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.


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.

Review: Certaslim meal replacement diet

I’ve mentioned before that I have done a few different meal replacement diets and although they’re not for everyone I have always found them a relatively easy way to lose weight, and to lose weight quickly. Of course if you go back to your previous way of eating after then the weight will come back but they are good way to boost your weight loss if you are planning a lifestyle change, and they can also be very useful if you have a lot of weight to lose.

Certaslim boxes

I hadn’t heard of Certaslim until they got in touch and asked if I would like to have a two week trial of their products. Certaslim has several different plans, some of which include ‘real’ food and some don’t. The plans are designed so you can switch between them, rather than coming off the plan altogether so that it is easier to make it fit in with your lifestyle.

I chose the Boost plan which is a complete meal replacement plan. The other plans are Rapid, Flex, For Life and even D2 which is for people with diabetes or who want to control their blood sugar for some other reason.

Unlike some other diets I have tried which only have three meal replacements each day, Certaslim Boost has four meal replacements and one snack. I chose a mixture of shakes, soups and meals, and I also tried some of the Certaslim snacks.

Getting started

I ordered all of my Certaslim products online. It was very easy to do – you just choose which program you want to follow and for how long and the online shopping cart shows you how many products you need to choose. You can also add individual products if you like but it is cheaper to buy several weeks in one go. The products arrived quickly and were well packaged in Certaslim boxes. These were also very handy to store the products while I was following the plan.

A selection of Certaslim products

As well as the option to order online Certaslim also has consultants who run groups where you can be weighed and get support. You can also purchase the Certaslim products directly from one of these consultants.

What were the Certaslim products like?

I tried all of the shake flavours (of which there are nine) and I liked most of them. I wasn’t keen on the hazelnut, caffé latte or chocolate orange flavours but that’s really just down to my personal taste. I found all the shakes mixed well, some seemed thicker than others but I didn’t have any problems with them. I always use a stick blender to mix my shakes and would definitely recommend it over just using a shaker.

I also tried the tomato, vegetable, chicken and mushroom soups. Again, I liked all of these but I think I the chicken was probably my favourite out of all of them. I tended to have soup at lunch times and accompany it with a small side salad which counted as my snack for the day.

Certaslim tomato soup and side salad

There are also some meal options, although perhaps not so many as with some other diet programs. I tried the Apple and Cinnamon porridge which was OK but more like porridge soup than actual porridge! I also tried the Savoury Cottage Pie which wasn’t too bad – a bit like instant mash with a few bits of soya protein in it. Lastly from the meals I had the Italian Style Carbonara Twist – despite containing real pasta which was reasonably palatable I really wasn’t a fan of the sauce and again the soya pieces. I suppose it is a matter of taste and I guess some people like these product or they wouldn’t make them but whenever I do this kind of diet I always find the meals disappointing and wish I had just stuck to shakes and soups.

Italian Style Carbonara Twist

For the snacks I tried the Salt & Vinegar and Cheese & Onion Incredi-crisps which were…odd, is the only way I can describe them. They weren’t unpleasant but they just tasted a bit weird as they are made from some sort or soya protein rather than potatoes. To be honest I think if I can’t have actual crisps I’d rather not have something that is pretending to be crisps either!

Salt and vinegar Incredi-Crisps

I did have a couple of the snack bars too – Chocolate, and Lemon Crunch and they were both quite pleasant. However, there is also a list of ‘real’ foods that you can have as snacks (fruit and veg, small portions of meat, eggs, low fat cheese etc) and I think if I were continuing the Certaslim program long term I would stick to snacks from this list.

Did it work?

Of course the big question – did I lose any weight? I did! In the first week I lost 6 lb and then another 2 lb in the second week. It is common with these sort of meal replacement diets to have a big loss in the first week and then for weight loss to slow down. If I were continuing the program I would probably expect to lose 2-4 lbs per week after the initial loss.

Was it hard to stick to the plan?

Not really. Of course I knew I was only going to be following the Certaslim program for two weeks but I think it would be relatively easy to sustain long term. Having four meal replacements and a snack every day means you don’t have time to get hungry. You also have a daily milk allowance and can have one tablespoon of oil and some condiments (handy for making salad dressings). If anything the only problem I had was finding enough time in the day to fit in everything I was supposed to be eating! Since finishing my two week Certaslim trial three weeks ago I have kept this weight off and managed to lose a bit more too. People often think that the weight will go straight back on once you stop this kind of diet but that isn’t necessarily the case.

Would I recommend it?

If you are looking for a meal replacement diet then Certaslim is definitely easy to follow and there are good selection of products available. There also seems to be a good amount of support available, either through the website or one of the local consultants. The Rapid and Boost programs cost around £8 per day depending on how many products you order in one go. This isn’t particularly cheap but I think it is a similar price to most meal replacement diets out there. If you want a pretty much guaranteed way of losing weight without worrying about counting calories or planning meals then Certaslim could be for you.

**Disclosure: I was sent the featured products in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

We're going on an adventure

Everything in moderation

I haven’t joined in with The Prompt (a wonderful linky from mumturnedmom) for absolutely ages but when I saw this week’s prompt [well, last week’s prompt by the time I’ve got round to writing this!] it immediately made me think it would be something I’d like to write about, because it is something which I struggle with every day.

Everything in moderation

I’ve always been an all-or-nothing kind of person. Whether it was eating my Easter eggs all in one go or listening to Babe by Take That a hundred times on repeat when I was a kid, or as an adult spending a fortune going to Tim Minchin gigs all over the country, finishing the whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s just because it’s there, or eating corned beef and salad cream sandwiches for lunch every day for five months (although that may have been a weird pregnancy thing!). Same goes for drinking (or until I had Toby at least) – I never just had one glass of wine, if I was drinking then I was getting drunk. But equally I find it relatively easy to not drink at all for months at a time, or avoid chocolate all together. I just can’t seem to get my head around enjoying just a small amount of something. I think some people just have the kind of personality where they are able to moderate their behaviour; my dad for example used to get a massive bar of Dairy Milk every Christmas and he’d still be eating it in May, a couple of squares a week. I, on the other hand, was given a 1kg bar of Dairy Milk as a leaving present from a job when I was about 23 and I ate the whole lot in about three days!

And so, enjoying everything in moderation is something I find incredibly difficult to do but it is something I’m really trying to do, especially now I’m a mum. I think ‘everything in moderation’ is important for life, particularly when it comes to food, and I really want to try and set a good example for Toby. I don’t want any foods to be ‘naughty’ or even treats. I don’t want to use food as a reward or a bribe (although I think that one might be harder to stick to!). I don’t want him to see me ‘on a diet’ (which, with my all-or-nothing personality I’m actually fairly successful with, it’s just that I tend to put all the weight back on when I’m not ‘dieting’ any more). Mostly I just want Toby to grow up with a healthy attitude to food and hopefully he can avoid all the issues I’ve had with my weight and body image over the years. Although, if the size of him now is anything to go by (he’s very long and skinny) he has inherited the same body type, and hopefully the same attitude to food and metabolism as my dad and brother – to them food is fuel, they eat when they’re hungry and can eat anything they fancy. They seem to have the built-in ‘moderation’ gene that I am sorely lacking!

So how about you? Do you find it easy to enjoy things in moderation or are you an all or nothing kind of person like me?



Weight loss (or not!) update

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve not published a weight loss update since the last one back in February! I have to confess that what with a minor breakdown, Spanish coursework, a holiday, and just, well, life, I fell off the healthy eating wagon a bit! I put a few pounds back on but nothing too drastic (which is surprising given the amount of chocolate, takeaways and wine that have made it past my lips in the last few months).

Anyway, we’re going on holiday in a few weeks so we’re having a healthy month in the hope of shifting a few pounds before then. And then after our holidays I’ve got a few months before I’ll be back on stage for the first time in two years! I’m dancing in a production of Aida (The Musical) and I definitely need to be a bit thinner, and a lot fitter, if I’m not going to collapse on stage every night! I’m getting plenty of exercise at rehearsals at least so that should help.

There is another reason to get back to my pre-baby weight (or rather pre-honeymoon weight!) and that is by the winter we’ll probably be thinking about trying for another baby and I don’t want to start another pregnancy still carrying weight from the last one.

So anyway, here are the all important stats – I’ve included my starting stats but also those from my last update.

Weight: 12st 12lb (Feb: 12st 11lb) (Dec: 13st 8lb) – lost 10lb

Waist: 33.5 inches (Feb:33.5 inches) (Dec:37 inches) – lost 3.5 inches

Hips: 43 inches (Feb:43 inches) (Dec:45.5 inches) – lost 2.5 inches

Bust: 40 inches (Feb:40 inches) (Dec:42 inches) – lost 2 inch

I’m still not going ‘on a diet’ – just being mindful of what I eat (and drink) and of my portion sizes, and making sure I get plenty of exercise too. I’ll be back with another update before we go on holiday – all positive thoughts and encouragement welcome!

Operation shift the baby weight – one month update

A month ago I decided it was time to start doing something about losing the 3 stone I put on while pregnant with Toby. After a four month experiment (i.e. just eating whatever I fancied) it turned out that it wasn’t going to disappear on its own!

So, how are things going? Very well I’d say! I’ve been using the My Fitness Pal app to monitor my calorie intake. It’s really easy to use – there is a massive database of any kind of food you could think of including branded and supermarket own brand products. You just search for what you need, or you can even scan the barcode if you’re using a smartphone, and add it to your daily diary. Only once was I not able to find the product I was looking for but then it’s easy to add the nutritional information yourself and that also makes it available for other people to search. You can also save a meal which is a really handy feature for me – we only have about a dozen evening meals that we eat regularly so once they have been entered the first time I can just copy the whole meal. You can also use the app to keep track of any exercise you do and the calories burned are added to your daily allowance.

So using the app I have kept track of what I have been eating and I have to say I really don’t feel like I’m on a diet – which was my aim all along. I have had plenty of treats this month – there’s been cake, chocolate and even a glass or two of wine!

And so to the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Here’s the progress I’ve made (I’ve included my starting point in brackets):

Weight: 13st 3lb (13st 8lb) – lost 5lb

Waist: 35 inches (37 inches) – lost 2 inches

Hips: 44inches (45.5 inches) – lost 1.5 inches

Bust: 41 inches (42 inches) – lost 1 inch

I’m really happy with how I’ve done so far. But now I have Christmas to negotiate so we’ll have to wait and see what next month’s update looks like!

Let the battle commence! (Or ‘Time to shift the baby weight’)

I’ve battled with my weight since my teens. I wrote about it quite a lot on my other blog in my pre-baby days.

My weight issues explained
Up the ladder
And down the snake
The pre-wedding plan

So essentially, before I met the Mr I lost 3 stone with Lighter Life. I then put some of it back on, lost some again in time for our wedding and then put more back on (with the help of a three week honeymoon in America!). And then I got pregnant…

36 weeks pregnant with a lot of baby weight
My massive baby bump

For the first three months of pregnancy I felt sick constantly. I was only actually sick twice so I count myself as one of the lucky ones, but the only way to ease the nausea was to eat. And eat I did. Then the nausea went away but I kept eating. I loved my pregnant body. For the first time in a lot of years I was proud to show off my tummy. But for the first time in years I also ate whatever I wanted without feeling guilty about it. With the result I put on 3 stone over the course of my pregnancy (and I was already a stone over my ‘happy weight’ before I started!). As you can see from the picture I got pretty big – everyone was convinced I was going to have a massive baby but in the end he was only 6lb 10oz.

I lost a stone over night when I gave birth but that was 4 months ago and I still weigh the same now.

I think 4 months is long enough for my ‘I’ve just had a baby, I don’t need to lose weight yet’ rational so the time has come to start doing something about it. It’s time to shift the baby weight. I always say that my problem isn’t what I eat for my meals (apart from the not-so-occasional-lately take-away) but all the chocolate that I eat in between. Being on maternity leave has also seemed to include a lot more cake than before too!

So, here’s the plan. I need a bit of motivation so I’m going to post my progress here each month. I’m not going to go on any crazy diet (I’ve done enough of those in my time) and I’m not going to turn to an organised weight loss group (although I’ve done those before too). I’m just going to be sensible with what I eat and I’ve downloaded the free My Fitness Pal app to keep track of my daily calorie intake and any exercise I do.

So here’s my starting stats:

Weight: 13st 8lb (That actually makes me feel a bit sick to type)

Waist: 37 inches

Hips: 45.5 inches

Bust: 42 inches

Let the battle commence; it’s time to shift the baby weight – wish me luck!