“Your mum’s so fat, N.A.S.A mistook her for a planet!”
Today I saw myself in a full mirror for the first time since I gave birth and I did not like what I saw. In fact I was repulsed. What on earth has happened to my body? We we all know that after having a baby, your body can take time to adjust to the stresses of motherhood. Not all of us are able to bounce back in the first few weeks. Some of us even had a bit of a belly before we fell pregnant. Yet my body seems to have changed beyond recognition.
“I’ve always been a big girl.”
Having Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) has played a huge (pun not intended) part but so has my love of food. Sweets, crisps, ice-cream, fast-food and takeaways, all of which I enjoy regularly, have ultimately been the biggest contributors to my ever expanding waist line. Before I was pregnant I began a journey to size ten with Slimming World (other weight loss programmes are available). It was going so well. I was motivated by the fact I was getting married, losing on average three pounds a week. I lost two and a half stone and I was so chuffed! I felt good in my clothes having dropped three dress sizes. I was exercising and was happy to be doing so. I made a friend at ‘fat club’, we became gym buddies and now I consider her to be a bestie! Everything was going so well.
When I fell pregnant I decided to continue on with SW as a means to keep me on track but during the first trimester I struggled with nausea. I couldn’t eat anything without feeling sick, the smell of food alone was enough to set me off. I continued to lose weight in my first trimester which isn’t a bad thing just so long as its not too much. I continued to be happy with my progress. My bump hadn’t sprouted just yet so I felt good about my body.
With the second trimester came the cravings. I was in Japan when the first one hit. I was desperate for carbs! I ate so much pasta in Japan I began to wonder if I should have gone to Italy instead. Garlic bread, spaghetti bolognese, spaghetti and meatballs; despite the heat and humidity of Japan in August, I wanted them all and an endless supply too. This was not so good for my waistline. I dreaded going back to the scales. Yet when I finally stood upon the scales of doom I had actually lost another three pounds. It turns out, growing a tiny person inside you is a lot of effort. That combined with endless walking and being a tourist also helped to counteract the calorie intake.
In my second trimester, I felt good despite being under a lot of pressure from work at the beginning. My appetite was back (with a vengeance) but I was seemingly able to maintain a healthy weight loss but it didn’t last long. The next week I went up a few pounds. I continued to go up at least one pound every week but I kept going. A little weight gain was to be expected. After all, I was growing a baby in my belly! The weeks went by, the weight went up and the eating habits I had spent so long working on went out the window. I craved sugar so much. I was extremely tired every day, working whilst being pregnant is hard work, especially as a teacher. Being on your feet all day every day takes it out of you at the best of times but as my belly grew so did my desire for a quick fix. Snacking on chocolate and high calorie foods kept me going through the day. Big lunches from the local café and even bigger dinners when I got home. My appetite was getting ridiculous. I was sure I would be the size of a blue whale before I reached forty weeks.
By the time I got to the third trimester my healthy eating had gone completely to pot. I didn’t want to eat healthy food when I could stuff my face with calorific foods. I was so tired, every day I fell asleep on the settee even when company was round. I began to teach from the comfort of my desk chair. Getting up was hard work, navigating a tightly packed class was becoming hazardous. All I wanted to so was eat and sleep. When you imagine being pregnant, you imagine the glorious glow, the neat and tidy bump and the joy of growing a tiny human. You don’t consider the physical strain that it puts on your body. The back ache, the hip ache, the exhaustion, the hunger, the jabs in the ribs and… down there, the stretch marks! Oh the stretch marks! Being plus size before baby meant that I had stretch marks already but on my belly, they were minimal. Towards the end of the third trimester, my belly was the size of a house and the stretch marks were creeping up my stomach. It didn’t matter how much Palmer’s moisturisers I covered myself in or how many times a day I applied it, my belly was huge and the skin couldn’t cope.
After the Zosia was born, I felt pleasantly surprised at how quickly my belly went down but now as I think back, I’m sure that it wasn’t that quick at all. I’m not sure it even went back. The first two weeks of her life were stressful. In and out of hospital, living off Costa and Subway is not healthy. My body didn’t bounce back, I was just too distracted to notice that I didn’t have a huge bump any more! As the weeks went on, we went back to eating as we did when I was pregnant. I tried to go back to SW. It lasted all of three weeks before I gave in to sleep deprivation and ate my weight in ‘crap’ foods.
“It is my opinion that this is a bunch of BS”
You read a lot about how women must embrace their tiger stripes. It shows how fierce we are as mothers, that we’ll do anything to protect our children. It is my opinion that this is a bunch of BS. I refuse to embrace them because it is not just the ones from being pregnant, they’ve just added to it. I will accept them however, as they helped me carry my beautiful baby. They are a part of me, I get that but no! I will not embrace them. I will not wear them like a badge of honour. I didn’t before I was pregnant and I won’t now. They are a reminder at how big my belly got. I only wish people would stop telling me that it’s a beautiful reminder. NO! I won’t embrace the saggy, empty boobs. I will accept them as they supplied food to my baby, they did a rubbish job of it but still. The fact they are slightly bigger does not help either. They don’t look like my boobs any more. My belly doesn’t look like my belly any more. It is loose and extra wobbly! My weight has continued to go up and up. I have no motivation to do anything about it despite hating my body every time I see it. How on earth my husband manages to call me beautiful every time I complain is beyond me. He tries to encourage me to do something about it but I just snap because I’m a stubborn moo and I don’t like being told what to do.
This post isn’t about me feeling sorry for myself, but rather a letter of complaint to all those who tell me to embrace my plus size/post baby body. SOD OFF! I’m fat. I’m over weight. I’m obese. The sooner I embrace that fact the better! My body is unhealthy and I have not treated it like a temple. Sure, my body is still in recovery from pregnancy and child birth but I wont be able to use that excuse forever. What I really need to do is accept that I am currently living an unhealthy lifestyle. The wrong food, the lack of exercise and society’s unhealthy obsession with promoting the acceptance of ‘plus size’ bodies is not helping any of us. Nor is the current obsession with unhealthily thin people. Size 4 (UK sizing) is not an acceptable size! I’m not shaming anyone here. If you are happy with your body then that’s great for you, it really is. I’m not here to lecture you about how unhealthy it is to be overweight or underweight, I’m sure enough people already feel its their business to tell you this. If we continue to promote obesity, then we are promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. I get that not all ‘fat’ people are unhealthy in lifestyle as they enjoy things like Yoga which is great for relieving the aches and pains that the extra weight puts on our bodies. It is not, however, okay to be obese (again, not shaming anyone here!). A healthy size 10, 12 maybe even a 14 (UK sizes) is where we should aim. We should not be dieting but seeking a healthy lifestyle of a balanced diet, balanced meaning that its okay to have a bit of the naughty stuff now and then so long as you are good 95% of the time. We must include regular exercise. Walking, jogging, running, swimming, yoga, team sports, sex! Its all enough to get your heart racing and thus burn some extra calories. I frustrate myself here, I know all of this yet I struggle to motivate myself to do anything about it. I had my breakfast this morning but I ate far too much. There were two cereals that didn’t quite have enough for one bowl so I finished both boxes off. That is not healthy and I know it!
The closer I get to the next stone up, the more I fear my weight will spiral out of control and guess what, it’s all my own fault. So here I am, not asking for acceptance as a plus size gal, not asking to be fat shamed either (I do that to myself enough thanks) but really just having a moan, because I am fat and I hate myself for letting it get this bad and feeling like I can’t be bothered to make the necessary changes. I need to remember that I have a little girl to live for now. I don’t want to be out of breathe just carrying her up the stairs. I want to be around for a long time, I want to see her grand children if she chooses to have some so change must happen. It is not a case of if but when. It is not healthy for my body or my mind to stay this way.
To my dearest Zosia, if you ever read this I want you to know that this is not about me hating my journey to motherhood. I loved every second of being pregnant. I loved every painful moment of child birth (I’m mad I know but it brought you to me!) I have loved and will continue to love every moment being your mother. There are days where I don’t like the way I look, and that is okay. I hope that you have your fathers metabolism so that you never know what it feels like to hate your body. We will tell you every day, just how beautiful you are, inside and out.
To my husband, who tells me I am beautiful every single day, I am so grateful for your kind words, for putting up with the self-loathing that happens nearly every day. Thank you for loving me the way I am but I hope you understand that, yes I am attacking myself, but I do it because you wont. I love the fact that you think I am beautiful, please never stop telling me this. I just need to be real with myself. My weight is unhealthy and if I am going to be the best mother and wife that I can be, then it is about time I stop hating myself and bloody well get on and do something about it instead of feeling sorry for myself.
Change WILL come!
Thanks for listening. If you have experienced anything like this please let me know that I am not alone by leaving a comment below.