You hear a lot of talk about body positive these days and I’ve been pondering what that means in relation to pregnancy and postpartum. This seems to be a time where people question their body more than ever, especially postpartum, but sometimes even during pregnancy. Your body does some amazing things but pregnacy can also do some damage to your body. So how do you love your body even though you feel it’s damaged or not like your own? That’s the real hard part. You don’t have to love everything about your body. You don’t have to love your stretch marks and your flabby skin or your separation and your abs. There’s no way to make you love that, but learning to be comfortable when you look in the mirror and like what you see that is not because the perfect reflection is staring back at you. It’s because of how you feel about your overall self. Its having the ability to appreciate where you are at now in the phase of your life.
I don’t think being body positive means you have to love every inch and every part of your body. I think it just means that you can look in the mirror and be okay with who you are and that you can realize that your looks don’t define you as a person. Skinny doesn’t equal healthy and fat doesn’t equal unhealthy. There’s a whole spectrum. Our society places so much pressure on women to be the perfect size all the time, no matter what. You just hear so often how to “bounce back” after having babies as like the gold standard. It has been hard for me to find the balance, as someone having an eating disorder in the past, it’s still clouds my judgment and my inner voice can be a pretty harsh critic. So I still battle those thoughts regularly and it’s taken years to be able to look in the mirror and love who I am. It’s funny because I like who I am much more than I did when I was 50 pounds lighter. I placed so much value and emphasis on how I looked then that I didn’t spend any time putting value in emphasis on who I was as a human.
This eating disordered past has definitely made me be able to relate to people who struggle with the changes that happen in pregnancy and postpartum. I have struggled pretty with this myself. These struggles have made it hard as an adult to have a healthy relationship with exercise and food and my body, but it’s been something I’m constantly working on. Recently I attended a body back session from Fit4Mom Severn and I had some concerns. I had some fears that this was going to be a lot of, oh, here’s how you get back to who you used to be and here’s how you get skinny so you can be happy, and all of the messages that we see through advertising and through other exercise or weight loss programs in the past that have really triggered my eating disorder. This one was different. It tapped into a sense of community, highlighted bring strong and happy.
I was very pleasantly surprised when I met with Laura the sweetest instructor the first time and realized that she could relate. She knew everything I was already talking about and it was already built in to their program. To be mindful of the stuggles lots of women have with weight and food. They allow you to choose your own path, whether that’s weight loss, inches lost, or just something like, measuring your strength gains. That was actually my favorite part was that really tapped into my athlete’s side was that we measured our changes in strength with pushups and planks and a mile run and things like that. It really helped me reprioritize in my brain that exercising can be done to feel good, to be healthy and get strong. It doesn’t have to be about getting skinny. I enjoyed these classes and the constant body positive reminders. It did not trigger what I was worried about at triggering and instead it helped me to feel more comfortable and confident in my own skin and with my own gains and successes towards becoming healthier. In summary, this season of life is a hard one, be gentle with yourself. Speak to yourself like you would your best friend. Strive to be healthy both mentally and physically but dont jeapordize your mental health to meet someone elses standards of beauty. Find what works for you. We are all just doing our best!