Tuesday, 18 February 2020

My Weekend At Anti-Diet Riot: The Perfect January Antidote!

It's been almost 2 years now since I made a conscious decision to step away from diet culture and it's toxic, often damaging messaging.

Spurred on by some reading I'd done around the subject of fatphobia and the sudden realisation that I'd spent my entire lifetime so far despising the way I looked no matter what size I was (having lived as everything from a size 8 to a size 22) - I decided one fateful New Years Eve to change the narrative of my life, starting with the resolutions I was making that very evening.

The step from "Try to lose weight/tone up/change yourself to become more visually appealling to others" to "Learn how to like yourself as you are, with no conditions. Live in the moment, see how life feels when you just let yourself be" was a huge one...and I'm not sure I could ever have known back then just how many ways it would change my life.

But of course, even the most hardcore of body acceptance warriors among us will undoubtedly have wobbles from time to time and believe me - I have them fairly often. And January is and probably will always be the most challenging time of all.

The toxic diet culture messaging is all around us in January - it is everywhere we look. From the ramping up of ads on TV urging us to lose weight in order to "Look our best" and "Live our best lives", to the subtle-as-a-sledgehammer onslaught of diet company ads in the pages of our magazines, claiming to be able to tell us the secret to the celebs amazing "revenge bodies" (Spoiler alert: It's not flat-tummy tea - it's round the clock nutritionists, chefs, personal trainers and a big ole' helping of cosmetic surgery!)

Even the online world isn't immune, as influencers galore accept the handsome fees offered up by the many weight loss shake and appetite suppressant brands who are keen to milk the January Diet Culture Cash Cow for all its worth. (Believe me, I know just how much money is thrown at these people - I receive many an offer to promote these products myself, with the emails usually starting around November in preparation for the January Hate-Yourself-Slim campaigns!)

And so, when my lovely friend and partner-in-body-hate-refusal Abi aka Mum In The Moment noticed an ad for The Anti-Diet Riot January Rebellion - I was sold!

A day-long mini festival of sorts full of workshops, talks and discussions around the subject of body image and self-love?! Count Me In!

After lots of mum-life juggling and post-Christmas-cash-scrimping we just about managed to get ourselves on a train with our Anti Diet Riot tickets in hand - London Here We Come!

It's difficult to find a way to sum up the Anti-Diet Riot in a post. My abilities as a wordsmith have let me down massively every time I've tried, and I've come to the conclusion that it is simply something that needs to be experienced in order to be understood.

I could tell you all about the amazing Strutology dance class we did in the morning with the fabulous funky, fun fitty Zoe AKA Headmistress of The School Of Strut - and how empowered I felt as I strutted my size 20 body around that room to Meghan Trainor's "Badass Woman" in my faux leather leggings, feeling not an ounce of inhibition in the company of 15 or so other people of every imaginable shape and size.

I could tell you about how I sat nodding along like the Churchill dog in passionate agreement with every word spoken by the power houses that were The Feeding Of The Fox, The Vagaggle, Everyday Lookism and Scarred Not Scared during the Politics Of Ugliness panel talk.

I could tell you about how unexpectedly distraught and inspired I was in equal measure by the incredible keynote speech given by Ericka Hart - how the exercise she opened with, where she had us get into partners and spend 5 full minutes staring silently into the eyes of a complete stranger in an effort to teach us the importance of getting out of our heads, away from selfish thoughts and interested in the lives and experiences of those around us - moved and challenged me in ways I can't begin to describe.

How her engaging,  passionate words and delivery lit a fire within the pits of my stomach that even a week later is still raging, leaving me burning with a desire to do better, to do more to fight for equality in our society...knowing that if not me and if not now, then who and when?

But none of it would come close to getting across the feeling I left that building with. 

I left feeling not only that I could take on the world....but also that I have a responsibility to. Because just learning to love and accept myself as I am with the privilege I was born in to as a white, straight, cis-gender woman isn't enough - I need to be doing my part to amplify the voices of the marginalised, to listen to the experiences of others and to do my part to make society more equal for every body.

To make our day at Anti-Diet Riot happen, we of course needed a base and we were kindly offered accomodation at Roomzzz Stratford for the weekend.

We were given a Neo Studio room which consisted of a double bed, studio kitchen and bathroom with shower.

I expected the room to be pretty tiny so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually rather spacious - Abi even managed to do her morning yoga with plenty of space (while I preferred to lie in!)

The floor-to-ceiling window made the room feel bright and airy too, making for a very pleasant and comfortable living space for the weekend.

The kitchen was equipped with an oven, full size fridge and all of the modern amenities you could need - with a downstairs shop stocking pizzas and snacks. 

Breakfast each morning was a Grab & Go affair, offering a selection of pastries and fruit as well as hot drinks and cartons of juice - there are takeaway cups and paper bags provided which we found really handy as we simply grabbed what we wanted on our way out each morning. But there is also some seating for those who'd prefer to dine then and there too.

Overall, I thought the hotel was very modern and spotlessly clean, stylish and comfortable with friendly and efficient staff - one of whom even went above and beyond to retrieve Abi's lost necklace from down the drain! 

I would absolutely stay there again for any future visits to London, and think it would be an ideal place to stay with children due to the convenience of having your own kitchen space.

As well as the incredible day spent at Anti Diet Riot, it was really lovely to spend the weekend with a like minded friend - getting the chance to put the world to rights, discuss ideas and plans for the future and also just chill out! A particular highlight was our last evening which was spent eating pizza in bed while watching Bridget Jones on TV.

I've often toyed with the idea of going for solo nights at hotels every now and then for a little headspace break as I know quite a few parents who take it in turns to do this once or twice a year, and it does sound appealing but I'm a bit too much of a worrier to be able to enjoy something like that alone - getting away for a couple of nights with a friend felt much more comfortable, and gave me the chance to relax but also have fun and remember who I am again, away from life as Mum.

Having said that, of course I missed the kids and Jon a lot - but he kept me updated with regular photos, and I FaceTimed them each evening too.

It was nice to have a chance to actually miss them and look forward to getting back home to them - and their hugs and excitement when I got home on Monday were just the best!

I'm so glad we made the effort to make this weekend happen - I feel like it was just the tonic to combat January. Not only from an anti-diet, positive body image perspective but also just for the chance to escape the monotony of money worries, rubbish weather and general dreariness that January can often bring - bring on the next one!

If you enjoy my blog, please consider following me on Bloglovin'
Blogger Template Setup by fazal