Loving my battle scars

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This post has been a long time coming and to be honest I am not sure where I am going to go with it or why I feel like it’s time to write about it, but as I usually write without planning, I am going to run with it. I suspect it will be long, so make yourself a cuppa, put your feet up and join me if you feel inclined. I don’t see it being a two minute read as so many blogs posts are these days, but I’d love for you to stay for the ride.

You see I have written more times than I can possibly recall or link to about my lifelong eating disorder and the multitude of challenges I faced over the last 38 years or so. In contrast I have shared very little about my eating disorder in the last 18 months, but mentioned in various posts that I had taken steps to overcome it.

So what’s changed? First let me say I have not kept this a secret from anyone and pretty well everyone I meet to and speak to about my significant weight loss and resulting good health knows as I am open and honest about it. I just haven’t written about it, well here anyway. I do have another blog dedicated to it which I haven’t updated in forever, but if you want to have a peak, here is one of the pages where I discuss all the things I tried over the years to manage my addiction.

So the big change is that I had Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy – VSG for short, or as most people know it – Gastric Sleeve. I had 75% of my stomach removed. Yes you read that right – taken away, not banded, removed forever. And I could NOT be happier.

Why did I do it? From my other blog “I’ve written in other posts about this, but briefly, I was tired of being a slave to my addiction. I had fatty liver and fatty pancreas, had already lost my gall bladder, lived with constant pain and I seemed incapable of doing anything to create sustainable change.

I want to live a long, healthy and happy life and I decided it was time to take control of my body and my addiction and needed a tool to provide me with the extra support I need to make it happen.

Addicts are different to people who just need to lose weight. We use food in ways that non addicts can never understand. Only addicts can truly understand addiction.” Oh and if you think weight loss surgery is the easy way out, you are of course entitled to your opinion but I do invite you to read this post to see why I think it’s far from that.

The last sentence says it all – addiction is a very different animal. I have written previously about the fact that as a food addict we need to slay our demons multiple times a day. We can never take an abstinence approach unlike if we were addicted to other substances (and I am NOT saying that is easy at all!!) we need to eat right?

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So now I am 18 months post op, I have lost a ton of weight and I almost cannot believe I don’t get hung up on the scales anymore. This is after a lifetime of weighing myself and watching the number go up and down and my stress levels elevating or my excitement elevating based on the number. I have been at the same weight for about 8 months now and it fluctuates about two kilos up and down and I could not care less. I reckon I’ve lost about 24 kilos, but again I don’t get caught up on that. It’s what I have gained that has changed my life.

  1. Clarity of thought. It’s as if a whole portion of my brain is now free to explore and create. It’s as if someone came in and swept out a whole bunch of stuff from my brain and thinking and left a clean open room. I no longer obsess over calories, binges, diets, rehashing what I ate, what I didn’t, when my next diet will start or anything remotely like that. It is over – forever.
  2. Freedom from pain. That’s all that needs to be said here.
  3. Confidence. Yes I loved and do my body and I truly learnt to love my curves, but the confidence of knowing that no matter what I put on I look good and can fit into is incredible. This is especially relevant when I am in Bali which I am a lot as their idea of one size fits all used to be a joke to me.
  4. Energy. Yep, loads of it!
  5. No longer reading diet books, posts, forums or anything of the kind – never even crosses my consciousness now.
  6. Not being obsessed with food – like ever. I like food and I still have my days when I eat too much sugar as sugar is my cocaine, but I let it go when I do.
  7. I can eat anything – almost. A few things don’t sit right but those aren’t good for me anyway. Restriction doesn’t work for me and the benefit of this surgery is that I can literally eat anything I want. I feel so liberated that I don’t even have words to express how this feels!

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So that all sounds sunshine rainbows and unicorns right? And to a degree it is, however as a result of years and years of yo-yo dieting and ballooning and shrinking, my body has paid the price in many ways. I have battle scars and quite a few of them.

  1. I had abdominoplasty four years ago – best thing ever. I love love love love it. I had a caesarian with my first son and that combined with fluctuating weight resulted in an apron forever that would never shift. A flat stomach is something I never had and why it may sound vain there are other inconveniences an apron brings that I will leave to your imagination, let’s just say it can be very unpleasant and uncomfortable. The result of abdominoplasty is that I have a scar that goes from the back of each hip right around the front of my body. It’s a big battle scar but one that I wear proudly and only two people in the world see it anyway, although I happily share it if the topic comes up.
  2. Skin. I have loose skin in many places. It is a constant reminder of the fact that my wonderful body has grown and relaxed with me, more times than I can recall. This has bounced back in some areas and not so much in others. I used to have a hang up about it but I appreciate the flexibility that my body has given me and the fact I have survived this long and maintained such good health is somewhat of a miracle if I am honest. I look pretty good in clothes and that’s what matters – except…..
  3. Arms. My arms have always been enormous and out of proportion with my body and are even more so now. Oh how I have longed for and admired arms of other women my entire life. They are now mostly loose and very saggy skin, are uncomfortable and get in the way. As I spend a lot of time in the tropics they are very visible and that’s ok but more importantly, I want to be comfortable. I have decided to have brachioplasty and will be having that in two weeks time. Yes there is a certain amount of vanity to this, but this is one battle scar I will wear proudly and openly for the world to see. I will have a scar running from my armpit to my elbow and it will serve as a reminder of how far I have come and the fact I am now healthy and taking care of my amazing body.
  4. No gall bladder. I was your typical ‘fair, fat and forty’ candidate for gall bladder removal. This affects me depending on what I eat, and obviously having an organ removed based solely on poor dietary choices isn’t idea.
  5. Invisible scars. Because of my sleeve I can no longer enjoy big meals followed by  desserts, and feeling full doesn’t have the same satisfying feeling it used to. It is downright uncomfortable if I eat too much and my portion sizes are like those of a child. Eating out is not as much fun as it was and I can never eat and drink at the same time – ever again. It’s a small price to pay but one that has an impact, especially when friends and family make beautiful meals and I can only enjoy a little.

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So, there you have it, I have plenty of scars and I love them. I am proud of myself for doing what I needed to in order to live a happy, healthy and long life. I don’t believe in regrets because everything teaches us something. I have heard many people say they only regret not doing it earlier, of course we are all 20/20 in hindsight, but I wasn’t ready earlier. The stars aligned and it was right for me to do it when I did.

I am now approaching 52 and I think I’d have to say I am experiencing the best health of my life. I feel like I have woken up from a deep slumber and life is very exciting to me right now. I am proud of where I am today and I look forward excitedly to what the future holds with my newfound levels of energy and freed up spaces in my mind!

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Stop it I don’t like it!

 

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I haven’t always been kind to my body. No, let me honest, I have never been kind to my body, except for the last year and a bit. I have never abused drugs or alcohol but I have abused food. I have written about it many times on this blog and anyone who knows me well knows the battles I have faced and the subsequent torment in my head as a result.

I am happy to say that I have managed to deal with my food addiction and I will write about that soon, I promise. I actually have another blog that I have not shared openly, but in spite of that I have many followers over there where I have shared that story…..however that’s for another day. Back to my body….

Just now as I got into bed, I was applying my magnesium cream to my feet and legs, as I do every night, I make my own, you can see it here, but only for Australian friends at the moment. As I was applying it, I was really paying attention to the process, which as a positive psychology person and mindfulness practitioner I always advocate, but the reality is most nights I do it quite mindlessly while reading or watching something.

What I noticed was my ageing body, the not so bouncy parts and pieces and less than elastic skin that is in all sorts of places I never knew it could possibly be. Seriously there is sagging in places that I never knew existed. Please let me make an important note here – I am absolutely a strong advocate for loving our selves as we are, but at the same time I am also human and every now and then I have my moments. Tonight I am having a moment, so for now in this minute I am mourning the loss of some aspects of my youth.

In my head I am still in my early twenties – but perhaps with a touch more wisdom. In my body however I am approaching 52. That’s where my moments often collide and cause chaos in my heart and mind. I look in the mirror and expect to see my twenty something face and perky body but it lies to me and I see the outer expression of somebody more than twice the age I am feeling. My sister occasionally takes photos of me in what I think are unflattering situations and they make me feel old, like really old.

I remember as a young mum seeing all the ads on TV and feeling that everyone was older than me, the tip top mum (good on ya) the meadow lea mum (turn your bread upside down) and the chicken tonight mums were all much older in my head and in reality they probably were.

I used to ignore all of the anti ageing stuff and things and could not have cared less about things such as retirement plans and the like. The other day I caught myself considering my retirement income and how and where I will be living. But I’m only twenty something!

I notice now when I use a scroll down box online to find the year of my birth takes a lot  more scrolling and when completing surveys I am in a whole other category. I can’t read without glasses and I get yearly reminders of health check ups that I never used to.

The thing is everyone I speak to says the same thing, they feel a certain age in their head that is much younger than their chronological age. I really didn’t expect that to be the case. I thought it was just me.

The years are now flying by way too quickly. 2015 was insane, 2016 went in a heartbeat and 2017 is flying by in the blink of an eye. The other day I was having a massage in Bali and there was a clock in the room and I could hear it tick with every second that passed. The ‘moment’ part of me was thinking that those seconds were gone forever and taking me every second closer to another year around the sun.

The other side of me was reminded of the importance of living life to the fullest, seizing the day and being sure to carpe the fuck out of every god damn diem.

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Also please let me add, I am not complaining, because let’s be honest – what’s the alternative? I am happy to be here on this spinning ball of madness and mayhem, but every now and then I wish it would just slow down. Will I be 70 plus and still feeling like I am in my twenties? Will my body be playing this game with my mind forever? I hope not but I expect it will based on conversations I have had with many others. I hope to one day feel like a grown up and I hope that I am also fighting fit well into my later years, but the reality is that to be honest it depresses me sometimes. I want to be here to watch my beautiful grand children grow up, to travel, to read and write and spend time with those I love, but I feel like I am always rushing. Time flies by way too fast.

Seriously though where is the time going? I have read some theories that time is moving faster than it used to, I don’t know how much truth there is to them but I certainly feel as if it is the case.

But for now let me say I am grateful. Grateful that I get to live life on my terms. Grateful for my good health, my family, my friends and the choices I have made. Grateful for travel and experiences and wisdom and ageing well and love and tea and Bali and all good things. Grateful that I can write a post like this that really has no point but gives me an outlet to vent and share some of the stuff in my head. Grateful that you took the time to read it.

Grab life by the balls and live it hard with no regrets! You only get one shot, so make it worthwhile!

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The side of anxiety nobody talks about

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“I was scared I’d kick my grandfather in the stomach as he lay in the hospital recovering from bowel surgery”.

“I was terrified I would throw my baby over the balcony’.

“What if I tipped my boiling hot tea over my baby’s head?”

“What if I drive into the concrete barrier on the freeway?”

“I was scared I would hurt the children in my care”.

“I could not get the thought out of my head that I could smash my baby’s head against the corner of the coffee table”.

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All of these statements are words that have been shared with me by clients and friends, or they are thoughts I have had myself, the last one is mine. I have never shared this before apart from with two people closest to me. It was a big deal to write this and share it with the entire world. However if I can help someone, anyone to realise that they are not alone, then this discomfort is worth it.

What are these awful, terrifying and unbelievably hideous words about?

These words are examples of intrusive thoughts. They are by far the worst, most insidious part of living with anxiety, at least for me anyway.

The thoughts that come to us; so unwelcome and unwanted, plague and taunt and leave us feeling like the most worthless human beings on the planet. In fact less than human. What kind of person could possibly have these awful thoughts? How could someone who loves their children so much that it hurts possibly have these thoughts running through their mind?

What is an intrusive thought exactly? An intrusive thought is an unwelcome involuntary thought, image, or unpleasant idea that may become an obsession, is upsetting or distressing, and can feel difficult to manage or eliminate.

Thoughts ruminate over and over and the more the sufferer tries to stop thinking them, the more they persist. Thoughts may be repulsive, scary, vulgar, or anything that the sufferer feels is inappropriate. Because these thoughts are unwanted, it creates an enormous amount of anxiety trying to get rid of them.

Intrusive thoughts may also occur in flashes, and often cause significant anxiety when they enter your mind. Many people experience intrusive thoughts with anxiety, and they may cause significant distress. Generally, these are thoughts where the person imagines themselves doing violent/aggressive things.

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The thing is – not many people speak openly about this, and yet there are so many people living with it – every single day. I have been having thoughts like this for all of my life and thought that there must have been something wrong with me, so terribly wrong. I didn’t realise there was even a name for it, to me I was just a bad, awful, terrible human being. It wasn’t until I met a few people who shared their own and when I started working in mental health I felt such a huge sense of relief that this was a part of living with anxiety. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t a bad, terrible person.

We feel ashamed, embarrassed and upset that these thoughts come from our mind, and because we identify with our mind, we think we must be flawed.

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Jessica Rowe, the Australian newsreader bravely spoke of her intrusive thoughts following the birth of her daughter and her subsequent diagnosis of post natal depression.

The small silver Tiffany’s clock that I used to time breastfeeds became a weapon in my mind. I wondered how easily the clock could crack my baby’s delicate skull. My eyes would be drawn to the sharp carving knife in our second draw in the kitchen. I wondered if such a knife could pierce my little daughter’s soft skin. I knew I would never hurt my baby but these bizarre thoughts, of turning everyday objects into hazards, kept going around in my mind.

I wrapped the knife up in newspaper and threw it away. I did this at night, so the neighbours wouldn’t see me. I hid the silver clock. It didn’t matter that these objects were out of sight, as they were very much still in my mind.

So what can we do about it?

  • Importantly, as with any mental health issue or potential mental health issue, I highly recommend seeking professional help. Start with seeing your GP and you can then ask to be referred to a specialist from there. I can’t stress this point enough. There are many schools of thought and therapies available to manage intrusive thoughts and I will leave that part to the experts.
  • Ensure your self care is of the highest priority. Self care is something I feel strongly about as my regular readers know. When my self care is lacking, I find myself much more vulnerable to the symptoms of depression and anxiety so please make yourself your top of your list. Self care can be whatever it means to you, and my personal top 12 hints are in my book but in basic terms mine are: Sleep, Move, Nourish, Hydrate, Breathe, Meditate, Gratitude, Be Kind, Give, Time Out, Educate and write.
  • I read this in a forum and found it helpful: It’s a nurturing instinct on overdrive. Your mind conjures up the worst thing it can so you can prevent it from happening. But with OCD sufferers it takes on a new and distressing form and gets stuck. So these thoughts don’t mean you’re ‘evil’, quite the opposite actually.
  • Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness is in simple terms – paying attention on purpose without judgement. The goal is not to suppress or repress the unwanted thoughts as they arise, but to accept their place in your mind and make no effort to control, analyse or change them. There are many wonderful free mindfulness meditation apps programs available, if you want to start with one you can use on your phone try Smiling Mind.
  • Know that you are not your thoughts. It is a hard thing to comprehend as we act and make all of our decisions from our mind, but these thoughts are not you and you are not your thoughts. You are not bad, terrible or flawed, never forget that.

My intrusive thoughts come and go and I suspect they will always be a part of my life. The key to living with them is taking care of me, asking for help when I need it, and reassuring myself that no matter how heinous the thoughts are, they can never take away the essence of me.

And lastly and most importantly – you are not alone.

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How to be polite in Bali

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As everyone who knows me or has ever read anything I’ve written knows well, I love Bali – a lot. I’m privileged to have a little villa here and I consider it my second home and feel very protective of it, like it’s somehow mine.

I spent the day today wandering the streets of Ubud as I enjoy doing and some of the things I saw and have seen this trip and on previous visits made me feel like I want to talk a little bit about manners. If I am completely honest, and I usually am, I sometimes feel embarrassed to be an Australian visitor to this glorious place.

So, here are a few things I would like to suggest to do and not to do when visiting the magical island of the gods, to make your holiday enjoyable and leave the locals smiling after you leave.

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  1. Please do not walk around in shorts that show parts of your anatomy that should be kept private, and that goes for boys and girls. Believe me when I say I am no prude, but seriously we don’t need to see butt cheeks and other bits and pieces hanging out. I saw a girl wearing a pair of shorts the other day that looked and fitted like underpants that were a few sizes too small, and half of her backside was hanging out, it was so not a good look. Oh and girls, please wear more than a bra or bather top when walking around the streets of Ubud. I find it very disrespectful to see some of the scraps of material barely covering anything on the streets. Yes it’s hot, but a tank top and shorts or skirt are just fine too and probably just as cool.
  2. Please barter, but don’t go over the top. I hate seeing people haggling for the sake of 50 cents or $1. Really? Let it go. I enjoy haggling, it’s good to treat it like a bit of sport and fun and always stay good natured about it. Be fair.
  3. Please use your manners. Please and thank you are not hard to say and they go a long way. If you really want to go the extra mile, say thank you in the local language. Everyone here speaks Bahasa Indonesian so you can say terima kasih for thank you. If you know for sure that the person you are talking with is Balinese, then try saying suksma (sook some mah) and you will really make their day. They will respond with a happy smile and suksma mewali. If you really want to build rapport you can say sing ken ken when you want to say no worries or no problem.
  4. Please tip where you can. I know we Aussies don’t come from a tipping culture but it’s a lovely thing to do to leave a little extra if you have the means. I have been horribly embarrassed when I have been with people waiting for the waitress to return with their $1 or $1.50 balance from the meal. Seriously, what’s a dollar or two a day on the average two week holiday? Not much to us, but a lot for them. So round it up by a dollar or two if and when you can.
  5. Yes I know the constant cries for ‘transport’ ‘taxi’ ‘massage’ and the rest can be overwhelming after a long day of it, but remember this is someone’s livelihood. I have seen so many people be disrespectful and rude, and it’s unnecessary. I try to smile politely and say thank you where I can. Trust me it’s appreciated. Can you imagine trying to get a job all day and being completely ignored or attacked? Be kind.
  6. Remember you are in a developing country where things will never be the same as home, no matter how many Starbucks or McDonalds pop up. Also when communicating, remember English is not the native tongue, so please bring your patience, understanding and respect. I heard some women outraged they weren’t able to get a coffee somewhere the other day and another time a woman was horrified there was no wifi in a tiny ice cream shop. I’ve seen a woman screaming at a confused attendant in a supermarket as she herself didn’t understand the currency and I had to intervene. Enjoy what is available, when and where it is available, and hey why not try something new – you never know, you just might like it.
  7. While wifi is common here, we certainly don’t have it at home, so don’t act like it’s the end of the world if it’s not available. If it’s important to be connected, buy a sim card, they are only a few dollars.
  8. When the toilet has a sign asking you not to flush, please respect it. The plumbing systems are not built to cope with our copious use of toilet paper as the locals use water. In fact, why not give the bum hose a go, I am a complete convert and have bought my own. Read about my experiences with it here. There is nothing quite like having cool nether regions when you are stinking hot everywhere else.

I’d like to finish with the most important thing of all. Enjoy, relax, take a load off. Look around and appreciate the beauty of this magical island of the gods and it’s incredible people.

It’s paradise.

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Why would you keep a bird in a cage?

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I am in Bali right now for a month, my beloved second home and enjoying taking time out for me, catching up with friends and relaxing. On my own. While I am very happily married, up until meeting my husband 7.5 years ago, I have never enjoyed the freedom I currently have and I love and appreciate every single moment of it.

On the day I was leaving home, I bumped into an old friend, Sandra. Sandra was my first true friend when my family and I relocated from Sydney to Adelaide in 1981. At the tender age of 15 we moved so my family could begin a new life, following my parents separation, it didn’t work but that’s a whole other story, but ultimately we were dumped in Adelaide. Leaving lifelong friends and family behind across the other side of the country I found myself starting in a new high school and in the unfamiliar situation of knowing nobody. Sandra took me under her wing with another beautiful soul Melissa and we soon became close friends and spent all of our spare time together.

Anyway fast forward 36 years – say what??? and we bump into each other putting petrol in our cars. We’ve seen each other only once in the last 20 or so years at a shopping centre and added each other on Facebook so we each had a vague idea of what the other is doing.

Sandra said something to me that I loved while we briefly discussed life, travel, marriage, careers and how the hell we have become 51 years old in the blink of an eye. She said to me with great admiration in her eyes ‘you have really re-invented yourself haven’t you?’. I wholeheartedly agreed with her at the time as yes, I have.

However, the more I thought about this fabulous compliment the more I realised that yes on the outside it may appear to be so and sometimes I feel as if that is the case, but you know what I realised? I haven’t reinvented myself, I have rediscovered myself and maybe I could even go so far as to say I have discovered myself.

You see at the age of 15 I met the person who was to be my first husband. At 15 I thought I knew it all, but in fact I knew nothing. Nada, zip, zero. Rather than continue to blossom and find my own direction, and place, I somehow became melded into one combined entity. I recall a psychologist saying to me once when talking about our family structure, that it was as if one of us breathes in and the other breathes out.

So when you are with someone from the age when you are still figuring out who you are, where you belong, what you love and don’t love, your belief system, your everything,  if you are not strong enough to hold your own, you soon lose that part of who you are and somehow deep inside I buried that little girl. Her hopes, dreams, visions and ideals. I am not saying it was all bad, no not at all. I raised two incredible sons to be amazing men, traveled, and had a wonderful life in many ways. But deep inside I buried the real me. The free peace loving wild crazy hippy woman who wanted to fly and be free.

Getting deeply personal here, cos after all this is my blog, I recall the day I finally decided after years of arguments that at the age of 33 if I wanted to pierce my nose, well fuck me I am hold enough to decide that for myself. So I did. Now this may seem like an insignificant something, but it was something I had wanted to do from about the age of 16, and was forbidden to do so. I won’t repeat the names I was called at that time, but let’s just say nobody deserves to be called them. I had also long wanted a tattoo and made the decision at 40 it was about time I did what I wanted. Divorce was threatened but I finally decided that if I could not express myself outwardly in my physical appearance at that age, then seriously what else was I repressing. So I got my first tattoo. It was tiny and I absolutely loved it.

Fast forward a few years and I started to do things to please me. Little old me. Outward some yes, but mainly internal. Spiritual work, some healing and deep soul searching. I woke one day and decided that I was no longer able to be in the same situation I had been for 28 years, and so it was time. Time for the bird to be let out her beautiful gilded cage and fly wild and free. Without going into too much detail here, it was not an impulsive decision, it took several years of trying and failing and then the realisation came that I needed to fly, for my heart, mind, body, soul and spirit. So much hurt, pain and trauma that cannot be told in a short blog post. Perhaps the details can be left for another story. Please note, I don’t want to bag or talk negatively about anyone else here, but the reality is that my story was so deeply intertwined it is impossible to talk about this without involving the story of another.

So fly I did. And wonderful magic things have happened. I now listen to only one voice, mine. My inner voice. My heart. My intuition. My internal compass. She guides me in every direction, with every step I take and every decision I make. She is wise and she is now wide awake and ready to shout from the rooftops, embrace every moment and squeeze every last single juicy drop out of this one short life.

So, reinvented perhaps.

Rediscovered, uncovered, invigorated and on purpose and free – most definitely.

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How is your sleep?

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I love sleep. I always have. Sleep is first on the list of my top twelve self-care strategies in my new book and if I was forced to choose just one, it would be sleep.

There’s a very good reason why sleep deprivation is the most effective form of torture, without it, we basically fall apart.

So how is your sleep? I work with a lot of clients who struggle to get a good nights sleep and rarely wake refreshed, as we should. The good thing is that there are some simple, low and often no cost changes you can make that will improve the quality of your slumber. I won’t go into all of the reasons why this is so important to every single physical and mental function of our body, I am sure you know that already and if you don’t there are plenty of articles already out there on this.

First of all, I’d like to say that there is no ‘right’ amount of sleep, we are all different, but if you are in tune with your body, you will know when you have had enough, and you’ll most definitely know when you haven’t.

Things that I have found useful for myself and clients include.

  1. Switch off all blue light emitting devices at least 90 minutes before bedtime. Blue light is often referred to as the new smoking. Blue light devices are basically anything that emits a light on the blue light frequency. Think TV, computers, iPads and tablets and yes, your mobile phone. Blue light emitting devices interfere with our melatonin release that occurs naturally when the sun goes down and in our primitive days this signalled time for sleep. We have been overriding this natural function for some years now, but in recent times with the development of smart phones, we have taken it to a whole new level. How many times have you found yourself ooking at your phone wondering why you aren’t falling asleep? It’s because you are looking at your phone! I promise you this is one of the most important things you can do. Read an old-school printed book instead. Did I mention I recently wrote one? (insert shameless plug here)
  2. Before switching off, and also if you really must stay connected, reduce the blue light emissions you are exposed to. There are several ways you can do this. On your laptop, I recommend installing the software flux. This free software mimics the sunset amber tones that our eyes and brains are accustomed to and allow for cortisol release to slow down and melatonin release to increase. If you must use your phone, you can install similar software to flux to minimise the blue light emissions. On Apple devices there is an inbuilt feature you can find in settings called night shift. On Android devices, you can download different apps which do the same job. You can buy blue light blocking glasses. They range from spectacles designed specifically for the job to basic orange safety glasses. You can also have blue light blocking lenses put into your regular prescription glasses, which look just like regular lenses, but protect you from emissions when on line and also when reading by lamp light. I started having these lenses put in my reading glasses about a year ago and I will never go back. Try reducing the amount of white lights in your home, and increase your use of amber lighting such as salt lamps, candles and even amber spectrum globes.
  3. Have a warm shower or bath. Imagine the days thoughts, worries, to do lists and the rest washing away down the drain with the water and soap.
  4. Try meditation. There are some great free apps out there for new and experienced meditators. My two favourites are insight timer and smiling mind.
  5. Do a brain dump. Before you sleep is the time your brain will choose to think of all things you have ever wanted to do in your life and need to do tomorrow, next week and for the rest of your life. Get it all out.
  6. Try magnesium. Most of us are magnesium deficient and magnesium is well known for its relaxing properties and helping to enhance sleep quality. You can take it in tablet or powder form, but the most effective delivery system is actually via the skin. I developed my own range of high quality and affordable magnesium products after finding that most on the market are incredibly expensive.
  7. Keep your bedroom dark, cool and device free. In order to sleep soundly, we need to have complete darkness and our body temperate needs to drop a little. Even tiny standby lights and digital clocks can interfere with melatonin release. Remove all devices from your bedroom and if you must have your phone in the room if you use it for your alarm, switch it to airplane mode before you sleep so you don’t get any interruptions from notifications during the night and leave it at least 1.5 metres from your head. If you can possibly manage it, remove all EMF emitting devices from your bedroom and go back to a simple low EMF or at least battery operated alarm clock. Keep your bedroom for sleeping, reading and loving only.
  8. Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Make your bed every morning. Keep your linen fresh, clean and and the best quality and most comfortable that you can afford. Keep your bedroom clean, clear and clutter free at all times. It should be welcoming and somewhere you look forward to retreating to every night.

So, now it’s over to you. See if you can use some of these tiny tweaks to make a big difference to the quality of your sleep, and ultimately your overall health and life.

Let me know how you go!

p.s. It’s only a few weeks until my Art of Mindful Living Retreat in Bali, and there are still a few places left. Why not join me? You know you want to!

Rae-Anne x :)

 

 

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On the mat, as in life

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I woke up feeling like hell this morning, I had a headache you could photograph, my neck was killing me and I felt a little bit like I’d been hit by a bus, not that I’m suitably qualified to know what being hit like a bus feels like, but permit me that little bit of artistic freedom.

Anyway, I had some plans that I was really looking forward to that I had to cancel. One was a writers group Skype and another a coaching group Skype. I felt bad doing it, but my usual sparkling wit and charm were well hidden behind the headache and I couldn’t have concentrated in any case.

So what did I do? I laid on the mattress in the lounge room that we moved out from our bedroom after a series of 41 degree days. We have beautiful air conditioning in the lounge, but not the bedroom. We haven’t bothered moving it back since as it’s been a bit like having a camping holiday and we’ve enjoyed it.

So there I laid all day and we binge watched The Outlander on Netflix, gees it’s good! I had planned to go to yoga tonight, as I promised myself to recommit to my practice and so far I’ve done it, after all it’s been a whole week and a bit since 2017 began and so far I’ve stuck to my goal! Cue pat on the back and puffed out chest.

As I felt so revolting I sent a text to my girlfriend who also happens to be my favourite yoga teacher (I have the BEST and most talented friends in the world I tell you, the BEST!) and asked what kind of lesson she had planned for the evening, which would help me decide if I could get my backside off the mattress or remain firmly planted. She asked me what I was craving, can you imagine? My request was for nurturing, stretching and reflection. Later she sent me a text telling me to get my arse on the mat at class tonight. How could I not go?

By about 4pm I could barely keep my eyes open, but given I had a special yoga class ahead of me, I really had no choice, I actually fell asleep about half an hour before I was due to leave.

So, off I went and walked my tired body into the studio and flopped onto my mat. Whenever I make the effort I’m so thankful. Yoga is so nurturing, delicious and full of goodness that no matter my mood, it soothes my soul and heals my wounds. We had a lovely practice that was exactly what I needed and I loved every moment. I’m still getting to know my new body due to my weight loss, changes in flexibility due to getting a tiny bit older and respecting that my capacity is different every time I approach the mat. Every. Single. Time.

That’s one of the biggest lessons I learnt from yoga. Flexibility. Just because last week I could forward bend with ease, doesn’t mean that this week I will. Just because last week I was able to sink into savasana, doesn’t mean that today my monkey mind will settle easily. Just because I was meant to do things today, doesn’t mean I couldn’t change my plans and honour my body.

On the mat, as in life. We need to accept that every day we are different. Emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally. It’s a good thing really, imagine if every day was the same. What would we learn? How would we learn to take care of the most important person in the world otherwise?

So tonight, I went with what my body needed, what my spirit called for and where my mind wanted to take me. It was blissful, healing and all things wonderful. We did lots of lovely stretching and great poses where we contemplated opposites, yin and yang. We ended with supported child’s pose, with a slightly weighted blanket on my back, it was soooo good, followed by a wonderful savasana, I never wanted to move again. Ever.

I’m home again obviously, and still feeling tired, and back on the mattress that we really should move, maybe tomorrow….but I am feeling a whole lot better than I did this morning.

Tomorrow is another day, and I wait with eagerness to see what lessons it brings me.

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