Learning to accept my post-partum body

I have written about my weight before on this blog but to save you going back through old posts here’s a recap…

I wasn’t overweight as a child, or even a teenager, but by the time I was doing my GCSEs I had big boobs and thought I was fat. I spent most of sixth form not eating very much and had a breast reduction when I was 18, during my first year at university. For about six months I was thin, I had small boobs and I was happy.

Then I went to France for the summer, ate too many pain au chocolate and started drinking beer. For the last year of uni I drank too much and I ate too much and by the time I left I was probably a couple of stone overweight.

Over the next five years I mostly worked in France where, although I was still drinking too much, my eating got slightly better and I had a pretty physical job so I lost some weight and was reasonably happy with my body.

Then in 2003 I moved to Scotland to work for the company I had been working for in France. Over the next six years my weight yo-yo’d a fair bit – I had times where I went to the gym a lot, and times when I did nothing. I lost weight for shows I was in, but then put it back on again after. Whenever I made a big effort to lose weight it was always for something, and when that thing was over I would starting eating again and put it all back on. Oh, and FYI, if you have a breast reduction then put loads of weight on your boobs will just come right back, and if you’re really lucky like me they’ll be even bigger than they were before!

In 2009 I was the heaviest I had ever been. I am very much an emotional eater and at that time I was pretty miserable. I was single, I had a job I didn’t enjoy, I spent a lot of time at home on my own eating ice cream…

But then in the summer of 2009 I left my job and went back to university to start my teacher training. I wanted to be happier with my weight and I knew that I would be teaching teenagers and teenagers can be cruel. So a couple of months before I started my course I decided to follow the Lighter Life programme. I had two shakes and a snack bar each day with a salad for lunch. I’ve done quite a few meal replacement diets since and I know they’re not for everyone but they do work. They take away any need to make decisions about food. I know some people prefer diets like Weight Watchers, or Slimming World where you can still have treats but I am rubbish at self-control – I can’t just have one biscuit, I have to have four biscuits, or no biscuits. So Lighter Life worked for me, after a week or so you stop being hungry and seeing the quite dramatic weight loss is very motivating.

I lost a couple of stone and although I still had a stone to go I stopped doing Lighter Life because I fell into the trap of thinking I had lost a lot of weight and I was so much happier with my body that it would do. But left to my own devices I put nearly a stone back on. So back to Lighter Life I went. I lost the remaining two stone (making just over three stone in total) and was at a weight I was really happy with.

But then I finished my teacher training, met my future husband then went on holiday to America for three weeks. I probably spent another 18 months gaining and losing the same stone until we got married in 2012. Another three weeks in a America, on our honeymoon this time, and then not long after I got pregnant.

I loved being pregnant. I ate whatever I wanted and for the first time since I was about 15 I didn’t worry about what I was eating. I had a big pregnant belly, I wore clothes to show it off and I put on about three stone over the course of my pregnancy.

I didn’t really do anything about that weight until Toby was nearly one. I had lost about a stone without really trying and then we were thinking about having another baby and I didn’t want to get pregnant again still carrying all the weight from my first pregnancy. So the meal replacements came out again and by the time I got pregnant with Gabe in late 2014 I was about the same weight I had been when I got pregnant the first time.

I did try a bit more in Gabe’s pregnancy not to go completely crazy with my eating. I think the second time I put on about two stone, not including the stone of baby, placenta and water that I lost on giving birth. I lost some of that gradually over the next six months or so but then we moved house, and Gabe still doesn’t sleep, and I still eat a lot of biscuits and chocolate.

I have always said, and I still think, that mostly what we eat for our meals is reasonably healthy, it’s all the other things that I eat on top of my meals that cause the problem. So for the last few months I have thought on and off about trying to lose weight again but in the last few weeks I have had something of an epiphany.

accepting-my-post-partum-body

The title of this post was ‘Learning to accept my post-partum body’ and the conclusion that I have come to is that, although I am not my ideal weight, although I have a big mummy tummy, that I have stretch marks, and big saggy boobs, this is what I look like now. And for now, that’s OK.

If I need biscuits, and cake, and coffee with all the sugar in to get me through the days, and to cope with the lack of sleep then that’s OK.

If I need to buy a few new clothes because most of my pre-pregnancy clothes are too small, then that’s OK too.

Because there is time, there is time to lose weight, and to exercise more. And that time will come when the boys are sleeping better, when they are at school and I have more time to myself, when I don’t have to be there for every single bed time, for every single wake up in the middle of the night. In two years I will be 40, and I think that will be the time, when life is a bit less full on, and hopefully I’ll be getting a bit more sleep.

But for now, my boys love me. My husband loves me. They don’t care if my tummy is a bit squishier that it used to be, or my jeans are a few sizes bigger than they once were. To Toby and Gabe, I am just mummy and I need to accept that, to embrace that, to stop worrying about what I should or shouldn’t be eating and to put my energy into loving them, and being there for them whenever they need me. I grew those two boys inside of me, they are part of me and I need to show them that we should always be happy with who we are.

And I think, I hope, that by accepting that for now this is just the way things are, by going a bit easier on myself, that I will be happier for it, and if I’m happier I can be a better mummy and a better wife.

So for now, this is me, as I am, and I can stop thinking I should be doing something to change that.

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