Right after the calendar turned to 2019 the diet and weight loss challenges & ads were everywhere. Then, shortly afterwards, identity seemed to be a popular topic.
So, I figured now is a good time to launch a series I've been holding on to for a little while.
First let me disclose that I have held onto a very negative body image since grade school. Seriously. Due to many circumstances that were beyond my control, I was aware very early in life that I did not look like the girls on TV or in magazines. By middle school I had developed a completely negative body image regarding my weight, skin, hair, you name it, I didn’t like it. It took a lot of time and hard work to reach a place where I could say I loved myself and my body, yet there was always an extra 10 pounds or flaw to cover up.
Fast forward to motherhood and boom. I didn't gain too much weight during pregnancy with my eldest and I lost most of it quickly after he was born. But then the cycle of depression, weight gain, negative body image, more depression, more weight gain set in. Once I started taking medication I started eating poorly and in larger quaintly. And while my general mood was stable, my negative body image kept me from exercising or taking better care of myself.
I lived in this pattern for the greater part of a decade.
Around my youngest child's first birthday, I sought a new psychiatrist, and began taking new medications. This switch and more precise diagnosis lifted the fog. I was motivated and ready to be healthy. I began eating better, but I still struggled with body image and I attributed it to my complete disdain for exercising. Until a mom's outing opportunity presented itself.
I was invited and attended a pole dance fitness class with a group of local moms. At last I enjoyed getting sweaty and earning sore muscles and was having fun working out. I decided to jump into a membership and began taking more classes. I became determined to get stronger through this amazing method of strength training.
I also unexpectedly met the most incredible welcoming, inclusive and body positive people I have ever met. No one in pole class cares about your size or your stretch marks. In fact, they will cheer you on and encourage you to love your body.
I realized that I had found a key to my own wellness through pole fitness and started to wonder how many others there were like me. Turns out there are plenty. I was added to several social media groups and became friends with women who shared their own journeys towards a positive body image with pole dance and many disclosed their own struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety.
I learned about professional athletes and instructors like Cleo The Hurricane, who have spoken up for women and encouraged them to be proud of their bodies, especially as moms.
I was further inspired by the courageous woman that declared "I let go of self judgment and felt the weight of the past few years falling away" as she shared her recovery from a traumatic cesarean and feelings of doubt and failure as a mother.
And as an added bonus, I learned about Pole for a Purpose, Inc! How cool is this, a nonprofit organization built by pole dance and aerial fitness enthusiasts to help other nonprofits. I was so impressed with the performances at their most recent showcase. The art, strength, beauty and positivity were out of this world. Then to add to the ice cream sundae of awesomeness, they designated a portion of their event proceeds to The Seventh Mom Project Inc.!
I can’t tell you how fun it is to see the melding of my fellow umbrella holders and my pole family, and yes, the local pole community is really like a family. Collecting diapers for moms in need and cheering each other on to just keep climbing the pole and through motherhood.
I share this with you today for two reasons. First because I want everyone to know it's ok to have feelings about your body and self-image but it's better to turn the negative thoughts into positive encouragement.
Second, find your passion. Wherever or whatever it is, if you have an old hobby from your pre-baby days or are curious about a new one, go ahead and explore it. Your worth as a mother is in no way lessened by celebrating the different parts of your identity outside of motherhood.
Until next time,
When moms contact me, questioning their emotional roller coasters during pregnancy or during their postpartum year, I always start back at the basics. The Steps to Wellness were developed by Jane Honikman, founder of PEP and later Postpartum International. More than thirty years later, they are just as relevant to all people, especially new parents.
Today I am going to review steps 4-6. Here we need to look more closely at who we can build to be our support team!
If you are a new parent, build some time for your into your life. Contact us for some nonjudgmental sharing. We can serve as emotional support, or help you open up to your loved ones for support.
Next week I will review steps 7-9.
Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the