Welcome to This Mummy Rocks Inspirational Mamas Series. This Mummy Rocks Inspiration Mamas Series is a guest post series that allows Mamas to tell you their Inspirational stories and journeys. These are some strong, badass Mamas who have overcome some unimaginable situations and are here to tell their tale!
This Mummy Rocks Inspirational Mamas Series will run every Second and Forth Thursday of each Month
Kicking off the series is Kate Owen from How To Feel Sexy In Big Knickers
Learning To Love My Post-Baby Body After Anorexia
PIN ME FOR LATER
I couldn’t tell you when my body image issues started. All I know is that they’ve been there for as long as I can remember. They weren’t always as bad as they have been in recent years but nonetheless, they’ve had a big impact on me.
However, tell you when I first became anorexic. At 19, in my first serious relationship and terrified that he was going to leave me like my father had left when I was 7. I started to diet because I thought if I was slim he’d love me more. Then I carried on dieting because it became a way I could control the negative voices and avoid dealing with my feelings.
By the time I hit 7 stone I was at rock bottom, severely depressed, exhausted from starvation and very aware that life was passing me by. I saw other women go out and have fun. They’d wear stylish clothes rather than the baggy jumpers I wore to hide how bony I was. And they’d be happy in their relationships, able to laugh with their partners and not be driven by a fear of abandonment. I was jealous and shortly before my 21st birthday, decided enough was enough.
The road to recovery wasn’t easy but once I put my mind to it I was able to get back to a place of relative health and happiness. My body and I had an easy peace together. I liked the way I looked and felt like I was deserving of love.
Sadly, it was not to last.
When my 30th birthday approached I realised that life hadn’t gone the way I’d wanted it to. I left my husband and family home (taking my 18 month old daughter with me), took redundancy from a well paying job in the city and contemplated what to do next.
I’d started to lose weight after having my daughter. It seemed like the natural thing to do. Most mums I know enrol on weight watchers or slimming world. But for me it was opening to door onto past problems at a time when I was extremely emotionally vulnerable.
As you might guess, what started as an attempt to shift the baby weight soon became an internal battle to see if I could get to 9 stone. 8 ½ stone. 8 stone… And before I knew it I was back in the full grip of anorexia again.
This time around was a little different as I had private health care that meant I could get the help I needed to really tackle my issues head on. Nearly two years of therapy. Making some significant life changes allowed me to slowly start climbing back out of it.
As I started to recover
I made peace with my body (again) and stopped blaming it for all my problems. I felt confident in the way I looked and life was good.
Soon after this I met my second husband and we were quickly married with a baby on the way. I was still quite small at this point so the weight gain in pregnancy didn’t bother me too much. And after my second daughter was born it all came off quickly leaving me relatively unchanged.
In hindsight the body confidence I had after my first two children was a smoke screen. It was easy to feel good about my body because it was small. I could tell myself I was happy with the way I looked because I looked how I thought I should look – slim.
Then came baby number 3
By the time I fell pregnant with baby number 3 my body confidence was already unravelling. My husband and I had had serious marital problems after it transpired he was addicted to pornography. Something that pretty much smashed any self confidence I’d had into oblivion. I’d hit 35 and started to put on a lot of weight. As a recovered anorexic (and on top of my partner’s addiction) this was really hard for me and I really struggled to feel OK about my body.
Then when I fell pregnant the weight really piled on. With my first two I’d had quite a neat little bump but with number 3 I ended up looked virtually spherical. My old maternity clothes didn’t fit. The new maternity clothes I bought didn’t fit after a few months and by the end of my pregnancy I hated my body more than I ever thought possible.
But I hung on to that little glimmer of hope that as soon as he was out the weight would come off and I’d feel happy with my body again….
Dealing with a different post-baby body
Naively I had thought that my post-baby body after baby 3 would go the same way as after baby 1 and 2. I’d lose weight fairly quickly, my stomach would shrink and I’d be back to how I was within 3-4 months.
Needless to say, this was not what happened.
Third time around, and after a second c-section, it was clear that I had ended up with a significant overhang. My c-section scar is indented meaning that it will always be pulled inwards. Leaving me with the skin hanging down over the top of it. On top of this it was also clear that the weight wasn’t coming off. At 6 months postpartum my pre-baby clothes were so far off fitting me it would make me cry on a daily basis and I was still in maternity clothes.
I’d love to say that I was able to focus on the positive and be happy with who I was. But the reality is that I went deep into a dark depression where I began to feel that I would never be happy with the way I looked again. It started to take over my life. I’d spend the whole day thinking about how my body looked. Googling ways to lose weight or tone up (without ever putting those things into action I might add). Getting dressed in the morning was a nightmare because everything I’d put on didn’t fit or made me feel terrible about myself.
I started to avoid social situations. Avoided meeting up with friends because I was so ashamed of how I looked. I felt like a failure that I hadn’t lost the weight and it was made even more painful for me because I’d been able to do it twice before and because I was a recovered anorexic – if there’s one thing I should have been good at it was weight loss!
Life was, in short, pretty awful.
The turning point
The turning point came when I realised that everything I was going through was leading me to a point where I knew that I really wanted to help other mums who felt the same way I did. I wanted to raise awareness of the pressures mums are under to look a certain way. I wanted to let as many mums as possible know that they weren’t alone in their struggles to love the post-baby bodies. Plus I wanted to help them feel better. I’m a trained coach so I knew that I could work with these women and get them feeling confident, happier and positive about themselves.
And to do that I needed to get better.
I needed to build back my confidence and learn to love my post-baby body just the way it was. After all, how could I help others to love their post-baby bodies if I still hated mine?
And so I started using all the knowledge I have to find the ways that I could start to feel good again. I used my psychotherapy training to dig really deep into where my body image issues had come from. I used my coaching training to take the actions that were going to get me feeling amazing. And I used NLP to finally shift the negative beliefs I had about my body. Creating the positive mindset I’d always wanted.
It certainly wasn’t easy. I had to release past emotional pain and forgive the people who had made me feel that I wasn’t good enough. To admit that my body image issues were being driven by a deeper rooted fear of being unlovable. I needed to work hard to let go of ingrained negative beliefs and make myself repeat positive affirmations about myself until I finally started to believe them.
So no, it wasn’t easy. But it was absolutely worth it.
A body positive journey is a slow one. You can’t just decide that you love how you look and then never feel bad about yourself again. So there have been ups and downs. I have good days and bad days. But through it all I have learnt to embrace my post-baby body. To feel good about myself and have the confidence to let people see me for who I really am. I’m awed by just what my body has done bringing three little people into this world. I will be forever grateful that no matter how badly I’ve treated my body. That it has never stopped working tirelessly to keep me alive.
And if there is one thing that I truly believe it’s this;
My journey was purposeful.
As hard and as difficult as it has been my journey to love my body. It has given me a sense of purpose that I’ve never had before. It allowed me to understand just how much pressure there is on mums (and women) to be ‘thin’. And just how damaging this can be. It meant that I ended up with so much knowledge, experience and practical techniques that I have a lot to share with other mums. To help them learn to love their post-baby bodies too. I’ve been inspired to set up the How to feel sexy in big knickers movement so that all mums can find a place where they know that their post-baby bodies will be celebrated.
And it’s meant that for the first time in my life I can look at myself and say that I am good enough. Just the way I am.
Kate is the founder of How To Feel Sexy in Big Knickers, a blog dedicated to helping mums learn to love their post-baby bodies.
You can find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/howtofeelsexyinbigknickers and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/howtofeelsexyinbigknickers/ when she is not indulging in creme eggs or wine.
She is also a Life and Relationship Coach with a postgraduate certificate in Couples psychotherapy. She loves working with women to help them make positive changes and feel amazing about their bodies (and themselves in general). As a passionate advocate of body positivity and general all round supporter of women everywhere. Kate’s on a mission to stop the pressure on mums to lose weight and celebrate post-baby bodies. No matter what their shape or size.
Come and check out my review on Kate’s How To Feel Sexy In Big Knickers Body Positive Course HERE
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