Every single day, I wake up and the first thing I do is venture tentatively into my bathroom and step on the scales. I don’t like to admit this, but more often than not, what that little square box on the floor reads, determines so much about that day. If the numbers are good, I’m good. And the opposite, unfortunately, is true.
I am not naturally thin. Growing up, as far as I was concerned, I was always the taller friend. The bigger friend. The uglier friend. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t unhappy … I was just … well … me. What people liked about me was my personality; I’d like to think that I was (and still am) funny, positive and caring. I’m certainly not a negative person. I’m optimistic and open to challenge and opportunity. However, there did come a moment … a truly life changing moment, when I took charge over my eating habits and began to change my body, inside and out.
I have to give credit to Weight Watchers (I know there will be plenty of critics out there!) but it worked for me. From that very first meeting, I was a changed person. I have NEVER looked at food (or my body) in the same way since. For the most part, that has been a very positive experience, but even to this day, I have daily struggles in my relationship with food. Weight Watchers taught me to take control of my eating habits and at that time I followed an intensive POINTS system. I had a POINTS allowance for each day and boy did I stick to it. In fact, too often I challenged myself to eat below the allowance, and when I managed to do that, I won a mental battle with my mind and my body. Those days (to me) were good days. If I exceeded my allowance, the guilt engulfed me like a heavy wave, ready to suck me under.
Like any diet, real lasting success only occurs from sheer grit and determination. It is absolutely fair to say that I became O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D. I thought I had all the power and control, but little did I know that food had complete control of me. Mentally and physically, I was enslaved. Honestly, parts of me are still under the cunning control of food. When diet alone began to slow my weight loss progress, I began to exercise. At one stage I was running several times a week, then using home fitness DVDs and core exercises after my run. Nothing was enough. I always felt I needed to do more and eat less. I cannot deny that I felt great. I really did. As the pounds dropped off, my confidence soared. This was the first time in my life I felt good about my body and comfortable in my skin.
I worked in Topshop at the time and during my Weight Watchers journey, I managed to make my way from size 14/16 clothes into size 6/8. I was proud and rightly so! Losing weight (no matter what anyone says) is HARD WORK. It requires dedication to the cause, major motivation and unwavering self-control. I tracked and recorded every single thing that I put into my mouth and saw the benefits on the scales each week. It got to a stage were my Weight Watchers leader warned me to slow down. She knew that I was getting dangerously close to being underweight for my height and sternly advised me to learn how to maintain my new weight and to stop shedding the pounds. Any of you who have lost weight will know that it’s equally hard to find the balance of stopping weight loss and maintaining weight, and it was only when I was at a very low weight, that my weight loss eventually slowed and stopped altogether. At my thinnest I had lost 3 stone.
Personally, I found maintaining my weight more of a daily struggle than losing it. No matter what I ate, I was always weighing up the pros and cons in my mind and deliberating what I should eat later in the day, depending on whether the morning had been good or bad. To this day, I still constantly think about what I eat and if one day is a bit bad, the next day will undoubtedly be good. I still exercise, but thankfully it's now for enjoyment and stress-release, rather than to solely lose more weight! I am currently at a very healthy weight for my body – but that doesn’t stop my addiction of weighing myself every day and constantly watching what I eat.
So where does this link in with me being a mummy? I felt you needed to know where I was coming from before I document my journey with weight through pregnancy. My struggles with my body during pregnancy derived solely from my past experience with dieting and it was no wonder I had issues…
Since getting married, I put on about a stone. It was a healthy weight for me and I found it easy enough to maintain. 3 years in, when my husband and I were trying for a baby I vowed to look after my body and eat well. I drank whole milk instead of skimmed, cut out alcohol and cut back on the amount of time I spent at the gym. So when I did find out I was pregnant, I wholly endeavored to give my body a break and try and enjoy the experience – no pressure. Ha! I can laugh at myself now. No pressure. NO PRESSURE?!!! During my pregnancy, I never felt MORE pressure about my weight and how my body looked. And what made it worse was that I had NO CONTROL over what was happening to me. For someone who had spent the best part of the previous 10 years CONTROLLING her eating and weight, I was now forced to listen to this new and rapidly changing, SWELLING body! A body in which I felt trapped.
Please, please don’t get me wrong here. I was and AM unbelievably grateful to have been able to get pregnant and deliver a healthy, happy baby. My darling Phoebe is a blessing from God and I am thankful for her and for the experience of being pregnant. Despite this, and I never forgot it during pregnancy, I guess I just got overwhelmed by all the crazy, flipping HORMONES raging a riot round my body. I was a complete mess. That is not an understatement. It seemed like from the moment that faint little line appeared on that purple pee stick, someone took a bicycle pump, stuck it into me and began to pump me up. Instantly, my face, hands and feet began to swell. I had to tell my co-workers I was pregnant really early as I began to show in my work clothes and felt nauseated for a good part of the day, every day during the first trimester.
My body began to change rapidly before my eyes and I knew I was quickly losing control. I constantly felt nauseated and the only thing that eased it (ironically of course!) was eating. And it didn’t matter what. When the feeling came over me, I had to move fast … and eat! I distinctly remember one day coming home from school and my husband was standing making the tea. Suddenly the nausea came and I searched frantically for some sort of snack to eat. On this occasion the only thing I could seem to find was baked beans. I cracked open the lid and just as I dunked in my spoon, my poor husband exclaimed, ‘the tea is literally 10 minutes away Steph! What are you doing?!’ Most of you mummies and mums-to-be reading will totally relate to my response, ‘YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!’ I wailed and shoved the whole spoonful into my mouth – followed by the rest of the tin. And yes … they were cold! (Another thing my husband just can’t understand!!)
I can only apologise at this point, because it seems that this blog post is going the same way as my Labour Blog, sorry … 5 part SERIES!! Stay tuned for more on my inability to cope as my body grew bigger, a heartbreaking but important few months with my husband and a post-partum body shock!