We’ve all heard it—“Get your body back” after having a baby. It’s in the media. It’s on the magazines at the check-out (usually criticizing or giving applause to the “success” of a celebrity that just had a baby). The fitness industry feeds into it. Comments are said from family. The pressure is there. Basically, it’s everywhere and frankly, it’s staring us in the face when we try (yet again) to try to slip those pre-pregnancy jeans on again (and they still don’t fit). So it’s there, as plain as day, that after we have a baby, we think we have to do everything in our power to work on “getting our body back”.
But guess what mamas? We need to let go of that pressure! “Let it go, let it go…” Oh wait, sorry, Queen Elsa gets me every time. *chuckle* Seriously though, LET IT GO! Whew!
When I was pregnant with my daughter Jeralyn, my dear own mama encouraged me to slather on the creams and lotions to prevent stretch marks. My thoughts were, “I didn’t try for 7 years to get pregnant to prevent stretch marks!” And I didn’t use one cream. Nothing. Zip. Nada. None. (And I had and still have no stretch marks even after having 3 babies—not sure why because I was gladly going to welcome them).
So I wonder what would happen if we all looked at our bodies after having a baby as a blessing instead of this thing we have to “get back”? What if we remembered the miracle of a baby when we see those stretch marks? What if instead of grimacing at our “extra-ness” after having a baby, we remembered those women who are doing everything in their power and spending a lot of money trying to get the blessing that made those extra parts? I certainly didn’t care if I had stretch marks because I waited so long for my baby girl—and now I need to remember that when it comes to the weight and extra-ness department.
Ladies, YOU are blessed to have carried a baby! God knit those babies in your womb! And they were fearfully and wonderfully made! We were made for this!
To be very honest, you may never get your body back. Say what??!! (Don’t make that face).
Personally, I never got my body back after having my daughter. I tried. I released all of the weight, but my body was still carrying a little pooch. And then I still had that same pooch after having my son. And that was after getting to what I believe is my God-given set weight. And I’m pretty sure that once I am at my set weight again after having my second son, the pooch will probably be hanging around (quite literally—hope you can see the humor in this). But you know what—that’s okay! I would rather be free and be at my natural, healthy weight than chasing after skinny and worshiping some deaf, dumb, and blind skinny idol. I am so done with all of that! A diet will only make me gain it all back and more. I don’t have the time or energy to obsess about some crazy exercise program (I just want to run, walk, hike and do the strength training my body enjoys (and needs)). I don’t want to succumb to fasts, cleanses, shakes, or crazy exercise programs.
When the day is done and I know I’ve mostly eaten 0-5 (this isn’t about perfection) and I’ve moved my body in a way that it enjoys, then I know I’ve done what I can. And if I still have the pooch, so be it.
I’ve actually heard of some women who don’t want to have babies because they don’t want to lose their body. In a way, that makes me very sad to hear because children are a blessing from the Lord. I’m sure any woman that’s been trying to have a baby for years would be like BRING IT ON. And by “it”, I mean the stretch marks, the extra-ness, the pooch, etc. I know this because I was one of them. And it hurt my ears to hear women complaining about their bodies after having a baby because I so badly wanted a baby.
“You may have big scars, stretch marks, and loose skin that bothers you. You might not have time to exercise the way you used to. All of these things can be seen as an offense against us—against our bodies…our bodies are tools, not treasures. You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form…Motherhood uses your body in a way that God designed it to be used…But motherhood is what your stomach as made for—and any wear and tear that it shows is simply the sign of a well-used tool. We are not to treat our bodies like museum pieces. They were not given to us to preserve, they were given to us to use. So use it cheerfully, and maintain it cheerfully. When you are working hard to lose the baby weight (as you may need to), think of it as tool maintenance. You want to fix your body up in order to be able to use it some more. It might be used for more children, or it might be used to take care of the children you have. We should not be trying to fix it up to put it back on a shelf out of harm’s way or to try to make ourselves look like nothing ever happened. Your body is a tool. Use it.”*
I read that recently in a book and it really stood out to me. I’m in the thick of this. I’m only weeks past having a baby. So I get this. It’s raw and real right now. It’s so real that some of my shirts and pants don’t fit me. Does this discourage me? Yes. Plain and simple. Yes. Has it brought on thoughts about going on a diet? You bet. These are truths I’ve been speaking to myself about it:
- I’m 7 weeks post-partum—I need to relax!
- Wear clothes that I feel good in—I may even need to buy a few things that are more comfortable in the meantime.
- Enjoy where I’m at right now—enjoy the baby and stop focusing on my body, body, body.
- Eat and exercise 0-5—that’s God’s perfect boundaries for me and the best maintenance plan!
- The “extra-ness” is because a little miracle took place in my womb! I am blessed!
- Diets fail 99.5% of the time! Only .5% of people have lasting success on a diet! No thank you!
- I am beautiful, loved and accepted just as I am!
I recently found this really great blog post talking about “getting your body back”. It has great tips on how to stop buying into the message that we have to “get our body back or else!” The media and our culture plays so much into what is deemed “acceptable”. But it’s not about our outward appearance, it’s about our heart and who we are in Christ. We are more than our weight, size, and body.
Am I saying you shouldn’t want to release weight after having a baby? No. What I’m saying is, even after releasing the weight, you may not have the same body you had before your pregnancy—ever. Or maybe you will. But reality is, your body changes after having a baby. And wouldn’t it be better to accept that (now) instead of trying to fight it, force it, and hate it into something else?
“Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work…So realize that your body is a testimony to the world of God’s design. Carry the extra weight joyfully until you can lose it joyfully. Carry the scars joyfully as you carry the fruit of them. Do not resent the damages that your children left on your body.”*
Ladies, we have so much to be thankful for. So when you look into the mirror and you see the marks left on your body because of having a baby, smile and thank the Lord because it’s a good thing. They are signs of such beautiful blessings. And then go kiss your baby (even if they have babies of their own). And if you are one of those babies, thank your mama for bearing the marks to bring you into this world…and tell her that she’s beautiful and that you love her!
*Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic