Having worked as a model in her teens and early twenties, yo-yo and fad diets were always a part of Merrin Schnabel’s life. She'd often look at social media in search of quick-fix weight loss techniques, at one point turning to diuretics — medicines that help reduce fluid buildup in the body.
"They absolutely lost water weight but were very dangerous," Schnabel tells Mamamia.
Her frequent use of the controversial 'water pills' led to dehydration, ultimately landing her in hospital. So when she fell pregnant at 29, she knew things had to change.
"As I was breastfeeding this rogue approach to my health did not feel right, so I looked for a more healthy approach," Schnabel says. "I just grew and was now nurturing two precious human beings so for me I saw my body with more respect and care."
At 31, Schnabel had her second child, gaining around weight with each pregnancy. Like many new mums confined to their homes, Schnabel killed time by scrolling through her phone, meaning she was constantly faced with images of celebrity mums flaunting their flat stomachs, almost immediately after giving birth.
"I was very triggered by celebrities and influencers looking like they had bounced back instantly. There is huge pressure to lose weight and to do so really quickly," she says.
"Pregnancy is hard. You go from feeling like yourself and having that validation for being attractive to being foreign in your own body. I have always been slim, so I found the weight gain hard. It’s like saying goodbye to a part of yourself for a while."