Wow, a lot has changed in the last year.
This past year has been all about change. My priorities have changed, my body has changed (a lot) and my entire life has been flipped upside down (in a good way).
However, my thoughts around eating and exercising habits have surprisingly stayed relatively constant.
In the early postpartum days, I was eating a TON of food! I literally could not eat enough. I vividly remember shovelling whatever food I could find into my mouth at all hours of the day and night.
I remember having judgemental feelings about myself at this time as I felt the calories I was consuming was way more than I was outputting. But I knew now was not the time to start restricting if I wanted to have the energy to care for my baby.
Once breastfeeding got a little less intense, my appetite slowly started to come back to what I felt was “normal” for me. I was still eating a lot more than I ever did when I was pregnant, but I didn’t feel as hungry all of the time.
Around the 4 – 6 month mark was when I started adding more intense exercise back into my life. This was a big moment for me as I hadn’t really done any intense exercise for almost 2 years at this point.
I’m not gonna lie, I was a little nervous; I was scared I was going to become addicted to it again.
But I went for it anyway. I joined a mom and baby bootcamp class and I loved it. I think what I loved most was moving my body and being able to spend time with others who I could identify with. It felt so good to be with other women like me and to feel my body moving again.
Unlike what I thought, I wasn’t as interested in how intense I could exercise (like I had been before) and instead I was more focused on how much fun I was having and making sure my baby was ok. My priorities really did change and it was really reassuring to me that I could continue to exercise without the previous feelings of addiction.
I continued to exercise twice per week until the end of my mat leave in Mom+Baby strength workouts, even joining a mom+baby CrossFit class!! Now that was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I ended up really liking it.
There were a couple of instances I can remember where if I missed a class I would feel guilty about it. But I quickly recognized it as judgement and moved on. I didn’t let exercise or food dictate my mood and I didn’t feel the need to exercise every single day as I had done in the past.
Removing the guilt around exercise really made me focus on how my body actually felt with or without it. I realized that some kinds of workouts made me feel depleted and others made me feel energized.
It is so liberating to focus on exercising for enjoyment rather than out of guilt or shame. By removing the need to track objective measurements like calories, heart rate or steps and instead focus on subjective measurements like energy levels, happiness and how my body feels, I no longer feel like a slave to exercise.
My eating has gone on a similar journey. Removing labels and the guilt around all food has allowed me to choose foods based on how they make me feel rather than how many calories they have or how healthy they are.
I’ve had to unlearn everything I’ve learned about food in order to get to this point. I had to let myself be ok with eating bread whenever I wanted. I had to let myself be ok with eating chips, chocolate or candy whenever I wanted. And I had to let myself be ok with eating dairy and other animal products whenever I wanted. Yes this was incredibly extra hard for me because it goes against a lot of what I stand for, but in order to truly overcome my eating disorder, I had to make all foods ok. I plan on writing a post about how my diet evolved to better explain that journey, but for now I will leave it here and tell you that my diet is still primarily plant-based.
As you can imagine, the more I gave myself permission to eat the things that were previously off-limits, the more I would eat them. And the more I ate them, the more I understood how my body actually responded to them (not how the guilt or negative thoughts around the food made me feel). I started to understand what foods helped my body feel energized and which foods left me feeling depleted, anxious or bloated. Now that I know this about my body, it helps me make the right food choices depending on what’s available and what I’m in the mood for.
Another amazing thing that happens when you allow yourself to eat without guilt: you stop caring so much about food. I stopped thinking about food all of the time and now I typically only think about it when I’m hungry.
You can imagine how much more space you can create in your mind when it is not bombarded with food or exercise.
I wish I could give you an example of what I ate in a day or how many times I exercised on average now but…
- I can’t remember because I don’t track it anymore
- It differs day to day and week to week
Some days I eat bagels and butter and carbs all day and some days I have smoothies and salads. It really depends on what I’m in the mood for and what my body is asking for.
Some days I exercise a lot; teaching Pilates classes and some days I don’t exercise at all. I am generally an active person so I like to move around a lot regardless if exercise is planned or not.
Since having Rachel, it took my body about a year but it has now stabilized and I am in a place where I feel good and healthy. I really like my body (ok maybe minus my lifeless boobs :'( – breastfeed they said…) but I have no plans to change it. I have no idea how much I weigh or what size I am and I don’t plan on finding out.
My life is better without numbers.
As I’m wrapping up this post what I want you to take away from it is this:
- There is no one perfect “healthy” way of eating. What’s healthy for me may not be healthy for you. And trying to chase “healthy” as defined by the media will only wind you up with an eating disorder (you can read more about how that happened to me in this post).
- There is no one perfect way to exercise (although I highly suggest Pilates on Demand 😉 haha – shameless plug). All you need to do is find a way of exercising that feels good and natural to you – and don’t underestimate the power of walking! Low impact exercise can do wonders for the body and it all counts as exercise.
- Be ok with who you are and what you look like. Nobody said you had to change to be worthy – and if they did, fuck them! Your body is doing amazing things for you every single day, and once we can see our bodies for what they really are (just a body), we can unlock our true selves and the potential we are too scared/embarrassed/ashamed to share with the world.
If you are suffering from HA or any other insecurities around body image, know that moving towards loving your body and accepting it is the right path. Know that you can get your life back when you give up chasing the ideal body. Know that you will not regret making this change for yourself.
I am here to tell you right now to take the first step towards creating a life that lifts you up. Create a life that revolves around what you want to do and all of the things you can do.
Let go of the ideals. Let go of the guilt. And surrender to your body – it’s so much smarter than you give it credit for 😉