You've had your baby and now you're ready to wear your favorite clothing from your pre-pregnancy days. First, you try on a shirt. It's a bit tighter than before and you feel your self-confidence shrinking. Next, you pick up leggings and they don't fit either. They are too snug around your thighs, and you can't pull them to your waist without losing your breath. You feel deflated and your confidence is fading.
Been there, done that?
This may not come as a surprise, but the majority of our self-talk is negative. Add in a post-pregnancy body and the expectation that you should fit your old clothing, and it can feel like a never ending pity party. Instead of dwelling on the negative, challenge the narrative you tell yourself when trying on clothing.
When you feel yourself saying negative things, recognize the behavior and replace bad words and phrases with positivity. Afterall, how can we teach our children the value of empowerment if we don't practice it ourselves?
Here are nine phrases to say to when you're struggling with how you feel about your postpartum body:
1. "How I look in clothing does NOT define who I am."
You are uniquely you regardless of your size. While many can relate to "not feeling like myself" after giving birth, it's important to have reminders of who you are that are external to how you look.
Rather than looking at the number on the scale or the size of your jeans, remind yourself of how your body feels. If you feel good, that's all that matters.
2. "I am allowed to like the way I look even if it is not my ideal weight or shape."
You are allowed to be okay with how you look. Many women I have worked with have noted they felt pressure from their significant others or family to lose the weight. But their thoughts and opinions shouldn't control your thoughts about yourself.
Concentrate on finding ways to love yourself. Try taking a new class, learning a new recipe, or just finding a quiet moment to say positive affirmations over yourself.
Remember: you are allowed to feel what you want and what you need. Allowing yourself to be a human being is a way to self-validate and occupy a healthy role in your life.
3. "I feel multiple ways about my body today, and that's okay."
One thing is certain: you will not feel great about your post-baby body everyday. You will have bad days and that's absolutely okay. The important thing is that you allow yourself permission to want your old body back while still honoring your new body. Having this mindset will decrease your anxiety and process the multitude of feelings that arise when trying on clothing after becoming a new mama.
4. "I feel strong right now."
Affirmations are so incredibly powerful. It's important to change the narrative of bad thoughts and start saying positive phrases over yourself. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but over time it will get better.
Refocus your thoughts and you'll change your life.
5. "I am so proud of what I have been through and what I've created."
You are an exceptional woman. You created a life inside of that beautiful body of yours and it should be celebrated as often as possible. Learn to be amazed with yourself—our bodies can do awesome things and we shouldn't take it for granted for one second.
6. "What choices do I need to make today?"
Our lives are filled with making decisions. But, knowing that the choices you make today will impact your life in the future can be very overwhelming.
Here's a trick: breaking down each choice into tiny small choices. Focusing on the micro can help curb anxieties and formulate a plan of action for the moment.
Here's an example: your goal for the next six months is to lose 30 pounds but instead of focusing on weight loss, create daily goals for you to achieve each day. On day one try walking up a flight of stairs for an hour. On day two, add healthy smoothies to your routine and on day three, run around the playground with your kids.
7. "I will enjoy the present moment."
Focus on the present moment and be mindful of the place and the space you are currently in. Don't think of the past or try to envision the future. Embrace your current state.
8. "It's okay to not be okay right now."
It's okay to not be okay, mama. Allowing ourselves to have bad days will hopefully reduce the pressure to have it all figured out all the time.
Remind yourself that your feelings and emotions matter. And give space to them so they can be felt.
9. "How do I need support right now?"
Taking a critical look into what you are feeling and being able to articulate what you need is the best tool you can ever have at your disposal.
Give yourself the space to process what you need and who or what can help you. Being able to ask for help/support is crucial in the postpartum months.
It's not the look or style that defines us, but rather the confidence within ourselves. Don't stress it mama, you've got this.