As January has (finally!) come to an end I have been astounded by the amount of accounts I’ve stumbled across on Instagram with people pledging that 2021 will be the year that they start their weight loss journey or shift those last few pounds. I used to be one of those people. I used to think that how much I weighed and what size jeans I could fit into were the most important factors that could affect how I felt. Being thinner meant being happier.
When I first started this blog I was already starting to move away from that mindset, having been inspired by other people sharing their own struggles with disordered eating, failed fad diets and difficulty feeling comfortable in their own skin. I had been (and continue to be) particularly inspired by Tally Rye, author of Train Happy, who openly challenges the multimillion dollar diet industry, explaining that it thrives on making money out of people being manipulated and made to feel that they aren’t good enough in their current body. Their main goal is to make profit, not to improve your wellbeing. Since having a baby, I’ve had first hand experience of the particular branch of the diet culture industry that puts extreme pressure on women to ‘bounce back’ after pregnancy, and many sleep deprived new mums end up believing that by losing that baby weight, they will magically become better parents and people overall.
Fellow mums, I encourage you to reject this influence. Think about it; your body spent the best part of nine months blooming and changing and preparing to bring a child into the world, is it respectful to expect it to return to it’s pre-pregnancy state in a matter of weeks, to hide any evidence of the hard work it took to grow and birth that baby? Instead of trying to make us believe we should get rid of any stretch marks, wobbly tummies or saggy boobs, society should be encouraging us to take pride in having an amazing female body. Because the female body is amazing.
When it comes to dieting, as a new mum the last thing that was on my mind was calorie counting. In those first few weeks and months it was all about preparing and eating whatever food possible to manage to have just enough energy to keep going - a packet of chocolate biscuits was usually within reach. And why the hell not?! They make our hearts burst with love, but babies are a serious drain on your energy supplies, especially if you are continuing to nourish your little one with milk. Being a breastfeeding mum in itself is another reason to question whether you should be limiting your food intake. Of course it’s important to eat as varied a diet as possible, but sometimes you’ve just got to do what you can at the time. One thing I am so grateful for is local friends dropping off pots of roasted vegetables, shepherd’s pies and soups - even without COVID restrictions I think that would be one of the best ways to feel supported in those early weeks.
There are times when I catch myself looking in the mirror and instantly breathing in, or thinking perhaps I shouldn’t have another chocolate, but I’m trying very consciously to remind myself that shrinking myself is not the definitive way to achieve ultimate happiness. If I want another chocolate, and it will make me feel good to eat it, then why deprive myself? The same goes for exercising. I don’t go running to earn an indulgent meal or to burn off that extra slice of cake, I go running because I enjoy working towards each little time or distance goal and because I love spending time exercising in the fresh air with my son.
Every time I have a wobble about my wobbly bits, I remind myself that my little boy won’t love or depend on me any more or less if I wear a certain dress size or always cook from scratch with ‘clean’ ingredients. He loves me because I’m his mum. And even if I don’t match up to those Instagram perfect versions of motherhood, I’m the only mum he’s got and I’m doing my very best.
If you want to read more about my journey towards body acceptance, please click here. Don’t forget to subscribe to be the first to know about any news and updates, just enter your email address at the bottom of the page. Thanks!