Category Archives: Health and Fitness

The Age of Loneliness

A few months ago I was flicking through the channels when I came across a documentary on BBC 1 called ‘The Age of Loneliness’.  I don’t usually watch much TV but something about this caught my attention.

Loneliness has been a hot topic recently, especially since that John Lewis advert , which although mocked, actually highlights a real problem in our society – loneliness.

The ‘official’ definition of loneliness as per Dictionary.com is:

1. affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome.
2. destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse,support, etc.

How horrible that anybody in our society should feel this way, destitute and alone.  I had a preconception of loneliness as being mainly older people but according to the documentary, this isn’t the case.  There were older people but there were also people who have moved to a new place, stay at home mums, divorcees

One thing that struck me about all these people was the sense of shame involved in admitting that they are lonely, almost as if there is something wrong with them.

I want to give these people a hug and tell them that there isn’t anything wrong with them at all.  Loneliness is an awful thing, it’s a pit, a feeling of incompleteness but it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with the person.

Why is loneliness such a problem in our society?

I’m not an expert in this area but from my own layman’s perspective I think it is things like loss of community, people moving to new towns and the death of a spouse.

Wouldn’t society be a better place if we all made a bit more time for each other and looked out for those around us.  I know time is an issue, we have never been more busy but even half an hour would make a difference.

One thing to note is that the BBC 1 documentary obviously has an angle that it is reporting from, a story that it wants to put across.  It looks at a very small number of people.  For a more balanced view you would need to look at a number of other sources.  It cannot be denied, however, that loneliness is a problem in our society.  It would be interesting to look at how loneliness today compares with that in previous generations.

Beautiful or Average?

I came across this wonderful video on a friend’s Facebook wall.  It was produced for Dove’s Choose Beautiful campaign.  Basically, according to a survey conducted by Dove, 96% of women would not choose to describe themselves as beautiful, although 80% acknowledge that there is something beautiful about them.

Dove attempt to show that in this short film.  There are two doors that women can choose to walk through, one is labelled Beautiful and the other Average.  You see women of different nationalities and cultures deliberate about which door to walk through, one woman even walks away.  After some deliberation, most women choose to walk through the average door which I think is a real shame.  I have talked about my feelings towards the ‘body beautiful’ image that is peddled to women and in particular, young girls.  The media presents an impossible ideal of ‘beauty’ and it has an impact on people’s sense of how they look and how they feel about themselves.  We are constantly bombarded with a beauty ideal that is not attainable.

I love that Dove promote natural beauty and encourage people to feel good about themselves no matter what they look like.  I believe that there is more to beauty than how a person looks physically.  It is about the kind of person that they are, it is about them as a whole and not just the outside packaging.

People shouldn’t be made to feel bad about themselves because they are overweight, underweight or to not conform to the body beautiful ideal in some other way.  Focus on the good bits of yourself.  How are you beautiful?  Everybody is beautiful in some way.  Value what you have and work with it.  You are an amazing in person in a unique way.  Don’t feel that you have to conform to somebody else’s ideal.  I’m glad that companies like Dove are cottoning on to this idea.  There is still a very long way to go but this is most definitely a step in the right direction.

At the end of the film some of the women choose to walk through the ‘beautiful’ door and the change in their demeanour was amazing to watch.  They were so happy and confident, completely different to when they walked through the ‘average’ door.  It brought a tear to my eye.  Nobody should have to feel average and unworthy.  Confidence problems suck.

So, here’s to a happy and confident future!

Body Beautiful

It is that time of year when people are focussing on the body beautiful concept.  Everyone has overindulged at Christmas and now January is here it’s the time to get it all right.

The office is full of people drinking herbal tea and nibbling on salad leaves, the radio is full of adverts for low-fat foods and gyms, the gyms and classes are full of people trying to achieve that body beautiful.  So many people think they will be happier, that their life would be more complete if they were a few pounds lighter.

I hear so many women (and men) belittle themselves because of what they weigh or how they look.  The put things off until they look differently or weigh less.  What a great shame!  So many people fail to recognise their own beauty and the amazing person that they really are.  They are so focussed on the negative things that they don’t notice the good bits and don’t hear you when you tell them how amazing they are.

Putting things off until you are slimmer or look a certain way is a waste of life.  Imagine if tomorrow was your last day on earth.  Would it really matter that you were heavier than you ‘should’ be (I use the term ‘should’ loosely).

I’m not advocating living an unhealthy lifestyle, I’m advocating loving yourself, being kind to yourself, focussing on the good points and living life now.

We are besieged by images of the perfect male/female body in the press, the perfect life, what you should wear/drive/eat.  The list goes on. Ask yourself why???  Why should we eat that food?  Why should we look that way?  Why should we drive that car?  The press is selling you an idea, the idea that if you have that product or look that way you will have a certain kind of life.

But will you be happy?

I have always been overweight.  I enjoy food and don’t exercise enough.  For so much of my life my weight had an impact on absolutely everything.  The things I wouldn’t do!  I could fill pages with those.  It got to the point where I simply couldn’t be assed to be worrying about my weight every 2 seconds.  I exercise more now, eat better and as a consequence, I have lost some weight and toned up.  That wasn’t my main goal.  My main goal was to live a healthier lifestyle.

I’d long questioned the media perception of how life ‘should’ be but then I discovered Jes Baker and realised that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way!

I’m not here to preach, just to way that everybody is beautiful in their own way and they shouldn’t be down on themselves just because they don’t look a certain way – a way that is pedalled by the media.

I was inspired to write this post because of a throwaway comment “What a shame he/she died.  It’s such a loss.  He/she was so attractive”.  This left me scratching my head and wondering if it would be such a shame and such a loss if they were not attractive.  Realistically I know that wasn’t what the comment maker meant, but when you break it down and look at it, how is somebody’s attractiveness in any way related to the their death?  Somebody has died.  It is a loss no matter what they look like.

Some will say it is human nature to be so interested in attractiveness but for me there is far more to being attractive than looking a certain way.. It is about what kind of person you are.  That’s what true beauty is about (for me).