The body does some crazy things whilst it is pregnant. It grows and grows for months, and “eating for two” is very much encouraged. Don’t listen to people who say this, it’s a myth. In fact you should eat at your normal rate, except in your third trimester when you can up your calories by 200. That’s like a banana and an orange. Eating for two is likely to lead to excessive weight gain and put you at risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes.
I remember my mum asking me what size PJs to get me for Christmas Eve. I was due with Samraj on Christmas Day. I joked with her that she might as well get me a size 10, as that’s the size I will be again once the baby is out. I wish someone had given me a heads up that it doesn’t quite work like that. They probably did; it probably didn’t fit in with my ideal vision of motherhood so I completely ignored it. Nothing prepared me for the moment Samraj popped out and I watched my tummy shrink into this saggy mass. I think I was more appalled by my husband seeing my tummy than the baby that had been birthed right in front of his eyes. And it didn’t disappear like I imagined it would the day after. Or Day 5, as my niece confirmed this to me by asking me “Chachi (aunty in Punjabi), are you having another baby soon?” FML.
I was desperate to start exercising again but this was not safe to do until after my 6 week check with my doctor. I was due around the same time as Emily Skye, a social media fitness coach and mum, and 11 months on, she looks AMAZING. She reports that she followed her FIT program, ate well and exercised regularly, which led to her being in better shape, stamina and fitness than even before she had her baby girl in December 2017. At first I was loving her posts, they were so real and I really felt like I was in the same zone. However she raced ahead, and I got stuck in a sleep regression zombie stage for 2 months, and it’s likely that every time she ate an avocado, I demolished a box of chocolates. For energy, right.
It’s easy to be critical of your body. Lovering, Rodgers, George and Franko (2018) report that women experience strong sociocultural pressures to attain unrealistic body shapes and sizes during the post pregnancy period, which results in longstanding body dissatisfaction. I can see why. As much as I love Instagram, I am bombarded with images of fit mums everyday. Their IG handle may even be along that wavelength.
So how do you keep yourself Mentally Healthy when you’re feeling a bit pants that you don’t fit into any of your clothes, or you’ve eaten all the biscuits you had kept aside for special occasion.
- Get yourself a mantra. Remind yourself of everything that your body has done in order to bring a new life into the world. Something like, “My body is strong and powerful”.
- Understand your intent. What is it that is bothering you about your body? Is it because social media is depressing you, if so, block those pages. Is it that you’ve fallen out of good habits, then let’s build them back up, one at a time!
- Put those scales away. From my time as a Lean in 15 fanatic (The Body Coach Joe Wicks is my dream man- beautiful and cooks amazing food), the one thing I learned is that the numbers mean nothing, it’s about how you fit into your clothes. And if they don’t fit, chuck them away too. Very Marie Kondo 😉
- Nourish (still my favourite word) your body. Do what feels good. Eat well of the good stuff that gives you a steady stream of energy. This may mean putting down that coffee and cake (boo!) in favour of some greek yoghurt and mixed nuts. Your energy levels will remain higher for longer, which means your mood will remain stable too.
- Keep on moving. Gone are the days that I would disappear to the gym for a few hours and potter about until I felt like I had done enough. Choose an activity that gets you sweaty and do it. Recently for me this means vacuuming. There was also a phase of dancing to house music. It all burns calories.
- And finally, probably the hardest one, is to take away the timeline. Don’t put a date on when you want to feeling confident in your body again. We set unrealistic expectations in this way, which adds stress to the goal, and this unfortunately sets us up to fail. Instead aim for the feeling of lightness and see how far you get with that.
This essentially is the beginning of the journey to body confidence. This will peak and trough through the lifetime but we can aim for more peaks if we are willing to act towards the peaks too. I am far from where I want to be… and at this present moment in time I’m not hugely fussed that I’m not at pre- pregnancy size. I have faith that I will get there eventually!
Hope you found this helpful. What keeps you confident in your body? Share your thoughts!
Lots of love