Sport Relief #MumTalk

Today, it’s time for #MumTalk . Sports Relief has started a hashtag, teaming up the the Maternal Mental Health Alliance and other related Charities and Organisations, to get a conversation started. A conversation about Mental Health – and one that needs to be had.

Across Twitter, people are using the hashtag #MumTalk to share stories about Maternal Mental Health. So I’m getting involved.

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How do I run?

More often than not, what I do on a day to day basis is defined by my children. The things we do, where they are, what plans and appointments we make. Toddlers with both – or one at nursery and one with me , or play dates and play parks and what we’re doing that weekend.

So I guess it’s not surprising that I’ve been asked, more than once, how I ‘run’ with two toddlers. My partner works full time, and I don’t drive, so it’s not a simple ‘drop them off and go’ kind of thing. So how do I do it?


The answer is simple – I miss things. 

For starters, I miss them; on a weekend long run, I’ll sacrifice sleepy toddler cuddles and Thomas the Tank for wet leaves, hill climbs, and hoping my knee doesn’t give out. Sometimes I miss a ‘normal’ morning routine; getting up before everyone else to climb out of bed, get my run in, and shower while the house is still stirring. Or I’ll miss a quiet evening meal; lacing up my trainers the second the boys are in bed and getting out before the chill really sets in. I miss my family, I miss my sleep. I miss my book!

There’s things I don’t miss, though. I don’t miss the feeling of struggling to breathe climbing the stairs. I don’t miss my legs chafing on long walks. I don’t miss wearing maternity jeans long past the ‘acceptable’ stage because nothing else fits. I don’t miss sweating for no reason, I don’t miss dreading long walks, I don’t miss feeling self conscious.

And there’s things that I, quite literally, don’t miss. I don’t miss buses anymore; I run for them all. I don’t miss sunrises; I’m right there with them. I don’t miss the rain because I feel it on my skin (because I also don’t miss a run just because it’s wet out!).

So I miss my babies sometimes – but no more than any mum who does ‘something else’. And yes, I miss my bed – but so what? I gain my health, I gain my freedom, I gain a few more years at the end to spend with my family because I’m looking after myself. The things I lose are not really a loss, not when counted against the whole. 

And when my eldest son, with his beautiful grin full of mischief, sees me lacing up my trainers and asks “You runnin’ Mummy? Shall I run too?” – that’s worth it. That’s how I run. And, I suppose, that’s why.

Mum-Tum Shaming

I went to a walk in centre over the weekend, with stomach pain. (I’m fine)

During the exam, the Doctor who I was seeing told me she needed to check my abdomen. So I lay down, lifted my top slightly – and saw her eyebrows visibly raise. She asked me if I had lost a lot of weight because, as she put it , I have ‘A lot of loose skin’.
I was a bit shocked, but I managed to say (making my irritation fairly clear) – ‘I’ve had two babies!’

She continued her examination, saying again ‘There’s just a lot of skin though…’.

To which I replied, now feeling very awkward ‘Well I’ve lost over 100lb…’

Now she didn’t say ‘congratulations’ – which might have begun to make up for a completely unnecessary comment on my physical appearance. She didn’t move on, or say anything nice, or reassuring. At one point she mentioned that it was difficult to tell if there were any issues because there was ‘so much skin’ in the way. It was awful. It was embarrassing. It was upsetting.

Now here’s the thing. I have lost over 100lb. I have had two babies. I have stretch marks, and tiny scars. My body has been through a lot. But now I’m better. My skin doesn’t hang down, it doesn’t get in the way, it doesn’t cause me discomfort or any real problems. It isn’t a medical issue. I just have a stretch marked, soft, slightly wobbly ‘Mum Tum’.

Underneath that, my stomach is strong. I have worked very hard to make it strong. I eat well, I exercise a lot. The outside physical appearance is not disgusting or unpleasant. It’s just a little wrinkly. 

I don’t want to excuse your behaviour at all, Doctor, but I can understand a momentary surprise – I’m fairly slim now, and because my stomach is firm there’s no outward sign that I have a mum-tum. So I can forgive a momentary eyebrow raise, in surprise. But there is no need – no excuse, no reason – to comment. There’s no need to stare. You are a doctor, I am sure you’ve seen far more interesting and unique bodies and shapes and sizes than my normal, wobbly skin. 

So I want to end by saying that I am upset. Not because of my appearance, but because I allowed you to make me feel embarrassed by it. I wanted to apologise, almost, for how difficult my slightly loose skin made it for you to check my abdomen. That’s wrong, and it was wrong for you to make me feel like that. I am not apologising to anyone.

This is my stomach. If you don’t like it, I don’t care. This has carried two babies – it helps me sit and stand and run and laugh. This is a perfectly fine, functional, female stomach. This is my Mum-Tum. And I love it.
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Well it was bound to happen!

I’ve -slightly- injured my knee, due to overtraining. And not running in fact, put the blame here on a lot of squats, burpees and jumps. It’s nothing terrible but it means I haven’t been able to run as much as I’ve wanted – boo!

While having a little Google for ways to heal my knee, I’ve been confused, befuddled and bewildered by contradictory advice. To run, or not to run? Cross training? Is it because I have weak hips, knock-knees, or bad trainers? (I could probably cop to the bad trainers if I’m honest…)

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So I’ve amped up my workout routine recently in preparation for the long run. I tend to mostly do workout videos, and some weight training – I prefer HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to full on cardio.

Got a damn fine vest from a company called Pumping Iron Muscle Development (thanks guys!), and it really makes me feel like I should lift.

I do not lift. However they are one of the few companies I’ve found who sell workout vest for women that are not uncomfortable lycra monstrosities, and for that I thank them. Continue reading

Losing 100lb

So I’ve been asked before about my post-baby fitness journey. I’ve always suffered from low self esteem, and always been concerned about my weight – I was never ‘overweight’ when I was younger, but I was never happy with where I was. There was always a few extra pounds I could have done without.

Now? Having lost 100lb, I’m very much happy with my progress. It hasn’t been easy, but you know what? It’s actually been pretty fun.

Here’s what happened.
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