Love Your Post-Baby Body

A healthy body image has to start in your mind, not the gym.

Who hasn’t Googled “ways to regain your pre-baby body,” hoping for 5 quick and easy steps to bounce back?  If I’m honest, I wasn’t that happy with my pre-baby body to begin with; I didn’t have a flat stomach or the ever elusive and coveted “thigh gap.” So I’m not sure why I thought nursing and following a few easy steps would miraculously transport me to flawlessness after the birth of my child. And stories about celebrities’ amazingly quick transformations and pictures of Princess Kate after giving birth to both of her babies certainly perpetuate this unrealistic ideal.


My daughter just turned three and it has taken me at least 2 of those years to be able to look in the mirror and accept what I see.  And really this issue has been around longer than she has and it isn’t solely a result of the pregnancy. But the changes taking place in my thinking are a direct result of having a little girl and not wanting to pass on a legacy of insecurity. The battle to replace the lies with the truth of who I am and where my value lies is fought so that I am able to help my daughter see that society does not define beauty and worth. 


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Here are a few other thoughts that have helped me to see things more clearly.


We all have different body types and all respond to pregnancy differently.

I have friends who literally looked like they were caring a basketball and not an ounce of additional weight.  Looking at them from behind you would never know they were pregnant.  And as soon as that baby popped out, they were ready for bikini season.

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I don’t think I have the “thigh gap” body style.  I have a muscular structure and even if I lost those “last few pounds” there’d be no gap.  I read an article a while ago by a mama trying to teach her daughter to be thankful for her strong legs and what they can do.  I was so struck by her conscious effort to be thankful for the way she was made and then teaching her daughter to do the same.  It may have been this idea that started me thinking about how amazing a woman’s body is, which can swell to grow and nourish a child and then, with some changes in eating and activity habits, regain its natural body style.


Our perception is often quiet different from reality.

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The Dove Foundation released some remarkable videos highlighting the gap between perception and reality.  They are trying to redefine beauty and help women see themselves more accurately.  One particularly poignant video shows an artist sketching a face based on how a person describes herself verses how a stranger describes her.  The women focus on their own flaws and things they don’t like about themselves whereas the stranger more accurately portrays their beauty. 


In talking with my husband about what he finds attractive, he offers such practical and loving words. He knows that no one has a perfect body and is attracted to a disciplined and active wife.  We enjoy hiking and being outside together and I want my body to support that lifestyle, so I work out and eat in such a way that allows me to do that. But I also enjoy a chocolate croissant with a cup of coffee once in a while. For me, there is a line between having a healthy and fit body and being obsessed and overly concentrated on a certain body type or look.  I want to model a healthy lifestyle for my daughter, without the emphasis on looks.


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In order to maintain the correct perception of myself, I strive to take control of the thoughts about my looks that are lies.  Concentrating on speaking truth to myself and not letting my body style define me takes persistence. Also, I require conversations with those I trust to regain my equilibrium from time to time and I set firm boundaries on what I expose myself to in regard to social media. 


Our value is not in what we look like or even the role we play.

I don’t have to be perfectly beautiful to have worth.  I don’t have be a perfect wife, a perfect mother, or perfect in my career to be worthy of love. I don’t even have to be perfect to be beautiful. I have value because I was created and am deeply loved by God. His love gives me value, purpose and identity. He defines my beauty and says that a gentle and humble heart is beautiful. He says that he knew me before my parents ever dreamed of me and formed me as he intended inside my mother. What life giving and soul calming words those are. Others don’t define my beauty; I don’t even define my beauty.  I can rest in the peaceful knowledge that the One who created me, who knows me the best - better than I know myself - finds me beautiful and worthy and enough.


It starts in our core with what we believe about ourselves. When we buy into the impossible standard that has been set by someone with influence and feel like we are unworthy because we can’t measure up, it influences our thoughts and our actions.  We think we need to eat the right thing, workout enough, and have the right clothes to attain value. But when we believe in the depths of our being that we are enough because we’ve created by the One who is enough, it changes the trajectory of our lives. 

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