Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Mom That Eats Birthday Cake

I know it's pretty typical to see a write up about body image after a mom has a baby. She embraces her new body. She has learned to love its new shape and all of her new mom curves. Her body just did something amazing and the stretch marks across her once fully belly now tell that story.

I know. I've read countless posts like that and I even felt that very same way after I delivered my daughter. I promised myself that I would never be mean about my body again. I had made it through nearly 40 weeks of preganancy without a stretch mark in sight, yet I got several during labor and delivery. I was actually grateful for them. I wanted them. I wanted my daughter to leave a permanent mark on her first home. My body did and continues to do something amazing. 

body after baby

The struggle I'm having has more to do with properly caring for my body as a new mom than dealing with the changes from pregnancy. Before JaiseAnn was born I was certain I would lose the weight--all by three months. I would breastfeed and exercise every day--I bought a jogging stroller with plans to take JaiseAnn running throughout the week. We would run a 5k in May.

I was super easy on myself and my body at first. Recovery for me took a long time. But then breastfeeding didn't help me lose any weight at all and JaiseAnn cried (screaming fits) every time I took her out in her stroller or even tried wearing her for a walk. My face was broken out more than usual, my body was weak, and my days were spent sitting on the couch in marathon nursing sessions and naps. I wasn't ready to move onto taking care of myself beyond surviving. By the time I was, it felt like it was almost too late...I felt like I was drowning. I didn't have time to work out alone with a husband working 55 hours every week. He leaves for work before 6 a.m. and all too often we don't eat dinner until 8, after we've put JaiseAnn down.

I've heard all the fit moms proclaim:  "You have to make time for you! You have to do this for you and your family. If you make time for yourself, you'll be a better mother."  But I've struggled to find where to grab that time from. We all have the same 24 hours every day and everyone has a different way of using theirs but I just can't seem to find that small half an hour of time. My daughter doesn't sleep, I'm exhausted, time to exercise is hard to find (if not impossible), and my sugar addiction is in full swing. I have most definitely not been taking the best care of my amazing and incredible body.

I had a friend once say to me, "You don't want to be a mom that never eats birthday cake." when I was talking about this struggle. That's true. We all know the woman at the picnic who laments after eating a whole cookie. I don't want to be that woman. I never have been. I've been a healthy person, but I was never super fit or thin. Pre-pregnancy I wore a size 10 jean and occasionaly a size 8 dress. My body was very average with plenty of curve. I ate treats and enjoyed dinners out. I also drank plenty of water, exercised regularly, and ate healthy whole foods throughout the week. I took care of myself.

I want to be a mom who eats birthday cake, but I don't want to be a mom that eats all the birthday cake (and if we're being honest right now I would definitely eat all the birthday cake, brownies, banana bread, muffins, etc...I'm not kidding, moderation has become lost on me.) I'm stuck trying to find a balance of taking care of my body in moderation. I want to take care of myself. I want to get back into my clothes and get my body back to a healthy weight.

As a result I've started following a number of fitness accounts on Instagram. I suppose I thought they would motivate and inspire me. To some degree they have, but I take issue with the before and after shots I see. I hate that these women describe themselves in their before shots as "unhappy, miserable, and with low self esteem." That's not an attitude I want to have. That's never an attitude I want my daughter to have. I never want her to think that self esteem is found in a number on the scale or the size of pants she wears. Yet that's the message that's constantly being sent.

I'm stuck between wanting to get healthy and wanting to love and accept my body even when it's not the way I want it to look or feel.  I'm most definitely not giving up.  My goal is to be in my pre-pregnancy pants by my next birthday. I'm giving myself time. I'm giving my body time. I'm giving my family time. During that time, though, I'm also trying to learn to get dressed up occasionally. Buying clothes bigger than I'd like because I will feel better in them. I'm trying to embrace the parts of Sharlee that have become hidden under the thirty extra pounds I'm carrying--the Sharlee that loves heels, boots, skirts, jewelry, and getting dressed up. I'm trying to embrace the Sharlee that loves to go out on dates with her husband and loves feeling sexy.

Finding a balance between healthy weight and healthy body image is hard. I can't hate my body and want to change it at the same time. I have to love it now and by loving it, I can care for it enough to change it.

Can you relate to this? Do you have any tips or advice?

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