I’ve been thinking about love. Specifically self-love and just how hard it is at times as a new mother.
Thanks to pressures from society, woman often value worth as it relates to their size and weight. Then add it the gained pregnancy weight and the slow rate that it comes off.
When you think of a “mom bod,” chances are it’s a soft, squishy belly, leaking breasts, messy bun hair, and bags under the eyes from lack of sleep.
With so many changes including the physical that comes along with being a new mother and it’s easy to feel self-conscious. And the more you loose self-esteem, the more you start to stop loving yourself.
The relationship you have with yourself is extremely important—even more now that you are a role model for your children. And this relationship should be the healthiest.
So when it comes to women’s body image and weight loss, it’s time to lose the extra mental baggage. It’s time to break up.
Just think of how lighter you would feel if you didn’t lug around all that guilt, anxiety, and the many related emotions related to how you look, what you eat, how much you workout.
Hving a bad body image won’t make you lose the “baby weight.” Having poor self-esteem means a higher risk of depression and anxiety, which means a higher risk of poor eating habits and less motivation to workout. That means no weight loss, potential weight gain, and more depression. It’s an endless, vicious cycle.
Self-love starts with taking care of yourself. This means body, mind, and spirit. Use the following tips as stepping stones towards a positive body image to increase self-love while you get started on a health and wellness journey post-baby.
How do you lose the unwanted baby weight? You need to burn more calories than you consume to burn fat. It’s that simple. However, breastfeeding moms need more calories. Talk to a nutritionist to make sure you know what your daily recommended calories are.
While we tend to focus on eating healthier for the baby when pregnant, we also tend to give in to pregnancy cravings. And taste buds can change during pregnancy. When I was pregnant with my daughter I developed a serious sweet tooth that I still have. It’s all about making healthier choices and find ways to put a more nutritious spin on favorite comfort foods.
Now that you are a mom it’s time to eat right for yourself. Look at food as fuel to be able to care for your family.
Here are some nutrition tips to you feel good inside:
- Drink lots of water!
Start the day off with a glass and end the day with a glass. Hydrate throughout the day. Staying hydrated is also very important for milk production!
2. Meal Prep
You probably have heard this a million times, but knowing what you are eating is half the battle. Before the baby arrives make some soup or other meals that can be frozen and cooked in the crock pot or oven.
Prepare lunches for the week and even fruit and vegetable snacks. This will come in handy once you have a toddler! It sounds simple, but it’s so much easier to reach for a fruit salad or sliced apples with peanut butter if it is already there waiting for you.
3. Have dinner as a family
Babies eat a lot. And this is the truth once they become toddlers. You will feel like you are always serving up food so get in the routine now to sit down and have meals as a family. This is also teach the little one the importance of healthy eating and trying new foods. This will come in handy when they reach the picky toddler phase.
- Try cauliflower pizza or Mac and cheese.
- Add veggies to fruit smoothies.
- Use celery or raw peppers with veggie dip instead of chips.
Tips to approaching weight loss as a new mother:
You are tired and feel not your best, so the last thing you want to do is exercise. But you will not regret making it a priority and part of your new routine.
- Take Baby Steps With Exercise
It’s important to first be medically cleared to exercise by your doctor post-delivery. But once you are it’s a good idea to start slowly and gradually increase the duration of your workouts.
Start by going for 10-minute walks outside to get some fresh air. After two weeks, walk for 5-minutes then add in a minute of faster pace walking followed by 2-minutes back to that slow pace. For the month try to add 3-5 minutes to your walks.
2. Don’t be afraid to strength train.
Strength training is also a great way to start getting back in shape. And you can do this without any equipment like dumbbells to get started. Start with 5-minutes a day, alternating muscle groups by days. For example, arms on Monday, legs on Tuesday, core on Wednesday, a rest day, and Friday whole body.
Then increase the time to 10-minutes after two weeks. The next progression would be to add in light weights.
- Bicep curl (no weight or add weights)
- Shoulder press (no weight or add weights)
- Lateral raise (no weight or add weights)
- Front raise (no weight or add weights)
- Tricep kickbacks (make sure to squeeze the shoulder blades)
- Calf raise
- Wall sit
- Side leg raise
- Fire Hydrants
- Knee to elbow (this is a standing exercise so no need to lay on your back!)
- Torso twists (Standing!)
- Bird dog (also great for balance and stability!)
- Side bend (add dumbbells to progress)
- Mountain Climbers
- Side Bridge
- Jumping Jacks
- Try To Sleep
The key word here is try because we all know that moms barely do. Remember that sleep is vital for muscle recovery. It also is important for overall health and well-being.
The tip here is to nap when naps if you can.
Learning self-love when taking on the new role of motherhood can take time. Mental health is so important as new mothers as you could be at risk for postpartum depression. Make sure you voice any concerns or symptoms with medical professionals. There is nothing to be shamed about and having both a healthy body and mind are important in order to be able to care for you baby.
- Stop Focusing On “Flaws” And Embrace Curves
Say Bye, Bye to belly insecurities. You just had a baby so stop comparing yourself to others or how your body was before the baby. Chances are it has changed and the wider hips or bigger breasts. But that body of yours created life and has done amazing things. Be kind to it because it’s yours and the only one you have. “Flaws” like stretch marks are reminders that you are so strong and capable of so much.
My wise running coach once told me it takes 9 months to have a baby and think of all the body changes, so it’s going to take at least 9 months to start to feel like you are in the same, old skin again. Learn to be patient and let yourself heal. Your baby is never going to look at pictures of you and think anything other than how beautiful you are
2. Journal To Reflect And Release Stress
Writing your thoughts out does wonder for self-image, anxiety, and depression. Get those negative thoughts out of your head, on paper, and burn them if necessary!
On a serious note, sometimes we just need to acknowledge we are struggling and release these thoughts so they aren’t bottled up. Journaling is great for self-discovery and growth.
3. Find Support Groups
Find groups, communities, and other women who are new moms or going through similar experiences or struggles. It’s so important to have a support system, and to feel like you aren’t in this new world alone. Facebook is a great resource to connect with local mom groups.
- Develop A Strong Relationship With Self
The role of self is important when looking at the psychology of physical activity as it relates to motivation and behavior. According to research from Sabiston et al., 2007), when you think about how your significant other or potential suitors think about you, this can lead to self-conscious emotions like shame, guilt, and anxiety “and motivated states that can lead one to engage in or avoid behaviors such as physical activity.”
Now add in post-baby body insecurities and hormones and you might feel less than desirable to your significant other.
If you think of yourself as being unfit or overweight and how society values thin as more attractive, this can lead to harmful behaviors like extreme dieting or exercising.
So start working on bettering your relationship with yourself by talking and treating yourself well so that you can be the best version of yourself for yourself, thus your partner and your baby.
It’s time to finally break up with all that negative self-talk that oftentimes comes along with motherhood, and start practicing self-love. And who knows, you might just find a newfound love for exercise in the process.