There’s been a recent wave of bloggers, youtubers and ‘experts’ shouting about embracing your body and body confidence and I am completely on board with this. I am 100% in support of people letting it all hang out if that’s what makes them happy and I totally feel that the way we look is completely our business and we shouldn’t worry about what other people think. It’s great when we are able to help give people confidence and make them feel better about the way they look and with Summer round the corner and bikini time looming it was just what I needed to hear…or not!
I have this niggling concern. Are we almost going the other way with this? Shaming those that do actually want to try to lose weight or get fitter by eating better or exercising. Whilst it’s great to big each other up I do feel that we need to do it from a place of understanding. So when women who, let’s be honest, look incredible in a bikini tell me that it’s fine to show off my ‘Mum body’ and to look at all her ‘wobbly bits’ when there are clearly no real ‘wobbly bits’ in sight, I can’t help but find the message more than a bit patronising. You see, not everyone is happy with the way they look. Sometimes we do need a bit of encouragement to change and not just accept that we will always be bigger than we want to be. It’s actually sometimes ok to not be ok with your weight and your shape and as a result we need the help and support to do something about it.
I have worked in the health and fitness industry my whole life and our main goal has been to educate people in eating better and being more active. Yes we can encourage people to embrace their shape and not be ashamed of the way they look but, even better, if they’re not happy we can show them ways in which they can improve it. Recently I posted a Summer promotion for a client we work with encouraging people to join the gym to help them get ‘bikini ready’. There were lots of people keen to take up the offer but also a fair few saying – “I am bikini ready – I put on a bikini and I’m ready!”. And my reaction is ‘Yay for you!’ that’s brilliant I’m really pleased that you are confident and happy with your body. But…you know what? Not everyone feels that way! In fact I would guess an awful lot of people don’t and, until recently, I definitely was NOT bikini ready! You can’t just wake up one day and say “Ah sod it, I actually love my 3 extra tyres and my chunky thighs, because the people of Instagram say I should”.
Since having the children I have been very up and down about my weight and have tried numerous diets and exercise regimes that have had some success, but rarely long term! I put on 5 stone when I had Archie and over the next 3 years managed to lose 4 of those with the help of exercise and weight watchers. After having Phoebe I had gained 4 stone and lost most of that, again with the help of weight watchers. In the last 7 years my weight has gone up and down and I have been sizes 18, 16, 14 and 12 but mostly pretty unhappy with the way I look. I recently had a pretty unpleasant shopping experience where everything I tried on was either too small or just looked ridiculous and it spurred me to rejoin Weight Watchers. In the last 5 weeks I have completely changed the way I eat and have lost almost a stone putting me at my lightest since Archie was born and I definitely feel happier for it. Prior to that there was no way I could ever have looked in the mirror and embraced what I saw. All I saw was failure and disappointment. I know I’m supposed to be proud that this body created two beautiful children, but pregnancy didn’t cause my body to look like that. Cake did!!
Putting on a bikini would have been my worst nightmare, not because I give a monkeys about what other people think but because I would have felt hideous! I have completely accepted the fact that there is nothing I can do about the stretch marks and saggy skin – I can deal with that, but when I know that, with some hard work and dedication, my body can look much better than it does then I owe it to myself to try. The picture below was taken on our holiday in Florida in August 2016. I wore a bikini and enjoyed our time on the beach but did I feel comfortable…NOPE! When we had this picture taken I made sure I was hiding at the back so I would be able to treasure this photograph rather than look at it and feel disgusted with the way I looked.
So I guess the message I wanted to share is that if you’re happy with the way you look then you should be able to wear what you like and judging people for their weight is definitely NOT ok with me! However, if you’re not happy then you should feel like it’s ok to do something about it. There is so much support out there for those of us that want to look and feel better about ourselves and we shouldn’t feel that we can’t talk about it. I recently saw an Instagram story with a lady justifying why she was going for a run by saying that it definitely wasn’t to improve her body, she was running for her mental health. I have no issue with that, but why does anyone feel the need to even mention it? If you want to go for a run, go for a run. If you want to diet, diet. Whatever you need to do to make you the best that you can be….do it!