Growing up I watched my mum who was very self-conscious about her body. She would often try to lose weight through dieting and exercising.
She did however always set a great example for me in terms of the food we ate. There was never junk food or soft drink in our house and we ate a healthy and balanced diet. My mother’s family background is Maltese though, so portion sizes weren’t what they should have been.
Once I got to high school I became more interested in health and started to regularly go to the gym. I wanted to lose weight as I was self-conscious about how I looked and wanted to look more like my friends. As I got older this interest in health became about diets, counting calories and exercising at higher and higher intensities.
In 2011, I became really dedicated to exercise as I was getting married in December and everyone knows that there is no one more dedicated than a bride-to-be.
Two months before our wedding I found out that I was pregnant and we were so incredibly happy. I became more relaxed with exercise and just listened to my body.
Unfortunately, that pregnancy didn’t end in the way we hoped and we lost our baby at 14 weeks. This was the catalyst for me to become desperate to have control over something in my life, and unfortunately I began controlling food and exercise.
I began heavily counting calories. I started running and weight training 6-7 days a week. I didn’t let anything remotely ‘bad’ pass my lips and I never missed a day of exercise.
I rapidly started losing weight to the point where I started having difficulty getting pregnant again. I started fertility treatment, which was ineffective.
After a two month break from treatment I went to see my obstetrician to discuss IVF. The first thing he asked me was what was happening with my weight. He informed me that he refused to start the IVF process with me until I had gained at least 5kg.
This was a big wake up call for me.
I gained the weight and was lucky enough to fall pregnant with my son on our first IVF attempt.
I found pregnancy really difficult. I watched my body change as it seemed to go against every crazy idea I had planted in my head.
It was only towards the end that I was able to embrace those beautiful changes.
Once I went through labour and delivery I found a new respect and appreciation for my body and wanted to look after it so that I could breastfeed my son and set an example for him. I ate wholesome food that was good for my body, but I didn’t guilt myself about eating something ‘naughty’. I exercised to feel energised and to keep up with my son.
I unintentionally and naturally fell pregnant with our daughter when our son was 11 months old and I loved pregnancy second time around. I enjoyed watching my body change and so looked forward to meeting another beautiful baby.
After having my daughter, I began slowly exercising after I was given the all clear and have continued on since then.
I don’t exercise to lose weight or look a certain way. I exercise to know that I have done something for myself each day before the kids wake.
Days with kids are busy and having those 20-30 minutes to myself when the house is still quiet gives me sanity, energy and patience.
I love my body because it has gone through three pregnancies and given me two beautiful babies.
Having children has made me realise how much I want them to feel confident and comfortable in who they are and how they look, and I want them to learn that from me.
I am very aware of how much I took my body for granted before and cared too much about what other people thought.
This is the body I will live in forever so I fully intend to treat it with love by looking after it and being grateful for it.
If you or someone you know needs help with eating disorders, you can get help at the Butterfly Foundation.