I am always on a diet and I am always on a swinging scale between a size 12 and a size 16. I was a size 10 for about half an hour once. I was so excited about it I went to a coffee shop and had some cake and the carbs activated my fluid retention buzzer and boom, the size 10 jeans no longer fit.
Food is much more to me than ‘something I should have when I’m hungry’ and it has been for as long as I remember. Looking back over my Facebook profile pictures alone I can see about 45 different jaw lines over four years. And I can look at a photo and double chin and know exactly how stressed, anxious or happy I was at the time. If I have a chiseled jaw it’s because I was genuinely happy, if I have three chins it’s because I was in a bad relationship, or in a stressful teaching job.
But in every case I was never happy or unhappy ‘because’ I was a certain size. The size had been a side effect of where my life was heading at the time. And now my life is one of a ‘Mum’.
I can’t remember what I used to focus on, body wise, before I had a baby, but I know I hated my body. It was probably my thighs or my arse. But a bit like whacking your thumb with a hammer to take your mind off a tooth ache – I now have one focus of hate and one alone: My mummy tummy.
After two cesareans I have what I affectionately call an ‘Overhang’. It really is horrid. If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about imagine a large saggy bean bag that someone has sewn a small very tight seam into, then hold it up, with the seam at the bottom. Imagine the bean bag sagging over the tight seam drawing attention to this very out of place taut line. That’s my stomach.
It’s the first thing I angle the mirror at and stare at every morning and the last thing I look at before I go to bed. When I’m lying in bed it’s what I run my hands over, and not in an erotic fashion. When I’m in the shower I feel the area and feel disgust and shame.
Since my second baby I have been on the no carbs regime – not eating any carbohydrates for six weeks straight – but a shit load of Gin. I have done the gluten free, sugar free, wheat free, caffeine free, vegetarian lifestyle for an entire month. All of this interspersed with extreme gorging on nachos, wine and fillet steak and feeling pretty chuffed with myself.
After a madras, two nan breads and a bottle of red I can feel guilty and horrified with myself for a week and punish myself with green tea, flax seeds and medjool dates, clutching my nutribullet and an avocado telling myself I must get back on the road to ‘losing the baby weight‘ or ‘getting back my pre baby figure’ to finally being ‘happy‘. Because once I get to a certain size – I’ll be happy right?
The other day I found a skirt I used to wear that was a size 18 (I do not recall buying size 18s but I must have – and I didn’t feel unhappy because of this). After the birth of my first son I was tiny and I didn’t feel happy because of this. I remember worrying in my summer dress that the world could see my willowy punctured stomach.
I spoke to a fellow mum a while ago who is a size 10. Size 10 – the dream! To me she resembles Cameron Diaz. She told me she was utterly miserable with her body. Her body! A body I would sell my children for (joke).
It broke my heart to hear she hates her body – I wanted to shake her (affectionately) and tell her how completely amazing she is and how much people admire the way she looks.
Funny how I can’t say the same to myself.
It struck me – just who am I dieting for? and at what point am I meant to be happy?
All around me there seems to be talk of mummy tummies, losing baby weight, getting ‘back’ this elusive pre baby figure that we once had. Why is this? Who are we doing this for?
What is so bad about not going back?
What is so terrible about being different now?
Our new mum bodies – why are we so friggin ashamed of them?
How many wasted hours do we spend hating things other people can’t even see?
When people meet me I very much doubt they come away and say “Oh Steph… I met her, yeah, she’s the one with the C section overhang!”
A month ago someone congratulated me on how good I looked. Now – you know the rules, you can’t just accept a compliment. So I started with “what? well – I’ve a long way to go! (to where!!??) and “I don’t feel like I look good!” (when will I?! when have I ever?!) and this lovely woman said “no, no, you look great, it’s hard after a baby!” and do you know – it dawned on me that it IS bloody hard after a baby, or two babies – it is HARD. And we SHOULD give ourselves credit. Not constantly put ourselves down.
So I’ve had it – I’m done with feeling guilty, feeling crap, sticking to ridiculous routines and desperately trying to move towards this number that’s automatically going to fix all my problems and give me the confidence of Beyonce.
I’m going to run – for the endorphins.
I’m going to eat healthy food because it makes me feel healthy.
I’m going to eat the cake because I want to and drink the wine because it’s there.
I’m going to get out in the fresh air and I’m going to enjoy my healthy, complete mummy body while I can and live my life with my wonderful children and I’m not going to give the skin I’m in so much control – control it frankly, just doesn’t deserve.
My husband asked what I was writing and I showed him the title. He said “you don’t have a ‘mum’ body” (what is a ‘mum’ body….) and then, and I quote: “you should be grateful you’re not dead.”
If you ever need weight issues dispersed – my husband is the guy for you!