The January Social Pressures

Let’s be honest, it’s so hard to not get sucked into the vortex of new year diets, workout routines and calls for us to sign up to marathons we know we won’t commit to. Normally, I’d fall for at least one of those options just out of pure social pressure but this year is a little different as I’m in my third trimester with my second kid and I was adamant I was going to do things differently.

With my first child, I was obsessed with the ‘SnapBack’ so consumed by my own post-baby self-image that I admit to going to bed hungry on more than a few occasions just to be sure that I didn’t gain too much weight. I worked out diligently five days a week. A combination of kettlebells, jogging and yoga were my go-to exercise programs. Between the diet and the workouts, I came out of that pregnancy lighter than when I fell pregnant and on the surface, couldn’t be happier.

Once I’d gotten over the horrific birth and post birth palaver which meant I spent time in intensive care due to sepsis, I was back at it again. Co-ordinating with my partner I left the house every day at 4am to get to the gym at 4:15 and be back in time for him to go to work. This went on for a further six months until one morning I caught sight of myself in the gym mirror and got a fright.

Exhausted and looking terrible

I looked exhausted. I looked trim but terrible. The early mornings and late nights had caught up with me and the sheer insanity of how hard I was pushing myself stood before me with an exasperated expression. What the hell was I doing this for? I left the gym that instant and never returned.

Prior to having Esmé I had run countless half marathons, one full and an ultra. My social life was built around people who enjoyed working out and so there was always more encouragement to ‘Go Hard or Go Home’. But life was different then. I had no other life depending on me, so going out for a three-hour jog was not a problem.So that day in the gym I unashamedly decided to ‘go home’, re-evaluate my fitness regime and relax.The two years that followed saw my weight fluctuate even though I continued to work out.

Pregnant again….

When I found out I was pregnant last year, I was at the heaviest I’d ever been. And I’ve struggled that considering how intense I was when pregnant with Esmé but I’ve worked hard at taking the pressure off and moving my body in a way that suits me without exhausting myself.

Working out during pregnancy is non-negotiable for me. Whether it be a brisk 40min walk/jog or 30mins of yoga, every little helps with the aches and pains. Whilst I’m not eating for two, I’ve not been watching calories either. And most importantly, since falling pregnant, I have not stepped on the scale. So intent I am on focusing on feeling over figures that I close my eyes when being weighed by the midwife and instruct her not to tell me anything. And she happily agrees.

Doing all of the above has helped me remember that pregnancy is only for a short time and what a blessing it is to be pregnant. Since launching the platform #makemotherhooddiverse its only just become apparent to me how many women struggle to conceive and carry healthy babies to full term. After reading story after story about stillbirths and miscarriages it’s really helped cement what is most important. And that is myself and baby getting to the end of this journey happy and healthy. Body Mass Index is no sure indicator of any of the above. (for all the nitpickers out there, even at my lowest body weight I was in the overweight category for my height as that index does not calculate muscle mass, so bare that in mind before passing judgment)

Mentally, I am on top form. So pressured we are to look good, that we often overlook what it takes to feel good. The two don’t always dance Blotogether. Meditation and yoga have been paramount in allowing me to remain positive during this pregnancy. And hypnobirthing has been paramount in helping me let go of a poor past birth experience and concentrate on having a positive birth this time around. And that to me, is now the most important thing.

Blog Post written by Candice Brathwaite

Connect with Candice on Instagram