Last week I was invited along to an event in London: An introduction to post-baby fitness and recovery program, MUTU, and a screening of the body positivity documentary, Embrace.
Ever since it got too dark to go out running in the mornings before Sam leaves for work, I’ve been meaning to find something else to fill the gap. Youtube workout videos have been great for fitting in exercise around the kids, but I do tend to get bored if there’s no trajectory or program.
So, I was keen to learn more about MUTU. And I was really keen to watch Embrace, having heard lots about it but struggled to find anywhere to view it.
What is Embrace the documentary?
Australian mum of three, Taryn Brumfitt, went viral after she posted a ‘backwards’ before and after shot to her social media.
Embrace the documentary follows Taryn around the globe as she explores the global issue of body loathing.
Embrace is both heartwarming and troubling. If you are a woman who has had children, or a woman who has had any sort of hang ups about their own appearance, Embrace will make you laugh and cry, as Taryn interviews a varied cast of women with their own experiences to share.
What is MUTU System?
MUTU is a medically recommended post-baby recovery program. MUTU will help to strengthen your core and pelvic floor, heal your Diastasis Recti and lose weight – all from the comfort of your home.
MUTU System has been created by Wendy Powell, a British mother of two. It was brilliant to meet Wendy at the event, we had a good chat about the positive example being a self-employed mum shows to our kids about creating fun, flexible work that fits your family, the dangers of labelling foods “naughty”, and the elevated standards of beauty set by social influencers today. I left with a really strong impression that we were on the same page. Which I’m not sure I’ve ever felt from a health and fitness professional before.
As I was watching the documentary, it dawned on me that if they are showing Embrace, this wasn’t going to be a typical sales pitch for fitness and weight loss, this is going to be something different. Which I was so relieved about, because I couldn’t write authentically about a fitness program that I don’t genuinely believe in or that I think is a little too focused on the negative.
After the screening, we all had a good chat / debrief with Wendy about how Embrace made us feel. We talked a lot about language – the language often used by health and fitness brands, unwittingly or not. And how replacing one emphasis for another (ie strong VS skinny) is still pretty damaging a message to send out. The language we are so quick to use about ourselves when describing our bodies. The language of food guilt. And the language of the media and fashion industry.
We also had an introductory MUTU taster session, where I learnt more the workings of the pelvic floor than I have done from any postnatal professional in my recent years of having three babies. Being told to squeeze every now and then by your health visitor or midwife post-birth is not nearly enough.
I have been attempting to embrace body positivity recently and am doing OK with it. I’ve gone from not wanting to put any full body photos of me on instagram because I was so unhappy with how I looked, to putting them up and caring more about the person with the body shape like me, who might really appreciate seeing my photos, than all the things I had perceived as wrong or not as good as someone else’s instagram photo of themselves.
I am quite sensitive to the language of body-loathing. I hear it all the time in every day conversations, and I guess I pride myself on the fact that I can recognise it, and I rarely indulge in it myself outloud, just as my mum did when I was a child – which I believe helped imeasurably with my good sense of confidence and healthy outlook as a teen.
But it is hard, when there’s so much negative language around. And sometimes it feels like you are fighting a losing battle against the mainstream way of talking about our bodies. I’ve never felt this keener than this past year, when I’ve been searching for a wedding dress.
Knowingly or not, I have found that the industry forces you to scrutinise your body to a degree that I have never been comfortable with. I have been asked repeatedly “Which parts of your body are you least happy with / which parts do you want to hide?”. My focus has shifted from wanting to find something that is beautiful, and that I feel myself in, to feeling that I should get the dress that flatters me the most, that makes my waist look the smallest. It’s so easy to lose focus, to stop feeling like ‘you’.
So Embrace came at a perfect time for me, because it made me realise how silly all that thinking is in the grand scheme of things. I’m back to searching for the dress that makes me feel me.
I loved Amanda de Cadanet’s take on this in Embrace, I could recognise my body shape in her and she talked a lot about being on shoots and being coaxed into trying on the sample sizes even though she knows they don’t stand a chance in hell of fitting over her boobs. This was my EXACT experience with wedding dress shopping. Body shapes outside the fashion ‘norm’ are just not catered for, and of course that is going to make you feel downbeat. Even though body shapes outside of the fashion norm count for approx 90% of women (figure completely made up by me, but you get the idea).
Towards the end of Embrace the documentary, when interviewees were summing up their feelings about their bodies. Actress Nora Tschirner (who is GREAT in Embrace), shrugged and said “It’s my home”. This is when my real lightbulb moment hit. My body is my home and it’s the only home I’m ever going to have. So WHY do I spend so much time thinking about what’s WRONG with my body, what I don’t like, what I wish I had. Why do I never thank my body for how it is now? Why am I not kinder about my home? When I think about it, I have so much to thank my body for. I may have tired days, but so far, my body has never felt old.
One thing that really made sense to me in Embrace the documentary was Taryn talking about how much energy and time it takes up when you are focused negatively on your body and your appearance. For most of us, not a day goes by where we aren’t scrutinising some aspect of our appearance or trying to change it. It’s exhausting, and such a huge waste of time. When you allow yourself to change your thought process about body positivity, you free up a lot of time, as well as mental space.
In the UK it currently seems a little tricky to access Embrace unless you have US Netflix or can organise a private screening yourself. But if you can find a way to watch Embrace the documentary, I really really recommend it.
I am going to be undertaking the MUTU system program over the next 12 weeks, and will be writing my review of the program afterwards, so keep an eye out for that if you are interested in MUTU system and what it can do for you. I have a MUTU System discount code for my readers: put in the code EMBRACE15 at the MUTU checkout to receive a 15% discount.
Disclosure: I have been compensated to attend the MUTU event and review the MUTU System program. I am using a MUTU System Affiliate link.