On motherhood, weight loss, and redeeming my body image.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more happy with my body than when I was pregnant. There isn’t much in this world more amazing than your body creating a new little life. I was strong and healthy and being pregnant was pretty easy—all of which made me very grateful.

By the time my little girl was born, I had gained 60lbs. Instead of thinking about it too much, I turned my focus to being the best mom I could be. I knew, deep down, that it didn’t matter how much I weighed; but no matter how much I ignored my weight, I couldn’t escape the way I felt. 

After a few months, I started walking. Pushing little one in her stroller I could easily do five miles. Then I would go biking—10 or 12 miles—with little one strapped into her bike trailer.

I was losing weight, but slowly. In my research and wondering “How do other moms do this??” I ran across an article stating that if you had not lost your baby weight in the 6 months following your child’s birth you weren’t going to lose it at all. If I ever meet the person who wrote that I may slap them.

I was discouraged but I kept at it, trying to be active and eat better. In all of my effort I had to answer the question “Why is this important?”
After all, I am the same person regardless of what size I wear. I’m a great mom regardless of my waist measurement. My husband thinks I’m beautiful at any size. So why am I trying so hard?

There are a few reasons. I needed to feel healthy. I wanted to know that I was once again strong and capable of pushing myself. I realized I had no balance in my life. There were times when I would be desperate to lose weight and other times when I would give up completely. In order to live a life of balance, my whole lifestyle needed to change. I needed to let go of how I wanted to look and start focusing on how I wanted to feel.

I’ve struggled with unhealthy body image since I can remember. It’s something most women (and many men) struggle with at some point in their lives. I had to face that dragon and identify where it came from before I could move on. Someone needed to show my daughter how to be kind to her body and appreciate it, and it needed to be me. In order to do that, I had to learn to be kind to and appreciate my own body.

My husband and I changed our lifestyle. We started eating healthy: whole grains, lean meats, lots of fresh veggies. We started working out faithfully, but not obsessively. We didn’t diet (because, let’s face it, neither of us can stick with it); we just changed the way we ate and how much. I have a sweet tooth—I still eat sweet things, just less than before. We stick to unprocessed foods as much as possible and stay away from chemicals. Honestly, I really started losing weight when I ditched diet soda. Go figure.

I will always envy women who gain little to no weight during their pregnancy, but I wouldn’t trade the lessons I’ve learned for anything.
Now I know the difference between wanting to be skinny and wanting to be healthy.
I know that being fit is important, but it is not the most important thing.
I know that I am beautiful at any size, but also that there is a size that is best for me—and it has nothing to do with a number on a scale.

Women can be so brutal to one another. Some of the things women said to me while I was pregnant left me feeling ugly and abused. The truth is, the things we say and think about other women are a reflection of who we are, not of who they are. When we say or think ugly, critical things about others it is usually because we’ve said/thought them about ourselves first.
My goal is to always say kind, uplifting things about others and to always think them about myself. You cannot hate yourself and love others, it just doesn’t work that way.

It took me 15 months to lose all the weight I gained during my pregnancy. A little slow by some standards, but I went on living my life in the process and avoided obsession with my body. My husband encouraged me to share this. Probably because he knows how much work it’s been, not only to get fit, but to change the way I think.

So, here it is y’all.

205lbs in labor and delivery:

before

145lbs, 15 months later:

happy

145 has always been my natural weight. As women, we like to hide that number but I’m just going to be honest with you guys. Because I like you. And because it’s ridiculous. It’s just a number.
I’m very short, so 145 puts me at the very top of my healthy weight window according to the BMI scale. But I feel good, I’m active, I eat well, and my doctor seems to think I’m doing great.

I’m sharing this to encourage you: we’ve got to take back the control where our health and body image is concerned. Most normal women don’t weigh 100lbs. What the media portrays is NOT the standard of beauty. We are the standard.
We have to learn to see ourselves as we are—strong, healthy, beautiful—so we can pass that image on to our daughters and the women around us. Health is measured in how we feel, not in what size we wear. There will always be women who are naturally slimmer than me. I’m at the point where I can be happy for them because I’m happy for me, and dang that is a good feeling.

Be kind to yourselves and to each other, ladies (and gentlemen!!). I don’t want to hear about any one being critical of strangers or movie stars or (God help us) friends. Be proud of who you are and what you look like and others will follow your example.

________________________________________________________

What have you done to promote a healthy body image in your own life?

What does your healthy lifestyle look like?

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42 thoughts on “On motherhood, weight loss, and redeeming my body image.

  1. Wonderful.Post . (First of all you look great and you are beautiful- in both pictures!! Howver, you look WAY smaller than 145! good for you. i am in the exact same boat.! i had lost a ton of weight before I got pregnant but sonce having the baby i am having a hard time getting the baby weight off. i know that it is a slow process and I keep telling myself that it is all about slow but steady. your story is inspiring and to me, the point that resonates most is that you have to be kind to yourself and others. Woman can be so mean and worse, we can truly buy into all the hype that we are too fat and not beautiful… etc, etc… all of that is so wrong. Congratulations on your journey- you look terrific and you are a beautiful and inspiring role model for your child.

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    1. I am so thankful you are encouraged to be kind to yourself! It is a journey and there is so much to learn along the way—everything we go through has the ability to make us better women and better moms. Comparing ourselves and buying into an unhealthy, unrealistic idea of beauty doesn’t only hurt us anymore. Eventually it hurts our daughters. Enjoy this wonderful season of your life and take heart that everything needs to be done at our own pace. Approaching this with care and kindness toward yourself will bless your daughter immensely!
      (And congrats on your new-ish mommyhood! Isn’t being a mom the best?!)

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  2. My wife had ballooned by 60 pounds as well when pregnant. I use the word “balloon” not as an insult but more as a point of visual illustration, because we know how easy it is for a balloon to inflate. Anyway, she too had gone through the whole weight-struggle cycle you described. In fact, if I were to remove your name off the post and replace my wife’s, no one would be the wiser.

    A few years ago, we changed our eating habits as well to include a Mediterranean diet in our lifestyle. Immediately, the benefits began to surface. We both could walk further, work longer, and drive harder. But the biggest effect of the change was on my wife’s weight. She’d lost all of it and is now down to what she was when we first got married. It’s a healthy BMI, too.

    I think your experience is a great way for other moms to relate, and it serves as an awesome example as to what a positive attitude and a change in lifestyle can do!

    And, awesome pics!

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    1. “Balloon” is the perfect word. Ha! Unfortunately it deflates a little more slowly.
      And now I want Mediterranean food, of course. We eat a lot of that type of food as well, homemade hummus,veggies, etc. It’s amazing how much your diet affects the way you feel. I guess the old adage “you are what you eat” is true!

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  3. You look lovely 🙂 well done! I’m glad you are happy in yourself.

    My healthy lifestyle means I don’t eat anything processed… Or dairy, wheat etc. So I am skinny… But because I can’t eat unhealthy things as they make me ill. It isn’t a blessing in disguise but I deal with it!
    A lady at work today was telling me to get fatter as I said I was cold. I said I struggle to put on weight and she told me she hates people like me. A little harsh if you don’t know the reasoning behind it!

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    1. Eating only unprocessed foods is such a good thing! But I can imagine how frustrating it would be to be unable to indulge occasionally.
      I’m sorry the lady at work was harsh! Criticizing someone for being skinny is just as wrong as criticizing them for being overweight. Ultimately, it’s absolutely none of her business. Glad you’re able to see where it comes from in her and let it go. 🙂

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  4. this is beautiful. I love that your focus is on feeling healthy and not being skinny. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. Thank you, Leslie! This is something I think every woman deals with but most of us don’t talk about. It’s a relief to finally face those insecurities and be open about them!

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  5. Thank you for this post! This is something I have thought about a lot lately. Growing up, I was never very skinny but I wasn’t overweight, either. I could eat what I wanted and never gain. Then came five babies (including a set of twins) and at only 5 feet tall I can’t seem to lose the last 30 pounds. I have always struggled with how I look because I am the opposite of the “classic beauty,” and now that I have two daughters I really want to portray a healthy attitude. My husband loves me the way I am, but I hate that I feel unhealthy and slow and that I cringe when I look in the mirror or see a photo of myself. A friend of mine recently lost over 50 pounds, and although I have tried really hard, the weight for me is just not coming off. I have been discouraged, jealous of my friend, angry at myself, etc. But I’m really trying to remember what is important. It’s important to be healthy. My husband, who has always been skinny, has lost weight since I have started to fix healthier meals. I have exercised most days, and even though the weight isn’t coming off like I’d like, I know that I will be healthier and stronger because of it. My kids see me trying to be healthy and to stay active, and they will (hopefully) follow that example. I tell them (and myself) that we are how God made us, and that is not a mistake. I wouldn’t trade my kids for a skinny body. Even if I never lose the weight, I need to be content with myself and teach my kids that what is on the inside is the most important.

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    1. First of all, FIVE babies! You are so blessed!
      I can completely relate to your discouragement, jealousy, and anger. It can be so overwhelming. But I love what you said about not trading your kids for a skinny body. Priorities, right? 😉
      It sounds like you are setting a great example for your kids and taking care of your body. Comparing ourselves to others can be so harmful. When we focus on who we are and how God has made us, we can start to appreciate His creativity—and that will radiate throughout every part of our lives.
      Good luck on your journey! Be kind to yourself.

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  6. Preach it, momma! I gained 70 unhealthy pounds with my first. Even though I exercised up to delivery, I was NOT wise with my food choices. The second time around, I was smarter. But it still took me an entire year to lose it all. I know some women who lost it all breast feeding but my body clung to the extra fat. I completely agree that weight is just a number. I’ve been bigger than my current size and weighed less because I lacked muscle. I want my daughters to know they’re beautiful at any size but to love themselves enough to take care of their bodies.

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    1. Ladies who can lose their baby weight just by breast feeding are super blessed—and I hope they know that. 😉
      The fat hung onto me, too! I’m glad to hear you were able to learn from your first pregnancy. I hope I do the same! I did not exercise….at all. Not smart.
      I love that you’re teaching your girls to love and take care of themselves. That is priceless and they will be so grateful in the future!

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  7. wow, you look great. love your blog and thanks for the nomination! Mind you, it might take me a month to get around to posting about it, but I will 🙂

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  8. Wow. Get. Out. Of. My. Head. I followed the same weight gain/loss path, and am so careful to watch my language about it in front of my daughter. I also believe in keeping positive language and attitudes about ourselves and others. Great post; thanks for sharing!

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    1. So happy to hear that you are careful how you talk in front of your daughter! So much of what they learn comes from how we talk about ourselves. The media is so invasive, talking about who’s hot and who’s not, etc. Starting the positive talk at home is the best step we can take!
      Thanks for reading!

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  9. This is a great post! I’m not a mother, but I’m still having a yo-yo of a time with my weight. I lost a lot before I moved, and then gained it all back and then some. I’m trying to get it back off, but like you said it is a long process. It’s nice to know there are people out there who encourage you to do well, even if it’s not directed at you. Thank you so much though 🙂

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    1. This is absolutely directed at you! Lots of us have some work to do before we feel healthy.
      I’m so glad this encouraged you! Be kind to yourself, encourage yourself, and focus on feeling good.
      Good luck!

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  10. Kaela, I love your point about wanting to feel healthy vs. the number on the scale. If more women threw away the scale and concentrated on the inner voice within, it would be so much easier! I also liked the section about the things we say and think about other women as being a reflection of who we are. Very insightful. Thank you for sharing and writing this piece.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading, Britta! As women, we struggle with a lot of the same things, don’t we? It’s great when we can level with each other and learn to be comfortable as we are.

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  11. Great Post! I think this was great to share. I had a really hard time during my pregnancy, and even harder time when it came to gaining the weight. All I could think of was how horrible I felt and how I didn’t want to get to my husbands weight. He’s not a big guy (super fit, and lifts weight BUT trim). I remember crying a lot… then after the pregnancy I just wanted to lose it all. It doesn’t matter though in the end. Hell, I weigh less than I did before hand (about 10 lbs) and I still don’t fit into my jeans easily! The good news is that I feel good and am happy. You nailed it right on the head.

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    1. It’s so nice to hear the same things from other moms. All the body changes involved in having a baby can be exhausting and frustrating. Learning to see yourself through an encouraging, non-critical lens is vital. I hope more women can come to see themselves as strong and beautiful because they are kind to themselves.

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  12. I also gained 60 lbs with my pregnancy and right when it started coming off got prego with my second! I also have struggled with body image issues and 60 extra lbs did not help with that struggle! You look great in BOTH your before and after pics:)

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    1. You’re so kind, Jacqueline. Thank you!
      It is hard to suddenly be a size you’re not used to and not see you when you look in the mirror. I hope you are kind to yourself always. That was my biggest hurdle, going from speaking harshly to myself to realizing that absolutely none of my value lies in my physical size and speaking encouraging words to myself. (I’m not the only one who talks to myself, right? 😉 )
      So glad you stopped by! Do you have a blog?

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      1. I am trying to be kinder to myself because I don’t want my kids having body image issues like me. You actually stopped by my blog earlier from Val’s blog party. wifemommypregnant.com

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  13. Great post and good job on getting yourself back to where you wanted to be! lol you wanted to slap the person that made the 6 mo. comment. I disagree with that prediction, too–not true. I found I had an extra 10 pounds that wouldn’t go away until AFTER I stopped nursing (which was when my babies were 14 mo.) Seems backward, but there you have it.

    You look fantastico and am so glad to have a chance to visit after all the fun I’ve see you have at amb’s 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Liz! I love hearing other moms who have had a similar experience. We’ve got to stick together, you know. 😉

      It’s great to meet you and I’ll be checking out your blog ASAP! Amb and I do have loads of fun over there. Ha!

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