It’s funny. I always thought my body image would be worse after having a baby and yet I ended up finding the opposite was true. After Eamon I was so busy learning how to be a Mum that I didn’t really give much thought to what my body looked like. Which for me, as someone who had obsessessed over what went in my mouth and how much exercise I did for years, was a positive thing.
I actually found myself eating more of the foods that I’d labelled as ‘bad’ and yet I still lost the baby weight because I simply wasn’t focused on it anymore. Instead of going into that whole ‘oh well I’ve stuffed today now, I’ll just keep eating rubbish’ mindset, I mostly just moved on with my day. I’d like to say I had some revelation that helped me get here, but it was literally that I was just too busy elsewhere to care. Of course, the fact that I had been so obsessed with ‘healthy’ for so long did probably help, in that I already naturally cooked in a healthy way and I already had taste buds and a body that felt better on healthy food. So my autopilot tended to be fairly healthy anyway I guess.
Ironically the only time I did notice I started putting weight on again (even including after giving up breastfeeding) was when I decided that I needed to ‘get healthy’ again. For those 3 weeks that I was in that mode, food was all I could think about and so I just ended up eating more as a result. (I’m blaming you raw desserts!)
The way I felt about my body changed after Eamon too. I think it was a combination of being impressed with what it could do (it created a whole human being – that’s pretty incredible) and the realities of Motherhood that meant I was no longer willing to waste the precious time I had thinking about whether my thighs were too big or not. I stopped worrying about the whole damn thing and it seems that my body just naturally found its healthy point.
My advice to people when they asked advice on what to eat or what exercise to do, became – ‘stop thinking about it so much, eat as healthily as you can and find something you love doing that you can focus on instead’. Which I’m sure frustrated them no end, because it’s not really a practical step that you can start doing and the whole ‘stop thinking about it thing’ is like when someone says to you ‘don’t think about Monkeys’ and then all your brain can do is … well… MONKEYS! And I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t work for everyone, but for me, getting my head out of the way actually let my body find the healthy place I’d been looking for all along.
I have noticed in this pregnancy however that those old body image issues have started to rear their ugly heads again. Last time I revelled in getting big and round. This time I feel heavy and clumsy. I don’t know, maybe it’s because last time I could enjoy the luxury of the couch and this time my discomfort is made even more obvious when chasing after a small person who apparently doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘walk’. Yesterday I was literally running along the Noosa foreshore holding my belly and the bottom of my maxi chasing after Eamon whilst he shouted ‘Run Mummy, Run!’. Yes I’m sorry for anyone who witnessed it, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Whenever I catch myself thinking negatively about how big my a*** has become I try to come back to remembering that my body knows what its doing. I just have to get my head out of the way and go with it and I will find my natural healthy point again.
And if all else fails I often have a little boy hanging off me exclaiming things like ‘I love your arm’, ‘I love your leg’, ‘I love your bottom!’ (whilst making said body parts shake attractively).
So there’s always that.
How do you feel about your body after having babies?