2018

It’s easy to turn your back on the very idea of making New Years Resolutions isn’t it? We all eventually reach that point in our lives when we become utterly fed up with the annual process of making promises to ourselves that we inevitably break just a matter of weeks later. How many of us have pledged to lose X amount of weight, to rejoin the gym and start going X amount of times per week, to improve our skin, to have our teeth whitened, to finally become the person we want to be? How many of us have really achieved any of those goals? 

But why? How is it that so many people that for all intents and purposes are perfectly capable of achieveing their goals fail so catasprophically, every January? I believe it’s because we’re motivated by self hate, and self hate does nothing but ensure we consistently get in our own way. When we base our goals on what we think we should do as opposed to what we really desire, aren’t we automatically setting ourselves up to fail?

It strikes me how most of the resolutions we tend to make at this time of year acrually sum to do the opposite. We sign ourselves up to gyms thst we know we will hate goung to. We add more stress and more pressure and more time commitments to our already hectic lives. We purposefully over complicate our lives with things we hate to do! Why? Because we think we should? When did New Years Resolutions become about forcing ourselves to fulfill some made up obligation we think we have to do more and be bussier? Let’s turn that around and make them about adding value to our lives instead through streamlining our lifestyles, minimising the time we spend on shit we hate and maximising the time we spend on things we love! 

That’s why this year I’ve decided to set myself a brand new set of New Years Resolutions. I’ve thought long and hard about why and what I really want to achieve in 2018. I’ve made sure that all of my resolutions aim to achieve one of two things; to make my life easier, and to make it more fulfilling. And to make sure that I’m applying this approach to all aspects of my life, I’ve divided them up into three catagories. 

Personal 

1. Tattoos 

For as long as I can rememmber I’ve wanted tattoos, desperately. I’ve always been so attracted to people whos skin is covered in art and always envisaged my future self brandishing dozens of tattoos of my own. Unfortunately though, I’ve always left my tattoos at the bottom of my priority list, never prioritising my desire for them above anything else. FOr that reason, I’m approaching 30 years old with only two small tattoos to show for it. Well not anymore! I’ve decided that this year I’m going to put tattoos at the top of my priority list. Thankfully most of the pieces I want are small and uncomplicated with very little detail, so they won’t cost an arm and a leg.  Hopefully this time next year I’ll be sporting some very cool art on my skin!

2. Sleep

I think that one of the things I’ve learned since my reccovery from depression has been just how crucial sleep is to a healthy mind. I’m not implying that sleep will cure mental illness, but that it is an exceptionally unrearted tool for the prevention of mental illness. Establishing a strong sleep routine was an important part of my recovery, but sadly I’ve let that slip away from me in 2017. 

This year I want to refocus on the importance of sleep to my mental health, and include my daughter in this. I want to establish a very solid sleep routine that will begin at 8pm every night with both of us taking showers, then drying our hair and putting on cream on my bed. THen at 8.30 we’ll go into her room and read until 9 o’clock when it’ll be lights out time. This a similar routine to the one I used during my recovery. I found night time showers were a wonderful way to relax after my day and the theraputic act of applying moisteruriser was really calming. I also definitely want to incorporate the reading with my daughter because I don’t think i read to her enough, and would love her to develop the deep love for books that i have had my whole life.  Last but not least, this new routine will guarantee myself and my daughter get to spend one full hour of quality time together every night without phones or tablets or tv’s to distract or interrupt us, and that can only be a very good thing! 

3. Travel

This year I really want to travel more. This is probably sonething you can relate to. I mean, who doesn’t wanna travel more? I’ve decided to take three trips this year, a city break in May for my birthday, another in November, and a ten day holiday during the summer with my daughter. 

I’ve always complained that I didn’t have the money to travel more. But that’s not really true if I’m being completely honest. The truth is that I just haven’t prioritised putting money aside for travelling. I’m an impulsive spender which really isn’t very good, but this year I’m going to book my three trips nice and early in the year to give myself plenty of time to save up some spending money in advance. 

Professsional

1. Website 

You may have read in my blog post 2018… What’s Next? that I’m planning to develop a brand new website with new and improved features and a cool, clean look. I’m also planning to add new content, a new platform, to run more workshops and lots more! 

I wrote that blog post as a kind of guide. I’m not expecting to achieve every single thing that I set out in it, but I will be using it as a roadmap to take my website and my blog in a new direction.

2. Representation

This year I really want to throw myself into influencing. I’ve realised that even though you can hardly swing a cat in Ireland without hitting one, there aren’t any digital influencers here who are doing what im doing, or talking about what im talking about. On the other hand, there are influemcers in the UK who have built careers for themselves based on blogging about the things I love to blog about, and that there’s no reason for me to believe that I can’t do the same. 

The first step towards achieving that goal is to find the right representation. Luckily there are lots of options here with multiple model and talent agencies now representing digital influencers too. I’m excited at the thought of working with brands that share my message and appeal to my followers. 

3. Writing

Writing is something I’ve always loved. As a teen, I was the biggest bookworm I knew and adored the creative writing aspect of my English classes. In my college years, I dabbled in a little freelance writing and I had some success with pieces published in national magazines and newspapers. But I think a lack im confidence after regular rejections really got to me, and I gave up. 

This year I’m determined to get myself back into writing and start publishing more articles for the magazines and websites that I love. I really want to write about self love and body positivity of course, but I’d also love to write about sex, fashion, mental health, parenting, travel, and general lifestyle stuff. 


 Financial 

1. Debt

Im lucky in that I don’t owe very much. I’ve never had credit cards, I don’t have a mortgage or any outstanding loans. But I am in arrears on some of my bills with one or two bad debts still lingering after years of not giving enough shits about my credit rating. I guess my early twenties wete all about having fun now and worrying about the cost later, and the consequences of that are finally starting to catch up with me. 

So I’ve resolved to end 2018 debt free. I’ve created a cash flow document with a really detailed breakdown of how I’m going to achieve this and it’s very very conservative so no matter what bumps I hit along the road, I should be able to achieve my goal! 

2. Buy a car

I know, I know. It sometimes shocks people that I don’t own a car. To be honest, it sometimes shocks me! The worst thing about it is that I did have a car for five years, so going fron the independence that driving provides to suddenly grabbing with bus timetables and begging my poor mother for lifts everywhere hasn’t felt like a particularly positive change in my life. 

The truth is that two years ago I lost my job, my car died, and I just didn’t have the cash or the access to credit that I needed to replace it. It was a real blow to my ego at the time and I felt ashamed to be a 25 year old parent without a car. But since then I’ve had to make my peace with it, and luckily we live in a place with good public transport and we’ve adjusted pretty well. 

That being said, this year is the year I get back on the road. I have a savings plan in place and all going according to plan I should be on the road by the summer. And if my resolution to write more goes my way, I could be sporting some new wheels even sooner! 

3. Resist!!! 

I am an absolute divil for spending every penny in my bank account. My account is empty, and I do mean literally empty, on a weekly basis. It’s sort of like the compulsive need many of us have to eat every scrap of food on our plates, even after we’re full. I have a compulsive need to spend every penny I have, even if it’s just for the sake of spending it. 

I never really saw that as a problem before. I mean, money is there to be spent, right? I still do believe that. I’ll never be a financial hoarder. But as I get older and I listen to the woes of my friends who are saving to buy houses and starting pensions etc, I’ve realised the damage it might be doing to my future financial credibility when the time comes for me to follow in their footsteps. 

So this year I’m going to try really hard to resist the urge to empty my account. I’ve set myself goals for each quarter of the year to ease myself in. For the first quarter I’m aiming to leave a whopping five euro in my account at all times. Dramatic, I know! Then in each quarter of the year that minimum amount will double, so that by the end of 2018 I will always have at least forty smackers in my account at all times. I’m sure there’ll be exceptions to this new rule, I’m not going to kid myself into thinking I’ll never give in to the temptation. But if I stick to my plan more often than not, then I’m already going to be doing a lot better. 

So those are my New Years Resolutions for 2018. I’m really happy with them because as I said earlier, they cover all aspects of my life, they’re not motivated by what I think others expect of me or want me to do, and they all aim to make my life easier and more fullfilling. And while I by no means expect myself to achieve absolutely every single thing I set out to, or to suddenly transform into a perfect and permanently productive person in 2018, I can’t help but feel wildly optimistic!