Thursday, 11 August 2011

What does the word ‘holiday’ mean to you?

Gretel Hallet, is a Trained Chocolate Fairy and is running the Getting Started half day workshop in Norwich - perfect for beginners to experience the core principles of Beyond Chocolate and equally great as a refresher for any Beyond Chocolater. If you live in East Anglia and want to know more about Beyond Chocolate or her workshops, get in touch with Gretel.

For many women holidays can bring mixed emotions. On the one hand it’s great to plan to get away from our daily routines and to picture ourselves wandering along a beach wearing a floaty sarong and sipping at a long, cool drink or spending time with family or friends having a good time. On the other hand it means exposing bits of ourselves that many of us would rather keep hidden under the clothing equivalent of a tent. It means other people will see us semi-dressed. It means getting our kit off to a greater or lesser degree, depending on how keen we are on swimming, sunbathing etc. It may even mean considering swapping the family vacation in the sun for a week in the Arctic – anything to avoid the humiliation of appearing in a swimsuit...

For many a woman, the anxiety that attends these thoughts begins months before the actual date and the focus of that anxiety is her weight, shape, size... the thought of baring (almost!) all on a foreign shore or poolside in front of all those other people! What will they say? What will they do? What will they think? Will they (horror of horrors) laugh? Point? Be sick?! And what if all the other women have perfect figures? And what if she looks like beached whale compared to them? Should she throw her trusty swimsuit away and buy a burkini?

Suddenly, the golden opportunity to get away and relax has become yet another source of terror, panic, anxiety, fear and Gremlin-induced body bashing. How can we, asks my particular Gremlin, in a patient and understanding voice, possibly subject innocent foreigners to the sight of us in a swimsuit? We can’t afford not to prepare for this holiday months in advance by a strict, and I mean
strict, diet and exercise regime. Let me see. We could give up sweets, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, cheese, peanut butter, butter, bread, salad dressing, etc and eat plain salad for a couple of months – that would shift some of that blubber. And we could increase the intensity and frequency of our exercise schedule so that we really tone up and slim down. Actually, my Gremlin continues, in a sorrowful voice, we could have done with starting this a good couple of years ago, really. It’s a bit late now, what with the holiday only a couple of months away. Still, my Gremlin brightens up, all’s not lost! We can undo some of the damage in the time we’ve got left.

And, that just sounds so damn reasonable. After all, I’ve ‘let myself go’ a bit recently by following the Beyond Chocolate principles. I haven’t been watching what I eat. I haven’t been restricting my food options to those with the least calories. Gremlin Induced Pre-Holiday Panic set in well and truly.

So what did
I do before I went for my week in the sun, sea and sand of the wonderful Mediterranean sea?

Actually none of the above.

Despite my Gremlin’s most insidious attempts to destroy my self-confidence, I packed my tankini and swam as much and as often as I wanted to. I didn’t sunbathe much because that’s not what I like to do on holiday. I wore clothes I feel good in, and which were suitable for the climate and the activity of each day. I looked admiringly at some of the other women by the pool, but that’s them and I’m me. Whatever I did, I wouldn’t look like them because I’m not them. This was my holiday, a chance for me to relax and re-charge my batteries and enjoy myself and that’s exactly what I did (after locking my Gremlin in a very small and uncomfortable cage and throwing away the key!).

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