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Mamas, Now Is Not the Time to Lose Weight

Photograph by Twenty20

Today, I chose leggings. Again.

None of my “regular” pants fit right now. Honestly, even my leggings pinch a little at the waist. It bothers me because I don’t feel like myself, but there's a good reason for my feeling out of sorts: I had a baby six months ago and because of that precious little cherub, my body is really, really different right now.

At least 10 times each day, I’m subtly told that since I just had a baby, it’s time for me to focus on losing weight. From social media to advertisements to my own negative self-talk, I hear, “Trim up, set some goals, bounce back.”

And I could. I could count calories or points, join the gym or the latest health challenge. I could spend time researching recipe substitutions, drinking shakes or toning up my abs. But, as I consider the options of how to spend my postpartum time and energy, I keep returning to the same question: Is now really the time to be losing weight?

Moms, if you’re like me, living in the sweet and hard postpartum days, ask yourself the same thing. Reflect on what your body has done and, more so, what it needs to do next.

Should we be restricting calories when breastfeeding or should we be eating nourishing food? Should we be doing a home exercise video while our baby naps or should we be resting ourselves? Should we feel bad about our bodies after they have done such an extraordinary thing?

I’m covered in stretch marks. I smell of breast milk. I don’t wash my hair as often as I should. I’m heavier. I’m softer. I’m very much postpartum. Hence, the high-waist leggings I reach for every morning.

My body might be fuller now, but you know what? So is my heart.

I’m OK with my body being curvier. Of course I reminisce about the good ol’ days, but then again, were they really that great? My body might be fuller now, but you know what? So is my heart. A decent trade-off, if you ask me.

After my baby was born, my body settled at a solid 15 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight. And, despite the barrage of postpartum weight loss ideas popping up in my sidebar ads, I’m embracing these pounds because they represent a journey. My journey of being a mom.

Down the road, I’ll make losing weight a priority. But today is not the day. This week is not the week.

Pregnancy took nine months and I’m committing at least that long to just be. Maybe a whole year. In the grand scheme of things, devoting 12 months to my postpartum season is nothing.

This year, I’m going to eat extra portions, and all the fruits and veggies I can handle. I’m going to bake lactation cookies. I’m going to order a steak with two pats of butter. I’m going to wear my baby and go out for breezy walks—not to burn calories, but to hold him close and breathe fresh air together. I’m going to throw in a load of laundry and rock my baby to sleep, then go to sleep myself.

I’m going to love my body—how it is right now—because I love my life right now.

Now is not the time to lose weight. Now is the time allow my body to recover from birth and pregnancy. Instead of shunning my mom bod, I’m going to tell myself that my body has done good work and my body deserves all the love I can give it—extra pounds and all.

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