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Go Margie! The Biggest Loser finale tonight!

8 May

I’ve had a soft spot for Margie since the first episode of The Biggest Loser. She’s so honest and desperate for a better life. All the contestants touch me in some way but when it comes to the final four, I am most definitely Team Margie!

Margie, Brenda, Alex and Kasey all deserve to win, but they’ve won already. They’ve transformed themselves and they have the potential for a much better, healthier life.

I don’t watch reality TV religiously at first. I usually latch on mid-season and by the end I’m organising my schedule around weigh ins, cook offs and finales. The Biggest Loser is special. Yes they lose weight with a lot of help and under extraordinary circumstances. It’s true that we could never lose weight at the rate they do. But what I love about this show is the happiness that starts to shine through. They are given a glimpse of what their life could be. They realise that ultimately when it comes to their life and happiness, THEY are the ones in control.

Losing weight is difficult and putting on weight is depressing but at the end of the day, we are in control.

People close to me have tranformed themselves but it’s taken commitment, diligence and dedication. It’s been about consistency and permanent changes. There are no crash diets…just small changes that become habit. Eating healthier food, eating less, exercising every week and letting bad eating days be bad eating days, not bad eating weeks or months.

I hope all the contestants embrace their new lifestyle. I hope they keep the weight off. I hope they remember that they are in control and I hope Margie wins tonight!!!

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

Growing older gracefully

14 Apr

 

I feel pretty good about my age. I’m thirty-six. I thought I’d been feeling a lot worse than I do. I’m really enjoying being in my late thirties. It’s so true that “youth is wasted on the young”. We may look young in our twenties but I was a fashion mess, my skin was terrible, I was insecure and I didn’t enjoy my youth much at all to be honest. When I was in my insecure twenties a friend told me that she was happy with every mistake she’s ever made because she likes who she is now. She wouldn’t change a thing because she and her life could have turned out differently. I’ve never forgotten this. I don’t even wish I could go back and do it all again because every single thing I did led me to this point in my life. Every mistake, every mis-step all lead me to this feeling of confidence, this work-life balance, my husband, my children…I just wish I’d enjoyed the journey more.

I think I might be dressing too young for my age. I still shop at Just Jeans and Cotton on, I do my hair the same as I did in my twenties (with a big round brush, making it as full as possible) and my makeup hasn’t changed a whole lot either. I might need a refresher course but I really can’t be bothered. The older I get the less I care how I look. I get ready in the morning and then I forget about it. I just live my life. I never thought aging would be such a gift. It really is. It feels great.

I may not feel this way in my late forties and beyond but I see so many beautiful women of this age who just seem happy, peaceful, look great and have amazing lives. I can’t ever imagine getting botox but I won’t say no to a thorough anti-aging facial from time to time (when the kids are older and I get a chance). Before Australian actress Belinda Emmett died she was interviewed about her struggle. She said she could never understand why people complained about how they were aging. Didn’t the realise what a gift it was to grow old? She’d give anything to live long enough to be an old lady. Her struggle hit me hard because she was so young. It’s a reminder that illness can strike anyone at any age and that our health and vitality should be the ultimate goal.

Now that I have a daughter I’m more focused on being less vain and materialistic. I don’t ever want her to feel like looking good is a competition, weigh less increases her value as a person…I had an argument with a work colleague who thought it was more tragic when a beautiful woman died because it was ‘such a waste’. Please. My arguments were falling on deaf ears but just the fact that he thought it let alone said it really reflected that nasty part of society where we are judged by our looks and not our achievements.

I put on quite a bit of weight while pregnant, especially the first time, but I lost the weight each time. I was always so embarrassed by comments about how thin I was getting. I just grew a person, a human being, out of thin air. Who cares if I’m losing weight. Look at my little creation.

You may not like how you look some days or most days but does your body work? Do your arms and legs function? Do you have a brain? Are you able to feel happiness. Stand in front of a mirror and run your hands down your body from your head, down your arms, over your hips, all the way down to your feet (if you can!). You are alive, you can breath, you are beautiful.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

What Whitney means to me

18 Feb

I worked a lot over Christmas. I am a TV and radio traffic reporter in my other life and over Christmas I was doing traffic for WS FM. For some reason Whitney Houston’s brilliant hit single “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” came on two days in a row and my fellow traffic reporter Susannah was laughing at me because each time it came on I would turn the volume up. I love this song so much. To me this song is about the desire for love, romance and the intoxicating experience of dancing with someone special. I used to be a DJ at parties too and always made sure I played this song. It’s one of a handful of songs that makes me feel happy in an instant.

I was at a hospital visiting my sister and newborn nephew when I found out Whitney Houston had died. I was so shocked and saddened, but not surprised. As a former radio announcer it always disturbed me how insecure some celebrities turned out to be upon meeting them. I was never lucky enough to interview Whitney but I knew enough as we all did to know her life wasn’t a fairytale.

Listening to all the reports and media surrounding her death it sounds like her life was more of a nightmare, with glimpses of happiness when she was performing or when she was with her daughter. She should have had it all. She should have been happy. She should have been happy, confident, in control, substance-abuse free and free of all the people who contributed to her very muddled and complicated life. I watched her Oprah interview. I didn’t believe her. I felt sad watching it. I didn’t believe her marriage wasn’t as abusive as it seemed. I didn’t believe she had it all figured out as she tried to make it seem. It felt like she wasn’t in the good place she was describing but that she wished she was. The Oprah interview seemed like she was talking about the Whitney she wanted to be.

She should have been aging but beautiful. She should still be able to sing well.  She should be performing, spending time with her family and friends and her beautiful daughter. She should be a fading star who was happy to be fading because she was so proud of her achievements and enjoying being a mother. We would all still be enjoying her music and feeling happy knowing she was somewhere out there still singing and performing and living her life.

Tragedy and scandal might be excellent PR for some stars but it’s those who seem to stay away from such coverage that I admire the most. I wish she had found her way. She had such a loving family. I wish she had the gift peace and happiness as a state of being instead of it being fleeting. I think the happiest and most successful women – celebrity or not – are strong. They can turn away from men who are bad from them, manage their lives, health and money well and with confidence and intelligence. They look after themselves. They run their lives like a business and the business is peace and happiness. They don’t listen to the negativity and they don’t let negative people affect them. If I take anything from this tragedy and the many others that have ended in a wasted life I teach my daughter that she is the only one who can steer her ship and it is her right and responsibility to get rid of any and all negativity from her life. She is in control of her life and her health. They key to happiness is really about being in control.

I’m not the only one who has been crying in the car listening to “I Will Always Love You”. I have watched “The Bodyguard” movie three times this week. I haven’t listened to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” yet. It won’t make me happy anymore. It will make me determined though to make the decisions that are best for me and my family, regardless of anything and anyone who tries to affect this. RIP Whitney. RIP and I wish it had been different for you and I hope your daughter learns from the lessons of your death.  There are so many rumours…she was broke, she had throat cancer, she couldn’t sing anymore, she was abusing medication. I hope she can free herself of all of this. Whitney Houston was a beautiful, talented woman with a daughter and she died too soon. These are the only truths that matter. The rest is now history.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

Is it Deborah Hutton’s fault I feel fat?

4 Jan

I buy Women’s Weekly religiously. I am so excited when I see the latest edition on the shelf and I sometimes buy three…one for me, one for my sister and one for my mum. As a woman I appreciate that it gives me the perfect blend of food, clothes, body and news issues to keep me happy. I often clear my afternoon so I can read it from front to back at least once and then I dip in and out over the following weeks until the next edition arrives.

When I saw Deborah Hutton on the cover I was so excited to go home and read the article. As a woman of reasonable intelligence I am aware of the fact that most magazine pictures are retouched in some way, some more than others. I am also aware of makeup, lighting, hairspray and spray tans. I also knew that there was no way Deborah Hutton would ever let anyone re-touch her too much because she has always struck me as a down-to-earth Aussie woman who is not only beautiful but is aware of the many issues surrounding woman and their self-worth. Because she is a woman and no matter how beautiful or accomplished, every woman has their issues.

So why all the drama? Deborah Hutton is beautiful, but why does that make women feel badly about themselves. Even more disturbing is the notion that Deborah Hutton has to look bad or flawed for women to feel good about themselves, as though rejoicing in Deborah’s imperfections will help them to embrace their imperfections. So to feel good about themselves, they have to feed off what they see as wrong and ugly about others. This is such an uncomfortable reflection on women. Why can’t we celebrate each other’s beauty, health and achievements? Why do we feel better when we read about failure and flaws? Is it because they makes us feel normal or is it because our own self-worth is measured against others and not just celebrities?

This certainly explains why many magazines sell so well. Kim’s marriage failed…I feel better that mine is a disaster, Christina is fat…I feel better about my weight, Nicole Kidman’s latest movie didn’t go very well…my career failures are more acceptable to me too. And it doesn’t end there. As women we are constantly sizing each other up. Is she a better mother than me? Is she thinner than me? Is she younger than me? Is she more successful than me?

Not all women are like this but many are. Those of us who are not don’t measure our self-worth against others but instead try to base it on our own internal reflections about ourselves. I am the best mother I can be, I look as good as I can manage, my weight is the best I can get it and I may never look like Deborah Hutton but boy am I going to enjoy reading all about her while I relax with coffee for thirty minutes this afternoon while my children nap.

As women, I find that we also often feel like are alone with our issues and struggles. We see someone enjoying their children and assume they never get cross or have a bad mummy day. We see a pretty girl and assume that she feels as pretty as she looks. We work with a confident colleague and assume that she never doubts herself. This is simply not the case. We all have moments, days and weeks when we feel just as badly as the next person. Take comfort in the fact that everyone struggles from time-to-time meaning we are surrounded by groups of women who understand how hard it can be to be a woman.

We are all doing our best and if not, we can always do better tomorrow. Deborah Hutton is a beautiful, successful Australian woman with a great career, no kids and fab hair. I accept her for who she is and who she is doesn’t influence how I feel about myself.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

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