It feels like so long since I’ve written one of these more personal posts, I guess because everything in my life has generally been ticking along nicely! Obviously that’s fab, I really do count my blessings that after a lot of ups and downs things have really settled and I’m thankful that I’m not writing to you today about something more drastic like infertility or my little boy being ill!
What I wanted to share today was some of the changes I’m experiencing around my health and wellbeing and where I am with that right now.
To give you a bit of background context in case you’re a newer reader, I’d struggled with my weight my whole life up until about 7 years ago when I was able to lose a lot of weight. While I initially approached that from a healthy place it quite quickly developed into a less healthy obsession with healthy living that landed me at a very low weight and with fertility issues. I gained weight back and with the help of that plus some lifestyle changes and medication I became pregnant with my son. He arrived 5 weeks early and then shortly after that we discovered he had a very serious heart defect that needed open heart surgery. Obviously that was an incredibly stressful experience which was added to by the extreme sleep deprivation I experienced for over 2 years (our son wasn’t a very good sleeper!). I even trained and ran another half marathon – to raise money for the unit that treated him – in the year after I had Finley, which certainly didn’t help my stress levels either!
As I write this Finley is just over 2 and half years old and is finally sleeping pretty well and it seems all of that stress is starting to catch up with me. Naturally I haven’t felt my best over the last couple of years, I knew I was probably dealing with some adrenal fatigue, my energy levels were understandably poor and I’d gained weight. The weight gain hasn’t really felt like an issue but it has been very slowly creeping on.
My whole approach to healthy living is finding a balance between how much effort you throw at it and the results you get out whilst keeping your relationship with food healthy and loving your body. So if you feel good eating a generally healthy diet with plenty of treats and total food freedom then that’s awesome. Some of us might need to be more aware of how many veggies we’re eating to feel good and therefore need to put in more effort there, etc. What I’ve recently felt is a tipping of the ‘scales’ – I’ve realised I really don’t feel my best, and for the first time in a couple of years, like now is the time to actively do something about it.
I mentioned weight before, and this is such a tricky area for me to navigate. I’m as body positive as I can be (obviously I’m only human and have some of those bad body image days) and I’ve done a lot of work on detaching myself from allowing my view of my body to be dictated to by society’s completely fucked standards. I don’t hate my body at all, what I’ve realised is how my body as a whole – my weight, energy, menstrual cycle, etc is an outcome of my lifestyle, which for too long has been in survival mode.
I’m not beating myself up about that, I’m a big believer that we go through phases of life and the phase I feel I’m currently leaving was not about my health and wellbeing being in tip top shape. It was more about damage limitation if I’m honest, and thanks to self care I survived! I’ve got through early motherhood, perhaps a little less gracefully than some other mums (yep, this is where my old friend comparisonitis comes in!) but I got through it and now it feels like this is time for me to get myself feeling good, especially as I’m very near winding up breastfeeding Fin, and very much looking forward to having my boobs back!
A lot of these thoughts were triggered off via the reflective journalling I do as part of my self care practice and at the Whole & Healthy LIVE retreat day a couple of weeks ago – I asked participants to think about what in life they are tolerating and it made me realise I’m tolerating far too much with regards to my health. I’m tolerating a really strange set of UTI type symptoms that come and go (I am seeing my doctor around this), I’m tolerating low energy levels, I’m tolerating my cycles suddenly lengthening by a week (I’m now having 36 day cycles all of a sudden), I’m tolerating not feeling 100% comfortable in my body and clothes. So many of us tolerate things because we don’t think they can be changed, and I feel like I’ve used lack of sleep and stress as an excuse not to really put in the extra 20% of effort that’s likely to get me the extra 50% of results. It’s also been so easy to ignore these things and just crack on with life.
The way I choose to view this is a shift in what makes me feel balanced. I can’t live out the same lifestyle I am currently and expect to see any changes, so I need to change. That’s likely going to be some changes to how I eat, new supplements, most definitely a reduction in my beloved coffee, a review of my self care needs, more gentle movement (daily yoga is feeling really good for me right now) and yes, most definitely less treats like my fave cinnamon rolls! There’s no way I’m placing any big restrictions around my diet because that totally backfires for me, rather I’m really tuning in to coming at this whole thing from a ‘love myself better’ type of approach.
On the topic of weight, losing weight and body positivity this can be extremely hard to figure out. I know a few women, similar to me, who love the body positive movement but don’t feel comfortable in their bodies and know their health isn’t where they’d like it to be, yet feel guilty for wanting to change their bodies because naturally if we’re supposed to be body positive we should be happy with our bodies no matter what, right? For me, the fact that I love my body is unconditional like how you’d love a child. But in the same way you care for a child, you love them inclusive of their tantrums and meltdowns. You support them to make healthy choices totally regardless of how they look or behave. For me, that’s how I want to treat my body, especially right now.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this! What are your views around weight and body positivity and how does that show up for you? What have you been tolerating lately?
Laura as usual you read our minds x this is such an inspiring post thank you
My pleasure Emma xx
It’s such a tricky balancing act, but if you are not feeling 100% then you can change some things to help. I imagine having a young child does switch things over to survival mode, so now you are out of the major sleep deprivation you can work on more than that.
Also, you may well have asked your doctor, but the UTI symptoms are exactly what I had with the ovarian cyst- it had grown so large so it was pulling on the ovary, twisting it around (which was causing pain) and also pressing on my bladder which explained the UTI symptoms when no infection was present.
I’m just awaiting to get a referral to a urologist and hoping that will give me some answers, it seems it could be a multitude of things! I don’t have any pain just the urgency and frequency but it’s very mild and when I’m distracted I can’t feel it but it is annoying and not something to be ignored so I need to get it sorted :-)
Such a lovely, balanced post, Laura. Thank you for sharing it.
A good friend of mine always refers to phases in her life as “seasons” and I’m finding myself adopting that idea. Perhaps as a three-month season, or a tweaking my food habits season or whatever works for us. There is always such pressure to find quick answers and yet life is in the journey.
Love calling them seasons that’s a great word for it and actually a great way to reframe things as well :-)
I am pretty much in the same situation. I had a rough pregnancy and used that as an excuse to eat pretty much whatever I wanted. I am now much heavier than I am happy with and I just feel like crap. The first 5 months of motherhood have been really tough and the sleep deprivation takes its toll and sometimes food is the only thing that made me feel better about it all. But knowing that I am avoiding photos with my daughter and I can’t be as active with her as I would like to be is enough for me to realise I need to change it and make healthier choices.
We can still love our bodies for everything they can do and we can still say sod off to the medias beautu standards and also make healthier changes so that we are happier in our own skin.
It’s so bloody hard isn’t it, totally agree with that final sentence of yours, absolutely hits the nail on the head. Sleep depravation is an absolute bitch too, it will get better though! Fin sleeps so much better now it’s heaven I think I get about 8-9 hours most nights!
Love your wordy posts as always. I see maintaining a weight I’m comfortable at as being body positive as I don’t feel my best if my clothes aren’t fitting well and I’m feeling bleugh from over-doing sugar and having too many “occasional” treats but it is so hard when there’s still such conflicting messages out there about female bodies. x