Women’s Day: Fabulous at Forty-something

Gemma is a pillar of confidence. I am such a fan of her Instagram page and her delicious (and healthy) food posts, but predominantly her positive attitude and continuous attempts to be better than before. The beauty of Gemma is her openness about her journey so far, she shares her very real progress with us even if she isn’t quite nailing her downward dog. This woman shows us her story with pride and celebrates the small improvements rather than bitching about what isn’t quite right yet.

I chose Gemma (and she graciously accepted) to be part of this series because we can learn so much from her. Gemma is showing us how to be our best selves in an holistic and honest way – what an empowering frame of mind to be in!
1.What inspired you to start sharing your story?

I wanted to make a change in my life and needed some motivation and support. At the time, I thought the change I sought was weight loss but over time I have realised the change I needed was in how I view and treat myself and how I communicate and present myself to others.

I used to feel that being overweight made me less worthy and deserving of love, that losing weight would magically get rid of all my feelings of isolation, sadness and dissatisfaction.

As I started to lose weight, I noticed that I was still just as critical about myself, just as filled with feelings of failure. It was clear that weight loss wasn’t the root of the issue, but a symptom of deeper issues. I started to practice yoga using at home practices from Yoga With Adriene on YouTube and began to connect with my body in a positive way. I started to use my Instagram, @fatfitfortysomething, as a way to connect with other women striving to work things out in a more meaningful way than simply following a diet regime. The acceptance, connection and support I’ve found through sharing my journey have empowered me in a way I never imagined was possible.

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The photo on the left was taken at my heaviest and most unhappy. I spent most of my time criticising myself and wishing I could be different….now I do yoga and post photos of myself upside down, and I don’t give a damn how I look.
2.What does female empowerment mean to you?

It means being true to yourself, not trying to be what you think others want. It means supporting other women and not judging. It means showing the young women of tomorrow that they can be and achieve anything.
3.What advice would you give to 18 year old you?

You are not fat. You are not ugly. You are clever, funny and compassionate. You can do what you want. You don’t have to follow the path laid down for you. You are not defined by other people’s views or wishes.
4.Where do get your daily inspiration from?

From the children I teach, from my daughter and from the amazing community of women I’ve connected with through my Instagram @fatfitfortysomething
5.How do you think gender equality needs to improve?

Women are still judged by different standards than men. I really feel like women are still under terrible pressure to look a certain way and to be super mums and homemakers at the same time as working hard at their careers. Women are damned as failing if they can’t meet all of these ridiculous expectations. I also feel that women are still expected to behave and think within a very narrow and stereotypical set of parameters and that there is still a long way to go until we can all see beyond them and just allow women to be whatever they want to be, look however they want to look and act in ways that are true to themselves.

I also feel that true equality can’t be achieved until there is a greater awareness of and response to the particular issues that affect women: the hormonal effects of menstruation and, later, menopause cannot be underestimated. I went through early menopause in the last few years and I had no idea beforehand of just how badly it would affect my happiness, my self image and my physical well-being. Equally, motherhood (and/or its absence) has a massive effect on women – it totally changes your priorities, emotions and mindset. I genuinely believe that if men had to face these challenges, better medical and social support would be in place.
6.What three things would you tell young women of the next generation?

  1. Stay in education
  2. Nurture friendships
  3. Follow a path that makes YOU happy.

7.What three things do you wish you could fix in the world?

I wish that the world could be a more equal place. I can’t reconcile some people don’t have enough to eat while other people obsess about losing weight.

I wish the world could be without conflict. It horrified me that people live in fear that their lives could be destroyed by forces over which they have no control.

I also wish that everyone in the world had access to education regardless of status or gender.
8.What makes you feel grateful everyday?

My home, my family and my career remind me daily that I am a very lucky person.
9.If you could have dinner with three inspirational women (dead or alive) who and why?

Frida Kahlo – she was a true individual and lived her life fiercely and honestly.

Maya Angelou – her activism, independence and beautiful spirit truly inspire me.

Kirsty MacColl – her witty, honest lyrics and her beautiful voice have been the soundtrack to my life and I still can’t reconcile myself to the idea that she died so young and in such a tragic way.

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This is me holding Maya Angelou’s hand (ok, ok it was a waxwork)
10.How do you want to make other women feel with your content?

My food posts are trying to show that you can eat healthily, cook from scratch , indulge sometimes and not resort to eating weird “diet” foods. With my exercise posts I just want people to see that anyone can exercise at any size and from any starting point, without it being torture or some kind of competition.

I want women viewing my content to see that you can work towards a balanced, healthy and happy life without sacrificing anything at all – my life is fuller, richer, more varied and more stimulating now than it ever was before. My aim with my content is to reach out, be real and share ideas and support.

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Gemma should be one of those women the younger generation looks up to with admiration and aspires to follow. I’m sure, like the rest of us, life isn’t perfect but her perspective on life and how we should be thinking about ourselves and treating other people is so important. @fatfitfortysomething is something special, personally it makes me feel like I can be kinder to myself and more focused on what matters.

Follow Gemma’s awesome account at @fatfitfortysomething where you can keep up with her regular nuggets of wisdom, yoga poses and delish food!

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