The “before” pic is the one that matters

Alison Bender   Women/ motherhood  

So I know a few brave mums have done this already, but I wanted to show you a little something. When you look at this before and after pic, you automatically think the first picture is one with a baby in my tummy. WRONG!

This picture was taken a week after my second baby was born. You can see by the look on my face I’m pretty down about this.

I don’t even have a picture after my first was born because I couldn’t even bear to look at my body, it was so heavy, so unfamiliar, so, well, depressing.

All these stories about mums “bouncing back” and all these celebrity post partum bodies are not totally representative of what our bodies go through so I wanted to share my story.

“When are you due love” said the lady on the fruit and veg stall. My face dropped and I didn’t quite know how to tell her I had in fact had my baby a few weeks ago. I don’t blame her; I was carrying a huge bump and no baby. My son was in hospital for 6 weeks after his birth with medical problems and so I was living in the hospital, this was the first time I’d ventured out, alone. I was feeling a bit down because I was all out of shape and wanted to buy some fresh fruit and try and feel healthy, this was the last thing I needed to hear.

A few days later I went to register his birth in the hospital and the woman on the desk said “you’re in the wrong place, this is for people who’ve had their babies”, she probably should have known better, but again, there is not enough education about what some post-partum bodies can look like.

Don’t get me wrong. I was utterly delighted (perhaps a little too elated) that I’d had my baby, and I guess that’s all that matters. But I was just a little caught by surprise.

I’ve always been pretty slim and never really had to worry about my weight, so this was a complete shock to me. I knew I had to be patient (and allow myself a year) but it’s so hard lugging around all this extra fat. It was heavy and uncomfortable and I felt in no man’s land in terms of clothes. Add to that I’m on TV so I am judged (to a certain extent) on how I look. I wanted to go back to work and feel confident.

I decided to go on a mission to get fit. I signed up to everything: baby yoga, buggy-fit and got myself a personal trainer. Mel Deane has been a saviour. I’m naturally lazy with exercise and so to have someone giving me the orders was what I needed. When I first started with him all I really wanted was a flat tummy. Now I’ve learned how nice it is to look and feel strong rather than skinny.

I also want to give a shout out to the wonderful Pulsin’ who make incredible Protein bars and Protein Powders. I’m very happy to be an ambassador as I genuinely love their products and believe in their benefits. Any spare space in my suitcase was crammed with them and they are so handy for when I’m on the road.

Listen, I know people look at “these gym girls” and say “she’s gone too far” etc. etc. I used to be the same, but you can’t really control the way your body reacts to exercise. Of course I’d love to be curvy and strong at the same time, but it’s not my body type, so please don’t judge. I admit I probably look a bit skinny in my after pic. but this is me and I’ve always had that body type. We have what we have been given and all I want to do is to take control of my own body again. I’m never going to be how I was before children and I’m (finally) cool with that.

As it turns out, my after picture looks like I’ve lost all of it. Pictures can be quite deceiving. My body is certainly different, but it’s about being comfortable and confident with it. I don’t like to use the word vain, so let’s just say I’m “self aware” (let’s face it!) and not hugely comfortable with too much “warts and all” stuff, but I did want to share that picture as I want girls to know this and not be shocked like I was.

I didn’t write this blog to get a load of praise, for my body or my “honesty”. Some women can’t afford (both in time or money) a personal trainer and I have the utmost respect for mums who spend time with their babies instead of hitting the gym. For me it was so important both for being on TV and for my own confidence to feel good and to be able to fit into my old clothes rather than having to buy an entire new working wardrobe. It simply was my mission, and something I’d discussed with my husband before we had our second baby.

To all the girls out there fighting to love their bodies (with or without kids) we all come in many shapes and sizes. Try to love what you’ve got; the girls who look the best are the ones who are comfortable with themselves.

Alison x