How To Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is probably the most important aspect of self-love. Without it, it’s impossible to love yourself in any real way. But most of us have been programmed since we were infants to be the opposite of compassionate towards ourselves. So how do we know what it even is anymore, and how can we practice it?

There is so much information online about self-compassion. If it’s something you’re interested in, check out the work of people like:

  • Christopher Germer
  • Tara Brach
  • Rick Hanson
  • Kelly McGonigal
  • Brene Brown

My favourite definition of self-compassion by far is the one created by Kristin Neff though. She divides it up into three key components:

  1. Self-kindness – that we be “gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental”.
  2. Common humanity – “feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering”.
  3. Mindfulness – “that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it”.

I really like the way she breaks this down because it makes it so much easier to digest and process. By looking at self-compassion as these three unique components I can really examine whether or not I am practicing self-compassion by asking these three questions:

  1. Am I holding myself to unrealistic expectations and/or punishing myself for failing to reach them?
  2. Have I found a community of people who share my experiences, struggles, hopes and dreams?
  3. Am I making time in my life to stay connected with myself through mindfulness or meditation?

I think one of the trickiest things with self-compassion is understanding how it can co-exist with responsibility. There’s a fine line between showing yourself compassion and letting yourself off the hook.

For example, if I’m determined to get my daughter into school on time every single day for a week (might not seem difficult to most people but it’s a monumental achievement for me), but I only manage to get her in on time on one of the five days, how can I be compassionate to myself without letting myself off the hook?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Self-compassion was one of the first things I learned in therapy. It really is a skill. It doesn’t come naturally to us, at least not by the time we reach adulthood. So, we have to really work at developing it if we want to love ourselves.

I think the key is to think about how we would treat someone we loved in the same situation. If my best friend called me up and started telling me what a stupid bitch and terrible parent she is for always being so late and never getting her kid into school on time, what would I say?

Would I say, “yeah you really are a shit parent and your child should probably be taken off you”… or would I say something like, “chill the fuck out dude, you were five minutes late. You didn’t set the school on fire or kill a puppy”, or maybe ” yes OK your kid will always be the one who’s five minutes late, but she’s also always going to be the one with the lovely manners and the great packed lunch and the lovely French plaits”.

By talking to my friend this way I’m not exactly letting her off the hook. I’m not telling her it’s no problem if she’s always late. But I am trying to give her a little perspective and comfort. Because she’s my friend and I love her. And of all the horrible awful despicable things a person can do in life, being five minutes late really isn’t one of them!

So, if I can be this compassionate towards my best friend, why not myself?

I guess the reason I decided to write a post on self-compassion is down to the fact that everywhere I go I see people berate themselves with unbelievable harshness over the silliest of things. And it’s genuinely disturbing. Once you start to practice self-compassion yourself, you really notice how lacking most other people are in it. It’s so stark.

I listen to my friends and family say the meanest things about themselves and it hurts me to hear them. I was even watching The Great British Bake Off the other night and I was genuinely astounded by how harsh the bakers were about the smallest mistakes they made. Why can’t we all be a little bit nicer to ourselves?

All we have to do is three things:

  1. Remember that it’s ok to fail, it’s ok to be imperfect, and talk to ourselves the way we talk to our friends when things don’t go as planned
  2. Make sure we establish connections with people like us, other single parents, other body positive women, other disabled folks… whatever… people who struggle with the same things as we do
  3. Pout time aside regularly to switch off from the world and reconnect to ourselves and remind ourselves of the bigger picture so we can stop sweating the small stuff

So, let’s try to incorporate a little more self-compassion into our lives, shall we? And stop being such dicks to ourselves FFS!

Sarah x

Quality Over Quantity; How I’m Getting to Grips With My Shopping Habit

I think it’s fair to say that having a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear isn’t an uncommon problem among Irish women today. We all know that feeling don’t we? Staring into our wardrobes with eyes glazed over by the sheer multitude of items we see, and yet totally underwhelmed by our lack of choice.

So Many Clothes, Nothing To Wear

In the last eighteen months I’ve accumulated alot! Now in my defense, this is largely due to the fact that as somebody who suffered from intense body shame for years, I’ve had to slowly but surely build a wardrobe of clothes that I love. Living in a body I hated, up until January 2017 I only owned clothes that I felt “flattered” my shape i.e. loose fitting and black. When I finally turned my relationship with my body around and discovered that actually, I don’t need to be “flattered”, I was faced with the monumental task of chucking everything I had and starting over again.

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This was a gradual process and over the course of 2017 I became more and more daring in my own personal style and built a wardrobe full of clothes that I loved to wear for all the right reasons.

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So far this year has been a different and altogether less positive story. While last year I was buying pieces because I really wanted to try to make a statement by wearing them as a fat girl and felt empowered by my choices, this year I’ve been buying mindlessly with little or no sense of direction. In fact, my shopping habit has become borderline compulsive, which definitely isn’t good.

I now look into my wardrobe(s) and am met with a vast sea of pieces that I’ve bought but never worn. Some of them I haven’t worn because they really don’t fit me so well but I still kept them anyway. Others I haven’t worn because I put little or no thought into buying them and either don’t have anything that I can style them with or really don’t feel they’re my style at all. It’s maddening.

I’ve thought quite a bit about this lately, probably because some of the women I’m following on Instagram have been talking a lot online about buying less and opting for timeless, investment pieces rather than disposable, trend driven, fast fashion (Rosemary Mc Cabe, Sophie White and Sarah Hanrahan to name a few). They’ve got me looking at my wardrobe and thinking, what do I really want?

Creating That Capsule Wardrobe

I think what I really want is to focus on building a collection of key pieces that will not only last through season after season, but also represent my own personal style. This is the whole idea of a capsule wardrobe and because everyone’s personal style is a little bit different, I think everyone’s capsule wardrobe will look a little bit different.

I’m still trying to figure out what my own ideal capsule wardrobe would look like, which is tricky given how recently I’ve begun to experiment with fashion, but I know it would contain the following:

  • Some high quality pairs of boyfriend/mom jeans in black, white, light wash and a couple of other variations
  • A collection of really good slogan t-shirts that wash well and hold their shape
  • A number of midi length tea dresses
  • Good footwear for all seasons i.e. three or four pairs of Birkenstocks for summer, high quality suede ankle boots for winter, along with four or five pairs of Nike/Adidas trainers that can be worn year round
  • A decent denim jacket for summer and another one that’s borg lined for winter
  • A summer trench in camel and a winter cocoon coat in a bright color like pink or white
  • A really well tailored co-ord suit in a bold print
  • Some nice high-waisted wide leg trousers and a really nice, crisp white shirt

I’m spending lots of time looking through the feeds of my favorite plus size fashion bloggers right now and trying to identify key pieces that I know I’d like in my capsule wardrobe. The one thing I do know is this;

It will be full of pieces that I’ll take out of storage year after year, no matter what the trends of the moment are.

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Focusing On The Fit

In addition to only buying capsule pieces from now on, I also really want to spend more time and effort making sure that the clothes I already own/ do buy in future fit me perfectly by taking them to be altered.

I currently own seven pairs of jeans, but really only wear three because the other four are too big on my waist. So rather than just continue buying more jeans, I’m opting to have the four taken in so that the fit is just right.

Similarly I’ve decided not to buy a new dress for Rosie’s communion next month, and instead have a dress I bought last year but only wore once taken in.

I’ve also decided to have a pair of camo trousers that I recently bough on Asos taken in at the waist but also taken up on the leg so that they have a three-quarter-length look. I have two other pairs of tapered jersey trousers which are also recent Asos purchases that need taking up an inch or two on the length.

This is definitely going to become common practice for me in the months ahead I think, as I go through everything I own and decide on how to alter it in order to get the fit right so that I can maximize the amount of wear I get out of them. I think the tiny cost of having a pair of jeans altered (approx. €10) is infinitely more responsible than simply replacing them with another pair that will probably be too big on the waist too!

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I have to say that I’m feeling really really positive about getting to grips with my shopping habit at last and focusing my energy on quality over quantity! Unfortunately it does mean that my regular plus size fashion feature (which has been one of my most popular features on the blog), Fridays Five A Day, will be put on hold for the moment. But it’s all in the name of personal growth so I guess I gotta take the hit! Maybe I’ll figure out a way to incorporate regular fashion features in the blog that are less focused on disposable fashion. Who knows?

Do let me know what you think of my plan and if you’ve ever considered taking steps like these in the past by leaving a comment in the comments section below!

Sarah x

3 Tips to Help You When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

I recently talked about the things that I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed on my Instagram stories, and followed up with a poll asking you guys if you’d like a blog post on this topic. Most of you said “HELL YES!”, so here it is!

Who doesn’t feel overwhelmed from time to time? I think it’s becoming more common all the time as the rates of anxiety are on the rise too. Funnily enough, we’re becoming so anxious about all the stuff that we have to do that it actually stops us from getting anything done. Another one of life’s lovely little ironies we could definitely do without!

But all joking aside, it’s a really awful feeling. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees, there’s just too much, and it can paralyse us. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the very knowledge that we’ve loads to do but are getting absolutely nothing done only proves to intensify our anxiety and make us even more overwhelmed and less productive. It’s a vicious circle.

But thankfully there are things we can do to help snap ourselves out of that paralysis and start ticking things off our to do lists at last. Here are the three things that always help me to overcome that feeling of being overwhelmed, and get shit done! Let me know if you give any of them a try, or if you have tips and tricks of your own in the comment section below!

Sarah x

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1. The 1:1 Ratio Rule

Prevention is always better than a cure right? The 1:1 Ratio Rule is something I’ve been doing for a while now and it goes a little bit like this. Every time I do one thing that’s relaxing, enjoyable, or just down right indulgent, I make sure I also do one thing that I need to do too.

For example, if I decide I want to stick on the telly once Rosie’s gone to bed and watch some Grace And Frankie, I’ll put on a load of laundry first. If after that first episode I decide I’m going to watch another, I’ll hop up and clear away any dirty dishes in the sink before I do.

Maybe I decide I’d really love a nice long, hot bubble bath with candles and music. I’ll make a deal with myself that I’ll go through my inbox and answer any unanswered emails first. This way, the housework in particular or other things that are regulars on my to do list never get a chance to build up to an overwhelming level.

This isn’t about forcing myself to ‘earn’ relaxing time, or feeling that I don’t deserve to indulge myself unless my entire life is in perfect working order. It’s about giving myself a way to strike a really nice balance between doing nice things for myself today, and doing the things I’ll thank myself for tomorrow. It’s simple, straightforward, and works really really well for me.

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2. Review Your To Do List

I find that very often, when I’ve reached the point where I’m feeling really overwhelmed by the amount of stuff on my to do list, it’s often a simple case of overloading myself

A lot of the time, there’ll be things on that list that I don’t actually have to do at all. More often than not they’re there because I feel like I should do them, either because it’s something that everybody’s doing or because other people want me to do them. Neither of those reasons are good enough reasons to do anything. I know this, and yet I still find myself falling into that trap sometimes.

So for me, a great way to combat feeling overwhelmed is to take a look at my list and see what can or can’t be put off. Do I really need to do this today, or can I do it in a few days time, or can I just chose not to do it at all? You’d be surprised how often taking a second look at your list can reveal how much unnecessary stuff you’re piling onto your own plate without even noticing.

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3. Check Your Environment 

I’m  a big believer that our environments hugely affect our moods. This definitely includes our productivity. I recently went through a bout of feeling really overwhelmed and just, not arsed with life. I didn’t feel particularly down or depressed or super anxious. I just had absolutely no motivation to do anything including housework or blog work. Even leaving the house was a drag.

This lasted for well over a week until finally it occurred to me that my apartment was really really cluttered. I live in a very small two bed apartment that clutters up very quickly so I regularly (at least once a month) do a clear out. But on this particular occasion, I couldn’t remember when I had done my last clear out. And as I looked around the apartment properly for the first time in at least a week, it just felt heavy with stuff. A bit like my mood.

So I got to work with black bin bags, clearing out old newspapers and empty glass bottles. I stripped the beds and fired as much laundry as I could into the machine. I watered the plants and I swung open every door and window in the apartment to get a blast of fresh air through the rooms. Within minutes I was already feeling full of energy again.

This made me realise just how much our environments really do affect our productivity and our ability to tackle the day. So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and bogged down in your to do list, why not try filling your home with fresh air, getting a quick spring clean done, even hiring a cleaner for a couple of hours as a once off if you can afford to? If it helps you to tackle your to do list, it’s worth it!

 

My Decision To Go Cruelty Free

I’ve always been a real animal person. From my first ever family pet, Gerry the gerbil, at five years old I was destined to love my furry friends. Growing up we had two dogs called Buddy and Susie, two cats called Tutti and Fruity, a horse called Bailey, Gerry the gerbil and endless amounts of fish. Not all at once, they were spread out over the years. But it’s safe to say that at one time or another I’ve always shared my life and home with at least one family pet. Since graduating into adulthood myself, I’ve made sure that Rosie grew up in that same animal friendly environment. Right now we have two cats, and our rescue dog, Lucy.

Aside from the actual presence of animals in my life, I’ve always loved watching wildlife documentaries. From my earliest years I’d love nothing more than to curl up on the couch and let David Attenborough blow my mind by showing me a world full of weird and wonderful creatures in far off places. In my teens I began to watch more and more tv shows about animal rescue, which opened my eyes to the persistence of animal cruelty and the despicable affects it has on its victims.

To cut a long story short – I’m an animal person through and through.

So why have I been using cosmetic products that are tested on animals this whole time? Well to be honest, it pretty much comes down to laziness. I was always really aware of the fact that big companies like Rimmel tested their products on animals, but having never actually researched the topic I believed that this was something that all companies did. If I had researched it sooner, I would have realised that there are actually a huge and growing number of cosmetic brands that have gone cruelty free, and that as far as choice is concerned, I’ve got lots more than I expected!

So once day I was scrolling through Instagram and I somehow stumbled across an influencer I hadn’t heard of before. Well actually that’s not true. I’d heard of her but had decided she wasn’t my particular cup of tea. But in this instance I stumbled across a post in which she mentioned her choice to only use cosmetics brands that didn’t test on animals, so I decided to check her out.

Stephanie Lange really isn’t the kind of influencer I would usually follow. I mean no offense by that, but I’m just not that big into beauty and her content is very much centered around very extreme (and remarkably creative) make up looks, so it just isn’t my thang. But I was so taken aback when I realised she refused to work with brands that tested on animals. I started to flick through her posts and came across one where she mentions a website that lists all of the cruelty free cosmetics brands, and all of the ones that test on animals. What a cool resource, I thought, so I checked it out.

Cruelty Free Kitty is amazing blog that not only index’s all of the cruelty free cosmetics brands, but also posts regular content on make-up and beauty products and related topics. When I discovered it, I spent hours perusing not only the list of cruelty free brands, but also all the amazing blog posts on the best and newest products available. This place is heaven for any beauty addict, which I’m really not, or anyone looking to expand their knowledge of cruelty free brands and products.

I think the most helpful resource on the website is the comprehensive brand registry it provides. I remember scrolling through the list and almost jumping for joy when I saw the name of my favourite make up brand listed under the cruelty free heading. I’ve been using Catrice products for years and they’ve slowly but surely replaced MAC as my favourite brand. So obviously I was THRILLED to see that they’re already cruelty free! How lucky am I? I did however notice some other brands that I use regularly like Pantene listed under the non-cruelty free heading, so I have had to make some changes to the products that I use. But having them all listed there made it so much easier for me to choose what to use. It’s a godsend for any one who wants to go cruelty free!

From Binge Eating Disorder To Intuitive Eating: How I Healed My Relationship With Food.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke on my IG stories about how I feel about food and it got such an amazing response from you guys. I followed it up with a poll asking if you’d like a blog post on how I’ve healed my relationship with food and guess what? You said Yes! So here we are. Almost a month later and timed to be published on National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, here is the deepest darkest recesses of my heart and soul poured out into almost three thousand words. This blog post is a long and heavy read. And I dedicate it to you, the girl with the eating disorder. There is an end to this. You’ll get better soon.

Sarah x

The Early Years

Like pretty much everyone in Western society, I’ve had a deeply unhealthy relationship with food for as long as I can remember. While I wouldn’t say I’ve ever had an actual eating disorder (although I strongly suspect I had a binge eating disorder), there’s no question in my mind that I had developed extremely disordered eating habits by my mid teens.

Now I’m not going to blame this on my parents. I don’t do that. It’s unhelpful and doesn’t actually serve me in dealing with the issues I face. But I will say this. From a very young age I was taught that there were good foods and there were bad foods, and the kind of person you were was very much dependent on the kinds of foods you ate.

Good people didn’t eat carbs. They didn’t put sugar in their tea. They used low-fat everything, ate small portions, never had take-aways and would sooner die than be seen in McDonalds. They ate to feed their bodies, not their emotions, and exercised militant control when it came to eating. Good people only ate foods that were super nutritious, homemade, ‘clean’, you get the point. Those people were admirable, inspiring and more valued. And we must always strive to be less like us and more like them. That’s what I was taught. And not just by my parents, but by society, by my teachers, by the media. We’ve all been taught this, whether we realise it or not.

I joined Weight Watchers for the first time at 14 years old. I was thrilled to be joining my Mum on her weekly visits. Body shame was already a big issue for me and knowing that Weight Watchers would help me finally figure out how to control my eating and be more like the ‘good people’ was such an exciting prospect. Over the following 11 years I was a member of one weight loss club or another. I had varying levels of temporary success, but overall, I steadily gained weight over the years. Clearly, it wasn’t working for me. So, what changed?

My Twenties

I kicked off my twenties with an unplanned pregnancy. If you didn’t know this about me, remember it. It explains a huge amount about me and was really the major turning point for my mental health. Pre-Rosie, my mental health wasn’t great, but I wouldn’t say it was in serious decline. However the shock of having her just a month after I said goodbye to my teens and watching my friends live the life I felt I was robbed of while I was locked up in a house on my own every night with a screaming baby who frankly, I didn’t understand, was the beginning of a long road to extreme depression.

And guess how I tried to distract myself from the pain I was in? Yep. With chocolate. And pizza. And ice cream. And crisps. And biscuits. And cake. And buns. And everything else I could get into my mouth. I ate my pain.

Funnily enough (insert sarcastic tone) this method of distraction really didn’t work very well, and over the years my binges became more extreme and more frequent. While initially my binges only consisted of maybe an oven pizza followed by a bag of crisps and a sharing bag of Maltesers 2 or 3 times a week, by the time I had reached 25 I was ordering a large Dominos pizza almost every night and finishing it off with 2 sharing bags of Maltesers (or any other chocolate that was on special offer), a bag of microwavable popcorn and a large tub of ice cream in one sitting. I know. It’s hard to believe. But every night as soon as Rosie was asleep I was on the phone ordering my nightly pizza and then rushing into the kitchen to gather my ‘snacks’ for the night.

Now I don’t think there’s a single person alive who could consume that volume of food in one sitting without throwing up. So, guess what I also started doing every night? Yep. I threw up. I’d make it about halfway through my binge before the urge to vomit took over and I’d throw myself onto the bathroom floor and throw up violently into the loo. This was usually when I’d start sobbing.

I honestly don’t think I can ever describe the way that felt. I really don’t. The lowest moments of my life took place on that floor with my face resting on the toilet seat, tears spilling onto the floor, vomit on my chin. My first suicidal thoughts took place there in those moments and I’ll never be able to describe them or forget them. They’ll never ever leave me.

My Eating Disorder

I began writing this post thinking I had never had an actual eating disorder, just disordered eating habits. Ok maybe I always suspected I might have had an eating disorder, but I guess I was always very very reluctant to label it that way. But writing about my binges forced me to relive those memories, and I gotta say – I cried like a baby. I was really shocked by my reaction, but I guess sometimes having to put our thoughts into words allows us to unpack them and leads us to see things from a new perspective.

I’ve since then done a lot of research online and come to the conclusion that I absolutely suffered from Binge Eating Disorder, a form of eating disorder that isn’t as well known or taken anywhere near as seriously as bulimia or anorexia but affects a massive amount of people nonetheless. It’s also helped me to see why I binged the way I did, although I did a lot of work on this area while I was in therapy and so had a good understanding of it already.

While I had always assumed my binges were down to ’emotional eating’, the truth is that I used food as a weapon against myself. My sense of self-worth had hit rock bottom once I had Rosie after a steady decline throughout my teens and all the weight loss clubs they had involved. Having such a low opinion of myself, believing I was nothing but a weak willed, ‘fat slob’ who could never and would never be one of the ‘good people’, I used food as a way to confirm that belief.

I’m a big believer that every thought is an affirmation, and if you tell yourself something often enough, your subconscious brain will eventually accept it as absolute fact. Once this has happened, our subconscious does what it does best. It drives our behaviour to align with our beliefs. So…. if I tell myself that I have no control around food and I’m nothing but a ‘fat slob’ enough times, eventually my subconscious forces me to behave in a way that backs that belief up. Hey presto, my head is hanging in the toilet while the bowl fills with my vomit and tears. Nasty stuff.

Healing

I guess the perversely great thing about hitting rock bottom is the fact that there really is only one way to go from there – up! Around Christmas 2015 my suicidal thoughts had become pervasive, and in January 2016 I managed to get help in the form of medication and therapy. And while I’ll never deny that those antidepressants were essential to me then, it was my therapist who saved my life. He helped me to understand how our thoughts can shape our behaviour and introduced to me to wonderful world of affirmations.

We realised soon enough that my eating disorder was fundamentally caused by my bone-deep self-hatred, and that the only way to address it was to replace it with unconditional self-love. This was such a new idea to me at that time. The very term ‘self-love’ made me cringe. I was like most people and assumed it meant being full of yourself, vain, up your own arse for want of a better phrase. But as I said, I’d hit rock bottom, so what did I have to lose?

My approach to healing my relationship with food was threefold. First, I learned to use affirmations to change my thought patterns. Secondly, I immersed myself in the world of intuitive eating. And finally, I threw myself into trying to gain a better understanding of how my relationship to food had been formed.

Affirmations

I spoke earlier about how every thought is an affirmation and how, by intentionally choosing to repeat very specific thoughts over and over again, we can change our thought patterns and ultimately, our behaviour. Well when I began therapy, this was a brand-new concept to me. It made sense though, it’s logical. So, I threw myself into cultivating a strong affirmation practice. This meant choosing an affirmation that really worked for me, and basically trying to create a brand-new habit of saying this affirmation, either out loud or in my head, regularly throughout my day.

After some experimentation with established affirmations used by experts but which just didn’t feel good to me, my therapist got me to create my own. The affirmation I chose was; I love myself, I accept myself, I am enough. I guess I chose these words because they represented thoughts and feelings I really wanted to have, sincerely. That’s how I wanted to feel about myself. They were the three things I really wanted to believe. So, they felt right to me.

Developing an affirmation practice is like trying to form any other brand-new habit. It’s not easy. It’s not quick. It’s not without frustration. I would go back to therapy each week and the first thing my therapist would ask is how I got on with my affirmations, was I remembering to say them, were they feeling easier to say, was I believing them yet? Most of the time I felt like a total failure, because the truth is it took me months to really nail my affirmations down. But again, like with all other habits, one day it just happened.

My affirmations were there in the back of my mind, on repeat. I’d hear them every time I got a moment of quiet during my day, as though they had been there playing quietly like background music the entire time. I didn’t even need to try anymore. And very few things have made me happier or prouder than discovering I’d finally done that. Nearly two years on, those affirmations are still there every time I pause during my day to listen out for them. They’re like old friends of mine at this stage. They always make me smile.

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating was a term I had never come across before my therapist mentioned it to me. I didn’t get the concept at all. Soooooooo….. You just eat whatever you want, whenever you want? He smiled and nodded. It wasn’t the first time I suspected he might be more of a basket case then me. But when I investigated the movement on the big bad web, I realised that actual, this was an established idea that was well founded in scientific research. I still struggled to believe in something that frankly, just seemed too good to be true. But once again, what did I have to lose?

I started trying to loosen the restrictions I placed on my eating throughout the day. Up until this point, I lived on a strict diet of low fat carboard and rabbit food during daylight hours (when other people could see me) and saved my binges for the privacy of my home at night. But my therapist encouraged me to change that. He told me not to worry about the binges, if they continued that was fine. But instead, he wanted me to focus my attention on how I ate during the day. I guess he thought if I was freer with my eating during the day, the urge to binge at night might sort itself out. As usual, he was bang in the money.

Being less restrictive with my eating during the day was really hard. It sounds like I would’ve jumped for joy at the idea of being given permission to eat whatever I wanted, but my shame around my body had reached a point that I was honestly terrified by the idea of ordering carrot cake instead of salad. I was so afraid of the judgement of others. I felt sick at the thought of letting myself have a hot chocolate with cream instead of a skinny latte.

The way I tackled this was by being extremely picky about who I involved in this process. I chose the three people who knew about my depression and whom I’d spoken to at length about my therapy, and I used them as my guinea pigs. I explained to them how I felt, was really open with them about my shame and fears around my body and being judged for eating, and I relied on their compassionate guidance (and very often, humour) and support heavily. I’ll never stop loving them for this. They know who they are. And like, with everything, it got easier.

And even less surprisingly perhaps, my therapist was right again. As soon as I started to be less restrictive with my eating during the day, I noticed my urge to binge slowly mellow out until a binge became nothing more than half a tub of ice cream or just one sharing bag of Maltesers. After a few months the binges became fewer and further between, until eventually they disappeared.

My Relationship with Food Today

One of the reasons why it’s taken me so long to write this blog post is because it forced me to ask myself; what is my relationship with food today? Honestly, this wasn’t an easy question to ask for the simple reason that I put absolutely no thought into that question on a daily or weekly or monthly basis. I never think about my relationship with food any more. It’s a non-issue. It just doesn’t take up any space in my mind. Neither does my relationship with air.

Both relationships are equally as important. And both are equally as unemotional. I don’t think about food in any greater depth than, ‘what do I want to eat’, or ‘that was delicious’. I think this is in large part down to the fact that I’ve lost any desire to lose weight, and since that used to be the entire focus of my eating habits, I don’t think about my eating habits now.

Do binges still play a part in my life? Damn right they do, and I hope they always will. But now they look very different. The vast majority of nights I don’t feel the need to binge at all, and not because I feel I shouldn’t, but because I feel happy and content and it just doesn’t occur to me that I should be crying into a toilet of my own vomit. It’s as though I feel, for the first time, that it’s ok that I’m happy. I deserve my contentment.

However, when I am having a rough week, or I’m on my period, and I feel the urge to drown my sorrows in calorific comfort, I don’t stop myself from doing it. I’ve learnt to depend heavily on food for my emotional sustenance. I don’t see anything wrong with emotional eating now. Even though I’ve been told my whole life that ‘the good people’ would never eat to sooth their emotions, I do it and I do it proudly.

Food is there to nourish our bodies and our souls, and I think as long as we remain mindful of our eating habits and observe how they might reflect on our emotional health, there’ absolutely nothing wrong with ending a shitty day neck deep in Dairy Milk.

In other words, binge when you want to binge. But if you’re noticing your binges are becoming more and more frequent, look at it as a symptom of something that may be going on in your emotional health. Just as the decrease in my binges was symptomatic of the vast improvements in my mental health, I’ll know that if they become more frequent again that could be something to examine.

Today I go to eat with my friends and family and feel absolutely no shame when I’m face planting a burger or licking chocolate fondant off my fingers. I cook about 75% of my meals from scratch, but not because it’s healthier to do it that way. I give extremely little thought to the nutritional content of my food whereas I used to obsess about it. And yet my physical health is better than it ever had been in the years of dieting. Food is my friend, my buddy, my pal. Food isn’t my enemy anymore. It’s not a weapon I use against myself. I don’t employ it to punish myself or demean myself. I use it to fuel my body, to comfort my mind, and to express the unconditional love I have for both.

My Favorite All Female, All Irish Podcasts

A couple of weeks ago I asked you guys if you’d be interested in a blog post on my favorite all female podcasts and you said HELL YEAH! Since then I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to podcasts that had been on my ‘to-listen-to’ list for a while, because I wanted to know exactly what was out there before I chose my favorites.

I’m pleased to report that they’re actually are a lot of all female podcasts available. This seems to be an ever growing trend and no matter what you’re looking for in a podcast, I’d say it’s fairly safe to say it’s out there.

Personally, I most enjoy podcasts that are catered to listeners my age and produced and presented by girls my age. I like a podcast where shit gets real. I like a podcast that makes me lol. I like a podcast that’s genuinely informative and engaging. And I like a podcast that feels like chats between friends.

Most of the podcasts on this list tick all of those boxes for me, but there are some that are a little bit out of my comfort zone. I’ve included each for a reason though as they all offer something different and I think it’s important to listen to a range of different styles to keep our minds open. Some just make me laugh, others make me questions things, others make me jump and down and scream ‘ME TOO’ at my phone. Either way, I love them all and hope you’ll find something here that you’ll love too!

Sarah x

  1. Girls With Goals
  2. I love this podcast. Produced by Her.ie and presented by Niamh Maher, each episode tackles a different theme and yet, they all have the same ‘I’m struggling with adulting’ kinda feel to them. Each episode includes a sports segment in which Niamh interviews an Irish female athlete. I’m not a sporty person myself but I think it’s awesome that the podcast celebrates our female athletes who are typically ignored or undervalued.

    Some of the guests Niamhs had on include Irish fashion icon Courtney Smith, comedian Joanne McNally, lifecoach and author Sarah Doyle, and me! (《~ yes, this does make me biased towards Girls With Goals, deal with it). Niamh herself is utterly hilarious and a fantastic, super relatable and talented presenter. This is a must listen for any girl in her twenties or thirties who has an interest in, well… anything!

  3. Mother of Pod
  4. Ok… where do I start? Mother of Pod is a lolfest. Do not listen to it in a library, or mass, or anywhere that you’re required to be quiet. Because you will scream laughing. You will. Presented by Sophie White and Jen O’Dwyer, this podcast is essentially the recorded chats of two lifelong friends who also happen to be young mothers, discussing how shite motherhood is. That’s essentially all there is to it. It’s so refreshing! If you’re a Mum, or you’re preggers, or you’re for some other reason in search of auditory contraception, this is the podcast for you.

    Apart from the fact that these two girls are inexplicably funny, they’re also a shinning beacon of hope and solidarity for all the Mums out there who feel like they’re failing. If you hated breastfeeding, listen to this. If you soak your knickers every time you sneeze, listen to this. If you haven’t slept since the birth of your now three year old child, listen to this.

  5. It Galz
  6. This podcast is absolutely great craic. The two girls who run it, Jade and Jenny, are obvious besties and bursting with personality. They’re so comfortable in front of the mic, there’s literally no telling what’s gonna come out of their mouths! Like for realz… no topic is too out there for these girls.

    From sex to feminism to beauty blogging to boyfriends, you name it, they’ll talk about it. I love how unfiltered they are. It’s incredibly refreshing and admirable considering a lot of what they say is fairly controversial stuff. If you’re looking for brutally honest discussions of real life problems from a pair of ballsy girls, this is the podcast for you!

  7. The Women’s Podcast
  8. Cathy Sheridan presents this Irish Times podcast and hosts the most impressive selection of guests on the show that you’re almost guaranteed to find an episode that features someone you admire. This podcast is definitely much more serious in tone than the others on this list and tackles difficult issues like bereavement, abuse, politics, and more head on.

  9. How To Be Sound
  10. This podcast is the baby of Rosemary Mc Cabe, one of the first Irish influencers and one of the most controversial. Rosemary is an ex-journo and an ex-stylist but has a way with words that makes her super easy to listen to. The premise of the podcast is pretty self-explanatory. How To Be Sound features a range of guests and discussions on all aspects of life from parenting and sex to mental health and fashion.

    Rosemary’s podcast is perfect listening for a quiet evening at home or your daily commute. Her guests are diverse and always interesting, and the fortnightly episodes never fail.

  11. The State of Us
  12. It’s all in the name with this one. Hosted and produced by best mates Roisin and Jane, this podcast is an entertaining girls guide to growing up. The two girls are incredibly relaxed and just chat really organically about the various issues that we all have to tackle as we come of age.

How To Respond To The Health Police

One of the things I hear from followers all the time is that they don’t know how to respond when people question them about their health. So having encountered this problem a million times myself and really perfected my response to the point that I don’t even have to think about it anymore, I thought I’d share it with you guys here so you can use it too.

When somebody says to me, “I think it’s great that you’re body positive but what about your health”, or “I know that you’re feeling more confident but what are you planning to do about your health”, this is what I say.

1. My Health is Mine

First of all, my physical health is literally none of your damn business. I wouldn’t dream of health shaming another person or demanding that another person share their personal health info with me, so I expect the same treatment. I don’t owe you my health, or my health info. Back the eff off.

2. Health Isn’t Black & White

The idea that all thin people are healthy and all fat people are unhealthy is intellectual laziness at best. There are so many factors that contribute to our health that doctors and scientists have still barely scratched the surface. Yes, weight is one of an infinite number of factors. It’s not the be all and end all of health and to assume that I’m unhealthy just because I’m fat only tells me that your a dope and really not worthy of my time.

3. Respect Isn’t Health Dependant

Even if I am unhealthy and everything you say is true, what does it matter? Do you always measure the amount of respect you give someone based on your perception of their health? Is that really the kind of person you are? When did that become Ok? You don’t need to like me or fancy me or agree with me, but you damn well need to afford me a basic level of respect that all humans deserve, whether you think I’m healthy or not.

Please remember that while The Health Police do tend to be our Mums/Dad’s, friends or family or other forms of wolves in sheep’s clothing, they are NOT being kind. You may think they’re acting out of love, hell even they probably think they’re acting out of love, but they’re NOT acting out of love. When they question you about your health and you feel yourself tear up, you are NOT overreacting. You have EVERY right to be pissed off and fed up by the endless interrogation and dismissal of your privacy. And you are ABSOLUTELY within your rights to sit those people down, look them dead in the eye, and use the above three points to make it crystal clear to them that you will NOT be taking anymore questions on your health.

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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!

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4 Self Care Tips for When You’re Feeling Blue 

We can’t be happy all the time, can we? No. Definitely 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 important thing to keep in mind is the ratio of happy days 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 than 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’m not good enough. I’m not good 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 pants 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 prioritise 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 must 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 whatever 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.

  1. Fair Warning

I think one of the terrible legacies of the social media age has been the expectation that everyone should be positively pulsating with happiness at all times. NO. Just no! When we’re having a down day it’s 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 afraid to ask others to do the same.

  1. 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 alumnus 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 nutritious “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 necessarily 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 frittata you were planning to force yourself to make even though you just want to curl up and cry. Indulge. You’re allowed.

  1. Be nice

Be nice to yourself for Christ’s sake! A great rule that I try to follow every day 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 every day 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 happy. 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.

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3 Steps to Love Yourself Today

Ok so disclaimer: if you’re not currently body positive (ie. If you don’t already feel 100% confortable and happy with your body) then it’s gonna take some time to get you there. There is no quick fix for undoing years, decades even, of social conditioning. But don’t let that stop you from embarking on the most important journey of your life! In this blog post I’m sharing 3 steps you can take right now to get off to a really good start and set you up for a body positive 2018!

Step 1. Put the Me in Social Media

We constantly hear about how social media has become the downfall of society. Trolling and online bullying are rife, random scrolling is deteriorating our social skills, the temptation to pop on our phones is weakening interpersonal skills and shortening our attention spans etc. But what if I told you that when it comes to becoming body positive, social media can be your best friend and strongest ally?

When I say “put the me in social media”, here’s what I mean. How much of your social media feeds is actually helping you to become body positive, and how much is getting in your way? Those influencers and bloggers, the ones that make you wish you were prettier, thinner, more “put together”, more successful, fitter, a healthier eater, more stylish, better travelled, what does following them actually do for you? You might think it motivates you. I argue that it disempowers you. Let’s flip that on it’s head and imagine your social media feeds were full of body positive accounts. Imagine seeing men and women of all shapes and sizes and abilities and experiences celebrating their unfiltered bodies every time you popped online throughout the day. Imagine seeing stretch marks and cellulite and rolls of fat and bingo wings and double chins and saggy boobs. At first, those images would probably shock you. I know they shocked me. But begore long, you’d notice yourself becoming desensitized. And slowly but surely, your idea of what’s normal will shift. Out of nowhere, one day you’ll find yourself shocked by how fake the models in the magazines look.

That’s all very well and good, I hear you say. But how does that help me start to love and accept my body? Well it’s simple really. The more often you see bodies like yours, the more relaxed you’ll start to feel about your own. You’ll notice your stretch marks one day and think to yourself, “they’re really not that bad”. Maybe a week or two later you’ll dare to wear something you’ve never tried before, a body con dress or a crop top maybe, and you’ll think to yourself as you look in the mirror “damn, I look good”.

In no time at all you’ll be scoffing at low kcal options and feeling lit AF.

Step 2. Get Naked

When we hate our bodies we go out of our way to avoid them don’t we? Can you remember the last time you stood in front of a full length mirror completely naked? Do you even know what your naked body looks like anymore? Believe it or not, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “yes Sarah, I know exactly what it looks like… a disgusting pile of shite!!!” I understand that reaction.

Don’t forget that I’ve been there, I know how that feels. I know what it is to actually be fearful of seeing your body for the first time in years. It’s bloody terrifying! But it’s gotta be done, so here’s how to ease yourself into it.

Start by spending some time everyday in just your undies and a tshirt. This could be while you’re cooking dinner, it could be watching tv in the evening, it could be when you’re reading your book or on the phone to a friend. It’s ok to be distracted by something. You don’t even need to look in the mirror. This is just about getting comfortable in your skin in your own home. If you house share, stick to your bedroom. Then after a few weeks and once it starts to feel normal, ditch the t shirt. Again, distract yourself by going about your usually routine at home. You’ll catch your reflection in mirrors as you walk around, don’t worry too much about it. Just focus on feeling good moving around in your undies. And when this starts to feel normal, and I promise that it will, you guessed it! Get naked! Now the practicalities of cooking while naked aren’t great, so once you’ve gotten to this level of comfort with your body you can shorten the amount of time spent by as much as you like. Even five minutes a day in the nip will work wonders for your body positivity. You’ll be amazed at just how good it feels to dance around your bedroom in your birthday suit, embracing every wobble, every bounce, and loving the freedom that body positivity gives you! And you’ll be so proud of yourself you’ll want to tell the whole world!

Step 3. Always Affirm

I am a huge believer in affirmations. I wasn’t always. The first time my therapist started talking about affirmations I actually sneered at him. But boy oh boy did I learn fast that not only do they work, but they are absolutely essential to any meaningful personal development.

Affirmations are particularly important when it comes to body positivity for three reasons.

A) they can erase the negative thought patterns that we’ve learned, developed and perfected from childhood that lead us to self criticise.

B) they can replace those old patterns with new ones that encourage us to accept and love our beautiful bodies.

C) we can practice affirmations anywhere, any time, in the company of anyone, and nobody will ever know.

Think of every thought as an affirmation. Every time you think, “I hate my body, I’m so fat, I’d kill to look like her, I’ll never find anyone until I loose weight”, those are all affirmations. You might not mean them to be, but they are. So by choosing to create your own positive affirmations and say them to yourself instead, you push the self hate out and welcome in self love and body positivity instead.

And it’s so spectacularly simple! The affirmations I used worked really well for me, because I timed them to the rhythm of my breath. It went like this:

Inhale: I love myself

Exhale: I accept myself

Inhale: I am enough

Exhale: Pause and repeat

The great thing about timing them to my breath was that I could practice them pretty much anytime I was breathing. So I’d be sitting on the loo, affirming. I’d be walking to the bus stop, affirming. I’d be lying in bed at night, affirming. I’d be doing my groccery shop, affirming. And although it can be slow to get into the habit at first, once you do it is the easiest most natural thing in the world. So much so that I still catch myself doing it unintentionally sometimes!

So for your final step towards a body positive 2018, I want you to start using the same affirmations I did to tackle those negative thought patterns and replace then with buckets of self love instead. Couple this with Steps 1. and 2. and you’ll be a bopo queen in no time!

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The Secret To Setting Goals: New Years Resolutions That Work

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again! But you know what? I’m delighted that it’s time, once again, to establish my priorities and set my goals for the year ahead.

I know it’s easy to dismiss the idea of New Years Resolutions. After years and years of making the same old resolutions and watching ourselves fail over and over again, of course it’s hard to muster up enthusiasm now. But guess what? I think I’ve figured out why it’s been so hard to stick to resolutions in the past, and how we can stick to them in the future.

How To Set Goals And Achieve Them

In the past, my New Years Resolutions have always been based on my insecurities. When thinking of what resolutions to make, I always chose things that I thought would make me “better”. I’d resolve to lose weight, get my teeth whitened, to get fitter, to eat cleaner. It was always focused on becoming the person I wanted to be.

But when I was motivated by insecurity, of course my resolutions were doomed to fail. They were rooted in the idea that I wasn’t enough, so I doubt that I ever really believed I could achieve them. After all, my opinion of myself was so low that I felt like a walking, talking failure. So why wouldn’t I fail at my resolution.

I realise now that the secret to setting New Years Resolutions that I can actually achieve lies in making sure I’m motivated by self love, not self hate.

This year I’ve decided to set myself three New Years Resolutions. I’ve thought really long and hard about them because I was determined to chose resolutions that were motivated by self love.

There’s loads of stuff online about how to set achievable goals. Most of them say the same things; that in order to set achievable goals your have to be

The goals I chose were:

  1. Buy A Car
  2. Travel More
  3. End The Year Debt Free

Buy A Car:

I’ve always driven. I started driving when I was in school and have owned a car pretty much ever since. But two years ago when my depression was at its peak and I was on medication and in therapy, I had to give my car up. For the past two years I’ve gotten accustomed to not being on the road.

It’s been really tough getting used to the lack of independence, but when you hit rock bottom you don’t really have any choice but to get on with things.

Two years later I’m fully recovered and finally earning decent money again. It’s time to get back on the road and close this chapter of my life. I can’t wait to get behind a wheel of my own again. It’s going to feel amazing.

Travel More:

This seems like an obvious choice. Everyone wants to travel more. But how many of us actually set that as a goal? This is because travel is totally selfish. My resolution to travel more isn’t benefiting anyone but me. It’s just something I want to do for me! And we’re so nervous of doing something that’s totally focused on just making us happy.

Do I have the money to travel to Bali and spend a month in lotus? No. I do not. But I do have the money to take my daughter on a short holiday and then go on a separate one with friends. I’m even thinking of squeezing a stay-cation spa break or two into this year. And I can’t think of a better way to spend my money!

End The Year Debt Free:

This is probably my biggest challenge. Anybody who knows me will agree when I say; My name is Sarah Tyrrell and I am bad with money. Before you start tutting – it’s not all my fault. Over the last years of my depression my mental health really affected my ability to work. I went from one part time job to another and slowly but surely I built up some debt.

Although the debts I have aren’t big at all, they weigh down on me. I’m hyper conscious of them and really look forward to the freedom of being debt free. This goal is definitely the most challenging of the three, but I believe I can do it. Because you know what? I deserve that freedom and I’m determined to give it to myself.

So, these are my New Years Resolutions for 2018. I’m kicking off the year feeling really positive and excited about them, because I know that for the first time I’m choosing resolutions and setting goals that aren’t about making other people happy, or about turning myself into the person I think I should be.

For the first time, I’m setting goals and resolutions that are about giving myself the things I want and deserve.

 

 

Ten Things I’d Tell My Younger Self

I’ve been experiencing a little writers block lately. I don’t want to write shite anymore. It doesn’t feel good to publish blog posts that I don’t take any pride in. I don’t want to feel obliged to post something on certain days just to keep up with other bloggers. So I’ve decided not to continue churning out blog post after blog post for the sake of consistency. I’m opting for quality over quantity from now on.

With that in mind, yesterday I went on my IG Stories and asked my followers to suggest ideas for blog posts. I asked you guys what topics you’d like me to write about, what challenges your facing, what issues your struggling with. And as always, you didn’t disappoint. My favourite suggestion was to write a post with advice that I’d give my younger self. So I’ve decided to write that one first.

Having come full circle from self loathing to self love, my reflections on my past are inevitably tinged with sadness and regret. It’s not neccessarily a case of wishing I could go back and change things. But I can’t help but ache a little when I think of all the pain I put myself through, hating myself as passionately as I did. But hey, we live and we learn right?

So let’s get stuck in. Here are the ten things I’d tell my younger self!

1. There is more than one kind of beautiful

I have news for you; you are actually really, quite beautiful. I know you’ll find this hard to believe. But the truth is that you don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful. You don’t have to have crystal clear skin, or sparkling white teeth. You don’t have to be stretch mark and cellulite free. You don’t need to be petite and graceful. You are beautiful just as you are. And I’ve got even more news for you; your body isn’t gonna stay the same for ever. In fact, it’s about to change in a BIG way. But you’ll still be beautiful. Because contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, there is more than one kind of beautiful and in time, you’ll learn that for yourself.

2. Your body is not the enemy

You may find this hard to believe, but your body is the best friend you’ll ever have. Everything it does, it does for you. It will never leave you. It will never hurt you. It won’t cheat on you, or slag you off behind your back, or tell you lies. Your relationship with your body will be the longest realtionship of your life. You can never ever get away from it and vice versa. So invest in it, make it a good relationship, or you’ve got a whole lotta misery ahead of you.

3. You are valuable

Ok so you may not be the most traditionally pretty girl in your group. You may not be the cleverest girl in your class. You may not be the most popular kid in your family. Yes, you can be difficult and you regularly challenge and test the patience of those around you. True, you can be high maintennce and tempermental. But you ARE valuable, just as you are. Never ever let yourself feel less than, or not enough. Remind yourself everday that you are valuable, because you are and always will be.

4. Your sexuality is not wrong

Those butterflies you get in your nether regions when you see that boy you fancy, or when you watch Sex And The City while your Mum’s out of the house, there’s nothing wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with exploring your body in bed at night. There’s nothing wrong with being curious and using the internet to find the anwers to your questions. There’s nothing wrong with day dreaming about doing the no pants dance with Him while you should be listening to your teacher. And guess what? Your friends are ALL doing the exact same thing! It’s all totally normal, so stop feeling so bloody guilty about it all!

5. Do it for you, never for him

Don’t be bullied into doing something you’re not ready for. It won’t make him love you. It won’t make him hold your hand in public. All it will achieve is making you feel like shit. So don’t do it! If you want to have sex for the sheer shits and giggles of it, GO FOR IT! Get yourself on the pill and buy the biggest box of Johnnies you can find, and have at it girl! Sex is the bee’s knees, but only when it’s about you! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Make sure he looks after you and your needs. Demand your orgasms! Trust me – they’re worth it. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s something you have to do. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not doing it. You’re not stupid so don’t fall for that shit. If you’re gonna do it, do it for you. NEVER for him. Ps: if he’s trying to bully you into it, DUMP HIM. He’s an asshole and doesn’t deserve your beautiful body.

6. If they don’t get you, they’re not your friends

A true friend is someone you can totally relax around and just be yourself with. They’re someone whose weirdness matches your weirdness. Their uncoolness matches your uncoolness. You can be goofy as hell around each other. You can admit to still watching kids tv just because you like it. You can admit to being afraid to have sex, or to having had loads of crap sex. You don’t have to hide anything about yourself from them. Because they get you. And if they don’t… I’m sorry babygirl but they’re not your friends. Move on, find real ones. Because there is NOTHING better than real friendship.

7. Wear whatever you want

Fuck fashion rules! Fuck dressing for your shape. Fuck not wearing pink and red together, or only wearing the eye shadow colour that matches your eyes. WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT! Experiment with fashion. Wear weird shit that nobody else wears. Get it wrong sometimes and laugh it off when you do. Hold your head high! Be different. Be interesting.. Stand out from the flock of sheep in their O’Neills bottoms/rara skirts. And don’t listen to your parents. They haven’t a clue about fashion!

8. The life plan is not your friend

Please. Stop. Planning. You are so clueless about what’s in store. Stop investing in these intricate plans to have this done by that age and be married by that time etc. Live life by the seat of your pants. Choose a college course that you think will be fun. Work hard at your part time job and save half your wages every week. Plan for the year ahead, but never beyond that. And just enjoying being young. There are some very hard times ahead, so just have fun now while you still can!

9. Don’t be a bitch

STOP TALKING SHIT ABOUT OTHER GIRLS! That is bitchy as hell, and you’ll never know how much the things you say are hurting the people you say them about. They don’t deserve it, no matter what they’ve done. Don’t be so judgey. Who the hell do you think you are? GIrls need to support girls. Be on your own team. You’ll learn soon enough how hard it is to be a woman in this world, so don’t go out of your way to make it ever harder. You’re not a bitch. I know that. So just stop acting like one!

10. Self hate isn’t worth it

Reality time. You cannot change yourself. Yes, you will change over time, but not deliberately. Life will change you, you’ll learn lessons and grow. The people in your life will change you, they’ll make you a better, stronger person. But you CANNOT change yourself. So please stop torturing yourself trying to. Get used to who you are. Learn to live with the parts of yourself you’re not too keen on. Remind yourself everyday that you’re basically a really good person at heart, and you’ll soon make peace with yourself. Because if you only take one thing away from all this, let it be this; self hate is not worth it.

Sarah xo

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