Photo: Sara Lewis Photo
To be honest, when my friend Sarah showed me this photo from Lilly’s birth, I was initially appalled. All I could see was my unfocused-but-flabby self, immediately post birth. Even now, sharing it is a little bit hard. Because this is the internet and I’m nekkid and stuff.
But I want you to see it anyway. Just look. Don’t look at me. Look at my husband. That’s what redeems this picture for me, and what helps me make peace with they way my body is right now.
He’s not looking at the folds that look to me like deflated sumo suit.
He sees his wife who just performed the herculean task of moving his baby from the inside of her body to the outside. (His wife is kind of a badass.)
You guys have all seen it.
The focus on “getting your body back” after a baby. It’s 2016 and, despite a push from some sides for body acceptance and positivity, culture around us still overwhelmingly presses us to look like our pre-baby selves.
It’s stupid, actually.
I don’t want my old body back.
My old body was endearingly average, whatever I thought of it at the time. I was able to clothe it with minimal trouble.
But also, that body hadn’t grown five babies then delivered and fed four. It wasn’t squishy enough for a toddler to use as a pillow. It didn’t have the strength to carry a baby in a carseat, a toddler, a diaper bag, and whatever else needed carrying up the stairs.
I want the body that I have. I need to want the body that I have… and my kids need me to want the body that I have.
I don’t want my old body back, but I do want to take care of the new one. After all, it’s responsible for a lot of little people right now.
So I eat vegetables. …because I feel much better when I do.
I do strength training. …because it keeps me from getting hurt.
I run. …because I’m nicer and happier when I get a chance to burn off some of the crazy.
I try to emphasize protein and minimize sugar. …because I am less hungry and less crashy.
I eat when I’m hungry. …because I need energy. Also, breastfeeding.
It’s not that I manage all of these things all of the time. But do you see? It isn’t about “getting my body back.” To be perfectly honest, my body hasn’t been “mine” in more than half a decade and will continue to feed a little person for a while yet. None of this has anything at all to do with how my body looks or whether I feel like putting the thing in a bikini. (Don’t worry. I don’t.)
“I eat vegetables. I do strength training. And run. And eat protein and cut sugar.”
All of these things are frequently said by people trying to change their body’s shape. And that’s fine. What I’m learning is that the why is important for me. I may not be losing any weight.(Point of fact: I am not.) But I am much more at peace with my body than I would be if I were doing all these things in order to lose weight. If I were doing all the same things in order to lose weight that I’m doing now to feel better, I still wouldn’t be losing weight. Instead, I’d be irritated and NOT happy, and probably not continue making healthy choices.
So I choose to feel better. And make healthy choices. And be kind to the body that’s done (and is doing) a million things to support the people I love.
Friend, I have no idea what your struggles with your body are and I have no idea how to fix them. I only know what mine are and what is working for me. (I don’t even have all of those figured out.) My hope is that in sharing some of my stuff, some light and grace can spread to yours.
This article originally appeared RobinDChapman.com.