Have you decided not to diet postpartum, but have days where you feel so self-conscious about your body? Yeah… me too!
My most recent bad self-image day…
I sat on the phone, looking into the camera, and what was, just a few seconds earlier, a great facetime conversation with my husband, suddenly was interrupted by thoughts of insecurity. Geez… my face looks so big… oh my goodness do I have a double chin? Ugh… should I change what I’ve been eating? Should I cut out dessert for a little while? Moment by moment and question after question, it was revealed to me that as much as I believe in body acceptance and never dieting, at times I struggle with loving my body, especially this postpartum body that I have.
This body that has performed such a miracle and birthed a beautiful baby girl is also a body that has put on some weight that I’m not super comfortable with. I have bad self-image days. The thing is, they have been a little more frequent since having my baby girl almost four months ago. Some days are just harder than others.
The reality of our “snap back” culture…
I know that bad self-image days can be normal for women in general, but they can be intensified after having a baby, with all of the pressure for “snapping back.” Society tells us that as soon as we have a baby our goal should be to “snap back,” and get back to our prepregnancy weight.
As ridiculous as it sounds, I know that’s the world that we are living in.
The truth is, the last thing that we should be focused on postpartum is our weight. Postpartum should be a time of bonding with our new baby and finding our new normal, not being concerned about the number on a scale.
Maybe you’re like me and you realize dieting will never work, and you’ve committed not to, but sometimes you have days where you look in the mirror and you really don’t like what you see.
The reality is, those of us that have decided not to diet will probably have negative self-image days just like any other woman. That’s just life. I am not exempt from having negative thoughts about the way that I look, from time to time, and you are probably not exempt either.
There are ways to get through the hard days…
Although I do have bad self-image days, there are some things that I started doing that get me through those days when my body is less than desirable in my eyes.
They help me to avoid jumping off the deep end and starting a new diet, restricting my food, and prevent me from staying in a negative state of mind.
If you are postpartum and having negative self-image days, but not sure how to get through them, I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to share what has been working for me. My hope is that these things will help you too.
6 Tips That Will Help You Through Negative Self-Image Days Postpartum
#1 Remember That Your Body Just Performed A Miracle
Something that really helps to ground me is remembering the fact that my body just performed a miracle. It grew and birthed a beautiful baby. Understanding that, unfortunately, some women don’t get that same opportunity humbles me and helps my mind to shift. I’m not saying that I, all of a sudden, feel 100% better and I can go on with my day with high self-confidence, ready to take on the world, but it helps me remember that everything is not about weight. Instead of focusing on my weight, it’s important to find gratitude for what God allowed this body to do, whether I like what I see in the mirror that day or not.
#2 Accept The Truth That Weight Gain Is Normal
It is normal to gain weight during pregnancy, in fact, if we didn’t I’m sure eyebrows would have been raised. Remembering that weight gain is normal really helps me on those days when I don’t feel my best. The fact is, I was SUPPOSED to gain weight and so were you. A child was growing inside of us… how could we not?
I feel like, overall, most of us expect to gain “some” weight during pregnancy, but also accepting the fact that the weight is not supposed to magically fall off is the hard part.
Just like we didn’t gain it overnight, it’s not going to fall off as soon as we have our baby. It is not only important to remember and accept that that weight gain is normal, but it is also important to understand that the weight you gained, is the weight YOU gained and it is OKAY! Comparing our weight to how much “Susie” on the mommy app gained or lost is one of the biggest mistakes that we can make. Realizing that every woman is different and everyone will gain and lose weight at a different rate is so dang important.
Believe me, I know that this is hard in the world that we live in. A world that tells us that as soon as we have our baby one of the first goals that we should have is to get back to our pre-pregnancy weight, or even better, a lower weight than where we started. In fact, weight loss is praised typically. We really do live in a messed-up world, filled with people who try to give us ridiculous priorities.
Focusing on weight only lowers our self-confidence, in a time that should be happy and full of joy! It is important to realize that weight gain is normal, and then use energy to focus on what really matters… the beautiful baby that you have at home.
#3 Challenge The Negative Thoughts
I have to make it a point not to accept negative thoughts as fact. On days where the body that I see in the mirror is not the body that I want, I have to think deeply and actually question my thought process. I have to mentally unpack why I’m feeling bad about myself. I ask myself questions like “Why am I feeling like this right now?” “Are the thoughts that I’m feeling right now truly reality?”
On the day, that I was telling you about earlier, when I was on the facetime call with my husband and thinking super negative thoughts, I had to question where those thoughts were coming from.
For me, they came from years of diet culture telling me that I wasn’t good enough in the plus-size body that I have. I have repeatedly been fed messages that tell me that something is wrong with me for not losing weight and getting down to an “acceptable” size. Add in gaining weight, during pregnancy, and that can be a recipe for a boatload of negative thoughts. The truth is those thoughts are not, nor will they ever be, based on anything real.
Typically our thoughts are not our own when it comes to self-image. They are influenced by lies that were told to us that we accepted as truth. At some point, that has to change and we must start challenging our negative thoughts no matter how hard it is.
I am doing work to challenge negative thoughts and reframe my mind, especially after pregnancy. I am learning to accept that I am good enough at whatever size I am at currently and so are you.
#4 Make It A point To Do Things That Actually Make You Feel Good
I know this is hard, especially with a little baby a home, but I have found that it is so important to do the things that make me feel good about myself.
For me on days when I tend to feel the worse, are days when I don’t feel put together. By put together I DO NOT mean, dressed to a T, full face of make-up, and hair that looks like I just left the salon. Simple things make me feel good about myself. Things like putting my hair in a neat ponytail, putting on some cute earrings, putting on an outfit that fits my current body well, and putting on a little makeup.
What are those things for you?
If you don’t know, just stop, slow down, and ask yourself the question, “When do I physically feel my best?” I think it would be really helpful to think about that question and go from there.
#5 Make Sure Your Clothes Actually Fit
A goal of mine is to always make sure that I am wearing clothes that fit me and the body that I have RIGHT NOW. Yes, it may change, but the truth is it may take a while, or it may not change at all. Accepting where I am, and dressing myself accordingly, makes a huge difference. I feel so much better in clothes that truly fit me.
Something that I did, and encourage you to do, is to resist the urge to immediately start putting on your pre-pregnancy clothes. The reality is they may not fit. For me, I’m pretty sure that they don’t. When my clothes are tight and hugging me, in all the wrong places, I feel the most self-conscious about my body. When I wear clothes that fit, not only do I feel more comfortable, but I feel more confident too.
#6 Remember That Your Worth Is Not Determined By How Much You Weigh Or Your Jean Size
As much as diet culture will try to make us believe, the truth is that our worth is not, nor should it ever be, determined by how much we weigh or our jean size. What sucks about the world that we live in is thinness is valued. Women are told that we should lose weight to be valued, to be beautiful, and to be accepted. This is especially true postpartum and it’s even more true if you happen to be plus size.
What I’ve realized is this is just not true. Those are OPINIONS of people. Simply opinions! As women, we are so much more than our size. I don’t remember where, but I heard once, something along the lines of, your weight is the least interesting thing about you. I truly believe that statement.
Weight and jean size mean nothing. They are just that… weight and jean size. They mean nothing as it relates to who we are. No matter what people try to tell me, I truly believe that my worth will never be tied to my size.
When I remember this truth, I am released from the pressure to wear a certain size or be a certain weight. I think you can be too.
Going against the norm and deciding not to diet is hard, especially after having a baby. Add having times of feeling unhappy with your body and that makes a difficult decision even harder. My hope is that some of the things that help me through my negative self-image days will help you too. I pray that they will allow you to discover new ways to move forward without dwelling on negative thoughts of insecurity.
I would love to know… did you find this post to be helpful? If so, which tip do you think will help you the most?