If the gym and I had a Facebook relationship status then it would definitely be "it's complicated". I hate going - the only machine that truly gets my heart racing is the vending machine. It's true that once I'm there I still hate it but I do feel amazing afterwards. However, recently I've been re-examining our relationship status as I'm failing to recognise - and like - what my mirror is showing.
After Joel's birth I've been left with what I call "my pouch" along with some good old fashioned stretch marks, and both have stopped me feeling like myself. My plan with this article was to include an extremely honest photo of my post-pregnancy stomach whilst holding Joel but after viewing the many images my husband took I've decided I don’t feel brave enough to share. Apologies if this seems diva like behaviour in article pitched as honest!
With my return to work swiftly approaching, I'm mysteriously feeling pressured into losing my baby weight. I've thought hard about why I want this. My line is that I want to be in shape so that I can easily chase after Joel when he can walk, especially if he ends up with the same obsession of going to the toilet-not-in-the-toilet that his older cousin had!
The more honest aim though, is to make myself happy again and put stop to the toddler style tantrums I have when a zip can't go up.
The suggestion of going swimming by my husband caused a more dramatic response than posh celebrities eating kangaroos’ bottoms in the jungle. What to do? My husband suggested going swimming - reasonable enough and yet it seemed to elicit a response that had more drama than celebrities eating kangaroos’ bottoms in the jungle. The cycle of anxiety then continues with a heavy helping of guilt; I start to worry that my body insecurities may be impacting Joel as he is missing out on doing this fun new thing with Mummy because she gets too upset.
The social events I've attended in the last couple of months have been a struggle. Holy Grail style searches for the perfect outfit, are put to waste when what I believe to be 'unflattering' photos appear of me in newsfeeds the next day. Believing I was slimmer in polka dots, the camera exposed my true identity as Mr Blobby. Now on the brink of suing Apple for soul destroying cameras, I’ve found myself beginning to dread any upcoming social events - and this anxiety is one thing that Spanx can’t suck up.
The amount of weight a woman puts on during pregnancy can differ for various reasons. I remember the midwife telling me "that pregnant women shouldn't be eating for two" but during my pregnancy chocolate became a great comfort. Friends would kindly bring round boxes of chocolate and my inner Augustus Gloop would demolish them whilst binge-watching Grey's Anatomy.
Now, when I look in the mirror, I deeply regret that sweeter-than-usual tooth. In my fed up state of mind I have been comparing myself to other women rocking their pre-pregnancy jeans - in particular all the c-list celebrities I unashamedly follow on Instagram advertising the current fad diets in bikinis and denim hot pants. Before you lock me up, it's difficult to avoid doing this when you're tired and wearing the same baggy t-shirts every day!
Cut to me: "Khloe Kardashian had her baby a month after Joel was born and has already lost all of her baby weight." Unfortunatley, I have selfish siblings who refuse to marry rappers and make millions - so no personal trainer for me!
As I've been cursed with a metabolism slower than January, fad diets rarely work for me. I've previously tried the Military Diet and Slim Fast both of which resulted in me ordering Chinese on the second day. And if I'm honest, I KNOW that it’s pointless and tiring to starve myself when dealing with a cranky baby - in fact I find it more confusing than Brexit to determine whether carbs, coffee or eggs are good for me, as each diet I look at gives differing views. Added to this, I don't have the time to make Shrek coloured smoothies or have the money for lavish ingredients. For me to lose weight it usually requires intense exercise accompanied with healthy eating. (Funny that....).
Due to still experiencing stiff hips from my pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy, I'm rather limited with my exercise options but I have found that walking (weather permitting of course) is a great option and I often go out with the pram which comes with the added bonus of winning the war against a nap resisting baby! I know I could try the gentle jogging some new mums are into, but in all honesty I would rather have a head massage from Captain Hook than run.
Speaking to friends who have children, I've learnt that we all share the same feeling. We love being Mums, but the physical difference in our bodies can be a challenge to accept.
Whenever I moan during my catch ups with my health visitor Gail, she repeatedly tells me to not be so hard on myself - my body has been working so hard the last year it needs time to recover. This makes perfect sense, however, it's difficult to remember when those pesky numbers on the scales come spinning to a stop.
In fact, my weekly weigh-ins are quickly becoming more intense than a driving test. Assuring myself through tears that the scales are broken, I can hear my husband mumbling something through the door about water retention. This is what Google has advised him during his panicked research when he realises that telling me "I'm perfect the way I am" is just not enough. This doesn't help; it's difficult listening to someone who has never had to worry about their weight advising you on how to lose weight. After a busy day on the go I'm not craving carrot sticks and kale, I’m after a biscuit with a well-deserved cup of tea.
I know I sound like a maniac but after speaking to friends who have children, I've learnt that I'm not alone in this - we all share the same feeling. We love being Mums, but the physical difference in our bodies can be a challenge to accept. Our identity as ourselves can get a bit lost in the loveable mayhem of new parenthood.
That said, I do feel I need to get over myself and so after giving myself a jolly good kick up the overinflated rear, I've decided to look into groups like Slimming World and Weight Watchers. I feel that this will allow me to have some freedom with eating and will help get the ball rolling.
My father-in-law Andrew has lost four stone since the start of the year by attending a local slimming group, so I've got the in-laws to help with advice and tips and my husband will, as always, support me. (No cracks about water retention allowed!)
Ultimately, the scales and I are never going to exchange friendship bracelets but throwing them out the window will only result in angry neighbours. For the time being, I'm starting to accept how my body has changed and I refuse to waste anymore time feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I have a triple chin and when I laugh the baby flab does a wobbly style conga down my stomach, but I have a beautiful baby boy as the end result.
I finished writing this and settled down for our afternoon snuggle on the sofa, Joel cosying into my neck. I suddenly realise how insignificant my weight worries have been. Joel doesn’t care how I look. I'm the only person who can give him Mummy cuddles and make him laugh with squeaky voices. And let's face it - he'll throw up on me regardless of what size I am.
I am learning that it would be a very boring world if we all looked the same, and besides, the mirror is simply reflecting my body's greatest achievement.