20 months ago I was overweight, powerless, lost and helpless. A very confused new mum definitely not fitting into her pre-pregnancy jeans - in fact hardly fitting into her maternity jeans. My head was full of depressive, limiting thoughts, my heart felt overwhelmed and my body felt heavy, lethargic and foreign.
My life had turned upside down, everything had changed; I'd moved cities, bought a new house, left my career to start my own business and had my daughter, Lola. I put on 3.5 stone whilst pregnant mainly down to my love of mint magnums and ice cream and following her birth I didn't recognise my reflection in the mirror. The life changes I had made were meant to enrich me but instead I felt trapped - trapped in my body, my mind and my home. I was suffering with anxiety attacks, a constant ball of worry and full of desperation. I no longer knew who I was and I didn't recognise my reflection.
At a time that I thought I would feel more connected to myself, my femininity, my future, I felt disgusted by myself. I was stiff, heavy and exploding with rashes and spots. My stretch marks on my stomach were enflamed and on fire, my thighs rubbed and my stomach was a soft empty sack that hung over my caesarean scar. I stupidly thought my body would just pop back but the obsession with those mint magnums and ice creams were clinging to me for dear life!
I was in shock and I was very frightened that I would be stuck in this stranger's body forever. I felt low and at a loss and disconnected from myself and my daughter. I tried eating well but nothing seemed to change. I kept hearing that if you breast fed the weight would fall off. I struggled with breast feeding, managing 10 weeks and in fact my weight kept going up.
I went to the doctors for help, perhaps it was my thyroid to blame, perhaps there was another reason but I was told that 'it sometimes happens when you get older, you know when you look at photos of old school friends and they are just bigger, it happens'.
I felt very despondent, He'd given up on me, I had nearly too. Feeling very low, very emotional but still with a touch of resilience I refused to back down.
So I started searching for HOPE to find the old me. I started with my mindset rather than my body. I couldn't cope with feeling like a martyr and depressed, this wasn't me. I started reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic.
This quote in the book stuck with me:
"And when you sense a faint potentiality for happiness after such dark times you must grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt - this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty to find something beautiful within life no matter how slight."
I stopped watching the news, I couldn't cope with that negativity. I then started looking after the inside, committing to eating one healthy meal a day and said no to cake where I could. I realised I was doing A LOT of self soothing with sugar and booze, more than I wanted to admit and so I cut back. Social media makes 'wine a clock' and 'cake time' the mothers' accepted nemesis but it wasn't working for me.
Then I moved onto my body, I started getting my heart rate up, not just walking but introducing a 7min app workout in the house. I decided to show up for me. Small steps each day, which didn't feel like much but it was all I could commit to with a new baby and I started to see some small progress.
My weight started to drop, very very slowly at first and then I found that my anxiety started to lessen, my hormones start to balance again, I started to feel a little lighter about the future. Positivity was creeping back in.
So where am I now?
Lola is about to turn 2. The benchmark of trying to get to my pre-baby weight and back into those pre-pregnancy jeans has happened - in fact I am now stronger and healthier in mind and body than I was pre-Lola. I've lost 46lbs in total and I'm in better shape than I've ever been. The biggest change? I've learnt how to be consistent for the first time in my life, I am committed to me. I love doing crossfit, although only go twice a week as that's all I can commit to, but that consistency makes a difference. Better than four times one week, none the next (the old me!). Creating these positive new habits has helped to build my new normal, to be a strong role-model for Lola, but perhaps most importantly to be a strong role model for myself. This experience as hard as it was has created a more resilient me.
I've come to realise that it's not about getting back to the old you but it's about creating the new you. The new improved, upgraded version. Life is about experiences, good and bad, and how you bounce back from them. I have really learnt that this last 2 years but I'm proud to say I'm better and stronger for it.
My name is Loulou Storey and I'm a style and confidence coach. I help women take control of their lives by feeling confident with their style and help them rewrite their own narratives and I have recently rewritten my own. I invite you to do the same.
HuffPost UK Parents has launched 'Mumbod', a new section to empower mums and mums-to-be to feel confident about their bodies pre- and post-baby. We'd also love to hear your stories. To blog for Mumbod, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To keep up to date with features, blogs and videos on the topic, follow the hashtag #MyMumbod.