Tag Archives: body image

Recommitting to MySelf (Acceptance): For Better of Worse

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Last week, I had an upper respiratory infection.  After struggling with sinus pain and cough for about five days, I decided to go to my doctor.

The medical assistant, who I never particularly liked, weighed me in, checked my blood pressure, and pulse. She asked about my symptoms.  

Then, as she was leaving the room, she said, “We are implementing some new things,” she reached into a folder for a pamphlet.  “Here is some information on Body Mass Index.  It’s for patients who are uh, slightly above on their BMI.  It will teach you about portion sizes.”

I was sick and exhausted from coughing, so I didn’t even bother to conceal my angry bitch face.  “Yeah,” I grumbled.  “I’m not taking that.”

“Oh no?” she said and slipped the informative leaflet back into the folder from whence it came.

My doc came in, examined me and prescribed some antibiotics, which is what I was there for in the first place.

I’d not gone there for a lecture on my weight.

This little exchange has stayed with me over the past week.  I’ve wrested with it.

I know that doctors have a responsibility to address obesity.  I know that it is a problem in our country.

I also know I am about 30 pounds overweight.  Possibly 40, depending on which fucking chart you look at.

Additionally, I know that I struggled for the better part of three decades with eating disorders, poor body image, and self loathing as a dancer who was very underweight for most of my life, though I thought I was an orca.

So I know just about all there is to fucking know about fucking “portion sizes,” thank you very much. (And yeah, those were sarcastic air quotes.)

Of course the number on the scale did not tell the whole tale to the medical assistant that day.  Nor did it tell her that I generally try to eat a healthy diet of whole foods.  It also did not tell her that I try to get at least 30 minutes of activity into each day, and that I set goals for myself every week on my Apple Watch to burn calories and keep moving.

The number on a scale tells so very little of the whole story.

Why, then, do we give it so much credence?

Health is so much more than a number. Had I been struggling with other issues related to my weight, I might have been more appreciative of this lady’s gesture. Anyway, last I read, doctors weren’t even favoring the BMI any longer.

Regardless, the situation kind of threw me into a tail spin of anxiety and concern.

I kept coming back to the number on the scale and bending it into weird equations of how much I weighed in college at the height of my dance career and anorexia + how much I weighed when I met my husband and finally stopped vomitting after every meal + my wedding weight + the weight I’d gained on my honeymoon + my pregnancy pounds – weight lost breastfeeding + weight gained breastfeeding + sedentary job weight = fatty fatty fat fat.

It’s amazing how casually mean we can be to ourselves, isn’t it?

Why the fuck is that, anyway?  Why can’t we just shut up and be nice?

I always find myself circling back to the Pema Chodron quote about how “some of the most difficult times we have are the times we give ourselves.”

Truth!

I can go for weeks on end thinking that I look pretty smoking hot, or at least halfway decent, or not really giving a tiny rat’s pooper about how I look. But that whisper of self recrimination is always at my ear. It’s a strenuous effort to tune it out.

My first reaction to that med ass (yes, I’ve taken to calling her the med ass. . .) was, Who the hell does she think she is?  I am glorious and fantastic and she can suck it!  But as my defenses started to dissolve, I caught myself slipping back into those old cycles of wondering if I will ever be good enough.

It’s an insane, inverse equation in which the higher the number on the scale goes, the lower my self esteem and pride drop.

The whisper grew louder one morning when I was in the shower soaping up my flabby stomach–  the stomach under which I grew two perfect humans, BTW.

My first impulse was to be defensive, like I had felt toward the med ass.  I wanted to tell the whisper to go screw.

But I tried to talk back to that negative side of myself with respect and patience.  I tried to let it know it was okay.  Somedays we don’t feel so great about ourselves.  Somedays we weigh a little more, or forget a lot more things, or lose our patience and lash out at someone we love.  No one is perfect.  That’s just how it is.

I tried to talk to the voice with as much compassion as I would talk to a dear friend, or a client, or one of my own children.

Self acceptance isn’t a state you get to and then are all set.  It is a constant process of reflection and mindfulness and good humor.  It is kind of like a marriage in that you are frequently needing to remind yourself what you actually enjoy about yourself and recommit to YOU even when you are feeling crappy and plump.

It also means accepting the parts of ourselves that put us down and make us feel less than.

We need to love, respect, and appreciate ourselves – our WHOLE selves – regardless of numerals.

For me, this looks like stretching, walking, eating lots of leafy greens and drinking about 80 ounces of water a day.  I don’t count calories.  I don’t have the energy to diet fastidiously anymore.  I eat pizza once a week, and I occasionally enjoy cookies, Twizzlers, or chips.  If everyone at the office is eating cake, but I don’t really want it, I check in with my body and make a mindful choice about eating or not eating it.

At the end of the day, I guess I have to say thank you to the medical assistant for giving this opportunity to recommit to self acceptance.  Although I might still take a moment to write a letter to the head of the practice to suggest a bit of sensitivity training regarding how they go about offering their helpful information.

What are your favorite ways to accept and appreciate yourself?  Have you struggled with body image issues?  Please share!  I love to hear from you in the comments below!  xoxo.  

Trying, Trying, Trying To #BeReal

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“That I would be good, even if I gained ten pounds.”  —  Alanis Morrissette.

Last night I read a post on Sister Wives Speak that could not have been more timely.

It was about a movement they are trying to start where women post real photos of themselves, unedited, unashamed, to celebrate their own personal beauty.

Whether it is with make up, with natural lighting, with fancy clothes, or in sweats.  Whether it is after the gym, or while feeling sad, or when just sitting around channel surfing.  We have been challenged to #BeReal.

At first I thought, I could NEVER do that!

Firstly because I do not post personal photos of myself or my family on my blog or Twitter (PS, you can find me @Momasteblog  just saying’).

Second, I did not consider posting a “real” photo of myself because I am in, shall we say, a state of lacking confidence at the moment. I’ve gained about 8-10 pounds this summer.

I’m not sure if I am bloated from the heat, if it is the gelato, stress creating belly fat, or my aging metabolism slowing down.  Whatever it is, it sure is making it hard for me to feel good and loving towards myself.  And feeling icky about myself makes me feel like a failure at self acceptance.  And that sense of failure makes me want to go hide and eat more gelato.

Round and round we go.

So, fuck all that. Challenge accepted.

This morning I put on a dress in which I felt beautiful last summer, minus 8-10 pounds. I adore the color and it is super cool and comfortable, but I’ve not been wearing it this summer because it makes me feel exposed and chubby.

I stood in front of my closet, waffling (mmmmmm….  waffles……) about putting it on.

Then I stood in front of the mirror and told myself I would wear this dress and fucking rock the shit out of it.

So here it is.

Here is me being #BeReal.

  
And YES, those are snotty nose, tongue, finger streaks from my precious daughter on the mirror, who for some reason loves to paint on my full length mirror in her spit.  Could I have wiped them off for you, sure.  But would that have been as “real”?  (Hah!  I’ll take any excuse to get out of cleaning first thing in the morning! Plus they hide my cellulite a little…)

I considered the photo and thought, I should have posed differently or I should have stood at a different angle.  But I did not retake the photo.  It wasn’t even that hard to leave it at the first shot, but it felt amazing!

Off I drove to work feeling like a badass, in the best way you can possibly feel like a badass. Liberated!  Confident!  Rebellious!

I was reminded of the health and strength of my body.  I reminded myself that my body has grown two amazing children from scratch, nourished them of my own miraculous DNA.  My body birthed a nine and a half pound baby in three pushes.  My body is the place where my children feel safest, comforted, content.  They haven’t a clue that I am 8-10 pounds heavier this summer.

It was a pretty cool exercise to #BeReal because it totally shifted my focus from feeling hyper-aware of that 8-10 pounds, to being gently aware of what a Righteous Babe I still am.  And at the end of the day, if I am super focused on a number on a scale, it does not lead to overall health and well-being.

What are your thoughts on the movement?  What do you look like when you are real? 

As an aside, you should check out the Sister Wives (not to be confused with the train wreck poly fam on the TLC reality show). These ladies (and sometimes a gentleman or two) have created an amazing site geared towards helping people process and accept the “Big Uglies” in their lives.  They also were gracious enough to publish a post I produced in January, in which I told for the first time the most difficult story of my life.

I Feel Gross and Feeling Gross Feels Sad

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Let me preface this post by saying I have not slept well the past week, mostly due to the heat.

And birds.  OMFG.  Do people actually enjoy their cacophony?  Because I do not.  Especially not at four or five in the freaking morning.

Anyhoo.  I feel gross.

I wake puffy and bloated from baking in a witch’s oven all night long.  My skin is a shit show of heat rash and acne.  I can’t seem to find any make up that makes me not look old, creased, and fluffy.  Everything is either too white or too orange on my skin.

Normally I present an aura of “I feel great about myself and I am practicing acceptance for who, what, and where I am in the world.”

Most of the time it works, in a sort of “fake it till ya’ make it” kind of way.

Look.  I’m a decent-looking woman (who used to be beautiful but didn’t know it) and I’ve learned to love myself.  So, that’s cool.  I also realize I am not interested in overhauling my diet or starting a new exercise routine.  So, I figure, it is easier (and more genuine) to be happy with what I have than to complain about it without desire to make an actual change.

Because I have a daughter, I think it is super important to project self-love and esteem about myself.  She has no clue that I’m fat or that my skin is shitty, which is cool, and I don’t want her to start worrying about her own appearance.  I started feeling ashamed about my body as a four-year-old ballerina and it was confusing and icky.  Emily still feels awesome about herself, and I figure if I can implant that self esteem early on, she will be the better for it.

As for my son, I want him to see beauty as something all-inclusive and holistic.  I want him to understand that beauty is so much more than shiny lip gloss, tight buns, and perky boobs.  I believe staying positive about myself is important for Jack to see, as well as Emily.

Fortunately for me, my husband does not seem drawn to women who have the qualities of taking excessive care of themselves.  Case in point:  I came trundling out of the shower and he asked me what was wrong.  I rattled off my list of complaints about my stomach, my skin, and the heat.  He replied by grabbing my ass and asking if I was trying to turn him on.  Because it was working.

And, no.  He was not being ironic.

Bless his heart.

Where I work, a group of co-workers are obsessed with their weight, fitness, and diet.  Most of the time, I either ignore it, or feel good for them that they are doing stuff that feels good for themselves.  Chatter about wheat bellies or crossfit don’t usually phase me.

But lately, I’ve felt vulnerable about it.

Some of the younger women started taking diet pills to shed that extra whatever, and it bummed me out.  I felt sad about women not feeling more confident and happy in their own skin.

Then I started feeling unhappy in my own skin.

I wrote a post a few years ago about my stretch marks which ended up getting published over at the former Offbeat Families.  The post was about my journey towards self-acceptance and how I was going to stop obsessing about my weight.  A woman commented on the post, something along the lines of, “I think all this self-acceptance stuff is an excuse women use to let themselves go and to get out of exercise or grooming.”

Ok.  I see her point.  Our culture is pretty unhealthy.  The state I live in made number one for obesity, which is terrifying since I live in the smallest state in the country.

But self-acceptance has not been an excuse for me to “let myself go”.  I don’t think I have done that.  My wallet would also argue I have not let myself go based on the cash I put towards makeup and beauty products.

IMG_8005And while we are on the subject, does wearing makeup and dying my hair make me self-rejecting?  Because if that is the case, then I feel extra gross and fraudulent about myself.

I’ve struggled with my weight and body image for my entire life.  For my teens and twenties, I was an underweight dancer who thought she was fat.  I restricted food, practiced vegetarianism, and would only eat a small selection of foods I considered “allowed.”

In my late 20’s I went through a phase of exercising to the point of passing out.  I’d go to the gym and take three aerobic classes a day, or stay in the weight room until it closed at night.

When I met my husband, got married, had children and my body changed.  I went from fit and firm to curvy and soft.  I realized I needed to knock that eating disorder shit off if I wanted to have a stable relationship with another human besides myself.  I was happy in my relationship and life, and it helped me to feel more happy about myself.

Then I got pregnant and had children.  I went through a series of harsh emotions towards my body after having my first baby.  I was totally disgusted with myself, and frustrated I couldn’t lose the weight quickly enough.

Four years later, the miraculous birth of my nine and a half pound daughter in three pushes with zero pain relief altered my perception of my body.  My perception shifted from being annoyed with my extra curves, saggy boobs, and stretch marks, to feeling a sense of awe about what precisely my body had accomplished with both of my children, in terms of growing, birthing, and nurturing them with my breast milk.

I would find myself gently stroking my silver stretch marks in the dark, praying they would never fade.

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At this point, I am 30 pounds overweight.  I swear at least a third of that weight is postpartum boobage.  I eat healthily and drink tons of water.  I also love pizza and wine.  My blood pressure is low and I’ve never had a problem with cholesterol.  I don’t formally exercise like I used to, but I stay active, stretch daily, and walk as much as possible.  Since I am healthy, my doctor doesn’t hassle me about losing weight.

I’ve accepted this is my body.

Or so I think until I start to feel insecure and creeped out by people publicly and loudly dieting and weighing in all around me.  Since I am a heavier woman, I don’t think anyone would stop to think it would bother me in the slightest as someone recovered from years of disordered eating.

It’s not that I worry about going back to restricting, purging, or addictive exercise.  Frankly, I just do not have the energy to live like that anymore.  Plus, when I restrict I get really bitchy and bitchiness is not conducive to being an effective mother, wife, or social worker.

I also know if I did lose that 30 pounds, it wouldn’t make me “happy”.

I know this for a fact, because I have been skinny and being skinny did not make me happy.  It might feel nice to slip into a smaller size pair of pants, but feeling “nice” does not equal happiness, because it is a sensation balanced on the inner statement that “I am only good and I only feel good if I am thin.”  There can be no real happiness in that statement for me.  Maybe there is for you, but there is not for me.  I know because I’ve been there.  There was no satisfaction in it.  I’d never been so lonely or distraught.

In a reaction to all the weight loss frenzy at work, I decided not to weigh myself and see how it felt.  There is something reassuring to me about getting on the scale and seeing that my weight hasn’t changed.  But it can become obsessive.  I’ve gone though phases where I weigh myself ten or more times per day.  Before morning coffee.  After I pee.  After I shower. Before I poop.  After I get dressed.  It is exhausting, but most of the time these days, in my working-mommy-life I have no time for such narcissism.

Sometimes I get on the scale and if my weight has dropped a pound or two, I feel awesome all day.  So, I guess I haven’t come as far on that self acceptance shit as I’d like to think, if my mood and sense of self worth is still governed by numbers on a scale.

During the days I didn’t weigh myself, I felt fine.  I ate mindfully and no different than usual (except for those peanut m&m’s demanded by PMS).  Then I broke down and hopped on the scale.  I’d been feeling so fancy free, I thought for sure I’d lost some pounds.

But I didn’t.

I was five pounds heavier.

Suddenly, my mood crashed.  I looked in the mirror and called myself some awful names.

So, here we are.  I feel gross.  And I feel sad that I feel gross because it makes me feel fraudulent that I haven’t actually completed that goal of self-acceptance.

All this self-indulgent and neurotic rambling basically boils down to this:  it is a struggle.  Loving myself is a struggle.  Like anything else.  It is ongoing.  Sometimes it is genuine and strong, and sometimes it is fake and angry.  I would argue it is as arduous an undertaking as any crossfit session.

IMG_8006There’s a pitcher of minted lemon water in the fridge with my name on it.  And I bought some extra greens and beets at the market–  not because if I only eat lettuce I will lose that pesky five pounds, but because drinking naturally infused water and eating organic greens feels like a loving thing to do for myself.  I also bought goat cheese.  And chips.  Because that felt loving too.

I gave myself a mini-facial,went for a walk, and went to bed a bit early, so at least while I’m sitting with feeling gross and sad, I will maybe feel a little fresher and better rested.

It’s all a work in progress.

Maybe just because I have a day of feeling gross, it doesn’t mean all the progress I’ve made is lost. . .  What do you think?  Do you ever have gross days?  What do you do to show love for yourself?  

When Words Fail Me– Happy Birthday, Daughter

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The day Emily was born was without a doubt the best day of my life, and the day I would chose to relive, if given a chance.

After an uncomfortable pregnancy, birthing her was the most invigorating experience, and the closest I have ever felt to euphoria.  I had gone into the hospital to be induced, but Emily surprised us all by deciding to make her grand entrance before the induction even started!

She arrived in a gush of fluid, after 45 minutes of excruciating labor, and three pushes.

I’ll never forget the moment she was placed in my arms. It was such a surprise she was out of me, and I was looking at her loveliness.  She was so placid, peeking around with huge, round eyes.  She had a face as luminous as the moon, but she was pink as a little piggy.

That was my first impression of my daughter, as I nuzzled her warm body against my chest-she was a delightful, pink piglet.

 

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Because her birth was so fast, there had been no time for any pain medication, let alone an epidural. The rush of endorphins, adrenaline, and oxytocin left me feeling like I summited Mount Everest and made it safely back to base camp.

This hormonal high was also a surprise to me.  My induction with my son had been protracted and so painful and I’d sworn I would never be induced again.  However the epidural I had while birthing him allowed for a peaceful and lovely birth.  I’d fully expected that an epidural was in my birth plan with Emily due to the fact I was being induced again (something I would never wish on my worst enemy, but opted for in this case for a variety of reasons).

It was an amazing gift that she came so fast, and with no need for pain meds.  Don’t get me wrong; had I labored for longer, I am sure I would have begged for medication.  Contractions are no joke, especially during transition when they are so fast and hard.  I tip my cap to women who labor for hours and hours al naturale.  The fact that my body allowed me to have this experience is one of the greatest of my life.  My head was completely clear after Emily’s birth.  I was able to get right up and walk around, bathe, and tend to Emily.  I also believe that not having pain meds or epidural helped me initiate breastfeeding more successfully, and kept the postpartum depression at bay.  So, while it is true there is no official “award” for having a natural birth, there was definitely a huge reward in it for me, and one I never expected.

Another surprise was Emily’s healthy weight of nine and a half pounds.  I had thought the ease of her birth meant she was a tiny peanut, so I was shocked when she weighed in as such a little pork chop.  I always tell women who are afraid of birthing, or afraid they have been “cursed with a big  baby,” that giving birth to a larger than “average” baby in no sweat.    Birth is what our bodies are meant for, and Emily’s birth gave me a whole new admiration for and confidence in my own body.  

Emily is turning three.  At 5:58 in the morning, she will have completed yet another cosmic revolution around the sun.

We have spent over a thousand days and nights together now, yet she continues to surprise me as much as she did on that day she was born.  I look at her, awed by her fierce determination, vivid spirit, and wild humor.  I watch the light get tangled up in her amber curls and words fail me.

Words for how much I love my children have not yet been invented.  I could say it over and over again, and it still would not accurately capture what it really is.  So, for now, just happy birthday to my little girl.  My daughter.

How’s that for a sentence?

Life gave me a daughter.  And she is turning three.

Where Do Chubby Chicks Find Sexy Lingerie For Valentine’s Day?

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It crossed my mind to buy something flirty and frisky for a Valentine’s Night encounter with my hubs.  I have not bought lingerie in nearly a decade, although I used to be a lingerie addict.  I loved silk, lace, and satin, had dozens of nighties, garter belts, and stockings. 

Since having children, my body has, uh, changed, as has my attitude about my body.  At five foot ten, I’ve always been a tall woman, but since bearing and birthing two gorgeous babies, my hips have widened, and my breasts are a full H-cup.  I have a belly complete with stretch marks, a generous bum, and curvy thighs. 

While I eat mindfully and try to stay active, I’m not a diet or exercise finatic, and retain about 30 extra pounds.  But in general, I am happy with the way I look (as is my husband), and am not ashamed to say I am a healthy size 12-14.   Over the past year, I lost and kept off 20 pounds and fit back into the clothes from prior to my last pregnancy.  I’ve made peace with the fact I will probably not ever fit back into clothes from prior to my marriage or first pregnancy. 

Lately, I’ve been taking a little more care with my appearance, and it makes me feel good.  I’ve been wearing more dresses and less yoga pants.  Something about Valentine’s Day made me want to put the flannel pj’s aside for a night and reconnect with my inner vixen.   

I used to be a frequent flyer at Victoria’s Secret, so it seemed the logical first choice to look for something slinky. 

Wrong. 

Apparently they do not make bras any bigger than a 36 D.  Huh, and I thought their whole thing was about big boobs.  Not quite. 

As I perused the shop, I realized all of the models featured in their displays were boney and gaunt.  When a salesgirl asked, in what seemed to be a dubious voice, if she could help me, I told her what I was looking for.  I told her I didn’t think I would be able to get my chest into any of the garments with fitted bodices because I have actual big breasts. 

She pointed out something in black and white spots that looked like a dalmation.  No thank you

Again with that dubious tone in her voice, she asked what size I was.  Assessing the less-than-generous cut of their lingerie, I told her I would probably need an XL.  She let me know their stuff is not made in XL. 

“But maybe this would fit,” she said, holding up a neon yellow nightie with a black bow.  It cost $50.  I let her know that garment was just.  not.  pretty.  And I left the shop. 

I paced the mall, wondering where a busty babe would find something cute.  I looked through a couple department stores to no avail.  About to give up, I noticed one of the plus-size shops had a wall of lingerie along the back.  I sidled in to inspect things.  A clerk greeted me with a smile, let me know there was a sale going on, and offered me a chocolate.  She helped me paw through a few rounders of lacey things, ran to the back to get alternate sizes, and complimented my final choice.  Xanadu! 

I ended up spending less than $30 on a very pretty, lacey pink and black nightie with matching panties. 

Sometimes I just don’t get this world we are living in, or the standards held for women.  We come in all shapes and sizes, and as long as we are healthy and happy, we should celebrate our diversity.  I’m thankful for this experience, because it made something clear to me: 

I have come a long way baby on my journey towards self-acceptance.  There was a time when not fitting into VS would have made me despondent and filled me with shame and self-loathing.  But after only mild frustration, I felt matter-of-fact peace with my venture and its results.  I know this peace is directly linked with the mindfulness practice I have been trying to cultivate over the past couple years. 

Kind of shows me anything is possible.  Happy Valentine’s to me!

What are you wearing this Valentine’s Day? 

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You Are Okay

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“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.  Yet it’s never too late or too early to practice loving-kindness.”  Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart. 

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You look in the mirror, hating on your puffy eyes and the two deep lines in between your brows.  You look in the mirror, thinking your lips are thinning, but your cheeks look fat.  You look in the mirror, counting gray hairs, extra pounds, stretch marks.  You look in the mirror and step on the scale, weighing your disappointment in yourself.

Stop.

You are okay.

You are wonderful.

Your body is a miracle.

Your hips will never fit back into a single-digit-size pair of pants because your pelvis has been stretched to accomodate the new life you brought into this world.

Your thighs and bum carry an extra store of fat, put on to accomodate your little one’s need to be nourished at your breasts.

The corners of your eyes have become creased from hours of smiling down on your children, teaching them the world is friendly and safe.

The commercials are correct, motherhood changes everything.  One of the things that changes is your body, and likely your attitude towards it.  But consider the miracle your body performed.

Your body did what it was created to do.

You are a mom.

You do not need to compare yourself to the mom who proudly sported a bikini after having twins.  Maybe she was blessed with different genetics than you, and that is nice for her.  You do not need to hate on her, but more importantly, you do not need to put yourself down for not being her.

Your body accomplished what it was meant for in a pristine and gracious manner, to be compared with no one else.

It is okay for you to enjoy cake on birthdays, burgers off the grill in the summer, pizza on Fridays, and mashed potatoes with butter on winter holidays.  It is okay for you to show your children moderation is a wonderful thing.  Show them we can treat ourselves here and there without feeling ashamed, fat, or ugly.

Your children will be happier and healthier if they learn to love their bodies, and all the wonderful, physical activities their bodies perform- jumping, running, climbing, dancing, swimming, kicking, twirling- to keep them fit and strong.  Your children will learn to love their bodies if you love yours.

Your children will be happier and healthier if they grow up not thinking the “F word” is “fat”.

Your children love your body.  It is their home.  They will not believe the place from which they seek comfort and love is anything less than beautiful, unless you convince them otherwise.  Were you a size 0 model on the cover of a magazine the gazes you attracted would not be more adoring than eyes of your children.

Keep yourself healthy and strong for them, but also for yourself.  Make wise choices about how you use your body, and what you put into your body.  But know, also, that your sum total is so much more than a number on a scale.

Your stomach jiggles when you run, and is tie-dyed with bleached tiger stripes of motherhood.  These are talismans to be worn with pride and confidence, not to be covered with shame or self-loathing.

Your breasts are big and floppy, lumpy and bumpy because they produced the most amazing food on the planet.  Your breasts have done what they were meant for, and they have provided nourishment, comfort, and bliss for your babies.  Your bra size is bigger because of this evolutionary miracle, not because you didn’t log enough hours at the gym.

And speaking of the gym.  It is okay for you to miss workouts to stay home and snuggle with your children.  It is okay for you to take them for long nature-walks by the bay or in the woods instead of running in smelly isolation with your ear buds in at the gym.  But if you do feel like working out at the gym, that is okay too, and you do not need to feel guilty for leaving your children for an hour to take care of yourself.

Tend to yourself.

Be healthy.  Be reasonable.

You are beautiful.

You are allowed to love yourself as unconditionally as you love your children.

You are not a bad person for calling yourself names in the past.  It is never too late to turn to loving-kindness.  You do not need to be your own worst enemy when you look in the mirror.  Instead, consider the art you created.

Loving others begins with loving ourselves.  How much better would the world be if we could support and cherish ourselves, rather than constantly putting down or insulting?  How much would kindness be increased if we could bring ourselves to view the changes motherhood creates in our physical beings as pure and natural, not abhorrent or aberrant?

Try it now.

Love yourself.

You are okay.

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Stretch Marks

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One of my all-time favorite posts that I’ve written for this blog was published today at Offbeat Families.  I really like their site, which is geared towards non-traditional paths in life as parents, partners, and people.  Check it!

You can read my post here.

They changed the title of my post, which was initially In Celebration of my Tie-Dyed Stomach.  Other than that, it does not look like they edited too much of it, which is cool, because like I said, I really liked that post.  It is another post about self-acceptance, particularly about my stretch marks from pregnancy.

My pregnancy with Emily was really uncomfortable.  Not horrible, just achey and exhausting.  I remember walking around in my third trimester with my forearm hooked under my belly, because it was so big it felt like it would just fall to the floor if I let go!  It was impossible to imagine she could get any bigger in there, that my body could stretch to accommodate another ounce.  And yet, it did.

When I fell pregnant with Em, I was so enamored with Jack that it was hard to fathom my heart would stretch enough to hold love enough for two babies.  And yet it did.

After each maternity leave, it felt utterly unconscionable that my life would make sense as a working mom, that the time of each day could expand enough to get everything done.  And yet, somehow at the end of each day, we are all okay.

We all have stretch marks of one kind or another- whether physical, emotional, or psychic.  It may not be sheik, but I feel infinitely blessed to have a visual representation on my stomach of the progression of physically becoming a mother.  We women have to practically stretch ourselves to the point of no return when we bear a child, and this says nothing of the transformation we endure mentally and spiritually.

Motherhood has changed me.  It has made me better for this world, but not without mammoth effort on my part.  Mindfulness has been my saving grace.  Without it, I think I would have gone totally mad.

I want to take a sec to thank Offbeat Families, and everyone who stops in here at Momasteblog.  Thank you, especially if you take the time to comment, like, or share.  It means so much to me and makes my day.  I truly am very, very grateful that I have found a little niche blogging.  It is like yoga for my mind and soul.

Namaste.

Momaste.

And big love to you all.