Around this time last year, I started on my David Lloyd Clubs wellness journey. I was doing so well. But I have to confess that I’ve fallen off the gym bandwagon over the summer. Despite the fact that David Lloyds Milton Keynes has lots of kids’ clubs that the girls can enjoy when I’m exercising, I still didn’t really go over the summer holidays. There are some good reasons, and some excuses. I was too lazy for the first part of the summer holidays. Then we went away for over a week to Cornwall. Not long after we got back, I got shingles and couldn’t contemplate getting off the sofa, never mind going to an exercise class! Then I went to Nashville for a week, followed by killer jetlag. Finally I was diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency, which goes some way to explain why I’ve been feeling so exhausted. But now I am back on it!
I have one big reason. Well, two. The top and a bottom of a bikini.
We are going to Malta for half term to my dad’s time share. Ryan and I went when I was pregnant with Ava, and it was lovely. There is a gorgeous outdoor pool and an indoor one too, so a swimsuit is unavoidable.
But it will be hot (I hope!) so the tummy-flattening swimsuit I wear to swim at the gym will be way too hot, as it’s got multiple layers. It’s also pretty ugly. So I have made the brave/foolish decision to get a bikini. And now I have the fear!
It’s been 8 years since I last wore a bikini….
The last time I wore a bikini was over eight years ago, when I was six months pregnant with Ava. It was also in Malta, so it’s quite nice that it will be the same pool all these years later.
I loved being pregnant with Ava, and totally embraced my changing body, excitedly checking my bump to make sure it was growing well. That was probably the last time I felt body confident. After Ava was born, I lost the extra weight relatively quickly. I didn’t get back to my former weight, though luckily I didn’t have any expectation of that.
Then came the back problems
Being pregnant with Thea took much more of a toll on my body. I had terrible back ache and had to go to physio. I got a belt with a heated pad in it, and wore it pretty much all the time to try and ease the pain. When Thea was born at a very healthy 9 pounds 1, and gallons of water (to the sound of my mum gasping “She’s enormous!”) I felt justified that I’d been in so much pain!
I further damaged my back getting the girls in to their car seats, and twisting to get them into their cots. That stopped me from doing any exercise for a long time, as every time I tried, it went into an excruciating spasm. Physio didn’t help this time. But then, when I started going to David Lloyd around a year ago, and practicing Yoga, my back started to get better. Slowly but surely, it wasn’t hurting quite as much. Then one day, I was able to do The Bridge in Pilates. This was always the trigger point for excruciation pain, so I know that I have been strengthening my core since starting at David Lloyd. My back still hurts quite a lot sometimes, but doing exercise definitely helps.
Body confidence wobbles
I have to admit I am really nervous about wearing a bikini for the first time in such a long time. I got a bikini with a high waist to help me feel more confident.
You may be thinking “she could have chosen a more subdued pattern if she didn’t want to draw attention to herself.” And yes, that thought has crossed my mind! But I tried on every high waisted bikini I could find, and this is easily the most flattering. I have a long body, so most swimming costumes are too short, otherwise I would wear one of them. Plus, I do like to get out of my comfort zone once in a while.
So what’s brought about this change?
For years, I have sat on beaches in shorts and t-shirts or dresses, never feeling comfortable enough to wear a swimming costume. It’s a bit easier at the gym as everyone is there to exercise. Ava took this picture of me at David Lloyd’s outdoor pool last year – I’m O.K. when I’m beneath the surface!I don’t think that Ava and Thea have clocked that I’m not particularly comfortable in swimwear and I’m hoping that they never will. They are both water babies and are doing so well in their swimming lessons. Long may that continue.
I want to be a positive role model for them. I’m always telling them they are strong and capable of amazing things. Somehow it’s easier to believe that of them than myself. We talk about how walking to school makes us healthier and stronger. Soon enough, they will be bombarded with messages about body image. I want to protect them from that for as long as I can, and foster a strong sense of self-love in them both.
I’ve come to appreciate my body for its strength and capability.
I may not be as slim and wobble-free as I was ten years ago, but I have grown and given birth to two babies. That is incredible, any way you look at it. My body is sturdier, that’s for sure, but it’s also way stronger. This time last year I couldn’t plank to save my life. Now I can (albeit only for a few seconds!) Our bodies are capable of amazing things and a year of exercise classes at David Lloyd, even with my lapse, has done me a world of good. My favourite classes are Body Jam and Zumba for cardio, with Pilates or Body Balance for core and stretching. I love that there is a mix of people there, from the super fit, to the people like me who are giving it a go. I don’t feel uncomfortable when I get the routine wrong, I just laugh it off.
So, will you see pictures of me actually wearing this bikini?
Quite possibly not. I don’t share everything on social media and I’m not sure I want to open myself up to something so scary. But I’m proud of the fact that I’m even considering wearing a bikini. That may well be enough for me, for now at least. Last year, I wouldn’t even have contemplated donning a bikini. Thank you David Lloyd for helping me get to this point!