Woah! Eventful Friday night!

It’s all gone a bit dramatic here tonight, it started with a total bag blow out.

One minute I was cooking dinner with Timm, the next I heard a popping noise and felt a huge whoosh as the contents of my bag spectacularly emptied out down my legs and into the kitchen floor.

With an ‘oh shit’ from me, the husband realised what was happening and we both leapt into action. Well for me it was more of a legs together weird shuffle to the bathroom whilst Timm followed with my supplies and then he went to clean up the poonami in the kitchen.

I’m a lucky woman to have such an awesome husband to look after me. If I’m honest, I bloody hate that he has to deal with my shit (literally) I find it embarrassing and upsetting. But he deals with it all in a way that makes life so much easier and I find it easier to allow him to help me because he’s just so cool about it all.

sam cleasby blogger writer stoma ibd

After Id showered and sorted out a new bag I rejoined Timm and we finished making dinner and all was well in the world…

Then after dinner we headed out to the supermarket, we’re trying out meal planning and so we wanted to shop together to get next weeks groceries. As I got in the car I started to have stomach ache, by the time we got to Morrisons I was in quite a lot of pain. It kind of felt like trapped wind so I tried to ignore it.

Then it got worse, I went to the loos and I thought I was going to pass out from the pain. It felt like my stomach was bursting open, I’ve not hurt that bad since I was in labour. I came out and was sweating, pale and thought I would faint from the pain.

A lady sat me on a bench and I called Timm who was walking round with the trolley to tell him I needed to go home.

He practically carried me to the car and drove me home whilst I was grunting, shouting and swearing. I honestly thought something had burst inside me. It was agony.

I got home and laid in bed and removed my bag. My stomach was really swollen and my hernia really pronounced. My stoma was large and dark coloured. I was crying in pain as Timm got me painkillers, I really thought I needed to go straight to hospital.

As I laid flat my stomach started to relax and then I felt a weird feeling and my hernia seemed to shrink back into my stomach. And the pain just went.

It was the weirdest thing, one moment I was rolling round in agony, the next I just had a slight ache.

We’re thinking it must be the hernia?! That it came out a lot and then as I relaxed and laid flat, it sank back in. Who knows?! I haven’t eaten anything different today than I’ve had before. I haven’t drank quite as much as usual but just got no idea.

I felt quite embarrassed at the drama I caused and how much grunting and swearing I did!!! I’ve had painkillers and going to stay in bed now and relax.

parastomal hernia recovering from ileostomy surgery and hernia

Excuse the mess in my room! We are moving house in a couple of weeks and there are boxes everywhere!!!

I’ll speak to clinic/stoma nurse as soon as possible to see what they think it was. If any ostomates have any ideas I’d love to hear them! Perhaps I’m doing too much, I’m packing and cleaning our current home. I have no idea, I’m just glad I don’t feel like an alien is bursting through my stomach any more!!!

Thank you Timm for dealing with all my stoma dramas tonight, you are my hero and I couldn’t deal with all this without you.


Thanks for reading

Sam xxx

Weight loss for surgery

At my surgical appointment this week it was suggested that I should lose some weight to increase my chances of my pouch surgery going well.

Since the birth of my kids I gained a lot of weight and then have yo yo-ed since then. I’ll lose weight during flares then gain it back. Last year I had months of steroids which caused me to gain a lot and surgery where I lost weight. Then during my recovery where I couldn’t do much physical exercise and being unable to eat much fruit or veg but encouraged to eat white bread, pasta and rice I then gained more!

I have been looking at my weight since January and I have lost 10 lbs, but I know I’m still probably two and a half stone overweight.  My BMI is currently 28 which puts me near the top end of overweight.  Ill be honest, it doesn’t bother me massively, I like the way I look, I know Im not stick thin but I think I look fucking good! (and Im SO modest!) But I do want to be fitter, healthier and stronger.

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

The doc was really nice about it and was simply telling me how to increase my chances of a better outcome.  I know a lot of crohnies really struggle with being underweight but for me it’s the other way.

So I need to get on it, it feels very much like when I stopped smoking.  I liked smoking, I know that sounds bad and isn’t the right thing to say these days, but I did like it.  I knew it was bad for me and I knew that Timm and the kids hated me smoking but I never really wanted to stop.  Then my consultant told me that I was five times more likely to have a flare up of ulcerative colitis if I was a smoker.  I quit that day.

Id been a smoker for 15 year and I just stopped. I felt that if I continued smoking after Id been told this and then had a flare up, that it would be my own fault.  Every time I put a cigarette to my lips I thought about how sick I was during a flare up, I thought about being on medication and having to stay in hospital and funnily enough, it made me not want to have that smoke!

I feel the same now, I know that by my BMI I am overweight, I know that my health could be better and I could be fitter if I lost some weight.  I have dieted over the years and never really got on top of it.  Ill lose a stone or two and then slowly gain it back.  Also whilst I was ill, my weight just didn’t seem like a priority. But now I feel that if I don’t lose weight and something goes wrong with the surgery or my recovery, that it will be my own fault.  I feel that I have to do this now to give myself the best chances of an easy recovery.

I know it isn’t as simple as that and that complications can arise whatever your weight, but now I have heard it, I feel its something I must do.  It feels easier to say no to that slice of cake or takeaway because the fear of surgery going wrong is far higher than my desire to eat fatty foods or chocolate and sweets. I have six months to lose the weight, so Im just getting back on the healthy eating, going to the gym and getting more exercise.  Wish me luck! getting fit after surgery

I think a lot of this has to do with control too, I have little control over what happens with my body at the moment, the surgery isn’t what I planned for my life but I need to have it and so it is out of my hands.  I can’t control the disease or treatment, but I can control how I treat my body, what fuel it gets and how I exercise and so that is what Ill do.

I need to know I am going into the surgery match fit and so if that means cutting out the cake and hitting the gym hard, that is what Im going to do.

Sam xx

Blogging – with great power comes great responsibility

Yes, just like spiderman anyone writing for the public really do have responsibilities to those around them.  OK perhaps not EXACTLY like Spiderman but Im hoping you will catch my drift here…

with great power comes great responsibility

Bloggers are sharers, we like to write, we find it cathartic, entertaining and enjoyable.  Some of us are guilty of over sharing and some of us like to hold back certain things, things we aren’t comfortable sharing with the world.  We all have our boundaries of what we like to talk about and what we don’t want to put out there, my rule of thumb is that I don’t blog anything that Id be mortified my mum reading, or things that would upset or embarrass my children.

I think through my posts before hitting that publish button and though occasionally Im on the fence as to whether it is 100% right to discuss, I think I get it fairly right.

Its something I have been thinking about recently as I have been asked to do some work with teenage girls, and at a meeting we discussed how we can work on blogging with them whilst ensuring their safety online and making sure they understand the importance of what their content could do to themselves and others.  How they have to take ultimate responsibility for the things they choose to discuss online, whether that is sharing photographs or opinion.

Obviously the subject of my illness can be seen as something impolite to discuss in public, and I write about it because its important to me to share my experiences in the hope that it will help others.  I talk in detail about my health, my illness, my surgeries and how my mind processes all these things.  Because they are MINE, these things belong to me and I am happy to share them with you.

I suppose the responsibility of a blogger is a big grey area, Im no lawyer and so don’t know the laws around such things.  What feels right for one person to talk about is a massive no no for someone else.  This week I added another rule of thumb for myself which is I won’t blog about another persons life without theirs or their families permission.

I feel I can talk about MY illness all day long because its what I am going through and I own it.  I have friends who have all manner of different illnesses from depression to cancer, infertility problems to other chronic illnesses.  I will never blog about THEIR illness, their personal problems, naming them, because it just seems wrong, do you know what I mean?

Equally I would be horrified if I found a friend was writing publicly about me and things that I hadn’t put online.  Id be devastated.  And so would my husband and family.

It comes back to the fact that bloggers are sharers.  When something happens, our brains start thinking about how we can write this down, how we can pour our feelings and thoughts onto the screen.  But when you have an audience, especially if it is a big audience, that power has to come with responsibility.

I am all for talking about difficult subjects, raising awareness and bringing things to the forefront of peoples consciences in the hope of helping others, but I do think that we need to be mindful of how this can come across and that we don’t share things that don’t ‘belong’ to us.

Love Sam xx

Cure for sleepless nights with an ileostomy

Remember when I blogged about my lack of sleep? I’ve been waking once or twice a night for the last six months since my surgery to empty my bag.

It was starting to really get to me and I was struggling to deal with getting up in the mornings.

Well I have cracked it! It seems it was all about the fizzy drinks!!

I have cut carbonated drinks almost completely out of my diet and for the last 6 nights I have slept through. I think the fizz was causing gas which filled my bag and made me feel like I needed to get up and empty.

I feel like I’ve won the lottery!!! It’s such a great feeling to sleep all the way through the night, I’d forgotten just how much it is needed!

so bad ass sam cleasby ileostomy ulcerative colitis ibd awareness body image self esteem

I was told post surgery to avoid fizzy drinks but as I healed I drifted back into drinking coke or lemonade. I’ve reverted back to water, squash or juice and it really has solved the sleep problems completely.

I know things aren’t the same for all ostomates, it really is a case of trial and error.  The best advice I had regarding diet was just because something doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean it won’t forever, give it a few weeks and try again.  In the early days I just couldn’t manage onions, but now they cause no problems.

But for now fizzy drinks are all a no no and Im ok with that as I am finally sleeping!

Love Sam xx

Parastomal Hernia

Over the past couple of months I developed some swelling behind my stoma, I thought it was due to the heat, the humidity and the amount of activity I was doing whilst we were  in Australia.  But since we got back, the swelling didn’t really go down.  It is worse in the evening and goes up and down, its causing me some discomfort but not really painful.

I spoke to my stoma nurse who thought it was a hernia, but as I was due to see my surgeon she suggested that I refrained from any lifting and saw what Mr Brown said.  He confirmed that he thought it was a hernia and that he could repair it surgically but as I am probably planning the pouch surgery it would be worth just trying to deal with it and wait till the takedown surgery when my stoma will be removed anyway.

A hernia is when there is a weakness in muscle tissue that causes the intestine to bulge through.  Because a stoma goes through the abdomen it becomes a compromise in the muscles and hernias can be common in people with a stoma.  A hernia behind the stoma is called a parastomal hernia.  The term parastomal hernia is used to describe a bulge or swelling around or under the stoma that leads to problems with stoma function and appliance security. This usually occurs gradually and the hernia may increase in size over time.

Its probably a good idea for you not to google this term though… Some of the photographs are fairly graphic!

There are many factors that contribute to the development of a parastomal hernia including:

  • Coughing and sneezing.
  • Straining: this can happen when lifting heavy objects or duringstrenuous activities such as gardening.
  • Infection at the site of the stoma or abdominal wound.
  • Muscles becoming weaker with age.
  • Being overweight.
  • Poor siting of the stoma.
  • Emergency surgery.

The treatment differs depending on the extent of the hernia, mine appears to be relatively minor and so Im happy to wear a hernia support made for people with stomas.

parastomal hernia support

Exercise or Pilates, aimed at strengthening the core muscles, may help too.

For others the treatment will be surgery;

A tissue repair at the site of the hernia is a relatively simple procedure, but there is a high risk of the hernia recurring.

Repair and re-siting of the stoma to another location on the abdomen is a bigger operation involving a larger incision, but the chance of the hernia recurring is lower.

Repair and reinforcement of the hernia site with mesh carries a very small risk of infection but the chance of the hernia recurring is lower.

This information comes from the Colostomy Association.

As always with this blog, I am not a medical professional and all my thoughts here are entirely my own and in no way replace medical advice.  If you are worried you might have a parastomal hernia, then get in touch with your stoma nurse, doctor or clinic.

Love Sam xx

J Pouch surgery

So this morning I had an appointment with my lovely surgeon Mr Brown, it was an 8.30am appointment and so with it being half term we got the kids ready and set off at 7.30.

We got to the hospital, parked and was in the clinic for 8.15. The receptionist said she couldn’t check me in as she was medical and I had to wait for the surgical receptionist to get there. At 8.35 she arrived and then told me we were at the wrong hospital!!!

I showed her my letter that said it was at this hospital and she said ‘oh yeah, we sent the wrong letter!’

We then had to drive across Sheffield in rush hour traffic to get to the other hospital right on the other side of the city and just wait to be fitted in.

I could have cried! You work yourself up for these appointments, worrying about what the outcome will be and to then face more travel and time is a total pain.

so bad ass sam cleasby ibd awareness

Anyway we eventually saw the surgeon. Timm came with me for moral support and to remember the questions I always forget I want to ask and the answers given that drift out of my head before I reach the lifts.

Mr Brown is so nice, he’s my favourite doctor and always makes me feel better. We discussed the hernia that I have developed (Ill be doing a separate blog post about that) and then we talked through the pros and cons of pouch surgery.

I have to have a test done to check the muscle strength in my arse… Lovely. Basically they put a tube up your bum and it checks the pressure and sensitivity of your butt muscles. If they aren’t strong enough, it’s a good indicator that post pouch surgery you could be incontinent.

I’ve never had issues with that before so were all hopeful it won’t be an issue. Once that test is done, he is happy to go ahead with the surgery. Due to work and family commitments we have asked for the surgery to be done at the end of September or beginning of October.

Our photography business The Picture Foundry is sooooo busy at the minute, I also work with arts collective Responsible Fishing and this summer is crazy busy for us with creative workshops for children, arts installations and festivals.

I also am beginning to get busy with presenting talks on self esteem and body image and working with teenagers on a whole host of projects. I’m writing a lot more and got a few guest posts on blogs, magazines and even a bit of copywriting and blog writing for other companies on the go.

Oh yeah, and I’m moving house and renewing my wedding vows!!! So I have just a bit on my mind right now.

But come October things will calm down a bit and I can afford to have the time off work and timm will be less busy and able to look after the kids and me.

so bad ass sam cleasby ibd awareness

So the surgery…

colectomy and ileostomy diagram

The first picture is a normal digestive system, the second is after a colectomy and showing an ileostomy.  Im currently at the second picture stage.

J-pouch diagram

This is what the digestive system looks like after j-pouch surgery. You can see that the entire colon has been removed and that only the small intestine is left.  The end of the small intestine currently forms my ileostomy, during pouch surgery the surgeon constructs a pouch out of the small intestine by folding it up on itself and making it into a reservoir.  This is then attached to the anal canal.

This is called pouch surgery or ileo-pouch anal anastomosis or IPAA… Also known as J pouch, Internal Pouch or ileo-anal pouch.

After this surgery I will no longer have my stoma or ileostomy bag, my waste will go through my system and then be stored in the pouch, because I still have control of the muscles in my bum I’ll be able to hold waste and pass it normally into the toilet.

There are a few issues surrounding pouch surgery, one is that as the pouch is no where near as big as my large intestine was, Ill need to go to the toilet quite a few times a day.  Most people after everything is settled go 4-6 times a day or whenever they pee.  This may seem like a lot to someone without IBD but when I was having a flare of of Ulcerative Colitis I could be going 20-25 times a day with urgent, bloody diarrhoea and painful stomach cramps.  Currently with my ileostomy I go to the toilet and empty my bag around 5 times a day plus once or twice during the night, so this part doesnt bother me too much.

Other problems can be butt burn… basically, the large intestine neutralises your poo, when you don’t have that, the waste that leaves your system is quite acidic.  Currently with an ileostomy if I get waste on my skin through leaking, it can burn my skin and leave it really sore.  So after pouch surgery that same waste will be coming out of my butt.  Hence the butt burn.  Using a barrier cream and baby wipes is told to really help with this and apparently the skin soon toughens up and learns to deal with it!

Pouchitis is inflammation of the pouch, it is treated with a course of antibiotics.

Mr Brown would like me to have the one step surgery.  This means that the pouch will be formed and connected in one step, Ill wake up without an ileostomy.  It requires at least 10 days in hospital, during this time I will be on a liquid only diet and have a tube placed into the pouch that will irrigate it three times a day.

The alternative is the two step surgery in which the pouch is formed and attached, but another ileostomy is created further up the digestive system to divert waste from the pouch till it is full healed.  Then after a few weeks, the second surgery is performed to close up the ileostomy and the pouch begins to work.

There are risks to both, as with any surgery.  The one step is quite a tough recovery but I trust my doctor and having researched a lot I am happy to go with the one step. (I think!!!)

There are risks associated with fertility, but as I already have three kids and Im definitely not planning any more this isn’t a problem for me.  Other potential problems are internal leaking which can lead to all manner of bad juju, incontinence, abcesses, fistulas and all manner of other scary stuff.

I really want to go into surgery as informed as possible, its so important to me to feel like I know exactly what Im getting into BUT I have just spent the last hour terrifying myself by reading forums of people with pouches.  I need to remember that people are more likely to write about bad experiences than good ones.  There are always complications and problems possible with any surgery, its not good to get caught up on every single what if.  Ive done my research, spoke to my surgeons and specialised nurse and I *think* I have made up my mind.

Its not an easy decision.  My ileostomy is now healed and I have very few issues with it, I eat pretty much what I want with only a few exceptions and my life is a million times better than before I had surgery.  So it does feel like a risk to have another surgery that could possibly make things difficult again for a while.

They say it takes around 18 months for your body to become used to the pouch.  Thats a bloody long recovery time, but the chances are good that my life will be better and I won’t have the ileostomy bag any more.

As for success rates of pouch surgery, the generally accepted figures are these…

40% will be perfect/excellent

40% will be acceptable with some issues

10% will be poor but the patient will put up with the problems as they are stoma averse

10% will need to be defunctioned

So I have an 80% chance that things will be fine.  I need to remember this when Im stressing out and crying because Im reading yet another forum with people screaming their woes.

Im feeling quite stressed about the whole decision process, but Im lucky to have a fab husband to support me and a great doctor who in knowing my worries has given me his email address so I can talk any concerns through direct with him.

Thanks for reading

Sam xxx

A message for my teenage son…

To my lovely, awesome, sometimes pain in the arse teenage son, here are some life lessons you should probably take on board.  Then pass on to your lovely, awesome, sometimes pain in the arse teenage friends…

1. Just be nice.

This has always been lesson number one in this house.  Shows of brute strength or masculinity mean little, but by following the rule of ‘just be nice’ you won’t go far wrong in life.  Hold doors for others, use your manners, show kindness, respect and courtesy.  Seriously, people like that.  It will help you go through life smoothly.  Don’t be a bully.  Don’t intimidate, hurt, humiliate or taunt others.  Its not cool and if I catch you being a bully, no matter how old you are, I WILL call you out on it and it won’t end well.

2. Clean, cook, do laundry.

Dude, these are just life skill you are going to need.  It may seem ok now to step over the crap in your room, eat cereal straight from the box and ‘clean’ your clothes by giving them a shake and perhaps a bit of body spray but as you get older, its just gross and a bit sad.  You will feel good about yourself, independent and as you get older you will definitely impress the ladies or gents that come into your life.

3. Aim before you shoot.

Seriously, its not difficult.  Lift the toilet seat, aim penis, have a wee.  Pissy toilet seats, floors, WALLS for gods sake are GROSS.  Its not ok.  Also if you poo, clean the bowl.  Its not rocket science.  I guarantee that no partner finds cleaning another persons bodily fluids from a toilet bowl sexy.

4. Don’t take photos of your bodily parts.

It is NEVER a good idea. Ever.  Unless you want me, your father, your grandmother and your teachers to see that photo of your penis, don’t send it to anyone.  In fact, don’t even take the picture.  Its stupid, dangerous and when you become a rock star or prime minister it WILL come back to haunt you.

5. Real women don’t look like the ones on TV or magazines.

Most women have body hair, yep legs, armpits, genitals.  Its normal.  Get over it.  Women’s breasts and genitals come in all shapes and sizes.  The average woman in the UK is a size 16.  The size 0 celebrities are not the norm.  Whatever size your future partner is, treat them with love and respect.   If you are lucky enough for a woman to allow you to see or touch her body, be respectful and grateful!

6. Sex is about trust and respect

Media and peer pressure may make it seem that sex means nothing and that everyone is doing it with everyone.  But sex is a beautiful sharing of love, and sex without trust and respect is crap.  Its not about notches on bedposts, its about having an amazing time with someone really special.  No one wants to think they are another in a long line of partners.  Ill also remind you now that sex under 16 is against the law.  Remember that.

Im hoping it will be a long while before you have sex.  But when you do…

Use a condom.  Every time.  Yes, every time.  Even if she is on the pill.  Or its the second sunday on the month.  Or the world is ending.  Every time.  Without fail.

No means No.  There is no grey area.  You don’t need to try and figure it out.  If the girl is drunk or high, that too is a no.

7. If you mess up, tell me.

I love you dearly, but sometimes you are a bloody idiot and make mistakes.  I know you will make mistakes because I did, and so did your dad and everyone else in the world.  If you mess up, tell me.  No matter how awful it seems I promise I will help you and make things better.  I may shout at you first, but it won’t be half as bad as if I find out later.

If you mess up and need me,  I will be there, if that is 3am on a sunday morning, or when I am busy at work, poorly or in the midst of my own problems, tell me and I will be there.

And if you can’t tell me or your dad, tell an adult you trust.

8. Be a feminist.

A feminist is someone who believes that people are truly equal whatever their gender.  You believe this.  Be a feminist and proud. End of.

While we are at it, don’t ever be homophobic, sexist or racist.  I know you aren’t so never fall into the trap of thinking that a bit of casual, comedic bigotry is ok.  Because it isn’t.

9. Have a shower.

Clean body, hair, teeth, fingernails, clothes… Clean everything.  Its about respect for your own body.  Taking care of your appearance makes you feel good, it gives a good impression to others and is a really important basic life skill.  Want a partner? Chicks (or guys!) don’t dig B.O…

10. Choose your own path.

Don’t follow the crowd, think about what you want in life, what makes you happy and go for it.  With hard work, perseverance and a good attitude you can honestly achieve ANYTHING you want in life.  Those ‘cool’ kids in school who think its clever to cause trouble, mess about and not get on with work won’t be so cool in 10 years time when you see them working in McDonalds.  Be unique, be an individual and be yourself, everyone else is taken.

Stand up for what you believe in and speak out if you witness something that you know is wrong.  Be a strong person who can be a lone voice, its not always easy to be the person who shouts no in a baying crowd of yeses. If you believe in it with your heart and soul, then speak out.

And here ends my sermon, just a few words of wisdom from your old mother to a lad who believes he already  knows it all.  The years ahead of us may be tough, we may stumble and fall, we may fall out, we may fight, we may become so frustrated with one another that we can’t believe we are related!  But thats just what coming through teenage years is, remember that no matter what, I love you and you, my son, are bloody awesome!


Love Mum x

My son is so bad ass…

This is my awesome 13 year old son and his band at their first gig in the school hall, I am SO proud of him!

You will definitely be seeing more of them in the future!

Helen Grant – sports minister and 50s house wife?

Helen Grant, sports minister is in the news today talking about how to get more women into sport.  Her plan seems to be to get them to do ballet or roller blading so they can look “feminine” and “radiant” – or maybe they could just stand on the side lines looking pretty and keep fit by cleaning the boys kit?

“Some girls may well not like doing very traditional hockey, tennis or athletics, others might, so for those who don’t want to, how about considering maybe gym, ballet, cheerleading?” she said.

“You don’t have to feel unfeminine … There are some wonderful sports which you can do and perform to a very high level and I think those participating look absolutely radiant and very feminine such as ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even roller-skating.”

Im spitting.  SPITTING with rage.  Shall we encourage our boys into football so they can look masculine?  Or into boxing so they can be manly?  Only boys mind, we definitely shouldn’t let our princesses partake in anything so uncouth!

Speaking of consulting women as to what they want, she said “whether it’s a Zumba class or a game of rounders after they’ve dropped the kids off.”

Because come on mummies, you have nothing better to do.  Go and have a dance class, you can look amazing and do the housework later!  Leave all that horrid ‘work’ stuff to the men, they are better at it.  You should make sure you keep fit  but ensure you shower and put your face back on in time for your husband getting home from work.  And get that dinner on the table at 6pm!

My daughters current hero is Jenny Jones, we are taking her for a snowboarding lesson next week as she has been so inspired by the athlete.  She doesn’t like her because of her make up, or her ‘radiance’ – she likes her because she kicks arse, she is an amazing snowboarder and won a medal at the olympics.

helen grant sport and girls

I feel that Im constantly fighting against poor body image messages that bombard my 11 year old.  Things ARE better and there are some fantastic female role models but its this easy and relaxed sexism is everywhere, from pink toys for girls and blue for boys at an early age, to padded bras for children and music videos that are sexualised and promote an image that women must show their breasts and dance provocatively in order to make it.

Our Sports Minister is suggesting there are girls sports and boys sports.  Surely there are just sports, some kids will like contact sports, some will like boxing, rugby, football, dance, snowboarding, rollerblading or athletics.  Some of these kids will be male and some female, we should be encouraging all of them to participate in whatever sports they enjoy.

I know there is a problem with teenage girls hitting an age where they drop out of sports, but rather than trying to funnel them into ‘feminine’ sports maybe its worth looking at the reasons why they stop?  Perhaps it is to do with a negative body image that has been drummed into them for years? I hated PE at school and the reasons were that I wasn’t particularly good at group/competitive sports.  I found it embarrassing to be in a big group and being the person who couldn’t do it and I also despised the PE kit, no one feels good in PE knickers…

I also find the idea that ballet or roller blading are ‘girly’ sports that are about you looking radiant really offensive.  Ballet dancers are committed, hard working athletes who devote their lives to perfecting their art.

And if you have ever seen a female roller derby you’ll know that these are strong women who are competing hard, I doubt their bruises and injuries are particularly radiant to the minister…

Sport is sport.  I think its really important to encourage youngsters to be healthy, if exercise becomes a habit at a young age it is more likely they will continue into adulthood.  But let’s encourage them to partake in physical activity that they enjoy.  If that is Zumba, then fantastic! Enjoy it, work out, love the benefits of your body being healthier and fitter, don’t do it because you want to look pretty.

Love Sam x