Before I had my babies I didn't mind my tummy, and to be honest I never paid too much attention to it. But all that changed after 4 full term pregnancies. All of the sudden I didn't recognize this part of my body anymore. It carried more fat than ever before, it had loose skin that wrinkled up like an elderly person when I bent over, and even when I lost my "baby weight" it still seemed to stick out abnormally. It quickly became the part of my body that I loathed the most.
I remember the moment I gave up on it forever
The summer after having my fourth child I remember trying to buy a bathing suit. I remember exactly how defeated and ashamed I felt. The rest of my body had returned to some resemblance of what it used to be, but my stomach still looked foreign to me. I bought my very first full piece bathing suit and I remember the talk that I had with myself that day:
"This is just your life now. You have 4 kids, you are a Mom, you just have to accept that you are never going to wear a bikini again. No one needs to see your stomach anymore, and that is OK."
When I look back on that moment, I feel sad. Feeling that way was actually NOT OK. It is true no one NEEDED to see my stomach, but it makes me sad that I was ever ashamed of it in the first place. My body literally stretched its absolute limit to accommodate 4 large full term babies. Creating life is a miracle, and my body did it 4 times....yet for some reason I never sat back to appreciate what it had done. All I could focus on was the wrinkles that still remained and how it looked. I was being so superficial and very unkind to myself.
I know better now....
So why are we so hard on ourselves?
We are always our worst critics. I wonder why this is? We are so much kinder to others than we are ourselves.
Would you tell a stranger that you hated her body? How about a dear friend? I think not! Yet we freely and frequently tell ourselves these things! And what good does it do?
Learn to listen to that self talk!
Are you being kind to yourself?
I think it is time to hold ourselves accountable!
If you are not being kind to yourself then you need to learn to change your narrative, which most likely will require a mindset switch.
Things I know now, that I didn't know then
My "pooch" was actually because I had diastasic recti. Back when I had my babies I did not know what Diastasic Recti was. I thought it was normal and that all women looked like this after having babes. I now know that the "Mommy pooch" is often a sign that you have some DR and that you need to strengthen your TVA (transverse abdominus muscle)
I needed to reduce my stress levels. Often if we are stressed our cortisol levels stay high over time. This can pre-dispose us to carry more fat on our belly than we normally would
Strength training would improve my body composition. This is the number one thing that I have done to help reduce my overall body fat. Don't be scared to lift weights and get strong!
I needed to change my mindset in order to be happy with my body. PERIOD.
The most important thing that I did to change my opinion of my body...
You may imagine that I started to love my tummy again after I got in shape or maybe after I got those elusive abs. But that was not the case. I had abs for probably 4 years before I can say I truly became at peace with how my body looked. It was not my body that needed to change....it was my mind!
I remember being 19 years old, getting changed in the University gym locker room. One thing that amazed me was the comfort level of the older ladies in the locker room. They were probably in their 50's and would freely chat, joke and carry on, often while all standing around naked, with not a care in the world! I however (with my perfect pre-baby body) was trying to cover up and change as quickly as possible before anyone could see me.
I often wondered how they got to the point where they were so confident? How they got so comfortable in their skin? I envied them.
I may not be quite to their level yet, but I am happy to say I finally reached the confidence level that I can wear a sports bra while working out in the gym. This only happened just over a year ago. For me this felt like a HUGE MILESTONE! Probably no one else noticed this change in me, but I felt different and I felt proud. Not because of how my stomach looked, but because I finally had reached the point where I accepted my body as it was, and stopped worrying about what others thought!
Spoiler alert: no one else cares!
This was the thing I had to learn to get over that hump. Nobody else cared what my stomach looked like but me. No one else was worrying about the wrinkles or loose skin. If they saw it, they probably just assumed I was a mother, which I am! I am not sure why I felt ashamed of such an amazing thing?! *Face palm*
My fitness journey has definitely transformed my body but most importantly it has transformed my relationship with my body. I appreciate it so much more now. I appreciate it for what it does for me. I appreciate its strength, its resiliency, its adaptability, and its potential that I have not yet discovered.
Our bodies are amazing! And they deserve appreciation and love.
I encourage you today to challenge your current beliefs about your body. Listen to your self talk. Write it down if you must, to actually see how you are talking to yourself.
If you are telling yourself things like "I am fat, I am ugly, I am gross," try replacing those negatives with a positives: "I am strong, I am kind, I work hard!"
I challenge you to look in the mirror and say those nice things out loud. Do it as many times as needed until you believe it. Say it multiple times every day! And watch your confidence transform! 💕
You ARE AMAZING you DESERVE kindness and compassion just as your body does too!
Please feel free to share this message with a fellow Mumma who needs to hear it. 💕