Thursday, April 17, 2014

Body Image After Baby

The Fargo Half Marathon is less than a month away! Training is going well and I'm really enjoying training for a half.

Compared to training for full marathons in the past, half training has been more speed-focused, weekend long runs are less stressful (20-milers can be a bit daunting to me!), and training is more baby-friendly! Since my training runs are generally a bit faster, time-wise, they fit perfectly into naptime or E can join me in the jogging stroller.

12.27 miles down for this weekend's long run and I even brought "fuel" of some sort with me. Do Snoopy fruit snacks count as fuel? I'm out of GU gels, so they needed to work for the time being!


Having a "Mom Body"

With it being over a year now since E was born and since my body began the journey to find some form of normalcy again, I have been thinking about how pregnancy changes your body not just for 9 months (or 8 months in E's case), but forever. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I have a "mom body". The term doesn't bring about very positive thoughts because I think of the dreaded "mom jeans", though being a mom is something to be proud of!

First, you make it through pregnancy, then the big delivery day comes, and, there you are, totally in awe of that precious new family member in your arms. As first-time parents, Leo and I were in survival mode for the first two weeks as we adapted to the daily challenges of newborn parenting. Nurse, diaper, sleep... repeat... repeat... repeat. (Who knew a newborn could go through so many diapers!?)

The first month postpartum was like a grace period to mainly sleep whenever possible and to focus on taking it one day at a time. After that grace period ends, the pressure to lose the pregnancy weight and fit into your pre-preggo clothes enters the picture.

My sis-in-law and me (just over 30 weeks pregnant)

I only gained about 20 lbs while pregnant with E and yet the day after he was born I remember thinking how weird and ... "fluffy"... my stomach felt. I felt like asking the doctor, "Are you sure you got all the babies out of there? I still look pregnant!"

After E was born, I returned to my pre-pregnancy weight relatively quickly. Getting back into running after E was born was a challenge, but it felt so good at the same time. I signed up for a marathon 7 months after he was born and that helped to keep me motivated. Having a baby didn't change my body running-wise though it changed training drastically! Breastfeeding and irregular sleep taught me to be more flexible with training and to listen to my body.

Baby weight gone and another marathon down, yet my body is not the same a year later. Actually, my body will never be "the same"! But I'm okay with that.

Perspective-Changer

Having a baby has changed my perspective and my priorities immensely. Rather than worrying about being in shape for vanity's sake or to fit into a certain size of clothes, my body's purpose has changed to more "function over fashion". I am doing my best to appreciate the body God has given me and what my body can do.

Loving Your "Mom Body"

Here are a few points to keep a positive perspective on postpartum body image.
  • Be Thankful. Health is something that is so easily taken for granted until you don't have it anymore. Pregnancy can be easily taken for granted, too! Being able to grow a life is a (sometimes very uncomfortable) blessing from the Lord, not a burden.

    I'm reminding myself to be thankful for the blessing of carrying our son, for each run, for each day that I can chase our toddler, and for the health God has given me. I would love if the Lord blessed us with many more babies and I know my body will change drastically with each one! I don't want to waste the rest of my life feeling self-conscious and discouraged.

  • Don't Compare. Every woman's body is so different that you can't compare your postpartum progress to other moms or to your pre-baby body!

    Reading about other mom's postpartum fitness journeys and goals can be encouraging, but it can also drag you into a comparison trap. Just remember that even those super fit moms are human, too! It's very likely that she has those days of feeling bloated and discouraged just like every other woman.

  • Take Care of Yourself. No matter how busy you are, it is important to set aside time to exercise! If regular exercise seems daunting, start with 30 minutes at least 3 to 5 days a week. It will make such a difference!

    Being able to keep up with my son and any future children is enough motivation to exercise for me. I want to be able to jump on the trampoline, play soccer, and go for family walks/runs when our kids are older!

Susan at Sole Searching Mamma summarizes it well: "To every girl striving to get fit... Always remember that your body is an instrument for the Lord, not an ornament for the world." Take care of your body for the right reasons. Be a good steward of your body because it belongs to God.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20 (emphasis added by me)
Mr. E is proud to be 13 months old!

How has pregnancy and/or motherhood changed your body image?
What is the best advice you've received related to body image?

Linking up at No Rules Weekend Blog Party, Shaping Up for Summer, and Click and Chat Social Media Linkup.

10 comments:

  1. Motherhood has helped me to accept my body as mine...not one of millions. I love it!

    I'm grateful for an incredible husband who likes my "softness" versus an incredibly muscular body.

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    1. That is awesome, Wendy. I'm with you there! I am very thankful for a husband that thought I was beautiful pre-baby, in my super-preggo form, and post-baby. Supportive husbands rock!

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  2. I so love that you're approaching your post-baby body with fitness in mind, instead of vanity. I had a bit of a different experience, because I've always been, uh, "chunky" so I didn't quite feel that pressure to get back into shape. But being pregnant made me appreciate what my body was capable of. It's really hard to not want to treat it better when you realize how special it is.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Trish! Growing a life does bring about a whole new appreciation for our bodies :) It is truly a miracle.

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  3. I love this post! I need this reminder sometimes when I start worrying too much about how my body isn't back to what it used to be (it never will be lol). Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier this week :) Are you in Fargo? If you are, that's where I live too!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Stephanie! I'm a couple hours out of Fargo. Fargo and Grand Forks are the two "big shopping towns" in our area!

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  4. Aw what a cute little guy! And yes, Snoopy fruit snacks definitely count as fuel. ;) My little one is 10 months old, and I'm down the pregnancy weight plus 20 pounds! I'm still about 23 pounds away from my pre-first-pregnancy weight, but I'm working hard on it! My "mom" body might be a little different, but that doesn't mean it can't be awesome!

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    1. Exactly! Thanks for stopping by, Megan!

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  5. This is a very encouraging article Amy! I especially liked your "Loving Your Mom Body" points. So good! It's so important to appreciate our bodies for the amazing creation that they are and all that they can do. Motherhood has changed my body, and while I lost my pregnancy weight for the most part, there are still clothes that don't fit the same. I've had my moments of feeling not so attractive, but I'm learning to embrace the changes and keep a healthy perspective rooted in God's truth.

    Such a treat to visit your blog!
    Many Blessings, Hannah

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    1. Same here! There are still certain shirts, especially, that I just don't feel comfortable in anymore. Rather than feeling bad each time I try them on again, I'm bringing them to the Goodwill this month. It's just not worth it to keep them around! Staying rooted in God's truth is definitely the key :)

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