Hi friends! I'm talking today about something I have struggled with after having my son six months ago: weight loss and body image. I know there are a lot of articles, blog posts, pictures, tips, fitness gurus, etc. who are all ready to tell you about their weight loss journey after baby! So what makes this post different? Maybe not much, but I won't try to sell you something, and I won't even tell you that you should love your flabby, scarred mom belly. I'm just going to share with you my personal experience, and I hope that it's encouraging for you.
Let me begin by telling you how prideful and arrogant I was during my pregnancy. I laugh about it now but, I truly thought I would be one of those women who "bounce back". Every screen and magazine had showed me that it's common to have a child and look amazing in a bikini a week later. And seriously, some women do. They are amazing and beautiful! But for most of us, we will be dealing with some extra weight, stretch marks, loose skin, and some mysterious, scary things happening down there. You know what I mean.
Rewind to junior high, I would only wear long sleeves. It didn't matter if it was 95 degrees outside, I had a long sleeve shirt or even a sweatshirt on. I don't know when or how it happened, but one day I noticed how skinny my arms were. They just were really, really skinny. That's just the way God made me. I was called "skinny minnie" and it never bothered me, until I saw how awkward my thin arms looked. The only name I was called that hurt me, was "anorexic". I could hear other student's whispers in class sometimes, wondering about my skinny body, wondering if I had been eating.
I couldn't gain weight if I tried, and I couldn't really be comfortable in my skin until high school, when I joined dance team and gained a little muscle. Even then, I was never more than 115 pounds.
So fast forward to my pregnancy! Being so skinny in the past, I just figured that pregnancy wouldn't affect my weight very much. (lol) But friends, I was so wrong. I felt like I was starving all the time when I was pregnant. I started out at about 125 pounds, and the day I gave birth I weighed 175.
The first week after I gave birth, I lost 20 pounds. I'm sure that was baby, placenta, water weight, etc. I was in the hospital on fluids and medicine for almost 72 hours so I. was. swollen.
Anyway, when I saw the weight on the scale. Oh man, I was humbled. I knew right away, I was going to have some weight to lose.
This was so strange for me, because there were many times in my life where I was hoping to gain twenty pounds, and now I wanted to lose at least thirty.
I cried. I beat myself up. I regretted all the waffles, potatoes, and ice cream. I tried to exercise but I was dealing with a completely different body.
I also want to mention that because of the difficult birth I had, it took me much longer than six weeks to even walk and sit normally. I wish someone told me that it's okay for me to take it easy for longer than six weeks. I needed it. I think I prolonged my healing process because I was so eager to lose weight and be "back to normal". I wasn't totally healed until around 12 or 13 weeks, but even then it was too painful to ride a bike or go on a run.
So how did I lose forty pounds?
Patience. Breastfeeding. Being a little nicer to myself.
I decided that if I want to lose weight and be healthier, it wasn't going to start with beating myself into submission! It would start with some self love.
By the way, here's something profound: you can love yourself, and not like certain things about yourself. Okay, wait, let me say it again because I think it's so important.
You can love yourself, and not like specific things about yourself.
Isn't that how most of our relationships go anyway? I love my husband, guys, I really do. But do I like the way he pushes my nails back when he holds my hand? Nope. Nope!! It really grosses me out and he does it just to see my face.
I love my sister. I do not like when she won't let me take a drink of her water. (We have the same germs though, right? whatever.)
I love myself. I don't like my prideful tendencies.
I love my body. I don't like my stretch marks.
I love my body. I don't like my ten extra pounds.
See how that works? I felt for a long time that people were telling me to love my body and all its flaws, and sometimes I do. But most times, I feel like a failure for not loving every part of it. So, giving up the pressure to love those parts of myself was so freeing!
It's like once I dropped that pressure, I started to drop the weight. I also believe that quitting my job helped relieve so much stress, and without the stress, the weight began to fall.
People always say breastfeeding helps with weight loss, but I'm here to tell you that I don't think that is always the case! For some women, the hormones that come with breastfeeding will actually convince your body that you need to hold onto that fat. For me, I don't believe that's the case, but breastfeeding makes me hungry. I may be burning 500 calories a day nursing my baby, but I might just be eating that much to catch up with my hunger.
So that you have the whole story, I did go to the gym. I did cardio, weight machines, and I've been drinking a lot of water. But, none of this was happening consistently. That's why I want to encourage you to be patient with yourself postpartum.
I still have ten pounds to go before I get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I have no time limit. I have no weight loss or fitness goal, other than to stay active because it gives me energy, drink water to keep my milk supply up, and try to eat more nourishing foods.
I'm not here to tell you I have an amazing postpartum workout. I'm not here to advertise a "skinny tea". I'm here to tell you to give yourself more than six weeks. Give yourself a good nine months, and then some, because that's how long it took your body to create your sweet babe. Love yourself, and remember that loving yourself, means giving yourself time and space to be mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy, whatever that means for you.