After years at dance school resulted in an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, Lucy from This Mum’s Life is on a mission to love her post baby body again. With her newfound approach to life and loving herself I’d say she’s got this…
Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?
I like my eyelashes-they’re naturally dark and long!
I like my hands, because they’re quite delicate-I did ballet for years, and people often say that my hands look very graceful still, when I move-I love it when people say that!
Not a body part, but I’ve always liked that I’ve got an unusual combination of features. I have red hair, but I also have really dark eyes, and skin that goes very olive with a little bit of sun. Not many red heads have that, as most are pale. My mum is half Bajan, so I ended up with her skin, with the hair coming from my dad’s side!
Share a memory of when you felt particularly good about yourself.
Just before I got married (4&1/2 years ago.) It was the first time in my life that I’d gotten into shape in a way that I’d enjoyed. Instead of killing myself with exercise that I didn’t enjoy, I had found Pilates, and exercise that I found fun. Instead of starvation and denial, I was eating in a balanced way, and looking and feeling in the best shape of my life for it.
Has your relationship with your body changed over time?
Yes. As a child, I wanted to be a dancer. I spent my life at dance school, seminars, summer schools, auditions. The overriding message was that to succeed, you needed to be thin. Although it could be the most exciting environment to be in, and my happiest childhood memories are of dance school, it was also a very damaging place. There was competition between us, as to who could be the thinnest, who could eat the least. At 8 years old, I hated my body, and started to become devious at hiding food, and hiding the fact I wasn’t eating. It was an obsession that continued to rule my life, into my teenage years. There were particular times I can remember, at 10, and 17, where my ribs and hip bones were prominently on display, making me ‘happy,’ offset by being cold, tired, miserable, and flipping starving. I could never seem to find the balance. Into my 20’s, I finally began to understand how to eat properly, and realised that exercise could be fun, and not just something to endure until I dropped, in order to keep the weight off.
Having children has changed my body beyond recognition, and I can’t deny that it’s brought back those old feelings of self loathing again, and a sense of lacking control to change what I don’t like. I’ve been very mean about my postnatal body, but I’m finally realizing to give it some respect, and I’m making progress in learning to accept the changes, and to finally work out what works for this new body to be healthy, and be in shape, because it has been like starting over, with somebody else’s body.
If you are a parent (or have little people in your life), has this changed how you perceive or discuss healthy body image?
I make a conscious effort not to be negative about my body in front of the children. I always eat with them at lunchtime, and discuss what I’m eating, and why it’s a good choice-they are fussy eaters, but so was I at their age, so although they’re often eating something that isn’t particularly the best choice, I still discuss the best options with them, and why. I also let them see me naked, and ask questions about my ‘wobbly’ tummy. I don’t want them to think women have to look perfect all the time, and to know what to expect from a postnatal body.
What advice would you give to your teenage self on the subject of body image?
I weep for my teenage self, I really do. I would’ve said ‘you’re such an idiot! Please be kinder to yourself! Eating well and gentle exercise will work just as well as starving yourself-in fact, once you slip up once from starving yourself, you’re more likely to put weight back on, because your body will hold onto whatever you give it, fearing you will starve it again. Don’t compare yourself to your naturally skinny friends, with totally different body shapes to you. Please just like yourself, there’s nothing to loathe here.’
What’s the best thing you’ve ever done for your body?
Nourished it with proper, evidence based, nutritionally packed foods, that are also enjoyable. I have PCOS, and therefore problems with blood sugar balance. I saw a nutritionist, who totally overhauled the way I eat, and introduced nutritionally dense meals, that are quick, easy, and taste amazing!
Share one confidence boosting trick for days when you’re feeling a bit ‘meh’.
For me, I only wear lipstick on very special occasions. But if I am feeling a bit ‘meh,’ I find putting some on, will lift an outfit, and make me feel instantly better!
Who in the public eye do you admire for celebrating natural body shape?
Lena Dunham!!!! Love love love her!!! In ‘Girls,’ she spends entire episodes in a bikini. She doesn’t have the traditional ‘Hollywood’ body that you’d normally see in a bikini on TV. But she totally owns it, and looks awesome. She oozes confidence, and is my absolute hero.
Give us your best body positive quote or mantra.
Well, as I love her, it has to be one from Lena! ‘I think about my body as a tool to do the stuff I need to do, but not the be-all-end-all of my existence.’
I pledge to love myself a little more today by…
Scrapping the spanx, and getting dressed in front of my husband, and not making him leave the room!
Thanks so much to Lucy for being my guest this week. If you are enjoying this series and think you would like to join in then just drop me a message in the comments below- I’d love to hear from you! x