If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I recently embarked on a 15 day Mummy and Me workout fitness challenge (I will explain more about how the Mummy and Me plan works later). Yes, working out every day for fifteen days, thirty minutes each day. I agreed to do the challenge on a Sunday night drinking gin with one of my closest friends and by Tuesday the sessions had been booked, paid for and I would start that very same day at 11 am. At 10.30 am I was sat in the car outside the gym with butterflies in my stomach, feeling like someone had handed me a death sentence. I hadn’t allowed myself to think too much about the challenge because I knew I would find a way to talk myself out of it, but with it being only thirty minutes training a day and with the option to train with Allegra on the days she was home with me, there was really no reason for me to say no. I was mentally ready. Physically, maybe not.
The personal trainer could see the nerves all over my face. It’s odd for me to think of training as something to be so nervous and apprehensive about, I was once the annoying person in the gym that always had to be stood front and centre of a class. Had to be able to see myself in the mirror and doing every move with that extra oomph just so I could burn EVEN more calories. Yes, I too hate that person now. The current situ would have it that I be as far from a mirror or anyone’s vision whatsoever when working out. Lo and behold the workouts started, the personal trainer was lively, she knew everyone, she was chatty, not just to me, but to everyone in the gym, which meant for me, there was really no hiding. I was in the gym for all to see. Yes, I was in the gym for all to see. It really happened that quickly. The dread, the fear and the shame left me and I instantly just felt good and proud to be in the gym.
On meeting the my personal trainer I gave her a whole spiel about how I’ve not trained properly for three years, that I have weak knees, a hole in my pelvis, which is what suffering SPD throughout pregnancy will do for you and that I am basically incapable of doing anything. Because that is honestly how I felt. When she told me to give her ten burpees I literally felt myself dying…I haven’t done a burpee in three years and on the very rare occasion I do a YouTube workout at home I ALWAYS skip the burpees. I just considered burpees for people that are super fit and athletic and right now that wasn’t me. Nevertheless, with all the self doubt, I started on the burpees and to my surprise I was able to do one, then five, then ten and then she said, ‘that was so easy for you, give me five more.’ And just like that I did. In my mind I was having a small victory party, I had just done fifteen burpees, how on earth had that happened? When my PT high-fived me and said, ‘Well done, you should be proud,’ I felt so embarrassed, but that little victory party I was having was pride and as the praise continued throughout my sessions I started to believe it, I started to believe her and I started to believe in myself. Instead of laughing it off with embarrassment, I started to say thank you. ‘You’re stronger than you’re making out’, she said to me in one of my sessions. It wasn’t that I was pretending to be weak, but I just didn’t know how much of my strength I had lost and I didn’t want to know. I was too scared to even find out, so as you do, I just assumed the worst.
It took me nineteen months to find the true motivation and determination to lose the weight I had gained since having Allegra. Even though I was back into my jeans just days after having Allegra, the weight would creep back on after. I had accepted being unhappy about my body as the norm and couldn’t really foresee myself losing the weight or embarking on a weight loss journey successfully in the near future. This mind set never really allowed me to see that I could lose the weight or change my body if I wanted to. This was the body that was given to me and I accepted it and I accepted not loving it. However, it became apparent to me almost the second I started my fifteen day challenge how much better it felt to not accept the body I had and to be working towards changing it in as opposed to accepting it unhappily and continuously experiencing bouts of guilt and sadness about it.
I don’t believe that all the mothers that haven’t lost their baby weight or gain weight throughout motherhood feel awful about their weight all the time or even hate the way they look. Not at all. I believe, in my humble opinion, that what we hate is what we have lost. Somewhere beneath all of that baby weight is the body we once had and I can safely say I don’t hate my body, I just hate the fact that I have lost my old body. I think it’s a comparison to what we once were that makes us feel bad. It’s the same with youth, we hate to lose it, we look back on the good old days when our skin was bright, we didn’t need to wear makeup and life was carefree, but we don’t hate our current older and wiser selves either. I feel good once I am all made and dressed up. It’s taken some time, but I have figured out my style and I know what to wear to feel comfortable and confident in. The paradox to this is that it tricked me into thinking I was happy to let my old body go entirely. It truly is amazing the confidence that clothes can give you, even if at times it’s a false sense.
Nevertheless, I will be entirely honest, I am able to accept the changes in my body that has come as a result of motherhood, but I am not happy to entirely let my old body go either, especially not without trying. This was not the body I was given, it’s a body that reflects how I take care of it now I am a mum and that is what has been bringing me down. I now know I need to find a happy medium between the two bodies, old and new. The closer I am able to get to my old body, of course the happier I imagine I’ll be with the physical result. Having said that, I am also old enough and wise enough to recognise and accept that which I cannot change.
Yet there I was, minutes into my first workout, fifteen burpees down and feeling good about myself. My body hadn’t changed, I hadn’t lost any weight, but I had changed my mind set and my direction. I felt a hundred times better just thirty minutes into my fifteen day workout challenge than I had the majority of the nineteen months when I’d been doing nothing other than just telling everyone ‘I am so depressed about my weight.’ Don’t get me wrong, I felt good about myself when I was doing the juice detoxes, counting the calories and whatever other quick fix diet I was trying, but the gratification came from the scales and I would put the weight back on as quickly as I lost it.
I can’t tell you how instant those endorphins kicked in and how good it felt just to take the first step. It felt great to invest in me and in a really positive way. I was no longer ignoring the fact that I was unhappily accepting a body I didn’t love, but loving the fact that I was working towards achieving something that was instantaneously making me feel not only better, but good. I really felt all of this in the space of my very first thirty minute session. What happened in that short space of time was that I went from neglecting my body to taking care of it. That was all. It just goes to show that not loving or being happy about our bodies isn’t entirely based on how our bodies actually look. I don’t believe it’s all superficial and vanity related, especially for us mamas that have gone through such a massive body altering experience like pregnancy. It’s mental too, we are dealing with change, a constant comparison to what we used to have, how we used to be.
I hope that what this article has been able to highlight is the fact that it’s the actual act of loving and taking care of our bodies that makes us feel good, even before we’ve seen any physical change. I couldn’t have known this before I started my challenge and in fact, before I started I was convinced the only thing that would make me feel good is losing weight. I never even anticipated feeling as good as I did so immediately, still looking exactly the same.
I will conclude this article with some food for thought, which comes entirely from hindsight (what a beautiful thing hindsight is) and of course, just from my own personal experience.
- it’s OK not to have the time to workout or to not be in the right place to do so. It took me nineteen months to start my journey and prior to this I was really relying on a miracle to get me to this place.
- Try to remember although you might feel bad about the weight, it’s the feeling of doing nothing about the weight that feels far worse and although you can’t change the weight in a day, you can immediately do something about doing nothing.
- Try to remember all the positiveness that comes from working out. After my first session I felt so good just because I had done something that was for me and just me. It had nothing to do with my household or my family and it was something not only positive, but productive too, more so than treating myself to a new pair of shoes (which I did after I completed the challenge!).
- Nobody can force you to start this journey, you have to be ready to do it and you have to do it for yourself. I have endured endless weight comments from my mum and not even that drove me to get myself to the gym. Trust the fact that one day the penny will drop and it will be your time.
- Finally and paradoxically, I will say that before I started the challenge I was feeling the worst I had ever felt about my weight and I could only foresee it getting worst. I don’t know if that meant I was ready. There had been many times prior to this challenge when I had worked out a few days here and there and then stopped. Working out wasn’t a priority for me, not even when I decided to do the challenge was it a priority. This challenge made working out a priority. I had committed to fifteen days of working out and that was it. My personal trainer told me, we’d be working out no matter what. Any time of day or night in any which way we could. I trained in the gym, at home, with Allegra at home, with Allegra incorporated into the workouts. No matter what, we trained and there was just no giving up. I needed the challenge to make me realise how important it is for me to workout, because just like date night, working out is one of those things that is so important but can easily be neglected without any notice till the repercussions start surfacing.
- When you are ready be sure to find a way to workout that you enjoy and that easily fits into your life. I joined a gym that was half an hour away from my house because I liked the instructors and the classes. However, it just wasn’t ever going to be sustainable. I had to rely on Allegra being at nursery and was limited to classes that started and finished around the nursery run. Another gym I joined I absolutely hated all the classes, because the music was so abysmal and the instructors were just so dated. I had convinced myself I would use the gym instead, but all I did was an hour on the cross trainer a few days a week which was as boring as hell. So, I finally went the personal trainer route. Again, it’s important to train with someone you get on with and have a rapport with. Luckily my personal trainer came recommended to me by one of my closest friends and this definitely helped in making my decision. The fact that the Mummy and Me package is designed for mums who might struggle with time and/or childcare made the decision even easier and I could not recommend it more to any of you wanting to start working out again. I have become so addicted that I have just booked another eight sessions. I also lost two inches off my waist, an inch off both my arms, an inch and a half of my chest, and an inch off both my legs and of course that’s motivating me too!
- Remember that you are a mum, you have had a baby and be kind to yourself. It’s the hardest thing to do, but possibly the most important.
You can see clips from my workouts here. Feel free to email or message me on Instagram if you have any questions about the Mummy and Me Workout package I did!
What’s your advice on body positivity after having a baby?