All my life my head has raced. I've spent so many years having light bulb moments but hardly any of them have come to fruition. Then those that have, I have doubted myself so much that I haven’t given them the light of day they deserved, therefore, they have ended up 'failing' before they've even got going.
So when I decided in May 2019 that I was going to write a 25,000 word book by September 2019, why did I think this would be any different? I am a big believer in everything happens for a reason and within 4 weeks of making that monumental decision at the MiBA retreat plus telling 20 women that I was going to do so, I had actually written 33,000 words.
Stretched: A mother's journey to love her 'flaws' & how you can too
Of course that's not the end, the editing, design and getting ready to publish is probably actually harder work and I saw it through with the help from the amazing Jen Parker at Fuzzy Flamingo. But why now, why was this the time to share my story and see one of my light bulb moments all the way through?
The idea came to me and I knew that this book was needed for all the women out there who have struggled or will struggle in the future like I have. When I realised just how much women needed to hear my story I put a survey out into the world and the statistics were shocking. (Stay tuned they're coming.)
There is so much pressure on women to look the 'perfect' size thanks to the media's perception of women, only showing the basic size 8/10 maybe 12 at a push. When we are growing babies and looking for maternity wear the majority of 'maternity models' have a cushion shoved up their tops to make a very unconvincing bump. Then when we've pushed the babies out (or pulled out I've had both ha) we go on the search for nursing bras to find perfectly toned bodies representing postpartum mothers. The world is so ducked up quack quack.
One Sunday morning I woke to feed Spencer in bed and had a heart-breaking message from one of my Queens from our free Facebook girl power community. She was distraught after comparing herself in pictures and wrapped up in so much hate for her body, that she was considering ending her own life, it broke me. But it pushed me to write a survey to find out how many women were hurting from their body image.
Within two hours of launching the survey, putting it on my social media and in to the MiBA group, I had had over 200 responses. I was in total shock. I was amazed at how many women took the time to answer the questions but the results made my heart ache. I ended the survey on 553 entries, I had to actually pay the survey operator to get all of the results as it only went up to 100!!
I asked 10 questions in total, it was such a quickly put together survey that if I could go back I'd change some questions or answer options but the results still represents how our nation of mothers feel. Are you ready? Here we go.
And the survey says...
I asked ,"Did you feel pressured to diet and/or exercise after giving birth?" A massive 68% answered yes.
Next I asked, "If answered yes, how soon after giving birth did you feel pressured to diet and/or exercise?" A huge 53%, so over half, said just a few weeks after giving birth and most of the "other" answer which got 19% said instantly.
Following on I asked, "Where did you feel the pressure came from?" You can see all of the categories answered below but the second biggest was 32% comparing yourself to other postpartum friends, coming first was other at 33%, which most women commented all of the categories - wow!
The last question I want to share with you is "Do you spend time comparing yourself to your prebaby body?" almost half said all of the time and the majority of the rest said sometimes.
These results were the fuel to my fire, they were what kept me going on days when I doubted myself, when I questioned can I really publish this, be this raw and real?! These results were sitting on my shoulder.
I knew that this book, my journey of being disgusted by my reflection in the mirror to running 10k in my underwear around London and loving my body stretch marks, mum tum, cellulite and all, could help new and experienced mums from making the same mistakes I have.
I've been a 'new mum' three times, once with two babies, I've gone through postpartum and dealing with the issues of just having given birth or had surgery and faced my alien body staring back at me in the mirror. I've spent too long comparing myself to the perfectly impossible body that is portrayed in the media and on social media. I became obsessed with diets, addicted to working out and forever having that 'it's never enough' feeling, but I came out on the other side.
I am a woman on a mission to empower 10,000 women by the end of 2020 to conquer their body image issues and guide them on their self love journey. Who do you know who could do with a Self Love Detox because we're here and we want them or you to know that you don't have to fight this alone. We'll be with you every step of the way.
Please share this with someone who needs it, check out an extract of the book on the blog or come and join our girl power community, let's all become Self Love Queens together.
With love & gratitude,
Ana Louise Bonasera
Confidence & Clarity Coach
Ana Louise Bonasera, mum of 4 boys, girl power enthusiast.