I Don’t Want My Postpartum Body to ‘Bounce Back’—Here’s Why

I can pinpoint the moment I realized my approach to health had changed. 

I sat on the beach in a bikini in July with my 1-year-old daughter no cover-up in sight. Looking back, I am sure I had visible cellulite flanking the sides of thighs and my backside – little dimples sunkissed by the light. I am also sure that my belly displayed plenty of mom rolls, little folds of skin that changed location with every movement. At the time, though, none of this was on my mind. I dug in the sand, sipped on a beer, ran through the shallow tide with my kids.

I absorbed the giggles, the smell of sunscreen, tiny footprints on the shore, and all of the other wonderfulness of this moment. 

What I don’t remember is if I exercised that day or if I ate dessert that night. I thought that after having my twins, getting back to my pre-baby weight would be my priority, but surprisingly, it wasn’t. What I learned through becoming a mother is that all of the pressure I put on myself to look and eat a certain way didn’t matter anymore. What I thought was “healthy” before I had kids isn’t what I see “healthy” to be now.

This is why.

 

I leaned into this season

I was sleep-deprived as a new mom of twins, and then once my kids were sleeping through the night, it was their awake time that fully depleted my energy. Making it to the gym was hard on some days and impossible on others. 

 

What I learned through becoming a mother is that all of the pressure I put on myself to look and eat a certain way didn’t matter anymore. What I thought was ‘healthy’ before I had kids isn’t what I see ‘healthy’ to be now.

 

I slowly started to realize that hitting the gym and eating a salad wasn’t the only way to be healthy. I reminded myself daily how fleeting this time is and not in a “you need to appreciate every second with your tiny babies” fleeting, but in a “today the gym is not a priority but maybe one day it will be again” kind of way. 

This season was about eating lunch as quickly as possible before someone needed me again, finding time to shower during naptime, and just freaking sitting down when my body needed to sit, instead of cleaning up a playroom. At around the 18-month mark of my children’s lives, I found a new fitness routine that works with our schedule and feels so good. 

I’m happy I didn’t force it when I didn’t need to. 

 

 

I tuned in to my inner voice

As a new mom, you feel a lot of pressure to be who you were before but with kids. That’s not sustainable. 

I had to learn how to choose to nap instead of work out. Through practice, I find that I’m in tune with my body’s needs more than ever before. I understand that it’s the 30 minutes of peaceful shut-eye that I’m craving more than a sweat session, and that’s OK. 

In the past, exercise would win every single time, because I saw it as one of the only pillars of living a healthy life. As it turns out, there’s a lot of outside noise telling us what steps we need to take to be healthy. I have to quiet the chatter and really think about what my body is asking for. 

 

I had to learn how to choose to nap instead of work out. Through practice, I find that I’m in tune with my body’s needs more than ever before. I understand that it’s the 30 minutes of peaceful shut-eye that I’m craving more than a sweat session, and that’s OK. 

 

Am I choosing the salad because my body is craving some veggies or because I think that’s what I should be eating? Am I skipping the glass of wine because social media tells us January is meant to be dry, or because I know I sleep a little sounder without alcohol? It takes time to tune in and to find the channel that is really yours. Sometimes, I don’t get it right, but I am constantly practicing hearing myself and pushing away all the other noise. 

 

I said goodbye to guilt

It’s hard to juggle it all. Prioritizing health and wellness as a mom, while not allowing guilt to creep in when there’s simply not enough time in the day or energy in our body to give back to ourselves, is not an easy task. Self-care can become another item on our “to-do” list, and when we can’t make it happen, it feels like just another failure. 

I have felt this deeply so many times. But if I set out to go for a run and it doesn’t happen for one reason or another, I don’t let it derail my mood. Being able to move through life in a go-with-the-flow manner is so much healthier, in my opinion, than making it to the gym five days a week. 

I’m constantly reframing my goals to be small and manageable rather than reaching for lofty goals that will be impossible to tackle. Just this week I took my dog for a 15-minute walk when my earlier run didn’t happen, and it was just the right amount of self-care for that moment and for that day. 

 

Source: @she_plusfive

 

I realized I am more than my body

The immense pressure I used to put on myself to look a certain way is unbelievable. 

I am a writer. I am a fitness coach. I am an event planner. I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I am not a size, or a number, or someone who needs to take up a certain amount of space on this earth. 

Of course, I want to take care of my shell by moving it in ways that feel good and feeding it in ways that feel good, but at the end of the day, it’s the stuff happening inside and all around me that matter so much more than my physical self. My mental health has become a much larger focus for me as a mother. And that’s something I couldn’t have learned any other way.

 

Read More: A Love Letter to My New Postpartum Body

 

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