The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 8

Today I held my breath as my phone rang, seeing the London area code pop up.  Finally! I thought.  A job!  Sadly, it wasn’t about a job, unless you count taking your clothes off in London’s Covent Garden in recompense for a fluffy white towel and some Nivea goodies as a job (I wouldn’t, but I might consider making a career out of it should I struggle to get work after I move down South).

About a week ago, I signed up to Nivea’s Dare to Dip campaign, which challenges women to take their first dip of the season in confidence, after a survey done by the brand suggested that more than half of British women fear getting their belly out in a bikini each summer more than baring all to a new partner*.

I can quite understand this.  Despite the confidence I’ve gained in myself over the last few years, I’m wary of the fact that I now weigh more than I ever have, and my pot belly, the product of too much Diet Coke and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), might give some to question when the baby was due, should I dare to don a two-piece.  As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, I lost a stone and a half in six weeks due to stress a few years ago, and having felt great despite being vastly underweight, a different kind of stress has led me to comfort-eat and to pile the weight back on.  While I had no plans for being on a beach half-naked in the near-future, with my relocation to London taking priority over a holiday, it now appears that I will be needing do exactly this in the not-quite-so-exotic (or warm) Covent Garden in Central London.

Looking at bikinis today in the shops, my eyes wandered to a pair of pink “tummy-control” bottoms, and for the first time in my life, actually considered that I may have to buy them, as well as spend the whole time in Covent Garden next week breathing in (especially as there will be photos taken afterwards).

The long winter we’ve had here in the UK has meant that I’ve been able to cover up my body, insisting to myself that I’ll ditch the Diet Coke and eat healthy once I move to London.  But now the weather’s getting warmer, I want to start revealing my body parts to the sun, because I do look better with a tan, and also because I have two bottles of Hawaiian Tropic SPF 15 which have been collecting dust after my trip to Singapore got cancelled to save my academic career and give myself time to finish my dissertation.

The Dare to Dip campaign is encouraging women to bare their cossie-clad bodies to the world.  When I received a call today confirming my place in the 200 out of the 22,000 who had applied, I was asked why I wanted to take part.  I explained about my quarter-life crisis, about the last seven years being about finding who I am and not being afraid to show that person to the world.  To me, Dare to Dip is an extension of that; the person that I am will not only blog about things that others would refuse to even talk about, but to not be afraid to get out there in a bikini and show the world that this is me – I may not be perfect but this is who I am right now.

While there is a lot of pressure on women from magazines and other media – who hasn’t seen the features about stars with no make-up, or take a look at so and so’s cellulite – I believe that if you feel confident in your body, you will feel more confident in yourself.  When I weighed 8 stone 3, there’s no denying I felt slim and so much better, and having a tan I was even happy to forfeit make-up.  At 10 stone 4, I feel like a flump.

Having been a very shy girl at school, I’ve always been rather conscious about my image, and even with my make-up on and my hair looking its best, I still feel as though I look like everyone else without their hair and make-up done.  I can’t imagine ever feeling so glamorous that I feel like a million dollars.

Anyway, this wasn’t intended to be a self-pitying blog.  I want this opportunity that Nivea has given me to be a celebration of the fact that I am a woman, and that women sometimes need encouragement from other women.  While my blog is a focus for my writing, about the one thing I am an expert in – myself – I also want it to give hope to other women, who may not feel quite so brave about living life and pursuing their dreams.  I understand that, because for me, I was that person for a long time.  But now it’s time to change.  And not only time to Dare to Dip, but to Dare to…Be.


*To read more about the survey, click here:

Jogga-Blog No 3

It’s a beautiful day!  The sun is shining!  Why I am so happy?  I’ve been out for a jog, that’s why.  No, not job (not yet), but jog.

The other day I finally put batteries in my bathroom scales, hopped on and…when I finally picked myself up off the floor, decided that it really was time to do something about my weight.

As I’ve probably mentioned before on this blog, three years ago, I lost a lot of weight in just a few weeks.  I went from 10 stone 4 pounds (65.3kg/144lb) to 8 stone 3 pounds (52.2kg/115lb).  While it was stress-induced, I felt great, and even spending six months in America while studying abroad, where they do love their burgers and portion sizes, I returned with only an additional 3 pound.  Sometime between June 2011 and now, I’ve put on 2 WHOLE STONES.  When I stepped on my scales the other day, I was 10 stone 6.  My ideal weight for my height, 5 foot 6 inches (167.5cm) is 9 stone 10 pounds.

I have never weighed so much in my entire life.  Growing up I was always pretty underweight, and I liked it that way.  I know I’ve been piling on the pounds, but I guess I didn’t realise quite how much until I weighed myself.  It always goes to my stomach, and the amount of coke I drink, along with the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) I suffer from, has always given me a belly.  Plus I’m a Cancerian, and they are apparently renowned for having pot bellies (I certainly can’t argue with that).

So this morning, I woke up, decided that today would be my first jog of the year.  Got dressed, put my Adidas London Marathon 2012 cap on (I’ve never run it, the cap was a freebie at a place I worked last year), strapped my iPhone to  my arm with Michelle Branch playing and took off on my route.

It was so warm out today that I knew I didn’t even need to wear a hoodie.  While that meant my belly was on full view to everyone, I didn’t really care, because even wearing my jogging outfit, I feel slimmer already.

I’ve been eating lots of fruit this week, and trying to drink more water, and less Diet Coke.  This healthy eating is going to continue, along with a decided effort to cut the crappy foods out.  I want to look great when I move to London.  Whereas the huge weight loss from three years ago was caused by stress, usually stress causes me to comfort eat, so this was rather a one-off.  To lose weight, get toned and look great, it’s going to take a lot of work, at a time when I already have a lot of other stuff to think about, but it’s time to kick this new me off with a bang.