Body image

I was walking to the gym last weekend when two women came jogging towards me. I was just thinking “how nice to see someone else goes bright red in the face when exercising,” – I get so sick of the girls at the gym in full make up who leave without breaking a sweat. I can’t imagine they’re actually achieving anything. Anyway, I was just thinking that when the red faced lady beamed at me and said “hello!”

I smiled back and said hello and continued on my way. I’m British, I was being polite. So what if I couldn’t remember who she was? You must be nice to people. And I did know her, I know I did. But where from? Is she from choir? Not sure. Perhaps from a work visit somewhere? Hmmm. Playgroup? The library? Not sure. So I put it to the back of my mind.

At swimming on Saturday E and I sat watching the children in the earlier class when the lady next to me, mum of one of E’s classmates, said “I thought I saw you in the park the other day but I wasn’t sure if it was you. Of course after I saw you on my run on Saturday I realised it must have been you.”

Ahhhhh-haaaahhhhh! THAT’S who she was. But now of course, I had to carry on not letting her know I’d only just realised. 

“Yes, we live just round the corner to the park.”

I carried on and chatted about Sunday, told her I was going to the gym. Subconsciously I was also trying to make her impressed that I exercise too. (Her husband does some kind of competitive swimming I think. I always feel slightly intimidated by him in the pool – for no reason at all, he’s very friendly. I am just an idiot.) It’s just when people are out of context I get confused.

We had a chat about trying to fit exercise in to our daily schedule. I’m struggling at the moment, I’m afraid. It’s only now I don’t have time to walk to work the way I did pre-E that I realise how much good it did me.

I got back to pre-pregnancy weight after 11 weeks post-birth but still had a line of flab on my tummy (which, bearing in mind the boobs are still bigger too, makes you wonder where the weight went from?) But then I went back to work, got told I was at risk of redundancy on the second day back and then had very little to do in the consultation period and this meant that combination of stress and boredom and missing E led to me eating a lot of biscuits. I also think the contraceptive pill they put me on had some kind of eating side effects – I had days where I just ate and ate. It was like the week before my period where I have a couple of days doing that and it’s a hormone thing but this was more often. So I’m now a touch bigger than before. Just a few pounds.

So I need to start walking at other times I think. Lunchtimes sound like a good idea. I usually eat at my desk but like to head out to get air so I need a half hour circuit of Nottingham city centre. And I go to the gym on Sunday mornings and occasionally Monday mornings.

If I’m honest, the gym is less weight loss and more for other things. I started doing weights as I was concerned about how hard it was to pick E up without my arms and back aching. I think that’s having an effect. I also like to run for a while and get the adrenaline going after a good run. But I’m having trouble building up the distances I used to be able to cover. Partly this is because I’m not in a routine yet but it also feels like something more. When I started going to a gym it took me a while to build up the distance. It’s galling to have to do it all over again. But I guess it will take longer this time round.

I’d written the above last weekend and since then, I mention it in case you didn’t notice, the royal baby was born. The Duchess of Cambridge walked out of the hospital and there was a widespread reaction on Twitter and in OK magazine about her post-baby body. OK magazine had already printed an interview with Kate’s personal trainer and was just waiting for the birth before they published their baby special. The comments on Twitter were, as many are, born of ignorance but really… Most of them were asking why she still had a bump. Several people thought she still had another baby in there.

Come on people! Even if you don’t know anyone who’s had a baby (which seems unlikely) surely common sense must tell you that growing a person does something to the body that isn’t immediately reversed? Are we so immune to pictures of slim celebrities that anything like this is picked up on?

What makes it worse is that I have a new picture of E on my desk. I just got some new pictures printed and there’s a great one where it looks like she’s posing with my sunglasses on. A colleague commented on it and I started to say that it was taken a few months ago and she is less chubby these days as she walks about a lot now. And then I realised I was apologising for my daughter looking fat. She’s 14 months old. I stopped in horror. It was meant to be an observation. But these days it feels like such observations come with so much baggage and have the potential to do so much damage. I don’t want her to be miserable and embarrassed by her body. I want her to be confident.

So I need a healthy lifestyle without stressing over everything, I need to set a good role model. And I need to think about how to talk to her about this stuff. Even now.

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