Postpartum Body Image

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                Ok let be real, postpartum body insecurities are rough.  Our bodies are forever changed by the miracle that just took place in them. That little miracle makes me feel so privileged and happy every day. Unfortunately, this doesn’t take away the fact that most days I feel like a stranger in my own body. I just does not feel good to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself especially when you are healthy eating and exercising. Patience is the toughest part of this whole journey second only to self-love at each stage.  

To be honest this feeling of not being where I want to be is all too familiar. Let’s bring it back a couple years ago, I was in a car accident that triggered an adrenal crash and my hormones all down regulated to a very low level. At that time, right before the car accident, my body was already exhausted from over training and dieting. It was the trigger that caused a cascade of hormonal issues causing my body to put on tons of weight. This was despite my normal dieting and working out regime. I was in complete adrenal failure and severe hypothyroidism. This was such a frustrating and horrible time for me. I had just received a month before the accident 8th place in the WBFF Pro World Championship. I even lost a 100,000 dollars (and all traveling expenses paid) a year modeling contract from Prada because of the weight that my body was putting on for no reason.  I truly was at the top of my game and it all came crashing down and there was nothing I could do about it. I’m sure some athletes out there can totally resonate with this kind of disappointment. But realistically it was a very serious problem for my health to have all hormones not working properly. It was a dark dark time for me and a long two years of recovering. I took the time to heal everything from digestive issues, to sleep issues, to adrenal dysfunction. Before getting pregnant I was almost back to looking and feeling like my old self again. I had lost most of the weight that was not budging for almost 2 years.  I was really starting to feel good again in my skin. So, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t fearful of what might happen with the changes during my pregnancy (and after) with my body and my health.  Luckily, didn’t gain tons of weight during my pregnancy but definitely had the recommended in addition to the extra still there from recovering from my adrenal and thyroid issues. Yes, I know I just had a baby 5 months ago, and I try to remember that concept daily but it is so hard especially in my line of work. I feel, its mostly frustrating to not see the efforts of consistent working out and healthy eating . Like I had mention in previous blogs it’s crazy to see how some women lose all the weight without even trying and other mothers it takes a full year or longer to lose the last bit of fat. At 5 months postpartum I definitely felt I would be further along with my personal fitness journey. With that being said I’m grateful I’m not where I was back in 2015.

It’s very common for us women to feel self-conscious after having a baby. Some women, even if they lose all of their baby weight, will have significant changes to their bodies. Loose skin, stretch marks, wider hips, and weight distributed differently are just some of the things that we might have to face. It takes extra confidence to feel sexy again with changes we’ve never had to deal with before. Personally, I’ve always had to work very hard to have the physique I wanted. I know I would almost work too hard even if I would never recommend what I was doing to myself to my clients.  At a certain point my life became unbalanced. I definitely feel that my life is more balanced (well as much as you can with a 5-month-old) and I love that new aspect of my life. Arabella has definitely been a gift from above and has drastically improved my life beyond measure. But balance is the key. The balance work, house work, relationship with your spouse, time with your little one, and time for yourself are what can help you feel better about yourself. I’ve noticed when one of these things are off then you tend to try to control other aspects of your life like your body. This pressure often works negatively against us and our fitness goals.

So how do we feel better and motivated in the meantime with our not-so-familiar body shape? Gratitude is a powerful thing. We must constantly remind ourselves every day that we are so lucky to be able to have gotten pregnant and deliver a beautiful baby. Many women can’t get pregnant and would want nothing more. Now, how many of us have healthy babies? We should be extremely grateful because unfortunately many cannot say that and take care of a baby or child that needs even more care. It’s not a guarantee to be a mom and we should always remember that we are so very lucky to have this privilege. Change that mindset and I promise each day will seem like a gift.

Secondly, know that even though a lot of women lose weight breastfeeding in the first few months after delivery there are others that take a little longer. Remember slow progress does not mean no progress.  As the saying goes… the body takes 9 months to put on the weight and you should give it 9 months to lose it. This is also pretty frustrating for moms that only put on the recommended amount and still needing months upon months to shed the last bit of everything gained. Hormones are so crucial in determining how fast some women’s bodies will take for everything to come together. Sometimes it takes 6 or so months just for hormones to regulate and longer if you are breastfeeding. Just know no matter what slow or fast you can and you will lose the extra weight with consistency and a positive mentality.

Another thing that helps is celebrating the small stuff. As much as progress pictures suck to take, it’s a sure way to see changes in your body that might not be reflected on the scale. Honestly the scale means nothing. Think about it, when you walk into a room no one knows your weight, nor do they care. Feeling confident and feeling good in your clothes is what should really matter to you and is what others will notice. Progress photos also help those moms that are trying to regain their lean muscle and body shape when the scale doesn’t accurately portray what’s going on with fat lose and muscle gain week by week.

If you are anything like me, then your stubborn as hell. To be honest I only bought one piece of maternity clothing the whole pregnancy. Those workout capris were so comfortable. I just bought things that would stretch to fit my belly and things I would most likely wear again. Which brings me to my next point, you don’t need to buy a whole new wardrobe to fit your postpartum self. I would suggest though, buying some staples like cute yoga pants that accentuate your curves and stretch to your body. Plus, it’s always motivating to work out when you have new workout clothes on. As best as you can, celebrate that body of yours that created life and is capable of anything.

Lastly, keeping your mind positive. Yes, it is always easier said than done, but is crucial for your body to actually respond. Mind body connection is real. I also have to keep telling myself that it will all come together with constant effort in the gym and in the kitchen even if it takes longer then some moms. Be conscientious of what you say to yourself daily. Try to be stress-free as much as possible. We all know that our babies felt what we felt in the womb and stress and worry can negatively affect the baby. Well your baby feels your stress and unhappiness outside the womb as well. Protecting your baby from seeing and feeling you upset all the time should be a strong enough motivator to keep a positive outlook and keep chugging along. When I think about it I would never want my daughter to talk bad about herself or feel self-conscious about her body. Being a role model in that aspect is super important to me. So I vow to treat myself with patience and kindness while I work hard in the gym. How about you?