I was going to write an entirely different post...but I feel compelled to write a post I've been waiting to write (and was going to write next) first because I have several friends struggling right now with this particular topic.
I don't profess to be perfect, or have all the answers, but I do feel like I've had a moment of personal clarity that I need to share in hopes that it will help others...So, here goes...
A few months ago I was really struggling. I was 30 weeks pregnant and still had people that were shocked and surprised when I told them that I was expecting. Who knows if they were just being nice and though that it would stroke my ego to say that they had no clue, but it wasn't helping...In fact, it was making me feel like a fat blob. I felt like a whale, I was securely fitting in most all of my maternity clothes, but nobody noticed...
Was I really that fat before I was pregnant?
That question plagued my thoughts every time I looked in the mirror...
I quickly took to Pinterest looking for any and all tips on losing weight post partum in order to be as skinny as possible as quickly as possible....but something funny happened while I was posting pin after pin of juice fasts, diets, exercises, smoothies that helped to foster rapid weight loss....
I came across a pin from a fitness instructor. She wanted to show how she could make herself look 10-15 pounds skinnier in a "Before and After" picture on the same day just by changing how she held her phone and a few pieces of her outfit...It was definitely an interesting pin to run across in the fitness section. I looked, thought about it for a minute or two and then continued in my fast and furious quest to find the weight loss secrets that nobody was telling me, trying to find the magic potion that would make me "gorgeous"...
However, this image stuck with me more than I thought it did initially.
I have many friends that are beach body coaches and selling various supplements and they are constantly posting "Before and After" pictures on Facebook for the programs they sell. (What I'm about to say next is not reflecting badly upon them. I'm sure their programs work for people and are great. Don't think I'm being negative about them). I started to notice that in many of the "Before and After" pictures, I didn't believe that the women looked bad or fat in the Before pictures... The After pictures ranged from not much difference to me (making me think of the Pinterest pin I'd seen) and women that looked (to me) like someone could come along and snap them in half like a twig. (Again, I'm sure the women in those pictures felt amazing about themselves, so good for them, but in my personal opinion, many of them didn't need to lose any weight at all and looked great Before...if they needed to lose some more to feel more healthy and happy, that is their prerogative)
Finally, one of my husband's friends posted a meme. It was a cartoon skeleton with the phrase "She be like, 'I finally met my weight loss goal!'" I couldn't help but laugh...and it was in that moment that something clicked. This switch in my head that had me thinking so negatively about my body pre pregnancy, during pregnancy, and what it would be like Post Partum turned off...
My body was doing something AMAZING- something that not all women's bodies are able to do...So, WHY was I hating on myself? Why was I allowing myself to be so taken in by the world's standard of beauty? Why was I letting Satan win by choosing to believe the lies he was telling me- the lie that unless I have a body that is a certain size, weight and shape, I am ugly and unlovable?
My husband loves me. He makes that evident every day...no matter what shape I'm in...and, judging by the fact that his male friends were sharing that skeleton meme like it was a bottomless pack of gum and laughing about it on the comment threads saying how true it was tells me that the majority of our husbands probably feel the same....
I reached a place of acceptance.
I remember, before my wedding, several friends approaching me in an "intervention" because they believed I was starting to get "scary skinny" (let me clarify that at this time my weight fluctuated between 135 and 140... by BMI standards, I was on the edge of the overweight and average category...nowhere near underweight, but on my frame, I apparently looked "scary skinny".) I assured them that I was eating healthy and not even trying to lose weight before the wedding because I didn't want to fall into the pitfalls of the bridezilla whose only problem is that she desperately needs a sandwich... I was the smallest I'd ever been before Faith was born. I had edged into a size 4, and was fitting very comfortably into a 6 (that weird in between place where one size is too big but the other is too small)...
I am a realist. My body has changed. My hips are wider because they have spread to allow a baby out. My body is carrying weight differently than it did before I had kids... everything is just different. I will likely never see that size 4 again because, honestly, even if I did get down to 135 to 140 again, I'd probably never be able to get the pants over my wider set hips...I'm totally okay with that. I was okay with that after I had Faith and Phillie...but why have a goal size? Since things have changed, since I'm not sure what my body will do as time passes post partum is it really realistic to chase this goal of an elusive number? Also, as I demonstrated with my story, why do we even have goal weights? Let's be real, every body carries weight differently and scary skinny on me may be perfect on another frame... I will never be a size 0 perfect model from a magazine...even that model isn't the perfect model size 0 in the magazine (Hello PHOTOSHOP!)
So...this time around...there is no goal weight, no goal size....My goal?
How healthy do I feel?
I want to be healthy enough to run around the park with my girls without being out of breath. I want to have dance parties that last longer than 1 song on Pandora. I want to feel energized. I want to eat as healthy as possible so I can be around to see all the wonderful things that my daughters are going to do with their lives and I DON'T want my daughters to ever feel like they need to ascribe to some worldly idea of what is beautiful, because they ARE beautiful just for being them. I want them to be healthy and happy and the best way for me to do that is to be an example of what healthy and happy is.
I am going to love my body for all it does for me and continues to do for me. I am going to marvel at the amazing things it has allowed me to do. I am not going to hate it for not looking like some model in a magazine.
I will be beautiful, because I AM beautiful no matter what size I wear or what number is on the scale. All that matters is that I FEEL healthy and know that I am doing all that I can to be around for a long, long time.
I posted this photo to my Facebook and Instagram today:
I will be real...Right now, I weigh 175 lbs. By the world's standards am I overweight? Yep. Do I give a flying fart in space? NOPE. What I care about is how I feel....and considering that I am running on average on about 3 hours a sleep a night and able to keep 3 kids under 3 alive and chase after them all day, I'm doing pretty darn well! I feel beautiful...why? Because my body, one month ago, did something AMAZING. I ran a marathon of 10 hours of labor, shock so bad that my teeth were chattering and my jaw ached, nausea from too much adrenaline, pushing out a baby that was facing the wrong direction and coming home 24 hours later to NO HELP while I learned to navigate taking care of an Autistic 2 year old, a very spoiled almost 2 year old and a newborn... I. AM. EPIC.
I should be a freaking legend!
Do I still have my moments where I feel let down about my body? Yes, but that is because most of my clothes are too big or too small...its hard to feel dapper when nothing fits properly...but my sweet husband helped with that this weekend.I have a few new items to wear that fits my body NOW...not my body in 3 months, 6 months, etc. I am dressing the amazing body I have now, I am not going to focus on the body I will have down the road.
I am not on a diet. I am just making sure that I get more than enough water in the day, am eating 5 servings of fruits and/or veggies, and 3 servings of dairy a day (just like any nutritionist would recommend). I feel energized because I'm eating a lot of healthy foods (I feel like I'm always eating, but I'm always eating because its amazing how hard it is to get 5 servings of veggies or fruits in a day when you're only eating them at a meal...so I get lots of good snacks.) Of course, I'm tired and exhausted at times (who wouldn't be on only 3 hours of sleep?) but I know that I'm feeling much better than I would be if I was snacking on potato chips all day.
So...in short, there is no magic potion or pill that will make you "beautiful"...
Decide that you are going to embrace the body you have today and that you will embrace the changes that come through healthier living. Be natural and the rest will follow... Be YOU.
Right now, I couldn't imagine exercising full on. It takes quite a bit to run up and down the stairs to take 2 wiggly toddlers for naps, baths, and time outs and to chase them around the house and out of things they shouldn't be into. To top it off, my husband hasn't been home longer than 4 days at a time since we brought the baby home from the hospital...so I've been doing almost everything in the house and when it comes to caring for our children 100% on my own... but, I have decided to start doing 20 sit ups and 20 push ups twice a day to get my muscles back into order....
Nope, I'm not going to train to run a marathon. I've never been a runner...not even when I was a kid...I don't think that is going to change now.
For now, I am going to do things I enjoy, eat healthy and listen to my body.
If I want to dance with my kids, I'm going to dance with them until I can't dance anymore. I will run up and down the stairs in my house as many times as it takes to give all the necessary time outs and naps that my kids need...but I'm not going to stress about it. As they get older and I have more time, I will be able to do more for me to help condition my body to be more healthy.
I am not a Kardashian...I don't have thousands of dollars to pay a personal trainer...but on top of that, I also don't want to spend HOURS and HOURS away from my kids chasing an unrealistic goal.
I'm going to be ME and let things fall into place...because the ME that I am is beautiful all the time.
Oh, my fellow mammas, if you're working to lose weight, ask yourself one question...Are you doing it because you believe you're "fat"? If the answer is yes, then maybe we need a slight attitude adjustment. Lose weight to be more healthy, not because you are LESS because someone in a beauty magazine somewhere decided that a certain size or weight was more desirable.
If you're feeling down or overwhelmed...start small. Change the way you're eating, don't diet...Follow suggested dietary guidelines: 3 a day of dairy, 5 of fruits and veggies and drink your water...I promise, you will feel AMAZING... and if you want to eat a darn cookie- EAT IT! Don't feel guilty...
I'm gonna eat a cookie if I want a cookie...I'm just not going to eat 12 cookies because I know I won't feel so healthy afterwords...in fact, I'll probably feel like throwing up...as would anyone who eats 12 cookies.
Don't judge yourself by numbers...judge yourself by how healthy you feel. Make your fitness goals about what you'd like to accomplish as opposed to the numbers on your scale or your pants...a number is just a number...you are more than a number. How you function, how your family functions- those are the things that count most. If you're not currently functioning, then YES, by all means make a change...but don't make the change because you are allowing yourself to hate the one person you should love more than you realize you should- YOU!
I am Brittany. I may not be the world's version of perfect,but to my children I am perfect. To my husband, I am essential. I matter. My body has done and will do amazing things. I choose to foster healthy habits and focus on developing habits as opposed to insignificant numbers.
This is my epiphany.
Hugs and loves until next time, darlings!