Distorted Expectations – Regaining my Figure after Pregnancy

By Rebbecca Hemmings aka Becks 

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When I discovered I was pregnant in August 2012, I was so excited at the prospect of challenging myself to lose the weight afterwards. At that time I was at a great weight, I felt wonderful and looked fabulous. I was confident that I could repeat this success.

However, after gaining 4 stones during pregnancy, growing out of all my clothes and losing my muscles tone (due to being banned from most forms of exercise whilst pregnant because I was classed at ‘high risk’), all that optimism dwindled like a falling leaf.  

The funny thing is, I did not binge eat whilst pregnant. Yes, I ate more than I normally did but not a significant amount. I was always very conscious of over-doing it, yet I promised myself I would not feel guilty for what I ate as I was nourishing my baby.

So, my beautiful daughter was born in May 2013. Though sore from a C-section, I was generally quite blissful, glad to have my body back and ready to get into my pre-pregnancy clothes. Yes, I knew I wouldn’t get into them straight away but I honestly didn’t think it would take a year! I mean I started exercising (albeit slowly) 6 weeks after giving birth. I started teaching 2 classes a week at 12 weeks.

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I remember in the early days I would take weekly photos of my belly as it reduced in size. I shared this information with my sister. I was met with raucous laughter and the comment: ‘Weekly? You’d better start taking them monthly at the very least!’ Was she really saying that it would take months for my stomach to get back to normal? Yes she was!

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At that point I did stop taking the weekly pictures because deep down I knew she was right. I could feel it! This getting back to normal stuff was going to take some time. Secretly I was tired of putting on my clothes and feeling rubbish because I looked ridiculous in them. I took to wearing a swimming costume when teaching Zumba, as I couldn’t fathom the embarrassment I would feel if my post-pregnant belly popped out. Plus, I hated the feeling of the extra jiggle when I did my then defunct signature pump.  I was get really paranoid when teaching my classes. Especially if new people came and didn’t know I had had a baby. I took every chance I could to mention it. I felt every one’s eyes on my stomach and I imagined they were saying ‘Oh, it’s a bit bigger than I thought it would be by now!’

 

Then I realised, that these thoughts were perceptions of my reality and that I was free to change them. In fact if I did change them to more positive points of view, I might have a better experience. So I did! I stopped expecting my poor body to fit back into my old clothes and bought new ones that complimented my new shape. I kept wearing my swimming costume and other support garments (guilt –free), until I felt confident enough to not wear them. I told myself that the women in my class all know I’ve just had a baby and they actually admire the fact that I am up and running and working towards my goals just as they are. These new thoughts really changed my experience, I was able to relax and think about other stuff. It made no sense worrying, I was doing all I could to lose the extra baggage.

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So in one year what have I done to lose the extra weight? Well in the first two months, I taught two classes a week (I started out very gently). I ate what I liked within reason but I was careful not to over-do it. Then in month 8 I began teaching 6 classes a week, plus I did a 7 week weight loss programme (remember when I wanted to lose a stone for my birthday?) I lost 12 lbs.

 

Now? Well we have just celebrated Jasmine’s 1st birthday and one friend commented that ‘You look smaller now than before you were pregnant’. The scales say I have lost the 4 stones I gained. I notice my hips are the narrowest they have been in years. I put that down to me doing a lot of SO Dancehall classes (as we do a lot of lower leg work) and I’ve also included a lot more squats and lunges into my Zumba classes. But the more important thing is that I am really happy with my body and its progress. Once I let go of unrealistic expectations, everything literally has fallen into place. It feels great!

Now, the question I keep getting asked is: so when are you going to have the next one? Well err.. despite the progress I have made, I would like to hang on to my new shape a little while longer so erm.. we’ll see. :-)

 

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