Updated: Apr 26
This morning I posting this humblebrag...
The truth is, I am proud of my body, I am at a peak of my own physical health. There was once a time I couldn't get myself out of a cold bath #truestory. Today follows a year of me steadfastly refusing to lose weight for my wedding based on two comments implying that weight-loss should be #1 in my wedding-planner. I lose weight for no man! (or woman... actually they were both women).
But do you think I did this? Hell no! I don't really have any right to be proud. This, like every other healthy / unhealthy lifestyle I've adopted is purely circumstantial. As a younger teenager I thought I was fat. I now realise I wasn't. I first put weight on when I went to Uni, I lost it a bit after graduation, I lost it a lot when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and I trained for a Cancer Research UK trek across Costa Rica to raise money. I put it on when he died, cushioning the blow with rest and chocolate. I put it on when I got pregnant, I lost it when my kids were born, I put it on when I was treated for cancer with chemo and steroids, I lost it through an anti-cancer diet and on again when I needed a fat-transfer operation, and I lost it again after that op was done...
Me wanting to lose weight and actually losing it, have no correlation at all. In fact when I really focus on it, my body turns rebel on me and I go into conflict, anxiety and food obsession. Me feeling shame about my body has never resulted in lasting improvements to my physical health and will assuredly have impacted my emotional health. Thinness has always happened like stars aligning: the timing of external episodes such as major life changes; motivators, like wanting to stay alive or be an active Mum and privileged circumstances, such as working for myself so I can spend two hours this morning in the forest, because...
This time, the external factor has been the adoption of one inexhaustible hound four months ago. Yes I've become that person. I hope you appreciate my self-control over not filling my Insta with her.
What today's little humblebrag didn't tell you was... I've been struggling... with post-canine depression. So niche is this mental illness I'm sure you probably haven't heard of it. I have, I believe, just coined the phrase. But it is real. I have struggled: with losing the life I had before; with all of my spare time having been hijacked; not being able to go to the loo alone; gushing feelings of love; conflicted feelings of frustration; anxiety around her behaviour towards others; the responsibility of keeping her alive; the joy that she has bestowed on our family (my daughter has literally just walked past singing "I love my Dog more than anything in the world... tra la la la la!); getting used to her habits and routines; having my back wrenched - necessitating countless physio visits; the food I've lost; lots and lots of cleaning - the hair! Guys, we gotta shedder! And I will just point out, no Canine Leave, yep just working right on through it.
You may think from my light tone that I'm kidding, or perhaps worse, making light of post-natal depression. I'm not, I really have struggled. I was so unprepared for this!Things are getting better, but my point is, I look my physical best and had felt my emotional worst. OK so there are worse things... maybe not worst but still fairly untethered.
I haven't shared any of this on social. I feel confident to now with a bit of distance and normality. And you can bet, when I put on two stone a couple of years ago, so that the fat could be shifted from my butt to my boobs, I wasn't all over facebook congratulating my miraculous fat for multi-tasking. Even though it blew my mind, and I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to morph my arse into my chest. What's your super power?
My point being, we've got to start packaging successful health as more than just food, exercise and thinness. Health is a multi-layered, truly complex subject. But out of it all, the most unhealthy thing, the thing least likely to lead us to a healthier place, the thing least likely to help, is feeling ashamed of our mental or physical selves. Ditching that would be the healthiest thing we can change.
Postscript: It is twelve months later and I am now slightly heavier than before. Way to go self regulating body! You show that dog! Not at my peal any more, still idolizing the magic of my body.