I think it would be fair to say that body image is something that so many of us struggle with, but being a Mummy brings a whole new dimension to that entirely. Being somebody who has been in the fitness industry for 13 years, it came as a surprise to me to be feeling unsure and negative towards my body since becoming pregnant with my son. This made me realise that if I can feel like this even though I have access to all the tools and knowledge to do something about it, I am sure others must be feeling the same and like they could do with some support. It was at this point I felt compelled to write this blog on how to feel good about your body and to share my honest account of my own challenges, so I hope it helps you and I both and you are able to take something positive away from it.
Let’s go back to the beginning shall we! You may be reading this whilst currently pregnant, or perhaps you have had your baby, either way, the reality is that our body goes through so many changes on our journey to being a mother. It is changing on a regular basis throughout our pregnancy, which it is very much out of our control (something I have found quite difficult with both pregnancies). I think it can then feel unrecognisable to so many of us once our baby is born, and this seems to be constantly evolving as we start and then progress through our journey to recovery and in to mummy life.
Whilst pregnant, at times, I have really struggled when I look in the mirror (with or without clothes on), to feel good about how my body looks. I have struggled with not knowing how to dress for my different shape, with putting weight on in areas I have not before and not liking the resulting look of that, and honestly, feeling like all the hard work I have put in to my body over the years has now been completely lost and I don’t even recognise that reflection looking back at me.
Whenever I have thoughts like this here are the things I try to do to help me alter my perspective:
- I focus on all the amazing things that my body is doing right now (I try to say these out loud, I don’t know what it is but when you say it out loud it makes it more believable and real I find).
- I try to slow down my pace of the day to tune in to the magic that is happening inside of me and connect with my body. This really helps put everything in to perspective.
Change your view
This links really nicely with my previous point, but helps you to take it one step further. When I am finding it difficult to accept the changes that are happening within my body and to feel good about it, I try to stand back and reflect on the view that I have, so let me ask you some questions that I always come back to:
- How do you see your body?
- Do you treat it with respect?
One thing I always try to keep in mind is that how I fuel my body and treat it will ultimately determine what I get back from it. Now let me be 100% honest here, in my second pregnancy I certainly don’t feel that I have treated my body as well as I would have liked, and at times, I have allowed this to get to me. But once I take time out, I remind myself that this pregnancy is very different: Running around after a toddler, spending it all (bar 2 weeks) in lockdown or some kind of restriction and entering this pregnancy in a very different physical and mental condition to my previous one having only had 9 months between pregnancies. When I can then take this view I find that it is much easier to then be kind to myself (see my next point).
So you may not experience what I have above, but you may be able to relate to this in some way, and if you could take anything from it then I would recommend that you don’t be so hard on yourself and instead try to give yourself a break from the constant criticism that we tend to apply.
Be sure to check out my podcast on being kind to yourself: A perfect 10 minute go-to when you need that little reminder throughout the day.
If you do feel compelled, motivated or energised to treat the body better, then amazing! Go For It. There are enough articles out there telling you of all the things you “should” be doing. Just be mindful that you don’t allow these to become an extra pressure, and do the things that are realistic for you.
What’s your inner talk?
I bet I can already answer that question for you, the fact that you are reading a blog on how to feel good about your body, and that you have found yourself on my website about personal development, tells me that you want more and that you want to focus on self-improvement. So I bet you are then very quick to criticise yourself, and you typically spend your days being hard on yourself. Would I be right in this assumption?
What if it didn’t have to be this way. What if you could find the positives and focus on those, and instead, tell yourself how amazing you have been and are doing.
So let me ask you these questions:
- What do you love about yourself and your body?
- What do others compliment you on?
- What has your body achieve
Simply answering these questions alone can help you re frame your thoughts to more positive ones.
Affirmations are a great addition to your daily life and make all the difference to our self talk, so I would definitely recommend giving them a go.
Attitude of gratitude
This is something that I find an absolute game-changer:
What you put your focus on is very much what you will attract and feel more of. I find that when I take the attitude of feeling grateful, and take the time to write this down too or say it out loud it hugely affects my mood for the better. A great activity I turn to is the following:
- Write down a list of appreciation for everything that your body has been through as a mum. This is during pregnancy, perhaps even preparing for pregnancy, during labour and birth, and since having your baby.
Self love is absolutely not selfish. Now I know all about feeling like you don’t have the time or energy for you because your focus is going towards another little human who is relying solely on you. But when I find myself having this debate, I try to think about what self-love really is all about: For me it is about having enough respect and appreciation for myself to treat my body well.
Our bodies give us the signs as to what they need, for example, if we are feeling sluggish perhaps we need to drink more water, or get some rest, or give our body nutrient dense foods, not quick fix instant foods. I know I can easily ignore these signs if I don’t take time to slow down and tune in to what my body is communicating.
A great little task around self-love:
- The next time you feel out of balance, overwhelmed, stressed or lacking in energy, take a moment to stop and reflect. What is it that you are feeling within your body and what is it that you feel within you that you need. Then try to work out how you can incorporate that in to the next few days.
It’s about lifestyle
This has to be my biggest and most important point. I am constantly talking to my clients about the importance of any goal that you set yourself being about a lifestyle, and not something that you set to achieve by a certain point (e.g. holiday), to then revert to all the old habits that you had before.
I think it is really easy for us to get caught up in setting ourselves a goal to get our pre-pregnancy body back the moment we give birth, that we can then end up ruining our enjoyment of the now. We also end up more likely to turn to quick fixes, or working towards a goal that means we lose weight quickly for example, to then end up back where we started later down the line. But what if we take the approach that the next goal we set ourselves is about a journey we are embarking on and about being in that shape, condition and health for a lifetime.
If you would like to understand more about how to set goals effectively and the positive impact that can help then take a look at my blog on goal setting for some great actionable tips.
OK so I said the last one was my biggest, and it is, but this is pretty huge too. My two recommendations, and two things I have had to work on a lot since becoming pregnant:
1. Stop comparing to others.
The moment we can stop comparing ourselves to others is the moment that we can begin our path to happiness. Head over to my top tips to begin your own work on this.
2. Stop comparing to pre-baby.
Now here’s one I have definitely had to, and continue to need to work on. It is so easy to compare how we were before we had a baby or fell pregnant and to almost long for being right back there again. Whenever I feel like this I always try to reflect on the fact that those circumstances were right at that time, but actually, it isn’t right now. I have entered a new chapter, and it would be unfair on myself to expect the same that I did prior to this. Instead, it’s about setting new expectations that are realistic given these circumstances that I now find myself in.
Honestly, when you can apply this, you really feel all the pressure lifted.
Go for it, for YOU ARE a yummy mummy
Believe me when I say that I know it is so much easier said than done with some of these points, but what I can promise you is that if you can apply the efforts to work on them you will reap the rewards and instantly feel the positivity.
Ladies, if you feel radiant and glow on the inside, you will glow on the outside. Let that be our guide!