Having a baby is a pretty amazing and wild experience, wouldn’t you agree? I realize for some of us, carrying a child may not be all sunshine and rainbows – it certainly wasn’t for me! Nausea and heartburn were a regular daily occurrence in both pregnancies! Aside from all of that uncomfortableness, I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to be able to have children, knowing fully well that some of us cannot. That is why I’ve decided I need to stop focusing on what I don’t like about myself and start rooting for what I do like – if not for me than for the little mini Me’s in my life who now look to me for guidance, support and love.
A healthy body image, body love, body confidence, whatever you want to call it, is hard to come by for a large majority of us out there – men and women, young and old. You don’t have to have an eating disorder to have a distorted body image, or even just a little body dislike. Being unsatisfied with your body is a lot more common than you might think. I’ve gone through both ends of the spectrum, and after having had my second baby, I am struggling even still to stay away from that dark place in my mind. It is a process, but it is one that I’m willing to keep pushing through until I get it right.
If you’re like me, and had a baby in the not so distant past, think of this time in your life as a fresh start – an opportunity to create a completely new relationship with your body; A time to hit the refresh button and get reacquainted with her in a totally different way. Remind yourself this takes time, practice and patience. It takes a small willingness to want to see things differently and make a change. Sometimes we get stuck in repetitive patterns in our mind – ways of thinking that might not serve our best interests. It’s up to you to re-route these patterns and create new paths and roadways that support a happier, healthier mindset around the relationship with your body.
1. DEAR BODY, THANKS GIRL.
Thank your body for supporting you through your pregnancy and getting you safely through labor/delivery. Thank her for creating, growing, and protecting this beautiful, miraculous being inside of you for nine months. Thank her for keeping you strong and resilient enough to have the ability to give your child sustenance almost immediately after giving birth.
Fill out a thank you card and tape it to a mirror, nightstand, or somewhere you frequently pass by, as a reminder to feel gratitude rather than disgust toward your body. Read it as often as you’d like throughout the day.
2. GET ALL UP IN THERE!
Get into your body. Feel what it’s like to be fully inhabiting your physical body. What do I mean by this? To put it simply, when we are spending most of our time obsessing over how much we dislike ourselves and are constantly thinking of ways we can “fix” this, that or the other thing, it takes us out of the present moment and into some future, non-existent time that we sadly long for. We end up missing out on the beauty and wonder that is already right in front of us. It’s time to live in the moment and celebrate and honor the perfectly imperfect beings that we already are. The healing power of touch is a great place to start. Take some time every day, either in the shower, in front of a mirror, or before you go to sleep at night and gently place your hands on your belly and/or whatever parts of your body you aren’t happy with. A light massage also works! Practice having compassion for these physical parts. Send love and positive energy their way. You can also try this through meditation.
Once you have gotten in touch with your body in an entirely new, personal way, you can begin to incorporate joyful movement into your daily/weekly routine. It is very easy, especially for me, to fall back into a trap of “needing” to excessively exercise when I’m feeling extra uncomfortable in my skin. More often than not, losing baby weight is the main concern for mother’s everywhere after giving birth. I urge you to pull yourself away from this mindless mentality, and instead focus your attention on giving your physical body the movement it craves and deserves in order to fully thrive. This could look like a walk in nature, yoga, dance, gentle running, tai chi, hiking, etc. It really can be any form of movement that makes you feel alive, invigorated and peaceful all at the same time. It is not meant to challenge you, give you stress, pain or aggravation. It is not meant to help you burn fat and calories and punish you for eating dessert. It is simply to allow you the beautiful opportunity to embody – fully and completely – and experience true joy in your own skin.
3. BE THE EXAMPLE YOU WISH TO SEE IN YOUR CHILDREN!
See the relationship you have with your body as a mirror image of the relationship your child will one day have with their body. If you are constantly berating and putting yourself down, your child will most likely do the same. If you are criticizing your weight/shape or talking negatively about food, your child will eventually repeat the same behavior and adopt the same mindset, leading to thoughts of insecurity and self-doubt. Please, set an example – it’s not just about you anymore. What you put out into the Universe will be reflected back to you in some way, shape or form, and it may not be in the way you would expect, I.E. through your child. Teach your kids love, self-respect, self-worth and beauty from the inside out. Teach them to see and celebrate the beauty and uniqueness in others and show them how to uplift and inspire them as well. Demonstrate to your loved ones how amazing it feels to be yourself, to be free.
4. SELF-CARE YO’ SELF!
I know self-care is a buzz topic these days, but there’s a lot of truth to the power of caring for self. After having a baby it is completely normal to feel tired and blah – A.K.A not your best self, especially if you had surgery or went through a really tough labor. That being said, it is time my friends to pamper and invest in yourself and make ZERO apologies for it. The miracle of birth is just that – a miracle. I think that alone entitles you to spoil yourself a little bit extra, wouldn’t you agree?! Also, I find that it’s quite difficult to give our children the attention and presence they need from us if we are feeling down in the dumps. It is also tough to make friends with your body if you aren’t giving it the love and attention it rightfully deserves. At the very least, take 30 minutes a day to focus on you and you alone, even if that means drinking wine while you’re in the shower!
Here’s a list of self-care ideas that I think you’ll find mighty helpful and enticing:
- Get your hair done; New haircut/color. Google your most favorite actor and be a copycat! I’m sure she/he would be totally flattered!
- Shop in-store or online for some new clothes/shoes! Feeling guilty? Go through your closet and give all pieces you no longer like/wear to goodwill! This will make plenty of room for the new goods! Option 2: Try a clothing service like Stitch Fix OR go the extra mile and hire a personal stylist at your local department store.
- Get a manicure/pedicure! Consider finding a salon that carries non-toxic/eco-friendly nail polish, or purchase your own, such as Ella + Mila.
- Take a weekly bubble bath!
- Try new makeup, or better yet join a monthly makeup service, like Birchbox. Option 2: Call-up a babysitter and treat yourself to a night out with your gal pals or significant other, and go get your makeup professionally done!
- Hire a cook a few times a month OR try a food delivery service like Blue Apron or HelloFresh.
- Find a cleaning service to clean your house from top to bottom once or twice a month.
- Consider re-vamping your pantry and swapping toxic products for plant-based/organic options: soap, shampoo, deodorant, cleaning sprays/wipes, etc.
- Schedule in bi-weekly massages or have a fun spa day with your best girlfriends!
- Scope out a local holistic wellness center and have a reiki session done, and/or an angel reading! After all, your guardian angels are always surrounding and supporting you through the good, the bad and all of the in-between.
5. PASSION MAKES PERFECT.
Keep your heart and soul happy – let creativity, passion and purpose be a driving force behind a better relationship with yourself, and in this case, your physical body. When my son was born a little over two years ago, something sparked inside of me. It was a feeling of, “I must be here for something more”. Now don’t get me wrong, having a baby alone gives you a greater purpose, but this was different. I felt as if I wanted to make my son proud on a whole different level. That is when my health coaching and healing journey began. I’ve struggled with body image issues almost all of my life, and I knew becoming a mother was an invitation to step into the next phase of my life. A phase where I evolved into a better version of myself. Becoming a health coach wasn’t the answer to all of my problems, but it did give me an incredible amount of joy, hope and love. I finally found answers to questions I’d been carrying around from a very confusing and scary time in my life. Ultimately though, it gave me a deeper reason for being because I realized I could help others struggling in a very similar way. It connected me to my true essence.
Make a list of all dreams, hopes, desires, wants, curiosities, anything and everything you’ve ever thought about, considered, pondered, questioned, or secretly longed for. Can’t come up with a list? It’s simple. Ask yourself, what is it that truly makes me feel like me? What makes me feel comfortable in my own skin? What gives me a sense of belonging and pure joy? What makes me feel connected to something greater? Maybe your true purpose in life is to be an excellent mother, nurturer and caregiver. It might be that you are meant to write a life-changing book, or that you should pursue a singing or acting career, or start an A Capella group like The Barden Bellas! It might be that you are meant to volunteer at an animal shelter or local hospital. On a smaller scale, maybe you have this deep yearning to take a French cuisine cooking class, or learn about 16th century Spain. Whatever little whispers you might have, don’t ignore them! Take those chances, step out of your comfort zone, be YOU and OWN IT! I realize with kids in the picture, free time is extremely hard to come by, but I promise you that when you start taking steps to becoming a more evolved version of yourself, the Universe will give you the time you need to make it happen. It might not be on your ideal timeline, but rest assured it will be. You will begin to feel more confident than ever before, and the worries about your physical imperfections will slowly start to drift further and further into the background. Why? Easy – you are allowing yourself to be authentically you. Creating a new, happier relationship with your body is inevitable.