Strive To Be More, Never Less


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About the Author - Jennifer Thomas

Jen Thomas is a women-only Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and Pre & Post Natal Exercise Trainer in Chennai.  As a new mother, Jen has become inspired to support women in their health and fitness during this precious time of life.

Website: www.jenthomasfitness.com

Instagram: @jenthomasfitness

Facebook: @jenthomasfitness

 

Perhaps you’re expecting me to tell you that upon first viewing my postpartum body, I realized that my body was a work of art. Or, that I could see the beauty in its strength, or the heroism my c-section scar represented. Well, ladies and gentlemen, none of that went through my mind. I pride myself on being honest about my health and wellness journey, so let me be frank with you now. I cried.


My belly, which was once full of promise and new life, was now bloated and saggy. My thighs, which were dwarfed by my stomach a few short weeks ago, revealed their full size and jiggled when I walked. I was too terrified to consider looking at my c-section scar. And so, there I was, a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach, and my postpartum body was utterly unrecognizable. What bothered me the most, however, was that my body bothered me. My whole ethos as a Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach is to encourage women to accept their bodies and be confident, no matter the size. Here I was, only a few weeks postpartum, and not nearly enough time has passed for me to transform back to my pre-baby self, and I was bothered by my lack of progress. This was ridiculous, and I knew it!


 I dried my tears and put back on my tattered and stretched out H&M leggings. I decided that instead of trying to figure out how to get my pre-baby body back, I should learn to love and accept the body I had. If I couldn’t lose the weight and get fit again, I would still find a way to be confident and happy in the skin I'm in. During this period of self-reflection, I realized that thanks to social media and our society at large, women’s bodies had become a barometer of our worth. Unrealistic expectations lurk around every corner, exacerbated by a tsunami of images of women who lost their pregnancy weight gain seemingly by sneezing. We don’t even have to look at the captions to hear the message; each picture is worth a thousand words. We’re told that a small body is the best body. A toned body is an enviable body. A pregnant body is a beautiful body. But a postpartum body, one that has knit together and carried the weight of a brand new human being is an undesirable body. So much so, we must erase all signs of it immediately. This line of thinking makes no sense. A postpartum body should be considered the strongest and most beautiful body of all.


However, when we see a postpartum body, we only think of its flaws, not its strength. On top of the lingering postpartum weight, more than half of pregnant women develop stretch marks either during or after pregnancy. Over seventy percent of women develop cellulite. "Mum tums" can appear from weakened abdominal muscles. Women with c-sections can develop “sunroofs” (a tummy pouch created from the incision). Our skin stretches to accommodate, and it can struggle to shrink back. Linea nigras can take up to 6 months to disappear, and our very skeletal structure may widen from the effort of carrying a child for nine months.


Our desire to erase these "flaws" reminds me of the Japanese belief of Kintsugi, of the “golden repair." When a piece of pottery breaks, the Japanese lovingly mix gold powder and secure the pieces back into place. Rather than disguise the flaw, they embrace it as part of its history.


The reality is, it’s an impossible dichotomy to love our child but hate the body that delivered them safely into this world. For life to continue on this planet, we will continue to have babies, and these babies will inevitably alter our bodies and our hearts. We can learn something from the Kintsugi and appreciate our bodies as precious works of art and embrace our marks. Our postpartum bodies are not flawed, how we choose to view them, is.


It’s time we realized that as women, we should always strive to be more, never less. Before we consider losing weight and erasing our 'flaws,' we should be more accepting, more loving, more self-compassionate, more respectful of ourselves and our bodies. It’s also time we changed the narrative and fought back against the endless scrutiny of our bodies and replace it with powerful acceptance. After everything we put ourselves through to bear children, I daresay a little self-love will go a long way.


I am happy to say, I have realized that if this new body of mine was the result of having my beautiful son, I would happily wear it with pride. After all, my son doesn’t care if I am toned or slender. Rather than erase all evidence that I had my son, I choose to embrace every reminder and guild it with precious gold to make a newer, stronger me. And, if this means buying bigger pants, so be it!


#postpregnancy #postpartum #bodypositive

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"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect” - Anais Nin

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