There are a lot of voices out there that tell women that they can – and should – always be trying to lose weight. “Forget focusing on how healthy you feel- it’s all about the way you look and the clothes you can fit into”, they tell us.
As if being a woman in an image-obsessed world isn’t hard enough, we are expected to maintain “perfect” bodies after becoming mothers. “I can’t wait to get back to my pre -pregnancy weight! When will this belly pooch go away?!” Isn’t it ironic that our very human existence depends upon women and our desire to have babies, yet our society degrades women’s bodies and tells us that we’re “too fat”. (We don’t have to be told this in explicit words: we learn this from years and years of unrealistic images and videos being shoved in our faces, making us think that the way we look is undesirable.)
Sorry for the rant, I just had a kind of epiphany for myself yesterday that’s making me ponder how I think about myself. I was looking up some information about BMI with my husband, and I ended up reading the website’s information and advice about my weight and height. I was told something I have never been told before (or maybe I just haven’t truly listened until now): “Losing weight will not benefit your health.” Wait, what? I don’t need to keep losing weight? Isn’t it always better to be thinner?” I started to say some things out loud to myself and to my husband which sounded totally irrational and totally sad.
I’m admitting to myself that there are some attitudes about body, self-image, beauty, etc. that I need to reevaluate. And I’m already starting to feel more freedom. These recent realizations got me thinking about how women, including moms, tend to be very critical and harsh to themselves. It’s so important for us moms to take care of ourselves, including our bodies. Where is the balance between prioritizing our health/wellness and becoming obsessed with weight and appearance? In my opinion, here are some ways we can focus on our health- our actual health- rather than just our appearances:
- Decide on an exercise regimen that you enjoy and which fits your lifestyle.
You don’t have to be a marathoner to be a healthy person! Any exercise that gets your heart pumping and your muscles moving is good for your whole body and will help you stay strong and healthy.
- Discover your “why” and make it a mantra
Why do you choose to be healthy? Do you want to live as long as possible? Do you want to be an energetic parent? Do you want to wear your clothes with confidence? I think most of us probably have several “whys” that go into our decision to live a healthy life, but having a mantra for yourself can help you remember why you do what you do. As moms, it can be tempting to forget about ourselves since we have so many things to do and people to take care of! But taking care of your body is worth the effort.
- Don’t starve yourself
Nutrition experts tell us to NOT DIET! I know this has given some people the results they want, but I know for myself that consistent exercise and moderate, healthy eating is what feels the best. The thing about diets is that they can help you lose weight- but is the weight loss then sustainable? A few years ago I went on a “no sugar” diet, and it didn’t really even do anything positive for me. I was stressed (because of the worry that I would “give in” to the “evil sugar”), I was obsessive about it, and it flat-out just wasn’t sustainable or realistic. I’m sorry, I am not about to give up sugar for the rest of my life! So I try to take a more balanced approach with food and let myself enjoy variety. I’m a believer in listening to our bodies to tell us what they need. Guess what? Cookies aren’t evil, so go have one! 😁 Of course, it’s important to practice moderation; too much of one thing can make anyone feel gross.
- Don’t rely on the scale
I know of people who have totally ditched the scale because they get too fixated on their weight number. I finally realized recently that me being 7 pounds lighter than I was 2 years ago is hardly something to stress about! I feel great, I love how my clothes fit, I work out hard, and I feel like I have a much healthier relationship with food than I used to.
- Try new things
Experimenting with different foods and recipes as well as different physical activities can be fun ways for you to prioritize your health. These things also set a good example to your kids, showing that trying new things is fun!
- Remember that your body is AMAZING!
Think about it: You have given your child or children the best of yourself- your body, your life! Give yourself a break and remember that your body does wonderful things.
- Remember that your children will learn how to think of themselves from YOU.
We don’t realize how much kids really do pick up on and understand. If we aren’t kind to ourselves, they won’t learn how to be kind to themselves. To your child, you are the most beautiful and perfect woman on the planet. Don’t crush their image of you by letting society dictate how you feel about your body. Love yourself.
We live in a messed up world that yells at us that we are never good enough. Well, you ARE good enough! Beyond good enough! You are special and beautiful and you don’t need to look a certain way. You have so much more to offer your family and the world than small thighs or a flat tummy. As moms, taking care of our health is not only important for our own lives, but also for the well-being of our families.