My Post-Partum Body, A Year Later

We don't talk about the realities of post-partum bodies enough.  There's a strong narrative that once you have your baby, you do a bunch of work and "go back" to your pre-pregnancy body.  With kegels and push-ups, some grit, and "no excuses" (Thank-you-not-really, Maria Kang), you can get back your body, and by extension, your sexuality and attractiveness and sense-of-self. 

Well, sorry, but that's a big, ol' NOPE.  There is no "snapping back".  These changes are forever. Your body went through a gigantic transformation.  No sense in pretending it didn't happen.

The thing is: I think you can reclaim your body, and by extension, your sexuality and attractiveness and sense-of-self WITHOUT a whole big weight loss "journey."  In fact, I think it's vital that you do.

My post-partum body, 1 year later. - superbalancedlife.com

My post-partum body, 1 year later. - superbalancedlife.com

A year ago, I showed what my post-partum body looked like, a month after birth.  The above picture was taken about a year after that.  Honestly, they're not much different.

My post-partum body, 1 year later - superbalancedlife.com

My post-partum body, 1 year later - superbalancedlife.com

I guess my stretch marks have faded, but I still have the "mummy tummy" and the same hips and big arms.  So what's different?  My head.

To be honest, I put off this post for a couple days because I was actually a little disappointed about the pictures.  A teeny part of myself wanted this to be a Before and After kind of scenario, because we're conditioned to believe that that is the triumph: visible, tangible transformation.  But the bigger win is what's been going on in my brain. 

To be even more candid -- as I compared the photos from a year ago to now, my thought process has gone something like this: "Oh man, it's not that different.  Shit.  And I've gone back to CrossFit, but it's obviously not working, and maybe I should be watching what I eat... OH WAIT A SECOND STOP RIGHT THERE.  Am I doing these things to "fix" what I look like, or to feel good in my body?  I am doing this to feel good in my body.  Eating well, moving my body in ways I like and feel good, sleeping as much as I can, and making time for self-care, those things are the goal in and of themselves."

Taking care of myself is its own reward.  I feel good; so much better than I have in a long time.  I feel motivated and engaged and happy.

So as much as I've been conditioned to see no physical change at all as a bad thing, I don't really think it is.  The life I'm living is sustainable.  I'm not driving myself crazy being consumed by a weight loss struggle.  Today, I ate a salad for lunch, but I also ate oatmeal with dark chocolate chips for breakfast.  *shrug*

This is what success looks like for me: total self-acceptance and making choices that support my strength, health, and life, and also acknowledging how amazing it is that my body has sustained and given life.  It will never be what it was before my kid.  I don't have the time or energy to do the work I did to make it that way.  But I am finding what time and effort I can to make sure I'm the best me that I can be NOW, and that's what really counts.

Ugly Selfie

I was down visiting family over Labor Day weekend with my dude and my cute baby, and of course, my mom wanted to get some family photos taken to hang in her hallway.  And I said yes, because I have a very adorable baby, and it seemed like a good idea to have all of us in photo together, since the gang was all there.

The problem was that a bunch of the photos were taken with the camera at the level of the baby, and since was held in our laps most of the time, that meant mucho unflattering upwards angles.

Exhibit A: all face, all the time. - superbalancedlife.com

Exhibit A: all face, all the time. - superbalancedlife.com

Viewing the photos sent me into a tailspin.  I have a really round face y'all, and upwards angles do it no favors.  And while generally speaking I am very much fuck flattering and all that, I would like to look decent in photos displayed on my parents' walls, you know?

And perhaps I need to recontextualize how my round face looks and be chill with it, but right now, I am doing a lot of emotional work and self-discovery already, being in the first year of parenthood, so I just wasn't up to doing that work in that moment. 

I posted how I was feeling on Facebook, and the first couple of comments were very much "yes, angles matter," with people with typically angular, socially-acceptable faces showing how upwards angles gave them extra chins.  But then, THEN!  Well, then my bestie Megan did something brilliant.  She posted a totally upwards shot of herself with the caption "ugly selfie, no shame!" and just left it there.

No photo of her face straight on.  No flattering angles.  Nope.  She just posted a not-cute picture of herself up on my wall, with no shame, and got on with her day.

It kind of blew my mind.  Being unattractive on purpose?  As a performance, almost?  Showing that we all have angles and times of days where we don't look our best and that's just life.  WHAT?  It was awesome.

And then a bunch of other people joined in.  And that was incredible.  It was so silly and real and irreverent.  I loved it.  I continue to revisit that thread for all my gorgeous friends' silly faces, and it's just awesome. 

It gave me the courage to post the unflattering photo, which I am also doing here.  Because normalizing that we all have those moments, those angles -- that's a big deal.  It's liberating.  It's inclusive.  It's humanizing.  It's radical.

So, if you wanna join me in the ugly selfie challenge, post an unflattering, real photo of your mug on Facebook or Instagram and tag it #uglyselfiechallenge.  Trust me, it's awesome.  Freed from the burden of having to look good, you can explore what your face looks like at any angle.  You'll notice things you didn't before maybe (cleft chin?  extra freckle?)  And you get to just be you.

Let's do this.

Exhibit B: no shame. - superbalancedlife.com

Exhibit B: no shame. - superbalancedlife.com