With Summer right around the corner I thought this was the perfect opportunity to check in with ourselves and assess our goals and desires when it comes to our physical health and appearance. In particular for those women who have had a baby this year and may be coming to terms with the fact that their bodies aren’t as they once remembered.
There is a lot of pressure out there for post-partum women to bounce back to their pre-baby bodies. The images we see on Instagram are often of women flaunting their nice toned abs in low waisted bikinis with not an ounce of cellulite or a stretch mark in site. Our rational mind tells us that these images have been edited and glitzed up to the max yet we can’t help but look in the mirror and compare our curves, lumps and bumps, jiggly bits and scars to the image we have just seen. However, by doing this, we are completely undervaluing the journey our incredible bodies have been on over the recent months or years.
Your body has conceived a baby, grown it over a period of 9 or so months and birthed it via a vaginal delivery or caesarean. Is your body therefore ever likely to be the same again? No – it’s better! Your pre-baby body was never this capable, resilient, strong and overall, damn impressive.
Naturally, there are days where I feel self-conscious about elements of my body and mentally write up a wish list for smaller thighs or less jiggly bits, but on other days I am utterly amazed at what my body is capable of. Often this is when I’m watching my son in his element, reminding myself that my body, with the help of his Dad of course, created this incredible little person.
If only we saw ourselves through the eyes of our children, perfect in every way. Our children don’t see “our flaws” as we seem them, instead they see the humour in our squishy tummies or how our bum jiggles when we dance around to the Wiggles. They don’t judge us based on our physical appearance, rather the love we have for them and in return their love for us is one that is pure and unconditional. If only we could learn to love ourselves in the same way.
At 3 years post-partum I reflect on my journey in regaining my physical strength and fitness after having my son. It took me at least 18 months to gradually increase my strength and fitness to resemble where it was pre-pregnancy. However, I adapted how and why I was exercising. I forwent my gym membership and bought some equipment for home as getting to the gym was no longer feasible. I opted for shorter workouts to make it more achievable around a sleeping baby initially and then a busy work-life schedule later on and I opted for a stretching session or a day of rest if my body was telling me it wasn’t up for it on a particular day. The reasons I exercise now, in addition to the benefits to my mental health, are to be fit enough to run after my son as he flies down the hill on his scooter and strong enough to lift his dead weight from the couch to his bed after he flakes out after a huge day at day-care.
Despite being proud of what my body has achieved over the past few years and admiring the strength in it I never knew I had, I still have stretch marks, a mild abdominal separation and my tummy jiggles when I run. Would I change my ‘battle scars’ for anything – absolutely not!
So this Summer, rather than be our own worst critics, let us look at ourselves through our children’s eyes and try to love ourselves and our bodies for all that they’re capable of – battle scars and all.
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