In the current time of the world we're in the middle of a pandemic and 7ish weeks into lockdown, if you haven't already right now might be a time where you're feeling guilty for reaching for the extra snacks. I want you to know that this is not your fault, it doesn't make you a bad person or a "greedy pig" you see emotions are running hight a the moment and if you are using food as a coping mechanism that's okay...
Christmas holidays can bring some much needed family time but it can also bring some unwanted feelings and comments from others. It’s supposed to be magical and all about spending time with our loved ones but that little demon on your shoulder can creep in and bring in a big pile of presents labeled “guilt”. I know this all too well and I want to bring you 5 tips to survive the holidays to help you feel more body positive!
It’s the most wonderful time of the yearrrrrr (I truly hope you sang that with me!!) I love Christmas, all the cheery songs, the sparkly lights, time with family and friends but for some people this can be there complete worst nightmare. If you struggle with your self confidence and have low self esteem, the festive period can be a time where you spend forever trying to find an outfit that you feel comfortable in to wear to your Christmas party, when finally you settle for another black dress, trusting that old saying "black is flattering". Then when you do actually get there, you look around comparing yourself to every woman in the room and just wishing the ground would swallow you up because you feel like the fattest and ugliest one there. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but does that sound even a teeny bit familiar?
Being a mother of four, my body has changed dramatically, I hated my body before pregnancy, fell in love with my bump during and after giving birth I looked in the mirror and saw an alien staring back at me. What on earth had happened to me?
This year I published my book 'Stretched' sharing my journey and how I found self love and body confidence. This year my mental health hit an all time low. I started to question, has being body confident and finding self love made my mental health worse?
When you become a mother and you have this gorgeous tiny bundle of joy that you’ve been cooking for approximately 9 months and anxiously awaiting to meet them, you hear all the stories…feeding, changing, sleeping, relationships changing with your partner but what nobody seems to talk about is how your relationship will change with your body.
I became a mother for the first time when I was 20 years old and fresh out of drama school. I remember standing in front of a floor to ceiling mirror and seeing the reflection of an alien looking back at me.
“Why did I still look 5 months pregnant?”
“What are these dimples on my butt and thighs?”
“Why are my boobs covered in stretch marks?”
I was clueless. I was disgusted. I felt completely alone and ashamed.
I had never seen this side of motherhood, in the movies and TV shows you never saw the reality of postpartum, they just had that new mother glow as they posed with their new born baby. Where was my new mother glow? Maybe I left the hospital too early and it’s waiting back there for me almost 7 years later…and three other children, definitely think I’ve missed it by now.
I battled with the negative thoughts going round in my head and I longed for a my pre baby body back, a body that I had spent most of my life verbally and physically abusing. How does that make any sense?
Anyone else look back at photos when you were younger and you were completely convinced you were ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ but really you look pretty good for a teenage girl!!
My relationship didn’t get any better with my body because 9 months later I fell pregnant again and this time it was twins. Yep, two for the price of one, thank you very much.
I spent most of my pregnancy wishing it would end so I could get my "pre baby body back” which lead to a postpartum journey filled with diet after diet, obsessing over the scales, becoming addicted to working out and developing disordered eating.
Even when I had success and lost weight, more than I had even set out to, it still wasn’t enough. The scale wins didn’t make me happy, I hated my postpartum body. The stretch marks and cellulite weren’t even the worst of it. The mum tum, the over hang, the loose skin haunted me even when I had clothes on. Throughout this journey I also had to face being a single mother, unworthy thoughts ran through my mind as I convinced myself that no one would want to have sex with me, let alone be in a relationship with someone who has three children.
It took years and a lot of effort to mend my relationship with my body, my mind and my soul. I found happiness and self acceptance within myself to find self love and body confidence.
My third postpartum journey was completely different, I was kind to myself, I gave myself time to heal, I exercised when I was ready and because I wanted to not to 'burn off that pizza'. I ate food, I kept my body fuelled, with healthy food and with whatever I desired, no restrictions no battling 'good or bad foods'. My mental health thanked me for it, I didn't battle with my brain through negative thoughts of my body or worrying about what others think. I wasn't counting down the days till I could start a diet and I didn't feel desperate to get my 'pre baby body back'. I made peace with my mum bod and I now celebrate how amazing it is and for what it has got me through in life. I will forever be grateful for how my body has carried my children and is still going strong. I wear my stretch marks, my cellulite, my mum tum with pride, these are all part of my story, my trophies.
In May 2019 I made the decision to write a book sharing my journey and how I came to love my body 'flaws' and all. Four weeks later I had written my first draft, 32,500 words of my life on a word document. I have been very raw and real with the stories I have shared in there, some I wanted to take out, but I left them in in hope that it will help stop someone from making the same mistakes I did.
We need the truth. We need reality. Not reality TV, but real mothers, real bodies, real stories of all variety. We have to be the start of this new 'trend' just being real.
'Stretched: A mother's journey to love her 'flaws' and how you can too'
She's published, she's out now, she's ready to go and empower women all over the world to conquer their body image issues. Not only have I shared my story, but I've complied all the best steps I've taken over the many years to get to where I am today. If you know someone who needs some guidance on their self love journey whether they're a mother or not, I believe that one or all of my 12 steps will make a positive impact on their life.
Always remember, you are never alone, we've got your back. If you need some girl power inspo or support please feel free to come and join our Facebook safe space. I can't wait to hear what you think, enjoy 'Stretched'.
With love & gratitude,
Ana Louise Bonasera
All my life my head has raced. I've spent so many years having light bulb moments but hardly any of them have come to fruition. Then those that have, I have doubted myself so much that I haven’t given them the light of day they deserved, therefore, they have ended up 'failing' before they've even got going.
So when I decided in May 2019 that I was going to write a 25,000 word book by September 2019, why did I think this would be any different? I am a big believer in everything happens for a reason and within 4 weeks of making that monumental decision at the MiBA retreat plus telling 20 women that I was going to do so, I had actually written 33,000 words.
Stretched: A mother's journey to love her 'flaws' & how you can too
In May I decided I was going to write a book, in June I dedicated 4 weeks to writing 32,500 words. I wrote most days, between being a mother of 4 and everything else that came along with it. It wasn't hard, I felt like it was something I was called to do, I could see the heart break of so many mothers as they ached over what their body 'once was' and determined to get their 'pre baby body back' and their mental health would pay the price.
I wrote this book for me, because I know it's something that would have made an impact on me and if it can make a difference to any new or experienced mum and help them learn to love their body then I will be content and happy.
I am extremely nervous about sharing this, but I would love to know what you honestly think, here we go, your first extract of 'Stretched'
From the beginning
You’re disgusting. Your body will never be the same again, you will never be able to wear a bikini, your body is ruined. I remember looking at myself in a floor to ceiling double door wardrobe mirror as I was house sitting just a few weeks after having my first child at just 20 years old, these evil thoughts about my new postpartum body popped into my head. I felt so vulnerable looking in that mirror. All I saw was completely alien to me, I was so caught up in the moment of just how different I look I had forgotten what my body had been through.
Nine months of carrying the most precious person to me, keeping him safe and growing him strong and healthy as well as keeping myself alive, getting through a semester heavily pregnant at drama school, still being very physical and coming out the other end with a perfect tiny human (well not so tiny at 9.5lb and 3/4).
However, all I could see were the raw, dark stretch marks spread across my overly stretched skin on my stomach and the mummy tum, the pouch, the mum gut (whichever you use to describe it) with the swollen uterus which was a total surprise.
I mean I never really knew what to expect from a uterus and thought my stomach would just deflate like a balloon! In that moment I thought I was going to look like this forever, hating my reflection, putting myself down and feeling ashamed of who I had become. I didn’t know about postpartum (to be honest I didn’t even know the word “postpartum” existed until I was going through prenatal (also a new word) classes) and how your body changes.
I remember the amount of takeaways we had for convenience purposes, looking after a new baby and forgetting to look after myself as a new mum. I had grown up around babies and children being the eldest of four, people always said it would be different when it’s your own, the sleepless night, the constant feeding, the dirty nappies, and it was but what I wasn’t prepared for was that I actually longed for my pre pregnancy body. The body which I had spent most of my teenage life hating on for being an unbalanced pear shape, big butt, no boobs and constantly calling myself fat.
I stood as a new mother staring into the mirror longing for a figure I had spent years mentally and physically abusing.
I'd love to hear from you, how did you or are you finding your postpartum journey? Whether you've got a new born or your baby is fully grown and flown the nest you are still postpartum, it's a never ending beautiful journey. Here's to you mama.
With love & gratitude,
Ana Louise Bonasera
Confidence & Clarity Coach
What to avoid during the warmer months…
What to wear that’s ‘flattering’ during the warmer months…
Any of this sound familiar? Okay, I know I’m over exaggerating (slightly haha) but is anyone else totally done with wearing what ‘flatters’ them - I get where people are coming from ‘emphasis your best bits ladies’ but what if women take on board all this advice and come to hate every inch of their body? Like I mean loathe it so much that they don’t want to wear anything but a dress that resembles a black bin bag? Wrap dresses are great but who the hell wants to wear them everyday of the week? Shape wear is great but what if it doesn’t have the style or colour I want? I’m not saying never wear these things but are we to deprive our own personal desires due to our shape or size when it comes to fashion? Hell no!
I know of women who have genuinely overheated during summer because they were too self conscious to wear clothes that showed any amount of skin. Trust me when I say I have and still do sometimes struggle when it comes to wearing certain items of clothing during summer. Shorts in particular, the whole ‘my knees are too chubby, my cellulites on show as well as my large pasty leg’ thoughts go through my head, so I completely get you but the real question is why do we feel this way? Why is it acceptable to see people in shorts and other flesh baring clothes and not so for us? Let’s explore this.
When you see TV adverts, billboards on buses, magazine covers, movies, models in catalogues, promotions on social media, they all have one thing in common, the sizes of their models. I mean we are starting to see more diversity when it comes to shapes, sizes and ‘flaws’ but the majority are still the same size 8/10 maybe 12 at a push, with perfectly smooth skin, flat stomach, slim thighs and toned butt. Even though they are the majority of advertising that we see, they are the minority of society. The average size in the UK is a size 16, therefore the majority of us are bigger than the models we see. Yes, companies are using models that are smaller than the majority of the population and trying to sell us clothes that we want to wear but on a completely different frame. What!? That makes NO sense whatsoever, right?!
Now, all bodies are beautiful whatever size but we are missing representation of so many of us. We feel uncomfortable in clothes that are some what revealing because we don’t see a representation of the thick thighs, the bingo wings or the marked skin. The more visible a variety of bodies are the more at ease we will feel going out in public in less clothing.
It’s time to ditch the rules on what to wear and time to start embracing your body and find the confidence to wear whatever the duck we want. Yes, get those arms out, flash those thunder thighs and show off your stretch marks ladies, we’re coming out for summer whether society likes it or not.
Here’s a few tips for you to use to help you tackle that little inner demon who keeps holding you back…
As I always say you weren’t born to just survive, it’s time to live. I am loving seeing everyones posts in our support group Self Love Detox, I feel privileged to be on this journey with you and to empower you to flourish.
With love & gratitude,
Ana Louise Bonasera
Confidence & Clarity Coach
If you're not a member then why not!? It's free! Come join us...
Check out our Self Love Milestone cards
I wanted to collect my thoughts and emotions before I had my say. To put my points into context recently Nike has made a positive and powerful statement by displaying a plus size mannequin in its shop in London.
Why is this important?
People, women in particular, find the idea of exercising immensely fearful, the thought of doing it can cause anxiety and panic attacks, along with other mental health issues just because they are worried what others will think, worried how they will look and generally feel unworthy and out of place. Therefore, this Nike campaign showing that movement is inclusive of all shapes and sizes is empowering to many. It will empower many and also “insult” those who have fatphobia.
What is fatphobia?
Definition: fear and dislike of obese people and/or obesity.
Usually they are people who are so fearful that they are fat or will get fat themselves that they feel the need to bully and/or insult those who have extra fat.
Tanya Gold wrote an article in response to the Nike’s courageous act. “Obese mannequins are selling women a dangerous lie.”
I’d firstly like to challenge the title and put this idea into your mind, what has the diet culture been doing for years on end? Has the diet industry not been seeing us a lie that we can all be skinny when we drink this shake or take this pill? Food for thought right?
She goes on to insult the mannequin and Nike’s bold move and states this,
“The fat-acceptance movement, which says that any weight is healthy if it is yours, is no friend to women, even if it does seem to have found a friend in Nike. It may, instead, kill them, and that is rather worse than feeling sad.”
The term "Fat-acceptance" is laughable and I will come back to that, but I’d like to address how Ms. Gold feels that this “movement” is killing us and apparently we’re happy about it! Again I question how the opposite let’s say the “thin movement” has done? She includes statistics of obsesity yet does not include statistics of eating disorders? Currently there are approximately 1.25 million people with eating disorders in the UK and these are only the ones who have been brave enough to seek help. Also after just having had mental health awareness week in May where there focus was on body image using #bebodykind there are many mental health issues that are associated with how people feel about their body.
The “fat acceptance” movement or Body Positive for more of a better description have made a hugely positive impact throughout many lives, from the likes of Megan Crabbe, Mel Wells, Ashley Graham, Iskra Lawrence - to name but a few promoting self acceptance, self compassion and most importantly self love. The Body positive movement is in encouraging women to stop waiting to be happy, to stop putting off what they want to do with their lives until they’ve dropped a dress size or lost weight. To accept their bodies as they are and learn to love themselves “flaws” and all. In no way shape or form do they say “be like me” or “being fat = happiness” *insert eye roll*
I found the article completely contradicting as Ms. Gold states,
“Stay that weight and you will be an old woman in your 50s. The obese Nike athlete is just another lie.”
Insinuating we need to lose weight to stay healthy and fit, correct? But then she’s insulting the “obese” mannequin for its existence but she wants obese people to lose weight? Let’s work this out...she wants obese people to lose weight, but she doesn’t think that overweight people can exercise, “she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement” - Tanya Gold.
Okay so a mannequin doesn’t have feelings and emotions but there are women out there now that will feel the impact from her words and it will make them weep, it will make them doubt their self worth and it is likely to stop them from having the courage to exercise.
Movement is for everyone, movement shouldn’t be for weight loss, having an obsessive need to exercise for fat loss can lead to eating disorders. In fact I feel if you’re moving for weight loss and not for fun then you’re doing it all wrong. Movement/exercise should be enjoyable, there are so many different options, find what brings you joy. Head to #thisgirlcan to find different types of movement that you can try out.
Just a few weeks ago I took part in Celebrate You - a 10K run through London in my underwear with 1000 other brave ladies. Lead from the front by Bryony Gordon and Jada Sezer we made a statement that movement is for everyone no matter what shape and size. It was a powerful and magical experience (okay before hand was not I had a mini mental breakdown but I pulled through and it was an incredibly empowering experience). Check out these babes of all shapes and sizes.
I am on a mission to empower women to conquer their body image issues and guide them on their self love journey and I will not apologise for embracing my body as it is and I will continue on my mission to empower women.
Lastly, I feel sad for Tanya Gold, I don’t feel hate or anger towards her, I feel sad that she thinks this way and wonder what demons she is battling in her own mind and hopes she finds peace within her self and learns to love her body for the beauty that it truly holds.
Send love to her and be thankful that we don’t have the negative mindset she possess. Well done Nike and long may the “fat acceptance” crew grow and grow.
With love & gratitude,
Ana Louise Bonasera
Confidence & Clarity coach
Read my blog on Celebrate you below
There are some things about becoming a mother that aren't spoken of while you're pregnant, they're generally not the prettiest part of birth or your postpartum journey but all the same should still be talked about, I mean I'd rather be more prepared than surprised, am I right? Now, don't worry I'm not about to get gruesome with you and dish out all the gory details, I'll bring you in gently (for now *enter evil laugh*). But in all seriousness there are somethings that could do with sharing to prepare the new mum and for us experienced mums to not feel like we were the only one going through it at that time. Are you ready? It's time to talk about survival mode.