From someone who wished they'd read a blog post like this a long time ago...
It's ok. I'm not about to get all 'sciency' but I'll start by saying this was prompted by a post I saw which said that people think weight is determined by diet and exercise when really it's more to do with genetics, hormones and health, food and movement plus a bunch of other things we can't control. If weight is the one thing holding you back, this is for you.
I'm going to start from when I had my first baby for this one. Naturally I put on weight when I had my first. I wasn't overly worried because I knew it was normal. "The weight will just fall off when you breastfeed" everyone said. I didn't love how I looked and was reluctant to be in photos where I couldn't control the lighting or the background or the angle of my chins. I didn't get professional newborn photos, I took them myself which in hindsight, was silly. I took some more self portraits of myself and my son when he was 6 months and I realised that the weight I'd put on, wasn't going anywhere. The more time went by, the less I wanted to be in the photos, the more ashamed I felt that I couldn't get the weight to budge no matter how much I fed my son, exercised and made extra healthy meal choices.
Let's fast forward to when I fell pregnant with my second. I was 6kg heavier than when I was pregnant last time. It's sad that I can remember the numbers hey.. but it was always in the back of my head. I put on more weight. I think my list of excuses was.. normal pregnancy weight, not being able to go to the gym because of the pandemic, not being able to walk anywhere further than 5km from my house and it was boring seeing the same streets, can't eat the foods I want because there was always a shortage of at least one ingredient because of the pandemic.. I had every excuse. I had barely any in person appointments back then and I tell you what, when I did, I was always made to feel like s**t about my weight. My BMI suddenly determined that I was "high risk" and suddenly all these options were off the table for me because I was one number too high. I had never felt worse about myself. I was reduced to a number on a scale.
After my second was born, my health plummeted. I had a lot of unexplained hormonal things going on. I already knew I had endometriosis, but over the past 2 years I've also been diagnosed with adenomyosis and PCOS. Last year I had another surgery for my endometriosis and had a cyst removed. Two weeks later I had my family photos taken. I was puffy and bloated from my surgery, not to mention 11kg heavier than when I had my first baby. I still felt conscious of my weight, as well as sore, and if I'm honest I felt pretty defeated by my circumstance but I was motivated to capture these memories whether I felt like it or not. I'd had enough of not being in the picture. Here are some of the photos I got back...
When I got these images back, I did see my chins, I did see my arms, I did see my bloated post surgery belly but actually what I noticed more than anything else, was how much I love my kids and how much they love me and the only person who was thinking about my physical appearance was me. They brought all of the happy tears to my eyes and you can't even tell my son was misbehaving! This was April 2022.
Honestly, I've only started feeling 'healthy' since March this year. Before that, my numerous health conditions were causing me endless pain and the only thing that seemed to distract me from that was my photography. I've found a way to manage all of that for now and it's working. I feel human and happy. This next part though is probably the most important part.
Since this photos in April last year, I have lost 11kg. I'm back to my 'pre-baby weight' a number that has been in my head unnecessarily for 5 years. I've recently been putting on clothes I used to wear and you know what? 80% still don't fit right. My body has changed so much. It's a completely different shape. It's carried two children, it's experienced another surgery, it miraculously protected me from getting covid for 1007 days during the pandemic. While I was busy hating my body, it was busy fighting for me. All of these things that caused my weight were not my fault. It was a cocktail of genetics, things I can't control and the fact that I probably was so hung up on the idea that my own body was killing me that I didn't treat it the way I should have.
Those photos though? I love them more today than when I did then because not only do they perfectly capture the love between me and my kids, they show my journey. They're a reminder of how hard I fought to be in that moment with them. They show how hard I have fought since. I honestly can't wait for our next photos purely to capture this time that we're in together because now I know that what I physically look like, doesn't matter.
If I could go back and tell myself anything, it would be..
"All your kids really want, are photos with you in them because one day that's all they'll have left and they will want to tell everyone your story. The way you played, the way you laughed, the memories that you shared, and how you faced every challenge that came your way head on. They will tell everyone the ways in which they are like you and not for a moment will they see anything other than the mum who loved them."
If you take anything from this, I hope it's the last part.