In just nine months, your life can totally change.
Scratch that. In just nine seconds, your life can change.
From the second I saw those two lines on a home pregnancy test faintly appear and become more vivid as the moments passed, I knew things would never be the same.
I had the typical swarm of thoughts (sprinkled with some shocked expletives) and as my son grew inside of me, I became more and more aware of the next imminent change: we were going to be parents.
I was going to be a mom.
My pregnancy was thankfully unremarkable. But after my son was born, like so many postpartum women I went through the obsessive mentality of getting my “pre-baby” body back as soon as possible.
There was just one problem.
If I got my pre-baby body back, I wouldn’t have the mind to match it anymore.
There’s no such thing as a pre-baby brain once you’ve had a child. Your mind is permanently changed. A person that you created inside of you is now living on the outside and your priorities take a huge shift with that change. Not to mention, your hormones, attention span, and memory. For real – mommy brain is totally a thing.
If I wanted to be a whole, cohesive person – connected with mind, body, and soul – how could I live with one foot in the past and the other in the present without feeling like I’m constantly failing to meet unrealistic expectations?
It was then that I decided to adopt a new mentality about my body image.
No, it wasn’t complacency. I resent when people refer to postpartum women as having “given up” on their bodies. The rudeness of such an assumption often spawns from ignorance, yet that’s hardly a reason to make it a forgivable offense.
Instead, I decided when it comes to my postpartum body, there was no looking back and pining for a pre-baby body. I decided when it comes to my body, I make the decisions and no one else.
I chose to prioritize three things and three things only: health, happiness, and habits.
There are no numbers on a scale involved in this formula. It doesn’t even factor in the numbers on my clothes. Nope. We are not even going there. That’s pre-baby mindset, and I’m working with a full-on mommy brain these days.
This mama does not have time to think about numbers, unless we’re talking about how many ounces of breast milk need to be pumped for a date night or how many times my preschooler asked me for juice today and I had to say no. (By the way, the answer to both questions is seven.)
These three things – health, happiness, and habits – are interconnected, just as the mind, body, and soul are connected. When one is disconnected from the others, the whole formula is thrown off. When I am working towards bettering my health with good habits, I am happier. When I am happier, I want to work harder to maintain my good habits and my good health. When my habits suffer, my health and happiness tend to feel the brunt of my negligence.
It’s a pretty simple concept.
Focusing on forming habits that benefit your health will make you happier.
And when that happens, no numbers are necessary to quantify the way you feel about yourself. Do I waste time guilting myself over a poor choice? Not really. When you have two kids and a partner who loves you whether you had Five Guys one night this week or if you ate fresh veggies and grilled chicken for every meal, it’s kind of hard to dwell on the negative stuff.
More importantly, when you say goodbye to “pre-baby” body mentality, you release yourself from predatory marketing and cultural pressure to go back to someone you couldn’t be again, even if you tried. I don’t want my pre-baby body back. What I want is a society that is as cool with that as I am.
When that baby was born, a mother was also born.
It’s important that we change the dialogue and nurture that new mother similar to how we nurture that baby. We need to show her the grace she deserves to grow into a beautiful, self-loving woman who has eyes on the future. So that she in turn can be a role model of health and happiness for her children as well. If we as a society could do new mothers this simple solid, it would not only change the course of our nation’s health for the better, it could change the way future generations of mothers see their postpartum bodies.
I say it’s worth a try.