I don’t think I’ve ever been more happy with my body than when I was pregnant. There isn’t much in this world more amazing than your body creating a new little life. I was strong and healthy and being pregnant was pretty easy—all of which made me very grateful.
By the time my little girl was born, I had gained 60lbs. Instead of thinking about it too much, I turned my focus to being the best mom I could be. I knew, deep down, that it didn’t matter how much I weighed; but no matter how much I ignored my weight, I couldn’t escape the way I felt.
After a few months, I started walking. Pushing little one in her stroller I could easily do five miles. Then I would go biking—10 or 12 miles—with little one strapped into her bike trailer.
I was losing weight, but slowly. In my research and wondering “How do other moms do this??” I ran across an article stating that if you had not lost your baby weight in the 6 months following your child’s birth you weren’t going to lose it at all. If I ever meet the person who wrote that I may slap them.
I was discouraged but I kept at it, trying to be active and eat better. In all of my effort I had to answer the question “Why is this important?”
After all, I am the same person regardless of what size I wear. I’m a great mom regardless of my waist measurement. My husband thinks I’m beautiful at any size. So why am I trying so hard?
There are a few reasons. I needed to feel healthy. I wanted to know that I was once again strong and capable of pushing myself. I realized I had no balance in my life. There were times when I would be desperate to lose weight and other times when I would give up completely. In order to live a life of balance, my whole lifestyle needed to change. I needed to let go of how I wanted to look and start focusing on how I wanted to feel.
I’ve struggled with unhealthy body image since I can remember. It’s something most women (and many men) struggle with at some point in their lives. I had to face that dragon and identify where it came from before I could move on. Someone needed to show my daughter how to be kind to her body and appreciate it, and it needed to be me. In order to do that, I had to learn to be kind to and appreciate my own body.
My husband and I changed our lifestyle. We started eating healthy: whole grains, lean meats, lots of fresh veggies. We started working out faithfully, but not obsessively. We didn’t diet (because, let’s face it, neither of us can stick with it); we just changed the way we ate and how much. I have a sweet tooth—I still eat sweet things, just less than before. We stick to unprocessed foods as much as possible and stay away from chemicals. Honestly, I really started losing weight when I ditched diet soda. Go figure.
I will always envy women who gain little to no weight during their pregnancy, but I wouldn’t trade the lessons I’ve learned for anything.
Now I know the difference between wanting to be skinny and wanting to be healthy.
I know that being fit is important, but it is not the most important thing.
I know that I am beautiful at any size, but also that there is a size that is best for me—and it has nothing to do with a number on a scale.
Women can be so brutal to one another. Some of the things women said to me while I was pregnant left me feeling ugly and abused. The truth is, the things we say and think about other women are a reflection of who we are, not of who they are. When we say or think ugly, critical things about others it is usually because we’ve said/thought them about ourselves first.
My goal is to always say kind, uplifting things about others and to always think them about myself. You cannot hate yourself and love others, it just doesn’t work that way.
It took me 15 months to lose all the weight I gained during my pregnancy. A little slow by some standards, but I went on living my life in the process and avoided obsession with my body. My husband encouraged me to share this. Probably because he knows how much work it’s been, not only to get fit, but to change the way I think.
So, here it is y’all.
205lbs in labor and delivery:
145lbs, 15 months later:
145 has always been my natural weight. As women, we like to hide that number but I’m just going to be honest with you guys. Because I like you. And because it’s ridiculous. It’s just a number.
I’m very short, so 145 puts me at the very top of my healthy weight window according to the BMI scale. But I feel good, I’m active, I eat well, and my doctor seems to think I’m doing great.
I’m sharing this to encourage you: we’ve got to take back the control where our health and body image is concerned. Most normal women don’t weigh 100lbs. What the media portrays is NOT the standard of beauty. We are the standard.
We have to learn to see ourselves as we are—strong, healthy, beautiful—so we can pass that image on to our daughters and the women around us. Health is measured in how we feel, not in what size we wear. There will always be women who are naturally slimmer than me. I’m at the point where I can be happy for them because I’m happy for me, and dang that is a good feeling.
Be kind to yourselves and to each other, ladies (and gentlemen!!). I don’t want to hear about any one being critical of strangers or movie stars or (God help us) friends. Be proud of who you are and what you look like and others will follow your example.
What have you done to promote a healthy body image in your own life?
What does your healthy lifestyle look like?