What does body positivity look like in the face of your postpartum body?
I have been “skinny” maybe 3 times in my entire life. For the most part I rock pretty mean thunder thighs and hips that don’t lie. In the last 4 years since having the 3 bears, my body has changed drastically. My stomach is no longer flat (in fact I’ve got a wicked tummy flap), my arms have gotten considerably fuller, and my lower half always looks like I’m in the middle of a Zumba class even when I’m just walking to the bathroom.
There is something inherently beautiful about the transformation the human body goes through to create, grow, and birth a tiny human. For that reason alone I love my body. I appreciate all the work it did to carry my littles to term, birth them and then make food for them to grow. My stretch marks don’t bother me one bit and my squishy tummy is a nice trophy for all my hard work.
If there is one thing I love about the crazy millennial generation I belong to, it’s that most of us are constantly finding ways to validate ourselves and steer the world toward acceptance and love.
With that said, I am not going to lie… the weight I currently sit at is not a comfortable one for me. That doesn’t mean that I hate my body or that I’m not body positive. Wanting to lose weight doesn’t not automatically relegate you to the body shaming crew. There is a way to appreciate your body while wanting to improve upon it.
But doesn’t body positivity mean that I should accept myself at any size?
Yes and I absolutely do love my body. It’s amazing and has done amazing things for me. However, right now it’s not exactly healthy. A heavier weight doesn’t necessarily mean an unhealthier body. For me, I know what my healthy body feels like and this isn’t it. I haven’t been choosing great foods and I’ve stopped being active. As a small business owner, a lot of my time is spent working to keep my business afloat. I’ve decided that while my business is important to me, my health needs to take precedence so I’d like to focus a bit more of my efforts on getting healthy and losing a bit of weight.
What does it look like to lose postpartum weight through a body positive lens?
Understand your intent
Your intent plays a major role in how you perceive your postpartum body. Why do you want to lose weight? If in your mind your goal is to look exactly the same way you did pre pregnancy, you may be chasing a runaway train. If you’re looking to lose weight to be the healthiest version of yourself you’re on the right track! Remember that your body proportions will change in the postpartum period so learn to love your new curves.
Put the scale away
The scale is not a measure of health. Remember that your primary goal in your postpartum period is to be the healthiest version of yourself. If you’re anything like me scale behavior can become obsessive. It’s so easy to allow a number on the scale to dictate the way you nourish your body. Just say no to the scale. Don’t look at postpartum weight loss in terms of success or failure. Do what you need to be healthy and let your body find a weight that feels good for you.
Nourish your body
Eat for health and don’t restrict your food intake especially if you’ve decided to breastfeed. Choose foods that give you a steady stream of energy without causing peaks and valleys in your blood sugar. You can never eat enough vegetables so choose those as your primary fuel source and enjoy other food groups to round out your plate! Remember that eating a balanced diet will give your body the fuel it needs to function.
Get up and move!
When choosing an activity, choose something you enjoy and do it for the love of the activity. Go for a walk with baby or simply dance in your living room. This way exercise feels less like a chore and more like something that is just part of your daily routine. The endorphins will make you feel great about yourself!
Sleep sleep sleep
Make sleep your primary goal. Instead of trying to squeeze in a workout, hit snooze and sleep!
There are a host of issues that come with sleep deprivation. When you lack sleep, you lack energy. When your body is low on energy it will naturally gravitate toward sugar and caffeine for the boost you need to compensate for the lack of sleep. Sleep allows your healing body to repair itself and be the best version of itself.
Ditch the timeline!
Losing weight on a schedule adds stress that will sabotage your efforts. If your true intention is to be healthy, it won’t matter how long it takes to fit into your pre-baby jeans. Plus leggings are comfy and cute all at the same time!
Get a mantra (or 2)
Remind yourself of everything your body has done in order to bring a new life into this world. It’s so easy to look at your postpartum stomach and see only softness and stretch marks – don’t forget that that same stomach made and housed a whole other human! While mantra’s can feel weird sometimes, it’s really just the act of saying positive things out loud to yourself. Think how many times you’ve uttered the words “This sucks” out loud without thinking. A mantra is choosing words that will add value to yourself and remind you of your attributes.
Try: “My body is strong and powerful!” or “I made a whole tiny human; I am a kick-ass mom!”
Taking this body positive approach to weight loss removes the crash diet, stress-like response your body typically undergoes when trying to lose weight. It makes the process more enjoyable and allows you to set a good example for your child(ren).
How did you feel about your postpartum body? How long did it take you to learn to love your new shape?