I am standing in front of a mirror and trying to obey the women’s magazine that tells me to be content with myself.
If I face the mirror and screw up my eyes a little, I do not look so bad, but standing sideways I feel frustrated. Where is the nice, slim waistline that I wanted to get back soon after the birth of my youngest baby? I can see no sign of it in the mirror. My image actually looks as if I were still halfway through pregnancy.
I shudder to think that I should do something about it. Yet I know it would be good for my health and self-esteem, once again, to get rid of the extra twenty kilos that I put on during pregnancy. They came so easily and comfortably, but not even willpower or active brainwork will make them go away. The simple rule to burn more calories than to take in is not easy to follow, at least for me.
I find it hard to accept my weight gain during pregnancy, but there seems to be no way to prevent it. My body is like a huge suction apparatus that pulls in weight all the more effectively as the due date approaches. For my last six children, I have refused to step on the scales in the maternity clinic. Weighing would have only increased my anxiety, even if I had chosen to wear light clothing or go to the bathroom one more time. The nurses have tried to persuade me to be weighed, but I have told them that I very much appreciate Finnish maternity care, thank you, but will just skip the scales. I think it is not right to force an adult in a sensitive frame of mind to be weighed if she feels terrible about it. And since the nurses, and even the doctors, would have been unable to lift me on the scales, they have abided by my decision.
One doctor once said to me that my pregnancy seemed to going well and that I had not even gained too much weight. I told him I had actually gained more than 20 kilos. He was astonished and doubted if that was even possible. When my patient files proved me right, he stared at me for a while, clearly intrigued by this medical prodigy. He said such a weight gain should not be possible in such a short time and was not even showing in my appearance. He then went on to say that I probably belong to the rare group of people who suffer from swelling of the internal organs in addition to swollen ankles.
Oh, how I felt like laughing. Internal organs! This was the first time my thighs were called internal organs. Anyway, it is good to have a medical diagnosis to show that I possess a large heart during my pregnancies. The doctor also explained that such weight gain is partly hormonal and due to altered metabolism, which seemed a perfectly acceptable explanation to me. It sounded good and plausible. My dear husband pointed out, however, that he had never heard chocolate to be called a hormone. But then, he is not a medical specialist. Just a builder.
In October we had a lovely baby boy, and I guess I am now in for my twelfth slimming project. It is not fun, but I made a serious New Year’s resolution about Healthy Life. I still cherish our four-year-old’s comment to his cousin at a family get-together, “All the others in our family are skinnies except mom.” I did not feel offended. Not in the least. It just strengthened my determination. I am not even aiming at skinniness, but I would love to fit into my clothes. Sure enough, I have a set of different sizes in my wardrobe for the different stages of the woman’s life. I hope some of you have, too.
When I first put on my snow pants and went for a walk, the pants were so tight that I could only take very short steps, which did not exactly make me feel euphoric about my physical achievement. But I could only blame myself, my pants were completely innocent. I just hope I will be brave enough to try them on again soon.
I have often remembered the old slogan that we used to have on milk cartons: ”There is a small cow inside each of us.” I have realized that inside me there is still the same young girl who was ashamed of her prominent hip bones in high school. Oh, how happy I would be now just to feel my hip bones with my fingers!
This young girl inside me has problems recognizing herself in the mirror. I would love to get closer to my original self again, and I have asked others to help and support me in my slimming project. I also asked my husband to encourage and support me, because I am well aware of my weakness and the temptations I will encounter on the way. I asked him to support me if I was ever going to give in and go on an eating binge. He promised to do that. Of course. Isn’t he wonderful!
At some point I began to feel like giving up, and when my husband was going grocery shopping, I asked him to bring me something good. Waiting for him to return, I was dreaming of the taste of chocolate on my tongue. You can imagine my disappointment when he brought me a rutabaga. I did not feel like laughing then, but I can laugh about it now.
”Rutabaga is good”, my dear husband said. It sure is. And healthy.
Text: Satu Luokkanen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original Finnish blog post here.