OPINION: Eat less, move more is the mantra that keeps me in shape and happy

Ruth Davies, left, nine months pregnant, and right, with her daughter Posie at nine months old

Ruth Davies, left, nine months pregnant, and right, with her daughter Posie at nine months old - Credit: Ruth Davies

I re-joined my gym last week after a 20-month Covid hiatus.

I could have gone back sooner of course but having a tiny baby who likes to be attached to me, limpet style, hasn’t made exercise easy.

I have to say, I was beginning to feel like a slug because of it but staying in shape and being trim, especially after a baby, is important to me.

I feel better when I know I’m looking after myself and because I feel better, I look better and so on goes the green cycle which is so easily replaced by the vicious when you get out of the habit.

It's not fashionable these days to say that you’d like to lose weight.

The body positivity movement on social media tells us to love ourselves just as we are and while the premise is empowering and absolutely on point for how we should feel about ourselves, it’s tipped over into anything but positivity.

It feels more on a par with the 90s media drive to encourage us to maintain a waif-like figure, eat nothing and promote heroin chic as the look of the moment.

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The influencer-driven body positivity campaigns are often just as encouraging of an unhealthy body type but in the other direction. Just as damaging to the mind.

I’m sick and tired of seeing fat bandied as beautiful and the norm.

I’m absolutely not saying overweight people aren’t beautiful human beings but it is not healthy to be obese.

There’s no way of looking at it which can honestly say it is.

I hear you that you run, you can high kick and skate, dance, swim and exercise like the next person but the bottom line is, if you eat too much, you will be overweight.

Fat will put a strain on your organs and joints and the promotion to be any kind of extreme body type just isn’t normal. Why do we push it?

Eat less, move more, be a healthy weight for your body. Surely that’s the only thing we should be promoting when it comes to body style encouragement.

Be strong not skinny and healthy instead of overweight!

I have, in the past, used the body positivity message as an excuse to keep eating and not exercising.

When I had Raffie I saw the message that I had carried children, my body had done something wonderful, and I should reward it by sitting on my bottom eating. Because I could. And I should feel beautiful and good about myself regardless.

I didn’t.

I was overweight, not dramatically so, but too much for me and when I looked at myself in the mirror, despite trying to join in with the movement, I hated looking like that. Hated feeling it too!

I finally lost the baby weight and felt great about myself again in January 2020, two-and-a-bit years after having Raff, and I did it by, shock horror, eating less and moving more. I did intermittent fasting and swam four times a week, as well as doing daily conditioning exercises at home.

No biggie, just five minutes in the morning and five before bed. Then lockdown hit and I knew I couldn’t let it go. I exercised daily with Joe Wicks, joining the nation's kids in their daily aerobics.

I also made sure I didn’t over-indulge in the food stakes. It wouldn’t help if I did four workout classes a day if I was inhaling tubs of Ben and Jerrys like they were going out of fashion.

When I got pregnant with Posie I was determined to stay trim throughout and I worked hard at doing so.

The reward was that I almost immediately went back to my pre pregnancy weight and I was thrilled but my body still felt wobbly and not like my own.

That’s what having a baby does to you, but I absolutely wasn’t accepting of that without a fight.

True, my body did a wonderful thing and deserved some slack but it also deserved rewarding as opposed to abandonment and neglect. It’s hard, very hard with a tiny new-born, but I knew I had to keep moving and adapt as best I could to get myself feeling and looking like me again!

I walked with the baby and the toddler, sometimes with both of them in slings at the same time and I tried all sorts of online classes, none of which really worked for me because I don’t have the discipline to get up early and work out at home.

Out of lockdown there’s far too many distractions for that but going out to classes also felt like a terrible chore – finding the right exercise is key or it just won’t happen long term.

I knew I needed to hit the swimming pool at my gym again, I hate every other exercise but water, the weightlessness and how easy it is feels like little work yet it does wonders. It’s definitely right for me!

It took a while but I’m back, and Posie comes with me. I have her in a seated float while we swim up and down. She loves it, kicking her legs wildly while I get those lengths in and tone myself back to feeling great!

We don’t have to accept a media-imposed version of how we should look after ourselves.

If being overweight makes you happy then go for it, but it isn’t what floats my boat.

The endorphins of exercise coupled with wearing a size 10 (YES!) dress make me feel young, happy and give me a glow I can’t beat by eating myself silly on the sofa.

So, I say, ignore the pressures to be too thin, don’t accept fat as the way forward and embrace eating less and moving more.

You can be a busy mum and find a way for you to exercise, you’ve just got to have the gumption to do it!

Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk

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