In today’s Instagram-obsessed culture, there’s huge pressure to “snap back” post-baby. When scrolling our timelines, we’re bombarded by a never-ending feed of seemingly perfect celeb bodies, and often struggle to reconcile that image with the natural changes our bodies experience postpartum.
The idea of “fitspo”, focusing on the body’s appearance versus its ability is a large part of the problem. If we idolize a one-size-fits-all body standard, and expect that to be representative across a broad spectrum of body shapes, sizes, and health conditions, we’re setting ourselves up to be constantly striving for something unsustainable and unhealthy.
The truth is that pelvic floor disorders, stretch marks, diastasis recti and other conditions are all a normal part of motherhood; that shouldn’t be shamed or obsessed about. Sure, any new mother should be making her health a priority, but there are definitely some things that we often forget to do in order to buck free of societal body standards and take care of our bodies.
Take your time.
It’s perfectly normal to need time to heal, recover, and spend time with the new baby before jumping back into the gym. No woman’s journey to wellness is a straightforward one, and everyone does things at their own pace. The greatest act of self-love a new mother can do is to listen to her body, and not jump back into the swing of things because some fitness influencer told her to, or on the heels of an ill-advised comment from a friend or relative. Ultimately, wellness is a very personal thing, and no one besides you knows what, when, and how is right for you.
Set achievable goals.
It’s important to sit with a physician or physical therapist, and work on a wellness plan that suits your physical needs. As mentioned, women experience postpartum differently, but common conditions like pelvic pain can be remedied through targeted exercises like yoga, kegels, and abdominal workouts. It helps to have professional guidance!
If you’re looking for a fitness muse, that’s okay too- there are actually lots of emerging influencers in the fitness world that are helping bring self-love to the forefront of wellness. Take a look at the accounts you follow- do they place an emphasis on strength and form over being “thin” and “losing weight”? Are they encouraging? Are they open and honest about their life and struggles? There’s no guilt in deleting an account that won’t bring positivity to your journey; at the end of the day, influencers like that are abusing their fan base for the sake of likes, followers and sponsorship opportunity. They definitely don’t have your best interests at heart.
Treat your body like a temple.
A holistic approach to wellness is more than just sticking to a meal plan or working out. It’s about treating your body the way you would your newborn. Be gentle with it, feed it only the foods it needs to grow strong, and foster routines and interests that make you feel good and keep you motivated.
Even if you feel like there’s just not enough time in your new schedule to spend on yourself, taking steps like developing a luxurious shower or “me-time” routine or splurging on a flattering new outfit go a long way towards improving your overall approach to wellness.
Don’t forget to celebrate the milestones.
Too often, we become so hyper-focused on the larger goal (e.g. “I need to get back to x pant size”) that we forget that the smaller milestones we hit along the way are actually just as important. Each time you hit one of those benchmarks, whether it’s hitting a step goal or sleeping through the night and getting an early start on the day, it’s one move closer to ingraining healthy behaviors until they become routine.
There are a hundred (thousand) self help books, articles, and Instagram accounts out there, all telling you to “live your best life” and “not sweating the small stuff”. This is not that article. Take the above in consideration, yes, but in reality it’s all just a one-step-at-a-time process. What helps one person regain their confidence and learn to appreciate their body for the miracle it is will not be the same for another. The beauty is in the individual journey!
In short, it’s time to celebrate women taking steps to live healthier lives, who are choosing to shut off the negative body image standards perpetuated by modern media. Subscribing to your own journey -and turning every comparison into a way to practice self love -is one of the greatest forms of wellness.