“Mommy, is there a baby in your tummy?” one of my children asked me recently. “No.” I replied, unsurprised. “Then, why is it so big?” my child continued. I sighed and mumbled something like, “Because it just is.” It’s been almost 2 years since I was last pregnant but by looking at my belly now, you’d think I was several months pregnant. I was officially diagnosed with Diastasis Recti, or DR a few months ago after seeing a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor. This occurs when the muscles in your abdominal wall separate due to various factors such as pregnancy. I had speculated that this was the case after some research I had done but wanted to get an official exam and exercises to try to correct it.
Growing up until about the age of 25, I never gave my weight a second thought. I had always been petite; a “skinny minnie.” After I had my first child, I dropped the pregnancy weight right away and actually weighed less than I did before getting pregnant. I think breastfeeding helped with that. During my third pregnancy (second child, as first pregnancy was a miscarriage) , I was taking a new medication for my bipolar disorder that did not allow me to breastfeed, as it would have caused harm to the baby if transferred through my breast milk. So, unfortunately I did not experience the natural bonding that occurs during breastfeeding after my second child was born, nor the weight loss that may have been the result. I did not “bounce back” after this pregnancy and the weight hung around. Fast forward to my fifth pregnancy (third child, as had 2 previous miscarriages) and I was taking a different medication that much better managed my bipolar symptoms but caused weight gain. I do not remember gaining a ton of weight during this pregnancy despite this fact and I did lose some weight while breastfeeding this time around (was grateful I could do that again) but now it’s 2 years later and I still look pregnant.
I legitimately thought I would never have to worry about what I ate or feel the need to exercise until I was 40. Random number I came up with, but I’m 33 and I can tell you that it hits much earlier than that! At least for me…I have dabbled in 21 Day Fix and Trim Healthy Mama and have been able to eat more or less healthy for 2-4 weeks at a time and then I lose motivation and give up. I have a treadmill but have only used it a handful of times. I used to be a runner in high school and did some in college when I was stressed but those days are long gone. I did manage to use my treadmill more regularly for like…2 weeks a few months ago….and then fizzled out again. I even bought a book on self-discipline thinking I could find a secret to success in there.
The fact is, I know I need to improve my health. I know I want to look and feel better. Here’s the thing. I hate waking up early. I wake up at 6:15 am 5 mornings a week to get my children ready for school/the day and that is a struggle for me. I woke up earlier to work out one day….and that’s how long that lasted…ONE. DAY. Ugh. I used to be more of a night owl…staying up until 11-12:30 am at night even when my youngest was just a baby. I have no idea how I did that because now my kids’ heads hit their pillows about 7:30/8 pm each night and sometimes mine does too. All I want to do when my kids are in bed is relax. The last thing I want to do is exercise. Give me a glass of wine. A Netflix show. A good book to read…..but please don’t make me exercise! I tried to exercise when my kids went to bed and that didn’t last long either.
My Facebook newsfeed is littered with ads for diet programs that target your core. Bet you can’t guess why. 😉 Sometimes I make unhealthy choices out of sheer laziness. Would I like to pop some chicken nuggets in the oven alongside my kids’ or take extra time to chop things up for a salad? Lately…the nuggets have been winning. It is also very hard for me to prioritize exercising when my house is a mess (which is most of the time since I have 3 young children). I could do my physical therapy exercises or I could tackle the kitchen and feel better about life once my kitchen is clean.
There is a full length mirror in my bathroom that at one point, I have actually considered taking down because everyday….it’s just me and my belly in that reflection staring back at me. I have avoided getting family photos taken because I don’t think I’ll like the way I look in them. I am 33 so I wouldn’t wear one anyway…but mid drift shirts are in right now…can we not? I am also seeing a lot of half tucked in shirts that are all the rage these days…no thank you, I will not be doing that. I do like the high rise leggings, so thank you to whoever started that trend! I’m just trying to give you an idea of what goes through my head and heart at this point in my life where my figure is concerned.
I am 65 pounds heavier than I was during my college years when I was dating my husband. I still receive compliments from my husband and he has never made me feel less than because of the way I look but it is hard for me to look back at our engagement and wedding photos and not think to myself that that was the better version of me. I have thought to myself, “I wonder how much of this weight if from poor eating habits and how much of it is from my medication?”
I think that as women, we are bombarded with new ways to beautify ourselves everywhere. Social media, magazines, billboards, fashion blogs, Pinterest…the list goes on. I’ve never personally contoured my face and the only time I feel I’m aware of the current fashion trends is when I see other people wearing them. I can easily get caught up in mistaking that my identity is in whether or not my core is toned, whether my legs look like Carrie Underwood’s, whether I’m doing my makeup “just right,” or whether my clothes look trendy enough.
You know what though? My creator doesn’t care about any or those things. In Proverbs 31:30 it says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Wouldn’t it be awesome if instead of complimenting you on your new blouse, a friend told you how you spur her on to draw closer to the Lord? To be in the Word more? To have more gospel-centered conversations with your kids? I think it would be. I don’t have my health and fitness figured out, like at. all. Honestly, I feel quite stuck in these areas of my life. One thing I do know, is that I would rather be praised for fearing the Lord than for my small waist. This gives me a lot to think about.
I hope that something I’ve said tonight encourages you friend.You’re not alone in the struggle if you find yourself in a similar position. Also, if you love listening to podcasts when you’re tackling housework like I do, look up the Compared to Who podcast on Spotify or wherever you like to listen. It’s full of encouragement for body image and comparison struggles. Hugs!