Baby Belly, Oh My!
Six months ago my sweet son was born and left me with a baby belly. As I sit back and watch him sleep, I remind myself to embrace this moment. It is OK to enjoy him, to focus my energy on him, and to take in as much as possible. It is OK to spend as much time as possible with him. Soon he will be all grown up and I will only have these moments to cherish.
With my first baby, my daughter, it was a completely different story. Two months, actually 6 weeks after she was born, I found myself in boot camp. Not the military, but a very self-induced, aggressive exercise class. I was so determined to lose the baby weight. I am a dietitian! How on earth can I continue with this pudgy tummy? I loved it when people said, “you just had a baby?” Every free movement I had, there I was at the gym, classes, or going for hikes.
I reflect on this often and I think about all the time I spent going to the gym and counting calories after my first pregnancy. And I wonder, was it worth it? Instead of cherishing each moment, I was so fixated on my weight and body image.
In our society, we are subjected to these images of what we are “supposed” to look like. Expectations are high as to what we “should” look like after having a baby.
It was actually one single event that changed my way of thinking. We had family pictures taken for Mother’s Day when my son was 5 months old. I dreaded shopping for a dress, but it was a must. After purchasing the largest size I ever have, I felt defeated. Weeks later, Cristi Owen, my photographer posted “the picture” on Facebook, I had to look away. I thought, holy cow, I look like one. Here I was kissing my sweet baby boy looking like I still had a baby in me.
However, my photographer, also a dietitian, was beyond sweet in her caption. And her truly innocent gesture was a game-changer for me. As I saw the comments come in, I read;
“How adorable. You both look blissful”
This is the day that stopped me in my tracks. I had so much love towards my son and this picture portrayed it. This was the day of acceptance. I accepted my belly!
We have become so hard on ourselves trying to meet whatever expectations that we think we should be at. There is a huge difference between healthy and model-like. And it is perfectly fine to have a baby belly after you have a baby.
By no means do I suggest throwing in the towel to a healthy lifestyle. How good can you be to anyone if you are not healthy? It is important to eat right and exercise on a consistent basis. However, where do you draw the line? How much is too much? That is a question that only you can answer. Perhaps it is 3 days a week or every other day or maybe you buy a jogging stroller and take your baby with you. Whatever makes you feel healthy and re-energizes you is generally a good rule of thumb.
Eating right can be overwhelming; however, it is essential for optimal health. A great time-saving tool is a meal planning service. It will reduce your stress, help you eat healthfully, and give you more time to enjoy what you love. No more hours going through recipe sites and cookbooks! Remember you can enjoy those that you love and be kind to thyself.