It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I’ve spent a good part of the last 15 years either losing or gaining weight. In fact I’ve lost and gained the same 20kgs about 10 times. Every time I’d get to my goal weight I would suddenly think yes! No more dieting and start eating like a crazy person. Let’s just say the whole idea of maintenance and moderation was lost on me. In fact, the way I would actually lose weight involved no moderation either. Cut meals, up the exercise to the point of exhaustion and if all else fails, diet shakes all round! My body, the way I feel about it and the way I’ve treated it has been a constant source of stress and embarrassment my entire adult life. Mostly I would feel disappointed and ashamed; wanting to wear what my friends were wearing, hearing the nasty comments, shamefully struggling to cover my flabby arms or stomach rolls and knowing deep down the real damage I was doing to my health and wellbeing.
When I fell pregnant in October 2011, I didn’t actually think too much about the impact on my body. We were both overjoyed and to be honest I was amazed at how quickly it had happened, especially after being told by a doctor that it could take ages due to being, yep, 20kgs overweight. At 5 weeks pregnant I started to vomit. From 6am till about midnight I was sick, day in, day out. We were living in Los Angeles, far from family, friends and an easy to navigate health care system. I was shattered physically and emotionally and could keep down nothing except for Sunkist, water and oranges. I was for the first time in my life desperately concerned with what was and wasn’t going into my body. I loved the little person inside of me and wanted nothing but the best for them. I tried to introduce other foods but it was an awful struggle and most ended up in Wilson. (Our nickname for my red bucket.) On my final visit to my American doctor, before our relocation to Australia, I was sternly told I had lost weight and should be very concerned. I didn’t know what to say, I had never been told off for losing weight before. But what could I do? I was vomiting constantly! I left deflated, hating myself and my body even more. I was a failure for gaining weight and now for losing weight.
Finally at 20 weeks pregnant and living back home in Australia, I stopped vomiting. I was able to eat again! After a few weeks I stopped looking like I was on death’s door and actually had colour in my cheeks. My diet became varied and I stopped worrying about calories and instead began to concentrate on nourishing my baby and myself. And for the first time in a very, very long time I began to enjoy my body. I actually liked what I saw, the curves, the bump; everything just seemed to make sense. I started to believe people’s compliments and it felt good, really good. Then, at 32 weeks I developed intense pain in my back and abdomen; leading me to believe I was in early labour. It turned out I had gallstones. I was admitted into hospital and monitored; thanking the universe we were dealing with this in our healthcare system. A practical and informative doctor informed me that it was a common problem in pregnancy and not surprisingly it is a condition that is also common for many yo yo dieters. It dawned on me that at 31 I was now seeing the result of all the years of hatred I had shown towards my body. For 3 hours I cried to my hubby. Mostly because I felt like I had failed at motherhood before I had even begun, (despite repeated assurances our little pumpkin was feeling nothing) and partly because I was so angry with myself. Eventually I stopped crying and started thinking; and then doing. Since being released from the hospital I’ve been on a fairly strict diet that rules out all saturated fats. I’ve chosen to stick with it because the gallbladder attacks are akin to someone knifing you repeatedly and I prefer to watch Underbelly, not experience it. I’ve developed a keen interest in experimenting with recipes and my insanely wonderful husband has shown a flair for grilling a mean lemon chicken. That’s not to say I haven’t experienced any more attacks. I have; generally after eating something that you wouldn’t think would bring one on!
I was weighed last week and have lost 5kgs in 2 weeks. Remembering my experience in America, I braced myself for the onslaught but instead was gently told by a very diplomatic midwife that it was fine as I did have some to spare. I laughed and wasn’t offended in the slightest. Truth is I feel great most of the time now, (probably due to all the raw veggies I’m eating) and it has got damn near nothing to do with being told I’ve dropped weight! It’s my head that’s changed the most and rightfully so. Funny thing is I will most likely continue to lose weight after the birth, simply because I eat such a light diet now but my emphasis is no longer on weight loss as the end goal. It’s health and wellbeing that matter the most to me. Being able to chase after our pumpkin once she’s here and provide the kind of role model she should have. That matters to me, bugger my thigh circumference.
Tonight I stood in front of the mirror in the nuddy and marvelled at how I looked and how my perception of my body has changed. So I choose to look at every part of this pregnancy as being responsible for the most profound and effective change of my mindset towards my body that has ever occurred. My body is strong, it is useful, it is more than what the media and society wants me to think it is. I am not here to please the masses by wearing a Size 0, nor am I here to spend my days beating myself up for not being 5, 10, 15kgs lighter. I am here to celebrate who I am, where I’ve come from and where I’m going, the people I love and our little pumpkin growing away happily inside.
Don’t think thin, think healthy.