Body image. This is something that I have negatively dealt with for most of my life. In many ways I did not feel comfortable in my own skin. Full disclosure… this photo was not hard for me to post and share with the world. So how is it that I have had this sudden change of heart? Well it definitely wasn’t sudden; this is something I have been working at for years. But the main reason is that I want to empower all women, especially moms-to-be to embrace their bodies in any size or shape.
I remember just over a year ago when I started my health and fitness journey, I was TERRIFIED to post my before and after pictures after completing my first 3 week program. I was in a sports bra and shorts, my belly, thighs and arms exposed. I was about to reveal my body to the world and was horrified at what people would think. I didn’t want people thinking I was seeking attention. I let the pictures sit in my drafts for days. Then I finally posted it… and what a relief it was. The feedback was more than I could have ever hoped for. I had worked my ass off those 3 weeks and lost over 10 lbs. That is something to be proud of and I shouldn’t have felt shame in sharing my accomplishment.
This time around I have no hesitation. I refuse to let this sit in my drafts for days, like I am ashamed of it or something. The truth is I really love every bit of this picture. I feel so good looking at it. This maternity photo shoot allowed me to embrace my body at this beautiful stage of pregnancy and realize that I am confident, powerful and sexy even at 32 weeks pregnant.
Now, I am not saying that watching your body change is easy. Most mother-to-be struggle with their changing figure. Last night I stood in front of the mirror wishing my hips were smaller. Staring at the stretch marks that have made their appearance on my thighs and seeing a rounder face looking back at me. I have bad days too. I have days I struggle with the weight I have put on this pregnancy. I have days where I just can’t wait to “get my body back”. As a person who was so into fitness letting go of that control and seeing your body change before your eyes is hard. I will never deny that, even when I sit here and tell women to embrace and love their pregnant bodies. I look back at the last 32 weeks and think about how I could have been stricter on my diet, how I could have kept up working out in the past few weeks or how I could have done this and that to be more “in shape” during my pregnancy. But, as I looked in the mirror, I also saw a tiny foot move across my belly and as I glanced up, the biggest smile came across my face knowing that in a few week this body of mine would be bringing our baby into this world.
So, while some days are hard I am learning to appreciate them as much as I can. I have learned that the problem isn’t with my body, the problem is what I think of it and what I think of myself. Once I came to that realization everything changed. I have learned to give myself grace. My body is growing a human being. It is going through a lot of change and that is OK. I will forever be amazed at the female body and all that it is capable of. I used to fear getting pregnant for what it would do to my body, but the truth is, getting pregnant is probably the best thing to ever happen to my body. It allowed me to rethink my ideals of beauty, strength and health. It allowed me to focus on myself and my worth outside of my body. It allowed me to really appreciate my body in all stages and come to terms with the fact that I was placed on this earth for more than what my body looked like.
I cannot help but to take a step back and realize that no matter how I emotionally feel about this body in any given moment, I can appreciate all it has gone through. The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. And appreciate the home I (and my little one) make in this body of mine. This is pregnancy: real, raw and beautiful.