Laying a Foundation of Self-Care {Guest Post}

So here’s what I think: being a mom is totally amazing in so many ways. It’s absolutely life-altering. Once you have a child, nothing about you or your life will ever be the same again. Including your body.

 For many women, the physical changes in their body after giving birth are disappointing or embarrassing. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where there’s lots of body shaming. Moms are expected to “bounce back” quickly and “lose the baby weight.” Weight loss programs and fitness professionals promise to “give you your body back”. (What does that even MEAN?? Has your real body gone missing somewhere?) Before and after pictures are splashed all over social media showing drastic transformations from flabby and sad to flat-stomached and smiling.

 All of this can occasionally be motivating--but mostly it’s just discouraging and depressing. For those women who aren’t a walking “after” picture (I’m raising my hand here!), it can be frustrating to feel like your body should look the way it used to and not be able to get it there. You may feel like a failure that you just can’t look the way you used to.

 As a holistic nutritionist and eating psychology coach, I work with lots of women who are frustrated with what they perceive as their inability to lose weight. They are brainwashed by society’s claims that even something as life-altering as giving birth shouldn’t leave a woman looking any different. And that makes me sad. Because honestly, WHY should we look like we used to? Everything about our lives is different now. Why shouldn’t our bodies be different too?

I don’t buy into the whole “body after baby” concept. You are not a before and after picture. You are not broken, no matter how much weight you gained during or after your pregnancy. You don’t need to be fixed, no matter how saggy your stomach is or how your jeans fit. The problem is not with you--it’s with your perception of yourself. 

Instead of trying to “fix yourself” by losing weight and trying to grasp at some elusive body image, try flipping your perspective on its head. I think that what women really want isn’t to lose weight--it’s to feel good in their own skin. And that can be achieved at any size. Health isn’t a number on the scale or a BMI range--it’s a way of living, of taking care of the body you have. That includes nutrition and exercise, of course, but it’s SO MUCH MORE than just that. It’s about treating yourself like you’d treat your child: with love, respect, and kindness. Your body isn’t out to get you, and it’s not trying to ruin your life. You don’t need to be at war with yourself anymore. Let’s call a cease fire and put down our weapons.

 Instead, it’s time to join forces WITH your body. Listen to what it’s telling you, what it’s asking for, what it needs. Just as you tune into the different cries of your toddler (the hurt cry, the angry cry, the tired cry), tune into the ways your body is crying out for your attention. This may be in the form of symptom or weight gain, and it might take some time and practice to learn to hear the message.

 The best way to start tuning into your body wisdom is to care for yourself. And one awesome way to do this is by taking a few minutes each day to pamper yourself physically. Pampering doesn’t have to be a long day at the spa--it can be any small thing that makes you feel more like yourself, that makes you feel more at home in your body.

 Which leads me to my favorite mom-style tip: take a little bit of time every single day to make yourself feel beautiful. No matter how busy you are, you’re never too busy to give yourself this gift. This doesn’t have to be something specific, it might be different for everyone, and it may not even have anything to do with how you look to other people. This is about learning to care for yourself in a way that leaves you feeling rejuvenated and more able to care for your family! 

For me, I do this by getting dressed Every. Single. Day. I never allow myself to lounge around in pajamas because it makes me feel lazy and unproductive. No matter what clothes I wear, I commit to putting on real clothes because it makes me feel better and, therefore, makes me act better! It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference to me. For you, it might be putting on mascara every day, or keeping your toenails painted bright pink, or wearing cute jewelry that make you feel amazing. Maybe it’s just making sure you make time to take a quick shower every day. Whatever small thing you know you love and will make a difference in how you feel in your own skin, treat yourself and do it every day!

 This is deceptively easy. You might be thinking, “What in the world does getting dressed every morning have to do with the way I feel about my body?” But I promise, it’s connected. Showing up for yourself, even in small ways, lays a foundation of self-care that you can build on.

 During this busy season of life, when your attention is often so far from your own needs and concerns, taking just a few moments a day to care for yourself can be a big deal. It will connect you to yourself. And eventually, when the kids grow up a little and some of the chaos diminishes, you get a little more sleep, and you can move forward with even more good habits, you’ll be ready.

 During these times when you literally don’t have time to cook yourself healthy food or exercise every day or take an hour just for yourself, you can still keep your head above water by giving yourself the gift of a few minutes each day of self-care. Please commit to doing this for yourself. Your body will thank you.

-Stephanie Webb

My name is Stephanie Webb, and I’m the founder of Eat Happy Nutrition. I’m a holistic nutritionist, and Eating Psychology Coach, and a mom to three kids (ages 9, 8, and 6). My husband is a pilot in the Air Force and we just recently moved to San Antonio, TX for our last military assignment before he gets out and we join the civilian world. :) I’m a lover of good books and good food, and my favorite household chore (the only one I enjoy or agree to do willingly) is vacuuming.

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