Last year, I gave myself a pep-talk about feeling fat and ugly. Many of the issues I was facing came down to me waiting for circumstances to change before making changes to my life. This is my progress:
I haven’t done anything drastic to lose weight; just made simple, sustainable changes to how I live. I move a little more, eat better and have enough treats to steer off the PMT emotional eating.
I didn’t put on a lot of weight throughout my five pregnancies. My weight gain was largely because of the medication I was on when I suffered with depression. However, my body did change throughout my pregnancies. And I didn’t like the changes.
Body image is an issue that is discussed in the media, a lot. On one end of the spectrum, there’s magazine articles showing how celebrities got their amazing bodies back right after birth. On the other hand, there’s websites dedicated to featuring real body parts of mothers, stretch marks and all. What mother’s feel about their body IS real, but I’m not sure these extremes really help.
Seeing pictures of gorgeous celebrities may provide some inspiration in the short term, but I’m sure they work very hard to achieve the results. Sure, seeing a post baby stomach that’s “not so bad as mine” might be relieving, but what about those who do retain beautiful skin on their tummy? Are they not as much a mother, even though they don’t have the scars? Perhaps they have incontinence, or hemorrhoids, or wanted a vaginal birth but ended up with a cesarean section. No, I don’t buy into it being a long-lasting positive thing.
For me I’ve had to come to grips with the many sacrifices of being a mother (which really is part of the joy of it all). This has been a process, and believe me, I haven’t always been all that gracious about the entire process.
I remember finding the first stretch mark on my tummy. I cried. I had diligently rubbed oil into my tummy EVERY day and I had every hope that I would escape the scars. I don’t like my tummy, but I’ve learned there are much more important things than a flat, smooth stomach. However, I did allow myself to feel sad. To grieve the loss.
The next thing, I had to learn to accept that I AM WHO I AM. You know, I’ve always been quite envious of petite, small framed people. I could be described as many things but small isn’t one of them. I’m strong, and always have been. I’ve accepted this is part of my beauty, and I enjoy my strength. In the same way, I’ve learned to accept my post baby body.
I embrace my strength and energy. I celebrate my post-baby body. And I seriously don’t stress about how I look anymore or my post baby defects, but instead be who I am. I’ve moved on baby, and it feels good. This doesn’t mean I always feel good about myself. I really don’t, but I’ve shifted the focus on my defects to instead, doing the best with what I have and sharing joy with those around me.
Once I shifted the focus, I could see so many ways to be myself! I taught myself how to dress for my changed body. I worked hard to find ways to exercise amongst my life and made it a priority. And I enjoy getting on with being the best I can be and sharing what I have with others.
I’m not giving advice here really, I’m just fleshing out things I think about sometimes. But if someone did ask me what I think about how mums feel about their bodies, and what we can do about it, I wouldn’t be recommending celebrity diets or the poring over “real” mum body parts. Instead of looking externally for ways to combat self esteem issues, I believe it’s far more beneficial to grieve what you’ve lost, accept what you have, embrace who you are and grow every day.