Today after taking my children to school, one of the mothers said to me, “look at you – no one would ever guess that you had twins.”
Needless to say, I felt awkward. What do you say to something like that?
“No, they wouldn’t, would they?” – which sounds up myself and conceited.
“I don’t know about that” – which is basically telling her that her opinion is wrong.
“What is a mum of twins supposed to look like?” – which is confrontational and aggressive.
What I said to her was, “I didn’t eat much when they were first born”.
Why did I say that?
In my mind I was thinking of the time when I couldn’t finish my dinner because I was too exhausted to put another forkful of pasta into my mouth and chew it.
But what I’m guessing she assumed was that I dieted and starved myself to “get my body back” (whatever that means – my body was still mine whilst I was pregnant, it just was a very different shape! 🙂 )
On my drive home, I started to feel bad. I believe in being honest with people – particularly about my experiences with parenting and health (yes, the first couple of years as a twin mum was hard; and no, I can’t eat whatever I want and not put on weight).
I certainly didn’t mean to give this mum the impression that I starved myself to be in the healthy weight range. Because that certainly isn’t true.
Another comment received about my body last year was from a colleague who came up to me and said, “ you’re thin because of your genetics, aren’t you?” I responded that, although I am fortunate to not put on weight quickly, I do generally eat healthily and go to the gym three times a week.
To which she replied, “yes, but it’s mainly genetics, isn’t it?”
And I said, “I think it’s mostly because I eat well and exercise”.
To which she said, “but it’s mainly because you’ve got good genes, isn’t it?”
At which point, I realised that it didn’t matter what the truth was. She wanted to hear that my body shape was predetermined and out of my control.
So even though I would rather people tell me how it really is, perhaps a lot of people don’t want honesty – particularly when it comes to their body and their health?
I think that there are some people who struggle to lose weight no matter how healthily they eat or how much they exercise.
I also think that there are some people who are naturally slim. These are the people who can eat as much of whatever they want and not put on weight. However, later in their lives they may find out that treating their bodies in this way has led to a lifestyle disease, such as diabetes type 2 or cardiac disease.
For most of us though, keeping ourselves in the healthy weight range means we need to eat nutritious foods, move our bodies and ensure that the calories we eat are roughly equal to the calories we use throughout the day.
Sure, you may wish that you were one of those people who were naturally thin and can apparently “get away” with eating whatever you want. But wouldn’t you rather have an early alarm bell to warn you that your health may need some attention? Isn’t this better than going through life being lean only to find out later that you’ve got a disease that could have been prevented if only you’d been kinder to your body?
So as irritating and depressing that putting on weight may be, it may be useful to look at it as a red flag waving at you indicating that you need to give your body some attention – that maybe a change is required. It may be that you need to eat healthier or move your body more. Or it may be that there is something else going on, which you need to speak to your healthcare provider about.
Whatever you do, please don’t ignore it.
Don’t assume that you are just one of the unlucky ones who isn’t blessed with “good genes”. In reality, there are very few people in that category (and there’s no guarantee that just because they look healthy on the outside, that their insides are in the best shape).
Looking after yourself doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. Take small steps each day to being a healthier you. Drink an extra glass of water, take the stairs or add some vegetables to your pasta.
Small things add up and will make a difference to you today and will have a big impact to your health in the future.