Before I had my kids I had a pretty rocking body, and I don’t mind saying that because probably no-one reading this knew me that long ago to disagree with me!! All the bits of me were in the right places, my butt and my boobs hadn’t had their deep and meaningful chat with gravity yet, and my abs were as tight and flat as they were ever going to get. I could run, dance, learn new activities, train as much as I liked without getting injured etc etc, y’know what I’m saying, I was , now what’s the word for it … oh yeah, younger! And so of course my two pregnancies were lovely and delightful (you can tell it’s been a few years!) and all went swimmingly until I had had my son – 2nd child - in 2012. At the time I had been training consistently and fairly intensely for about a year doing Crossfit, and had really enjoyed being strong and fit through that pregnancy and my labour was a cinch – in comparison to many other stories I’ve heard, and real life traumas, I really do mean it was easy: Those hormones tho’ WOW! I had hoped that things would just go on pretty much as after I had had my first child. I know, hilarious right, what the hell kind of delusional world was I living in? Of course when my abs didn’t pop back into shape like every celeb/friend/fictional more-awesome-than-me woman around me that my brain made up on a regular basis, and I didn’t produce milk on the spot and I didn’t exude serene calm at my darling babies every second and I didn’t feel like I had it all worked out like I was trying so hard to make it look, then I felt let down. Yes really, I think that’s the only way I can describe it, I felt let down by my body that had worked pretty darn well before and really had no reason not to work so well now, but it just wasn’t. But oh my god did I try to make it work, I trained so bloody hard, I even started going to sessions at 6am so that I could “fit it all in”, I picked bits of information from various different professionals and tried to make it all make me right again, and just bullied on through all the illnesses, injuries and massive gigantic warning signs until there really was nothing for it. I had to accept that my abdominals were not going back together without help, and that my superwoman tactics were not fooling anyone least of myself! I have what I now realize is typical for an ex-“athlete” – a diastasis recti, or abdominal separation, of 3 finger widths, plus a hernia caused after getting a massive peroneal tear delivering my gigantic son, and either post-partum Hashimoto’s disease or massive adrenal fatigue (still to be decided) which caused various digestive and immune system issues alongside all the rest.
Stopping, slowing down, having a good think about what was going on for me and being mindful of what I had rather than thinking about what I should be helped switch my disengaged mind back to connecting with my body and my own self worth. I know I’ve made it sound easy, as if in 29 words everything was sorted but of course it’s not, this is a work in progress as it should be. This is the “new normal” now, I’m not “younger” anymore and I’m also Mum to 2 growing humans and showing myself kindness will show to them to be kind and not be mean to themselves as well. I’m not talking about giving myself a pat on the back, high-fiving myself (?) and shouting “you’re awesome” and carrying on, I’m talking about taking many moments every day to think and reinforce: I am amazing, I am good enough, I have enough, and I do not need to be more. Moving and living and being grateful for both of those things is always enough for me now, I’ve realized that moving with ease and fluidity throughout the whole of my day, every day is so much more important than thrashing some 25 year old in a crazy 6 minute workout at Crossfit.
In the words of the incomparable Mary Tyler Moore who passed away recently:
“Whatever it is, it’s OK because it’s what it is. Don’t be looking for perfection. Don’t be short-tempered with yourself. And you’ll be a whole lot nicer to be around with everyone else.”