Post submitted by Strong Momma Ashley
A couple of things lately have made me think about writing this… one of them being a post by my sister, Mara, about the difference between being positive about your body type and people celebrating their self-destruction through morbid obesity. She said, “We’re not all going to look like fitness models and bodybuilders. But none of us should be okay with morbid obesity being acceptable/commonplace. Especially in our children, who are the product of our poor decisions.” And I couldn’t agree more. We are the example and a child who is already far to overweight is being set up for health problems and a future of struggles weight-wise. Here is a link to the article she was talking about.
The second thing that really pushed me to actually sit down and write this was my friend Erica- She writes a very honest blog about being a mother. Aside from great ideas for activities with your kids, she is very open about her body image and struggle with how she looks after children. Here is a link to her blog . You can also follow her on Facebook.🙂
The final reason why I wrote this was because of my recent CrossFit competition. I had my shirt off during an event- something I do all the time and didn’t even think about… but when the pictures came out I was not proudly tagging myself like I usually am. I was embarrassed at what I saw. I didn’t have the rolls of a normal bent-over stomach- there were the very distinct shrivels… ew. It took me back to all my insecurities- it is hard for me (even to admit) that I don’t feel completely comfortable the way I look now… this is perpetuated by the fact that I am no longer with the father of my child and anyone with me in the future has to love this new me that I sometimes look at and don’t like. It has taken me a long time to realize that I will never look the way I did before, or like the 25 year olds I compete with, but I am honestly in better shape than I ever have been, feel amazing, and have a healthy little girl- that should be enough.
I am not looking for compliments or reassurance- but especially with social media now, the pressure to lose the weight, look a certain way and be super mom is very real for almost everyone and a big topic of conversation among new moms. These are my thoughts on the subject of post-baby bodies…
When people look at me, or see a picture of me, especially in a fitness setting, most people would never know I have a three year old. I usually get comments about how I look good for having a baby (wait?! I want to look good anyway, not just for having a kid!! kidding- kind of) or that I don’t look like I have ever had one. I also get comments (or hear through others) that people never want to look like me or that they think the muscle tone is unattractive, I spend too much time in the gym, etc.- that’s fine too- it isn’t for everyone- I don’t “accidentally” look this way and I probably don’t want to look like them🙂
What people don’t see when they look at me, and what we probably share, is that I have insecurities just like everyone else. I have parts of my body that still show the signs (unattractive in my mind) that I have been pregnant and had a child. After having a child you will never look the same… that’s non-negotiable, but you can arguably look and feel better. These are some things to keep in mind…
1. The people we compare ourselves to are not “real”.
Do you know how many selfie takes, angles, light variations, filters, make-up, etc. went into 99.9% of those pictures? With the right angle and lighting and too many hours in the day to take pictures of ourselves we can all look a lot better. With social media the way it is now, it seems like all your friends are at the gym, on a diet and looking amazing 3 seconds after having a baby, blah blah blah. Take all of that with a grain of salt because social media is deceiving. If you are all about instagram and twitter and follow a bunch of people you don’t know who always seem to wake-up with perfect “morning abs” stop it…. When you look down you do not see what the world sees- the world does not see those people the way they look in pictures… stop comparing yourself to them.
2. All women who have carried a child have permanent markings of carrying a child. ALL OF THEM!
We all show these markings in different ways just as we carried our children and our weight differently. When people look at me they think no way- she has no body fat (I do actually) and as I stand up straight or hang on a bar they do not see those markings- mostly because the parts mostly effected are covered by clothes.😉 I never got stretch marks and I have regained my abs, but when I bend over I have the “shrivel” stomach that only comes from skin being stretched. As much as I do like the way I look, I am learning how to deal with that part of me because I sadly see it as “gross” or “ugly” still.
The more I thought about all of this the more I thought the permanence is someone’s way of letting us know we are more than our image and I think part of becoming selfless once you become a mother. She is the reason I am pushing myself, she is my sunshine, she is my everything… and I am hers. Every woman… and I mean EVERY woman… who has carried a child, regardless of what you see when you look at them, has some marking of that experience. Get over it, love it, accept it.
3. Healthy does NOT need to look like a fitness model or entail a thigh-gap.
First of all thigh-gaps are F-ing stupid… Seriously stop it.
Secondly, this makes me think of the article my sister shared. I am just going to lay it out there honestly… …and I know people hate fit people who comment on less-fit people. It is a true statement that genetics play a role in our physical appearance… but there is not a gene on Earth that makes you morbidly obese… that would be due to lifestyle choices, sorry. It is true that I spend a lot of my effort in the realm of fitness and healthy eating, but I like it, it’s my hobby and makes me happy. I am in no way whats-so-ever suggesting people do what I do and should look how I look in order to be healthy.
Healthy will look different on everyone… we carry weight differently, we have different careers and different restrictions (dietary and physically), etc. but we all have only one body to take care of. That should be a priority. How do you do it without money, time, gym, etc?? Get outside when you can, do squats in the living room, try to make healthier meals, do research on cleaner eating, go for a walk as a family, run around the yard with your kids… there is no better feeling than feeling good. Seriously. I didn’t know how good I could feel until I really started caring… it’s amazing. As much as I don’t want to workout sometimes, I have never regretted it- hardest step is the one out the door.
4. The way we care for our bodies and choices we make are what our children will emulate.
We are a role model for our children, that’s not new information. We are setting them up for life the best way we can…good schools, good morals, lots of love…. good lifestyle habits should be a part of that. You don’t like working out and healthy eating is not enjoyable for you? Well remember what I said above about having a child making you more selfless? This is part of it, suck it up buttercup because we lead by example and they are watching.
We need to teach them to take care of their bodies and that is hard to do if we don’t take care of ours or constantly belittle the way we look. It is becoming more and more clear how much my daughter watches and copies me… it’s scary. I don’t want her to think she is anything other than beautiful the way she is, so why do I not tell myself the same?
I make sure she is in the kitchen with me (let’s be honest, that’s not usually a choice) when I am cooking, she grocery shops with me, she sees me at the gym, she watches me lift in the driveway… there is nothing like the pure joy and giggles when I chase her around the back yard. It’s sad but true that a child that is over weight will struggle and that isn’t fair or their fault because they do not make their own choices with food and exercise. There is a lot to be said about being healthy as a family- set a good example.
Healthy choices will also make you live longer so you will be around for your children… I bet no one would not want to be with their kids as long as possible. Be the healthiest version of you.
5. Keep working hard.
You got it girl… progress mentally and physically doesn’t happen over night. Don’t give up because they see that too. Do it for you, do it for them… you are stronger than you think you are and I promise you will amaze yourself.