I’m one of you, the moms with the post-pregnant bodies where perky bottoms have given way to saggy behinds and boobs that have followed suite unless filled with milk. But where many women I know are trying to lose their pregnancy weight, I am trying to gain back some.
No, I’m not actually all that lucky.
I weigh now, less than I did when I was 18. When I look at my body, I feel anything but beautiful. My legs, once slender but toned are now marred with varicose veins and resemble the limbs of a certain large bird. A line of separation indents the loosened muscles of my cushy abdomen. My once sculpted arms – all I can see now are large veins coursing down my forearms and branching off following the small bones in my hands. When I turn sideways, my once perky bottom has deflated to little more than a bump between my back and legs. The longer I stare, the the more dissatisfied I become so I cover myself up and get on with my day.
This new body image has come as a bit of a shock for me. Call me naive, but I guess I just didn’t think that age and having babies would already impact my body this much. You see, I have always been one of the lucky girls. I could eat whatever I wanted, exercise as little as I wanted and I never felt truly dissatisfied with my body.
The thing about being naturally “skinny” in our society is we aren’t allowed to complain. The media have done a bang-up job of convincing women for decades that any and all fat is bad, skinny is beautiful. It doesn’t matter that I feel less womanly because I look more like an adolescent girl than a grown woman, I don’t have those undesirable love handles, muffin top or cushy thighs so I have nothing to feel insecure about. I can’t tell you how much I would LOVE to have some extra padding around the middle to shed or even just to keep! I don’t say this to make light of the struggle many woman face as they try to lose excess weight but rather to shine light on my own struggle with feeling like I’m a few pounds away from looking emaciated. I can eat half a dozen cookies, enjoy a macchiato and munch on some chips and still, chicken little.
The good news is I have started working out with a friend and I joke with her saying that I gotta keep my eyes on the blonde chick with the soccer legs in our work out video for motivation. I’m not under an illusion that I can look just like her but I figure, she wasn’t born with those legs, she worked to get them looking like that. I aim to put in an honest effort and reap some benefits because I am not ready to throw the towel over my body. I have some of the best years of my life still ahead and I want to look and feel good.
Before you get all judgmental on me and feel inclined to remind me that I should be more concerned about what’s on the inside rather than the outside, let me share one more thing.
Before I first became pregnant, I was at my fittest, strongest and healthiest. I hiked often, I danced, I ate well. Because I was engaging in physical activity, I felt more vitality and strength and when I looked in the mirror – I felt beautiful. I could feel confident during intimacy with my husband, no need to dim the lights, no nagging worry in the back of my mind about how unattractive I must look right now. I can have all the head knowledge there is about how he thinks I’m beautiful no matter what and it’s what’s in my heart that makes me beautiful, but if I don’t believe it about myself, I can’t enjoy the fullness of making love with my husband, not completely. That’s just me.
I know babies have forever changed my body and I am okay with that. I just want to feel beautiful and I want to impress my husband with a body that I am caring for. I don’t have to be overweight to feel the urge to look better and be stronger.