Guest Blog by Ashleigh Gelinas, of One Strong Mom Blog
A quick scroll through social media feeds, indicates that just about everyone who has a baby “bounces back” and is in their pre-preggo bikini approximately 6 weeks after popping out their mini. WHAT THE WHAT?! At 6-weeks post partum I was still wearing mesh hospital-grade undies AND full panel maternity pants. I don’t think I actually got the maternity clothes out of rotation until closer to 3 or 4 MONTHS after leaving the hospital. And now, with a 10-month old, I’m pretty sure I’ve still got some stretchy maternity pajama pants kicking around. While I’m happy for (and insanely jealous of) those mamas who can leave the hospital in jeans with a real button, this is not reality for most women, despite what Facebook might tell us.
Unfortunately, this expectation for quick weight loss—whether 6 weeks or 6 years postpartum—can lead mamas down a rabbit hole of negative self-image, and some unhealthy nutrition paths. For some, over-restriction or severe dieting sets in, for others an “I give up” attitude takes over—neither of which are good for us or our children. We often fixate on getting back to a certain weight or pants size—when what we should focus on is how we feel. Do you have energy to work all day and then chase after your kids all evening? Are you mentally sharp enough to tackle common core math? Can you muscle through a marathon day home with the kiddos or on the ball field? Do you (or might you) have food sensitivities or intolerances that affect your digestion and regularity? These are the things we should be paying more attention to—instead of how many more pounds do I need to lose to get back to my pre-baby weight? You are so much more than a number or a scale or a size in the back of a pair of pants.
There are a million theories on what you should eat, how you should eat it, and when you should eat. There’s so much “information” out there, that it can be overwhelming, even for someone who has researched and read a boatload on the topic. I’ve dabbled in just about everything (Paleo, Whole30, Keto, South Beach, Atkins, Intermittent Fasting, cleanses, counting macros, counting calories, drinking shakes, taking supplements) you name it, I’ve probably tried it at some point. Despite all that trying, no specific diet or eating plan has stuck long-term.
What my attempts and experimentation have proved over and over again is that there’s no quick fix. Making lasting dietary lifestyle changes takes time, sustained effort and a willingness and desire to incorporate and create new habits around what you’re eating and drinking. It may take a fair amount of exploration, but it is also important to find a way of eating that fits with your life—or the life you want to have.
For me, this now looks like eating mostly whole, organic and local foods—the closer the source, the better. Cutting back on sugar and highly processed food-like substances. Chugging a big ‘ol glass of lemon water first thing in the morning (yes, before coffee!) and then shooting to drink ½ my bodyweight in ounces of water ever day. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast—usually eggs and fruit, or a protein shake with a handful of greens—because even if the rest of the day goes to crap, I started the day on a good note. Treating treats as treats—and not consuming them on the regular. I find that these things get me closer to my goal of general health and wellness—no matter the what, when or how. Like a good lawyer, I say all of this with the caveat that I acknowledge everyone is different, and what works for me, might not work for you. If it’s available to you, the professional knowledge and expertise of a registered dietitian can be invaluable in helping navigate the influx of nutrition information out there.
My desire to shift the focus from aesthetics to health is two-fold. First, my post-baby, 36-year-old body will NEVER look like it did when I was 18. It just won’t. And I want to mentally let go of that ideal in my head and strive for a new vision of health and energy. Second, I want to model healthy eating behaviors and a positive relationship with food for my daughter. Even at the young age of 10, self-image and body issues are on the periphery and I want to ensure that I’m instilling confidence and the “why” behind our food choices now so she doesn’t have to struggle with these things later. I want to end the cycle of negative self-image and using food as a reward (or punishment or consolation), and for her to see food as fuel and medicine to create energy and wellness.
Next time you’re on a social media binge, scroll fast past the photos of your college frenemy sitting by the pool, in-tact abs in a bikini with her 2 month old baby in her lap. Don’t tell yourself the story that you’ve failed in some way because you’re still rocking a belly band. Instead of diving headfirst into the hottest “quick-fix” diet trend, get curious about food and nutrition. Pay attention to how different foods affect you and make you feel. See what new habits you can create around the things that make you feel good—physically and mentally. Shift your internal focus from a number to a feeling.
Visit Ashleigh’s blog for more great reads at https://onestrongmom.net/ !!