After my third baby, I weighed more than I ever have in my whole life. I stepped on a scale and cried tears of frustration and anger when I saw the number 199 blinking back at me. At five feet five inches, this 199 is a huge deal. Whose body is this? I wondered. So, I went on a diet and I lost a bunch of weight. Not all of it, but a significant thirty pounds of it. And while I have another thirty pounds to go, the one thing that I am most shocked about is the body that is emerging after three babies and weight loss. I lost the baby weight but I still don’t have my body back.
I can fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans, which is a huge deal. I think? It feels like it should be a huge deal, anyway. Most women use the pre-pregnancy jeans as a benchmark of weight loss success after having kids. But for me, those jeans don’t fit even close to how they once did.
My belly is poochy now and hangs over the belt. My hips are wider even as the pounds fall off, which leave weird dimpled areas that my jeans just won’t hug in the way that I remember. There are stretch marks appearing all over the place; on my breasts, my hips, my glutes, and, of course, my belly. And not just stretch marks but loose skin that feels thin and vulnerable.
And let’s not talk about the scars from C-sections that have left my lady region looking, well, odd.
I really thought that by losing weight my body would snap back into a shape that I recognized but this new body that is forming as I work hard to get to a healthy BMI just doesn’t feel or look right. It feels weak and shabby like a dilapidated house that needs serious reconstruction before it’s even remotely livable again.
But while I may sound all down on myself, because honestly, that is how I feel, my husband has been the cheerleader keeping me motivated to diet and barre my way toward my goal of 135 pounds.
I tell myself that by losing this weight I am doing all the right things. I am preventing a myriad list of medical issues that my doctor warned me that I am at risk for such a type 2 diabetes and thyroid issues. My energy really is increasing, which makes chasing my three kids (often in three different directions) less breathtaking to handle.
Part of losing pregnancy weight, for me, has been a journey into accepting the new body that I have earned after growing and birthing three people. I’ll never have six-pack abs (thank you, diastasis recti) and my skin will never be smooth and stretch mark free, but I can feel good knowing that I took my own health into my own hands and did something extraordinary. I lost thirty pounds. That’s a lot.
When I begin to feel defeated about the new lumpy mum body that I seem to be gaining after shedding excess pounds, I remind myself that the point of this journey is about health and energy and not about how I’ll look in a bathing suit. Besides, high waist vintage one-piece suits are all the rage right now – that will do wonders for my self-esteem this year.
Weight loss, ultimately, does weird things. As my body gets smaller my gait changes, my skin changes, and my perceptions about what is beautiful and feminine are being directly challenged in a way that could potentially be empowering for me if I avoid wallowing in self-pity because at 39 I no longer look (or feel) 19.
I’m accepting this challenge and as hard as I work at sticking to my diet and doing 15 million plies, I’m also working hard to know in my bones that my body is capable of truly astonishing things.
And that is pretty damn sexy.
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