A couple weeks ago, Jen Sinkler, Experience Life‘s senior fitness editor, asked me if I’d be the fitness model for an upcoming “The Workout” article. My immediate external response was a confident, “Yes, of course, that would be SO fun!” After all, I had a great time when I did an impromptu shoot back in 2009 (for a Fitness Fixes article on the Feldenkrais Method):
Internally, though, I began a running list all of the areas of my body I would need to tone up in the weeks leading up to the photo shoot. It included just about every major muscle group in the body.
Sadly, working for a health and wellness magazine has not made me immune to negative self-talk about my body. It has, however, helped me be more aware of when I’m being body critical. Case in point: In the midst of my internal “my body’s not good enough” rant, I caught myself and remembered the body-image revelation I had a few weeks after my daughter was born last October.
Before I get to that, I have to be honest and admit that I have always been body conscious (in my late teens and early 20s, I was probably more obsessive). That didn’t change when I was pregnant. I was tough on myself. While I loved the experience — nothing beats the feeling of those little baby kicks — I didn’t enjoy the physical changes that came along with pregnancy. I didn’t think my baby belly was cute, and I didn’t like looking in mirrors. More often than I care to admit, I found myself nitpicking my expanding body rather than reveling in the miracle taking place inside of it.
So you can bet that I was eager to get back into a normal workout routine once MK was born. I started slowly with walks and light strength training; about five weeks postpartum, I went for my first run. As I hit my stride, I felt happy, light and surprisingly strong. That’s when it struck me: Who cares if my stomach isn’t as flat as it was pre-baby? Who cares if my thighs aren’t as toned? My body had carried and birthed a human being — how cool is that?!?
In that moment, I was so proud of myself and what I looked like. I decided then and there that I would be kinder to my body. It was time to start appreciating it for all of its amazing capabilities, and treating it like a friend rather than an enemy.
I’ve fallen into negative thought patterns several times since that cool November day. Each time, though, I catch myself a little quicker as I’m FINALLY committed to embracing a healthier body image. It’s not easy, and is going to take practice and vigilance, but I’m going to do my best. After all, I now have a little someone who will learn from my actions and words — and I want them to be on the positive end of the spectrum.
I think I’ll start (again) by accepting and celebrating where I am, even with a photo shoot on the horizon.