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From Skinny to Strong: Body Image After Kids

In my 20’s it was all about being “skinny” for me.  How little could I eat and how much could I work out to be thin and have the body I wanted.  Well, I never got there.  No matter how much weight I lost I never looked like the Victoria Secret model I thought I should.  Years went by without me eating pizza and ice cream.  Then my husband and I decided to have a baby and the Dr. told me I was underweight.  Underweight?!?  He told me I should gain pounds to increase my chances of getting pregnant faster.  Wow, I was just told to gain weight!

From Skinny to Strong: Body Image After Kids

It was awesome.  I ate years of pizza and ice cream in a matter of weeks and those 10 pounds flew on.  I also got pregnant with no problem that month.  But my eating did not stop there.  My new train of thought was, “I’m eating for two!”, and no one could convince we otherwise, even when the scale tipped 80 pounds I had gained at the end of my pregnancy.  I lost the weight quickly and was basically back to my pre-baby weight by the time my son was 1.  But by baby #2 my eating habits had changed and I felt I could live on McDonald’s fries if that was the only thing that I felt like eating.  I gained another 70 pounds.  Obviously.

After my daughter was born I couldn’t lose the weight and I felt like I was living inside someone else’s body.  I would look at myself in the mirror and not recognize the person looking back at me.  I would try to put on pre-baby clothes and swear I could fit into them just to realize I couldn’t zip it or even pull in down over my shoulders.  I didn’t know this new person with stretch marks and cellulite and I refused to admit that it was me.  After changing my eating and exercise, which I talk about in Eat Clean and Find Your Athletic Self in the New Year!, I was still obsessed with losing the weight.  I kept thinking, “If I just lose another 5 pounds I’ll look like I used to!”  But I was so very wrong.  I weigh less now than I did as a senior in high school but I promise you, I DO NOT look like I did when I was when I was 18.

It took me two years after my daughter was born to come to terms with my new body:  the belly I would never lose that looked like cottage cheese, the stretch marks along my hips and thighs, my deflated breasts…  Every year I think twice about wearing a bikini but finally decided, “I may not be skinny but I’m strong.”  I’m stronger than I’ve ever been in my life!  I’m more athletic now than I ever imagined.  I changed my goals from a number on the scale to a number on the clock.  I pushed myself to run harder, go longer, try a new sport.  I have never loved my body more.  I’m proud of all it’s accomplished.  I’m amazed it could bring two amazing, beautiful children into this world.  My body is God’s gift and I will never again look at it as “not good enough”.

Have you changed your perception of your body since having children?

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