Two months ago, I gave birth to twin girls, and I am struggling with the expectations of getting my pre-baby body back. Even more so, I am struggling that this is even a thing. It infuriates me to see magazine headlines like,“Celebrity Drops 30 Pounds 3 Weeks After Having Baby,” or “How Supermodel Gets Her Pre-Baby Body Back.” These are ridiculous and unrealistic expectations for the rest of us living in the real world.
Why are magazines promoting this? Why are we not showing the real post-baby life? The granny panties and pads you have to wear, the leaky boobs, the overwhelming emotions of no sleep, random crying fits, the constantly questioning everything you’re doing and if you have the ability to keep this tiny human alive? How about the sore nipples, pumping, bottles, the unexpected challenges of breastfeeding? How about marriage, relationships, friends, and how all of it changes? And now we are expected to be a size 6 in a month?
How about this for a change: Instead of looking at Instagram and magazines for celebrity bounce-back diet tips, we look to each other and talk about the challenges and how hard it is? Let’s talk about the fact you barely have time to make a meal let alone a super-healthy meal plan. You barely make it to the gym (if at all), you feel slow, out of shape, and maybe like you are slowly losing your identity and mind all at the same time. How about the real people talk?
Yes, I will admit it, I get a certain feeling when I look at pictures of myself in my pre-baby body, but to be honest, for most of my life I didn’t appreciate the body I had when I had it. I actually never realized how good I looked until recently looking at old pictures and saying verbatim to my husband, “Is that what my body really looked like because I never saw that?” Even when I was in the best shape of my life, at my “goal weight,” I never realized it because I never appreciated my body. I only saw what still needed to change.
I have been working on my body image for a long time, and I now realize if I want different for my girls, I have to be different. Since giving birth, I look at my body differently. I am committed to seeing what’s right with my body instead of what’s wrong because this is what I want my girls to see in me and in themselves.
I look at my belly and my scars and my cellulite and say, “I created life with this body. How could I ever hate it? I had two humans inside me. I am literally one of the most powerful presences in this world. I gave life.” Why is this not the No. 1 thing we are celebrating as women, the fact we can create life? Instead, we are celebrating the model who bounced back in a month eating salmon and salad. Those are goals?
I have a friend who gave birth a year ago, and she talks about how disappointed she is that her body (after a year) is not back to what it used to be. Guess what, for most of us, our bodies will never be back, our lives will never be back to what they were pre-baby.
But isn’t that a good thing? My life is forever changed after having children, and this is what I signed up for. My friend is a successful businesswoman who supports her family; spends quality time with her child; and makes time to go camping, plan birthday parties, go to the beach — all while managing her career. After having a really hard time getting pregnant she has the most amazing baby girl. And now all she can talk about is how she’s disappointed in herself for not having her body back. I think she’s supermom, and she thinks she’s fat. How come we don’t see the amazingness in ourselves? It’s crazy, but most of us have these thoughts.
How we feel about our bodies is the message we pass on to our children. So if we are obsessed about what we eat and working out 60 minutes a day, those ideas will be passed down. If we are constantly questioning whether our bodies look good and only pointing out the “bad,” our children hear us. They hear it when we say, “Uh, I need to go on a diet. I just need to lose this last 10 pounds, then I’ll be happy. I really need to get back on it — I’m fat, I’m tired, I’m slow, and I’m so out of shape.” We are literally passing on the message to our own family that we are not good enough.
In the beginning, kids know nothing about what they are suppose to look like. They don’t know the perfect body. Kids don’t grow up and say, “The best memory of my mom is how she looked in skinny jeans or in a bathing suit.” The question is, are we setting our children up for unrealistic expectations because that is what we have placed on ourselves?
Body bounce-back is not a thing in my world anymore. Body empowerment is.
Loving who I am at this moment is my goal. I work out because it’s my therapy. It’s how I get my mind right, release stress, and change my attitude. Not because I have to burn a certain amount of calories a day. I eat food that makes me feel good and helps me thrive in life. Sometimes that’s broccoli and quinoa. Sometimes it’s a cheeseburger.
We all have negative thoughts. We all have insecurities. But it is our choice to give those negative thoughts life, to give those insecurities power. Be who you are today. Embrace all life has to offer. Be the example for your children, your family, and your friends. For the next month, every time you look in the mirror, I challenge you to say one positive thing about your body. Start focusing on what’s right with your body instead of what’s wrong. You have the power to change your perspective. How hard are you working to do that?
How about we start to work on our own body shaming? Next time you catch yourself saying or thinking something negative about your body, stop yourself and say something positive. This is not always an easy thing to do, but the more you practice, the easier it will be become. Why is it so easy to say something negative and so difficult to say something positive about ourselves? We have the power to change that — let’s start using that power to change the way we speak about ourselves.