3 Jan 2015

Project "Me"

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. No one can ever stick to them, and most of the time you’ve already set yourself up for failure before you’ve even started. But the New Year coincides with a stage in my life, where I am ready to implement some changes and tackle a few challenges, and I guess the 1st of January (or 3rd, to be accurate) is as good a time as any to start.

Last year was all about our beautiful baby boy. The first half was dominated by my pregnancy, while the second half by Alex’s arrival and subsequent breastfeeding, nourishing him, and generally tending to his every need 24/7. And that’s fine; I’ve loved every second and will obviously continue to do everything it takes to nurture him and keep making him the lovely, happy baby that he is.

But as happy and elated as pregnancy and having Alex has made me, my confidence and body image have taken a massive hit. When it comes to my body I’ve never had much self-esteem (even when I was younger and skinny by comparison - ironically, or rather, frustratingly!), and it’s always been my bit of psychological baggage that I carry round with me. I’ve had lots of body hang-ups before I was pregnant, but now, two children down the line, and being the biggest I have ever been, it’s taking its toll and I’m not liking myself very much. To the point where I hate looking in the mirror, avoid catching my reflection at all costs, don’t do clothes shopping anymore for fear of changing room mirrors, and worst of all, avoid most photographs of me apart from cleverly angled selfies or a few lucky shots. It’s got so bad, that we haven’t even got a single nice family shot from this Christmas – our first as a family of four - because I avoided the camera lens like the plague.

This makes me sad. And it’s pathetic. And I want things to change.

Call me shallow, but even though this body of mine has produced two beautiful children and I am without doubt immensely proud of it, it is not the body I feel comfortable in and I’ve come to a point where something needs to happen. I want to be “me” again, the “me” who feels ok about herself. I just want to look in the mirror or take a picture and think that’s ok.

And to be truthful, it’s not just about losing weight. I have accepted that now, at the grand age of 37, I will not have a perfect body anymore.  And that’s not even my goal. I don’t strive to be skinny, just a stone or two less would do me fine. It’s more about feeling fit and strong and not being out of breath when I go up the stairs, and generally just feeling good in my skin.

So my main aim for the next however-long it will take is to lose a bit of weight and “find myself again” (I realise how corny that sounds). But it’s not going to be easy for me. Until I had Becky, I’d had an eating disorder for 17 years, and putting my body through constant starvation mode and then finally recovering from the condition have left my metabolism completely messed up. I can’t just diet to lose weight, and calorie reducing has little to no effect on me because my body is so accustomed to little food that it hardly reacts (and I NEVER want to go back to that mind-set in the first place).

I generally eat a very healthy diet, so there isn’t that much that I can cut out or reduce or avoid, though I will take an honest look at what I eat and maybe review things like portion size, which I know is something that I can change and might help.

But crucially, exercise will be key in all this. Before I had the children, I used to do quite a few different fitness classes and workouts, and I loved it and felt a lot better about myself. And whilst I would probably need the time investment (and budget) on personal trainers of someone like Madonna to make a truly big difference – neither of which I have – I am determined to get my bottom into gear and do the best I can within my means and time frame as a busy working Mummy. No ifs, not buts. No excuses.

In the long-term, I want to start running. I’ve never run before and honestly believe that my body isn’t made for running, but I have so many friends (and my husband, for that matter) who swear by it for fitness and weight loss and general well-being, that I am willing to give it a go, even if that means humiliating myself entirely wobbling and waddling through my village.

Realistically it won’t be before March though, when Alex goes to nursery and I will have all-day childcare for both children, that I will be able to make this a regular thing, but I really want to try.

Until then, I will take other little steps that will hopefully lead up to taking up running. Joining the gym is tricky, because with two kids and a demanding job with often irregular and long hours, I haven’t got a minimum of two consecutive hours to go there, work out, shower and go back (which is why running is so appealing – step out of the house, do your bit, get back, done).

Instead, I’ve brought back my stepper / cross trainer from the garage and will use Alex’s nap times to do bits of workout. I’ve also dug out my fitness DVDs that I used to do regularly and again, I will alternate between them when Alex naps. This is especially useful when the weather is bad outside and gives me really no excuse not to do anything when I can exercise in-doors.

I’ve also signed up to two buggy-fit groups a week while I’m still off on maternity leave, so between them I will try to blitz my body whilst shuffling Alex around in his pram.

And generally, I want to leave the car in the drive more and go walking a lot more. Every little helps and all that, ey?

These are not, as I said earlier, New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I prefer to look at them as goals and plans for 2015 and beyond, because they are more flexible and adaptable, and let’s face it, life’s not linear like that, and sometimes you have to tweak things here and there to achieve what you’ve set out to do.

So this is my next big project. Project “Me”. And I’m so ready to get going.

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