Tiny fingers playfully explore the lumps on my thighs. A gentle head rests sweetly on my soft stomach. Shards of nails pinch the crap out of my … OUCH love handles. Yes, I definitely have a #mombod, and my baby loves me just the way that I am. I look in the mirror, and examine my slightly sagging body. I see some muscle hidden underneath a thickened layer of flab over what should be my abs… I see some bubbles (my word for cellulite) hovering around strong trunks of short legs. I have some muscle; it is just slightly camouflaged by a layer of fat (my muscle wouldn’t want to be too obvious, that might make my 5-foot stature too intimidating).
Slight digression, I have a personal confession. I am secretly in love with Jason Segal (sorry sweet hubby, it’s true). So when the twitter feed popped with hashtag hysteria of the sexy new dad bod that my beloved Jason Segal epitomized, I took notice. If the #dadbod signified the perfectly blended beer gut with average athleticism (i.e. This is a guy that runs a 5k with his children in tow, then celebrates at a kid friendly brewery), then what does this entail for women, or the #mombod? I could now go into a tangent about the unfair societal expectations for women when it comes to their bodies and aging (TRUE!). However, that is not what this particular discussion is about today. Right now I just want to let you know what a #mombod has meant for me, and how it has transformed the way I think of my body.
I spent my teen years battling eating disorders and cigarettes. I spent my college years battling sleep deprivation and binge drinking. I spent my entire life trying to overcome severe body image distortion. Pregnancy changed me. I met the love of my life (not Jason Segal) when I was 32, got married when I was 33, and gave birth to my sweet daughter at the age of 34. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, every decision I made about my body was centered upon, “What is best for this human I am growing?” The irony is what was best for my tiny human, was also what was always best for me, it just took growing my daughter to show me that. I am not going to pretend that suddenly I looked in the mirror at my growing belly and vehemently exclaimed to myself, “I am beautiful! I am woman; hear me roar!” However, I did look at myself in the mirror and compassionately whispered, “It’s OK, I am growing a human. I really am beautiful. My body is strong and is capable of doing amazing things such as climbing mountains, boot camp, and carrying a baby.” Eventually, I started to listen to this whisper, and it slowly changed my relationship with food, working out, and myself.
After I gave birth to my daughter, my gut instinct was to fall back to my old habits of extreme dieting and quick fixes to alleviate the anxiety of the fat pinching out of my pants upon buttoning. However, I considered an alternative route. What if instead of altering my body to fit my preconceived notion of what my body should look like, I instead shifted the way I perceived my body? What if I focused on the functionality of my body? I mean, I grew a human! My body fed a human! That is nothing short of miraculous in my book. With gentleness towards myself, I enacted my new diet of a positive body image and self affirmation. Yes, pregnancy was filled with aches and pains, and at 5 feet tall, lets just say there isn’t a lot of room to grow… besides out. However, pregnancy was the healthiest and most beautiful time of my life. Today, I stare down at the bright PLUS sign on my home pregnancy test. I close my eyes and take in the joy, and promise myself to remember these lessons again this time around.
Is your body healthy? Then work hard to embrace every love handle, bubble, and softness that helped you create a beautiful life. Sometimes I wonder if we put more effort into self image than dieting, would we feel better? For me, the numbers on the scale never altered my happiness and self-acceptance. Let’s fill ourselves up with nutrition, strength, love, compassion, and joy.
So what is a #mombod to me? Dang Beautiful.