June happiness

I am part way through a year-long happiness project. Each month I set myself a different challenge with the idea of making myself more happy over the course of that month.

When I was trying to think of a challenge for June, I really just came up with a blank. I couldn’t think of anything that would make me happier, and that I could see myself sticking to. Meanwhile, my umbilical hernia was playing up something chronic. On two days last week it was so bad I had to shuffle to nursery to collect S, and spent the return journey begging her to please not jump or do anything that might pull on my arm. I’ve been wearing a really quite unattractive tube-grip type thing around my middle as a support, and taking a lot of ibuprofen.

The truth is that even when I’m not suffering with it, and it’s just a “normal” hernia day, I look pregnant. My belly is not just fat – it protrudes above the navel – the same way a pregnant belly does. It bothers me physically, but also aesthetically and emotionally. It’s hard to find clothes that don’t just cling to it and make me look pregnant. It’s depressing, and on a bad day I can get changed two or three times before going out to a meeting or event.

And the worst part of it is that I know it’s my own fault. Experience tells me that when I eat more sugar, my hernia really doesn’t like it. And if I do ab exercises, I can keep it more or less under control.

My happiness project for June then, is to do ab exercises every day. I know that if I can stay off the sugar and do some regular exercises it might not solve the problem entirely, but it will help me to feel happier about it – and hopefully help my clothes to fit better too!

I’ve downloaded an app on my phone that will remind me at 7pm every day, and am setting myself the goal of just 10 of whatever form of abdominal exercise I choose. The idea is that “only 10” is not a big deal, and not so daunting that I might decide to just put it off or not bother.

In the interests of documenting any sort of a change, here is a “before” photo of my delightful belly. If you’ve recently eaten, do please look away now.

Umbilical herniaThe over all look of it is not helped by the scar from a long-since retired navel piercing, and the fact I have a fair amoun of fat lurking in that area any way. Please understand how deeply horrifying it is for me to be posting a photo like this on the internet, for the entire world to see. I’ve never been a big fan of my belly, but with a hernia it’s a hundred times worse. I’m not sure how clearly the photo shows it, but I’ve put arrows in to point it out.

In the left-hand photo, there is a line where my belly button should be because of the hernia. In the right-hand photo you can see that the top part of my belly protrudes above the bottom half. This photo was taken on a good day; on a bad day it hangs over even further, like the beak of the Legal Eagle from the Muppets.

Hopefully by the end of the month, by keeping sugar to a minimum and doing my exercises each day, I be able to post much more aesthetically pleasing photos. Fingers crossed!

If any of my readers have experience of an umbilical hernia and can offer advice, please do!

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Kate · 04/06/2015 at 14:14

Do you have diastasis recti as well as the umbilical hernia? I am in a group with some lovely ladies and the woman who started it had the umbilical hernia as well as diastasis recti and I know certain ab exercises can actually make it worse, so make sure you are careful when doing those if you may have it. Otherwise good luck! I am loving following along with your happiness project :)

    Vicky Charles · 04/06/2015 at 17:29

    Thanks Kate, I had to Google that but yes – that’s what’s caused my hernia. The gap is massive now but I know before when I was exercising daily I managed to get it much smaller so I’m hoping as long as I don’t go doing bonkers things (like I used to, before all of this pregnancy/hernia nonsense) I should be ok! Fingers crossed…

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