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Celebrate your body as a mother – pregnancy changes it in various ways, and that’s OK. Just don’t let the shamers get you; focus on keeping yourself fit!
Suck the stomach in. (Can’t breathe!)
Let go of scrunched stomach. (Now it’s all out there!)
Welcome to my daily routine. Every morning, my mood for at least the first half of the day is dictated by how large or small I appear to myself, whether my face looks bloated or whether my behind looks like a pair of large pumpkins stashed together or respectably sized papayas. My husband mostly refers to this as ‘brain fat.’
For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with my body. Every morning before leaving for work, I would stand sideways, preen, pat my flat stomach, smile to myself and waddle away in my heels and figure hugging skirt, ready to take on the world.
The exercising continued, the heels disappeared along with the short skirts and a lot of extra layers of ‘me’ appeared. I took it in my stride, prepared to start shedding the pounds as easily as my german shepherd would shed hair after his bath, once I started breastfeeding.
I was told this repeatedly, so through the cracking nipples and a million nappy changes, and milking myself like a cow with the pump, I was smug in the knowledge that I would be my sexy self any day. The breastfeeding continued with great fervor but nothing peeled off except my dry skin.
I gained just about 11 kgs during my pregnancy. So I wasn’t ginormous to begin with but the extra weight was really bothering me. On one hand I was working out carefully and on the other I had a steady stream of gond ka laddoos, gajar ka halwa, rivers of ghee in my dal coming my way. I tried to cheat and avoid this food but my mother was keeping a close watch and most of the times I lost the battle.
I did start dropping the weight but not as fast as would have liked to. I was always chasing this utopian pre-pregnancy version of myself which I was fixated on even while everyone around me was telling me I was in great shape. And no flat stomach or complements or photographic evidence could convince me otherwise. I just didn’t feel I had the shape I was used to, so nothing else was good enough. Despite being quite fashionable and trendy all my life, for a while I even started dressing in loose clothes till my husband showed me the mirror and I realized I was looking like a homeless bag lady.
My daughter is 4 years old now and I’ve thankfully transitioned from the tents I was sporting to contemporary acceptable fashion but the ‘brain fat’ is a disease I’ve tamed to an extent, yet have generally made my peace living with. But whatever else plagued my head, my workouts never stopped. I have experimented with every possible home workout program because I could never make it to the gym (there was no reliable baby help consistently for a long time!), gone for runs in the rain, walked up and down 20 floors if I couldn’t step out, or just done spot jogging for an hour while my kid played or rolled around. So, don’t let the brain fat stop you in your tracks.
Here are some of my tips to help you keep at it and not give up on yourself.
I’ve often been shocked at how ruthlessly we all can drive our confidence and happiness into the ground by being overtly critical of ourselves. I’ve done it myself so often. God knows it’s hard enough to have a baby, then dealing with those mutinous hormones, managing the home, career, a multitude of expectations. We should be our own cheerleaders every single day instead of ridiculing how we look.
Like a famous line from one of my favorite movies reiterates, ‘Try squeezing something the size of a watermelon, from something that’s the size of a lemon and see how hot you look!’
If I let injuries hold me back, I wouldn’t be able to exercise a single day. I have already been detected with early osteoporosis and I have severe knee issues. But every time I feel a pull or an ache coming,(I’ve felt many after delivering!) I ice myself, rest if need be and move on. And once you start, the happy hormones you’ll release will not let you stop anyway.
My current fix is kickboxing and you should find your own. Keep experimenting to stave off boredom. You will have good days and bad days and that will change the lens you look at yourself with. But never forget to continue taking care of yourself. You owe it to yourself and your family because their lives revolve around yours!
I thought pregnant women, pre and post delivery, are treated with kid gloves and are always at the receiving end of compliments. Boy was I wrong. I had one lady in my office comment every week after my 6th month about how fat I was getting. One heartless woman even burst my bubble, once, when my kid was 2 years old and I bumped into her. She said, ‘Oh I remember you! You were lovely. What happened to you? So what if you had a baby?’ Of course I wanted to show her the mirror and remind her that she looked like the abominable snowman herself but I just smiled and walked away. Ignore people. Sometime, they say things for no reason.
Yes things have become bigger, other things have shrunk, you don’t look the same and on some days you don’t think you look great. But the fact that you are on this side of the river because you waded through hell and back and made another lovely little person inside you, is the most beautiful thing about you! And that is what truly matters.
Published here earlier.
Image source: Youtube
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