I remember it perfectly, I was just eight years old. It was a sports day at school and I was wearing my white pleated netball skirt when a couple of girls came up to me during lunchtime and began teasing me about how my skirt sat on my hips differently and how I looked 'funny' compared to all the other girls. Physically, I was just an average child, not overweight or underweight by any means but I did (and still do) have very high hips. After that incident, I remember asking my Mum countless times if I could have a 'hip operation' so that I could just be 'normal' like the other girls. Did I mention that I was just eight years old? I was also the only girl to wear pants to my Grade 6 Graduation because I was too self conscious about how I looked in a dress and I became increasingly fearful of wearing a swimsuit in front of anyone. Just ask my Mum. She will tell you she only saw me in a swimsuit without a coverup (for the first time in over fifteen years!) a few years ago. And I am still one of those people who will shyly and discreetly slip off my kaftan and sneak into the pool while no one is watching.
Over the years that followed (high school and puberty, need I say more) I found myself yoyo dieting from about the age of fourteen and whilst I am very thankful I never went down the eating disorder path, I have always been very conscious of what I eat (even though there have definitely been stages throughout my life where my diet suggested otherwise). And my hangups with my body continued throughout my teens and early twenties.
And then came babies. Boy, oh boy, oh boy. My fellow Mummas, I'll stop there shall I? I've always been very sporty and very active so throughout both my pregnancies I kept up my regularl exercise and maintained a healthy, balanced diet. As a result, I was lucky enough to only put on 10.1 kgs with both my girls (yes, I put on the exact amount of weight, to the gram, with both!) so that coupled with breastfeeding, I was able to drop the baby weight quickly. But also due to breastfeeding both my girls (Allegra for twelve months and Anya for eight) let's just say I now refer to my boobs as empty milk sacs. Ugh. I know I'm definitely not alone on this one. And I'd be lying if I said I hadn't contemplated breast augmentation. Maybe one day.
|Left: 40 weeks pregnant with Allegra. Right: 10 days after giving birth.|
|Left: 40 weeks pregnant with Anya. Right: 48 hours after giving birth. Yes, even I was like 'what the hell... where did my tummy go?!|
|Left: Just so you know, this is very confronting for me. Up until now I have only ever shared the photo on the left with two, maybe three, people. It was taken just before my treatment and I still can't bring myself to share a photo of the largest vein that ran down my thigh. I still find it so upsetting BUT am delighted and grateful I achieved the results I did after treatment. Right: Taken during my first session at the gym wearing shorts after almost a year and a half. I copped some slack on my Instagram page when I posted this one but hopefully after seeing the before shot you can appreciate why I was so happy about being in shorts again!|
I still feel silly writing this because I know there are probably many people reading this thinking 'what has she got to complain about'... but that is my point exactly. It's often the people you least expect who suffer from being severely self conscious. What you see in the mirror can be very different to how others see you. Your least favourite body parts are often what other people like best about you or even what they wished for themselves. He'll probably kill me for writing this but when Mr B, how shall I put this, first saw me with my kit off the first thing he commented on was my hips... and I mean that in a very good way ;) But sometimes it doesn't matter how many times you hear it, you can't change to way you think and feel about yourself... or can you?!
I am definitely still a work in progress and I still have my days where I really don't like what I see... but here are a few tips on how you can begin improving your body image issues and make friends with the mirror. It's nothing overly profound but sometimes we all just need a little reminder:
- Be gentle with yourself and focus on the parts of your body you do like. Make a conscious effort not to put yourself down around others and instead turn your focus to something positive you have done that day/week.
- Learn to appreciate what your body is capable of and how it serves you daily. Fellow Mummas, um hello, we grew a human being inside of our bellies. How amazing are we!
- Spend a bit of time learning about dressing to best compliment your assets... feeling comfortable and confident in clothes will also help with feeling comfortable and confident out of clothes (your partners will love this... nudge nudge wink wink).
- Avoid crash dieting and instead slowly start making healthy lifestyle changes that are realistic for you to reach your goals. Everything in moderation. And for what it's worth, I still don't believe in sugar free cupcakes ;)
- Meal planning is a great way to introduce healthier meal options into your household. There are always healthy AND tasty alternatives to some of your favourite not-so-healthy meals.
- Exercise regularly! This in itself will help boost self image, self esteem and energy levels. But again, be realistic with your approach and don't exercise beyond your ability. Regular exercise has always been a big part of my lifestyle and is something Mr B and I feel very passionate about and couldn't live without.
- Stop making excuses! This is a hard one for many of us. It is easy to fall in to the 'oh I will make a change tomorrow' or 'it's too late for me' or 'I don't have the time' trap. Whether it be a mental change or a physical change, today is the day. There is always time. Make the time. YOU CAN DO IT!
- Surround yourself with supportive and inspiring people! A happy and healthy way of life is contagious :)
Thank-you for reading and for allowing me to get a little of that off my chest. It's not often easy to reveal your weaknesses especially when others may see you in a totally different light. This was a bit of a long one so I think I will save some healthy eating and exercise tips for another day. Until then, be the change you seek! xxx