This is me on my wedding day, June 12th, 2010.
I had worked hard for months to be in the best shape of my life; my dress, hair, and makeup were perfect, and the look on my husband’s face when he first saw me in my wedding gown was unforgettable. At a trim and fit 140 lbs, my 5′ 7″ frame had never felt more beautiful.
This is me during pregnancy.
At 14 weeks, I was working out daily at the gym, was still wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes, had loads of energy, and was nervous-excited that my body was growing a new little life inside. At 150 lbs, my 5′ 7″ frame had never felt more beautiful.
At 40 weeks, I was walking laps around the block if I could find the energy, was outgrowing all of my maternity clothes, had chubby cheeks, and wore layers of makeup to cover a terrible case of hormonal acne. At a very pregnant 190 lbs, my 5′ 7″ frame had never felt more beautiful.
This is me when my daughter was born.
After a 6-hour labor, an empowering and moving natural birth experience, and no makeup to cover my acne, my husband and I were proudly welcoming our newborn baby girl. At an exhausted and overjoyed 175-ish lbs, my 5′ 7″ frame had never felt more beautiful.
This is me when my daughter was 6 months old.
We were enjoying walks as a family in the warm spring weather, I was successfully breastfeeding, and I had lost most of my pregnancy weight (while managing to gain several cup sizes). At 160 lbs, my 5′ 7″ frame had never felt more beautiful.
This is me today.
I have been doing my best to go to the gym two nights per week, which is quite a feat given a demanding full-time job and a very busy toddler. I wear a FitBit and have consistently met my walking goal each day. Despite my efforts, I have gained back more weight than I wanted to since my daughter self-weaned from breastfeeding at 16 months. My closet has clothing in enough sizes to be a mini-Target store in and of itself. I strive to provide fresh, healthy food for my family, with some occasional “cheating”; after all, summer = ice cream, and sometimes convenience over time spent in the kitchen wins.
The world — news, fitness gurus, social media, Hollywood, and (dare I say it) other moms — has so much to say about how we look, how “in shape” we should be, or how much we should weigh. Just look at the ads in your Facebook feed or browse the magazine racks in the grocery store check-out line. They all tell me, “you are not good enough.” According to an online BMI calculator, I’m currently “overweight.”
It has taken me awhile to come to terms with my body image over these past couple of years as my weight and shape seem to change weekly. My fitness goals used be things like, “lose 20 lbs,” “run 3 miles a day,” “get back to my wedding-day weight,” and “don’t eat more than 1,200 calories per day.” Today, my fitness goals are things like, “be strong enough to toss my daughter into the air, to play with her in the pool, or to run and kick a ball with her, take the stairs at work, and eat reasonably.” Through my body image journey, I have come to two conclusions: 1) My fitness goals must be in line with my life stage. Right now, I am choosing to spend 2 hours with my family each evening over a 2-hour visit to the gym, and 2) I have decided on a new definition of “body image”:
If I feel beautiful, I am beautiful.
This past weekend, I went on vacation with my family. I donned a new swimsuit, went down water slides, and played in the pool with my daughter, nieces, and nephew. I cooked delicious meals in our cabin with my mom and sisters while my husband grilled and made homemade ice cream. I laughed and told stories with my dad and brother-in-laws – and each night I crawled into bed, my mind full of memories-in-the-making, my 175 lb, 5′ 7″ frame felt more beautiful than it ever had before.