When I first posted this blog on my website and Instagram, no one understood my message. Everyone thought I was posting a typical ‘before and after’ pic of me while pregnant and then after I’d worked hard to loose my ‘mum tum’. I got a whole load of “well done” and “go girl” messages referring to my weight loss. That wasn’t the point and I realised my vanity had got in the way of my message. What I was really trying to show is what a post baby body really looks like. The first picture was NOT me pregnant, it was me after the baby was born. That’s why I entitled it “It’s the before pic that really matters!”

That’s because people scroll though social media absentmindedly and don’t really have time to read things properly. And so I’ve decided to change the pictures to spell out what I’m really talking about.

pic 1: nine months pregnant pic 2: day one post-partum

“When are you due love” said the lady on the fruit and veg stall. My face dropped and I didn’t quite know how to tell her I had in fact had my baby a few weeks ago. I don’t blame her; I was carrying a huge bump and no baby. My son was in hospital for 6 weeks after his birth with medical problems and so I was living in the hospital, this was the first time I’d ventured out, alone. I was feeling a bit down because I was all out of shape and wanted to buy some fresh fruit and try and feel healthy, this was the last thing I needed to hear.

A few days later I went to register his birth in the hospital and the woman on the desk said “you’re in the wrong place, this is for people who’ve had their babies”, she probably should have known better, but again, there is not enough education about what some post-partum bodies can look like.

Don’t get me wrong. I was utterly delighted that I’d had my baby, and I guess that’s all that matters. But I was just a little caught by surprise.

My little baby dumbbell! We work out a lot together so I can spend time with her. I just changed the way I thought about exercise and tried to make it fun for both of us.

I’ve always been pretty slim and never really had to worry about my weight, so this was a complete shock to me. I knew I had to be patient (and allow myself a year) but it’s so hard lugging around all this extra fat. It was heavy and uncomfortable and I felt in no man’s land in terms of clothes.  Add to that I’m on TV so I am judged (to a certain extent) on how I look. I wanted to go back to work and feel confident.

It was especially hard because during my entire pregnancy I suffered terribly and wasn’t able to exercise at all. I was bed-bound for 9 weeks with severe nausea but was never officially diagnosed with hypermesis gravidarum so no one really took me that seriously.

Once the baby was born and I started to feel myself again I decided to go on a mission to get fit. I signed up to everything: baby yoga, buggy-fit and got myself a personal trainer. I’m naturally lazy with exercise and so to have someone giving me the orders was what I needed. When I first started with him all I really wanted was a flat tummy. Now I’ve learned how nice it is to look and feel strong rather than skinny.

They say summer bodies are made in winter, I spent a lot of time working out in the rain!

Listen, I know people look at ‘these gym girls’ and say “she’s gone too far” etc. etc. I used to be the same, but you can’t really control the way your body reacts to exercise. Of course I’d love to be curvy and strong at the same time, but it’s not my body type, so please don’t judge. I admit I probably look a bit skinny in my after pic. but this is me and I’ve always had that body type. We have what we have been given and all I want to do is to take control of my own body again. I’m never going to be how I was before children and I’m (finally) cool with that.

As it turns out, my after picture looks like I’ve lost all of it. Pictures can be quite deceiving. Yes when I’m standing upright it looks that way, but if you ask me to plank you’ll see my tummy almost hits the floor. It’s hard to accept, my tummy used to be ‘my thing’ and I spent my teens in crop tops! My body is certainly different, but it’s about being comfortable and confident with it. I don’t like to use the word vain, so let’s just say I’m “self aware”  (let’s face it!) and not hugely comfortable with too much “warts and all” stuff, but I did want to share that picture as I want girls to know this and not be shocked like I was.

I didn’t write this blog to get a load of praise, for my body or my ‘honesty’. Some women can’t afford (both in time or money) a personal trainer and I have the utmost respect for mums who spend time with their babies instead of hitting the gym. For me it was so important both for being on TV and for my own confidence to feel good and to be able to fit into my old clothes rather than having to buy an entire new working wardrobe. It simply was my mission, and something I’d discussed with my husband before we had our second baby.

To all the girls out there fighting to love their bodies (with or without kids) we all come in many shapes and sizes. Try to love what you’ve got; the girls who look the best are the ones who are comfortable with themselves.  As Audrey Hepburn once said “The happiest girls are the prettiest girls.”

The happiest girls are the prettiest girls

Audrey Hepburn

Thanks for reading. I’m currently writing a book on trying to discover the art of juggling careers with motherhood. Check out my motherhood blogs on http://www.alisonbender.com or follow me on Instagram http://www.instagram.com/alibendertv