Do you love your body?
Like REALLY love it?
Becoming a mum is one of the most amazing journeys of life, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its ups and downs. The changes in your body image and how you see yourself can be some of the toughest to deal with and often least talked about!
So that question of “do you love your body?”…
How do you answer that? What does loving your body actually mean?
Well, I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean.
Loving your body is NOT:
- Starting a strict workout schedule soon after giving birth to get your “pre-baby body” back.
- Restricting your food intake to only “good foods” and cutting out “bad foods”.
- Allowing yourself to become a couch potato and putting your health & happiness in jeopardy.
- Criticising yourself and creating feelings of shame and guilt so that you take action to create the seemingly “perfect” body.
Loving your body IS:
- Fuelling it with food that makes you feel physically and mentally on top of the world.
- Moving and exercising in a way that feels amazing to you and promotes overall health.
- Speaking kindly to yourself and cultivating a respectful, compassionate inner voice.
- Allowing your body to adjust to this new stage of life with patience and kindness.
Why is it important to learn to love your body right now, rather than once you lose the baby weight?
Imagine that you said “I’m not going to love my baby until he/she learns to talk. It’s crazy to love something that can’t speak to me!”.
That’s crazy, right? That’s putting a condition on love. Making it a commodity that must be earned. You must meet my standards before you deserve love. You would NEVER do that to your child, so why is it okay to do it to yourself?
Our bodies are constantly changing throughout life. Each second we’re a little bit older. We’ll gain weight, we’ll lose it. We’ll develop wrinkles, pimples and cellulite. Stretch marks will pop up and freckles too. If you’re on the “I’ll only love my body when it’s perfect” train, then you’ll never love it. You’ll never be perfect. And besides, people with the “perfect” bodies are often the harshest on themselves. Countless models and actresses with what many would call the ideal body type are the ones who hate their bodies the most. Time and time again we see that changing your body doesn’t make you any more likely to love it.
You deserve to put down the guilt, put down the shame, put down the unrealistic expectations that are put on you and just be. You deserve respect, kindness, compassion and love. Unconditionally.
Plus, consider that children are like sponges. They absorb everything they see and hear, even if you’re not aware of it. If you have a daughter whose earliest memory of her mum, is watching her eat celery for lunch and picking herself apart in the mirror, would you feel proud of that? What about if you had a son who thought that is was acceptable to judge a woman’s worth and potential based solely on her looks? After all, if this is what children see from the time they’re small, it will become ingrained in them whether you intend it or not.
Loving your body is for you, yes, but it’s also one of the biggest gifts you can give your children.
How the HECK do I start loving my body?
Loving your body will not happen in an instant. There is no magic pill or potion. But with small consistent action each day you absolutely can learn to love and embrace your body as it is today!
These three things are action steps I often give to coaching clients and I love to use in workshops as well. They are easy, free, and really super effective!
1. Express gratitude for your body daily
Remember, your body has CREATED LIFE. Seriously, take a moment and think about that for a second. Your child was created and became a human inside of you. Those stretch marks, that cellulite, that new bit of weight around your middle… They’re all signs of your superpower. Women’s bodies are freaking incredible and it’s time you showed your body the gratitude it deserves!
2. Use positive affirmations
It’s so easy to get into the habit of saying self-deprecating things. We, as women, are almost always our own worst critic, and this only intensifies when our bodies go through radical changes, as they do during pregnancy and childbirth.
So, instead of perpetuating any negative self-talk, switch it up by adding in positive affirmations.
3. Tune in, breathe, and touch yourself
It’s easy to become disconnected from your body. To view it as this frumpy thing you used to like and enjoy. It’s not a big stretch to go from being a woman who knows herself to being a mum who’s disconnected and a little lost. Often the obsession of getting the “pre-baby body” back has to do with wanting that old connection back. With wanting that comfortable, knowing relationship with your body back. So ladies, it’s time to get back in touch with your body.
For a detailed explanation and instructions for each of the above action steps, check out this simple how-to page here.
What about the critics?
It’s all well and good to create new practices that uplift you and help you love and embrace the body you have today, but what about the critics? You know the ones… it could be your partner, your mum, your friends. The ones who comment on your new stretch marks, your wobbly bits, your body that is somehow now “less than perfect”.
Well, let me tell you, I have a few choice words for them. But keeping this decent, let’s start with “mind your own business”. It is YOU who’s had a baby. Your body. Your experience. Your changes. Only you have the right to decide what feels good or not. What looks good or not. What is good or not.
When others feel the need to criticise or pick you apart, oftentimes, it stems from a place of them feeling triggered or like they’re doing you a favour.
If your best friend gained 15kg during her last pregnancy and felt the need to get skinny again, she might feel threatened. Maybe she dieted, exercised to the point of exhaustion, didn’t enjoy life for 6 months and regrets missing out on so many of those beautiful moments with a newborn that have NOTHING to do with how you look. Perhaps she regrets obsessing about her extra few kilos instead of obsessing about her beautiful new baby. She would likely never say that to you, or even admit it to herself, but perhaps she feels like she missed out. Like she made a mistake. But people have this part in them (we all have it) that wants to belong. And if you get on the same train as her and do the same things, it’s validating her experience. It’s telling her she did the right things. So, her criticising you likely has nothing to do with you! After all, if she’ll say those things out loud to you, just imagine what she says to herself in her own head.
Or maybe your mum is constantly at you to tone up and hide your stretch marks when at the beach. It’s possible that she thinks she’s protecting you. Perhaps she was mocked when she was a new mum. Maybe she was made to feel ashamed or guilty for the changes her body went through. She was told that the only way she’d be loved or accepted was to diet and change herself. So she did it. And of course she wants you to be loved and accepted too! So she thinks that shame and guilt will get you there. She wants you to be happy deep down, so in her eyes making you feel shame is helping you regain a body that is acceptable and will allow you to fit in. There is a very positive intention under this, but the methods of shame and guilt are all wrong.
The comparison game
Women, whether they be mums or not, are all pretty great at this. We thrive at comparing ourselves to other women! Our skin, our clothes, our hair, our makeup, our families, and yes of course our bodies.
But let me ask you, what have you ever gained from this?
Have you ever felt better about yourself because your hair was better? Because you had prettier clothes or because you were thinner? Maybe temporarily. It’s possible to get a rush in feeling superior in something. But have you ever felt truly, deeply happier at your core for this? Hell no, you haven’t.
You are more than a body. You are more than a shape or size. You are a complicated, beautiful being. You are full of emotions, of ups and downs. You are unique, you are full of hopes and dreams, and you likely have some deep desires few people even know about.
Want me to tell you a secret? A huge part of loving your body is loving yourself. Accepting yourself for the woman that you are. You are not your body. You are you. You exist within your body. If you cut off a limb, you’d still be you. If you shaved your head, you’d still be you. You can grow a new life inside your womb and you’re still you.
Loving and accepting yourself as you are is about loving you as a women. And all of the action steps we talked about here:
- Daily gratitude
- Positive affirmations
- Body love breath work
To get the full how-to on each of these simple action steps, click here now.
These all help you love yourself just as much as they help you love your body.
So mum, it’s up to you now. Do you want to love your body? Do you want to look in the mirror and smile at what you see? Do you want to feel confident in clothes again? You can’t change your mindset in a day. But you can decide to change your life in a moment.
It’s your time. This is your moment. You deserve it!
About Katie Allen
Being both a Certified Health Coach and a Certified Life Coach, Katie has combined these two passions into one and works with women who feel like they’re stuck and missing out on life because of their poor body image. Her powerful coaching transforms the way women see themselves and the way they show up in life each and every day to create the life of their dreams!
You are invited to Katie’s Facebook Group, the Body Love Tribe! Click here to join!