The thing about body image is it’s not just about how you feel about your body RIGHT NOW.
It’s the comment your grandmother made about your size when you were a little girl. It’s the rude name your high school boyfriend called you. It’s how your mom talked about her own body. It’s the example your older sister and aunts set for you by talking about their latest diet and how much weight they wanted to lose before vacation.
ALLL that adds up, and creates automatic thoughts that fill your brain with negativity.
So if you don’t DO the “work” aka learn how to talk kindly to yourself and accept your body as it is NOW…. alllll that junk from your past will be right there with you. Even the rude comments from 20 or 30 years ago!
The brain’s job is to create automatic thoughts so it doesn’t have to think as hard. That means when we are in the habit of thinking badly about our body, our brains learn to automaticlly think negative thoughts. It becomes an automatic loop we aren’t even consiously aware of.
THAT is why I focus so much on changing mindset about body while also changing nutrition habits.
If you are trying to improve your health while thinking horrible thoughts about your body… you might as well be trying to go up a down escalator. It’s just not as effective and may be why you’ve struggled with weight-loss or yo-yo dieting in the past.
Do I really expect my clients to go from self-conscious to body LOVE? Not right away, but YES.
Loving your body doesn’t mean being self-obsessed. It doesn’t mean loving every inch of yourself every single day. What it DOES mean, is accepting your body as it is right now.
It’s okay to want to improve your health, of course, but the point of self-love is to be kind to yourself. It’s about talking to your body the way you would talk to your sweet daughter. It’s about giving yourself grace, and knowing that you’re doing the best you can.
It’s about understanding that body “ideals” are damaging, and realizing that ALL bodies are good bodies.
Different shapes and sizes and colors is what makes the world beautiful and unique.
So if you’re trying to change the way you talk to yourself or talk about your body what should you do??
Pay attention to your thoughts for a few days. Start by becoming aware of what you say to yourself when you look in the mirror, when you try on clothes, after a big meal, etc. Once you become aware of the comments you make to yourself, you can begin to change your thought patterns.
After paying attention to your thought patterns for a few days, write down the most common thoughts. Like, actually sit down and write! And then write some more about negative thoughts you’ve had about your body, yourself, how smart you are, etc.
Example: my thighs are so big, I don’t fit in any of my clothes, I need to lose weight, I hate my ____, etc. My mom says my ___ is ____…. etc.
THEN…. And this is the most important part. Begin journaling a rebuttal or an opposite to each negative thought as well as think about where the thought came from?
My thighs are big compared to what?? Do my clothes not fit because I just had a baby? Or because I need to buy new clothes? Or because I gained 10 lbs because of stress in the last month?
Why do I hate my ___? Did someone make a comment on that body part when I was a child? Am I comparing myself to someone else?
And most importantly… what would I tell my daughter if she made those comments to herself? THAT should be the standard by which we talk to ourselves.
(BONUS!!) Once you have your rebuttals write down a few affirmations. You don’t have to go from I hate my thighs to I love my thighs… start with “I’m learning to love my thighs.” or “I have a body” instead of I hate my body. Repeat your affirmations whenever you look in the mirror. Put sticky notes on your car steering wheel on your bathroom mirror, etc.
Changing your thought patterns doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s like changing the eating habits you’ve had for years. It takes work, but it IS possible, and it’s amazing what happens when you DO make a change.
I've put together a list of some of the best fitness youtube channels and apps to help you get in shape at home (or wherever)! In to yoga? Zumba? 10 minute workouts? There is a little something for everyone here.
I love youube workouts if I need an added dose of motivation (it's like having an instructor with you). It's also great to have a live example so you can really see how a movement is done (and you can check your form!).
Yoga with Adriene: I love this channel! She has short workouts, more intense sequences, 20 day challenges, yoga for stress or relaxation....a little yoga for everyone.
Popsugar Fitness: A ton of different cardio workouts as well as beginning strength training and shorter ab specific workouts.
Blogilates: The cute Cassie is an upbeat instructor and she has videos for body-specific workouts, high intensity workouts, as well as a stretching series.
BeFit: Everything from 10 minute workouts to yoga and longer HIIT workouts.
Health & Fitness Apps
Sworkit: all types of workouts that you can do anywhere. They have stretching, yoga, cardio, and strength workouts and include videos so you can follow along.
Couch 2 5k: This popular program helps prep you for a 5k starting from square 1! 30 minutes per day, 3 days a week for just 8 weeks and you will be running your first 5k!
Pocket Yoga: take your yoga practice anywhere.
Headspace: Not a workout app, but great for your health! Headspace helps you learn to calm your mind and meditate in a super simple way.
Nike Training Club: NTC is one of the OG fitness apps. It has a ton of different workouts created by trainers with a timer and video all in one.
Interested in nutrition tips that go with your busy lifestyle?? Download your FREE healthy mama toolkit below!
This is a little more serious than I usually get on the blog, but I think it's SO important to talk about.
When I was pregnant I read books and articles, and went to classes, and I’m sure just like any other soon-to-be mom, I tried to be as prepared as possible (LOL). But when I would hear people talk about postpartum depression/the baby blues/ postpartum anxiety, I just didn’t get it.
I remember being in my birthing class and the instructor brought up the baby blues. At the time I was 9 months pregnant, and all I could think of was how happy/excited/thrilled I would be to have that baby in my arms (and also not have her in my gigantic belly anymore). The instructor talked about the huge hormonal changes after birth and with breastfeeding, but I still just couldn’t grasp how I could feel sad or depressed after having my perfect angel in my arms.
I had suffered from anxiety and depression in the past. I was on medication in my early 20’s and was able to manage my anxiety for the most part with exercise after college. It wasn’t severe or debilitating, for the most part. I thought I knew what anxiety felt like.
The first few days after my Elle was born felt like a dream. Breastfeeding was way harder than i expected, but for the most part, I was just so happy and in love. A few days after my babe was born, the post-birth aura started to wear off and I started to get emotional. SO emotional. I thought I was emotional when I was pregnant, but this was on a different level. I felt like I had no control of my body. I couldn’t quite get the hang of breastfeeding, my nipples hurt like HELL, I was sleeping 2 hours at a time. It was hard.
Thankfully, My mom came into town to help me. She watched the babe while my husband ran to the grocery store. I will never forget pulling into the parking spot at Costco (about 2 minutes from my house) and completely losing it. I was SOBBING uncontrollably and my husband just sat there confused. He asked me what was wrong, and I literally did not know.
I felt so silly. Here we were, brand new parents on cloud nine, and I was losing it. I sobbed for probably 30 minutes. We obviously didn’t go to costco. We went and got a smoothie and then went home (where the baby was still sound asleep).
I cried and cried to my mom, and she told me it was normal, and I could talk to my doctor and it was no big deal.
The weepy, emotional outbursts ended. I filled out the postpartum depression questionnaires at my pediatrician's office during all of my daughter’s appointments, and there were no red flags. I felt fine. I could take care of myself and my baby, I never resented her, or thought I would hurt myself. I obviously didn’t have postpartum depression, but in my heart I just kept thinking something isn’t right.
At my 6 week postpartum appointment I told my OB I was feeling anxious. Looking back, I probably should have said, I’m feeling really f***ing anxious and I need some help. But I probably said something like I’m feeling a little anxiety....
She promised me it was normal, and told me to check back in another month or two if I wasn’t feeling better/able to manage it with exercise like I did in the past.
At this point I desperately missed exercising and I wanted to get back into a fitness routine. But I was also so damn tired I couldn’t think straight. I would go on walks everyday, but my only real exercise was pushing a stroller and holding onto my bulldog who was hyper from not getting out enough.
Months passed, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed help. I felt more anxious than I had ever felt in my life. I was worried about everything. Paranoid that I was going to get in a car accident every day. SO freaked out about SIDS- just terrified I was going to wake up one day and she would be dead. Worried I was going to drop my baby.
On one horrible night, I accidently burned my baby with hot bath water. We had just moved into our new house and I wasn’t used to the sink. I turned the cold water off first, and then hot water came out. It scared her, and she freaked out (it didn’t leave a mark- it was a split second and she was still in the warm water) but she cried and cried. I replayed that in my head thousands of times. I felt such intense guilt that I had hurt my baby.
When my babe was 8 months old, I realized I had to do something. I was losing sleep (not that I had a lot of sleep anyway), staying up at night worrying, stressing out about EVERYTHING, and I just didn’t feel right. I knew that by now I should be feeling better.
I went to the doctor and started medication on my 27th birthday. He told my it would take over a month to start working and I almost lost my mind. My doctor didn’t feel comfortable prescribing fast acting anxiety meds because I was breastfeeding. For a while I thought about weaning my baby just so I could take something to give me a break. I couldn’t take the anxiety anymore.
I ended up taking a trip to stay with my mom in San Diego for a couple of weeks, and by the time I left the medicine had begun working. The combination of a cold winter mixed with anxiety, no sleep, and just feeling isolated in general was too much and I needed to get away. I realize I'm so fortunate I even had this option.
I wish I would have trusted my instincts and gone to the doctor way sooner. I wish I would have known that postpartum mental illness manifests itself in many different ways. Some people get ANGRY, some people just don’t bond with the baby right away, some people are deeply depressed and can’t get out of bed. I think just being more aware of what could happen would have been helpful.
I mistakenly thought that since I could “hold it together” it wasn’t something that needed medical attention. I was SO wrong.
I wish I would have been more aware of what could possibly happen BEFORE it happened (aka before my daughter was born). I used to get so annoyed when people would say things like “you don’t know about [fill in the annoying blank here] until you’ve had a baby or until you’ve become a mom.
Well...for postpartum mental illness, you may not fully understand it without experiencing it, but it’s still SO important to be aware. From what I hear from other more experienced mamas, every pregnancy is different and the postpartum experience can be different with each child too.
Another thing I’ve learned about ppd/ppa is that it can take months to manifest itself. SAY WHAT??? You mean after months of being a mom, I can suddenly develop postpartum depression or anxiety?? Yes. It’s something to be aware of. Being a mom is tough.
Living in a sleep deprived state is so hard, and taking care of yourself is the last thing on the list at times, but I know first hand that I am a better mom and better wife when I take even just a little time for me.
I hope you are taking the time you need for you. Trust your instincts. If you feel like you should check in with your doctor, just do it.