Let’s talk about the whole “mom body” thing for a bit. It’s such a common thing these days to hear someone say “just embrace your mom bod.” I want to talk about what that really means to embrace my mom body, but first, I want to give you a little back story.
If you know me personally, you know that I have struggled a great deal with body image. I have done the diets, I have swung from one end of the spectrum to the other, and I have hated myself and my appearance no matter what end of the spectrum I was on. My journey towards true health and self love has been a long and sometimes complicated one, and I have had my fair share of “rebound” phases. In the diet world, those phases are the times in which I give up on one fad diet and go drastically searching for another. I did that so many times in the beginning of my journey, and it never brought any satisfaction. What I realized over time is that really becoming healthy takes a lifelong commitment, and it also requires adjusting not only my physical choices and food consumption, but also adjusting my thought processes and shifting my paradigm.
I recently hung out with an old friend who shares a similar self love and body image journey. We talked about all that the Lord has done in our lives and the work he has done in our hearts regarding our body image and the one thing we both kept coming back to is that it is just such a deep process. There are so many lies we believe about ourselves, and there are so many unhealthy behaviors at play when it comes to our body image, our eating habits, and our health. These lies and behaviors are not developed in a day, and most often they are not dealt with in a day.
One of the most common lies I have heard, and even feared I would buy into, is that you lose your body when you become a mom, and that you just have to embrace it. I spent a lot of time wrestling with a skewed view of what it would look like to embrace my mom body.
Now, I know that your body changes when you have a baby. I get that, and I get that there are some ways in which your body changes that you truly cannot control. For instance, some women experiencing a widening of their hips that often remains even after their baby is born. This is a structural issue, and there is not much you can do regarding your diet and exercise choices to change it.
There are also ways in which your body changes that you can reverse or bring back to normal, but that can take a long time. Some women naturally gain more weight when they are pregnant, no matter how healthy and active they are, and no matter how good they are at avoiding unhealthy cravings. Many of these women experience diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal wall) and it can take quite some time to heal that, but it is possible.
And then there are all the ways in which your body changes that can easily be restored, but it is simply a choice.
Now, before I explain how I embrace my mom body, I want to say that I do believe every woman should embrace her own body, especially after having a baby. In fact, I can’t think of another time in which a woman should be more proud of her body than after she gives birth to a baby. The fact that a woman’s body can birth a child is an absolute miracle, and the strength and power required to do so is something that we should be proud of. I know there are plenty of appropriate times to look at your body and critique yourself, but the days and weeks just after having a baby are not the right time.
With that in mind, I also believe that having a baby is not an excuse to completely disregard your health and let go of yourself. I have heard far too many women say they just don’t have time to worry about being healthy because of being a mom. And that is just a lie. I am here to tell you that becoming a mom is probably one of the most important times in your life to truly make time for your health and make choices that set you up for success.
I know there has definitely never been a time in my life where I have recognized SO clearly the importance of being strong, healthy, and in shape. I have never seen the value of life and health so clearly, and I have been struck so deeply by the desire to be as healthy as I can be so that I can enjoy as much of my child’s life as I possibly can. And I have found myself taking a step back and questioning what it really means to embrace my mom body.
So while I want to just love my body and its imperfections, I also want my body to be better. And while I am referring mostly to health, it’s an added bonus when my body looks better and I grow in self confidence.
So what does that mean? What does it mean to embrace your mom body but also not be satisfied with it? How can those two things happen at the same time?
Well, for me, the two go hand in hand. They aren’t actually opposing emotions that tug against one another. I believe I can love myself and have a desire to better myself at the same time.
I embrace my mom body by loving myself beyond my looks, but still making daily choices to be the healthiest version of myself that I possibly can. I embrace my mom body by having grace for myself on the days that I just feel fat and a little extra squishy, and by also choosing on those days to do at least one small thing that is for my health. Whether it’s going on a run with my husband or switching up my meal plan to have a salad, those little choices remind me that I am in control of my health. I am not in control of it all, but I can do my part and feel confident in my decisions.
I will never believe that embracing my mom body means letting go of my health. To truly embrace, in my opinion, means to really love well. And loving our bodies well means taking care of them. You care for the things you love, right? Embrace your body in process, but care for it, love it well, and make choices that reflect that love!
I embrace my mom body by doing everything I possibly can to ensure that it is healthy, and then I choose to accept the parts of myself that are not my favorite, knowing I am doing my very best to improve, and that it sometimes is a process. I don’t just get to love the end result. If I haven’t learned to love myself in the process, I won’t magically be a certain size and love what I see.
But I also don’t allow myself to get content and cozy in unhealthy patterns, because I know that is not the version of myself that I want to be.
It’s a process, mamas. Embrace that mom body and love it well.