After pregnancy, all women's bodies have changed and most bodies also look at least a bit different.
Mine certainly does.
Even though my baby weight came off easily (thankfully I had all the right tools and preparations in place before, during and then after my pregnancies), I have excess skin that is visible especially when I bend forward or when Hendrix sits on my hip and squishes my belly with his sweet chubby legs.
As someone who has a history with feeling a lot of judgement about how I looked growing up (and really until my mid-20s), I have to tell you that this post feels vulnerable.
I also know that it is a sensitive topic for many women, so I will do my best to share some of my thoughts with you today in the most loving way possible.
In a nutshell, I am PRO body acceptance AND also PRO making the changes you need to make to feel good in your body -either again (after pregnancy) or for the first time in your life.
Here is what I am talking about:
Of course, I believe that everyone should "accept" their bodies. Loving yourself and kindly caring for your body, mind and soul should never EVER be contingent on what you look like, how much you weigh, how tight or saggy your skin is, or on how many stretchmarks you have.
Under no circumstances should the way you look ever prevent you from doing the things you love, going to places and being with people you enjoy, feeling proud of who you are, going for great opportunities in life, or being in a bathing suite and enjoying sunshine on your skin.
You should always do all of those things.
But why cannot self-acceptance and working on your inner kindness voice, also be coupled with taking positive action, learning new tools for bringing your body into balance and supporting yourself in feeling your absolute best on the inside AND on the outside.
Why cannot we say "I love who I am and I also believe that I can take better care of myself, work on some of my habits, and find ways to bring my body into greater equilibrium."
Self-acceptance doesn't have to mean non-action, it's just saying that the way you get to your goals is by being kind to yourself instead of shaming yourself.
Let me be clear, I am NOT encouraging radical weight loss and I am not supporting the idea that everyone should be a size 4, or 6 or 8 or any specific size for that matter. I am not talking about deprivation, counting calories, diet pills, excessive exercise or any other forceful measure that is usually driven by a negative, judgmental inner voice.
BUT, if you feel unhappy or if you are suffering, if you are in pain or discomfort, or if you know that certain habits that you have taken up as a crutch to help you deal with life are making you not feel good in your own body, then YES, you should figure out a plan of action so you can take better care of yourself. Of course, you should take charge of your life and move yourself –your body, your mind, your relationships, your family... all aspects of yourself– into a sphere of greater well-being..
Here is something I have found to be true:
When you are feeling stuck or dissatisfied with anything, the best way out of it includes two steps:
Step 1: Accept yourself in whatever situation you are, learn how to really truly love yourself, and change your expectations to make reaching your goals or fulfilling your dreams realistic and doable.
For example, my goal shouldn't be to bounce back from chidbirth and either look like Heidi Klum or shame myself into hiding. My goal should be -AND IS- to tell myself that I love and accept myself everyday, that I am grateful to my body and all it does, and then I use the energy that comes from truly valuing myself to take great care of my body, my mind and my wild mama soul (the latter needs a lot of love ;)).
Step 2: Take action.
If my expectation is the above, then I will take consistent action to focus on nourishment that is encouraging hormonal balance, lowers inflammation, stabilizes me at a healthy-for-me weight. It means that I eat mostly organic, high quality foods, reduce my sugar/ coffee/ alcohol consumption, focus on hydration, and move my body by walking a lot and including specific pelvic floor exercises and abdominal work because I know that when I feel strong in my core, I feel better and more beautiful in my body.
Does that makes sense?
Let me be clear, all of this is not easy. There are bumps. There are challenges. There are hurdles. And that's ok. You don't have to be perfect. You just have to get up, try again, harness more love, and continue to move forward and upward.
I'd love to know what this means to you: Where/ what areas of yourself do you have to accept and change some of your expectations on to make them more realistic and achievable? What areas of you would you like to harness this self-love for so that you can feel empowered and make some changes? How are you going to take action to move your life –and for the sake of this conversation, your body– closer to what you know it actually wants to look and feel like?