Fashion, Pregnancy

Does my body need changing? Or does my heart?

August 20, 2015

IMG_1128
Let’s talk about body image. It’s been a topic that I haven’t talked about much post-baby, but that’s not to say that it hasn’t been on my mind plenty over the past 6 months.

Going into pregnancy I was fearful about how my body would adjust and adapt to pregnancy and the postpartum period. I’ve never had a super fast metabolism and have always had to be relatively mindful of what and how much I eat in order to keep my weight in check. But, let’s be honest, I love a little chocolate at the end of a long day or a glass of wine now and again.

Now, 6 months postpartum, I have my good days and days when I’m more critical of my body that I think makes any sense. I don’t really have a lot of extra baby weight to lose, I’m active and at my most recent physical my doctor told me everything indicates that I’m living a very healthy life. But too often I find myself falling into the perfectionist mentality where my body is concerned.

Someone told me once that the problem with “good enough” for a perfectionist is that even when it’s good, it’s never enough. And isn’t that the truth? But when I think about it, I realize that’s not the legacy I want to leave. I want good to be enough and to find satisfaction in imperfection and flaws, even if that means making peace with a little extra softness around my middle or going up a size in my favorite jeans.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating against living a healthy lifestyle or in support of unhealthy eating. Living a healthy and active life makes me feel great and is something I’m deeply committed to for so many reasons. But sometimes I catch myself sliding down a dangerous slope, one that says it’s not enough. A little voice in my head advocates against balance and moderation and pushes me toward perfection.

Becoming a mom has changed the way I want to look at my body and relate to those around me. When I point out my bodily flaws, however minor they may be, I think about little miss Ainsley doing the same thing one day. Right now, at 6 months of age, when I sit her down in front of the mirror her face breaks out in the biggest smile. She sees herself and loves what she’s looking at! If only we could all have the same reaction, right?

I want to set an example for her. I want her to be able to look in the mirror when she gets older and beam at the beautiful little girl and young woman God created.

So if you’re struggling with your self-image, maybe take a look at your heart first? I know in my case it’s an important barometer. There are plenty of reasons to pursue health and fitness, and there are also a myriad of instances when good really is enough.

Come on, ladies! I need to hear your personal stories. How have you adapted, accepted and come to peace with your postpartum body? Maybe you’re still working on it? I would love to hear in the comments below!

Madison

You Might Also Like

13 Comments

  • Reply Catherine August 20, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Madison! I’m a new follower 🙂

    what a good subject matter– our culture is so obsessed with body image! Having said that, a woman’s body goes through so many changes during pregnancy and after that it’s hard not to think about and be affected by it! My mentality has shifted…I now have 3 little boys. My focus isn’t on burning calories and having perfect looking abs, as it may have been before. It’s about eating well and fitting in exercise for my mental and physical health! Instead if 5 workouts a week, I’m happy with 2!

  • Reply Lauren @ Sassy Molassy August 20, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    I have started a post about post baby body image myself. While Id like to be super fit as I was pre pregnancy, I know it’s not realistic right now. I am definitely giving my body more grace these days knowing what it has accomplished and is still doing (nursing) for our little one. I definitely look at any unwanted weight or skin different now than I would have before. We are not our bodies so the best thing I can do is eat well, exercise, sleep, and try to be positive about where I am right now. You’re doing great!

  • Reply Rea August 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    I don’t know if I ever really came to terms with my postpartum body. (I’m…ahem…10 years postpartum…) But then, I kind of slid right from the postpartum period into the mid-life metabolism shift. Just this month though, I’ve had several encounters that left me thinking about body image and learning to accept who we are. And slowly I’m shifting my thinking from ‘I just want to look good, NOW’ to ‘What do I want to feel like in another 10 years? How do I want my body to function as I approach my 60’s?’ And so I’m cutting back on the frenetic cycling classes that weren’t shedding any pounds anyway, and trying to work on flexibility, and functional fitness. I’m taking more walks because they are good for my soul, even when my brain is saying ‘but this class at the gym MIGHT help you FINALLY lose some weight/tone that tummy/etc.’ I guess what I am saying is that change is inevitable, so figuring out the things that really matter is helping me (slowly) come to terms.

  • Reply Julie Johnson August 20, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    I can relate to so much of what you’re saying. I’m by no means a perfectionist, but I have always struggled with low self-esteem. My parents had a parenting approach of tough love. They were always good about praising us for doing well, but they certainly left room for “but you could have done better”. I think I carry that mentality with me in so many ways now. When I got married, I started gaining weight that I couldn’t explain. I was still quite active since we didn’t have kids, but nothing I did seemed to help me get it off. Then when we thought we’d try having kids, we got pregnant and I gained more weight than I ever thought I would. I tried to exercise as much as I could in the beginning, but also tried to be cautious because I had miscarried prior to the pregnancy. I ended up having so much swelling toward the end my body literally ballooned in ways I couldn’t explain or do anything about. I now have stretch marks on my ankles, behind my knees, and of course all around my mid-section. My first son was born via emergency c-section, making my recovery and my ability to get back into exercise that much more difficult and prolonged. I didn’t lose near the weight I wanted to before we got pregnant with #2. With this pregnancy, my body did the same uncontrollable swelling thing, and he was also born via c-section. My son is now 14 weeks old and I have never felt more like I could “look better”, even though I’ve lost 40 lbs since he’s been born. Now that we have two kids and I’ve been back to work for a little over a month, there are so many days that this feeling rages inside of me, while I combat that with working full-time, wrangling two boys, making meals, keeping my house cleaned, laundry, pumping, and wanting to spend time with and enjoy my husband and boys. I already wake up each day around 5am just to do the things I need to do to get out door on time, and when I get home the only exercise I’m able to get in is going for a walk or heading to the park because that’s something I can do while still getting a chance to spend time with my family and not compromising that time with following a workout video. I know that I need to give myself grace, and I also know that it doesn’t do me any good to stress myself out about it because at the end of the day, if I didn’t get a chance to work out, but I taught my two year old something new or I took 10 minutes to sit and snuggle my baby, that means so much more to me than how my pants fit or that I have a bulge that still makes me look 20 weeks pregnant. Thats what I need to focus more on right now-doing what I can, when I can. Stretching myself too thin isn’t going to do me any good. I’ve also worked with my doctor about taking some different medications now than what I used to use because I think some of that was a big factor in why I gained so much prior to having kids. We have a trip planned for the end of February for my and my hubby, and I have a goal of losing at least 20 more lbs by the time we go, but ultimately I’d like to lose an additional 20. I’m not putting a date or a timeline to it, I just want to focus more on making healthy choices when I can so maybe in the end, I’ve adapted a better lifestyle. When my boys sleep a little more and have some independence and are off playing with their friends, maybe then I will get a little more time for myself. Until then, like you, I need to change my heart and my opinion of myself focusing on all the good things I am currently doing for my family than the way I look.

    P.S. Welcome back to NW IA! Hope all is going well! =)

  • Reply Heather Waters Roberson August 20, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I still struggle everyday. I think I’m not good enough or I need to be what I was when I got married. I really just need to be happy with who I am and workout so I can set an example for our twin 4 year old girls. That’s my story.
    Heather

  • Reply Joanna August 20, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    I’m 4.5 months postpartum and am still about five pounds up from where I was. To be fair, I was already technically a little overweight when I got pregnant (even though I was in great shape), so it’s not like I’m slim now. It’s been weird postpartum – my body definitely looks different than it used to besides the extra pounds. But before I had a baby, I worked out 1-2 hours a day. Now I don’t have time for that. I still work out daily and try to eat well, but I’m no longer going to kill myself to be 5 pounds lighter. Hanging out with my baby is more important. And of course, it’s hard not to respect your body when it created a beautiful baby!

  • Reply Sarah August 20, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    I really loved this post… It got me thinking. About 7 months postpartum I went in for a physical, where I found out I weighed exactly what I did at my 6 week check in. I was shocked. I breastfed! Didn’t that mean I was going to lose so much weight and be able to eat whatever I wanted? Haha.

    So, at that point, I made my diet and exercise strict. I followed it for 6 months and lost 25 pounds. I’m 10 pounds away from my “goal”, and I’m struggling to find the motivation I once had. But I’m wondering if it’s even worth it? I’m within my healthy weight range, my clothes fit, and I’m so proud of my running and cardio endurance. So, what is the point of the last 10 pounds? To get to the arbitrary weight? To prove what to myself? Or is it that never-ending search for perfection? I honestly don’t know.

  • Reply Heather Disarro August 20, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Ugh, just broke into tears with the image of Ainsley looking in the mirror at herself…Austin is doing that right now too and it’s the most amazing thing! What if we went counter-cultural and saw what God sees when He looks at us? What if instead of picking at those silly flaws (that are actually not flaws at all) we saw that when God made us, every part, he called it good?

    AMEN.

    So my story? I have to be super careful about what and how much I eat in order to lose or maintain weight. It’s not super fun, but it IS necessary so that I don’t just let myself go down a path of unhealthy eating and living. Post-pregnancy is hard because there are so many times I just want to sit down with a pizza and some wine at the end of the day, and keeping that desire in check isn’t my favorite. But I know that I want to do whatever I can to make sure I live to see these boys grow up. I want to set an example for them to follow! So that’s the motivation. It’s not all about me anymore, in any way, and that includes the choices I make for my health now too!

  • Reply Katherine Kelly August 20, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    I’m not in the season of postpartum right now, but perfectionism is something that runs in every fiber of my being. It has often been the enemy for me as I try to live a balanced life between pursuing health but also pursuing how to love my self.

    I think the biggest help for me has been to take daily steps to learn to love myself. I am in a season (due to a health condition) where I am almost completely unable to be active. In the midst of the fear that set in when I learned that (how would I stay in shape? healthy?), I learned that each day in my body is a gift. My body is the vessel from which I live, not the entire sum of my life. My body is the paintbrush, not the masterpiece. I try to remember daily that I have a Savior who says I’m enough. No matter what I feel, I try to remember that, even in my darkest moments. I so respect you for sharing this and hope that you find encouragement from other mamas as you go through this. You are truly beautiful – inside and out.

  • Reply Meagan Moughamian August 20, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    I love this post so much!! I just had baby number two (a girl) 7 weeks ago. Unlike my first time around I actually lost all my baby weight a few weeks ago. That said, my body does not look the same and I’m still 10-15 lbs from my goal weight bc I never lost the last 10 after having my first. However I’m trying to not look at the scale often and not worry about it too much until I’m done nursing. After my first I tried to lose the weight and ended up deminishing my milk supply. Now that I have a daughter I really want to be mindful (like you mentioned) of how I view my body and what I say about it. I may not love what I see in the mirror currently but I’m trying to focus on the amazing miracle that my body has carried two babies, birthed them and fed them and that’s incredible. Every time I feel down on my body I give myself a little pep talk about the miracle of life and that’s truly helped me a lot recently.

  • Reply Laura August 21, 2015 at 12:33 am

    I definitely have not come to terms with my postpartum body and am currently pregnant so I’m a little worried how things will look after number 2. After having my daughter however, I knew some things needed to change and that needed to start with my rhetoric. I used to constantly tear myself down in front of my husband. I was always too fat and too ugly… After having baby girl I realized I couldn’t do that any longer. I love everything about her and think she’s beautiful. Itd break my heart if I heard her one day saying some of the awful things I did, in reference to herself. Now my husband and I try very hard not to talk about ourselves and our appearance negatively and try to eliminate the word “fat” in our home. My hope is, not only will she think of herself as beautiful, she’ll be able to see who others are from within as opposed to their outward appearance.

  • Reply Victoria B August 21, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Beautiful post! I am not a momma yet, but I love what you have written.

    One thing I recently heard was that perfectionism is just another form of procrastination. It is pretty simple, but SO TRUE! I really loved that and had never thought of it before.

  • Reply Urban Wife August 21, 2015 at 1:23 am

    This post has hit me right in the gut, in the best way possible. I’m coming out of my second round of “postpartum body” and it just seems a bit harder this time around, mentally. I’m being super critical and nitpicking certain things about my body (which can’t be changed, like stretch marks), even if I feel stronger and am more fit than before I had kids. Reminding myself every day…every single moment a negative thought tries to sneak in, that this body grew, birthed and fed 2 babies is a miracle and blessing.

  • Leave a Reply