I am starting to feel better naked again. Odd statement but a very true statement. As a former college athlete, being pregnant was a very INTERESTING journey as I had to come to grips with allowing my body to lead me and seeing what else my body could do.
It also revealed to me my various strengths and it reworked my definition of what femininity and womanly strength meant outside of the ability to run, jump or compete with/against men.
Pregnancy wasn't horrible for me. In fact beyond not being able to run and play sports, I was blessed with a smooth ride. My first pregnancy was met with me playing volleyball, playing basketball with my middle school team (which lead to a hospital visit -- another story for later) and teaching hurdle drills to middle school and high school athletes.
I felt strong and invincible. My bulging womb was just a minor obstacle to my awesomeness. I didn't feel any differently about my body because the naivety in me believed I'd just snap back like a rubberband because my body was so awesome. WRONG. Oh so WRONG.
So I hit the weight room got my body back. Nursed my first born for almost a year and then got preggers again. It seemed that history repeated itself. Pregnancy was pretty easy compared to the stories I read on the internet and other people I talked to.
I then hit the weight room and the bike, nursed my kid for at least a year and lost 40 pounds. I did this THREE TIMES.
But this yo-yo of weight gain and loss took its toll. My SKIN was stretched to capacity. The lines of light brown were like little rivers creeping through the warm blown flesh. My stomach drooped where there was once a beautiful washboard of abs. The abs lived under the folds of SKIN. I was still strong, but it looked horrible.
And then there were my breasts. I used to workout so that they weren't a factor, but with all of the nursing, they looked like elephant ears; long flaps of skin hanging on the front of an oddly distorted torso.
I hated my body. I hated being naked. I hated passing mirrors naked. I was disgusted.
Being thinner wasn't the issue. It was the distortion of my parts that was most disturbing. I looked amazing in clothes and my now ex-husband didn't really have a problem at all with my body (in fact he liked some of the extras)... but I had to live inside me, and I wanted to sell this body and buy a new one.
So how did I overcome this? I haven't. I'm still working on it. I still don't like my naked body. I still don't fully appreciate what my body did for me and my children. It is a struggle every day to see myself as beautiful and worthwhile.
At first I ignored it (denial) and saw my new body as a necessary side-effect to my motherly job. I then moved into a phase of extreme anger. I was enraged that my body looked the way it did. Why did I bother having kids? They don't even care about the sacrifice and never will. I can't believe I did this to myself.
Then I moved into a period of depression. It'll never get better. Woe is me. I quickly moved out of this phase because naturally I hate sadness because it's contagious. So then I moved into action.
What can I do about this? How can I be proud of myself? Who am I now rather than who was I then. I know I'm not alone so I will share my mantra and process of my phoenix plan.
1. Buy new bras. Yes. Every time your cup changes, reward yourself. Go get a new bra. You don't realize how much a new bra makes you feel about yourself. Even if it's cheap. Get a new one. Go to TJMaxx, TARGET, Walmart (I know, I know), Marshall, etc... go get a new $7 bra. A push up that provides support.
2. Wear make up. Yes, go get some make up and put it on your face. And if you don't know how to do it, go to the department store and have them teach you. After you learn, put on day make up and go somewhere basic like the grocery store. A really awesome friend of mine took me to get my face made. She changed my life.
3. Stare down the beast! Stand in front of the mirror naked. Start 30 seconds at a time and then work yourself up to 5 minutes. Don't tear yourself down. Just stand there and don't think of ANYTHING. Stare at your body. It's yours. It's done amazing things for you. You've been blessed to do amazing things with it. You guys are partners. Your body is NOT your enemy.
4. CHANGE YOUR language. Be careful what you say. I have 3 daughters. If I keep saying my body sucks, what do I think they'll feel about themselves? What am I training them to believe about the female body? I tell them all the time that "mommy's body was different (I used to say better) but it still works. It's awesome and it brought you here, so it has made my life better!"
5. Work for what you want. No crash diets, nothing crazy. Practice self control, limit sugars and other things that are harming you. Set goals. WEIGHT LOSS and muscle gain should be a combined process. It shouldn't just be weight loss. You should focused on having a healthier more toned body. Keep it in perspective! It's not going to happen over night.
So have I reached my goal... not at all. But the process of loving my body more each day is actually making me look forward to tomorrow. I focus on how healthy I am, what am I feeding myself and my kids. What kind of lifestyle am I showing my girls? I want them to grow up and be happier and healthier than I am and was... part of it is my responsibility to lay a solid foundation.
The world is going to try to destroy their self-esteem, I need to make sure that they have a solid shield by the way I talk to myself, set goals and expectations for myself and talk about myself. The process is long and each journey is unique. Good luck!