What should a mom look like?
The idea of what a mom-bod should look like is an important one because it not only shapes your perception of others, it shapes your perception of you.
Whatever your hangups are with your own body, it’s all normal. It’s all natural. And it’s OK to not feel OK. However, very few of us stop to praise our bodies for what they actually did: grow life. I have learned to love my body, nurture her and care for her. I have reevaluated my goals for my mom-bod, stripped away the should that society put on me and came up with my own ideas of what I want to look like, and more importantly, what I want to feel like. And let me tell you, the process has been so freeing. If you want to dive into this process too, here's the path I took:
1. Re-Evaluate Your Goals
Really dive into what you want from your body. Not just how you want to look, but how you want to feel. Be honest. Strip away anything that comes from familial or societal pressure and be true to your wants. Think about what actually serves you and makes you feel your happiest. If it’s a goal weight, don’t just think about the number on the scale. Also think about what it will take to maintain that goal: calories, exercise, etc. Is that the lifestyle you want? Then go for it! If not, readjust. I’ve included an easy formula in the picture below so you can determine what weight, and what lifestyle, is most comfortable for you. Keep in mind it may take some fine tuning to find your sweet spot. If it's being comfortable in your current weight, then you'll need to work on your mind (see step three). Whatever it is, start to create a clear picture for yourself.
2. Draft New Goals
Now that you know what you want, draft a list of new loving, positive goals. Maybe instead of “Eat only salads” your goal is “Be consistent - no major swings with eating.” Or maybe instead of “Weigh 110” it’s “feel comfortable at my current weight” or “gain three pounds.” Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you are comfortable with and something that makes you happy at the thought of it. Now comes the real work: implementing those goals. I suggest starting with small goals. Personally, I have struggled with wild swings from binge eating to depriving myself. So, my goal became, “Be consistent.” I made my calorie target something with enough wiggle room that I could have at least one daily treat so I would never feel deprived (which would send me into a full on binge) but also light enough that I wouldn’t feel like I’m overindulging every day. Once I had this cushion, I didn’t feel the need to binge. If I wanted something, I knew I could always have it, or at least budget for it the next day, so the stakes were lowered way down. No food is off limits and that takes a lot of pressure off.
*Keep in mind it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit and 66 days, on average, for a new behavior to become automatic. So I would suggest trying to maintain your goal for 66 days so it starts to become part of you and you no longer have to even think about it or try for it.
3. Eliminate Limiting Beliefs
Before you start implementing your new goals, I highly suggest eliminating your limiting beliefs. Otherwise you will be on an uphill battle against your own mind as you try to change. First, write down every limiting belief you have about your body, your habits and your overall health journey. Some of mine included: "I’ll never change," "My family won’t accept me if I look different from them," "Men will attack me if I’m too attractive." I know. It gets dark. Whatever your limiting beliefs are, list them. All of them. Even if there are 300. Next, cross out each one and write a big BS over the top. Now write a second list: what would be possible if I no longer believed these things about my body? List all the possibilities for your new life with freedom from body shaming and poor self image. My new possibilities included: "Being a catalyst for change in my family," "Feeling free," "Feeling safe" and "Feeling happy." Once you’ve finished these lists, you're ready to get to work.
Wherever you are in your journey, just know that your body loves you. And you need to love her back. She’s not your enemy. She’s not a force to fight against. She’s your ally. Your greatest source of strength. And one of your most powerful resources. Love her. Fight for her. Build her up. You can still work to change her, but do it with love. Your body, and your mind, will thank you for it. And as always, please reach out if you need some support! Love you, sister.