I have never had any body image issues. Even with my crooked teeth and short(er) than I would like hair, I have always been tall, slender, and well-toned. I’ve always enjoyed physical activity, been able to fit into my clothing, and could run around the playground as my classes of 10-14 kids chased me, squealing with delight. Honestly, I never thought about my body. I never realized how in-shape I was, because I had never been anything other.
Then, I got pregnant.
I spent five years trying to get pregnant, and when it finally happened, the weight I gained I considered an honor. I was home for my son. I carried him, I nurtured him, and I fed him. I went from being 145 pounds to 205 pounds with gratefulness and joy. I knew I wouldn’t drop back to my original size right after delivery, and I was okay with that. I didn’t care that I would be a little chunkier. Post-partum bodies are beautiful, a badge of honor and courage. Besides, my pulmonary embolism kept me from returning to an exercise routine. So, I carried my extra weight with pride for the first six months of my son’s
But now, I am starting to realize just how out of shape I am. The girl who did Zumba and Yoga twice a week can barely do a jumping jack. I can feel my tummy flopping around as I move and sometimes notice it falling out of my (now) too small shirts. I try to work out, but I don’t get through the warm-up without having what feels like a mini heart-attack.
I want to get back in shape. I want to dance, jump, and run again without feeling sick. I want to be able to keep up with my son when he starts walking. And when he starts running – when he wants to chase me around a playground – I want to be there. I want to be present. I want to be healthy.
I can relate better, now, to people who are unhappy with their physical appearance. I still believe that the first step to a better body image is loving who you are, at whatever stage you are in. But I understand now that it’s not just about looking like models and fitting in with the cool kids. It’s about wanting to appear to others the way you feel inside. I get it.
In my case, I am someone who has always enjoyed good exercise and good health, and I look forward to getting back to that.
Photo Source: Elisabeth Renne