You see it all the time: celebrities back to their "pre-pregnancy size" after what seems like days after they’ve given birth. The pressure is immense on us non-celebs to get back in shape as quickly as possible.
It’s tough: Between constant feeding and catching up on sleep how are you meant to fit the time in to exercise? Plus, your focus should be on your new baby, right?
I remember being pretty comfortable with how I looked when I was pregnant. I put on two stone (as you usually do) but mainly just the bump. I have to admit there were times when I was close to my due date where I wondered how on earth my stomach would shrink back to it’s existing size. I mean how the hell does it stretch that much?
I remember briefly looking down at my stomach a day or so after I gave birth and seeing hanging flab a bit like a deflated balloon, but feeling amazed at how much it had reduced already. I remember reading that breastfeeding helped burn calories, so I had it in my head that every time I fed I’d lose a bit more weight. However, even though I was breastfeeding and my stomach did shrink back down (never quite to my pre-pregnancy shape), I noticed I did feel a bit larger than I was before, especially a few months after giving birth when I stopped breastfeeding. I don’t just mean my stomach. I noticed my thighs and hips had expanded a bit more for example. I remember mentioning this to my husband and he suggested I actually looked better for it, but I just couldn’t get passed it. You find yourself looking in the mirror and pulling an "urgh" face.
Part of me was thinking, "Get over yourself, you’ve done an amazing thing and gone through a massive physical experience so why should you still look the same?" But another part of me felt just a bit negative about myself. I wanted to be able to fit into my old clothes again, even though I knew this wouldn’t happen straight away.
I was annoyed at myself for feeling this way, but where did these thoughts come from? The fact that I’d always been a certain size and rarely put on weight? Or was it from the so-called "celeb culture?" I for one actually struggle with the term "yummy mummy." It implies you need to make yourself look good all the time as well as look after your new baby – many of us even struggle to get a shower as a starting point!
I used to read loads of celebrity magazines when I was breastfeeding or Millie was asleep. Nearly every main article focused on weight - who looked good, who’d put on weight - and this was positioned as "loving their curves." To me it still brought negative connotations. I’ve stopped reading them now as I found it initially fueled my worries and insecurities and after a while I got bored of reading about this again and again. You can’t escape it though. Film, television programs, magazines – imagine the pressures on young girls nowadays. Being thin seems to be the norm.
The reality is, all of those celebs will have personal trainers with fitness programs, hair stylists, and beauticians on tap. I’m sure they also feel insecure about how they look and to be honest, they have much more pressure to look good in case they get papped for those magazines!!
I love this recent quote from Kate Winslet, whom I consider to be a great celebrity role model:
“But at a certain point, when you achieve a lot of your goals and you can be proud of your work, you start to relax more about who you are. And that includes your appearance and self-image – I don't think I look too bad for a mother of two. But women shouldn't have to feel the pressure to compare themselves to actresses or models.”
Ultimately how you feel about your body is your own personal challenge. I’ve accepted that although I won’t necessarily be the same size again, I still want to exercise, but not because I felt pressure to be thinner. Doing exercise doesn’t just keep you fit and healthy physically – it also improves your mental health and that is just as important, if not more so!
At the end of the day, I’m not just a mum, I’m an individual who wants to be happy and enjoy life. I’ll tone up and get fit but it’s on my terms – when I’m ready and have the time to do it!
This article was originally published here.