Mojo; your influence, confidence or personal charisma
This post has been on my heart for quite a while. It pops into my head multiple times a day but space to write is hard to come by these days. For those of you who know me you will know that I have a beautiful two and a half year old daughter, she is absolute sunshine personified. You will also know that I have a long term struggle with body confidence and all the issues that come with that.
In the year before I fell pregnant I had gradually put on around about a stone; I was enjoying married life and barely set foot in the gym since the week before our wedding. So by the time I found out I was pregnant I was already having a little wobble, pardon the pun, about my body. I had a text book pregnancy, it wasn’t too tough aside from swelling like a balloon and continuous nausea that had me snacking on all the carbs I would rarely have touched before. My weight rocketed so much that by the middle of the second trimester I threw the scales into a cupboard and swore I wouldn’t stand on them again, it was putting a horrible cloud over my whole experience.
I enjoyed pregnancy in terms of all the excitement; the little kicks that turned into huge belly shaking movements, gathering up cute clothes and visiting the midwife to hear that speedy little heartbeat, discussing names, dreaming with hubby about what it would be like to hold our precious bundle. I loved those parts. All the while though, I hugely struggled with how much my body was changing. It wasn’t just my tummy that was growing, like all the girls on pinterest, it was my thighs, arms, chest, chin, even my feet went up two sizes! I cried, a lot! Everytime someone commented on how big my bump was I would feel my eyes prickle…you see, the word ‘big’ never sat well with me and this was no different.
It was a tough side that no one had ever told me about. I assumed though, that once my sweet girl was here, I would start to feel like myself again. I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight but I figured it took nine months to get this way, I’d give myself nine months to get back to being me. That makes me laugh now, I realise how naive I was.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that breastfeeding wasn’t going to shed the pounds the way it had done for my friends. I also realised fairly quickly that baby being in my arms didn’t miraculously make the bump, stretch marks and extra layers disappear. I had five stone to shift and it felt like a huge task. The weight loss story is for another time but suffice to say I lost three stone, very slowly, over the space of two years and then the weight loss stalled. Something shifted though, something huge!
For two years I had worn the same old, plain jane clothes. My “mum uniform” was jeans, long top and jumper. My single goal when I got dressed in the morning was to cover the lumps and bumps as best I could. Shapeless, dull, boring clothes were the standard. I told myself that when I finally shifted the final two stone I would treat myself to a whole new wardrobe, not a minute before. For months I lost a pound, gained a pound, two steps forward, three steps back. Slowly but surely God was working on my heart though.
It all started with a dusty book that had sat, unopened, on my shelf for a long time, you can read about that here. I pledged to start taking care of my body again, a body I loathed, I was going to start being kind to it after two long years. I joined the gym, scheduled two classes per week, nailed down my healthy eating plans and swore I would give it my all. My fitness increased as every week went by and so did my confidence…still no new clothes though, my weight was protesting hard. I had barely lost half a stone by the time March rolled around and I was getting hugely frustrated. Then God stepped in again.
There is a wonderful thing about Instagram, I have mentioned it many times before, but it connects people who would likely never meet or get the chance have conversations with otherwise. A beautiful soul appeared on my feed, I adored her gorgeous arty snaps of her home, her cute dog, her family but mostly I adored her captions and the heart behind every word. We chatted on and off, met for coffee and became real life friends. One morning I opened my phone to see a lengthy post about vulnerability, self-care and confidence. It stopped me in my tracks and made me excited and terrified in equal measure. Zoe was putting a call out, for the girls behind the pretty pictures to put themselves out of their comfort zone during the month of March, the hashtag in itself was genius, #nomoremediocremarch was born and my mind was racing. I knew it would mean different things to different people but for me it was a huge nudge. For me it was as though someone had written me a personal note, here is what it said;
Forget the scales, you are more than a number. Until you learn to love yourself you will never be able to reach your goal. You are punishing yourself for holding onto those pounds when you should be celebrating how far you have come. Treat yourself to one new thing, something you have always wanted to wear but have told yourself you weren’t skinny enough for. Do it, be bold, be brave.
It took me a few days, but eventually I ordered a pair of black denim dungarees from Topshop. I had wanted to wear dungarees since I was pregnant, I actually felt my heart swell as I saw the order confirmation arrive in my inbox, but I also had a part of me that had decided I’d be sending them back. Even when they arrived I left the parcel unopened for three days, there was a huge battle going on in my mind.
My husband, who has always been my biggest encourager, insisted I try on my new threads and when I slipped into them I felt my whole being lift as though someone had waved a magic wand and made me love myself again. Who knew a flipping pair of (slightly too big) dungarees could do that for me?! I didn’t want to take them off. I spent time on my make up that day, wandered around the house and checked myself out multiple times. For the girl who detested her reflection this was a huge step.
Later that day I booked a hair appointment, it had been almost a year since I had visited the hairdresser and I decided I wanted to treat myself. My long hair was going off to charity and I strutted home with a bouncy new do. I was on cloud nine. I hunted out my punchy red lip crayon (that hadn’t seen the light of day since early 2015a) and my striking red chandelier earrings and headed outside to pose, for the first time in a very long time I was getting a photo of just me, no little sidekick to take all the attention. #nomoremediocremarch had literally saved me from myself! I know that sounds dramatic and a little bit ridiculous but it’s the honest truth. I received a record number of likes and comments on instagram and while I will never be defined by how many people double tap my photo, it certainly helped my confidence at that moment in time.
Fast forward to now, my mojo is back and it is here to stay. I have learned to love my body as it is, whilst striving towards healthier, fitter and stronger. I suddenly started to notice the change on the scales too; good losses every single week, a changing shape and a target met in time for our family holiday. Talk about a high. I bought some new clothes, things I genuinely loved, not just things that hid the dodgy tummy or chunky thighs.
During our week in Croatia I felt a million dollars. Yes there was still weight to lose, no I didn’t fit into my old size 10 shorts but I had more confidence than ever before. So much so that I posted a photo that hubby snapped showing my body in a way I had never dreamed of doing. A candid swimsuit shot that showed what I viewed as flaws but so many commented saying otherwise! I had an abundance of dm’s thanking me for being vulnerable and sharing my picture because it had given them the nudge to love themselves a little bit better again.
I had finally found my mojo again and grabbed it firmly with both hands. For too long I had hid behind layers, shied away from events where I would have to glam up, placed myself firmly behind the lense instead of in front of it. I have always loved clothes, although I would never say I’m overly fashionable and I very much doubt I’ll ever be any sort of a style icon but I do love fashion. I was punishing myself for being too heavy, everything was bland, my make-up, my jewellery and mostly my clothes. The thing is though; nothing needed to change except for my attitude towards myself! Suddenly I started to treat myself like I would treat my friends and as that happened everything else fell into place. In pregnancy I lost myself, that’s the long and short of it and at last I can say I am back!!
So here’s what I want to say; if you are doing what I was doing, striving for a goal and punishing yourself in the interim, if you speak negatively to yourself in a way that you wouldn’t dare speak to a friend, maybe you hide away from challenges and moments where you actually could shine I want to ask you to stop. Whatever it is you are doing, please stop. Treat yourself with kindness, look at yourself through the lense of how others see you, how your Heavenly Father sees you. Once you change how you view yourself everything else will flow so beautifully.
Thanks for stopping by. As always, if you would like to chat more I would love to hear from you. Until next time,