What I Learned From Gaining 45lbs (And Losing Them Again)

body image after baby post partum weightloss

Body positivity has never been my thing. Far from it in fact. I always struggled with body image, and a few years ago, gaining any amount of weight would have been daunting, frustrating and put bluntly – my worst nightmare. Low and behold, a pregnancy, a newborn, two years and 45lbs later, last year I was resenting my body and every single pound I had gained. The last two years have been years of ups and downs, both on the scale and in my mind, but I am now in the best place with my body image I have ever been. I always thought that losing the weight would be the most rewarding part, but as I get close to the body I had before falling pregnant, I’ve now realised there is one thing I can thank my 45lbs for – the trusty life lessons that came with them. There is nothing ground breaking here, but there were three key lessons that stood out to me’ as game changers when it came to my own body image, and the way I feel about myself…

1.    Numbers Mean Nothing

I don’t have a scale, and I don’t want one.

I’ve gone from being the person who would weigh herself daily, to someone who no longer can understand the gratification I once got from the number. I cannot think of one single benefit that comes from knowing what I weigh. It’s taken me gaining 45lbs – and the process of watching almost every one of them appear on the scale – for me to realise knowing doesn’t help. I could be feeling great about myself, I might have had a great week in terms of healthy food choices and exercise, but if I was to step on that scale and it said otherwise, then that week would have been written off.  I could be a dress size smaller, but if the number on the scale didn’t move there would always be a little voice in my head telling me my ‘diet’ wasn’t working.

But what do these numbers even mean? We can place so much influence on weight, on how much we weigh, we let it change how we feel about ourselves. But really it means nothing. Our mass means nothing. When we are strolling on the beach, or walking through Tesco, we don’t have a number floating above our head that tells everyone what we weigh  In real life , how much you weigh means absolutely nothing to anyone else besides the voice in your own head. The day I stopped bothering about what the scale told me was the day I started to really notice the changes in my body. I don’t need to know how much I weigh anymore. I can still aim to look better, to lose fat and to be healthier – but I don’t have to measure those by what I see on the scale. After all, if I was to lose 40lbs, but not be able to see the changes in the mirror or feel them in my body, do I really gain anything?

2.   I Am Not A Before
It took me gaining the weight to realise that my body is not a transformation project waiting to happen, nor does it have to be.

body image after baby post partum weightless

I used to have this habit of telling had this habit of telling myself that where I was at any given moment was my starting point. I would take pictures of myself to use as my ‘before’ picture and would commit to a transformation. I would fall off the bandwagon after a few weeks  and then retake my new ‘before’ pictures. I was always looking for the transformation, very rarely (never) happy to accept that my body had been ‘in progress’ for twenty three years, not just two weeks.

By constantly referring to myself as being in the ‘before’ category, I was never giving myself the reward of having already done some of the work. I was always waiting or my transformation, for this after picture and I was always disappointed when it didn’t happen.

Here’s a crazy thought though. What if I just stopped waiting for the ‘after’?

Imagine a world where we don’t have to start again on Monday. A world where we could just live, have unhealthy food day when we wanted it, and not punish ourselves for doing so. A world where I can lose weight and gain it as I please, but I don’t have to be a before, or an after. What are we even dieting for? It’s all very well saying I want to lose ten pounds to feel confident on the beach, or in that dress, but what if I could feel that confident all of the time. I’ve had my years of focusing on the bad points in my body. I struggled massively with my body image, my body confidence, my body in general. I felt big, I felt unattractive and I was never going to be comparable to women I saw on Instagram. After gaining weight and really evaluating the life and body that I wanted, I’ve left the negativity behind me. I do not want to preach body positivity, but accepting my body for what it is has transformed the way I feel about myself. I still don’t look like the women on Instagram. Do I want to, hell yes. Will I, probably not. I’ve accepted that my body may not be the way I want it to look in a perfect world, but I’m taking positive steps to make myself feel and look better, and that alone was enough to improve my mindset tenfold. Be Nice To Yourself

3.     Positive Goals Positive Results

For the first time in my life I’m not trying to lose weight, or looking for the scale to go down. Would I like to be leaner, thinner, more Kendall Jenner-esq, of course. But my goals reflect the lifestyle I need to achieve that, rather than the end result. I’m enjoying going to the gym a few times per week without the pressure of needing to lose weight. I’m enjoying eating better meals and being flexible in my approach to healthy eating. I don’t want to diet – the very word makes me agitated, I don’t want to restrict and I sure as hell don’t want to spend anymore time worrying about how much I weigh. I’m not suggesting I won’t try and slim down, or that I am content with the way I look right now. What I am doing is accepting that although I am not where I’d like to be, I’m taking steps to get there.

body image after baby post partum weightloss

I used to hate reading about body positivity. I can remember reading Laurens’ post about her pre-pregnancy jeans – I was so jealous that she was so in tune with her own body that she was able to accept the changes in her body after having her son for what they were. Just changes – not the end of the world. I used to feel completely out of my depth when people spoke about loving their body after having kids, as I just could not relate. I felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place: I could not lose my baby weight, instead I just seemed to be gaining even more, but I was also in no position to love my body for what it was. Yes, I could appreciate that it gave me a beautiful child, but I certainly didn’t appreciate the extra rolls or the breathlessness when I took on a flight of stairs. It took me a fair bit of time to come around to the idea, but the three revelations above changed my perspective completely, and I can now firmly say I want to be (and I think I am) part of the body positivity movement.

My body is not perfect and never will be by my own self determined standards, but it can (and will) be healthy and I can still be happy with it while I am on that journey.

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17 Comments

  1. January 11, 2018 / 9:24 am

    I am pretty much where you were now. I don’t know how much I have put on since having the boys but as Kipper gets closer to two I have decided it maybe time for me to take control a little bit more! Although I am not on a diet and not looking at the scales (good points by the way!) I am paying attention and hope to be where I want to be by the end of the year. x

  2. January 11, 2018 / 10:11 am

    I do agree about the numbers side, it’s more about how you feel than the numbers which show on the scales x

  3. January 11, 2018 / 10:48 am

    I agree. Positive goals leads to positive results. It pays to stay focus on the goals.

  4. January 11, 2018 / 11:46 am

    I’m glad you are feeling more positive about your body. Even though I now weigh less than I did before the baby, I have come to accept that my body will never be *quite* the same again. Stretch marks and a baggy tummy will remain indefinitely!

  5. January 11, 2018 / 1:17 pm

    It’s fab that you have got to this stage. A couple of months ago I was feeling fab like you and then I ate loads more cake and went bleaugh again! I don’t count the numbers though – I go on how I feel and it’s a much better way to do it.

  6. January 11, 2018 / 6:13 pm

    I’m 12 weeks down the road from having our little boy and I have been so so hard on myself around. There’s this stigma around a post partum body, a rush to get back in your pre pregnancy jeans and it’s so hard to see all the time. I loved everything you wrote here, I need to read this and I need to forget those numbers.

  7. January 11, 2018 / 9:26 pm

    Some really inspiring words here Kirsty! I’m at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been since having my second child and so far from feeling body positive it’s untrue. I hope one day I can get there! x

  8. January 11, 2018 / 10:08 pm

    This was a great read! Thank you for sharing your journey. I am currently trying to change my eating habits for the better, and I have finally learned that it is how I feel rather than a number on the scales that is going to be the game changer. I want to be healthy so I can be fitter, despite the chronic illness, so I can do as much as possible with my daughter.

  9. January 11, 2018 / 10:57 pm

    Love this. After 2 weeks of trying to be good, and exercising more, and just feeling demoralised as I watch the numbers go up, I reckon I’m going to take a leaf out of your book and ignore the scales from now on. Thank you x

  10. January 12, 2018 / 12:19 am

    For the first 10 months I wasn’t too bothered about bouncing back, mainly because I knew I still had a baby on my hip and people would see that was the reason I was a chunk. But, now I definitely am past that point and there is no excuse! Well done for losing it you’ve done really well.

  11. January 12, 2018 / 9:57 am

    Love this post and couldn’t agree more . Going to keep this in mind when I beat myself up about weigh 🙂 x

  12. January 12, 2018 / 3:25 pm

    Such a great post. You look fantastic. I think as humans we are too tough on ourselves and others. Checking the scales is one of my biggest mistakes, as like you say what is in a number however I do believe it is good to monitor measurements and track how our bodies are changing when trying to lose weight or tone.

  13. January 12, 2018 / 6:42 pm

    Oh I love this! When I got with James he made me throw my scales out and at first it was a struggle, now I don’t care. It’s how I feel in myself and how my clothes feel. I’ve been on a fitness journey recently but not really to change how I look, more to change how I feel.
    Eilidh x

  14. Hannah | Make, Do & Push
    January 12, 2018 / 7:12 pm

    Love this post – and how gorgeous are you?? I’m currently on the quest to get fitter – it’s a big reason why we got the dog! xx

  15. January 13, 2018 / 5:05 pm

    I’ve given up looking at the scales too, it’s just not worth the heartache! I’m taking the approach that I’m cutting back and trying to make sure what I do eat is healthy.

  16. January 13, 2018 / 8:59 pm

    I really struggle with my weight. It goes up and down like a yoyo. As a result I’ve never really been happy with how I look. I’m loving your attitude in this post and you look amazing

  17. Anna
    January 16, 2018 / 5:37 pm

    I absolutely hate people preaching about weight loss and body positivity, so I’m not really sure why I clicked on the link to this but I’m SO GLAD I did. It’s so refreshing to read. This is what everyone should be preaching. You go girl!

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