9 Healthful Products That I Adore

As we head into warmer spring days, I felt inspired to share with you some of my favourite finds, foodie items and all-around awesome products that have all enriched my life in different ways. Some of them help me to relax, others make me feel my best, a couple of them have improved my health and some are just for fun!

So if you are looking to treat yourself or someone you love to something special – these 9 items have the patented “Lori Wilson” stamp of approval:

1. Spoonk Mat – I’m not sure if it’s all the time I spend writing at my computer or that fact that I am getting older but I’ve noticed some persistent achiness in my lower back. A friend told me about this amazing acupressure mat so I rushed right out to buy one and it was definitely a stellar purchase. I’ll admit that having over 6000 stimulation points pressed into your body is a little uncomfortable at first but the results are well worth it. Benefits include: increased circulation, decreased pain, relaxation of sore muscles, release of endorphins, improved sleep and stress relief. My husband and I are both hooked!

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2. Saje Perfume – I had dinner with a few girlfriends this past winter and I couldn’t stop sniffing my friend who was seated right next to me – she smelled so darn good! (At one point I’m pretty sure she thought I was hitting on her ; ) She was wearing a pure essential oil  blend from Saje Wellness called “Stress Release” that has a lovely clean and fresh scent. Saje started in western Canada and they are committed to using pure 100% natural ingredients in their products that are all are guaranteed free of “parabens, SLS, SLES, PEGS, glycols, petrochemicals, synthetic colours and synthetic fragrances.” Plus they smell amazing!

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3. Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister – I am a regular at our local Chapters book store and I always seek out my favourite employee whenever I visit for book suggestions. Margaret is my go-to girl and she never fails to find me something fantastic – and this book is no exception. It’s moving and thought-provoking and I still find myself thinking about the characters and their unique situations months after I finished reading the book.

joy for beginners

4. Living Libations Rose Best Skin Ever – I know what you are thinking – how the heck does Lori keep her face looking so youthful and glowy? You’d never know she was about to turn 44. Well I’m glad you asked! I’m kidding but I did luck out by inheriting good skin from my mom and grandmother. I also like to keep my skin routine simple – I can’t be bothered with tons of different lotions and potions. My go-to items are Witch Hazel toner and this incredible Rose Oil from Living Libations. It smells incredible and keeps my face fresh and blemish free.

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5. 100% Pure Makeup – it is incredibly difficult to find makeup that is truly clean and safe in addition to working well. I’ve tried a few brands that were guaranteed all-natural but left me looking pretty frightening – mascara running under my eye, concealer the colour of mustard and garish pink lipstick that felt like I was smearing silly putty on my lips. Not flattering! I don’t wear much makeup but for my money the cleanest and most effective brand on the market is 100% Pure. It’s a bit on the pricey side but their fruit-pigmented make-up delivers on quality and looks great on the face. Win-win. (Black Tea Mascara and Berry Blush are two of my favourites)

100% pure

6. Zazubean Chocolate– I’m pretty sure the most amazing thing I’ve learned about healthy eating is that chocolate is actually a superfood! Who knew?! However, I have come to realize that all chocolate is not created equally. Those candy bars that line the check-out aisles of convenience stores are far from super – they are full of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients and nasty chemicals. But thankfully there are brands that are committed to fair-trade practices and produce delicious organic delights that will make you forget all about that stinkin’ Kit Kat bar. My absolute favourite is Zazubean’s Smooch Bar – decadent chocolate with vanilla caramel and a pinch of sea salt. Heaven!

smooch-bar

7. Strawsome – I don’t know about you but my kids are crazy for straws. Apparently drinks just taste better when you sip them through a tube (or a piece of licorice for that matter…) But I’ve never been a fan of cheap plastic straws – I work my butt of to prepare green smoothies each morning and I hate to see them consumed through something that is made with BPA and other harmful plastic ingredients. Luckily for me I found an amazing company that makes the coolest glass straws on the planet. They come in many funky colours and designs so that we can each have our own unique straw and they come with a nifty device to keep them sparkling clean.

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8. Four Sigma Foods Mushroom Teas – Back in the fall, I had the pleasure of getting to hear the president of Four Sigma Foods give a presentation on the superpowers of mushrooms. I was absolutely blown away. Apparently these little fungi are incredible healers, immunity boosters and hormone balancers. And the “Funguys” at Four Sigma are committed to unlocking the maximum power from all of their mushroom products. Each blend is specially formulated to address specific conditions in the body and they have a mild and pleasant taste. Their new XOCO Hot Chocolate is downright sinful!

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9. Headspace – Although I fully realize the positive impact meditation has had on my life, I have struggled over the years to maintain a regular practice. I will go for weeks at a time and then get too “busy” and fall completely off the wagon. This easy-to-use app on my iPhone has made all the difference in the world. I am a huge fan of creator Andy Puddicombe and his easy-going and approachable manner. Somehow he manages to make meditation accessible to everyone – no incense or fancy mat required. You can download the app for free and sample a 10-day trial and then decide if you’d like to buy the full program. I have been especially enjoying the different themed meditation sessions on creativity, anxiety and relationships.

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Those are my current favs and I’d love to hear about yours! What products or services are you loving right now? How are they impacting your life? And better yet – have you got another chocolate to recommend? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

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The Hidden Toxins in Beauty Care & How to Ditch Them

There were 3 girls in my house growing up and as you can imagine -we went through a TON of personal care products. There was the shower full of soaps, 2-in-1 shampoos and Neet hair removal cream (Pert Plus and Dial were my favs), the vanity with a huge assortment of face washes, toners, deodorant, Biore nose strips, toothpaste, hair gels and mouthwash AND our own makeup bags stuffed to overflowing with cosmetics and nail polishes. And I always liked to top things off with a generous spritz of The Body Shop vanilla perfume just to seal the deal. Hey it took a lot of work to look this fabulous!

Lori Picture

What I didn’t know back then was that each of those items that made my hair shine, my pimples fade and my nails gleam fluorescent purple were loaded with toxic chemicals. In fact, it wasn’t until I set about changing my diet 6 years ago that occurred to me what I put on my body is just as important as what I put into it. Perhaps even more important since the things we eat are filtered through our organs of elimination (kidneys, liver, bowels) but the junk we smear on our skin is simply absorbed right into our bodies. Yeesh!

The clearest and best way I’ve seen to get my head around this stuff is by watching Annie Leonard’s 8-minute video “The Story of Cosmetics”. Check it out below:

(*email subscribers – click the link above or go to my site at www.lorileighwilson.com to view the video)

Of course I want the safest and best alternatives for myself and my family but at the same time I don’t want to resort to letting my hair hang in greasy coconut oil covered strands or staining my lips and cheeks with beet juice to achieve a healthy glow. So what can I do? Believe it or not there are some really amazing and effective natural alternatives that will meet all of our cosmetic needs while still keeping us as healthy as possible. Here are 5 suggestions to get you started:

1. Read Gillian Deacon’s book “There’s Lead in Your Lipstick” – Broadcaster and environmental activist Gillian Deacon wrote this compelling book after undergoing treatment for breast cancer. It’s an invaluable resource because she not only outlines all of the hazardous chemicals and their potential side effects but also lists natural and effective alternatives by brand name.

theres lead in your lipstick

2. Download the free app “Think Dirty”– Developed by a young Canadian entrepreneur, this free app is a life saver when you are shopping for the healthiest products to use on your body. Simply enter the product or scan the URL and you will immediately get the list of ingredients with a ranking from 1-10 (10 being the worst). The “Dirty Meter” will rate the products ingredients in terms of their Carcinogenicity, Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity and Allergies & Immunotoxicities. And they even offer up greener and more natural alternatives!

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3. Ask questions & Source Out Greener Salons – have you ever wondered how safe the sweet-smelling shampoos and hair dyes applied at your favourite local hairdressers are for you AND for the stylist applying them? Or what about the cocktail of toxins we apply to our nails and skin at spas? Chances are we are inhaling and ingesting a dangerous mix of untested chemicals each time we get a “beauty” treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do your own research about the products being used and take the time to find safer and healthier alternatives. Thankfully many salons and spas are now incorporating greener items into their offerings which benefits the long-term health of both their clients and their employees. (GTA friends – check out Casablanca Salon, Alma Natural Spa and One Salon & Boutique)

4. Order online – Although you might not be able to find good clean products at your local store, there are some amazing websites offering beautiful natural products to keep you looking and smelling your very best. 100% Pure, Living Libations and Gabriel Cosmetics are 3 of my absolute favourites.

100% pure

5. Make your own stuff- I’ve had lots of fun making beauty products in my own kitchen. Meghan Telpner’s book Undiet and the website WellnessMama.com have tons of wonderful recipes using easy-to-source ingredients like baking soda, epsom salts, avocado, oats and raw chocolate. I even whipped up homemade beauty products to give as Christmas gifts to my girlfriends including these Lavender Bath Salts: Combine 3 tablespoons of epsom salts, 1 tablespoon sea salt, 8 drops of lavender essential oil and 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a small jar. Shake it all up and use generously in a restorative hot bath!

Today my bathroom is filled with just as many products as when I was a teenager but over time I’ve managed to ditch the Pert Plus and Biore in favour of stellar chemical-free alternatives. Don’t get overwhelmed though- it took me a good long time to transition from Pantene to Aubrey Organics. But little by little I have replaced the old stuff with healthier and more natural choices…..I might still have those stunning purple triangle earrings though ; )

3 Must Reads! Mommy Judgments, Bullying in Canada and Milk

Since my fingers are literally aching from all of the writing I’m doing lately (not to mention my mushy brain…..apparently I haven’t worked this hard in a very long time ; ), I decided to post links to 3 AMAZING articles that caught my attention recently. They are all brilliantly written and thought-provoking so check them out when you have a chance.

First up is a piece by Michelle over at So Wonderful, So Marvelous called “Moms, When Are You Going to Learn?”. This is a must-read for every mom/woman/person on the planet about how harshly we judge each other and ourselves.

My friend Alyson Schafer wrote the next piece for Parent Dish on “Bullying, Why Canada has a Serious Problem” and it’s likely not for the reasons you are thinking. Alyson postulates that it’s all about the distribution of power between adults and children and she is calling for a change in our thinking and in our relationships with kids from the top down. Powerful stuff!

And finally my favourite blogging doctor Yoni Freedoff’s piece for US News and World Report called “Please Stop Asking Your Children to Finish Their Milk” with some startling facts about the dairy industry.

Happy Reading!

My Summer of Indulgence

You might say that I have had a rather decadent summer. Occasional morning runs to Starbucks somehow turned into an everyday occurrence, I spent a fair amount of time just lounging by the pool with the kids soaking up the sun, my semi-regular workouts dwindled to near non-existent, my menu planning morphed into “what take-out shall we have tonight?” and I enjoyed more than a few cocktails, bags of potato chips and chocolatey treats.

To be perfectly honest- I  am a mass of contradictions at the best of times. Although I aspire to optimal health and nutrition, I’m more of a “green juice for breakfast and glass of red wine for dinner” kind of girl. Kale chips and meditation at lunch and salty potato chips while watching So You Think You Can Dance that same evening. Louise Hay AND People Magazine on my nightstand. Kick-butt 6am workout closely followed by a few days of sitting on aforementioned butt.

I will admit that I really admire those purists – the “I haven’t had a cup of coffee in 10 years” and “I never eat anything processed” kind of people. No matter the season or holiday, there are some dedicated health enthusiasts who manage to maintain their healthy eating and exercise routine in the face of the toughest temptation and peer pressure. But I’m definitely not one of those people! (if you know me you’ll be familiar with how little twisting of my rubber arm it takes to convince me to have just one more glass of Prosecco or to share a hunk of gooey chocolate cake ; )

perfectionism louise hay

This is not to say that I’m going to throw in the towel and chuck the healthy living for a life of reality tv and bonbons (tempting though..). I think the key is becoming more mindful in my approach to diet and lifestyle. Do I really need that latte or french fry? Well yes, frankly, sometimes I do! I’m not going to beat myself up over the odd bump in the road if I continue to focus on health and wellness the majority of the time. My own quirky and flawed approach to life doesn’t necessarily make me weak or less than – it just make me human.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! Am I ever going to be one of those “I’ll-never-step-foot-in-a-fast-food-restaurant again” people? Not likely. And I’m beginning to make peace with that. So I will continue merrily along the path of learning and living a natural and healthy life with a fair share of stumbles and more than a few potato chip wrappers left along the way.

*P.S. I am planning to embark  on another 3-week Kathy Freston Cleanse starting Sunday, September 8th. (no alcohol, sugar, gluten, caffeine or animal products for 21 days). Is anyone else in need of a detox after a summer of overindulgence like mine? Drop me a line in the comments and we can share tips and recipes!

Reflections on 15 Years

My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary today. I can hardly believe it’s been 15 years since a wide-eyed young couple walked down the aisle and began a life together that would include world travel, job changes, more than a few late-night parties, relocations, renovations, a dietary overhaul, some blow-out fights, lots of laughs, 3 beautiful children and a deep lasting love and friendship.

anniversary

Thanks to a brilliant suggestion from our close friends (who are also celebrating 15 years of wedded bliss), we decided to mark this milestone year with a trip to a spa in Grafton, Ontario called St. Anne’s. For 2 busy couples with 3 children apiece, this was a rare opportunity to focus on ourselves, relax and enjoy some much-needed pampering. And a few days away from the often hectic pace of our everyday lives gave us all some perspective on the things that really matter.

So in honour of the past 15 years, here are a few important insights that I took away from our anniversary spa getaway:

1. Sometimes just sitting together, holding hands and saying nothing at all can be as powerful as a deep conversation.

2. It’s important to treasure close friends. The time we spent laughing, talking, swimming, relaxing, playing euchre, drinking wine and eating gourmet food together was more potent for stress relief than months of therapy.

3. It’s healthy to talk about things other than the kids every once in a while. Oh yah – we had a life before those little rug rats came along!

4. A spa treatment involving disrobing and being sprayed down with a scotch hose will wind up being the butt of endless jokes ; )

5. Being pampered and focusing on ourselves isn’t a selfish act – it actually makes us better parents, partners and friends.

6. It’s super liberating to walk around all day in a bathrobe with no makeup on and a pound of massage oil in your hair.

5. The world won’t come to an end and my children won’t be heartsick if I leave them in the capable hands of their grandparents for a few days. In fact, they barely noticed I was gone.

6. Even after 15 years, I still marvel at my husband’s wacky sense of humour, his easy-going nature, his enduring patience and his unwavering kindness. Plus he looks pretty hot in a bathrobe!

And the biggest lesson of all? Perspective. Life is still busy, hectic and often uncontrollable- but I can reflect back on the peace I felt during those few days away, take a couple of deep breaths and bring that calmness into any situation that is thrown my way. It also helps if I’m wearing my robe.

Happy Anniversary Mark! I love you!

Fabulous Style Advice from An Expert

Do you know one of those women who always looks put together and stylish at every occasion – even picking up her kids from school? Hair gorgeously styled, nice fitting clothes, shoes and jewelry to match and it all looks effortlessly beautiful? I am decidedly NOT one of those women. I’m the one staring at that woman in my Lulu pants and a schlumpy sweatshirt with my hair in a ponytail. The good news is I just got off the phone with the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records and I’m in the running for “Yoga Pants Worn on Most Consecutive Days” so that’s exciting!

My friend Deborah Boland is a style expert and definitely one of those fashion plates. She is a mom of three, a television producer, the publisher of Fabulous After 40 and a beautiful person inside and out. Deb agreed to chat with me about the importance of fashion and style and how to stay current without breaking the bank.

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You can read our interview below to learn how some small changes can have a huge impact on how you look and how you feel about yourself.
(please note that most of the clothing pictures are Fabulous After 40 “What to Wear for Spring Contest” entries)

Lori: I want to be comfortable but I always seem to default to yoga pants or sweats- what’s a comfortable but more stylish alternative?

Deb: In all honesty I don’t think there’s anything more comfortable than yoga pants (LOL) but you wouldn’t wear p.j.’s to the mall. Yoga pants are a close second.

A great stylish alternative for what to wear when running around town in is colored jeans. The best ones are lightweight, stretchy and  comfy. Colored Jeans look modern and hip. Pair them with a neutral colored blouse or top (so you look less loud and more chic), some ballet flats or low wedges, and a cute jacket, and you have a great casual look that’s also very practical and versatile.

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Lori: How can I stay fashionable on a budget?

Deb: It’s all about planning your wardrobe. You know what happens when you go grocery shopping without a list. You end up with all kinds of goodies that aren’t good for you at all. Same with shopping for clothes. When you are not focused on what you need you end up falling into the “ shiny object syndrome”. You buy whatever is bright, fun, new or cool…. or on sale at a fantastically reduced price (even though you never end up wearing it.)

If you want to be fashionable without going into debt  plan out one or two main classic items per season you are willing to spend money on and build a good basic wardrobe slowly. You can make smaller less expensive purchases in-between to fill in the gaps. For example, splurge on a great colored jacket that you will wear with everything and have for many years, but skimp on that color blocked lime green and pink striped top that may be out of fashion next spring.

Lori: Is it important to stay on top of current fashion trends?

Deb: Yes, it’s important to follow trends to look modern, hip and youthful but don’t be slave to trends. Fashion is like a buffet. You don’t have to load up with everything on the table. Pick and choose which trends work for you. It’s o.k. to take a pass if it’s not right for you.

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Lori: What are your best tips for accommodating a woman’s aging/changing body?

Deb: Don’t look at size tags. Wear clothes that fit. As we age our bodies get softer and rounder. Too many women try to cover up weight issues with baggy clothing. Baggy clothing doesn’t fool anyone. It just makes you look fat and frumpy. Choose quality clothes that skim your silhouette (not cling to it) and pick clothes that are well constructed to give you shape. A jacket with a good strong shoulder  that nips in at the waist will camouflage a lot of midlife problems.

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Lori: Are there particular stores that you can recommend where I can find age-appropriate, stylish and reasonably priced clothes?

Deb: This is tough because so many store are either old lady or teeny bopper. I think Banana Republic strikes a great balance between price, quality and age appropriateness. I also like Michael Kors, which is on the higher side and BCG for their brilliant use of color. Brands like Calvin Klein, Jones new York, Ralph Lauren, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans and several other at The Bay are good quality, moderately priced and often on sale!

Lori: If you aren’t happy with your current wardrobe – where do you start if you want to make some changes?

Deb: Clean out your closet. Be brutally honest. Get rid of the things that take up space that you never wear, no matter how hard it. You can’t make way for the new unless you get rid of the old.

Then take an inventory of what you need. Research what’s in style. Make a list and shop when you are in a focused positive mood.

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Lori: Are there ways to jazz up my current wardrobe without chucking it all in the trash?

Deb: That’s a hard question to answer because it depends on the state and age of your wardrobe. But in general – two things-

1. Play with your clothes- look at magazines and see how outfits are being put together. Create outfits with what you have and try them on to see if they work. Often women have lots of clothes but they aren’t wearing them (they wear the same things over and over), or they are not combining items in a modern way.

2. Wear more color- Women, especially after 40, are notorious for falling into the all black rut. I call it ABD or Abundant Black Disorder – that compulsion to buy and wear black, black, black. Color  is energy and energy is life. Wearing color will make you look healthy, happy and youthful. Wear more color and add more color to your wardrobe.

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Lori: Tell me about your newsletter and the services you offer.

Deb: I am the publisher of Fabulous After 40– an online fashion magazine and style community for women 40, 50 and beyond. If you have fallen off the style track and need help to dump the frump I help you Tweak Your Chic®. Visit http://www.fabulousafter40.com and pick up a copy of my FREE special report 5 Massive Fashion Mistakes That Make You Look Too Old Or Too Young and How To Get It Just Right.

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Lori: Can you think of anything else that would be good to share? 

Deb: I think that’s it except to say that when you look good you feel good and life is so much more fun. As I always say, “Life is Too Short to Be Frumpy.”

Thanks so much Deb! On a personal note, I have learned that feeling good is not just about what I put in my mouth but also how I present myself. Taking the time to think about my clothing choices and wearing more flattering pieces makes me feel more beautiful, stand a little taller and walk with more confidence in the world.

Am I going to throw out my sweat pants? Not a chance! But I am certainly going to make more of an effort to pull together clothes that highlight the radiance and health that I feel on the inside. Coloured jeans here I come!

Dear Mum

Every week I learn something new and interesting from doctor and writer Yoni Freedhoff. His blog “Weighty Matters” always make me think, challenges my beliefs and forces me to question conventional practices in the fields of health, diet and medicine.

This past weekend he included a link in his post to an article written by Kasey Edwards that I literally cannot stop thinking about. This piece is part of a book called “Dear Mum“- a collection of letters from Australian athletes, musicians, models, cooks and authors communicating what they would like to say to their mother’s before it’s too late, or would have said if only they’d had the chance. The book is published by Random House and all royalties go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

dear mum

Far too often, I hear even my fittest and thinnest girlfriends complaining about their weight and their appearance. What we sometimes forget when we complain about our “fat ass” or refuse a piece of birthday cake at a party because we are “watching our weight” or drink a protein shake for dinner because we need to “cut down” or refuse to go swimming because we don’t want to “be seen in a bathing suit” or work out obsessively to lose “that last 10 pounds”- is that our children are watching and listening. Our daughters, granddaughters and nieces are taking notes from us- their most important role models – about what it means to be a woman in today’s society.

Every girl, woman, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend needs to read this brilliant article. Even if you can’t 100% relate to Kasey’s letter, I’m willing to bet you’ll learn something about yourself by the time you’re finished reading:

WHEN YOUR MOTHER SAYS SHE’S FAT      

BY: Kasey Edwards

Dear Mum,  

I was seven when I discovered that you were fat, ugly and horrible. Up until that point I had believed that you were beautiful – in every sense of the word. I remember flicking through old photo albums and staring at pictures of you standing on the deck of a boat. Your white strapless bathing suit looked so glamorous, just like a movie star. Whenever I had the chance I’d pull out that wondrous white bathing suit hidden in your bottom drawer and imagine a time when I’d be big enough to wear it; when I’d be like you.  

But all of that changed when, one night, we were dressed up for a party and you said to me, ”Look at you, so thin, beautiful and lovely. And look at me, fat, ugly and horrible.”  

At first I didn’t understand what you meant.  

”You’re not fat,” I said earnestly and innocently, and you replied, ”Yes I am, darling. I’ve always been fat; even as a child.”  

In the days that followed I had some painful revelations that have shaped my whole life. I learned that:  

1. You must be fat because mothers don’t lie. 2. Fat is ugly and horrible. 3. When I grow up I’ll look like you and therefore I will be fat, ugly and horrible too.  

 Years later, I looked back on this conversation and the hundreds that followed and cursed you for feeling so unattractive, insecure and unworthy. Because, as my first and most influential role model, you taught me to believe the same thing about myself.  

With every grimace at your reflection in the mirror, every new wonder diet that was going to change your life, and every guilty spoon of ”Oh-I-really-shouldn’t”, I learned that women must be thin to be valid and worthy. Girls must go without because their greatest contribution to the world is their physical beauty.  

Just like you, I have spent my whole life feeling fat. When did fat become a feeling anyway? And because I believed I was fat, I knew I was no good.  

But now that I am older, and a mother myself, I know that blaming you for my body hatred is unhelpful and unfair. I now understand that you too are a product of a long and rich lineage of women who were taught to loathe themselves.  

Look at the example Nanna set for you. Despite being what could only be described as famine-victim chic, she dieted every day of her life until the day she died at 79 years of age. She used to put on make-up to walk to the letterbox for fear that somebody might see her unpainted face.  

I remember her ”compassionate” response when you announced that Dad had left you for another woman. Her first comment was, ”I don’t understand why he’d leave you. You look after yourself, you wear lipstick. You’re overweight – but not that much.”  

Before Dad left, he provided no balm for your body-image torment either.  

”Jesus, Jan,” I overheard him say to you. ”It’s not that hard. Energy in versus energy out. If you want to lose weight you just have to eat less.”  

That night at dinner I watched you implement Dad’s ”Energy In, Energy Out: Jesus, Jan, Just Eat Less” weight-loss cure. You served up chow mein for dinner. (Remember how in 1980s Australian suburbia, a combination of mince, cabbage, and soy sauce was considered the height of exotic gourmet?) Everyone else’s food was on a dinner plate except yours. You served your chow mein on a tiny bread-and-butter plate.  

As you sat in front of that pathetic scoop of mince, silent tears streamed down your face. I said nothing. Not even when your shoulders started heaving from your distress. We all ate our dinner in silence. Nobody comforted you. Nobody told you to stop being ridiculous and get a proper plate. Nobody told you that you were already loved and already good enough. Your achievements and your worth – as a teacher of children with special needs and a devoted mother of three of your own – paled into insignificance when compared with the centimetres you couldn’t lose from your waist.  

It broke my heart to witness your despair and I’m sorry that I didn’t rush to your defence. I’d already learned that it was your fault that you were fat. I’d even heard Dad describe losing weight as a ”simple” process – yet one that you still couldn’t come to grips with. The lesson: you didn’t deserve any food and you certainly didn’t deserve any sympathy.  

But I was wrong, Mum. Now I understand what it’s like to grow up in a society that tells women that their beauty matters most, and at the same time defines a standard of beauty that is perpetually out of our reach. I also know the pain of internalizing these messages. We have become our own jailers and we inflict our own punishments for failing to measure up. No one is crueller to us than we are to ourselves.  

But this madness has to stop, Mum. It stops with you, it stops with me and it stops now. We deserve better – better than to have our days brought to ruin by bad body thoughts, wishing we were otherwise.  

And it’s not just about you and me any more. It’s also about Violet. Your granddaughter is only 3 and I do not want body hatred to take root inside her and strangle her happiness, her confidence and her potential. I don’t want Violet to believe that her beauty is her most important asset; that it will define her worth in the world. When Violet looks to us to learn how to be a woman, we need to be the best role models we can. We need to show her with our words and our actions that women are good enough just the way they are. And for her to believe us, we need to believe it ourselves.  

The older we get, the more loved ones we lose to accidents and illness. Their passing is always tragic and far too soon. I sometimes think about what these friends – and the people who love them – wouldn’t give for more time in a body that was healthy. A body that would allow them to live just a little longer. The size of that body’s thighs or the lines on its face wouldn’t matter. It would be alive and therefore it would be perfect.  

Your body is perfect too. It allows you to disarm a room with your smile and infect everyone with your laugh. It gives you arms to wrap around Violet and squeeze her until she giggles. Every moment we spend worrying about our physical ”flaws” is a moment wasted, a precious slice of life that we will never get back.  

Let us honour and respect our bodies for what they do instead of despising them for how they appear. Focus on living healthy and active lives, let our weight fall where it may, and consign our body hatred in the past where it belongs. When I looked at that photo of you in the white bathing suit all those years ago, my innocent young eyes saw the truth. I saw unconditional love, beauty and wisdom. I saw my Mum.  

Love, Kasey xx