This guest blog post is written by a fellow mom-boss, Nicole Atwood. Nicole is a mamma to two living in Northern Utah. In her “down time” as a mom, she is a the brains and beauty behind Core Mindful, a certified personal trainer with additional certifications in prenatal/postnatal fitness as well as being MUTU Pro focusing on core and pelvic floor health. She may be a trainer but she’s more like a personal cheerleader because she cheers on her clients in their own personal journeys to healing and happiness! You can check out more about her and her services here.
Without any further delay, read on mamma… And while you are reading, try not to worry too much about your miraculous mom bod!
Emotions and the postpartum body
After my first baby 3.5 years ago I found myself struggling with something I’ve never truly struggled with, my body image. It wasn’t the vain + superficial body image issues that I’d felt here and there before because we all feel that at different points! No, this body image issue was so deep, so devastating, and so consuming. My quality of life was suffering, I was suffering and I did so mostly silently. I don’t think those around me, not even my husband, understood the depth of my struggle. Some days I just wanted to lay In bed and not get up. I didn’t want to get dressed because I hated the way cloths felt and I didn’t feel good in anything.
I also found other emotions started to creep in as well. Mostly emotions of guilt for caring so much. Why did I care so much? Why was I letting this affect me so deeply? When I confided some of my feelings to people I usually got a response that fueled that guilt. “You look so good, you have nothing to be upset with” or “That is just the way it is after having a baby, you just got to get used to it”. No. No! NO!
YOU have the right to feel how you feel about YOUR body
I realized that despite what people said, I had the RIGHT to feel confident. I had the RIGHT to like the way I looked. I had the RIGHT to feel the way I did, that it wasn’t selfish, or vain, or silly. It mattered to me, and in the end that was what mattered. I wasn’t going to feel guilty for caring about something that mattered to me. Some women can and do embrace a postpartum body fully and completely and that is amazing and wonderful and that rocks. And there is nothing wrong with that. Just in the same way that there was nothing wrong with those women that can’t find that love and admiration for their postpartum body and want to see it change. In the end we all just want to be happy, vibrant, and confident in ourselves and what it takes to accomplish that will be different for everyone!
This was such an emotional and hard time in my life and I remember it very clearly. But fast forward to now and I have come so far and those struggles I faced led me to my passion of working with mamas and helping them through their postpartum journeys.
Every single day I hear from women across the world that are going through the same kind of body image battle with themselves (newly postpartum mamas to their baby now has babies mamas). I hear from these brave women how deeply they are being affected by the way they feel about themselves and their bodies and I know that so many more mamas struggle silently- like I did for a long time. I have so much empathy and compassion for mamas that are fighting this fight in their lives. Through my personal struggle I learned some very valuable lessons I want to share today with you!
Body image after babies
Body image is a tough thing, no matter who you are- it affects everyone at some point or another. Body image after babies is an especially delicate thing to navigate. Going back and forth between being amazed at what the body can do in literally growing another person…to being upset at the state it might be left in. It can seem like mental fight each day- I’m so proud of my body, it grew a human! I’m like superwomen! I am amazing! To thoughts of– Nothing fits. Nothing looks right. Nothing feels right. I miss my old body. Will this always stick out? Will these stretch marks always be so purple? Some days can be hard when you just don’t feel good in your own body.
So how do you find that balance? How do you find self-love and self-acceptance at the same time you are wanting self-change and self-improvement? It can be tricky to accomplish. I believe it starts and ends with mindset. Thoughts are a very powerful thing, they can lift you up or they can bring you down. They can change the way you feel and the way you think, and they can consume you if you let them, especially negative ones. As you navigate your post baby body let your thoughts be on your side. Let them lift you up instead of tear you down. Be your own cheerleader. Be kind to yourself. It is okay to look in the mirror and see things you wish you could change, it isn’t vain or selfish. What is selfish is to let those thoughts consume you, to rob you of your peace and your happiness. So the next time you look in the mirror and a negative thought comes to mind, let it come, then let it go. Acknowledge it and then move on. Fill your mind with other thoughts, don’t hold on to that negative thought and let it take you over.
Do not compare. Comparing yourself to others is a losing battle, always. It is amazing how fast comparison can tear you down, how quickly it can make you feel so insignificant. As you compare yourself to someone else, that someone is comparing themselves to someone else. It is a never ending cycle that only leads to feelings of bitterness, jealousy, and disappointment. So break it! It is possible to appreciate other’s qualities without tearing down your own. You can admire the person next to you without undermining yourself. Do this by focusing on things that make you feel good. Wear clothes you feel comfortable in, eat foods that make you feel good, exercise and move daily in a way that gives you energy. Create an atmosphere that you can’t help but feel positive in, surround yourself with goodness. As you do this you will be able to appreciate others around you and appreciate yourself at the same time.
Self love is worth it, even on the tough days
We all will have days where everything just feels wrong and it seems not one thing can be turned into a positive. On those days give yourself the gift of grace. Realize you are doing the best with where you are at right now. Truthfully I don’t think there is ever a point to reach that will lead to 100% body satisfaction. There will always be something to change and something to improve. That is why finding the balance of self love and self improvement is so vital. True self love and happiness comes from a place that isn’t affected by outward influences. It comes from who we are as a person, the life we are creating, the goodness we are sharing with others. There is freedom that comes from that kind of love and power that comes with it as you work on self improvement.
We are not defined by what we see in the mirror, yet at the same time we are not limited to it. It is okay to love what your body did for you as you grew and brought a life into the world, but at the same time not love what it looks like after it did all of those amazing things. So as you work on improving aspects you are not comfortable with practice self love, patience, and grace along the way! Enjoy who you are today and where you are today, as you look forward to who you want to become and where you want to go.
If it matters to you, it matters!
And always remember: if you are not happy with yourself (physically, emotionally, mentally, whatever it may be), if you need a change, if you need improvement, if you want to be different than you are now, in whatever avenue of life it may be- Don’t let anyone, especially yourself, stop you from reaching what you want to do or who you want to be. If it matters to you, it matters.
Never stop fighting for a life that brings you happiness and peace. That you can live whole heartedly and love fully- that includes others but also just as importantly, yourself. You deserve it mama.