"What if you had the body you have now for the rest of your life? Could you love it exactly as it is?"
Body image after baby.
Oh, where to even begin?
Sometimes as a mom it feels like the last thing on your mind is your own body, and sometimes it feels like it’s the only thing on your mind.
I want to share my own weight loss and body image postpartum, because as with all stories, it is unique. I didn’t have a lot of people around me that gained as much weight as I did, or took as long to get it off, especially while loving yourself along the way.
I gained about 65 pounds with my pregnancy.
Whoa. That number is sorta scary. Especially as someone who used to have a lot of body insecurity and was pretty overweight upon graduating high school. I got to college and a lot of the weight dropped.
I found a lifelong yoga practice, and the rest of it left; I had found my happy norm.
Cue entering my second trimester and trying on clothes at Target, as mine weren’t seeming to fit anymore. I totally broke down in the dressing room. Nothing felt right or seemed to look right. It triggered a lot of emotions for me and I ended up leaving with nothing.
Eventually I found some maternity clothes that fit, and they were a godsend.
In general I tried to not look in the mirror too much when I was pregnant, except to admire my growing belly. I figured if the clothes felt good enough, they looked good enough too. I didn’t want to enter into a critical or negative mindset.
I was very lucky to have midwives that were supportive and said weigh ins were totally optional. I was eating well, my pregnancy was a model of good health, I was trusting my body and listening to it instinctively.
At about 50 pounds, I stopped counting.
But let’s just say, I had a decent amount of pregnancy left to go. My midwives reminded me that not gaining enough weight was way more dangerous than gaining too much!
Then I had my baby. And time stopped. My body felt sort of unrecognizable. But none of it mattered. What mattered was my baby and taking care of her. I was grateful for our bond, breastfeeding, and the fact that I had carried and birthed a human.
Over time, things started to settle and I started to notice my body again. Holy wow. My yoga practice feels so different and my cheeks seemed like chipmunks!
Luckily I had positive supporters along the way. My midwives reminded me that it took seasons to put on the weight, it will take seasons to take it off. Just keep breastfeeding and it will happen.
My yoga friend and mommy mentor reminded me: the more I attach to the weight, the more it will attach to me! Ding, ding, ding. I was so grateful for my mindful mentality because I knew she was right.
If I obsessed over my weight, it would own me.
I wanted to spend my days cuddling my baby and enjoying nourishing food, not forcing work-outs or hating myself. What kind of an example would I be leading for my daughter?
Since I was a little worried about how to approach healthy food behavior with a past of insecurity, I decided to start working with a Mind Body Nutritionist.
She instilled the knowledge that the best way to model healthy food behavior, is to ENJOY my food. Have a positive mentality. Sit down and eat. When we are stressed, our body holds onto weight. When we are relaxed, we digest everything better.
So I ate whatever I wanted.
I listened to my body along the way. If it wanted ice cream or sourdough bread, I ate them! If it wanted strawberries and kale, I ate that too.
I partnered with an amazing nutrition line and figured out the new ways my body needed support, and I gave it.
After our first family vacation, I came back feeling so bloated and heavy (energetically and physically). I felt ready to up my exercise game, emotionally and physically. This was at 8 months postpartum. Up until then it had been mainly walks and gentle yoga, all of which had been delightful. My mind and my body were finally ready for a change.
I joined a gym, I had a personal trainer help me assess my needs with where I was at. I started slow. To be honest, I still go slow!
In November, at my first ever work out, I weighed myself, prepared for the worst, and got about what I was expecting. Still 40 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant, 40 pounds more than my body’s happy norm.
So I simply set the intention that I would lose 40 pounds by June.
I didn’t attach to it, but put the intention out there to get to a really healthy place, and trust that my body and desire to feel amazing would get me there.
In March I had my annual, and was down 20 and was pleasantly surprised. Over the years I've learned that scales can have a really negative affect. If I know my health is suffering, they can help get real. But if I am on the right track, why turn to something so external to determine my health?
Since then I have been feeling amazing.
I eat what I want, when I want. I supplement well. I go to Barre, yoga & pilates classes because they make me feel strong and amazing. I spend my thoughts on ways to grow myself and what deliciousness I want to make for dinner. I spend my time playing with my baby and teaching yoga.
Now it’s hiking season again. It took courage to hit the trails, because I knew my cardio wasn’t strong after 2 years of taking it easy, but I was actually pretty impressed with myself. I was happy to work up a sweat, because it’s something I love doing so much.
I haven’t weighed myself recently. But I do know my clothes keep fitting looser and looser. And to be honest, I'm not even concerned with the weight anymore. I’m spending my days doing what I love, and my body is responding by showing me love. I know I'm on the right track.
I want to share this story because perhaps you are postpartum and wondering if you are ever going to recognize your body again. Maybe you lost all the weight you gained immediately. Maybe you are like me and it’s taking longer.
Perhaps you want permission to take it easy, to recover from birth gently and slowly. In which case, granted.
But if you are a mom desperate to work out so soon after having a baby, get curious. Is it because you love yourself and want the endorphins? Or is it because you hate your body and want to pressure it to be different?
I cringe when moms say they need to lose those last 6 pounds. Especially if they are breastfeeding. Or they are so determined to get the weight off, they are participating in diets they hate. Life is too goddamn short in my opinion!
What a negative cycle. It is absolutely our choice to be a part of it.
If you are wanting advice, here is mine: be patient. Trust yourself. Know that your path will be totally different. Set intentions for yourself, realistic ones, and be open to however they come about. Trust that your body will tell you what it needs, when it needs.
It may have taken almost 14 months to fully trust that my body can find it's happy norm again, but I'm grateful that along the way not once did anything feel forced. I’m happy that recovering slowly meant keeping it relaxed and fun.
13 months postpartum:
And no, the journey hasn’t always been easy, but loving myself no matter outweighs everything else. Tell your body you love it, tell it thank you for everything it does for you.
Because if you fight your weight, it will fight you.
Practice yoga. Make your own meals.
Get hands on with what nourishes you.
And all will happen in its own, magical time, I promise.
Ps - If you feel like you need a little extra help tuning into your body, and learning to access and trust your intuition, that's where I can help. Get in touch to discover the ways we can have you feeling supported, loved, and tapped into your very best self.
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Thank you for the support!