The childbearing phase of a woman’s life brings with it a whole host of additional body image issues. As if the teenage years weren’t brutal enough.
During my first pregnancy at age 32, I gained 26 lbs. and lost it all within six months of delivering. I followed my own nutrition advice and bam. Easy-peasy.
During my second pregnancy at age 34, I gained 50 lbs. and losing it has been humbling. My second daughter just turned one, and people still ask me how my pregnancy is going, if I’m having a boy or a girl, and how excited I must be to have a third on the way.
The first few times that happened, I was absolutely mortified. I’ve never been overweight, and for the first time in my life I felt embarrassed about my body for being too big instead of being too small. (Can’t win, right?)
Somewhere along the way, my brain has learned that if I want to look beautiful, successful, and healthy, I am supposed to look like I never had a baby after I have my baby. And if my body holds on to any signs of having a baby for too long, then I’ve “failed” and I should hide my body until it’s back to “normal.”
How crazy is that? Why can’t we all be comfortable in our bodies and know that we’re a beautiful miracle no matter what size we are? This concept of beauty that we’ve all decided on and perpetuate seems more and more ludicrous to me, the older I get. As a mother of two daughters, you can bet I’m paying more attention than ever.
(Although there are some incredibly inspiring body-positive campaigns brewing with younger generations that make my heart soooo happy. Out with the old mindsets, in with the new!)
What’s even more bizarre to me is that the postpartum body is completely eclipsed from the spectrum of women’s body shape possibilities. Like it’s not even an option.
When we see a woman that looks pregnant, we should all think, “I wonder if she’s pregnant or if she already had the baby? Or, maybe she had a miscarriage, or an abortion. Perhaps she’s just bloated. The shape of her belly could mean a million different things, I will keep my mouth shut about her body and let her tell me if she wants to.”
Or better yet, when we see a woman that looks pregnant, we should all think, “Look at that woman’s eyes. Such wisdom, such spirit.” And that is all.
All women are beautiful, and her body is her business. Period.
Since delivering my youngest daughter a year ago, I’ve lost 30 lbs. I still have 20 to go in order to reach my pre-baby weight. I’m grateful that I have taken good care of my body over the years and in return, it has taken good care of me and my babies. I see my ability to lose 30 lbs as a result of my body having healthy hormone balance, and for that I am thrilled.
Rather than obsess over a scale (I don’t even own one), I decided to look deeper and see how my body was affecting my life and whether or not I want to make changes based on my quality of life, not on an outward concept of what society calls beautiful.
For example, I know for a fact that I will not continue to work out or eat well in order to reach a certain number on the scale or look a certain way. My reason has to be deeper than that. I don’t care enough about my skinny jeans to stop myself from curling up on the couch with a bowl of ice cream and watching Seinfeld after the kids go to bed.
So, this is what I came up with:
- My body felt weak and I had zero energy to keep up with my kids or take good care of myself, let alone pursue any of my own passion projects.
- My stomach felt huge and uncomfortable and none of my clothes fit.
- My sex drive was gone and I felt disconnected from the relationship with my husband.
Then I read this wonderful quote from an article written by a nutritionist mom of two boys, “You will look how you were meant to look when you feel good.” YES. That’s it.
Whether or not I reach my goal of losing 20 more pounds, what’s important to me is that I feel VITAL again.
I want to slip on a pair of my favorite jeans (without putting on my Spanx first) and show up to my life with energy and enthusiasm for my kids, for my husband, for my friends, for my business, and, most importantly, for myself.
That’s what I want more than anything. That’s what will motivate me to live a healthy lifestyle to reach my weight release goal. (Dr. Deb Kern, a mentor of mine, points out that it’s better to “release” or “normalize” your weight instead of “lose” it. Because what we lose, we tend to find again. I love that. ;-))
“Health is a result of healthy living,” says another one of my mentors, Dr. Myron Wentz. In other words, you can’t fake it. You have to live the lifestyle of your goal. And in order to do that, your reason needs to be so solid that the thought of quitting doesn’t hold any power.
Getting your body back after baby isn’t all about weight loss. It’s about alignment, pelvic floor health, and hormone balance. It’s about nourishing your body and your cells. It’s about mourning, forgiveness, and embracing a new reality. It’s about finding and developing your inner strength–literally and figuratively.
“Getting your body back” can mean something different for every woman. For me, it means feeling vital again. And when I’ve reached my goal, my body will reflect that.
I have decided to embrace my new curvy self. For the first time in my life I feel womanly! And strong. I am approaching the best shape of my life, because I never had the desire or drive to work out when I was younger.
You can follow my progress on Facebook and on Instagram. And make sure you’re on the wait list for Wonder Woman, my brand new online program to get your body back after baby (or no baby), coming Spring 2016.
Just as I needed to go through my own fertility struggles and become a fertility expert in order to bring you Fertile Woman, I am so excited to show you everything I’ve learned to help you get your body back in my new program.
So, what will motivate you to live a healthy lifestyle, day-to-day? If your reason isn’t powerful enough, it will be easy for you to “fall off the wagon” and resort to old unhealthy habits.
I’m rooting for you. You can do it.
And in the mean time, there’s always Spanx.
Because you don’t need the stress of answering one more “when are you due?” question. XO
Photo: Tami Wilson Photography