I’m sure you can guess what it is – let’s just say, my stomach’s feeling growly.
Yet, no matter how little I put in it, it’s still more muffin than washboard. And it’s about this time of year I think, “Balls to it,” and bury my face in a packet of chocolate Hobnobs. This year, the plight seems more hopeless because the tummy has housed a not-so-small (very overdue) baby and it’s not for pinging back. My usual plan of attacking fat by pounding pavements is hampered by the very real possibility I’ll spray my local streets with urine. As much as I dream of a flat tum, I’m not prepared to behave like the local unneutered tomcat.
But I’m grateful for these changes to my body because they’ve forced me to stop and reflect. For 30 years I’ve been through constant cycles of attacking my fat or loathing it, I’ve realised – except for those magical 42-weeks when my daughter was growing inside me. During pregnancy, I marvelled at my body. I stopped wearing pants that cut into my hips and I started wearing waistbands that let me breath. I exercised gently to strengthen and stretch my tired muscles. I listened to what I wanted to eat and I didn’t feel bad for having a slice of cake. Nurturing a growing life made me treat my body with respect.
Now, postpartum, I almost reverted back to type. But today I’m making a new resolution to love myself, as I am – my lumps and bumps and everything they stand for. No more attacking or pounding. I’m introducing changes to my lifestyle that feel nurturing and which should be easy to stick to all year. I hope you’ll find them as life-changing as I have…
1. Eating more fruit and vegetables: Notice I’m saying more fruit and vegetables and not less of – well – anything. I’m adding vegetables to every meal (spinach with my eggs on toast at breakfast), so I fill up on the good stuff first. Then if my body still wants cake, so be it.
2. Pelvic floor exercises: Tomcat jokes aside, the state of my pelvic floor is a problem so I need to focus my energy on exercising those muscles at least three times a day. My brain’s not far behind, so I know I won’t remember to do the exercises unless I have a prompt. For me, that’s going to be every time I sit down to give my daughter a bottle, a bath and a bedtime story. And squeeze…
3. Building core strength: Now that I’ve looked into this, it seems the best chance I’ve got for a flat stomach comes from core strength not fat-burning… who knew? Plus, it’ll help all those niggly backaches I get from sitting at the computer and lifting my toddler. I’m signing up for a Pilates course that specialises in postpartum mums. If there aren’t any in your area, look for online alternatives like Kate Smart Fitness.
4. Raising my heart rate: Once the pelvic floor’s in shape and the core is stronger, I’d like to do something that raises my heart rate once in a while because I know I’ll feel good afterwards. Cycling (or spinning), swimming or even brisk walking are all good low-impact alternatives to running. But if I only do this once a month (or less), there will be no guilt. NO GUILT! You hear me?
5. Making exercise work for me: Looking after kids is exhausting. It saps all your energy but no calories; such is the unfair way of life. But this 5 Minute Workout can be done with kids, and it’s funny! Which seems like a good use of time and energy.
Follow writer, blogger and mum Sara on Twitter: @SarahLouWrites