The weeks are disappearing in moments of infant smiles, toddler chasing, meal cooking, diaper changing and fragmented bouts of writing. It seems strange to stop and think that I’m already a couple months into my postpartum recovery. To be honest, I don’t really give my body much thought throughout the day. I mean, aside from feeding and cleaning it (which can be very sporadic with a newborn in the house), it’s relatively low-maintenance and I tend to think it’s doing its job marvelously.
To be blunt, I’m usually very proud of my body
I mean, it’s been through a lot! We’ve had highs and lows. Some things have been great, like the way it has responded when I’ve pushed myself to new levels. Stuff like hiking hard trails, reaching a new riding goal with my horse, or competing in a triathlon – epic for a chick who hates working cardio.
And some things have been hard, like when it takes too much abuse and things stop working correctly. Like when I got tendinitis that sidelined my riding, or the back pain that made sitting through college lectures torture. Or not even knowing what normal sleep was, because working graveyard shifts for years had finally taken their toll on my circadian rhythm.
But even in the lows, I’ve always been proud. Always.
That’s because several years ago, I came to one conclusion. One conclusion that has completely shaped my attitude toward my body and how it functions. And here, over a decade later, it’s still as powerful a truth-bomb as when I first realize it:
Our bodies are doing the best they can with what they’ve been given to work with.
Super simple, I know. But profound. The ironic part was that I realized this after a rash of sport-related injuries. It was a time when I thought I was doing everything right, and even though I was being diligent there were still gaps in my body care. It wasn’t that my body was betraying me, or intentionally out to get me. No, it just needed something different than what I was giving it.
So what changed recently? Why did I stop being proud of my body?
Well, the truth isn’t pretty: I had stopped giving it the credit it deserved.
See, I had to go clothing shopping for an upcoming vacation. All of my summer clothes are my pre-pregnancy size, and though I’ve lost more than half my pregnancy weight already, I’m just not…quite…there yet. So I went shopping.
Now, I’m an atypical woman. Among many of my personality quirks is this one: I hate shopping. Especially clothing shopping. So you can imagine how excited I was to peruse the racks. But that wasn’t the only cause of my angst. No, it was how I couldn’t even figure out what size to try on. And how nothing I put on seemed people-shaped – or I was the one who is no longer people-shaped, or whatever.
After my third attempt to find what I was looking for, I realized I had stopped thinking the best of my body. Instead of pride, I was ashamed. Instead of giving it grace, I had let frustration creep in. I was sad and angry that I couldn’t wear what I wanted and nothing looked right. I started to obsess about the weight, the lack of muscle tone, the skin changes, the…
It’s a downward spiral.
I remember looking into the full-length mirror in the Target fitting room when I realized what I was doing. I had lost perspective.
Do you know what all goes on during postpartum recovery? I’ll be honest, I don’t know all the specifics other than wow. There are hormones everywhere, body parts are stretched out and squishier than they used to be, and I’ve got a leech on a boob (aka, baby) at any given moment. Oh yeah, the fourth trimester is a real thing.
What I’m saying is: I need to help my body out. And the first thing I needed to do in that moment was cut it some slack.
I feel like that isn’t the message we usually hear
That certainly isn’t the message we hear often. Especially when it comes to having babies. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a woman speak positively about her body changes after having a baby. It’s like the second that bundle of joy is born, the race to reach post-pregnancy weight is on.
But it’s not just postpartum recovery, it’s anything that gives us a body condition we don’t like. It reminds me of those cheesy fitness commercials. The ones that promise the supermodel figure after a simple program and 3 easy payments of… Have you ever noticed how the speaker talks about loving your body only after it changes, not before?
No doubt, in most cases it’s not loving our bodies that gets them into whatever unhappy state they are in. Somehow we don’t really connect with the fact that we’re our own worst enemy.
Harsh? Maybe. But true nonetheless.
I’m not one to judge – I’ve made poor choices or avoided making healthier choices all together. Because if we’re honest, avoiding a choice is still making one. It’s just hiding under the camouflage of ignorance and apathy. And that’s often what we’re giving our bodies to work with.
Now on the other hand, I know there are extreme cases and circumstances that are beyond our control. If that’s where you’re at, you’ve got my utmost respect. The struggle is real. We need to give ourselves extra grace in the case of serious health issues.
But what about the things that are in our control? Before those cases become extreme, what if instead of reserving the good vibes for after our desired body image is achieved, we start right away? If we give our body the tools to succeed, both mentally and physically? What about the daily choices we make that effect how it functions, processes and heals itself?
Can we really have power over all of that? I say yes.
I love this quote from a leader in my company:
“The more we learn about how our bodies function, the more educated decisions we can make about its care.” – Vanessa Romero, Young Living Independent Distributor
It’s not about getting a medical degree, but practicing good stewardship. After all, your body is the “temple of the holy spirit…” and we should “…honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
What I’ve been learning over the past 2 years about how my body functions has blown my mind. God certainly knew what he was doing and created us marvelously. And I’m more convinced than ever that taking care of our bodies and practicing good stewardship is an act of worship (we’ll have that conversation in another post 😉 )
So I’m remembering to flip the switch again every day and be proud of my body. Because it has always done what it was designed to do. Because it has always done the best with what it has been given. It has never once intentionally failed me or fought against me. It’s taken more lumps than I’ve given it credit for. When I’ve nurtured it, it’s flourished. When I’ve neglected it, it’s still fought hard for my benefit.