Well this is going to be confronting & long. It’s going to be a case of personal oversharing including photos of me – yep, I’m totally freaking out here – but it has got to be said and it has got to be shared for clarification.
The photo on the right is me 4 years ago. Eating crap, exercising little (unless waddling is a recognised sport nowadays) and weighing the heaviest I have ever done in my entire life. Clearly I am also very pregnant, in fact I am 3 days overdue with my fifth devil spawn … and by devil spawn I mean my darling children. I was told during this pregnancy, around the halfway mark, by my doctor, that I was not to gain anymore weight. At that point in time I had only gained 5kg. By the time this photo was taken I had gained 10 in total. I’m such an over achiever … Actually thats a lie – I’ve never overachieved at anything. Let me tell you though that being told not to gain weight or even to consider losing some while pregnant by a professional really fucks with your head. Like really. Fucks. With. Your. Head.
The middle photo is of me at my slimmest – as an adult at least. Or as someone trying to be all adulty and stuff. This was me 6 months after giving birth to my fifth child and 6 weeks into a gruelling 500 calories a day supplement supported “detox”. I wasn’t allowed to exercise on this diet which is clear because there were no calories to spare. I cried many of those 42 days and would beat myself up when I ate an extra cracker or didn’t lose some gram of weight daily. Then at the end of all that, 10kg lighter, I still saw a fat, disfigured, heavy set woman. Although that is me smiling in the photo – posing even – in all honestly I had my daughter take at least 20 photos before I decided none of them were good enough to share and went into the bathroom to cry because I was just so fucking hideous. Which cracks me up now because I’d give my fifth child up (I’m kidding!) to look like that again but I wouldn’t ever want to go back to the way I felt emotionally and mentally at that moment in my life.
The photo on the left was taken 3 months ago. It’s a flattering photo of my current body & this is obvious to me because it’s the only full length photo I can find of myself recently. Which means that perhaps I don’t look like that in real life. Perhaps I am bigger and realistically I know I am. I know I am because I am pretty close to the weight I was in my pregnant photo. Yes the pregnant heifer on the right. The one who was warned to lose weight or face diabetes. I also know I am heavyset because categorically the BMI (or as I prefer to call it Bad Mother-fucking-mental-image Indicator) says I am either close to being obese or I’m too short for my weight.
BUT what it doesn’t tell you is that in the here and now I eat a well balanced diet including eating some form of crap once or twice a week because I love food that is sometimes not classified as “good” food. It doesn’t tell you that I’ve given up the torturous yo-yo dieting, self sabotaging and body hating. I no longer drink coffee because of the horrible reflux, the side-effect-city medication I took for it and the anxiety those little brown beans caused me. I seldom drink more than one or two glasses of alcohol a week, though if I do it’s more like 6 or 7 in one quick sitting as I’m a irregular try-hard party girl who prefers her jarmies, a good book and her bed. But most importantly what it doesn’t tell you is that I am mentally stronger than I have ever been in my entire I-feel-not-good-enough life.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “cured” of this mental torture so many of us have and in all honesty I can say sometimes when I look in the mirror I don’t love what I see. Sometimes I look at photos and it looks as though I am smuggling food in my mouth. But I’m not. My cheeks are just chubbier than they once were which would have been cute 30-something years ago. What’s more confronting is that I know you guys see it too. You see the extra chin, the bigger belly, the fatter arms. And it’s there for all to see. I get it I see it too. But whats more important is what you don’t see. You don’t see the real difference between those three photos, those fragmented stages of my life. The difference that actually matters. And that is my mental state. My happiness.
I can now honestly say that 97% of my time is spent with me accepting my body. But don’t you dare confuse acceptance with defeat. I haven’t given up on my health. I am not “letting myself go”. My health is top of my priority list as I get to the halfway point of my life – assuming I live to 70-something. I don’t want to hear the “no excuses” tag line anymore because I do actually have them. I have a few of them. But I will not justify any of them to you because this is my body. My life. My mental state in question. My excuses. My reasons. My body. My life.
Mental health issues are torture. Be kind to others – you do not know their insides and if you did you would be a really valued member in the X-ray department. Stay focused… on yourself. Your own life. Your own happiness.