I’m standing in front of the mirror, my baby weight all gone. It’s what I wanted, it’s why I’ve been dragging myself and Emma to fitness classes for the past 6 months. So why am I unhappy?
Five months after the birth, I decided to do a bit of exercise. To this point, we were just surviving – Emma would wake up to 5 times a night and I was running on empty. I found it particularly hard as I had these false expectations that at 6 months the sleep would all improve and I’d be really nailing it as a mum – it makes me laugh now as 13 months on I’m still winging it! I met a personal trainer who was doing a group course to strengthen your core and improve your diet so I thought why not? As soon as the course started, I got in the zone of eating healthily and following her ‘plan’ which consisted of 6 small meals a day and eating every 2-3 hours. I really enjoyed it as I felt like I was in control when everything around me was unpredictable. The course was a 1 hour core strengthening class per week, which was fantastic. I found out here I have diastasis recti (tummy separation) with a large gap so the core work and diet was important.
After the course ended, I was transformed. I had lost a few inches off my tum, thighs and arms which spurred me on to keep going. I also started doing a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class as well. People would often comment on how I’d shrunk post-partum and I was smaller than I was before I had Emma. I kept it up for 6 months until I realised that I had to take a break from this. Why? Because it had become the opposite of what I consider healthy.
I had become totally obsessed with food. Every day I would plan out my food – packing rice cakes and avocado when I was out, and stressing if I was in a cafe that only sold sandwiches. I could only keep it up if I stopped my life completely, so I could be at home to make a salad. I was always rushing. I’d have to bring Emma to the classes and while I enjoyed them, I would need to be there at 9:45 which was so much organisation for us. With the classes I do for Emma and my exercise classes, I didn’t even have one morning in the week where i could sit with a cup of tea and just ‘be’.
I made the decision to take a break. I stopped exercising and didn’t think so much about what I was eating. But then I felt guilty. Would I suddenly balloon and undo all the hard work I had done? Why couldn’t I strike the balance? I’m always all or nothing – either eating super healthy or sitting on the sofa with a huge bag of crisps and cake. I always take it too far and try to be the healthiest I possibly can, and this was the result. I wasn’t just obsessed with food, I was obsessed with monitoring my progress, taking pictures of my stomach to see if it was more toned than a couple of weeks before..I’m actually ashamed to admit that last part, but the whole thing was driving me to the brink.
So yesterday I drew a line in the sand and decided to start again. There are things about being healthy that I love – feeling incredible, my hair looking shinier and above all feeling proud of myself. This time though, I am vowing to myself to be more balanced, to be kinder to myself. I’ve made myself a promise to not “punish” myself if I decide to have a chocolate bar one day. My body is incredible, it has housed my gorgeous girl for 9 months and recovered from a c-section quicker than I could have ever imagined. My stretch marks that cover the lower part of my stomach, the ones I was so desperate to make fade, are my stripes that made me a mum. I want to accept that now my body is different, but you know what, I am different. I’ve changed in the most wonderful way and I would not change that for the world, so why am I trying to change my body back to how it was?
I’ll be posting a few updates with my progress and am very excited to get started. This time it will be different – a healthy lifestyle but with a little more balance. Let’s start over, and get it right this time.
*As a little disclaimer, just wanted to mention that this post is an account of my journey with exercise and eating healthy. I absolutely do not judge other new mums who regularly keep fit with exercise and food – I think anything that makes you happy is brilliant thing.