A girlfriend recently commented that she envied my “body confidence” especially after having had a child. I was shocked. Me, body confident? Upon asking her how she had come to this conclusion she commented that through the Wholesome Doctor blogs and Instagram she had noted that I judged healthy on so many other things other than appearance and that surely that translated to being “very confident” with how I looked.

So I feel like I have to clear this up lest you also see me like this.

I am a woman.

I am a normal, mortal, sometimes horrendously self-judging woman.

I have cried numerous times over my body post child birth. I have squeezed my abdominal subcutaneous fat (you know the wobbly bit under the belly button that just appears post child birth) several times and pondered whether 1000 sit up, hour long planks or plain old surgery will fix it. I have looked in the mirror in my “old” clothes and felt my heart sink at the new me – “give it another month Preeya, it will fit perfectly again” – I’ve said this for the last 6 months mind you.

My body is different. I know I’m healthy – my body mass index (BMI) is clearly in the healthy range, my waist circumference is well below the 80cm cut off the Heart Foundation sets for women (its 94cm for men by the way). I eat fruit and vegetables, I do some form of exercise almost every day and I know my blood pressure and cholesterol are A-OK. But hey, I do have low moments about my body image – they aren’t frequent but they happen. Sure I’m healthy BUT the White Suede dress I pine after looks much better on someone who is classified as underweight by the BMI index, so of course I have moments of self-doubt.

I know a lot of people say this– but my husband and I have been blessed with a healthy, divine, sometimes very cheeky daughter. We have a roof over our heads and job security. And shouldn’t that be enough? Should I also yearn to have my “kind of” flat stomach back? Should I pine after my old physique knowing full well that I have nurtured another human life for 9 months, breast fed it for 6 and managed to stay reasonably (I stress the word reasonably) sane? How much do I really want? Sometimes I feel I’m pushing my luck by also wanting my old body back.

We know that eating disorders amongst the adolescent population are a real problem, particularly amongst girls. The American Academy of Paediatrics suggests to reduce the risk of these issues in their children parents should not talk about their own weight or their children’s and that the main focus should always be on promoting a healthy overall lifestyle as opposed to focusing on weight or diet too much. So the moment Miss S arrived my husband and I made a pact that I wouldn’t talk about my body low moments in front of Miss S – because that’s often how it all starts. So our 6 month old hasn’t heard any of it! Doesn’t mean when the bedroom door closes and I’m choosing an outfit for a wedding that I don’t have a small vent to the mirror or my husband!!

So please don’t for a moment mistake my “health confidence” for “body confidence!” Having said ALL of that though I truly am content in who I am and I think my contentment predominantly stems now from my love of motherhood. I’m juggling motherhood with work and I feel like I’m doing OK at both whilst remaining a decent mother, wife, daughter and friend– and that’s the main thing that matters to me if I’m truly honest. In reality my body has very little to do with my overall self-confidence and self worth – I’d rather be healthy, and I am. So to the extra wobble under my belly button – we have a love hate relationship. I know you brought with you the most divine creature in my universe but you make the clingy dresses sit a touch tighter now! But I’m sure we can work it out… I won’t be grabbing you in front of Miss S saying “look at this, its gottago”… rather I’ll point out that you’re a part of me (just like my neurotic mind) and that’s the way it is so that Miss S will grow up striving for health as opposed to a dress size and ultimately love herself regardless of how the dress falls on her waist line.

Let there be more body love, more love for the unique bodies that we all are. Please share with a friend who you know needs a pep in her step when it comes to her less loved body bits!


Dr Alexander

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