Friday, May 16, 2014

Weight Matters – does it?

Not the pounds and pounds of excess weight that need to be shed so you’re not at a risk of falling critically ill. The kind that you put on after the festive season – a couple of kilos after eating too many sweets. The type of weight you sport after a holiday, where you spent your days lolling on the hammock, reading, watching television, and tucking into lavishly laid-out buffets.

That type of weight that rounds your face, adds a hint of a double-chin, thickens your waist by an inch, and pushes your tummy out, just a wee-bit out. That kind of weight that you can shed with regular exercise and nourishing but sensible eating.

That type of weight that comes with a postpartum body.

Fuller breasts for feeding your baby. A rounder tummy and softer core after carrying around your little one in utero for 9 long months.   Thicker (and stronger) arms to lift and cuddle your baby.

A small package of weight to sustain you as your body works overtime, being a milk factory and primary caregiver. That dollop of cushioning that’ll slough away as you nourish your baby, exercise, eat sensibly and go about the business of being a mother.

When I went into labor, I had a dozen extra kilos on me – a sum total of the baby’s weight, fluids and fat. In fact, as I trundled into the last month, my health care practitioner urged me to gain a little more weight every week, than what I was managing to do. So with spoonfuls of ghee and more frequent meals, I managed to put on what was just about right and necessary as I reached the finishing line of my pregnancy.

The next time I jumped on the weighing scale, after a few weeks of birthing my son, wading through the NICU experience and overdosing on sugar, I still had 8 of those kilos on me. Much to my disappointment (I still suspect that I put on a couple of kilos as I gorged on anything sweet to deal with the stress). Because hey, all along, I had been one of those pregnant women, who put on the pounds on a crawl.

So began my battle with my self-image, as I saw my body change and morph into a being that hardly looked like my pre-pregnancy self. Depending on the day and the way my hormones were coursing through me, I’d swing between disdain (for how my body had changed and the kilos that still clung on to me) and reluctant self-acceptance (the body does change, you are left with a smattering of kilos and its all okay).

I held onto my pre-pregnancy wardrobe and armed myself with boring sweats & baggy t-shirts to see me through till I got back to ‘normal’.

I didn’t feel pretty, even in spite of my husband and my mother, and all my mommy friends telling me that I looked good and that it was okay to be how and where I was.

I bristled over and became touchy at my father’s comments about doing something about my weight (my father prides himself for maintaining the same body weight for the past 40 years and has always been my numero uno critic whenever I’ve tiptoed to the chubbier side all through my life).

But over the course of the days – those that have been filled with back-to-back feedings and very less sleep, the needs of a baby and very less of mine – I began to see how my body rose to the task. How it coped. How it nourished another being (in the womb and outside).

I also began to notice that as the weeks passed by, as I began to get a little more sleep and packed regular exercise into my day, as I continued to nourish my baby, my body began letting go of some of the weight, one slow kilo at a time.

The clothes I had bought just after my son was born, don’t fit snugly around me anymore. My core is getting tighter, my stomach a little less round. I’m filled with more energy. I’ve got my mojo back.

And the weighing scales? I haven’t jumped on one in the past month or two. But the last time I was perched on a weighing scale, I was within arm’s reach of my pre-pregnancy number.

These past 10 months have put what I teach to test. Through my health coaching practice, I teach women about self-acceptance, and I’ve been pushed to accept my body at this new mothering stage, with its chunkiness and imperfections, with its love handles and rounded beauty.

I talk to my clients about loving yourself for who you are, no matter how many kilos you want to lose. And I have looked at myself with a renewed attitude, and learnt to love myself and my body for all its doing, for all its capable of, for how it’s not let me down.

I ask women to create a positive body image, and I’ve embraced my mother figure with all its curviness and softness, its lack of muscle tone and air-brushed goodness.

I’ve been humbled by the power of my body. I’ve let go of my idea of a yummy mummy and learnt to focus on what matters.

Health & happiness. 
Peace & joy. 
Staying nourished & nurturing my baby. 
Gratitude & grace. 
Ignoring comments about my roundedness & having faith in myself and my body.
Being kind to myself & brushing off what doesn’t matter.

What are your battles with your body image?

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