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.
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.
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.