We’ve all seen these stories of the celebs who get their bodies back in three weeks or three days or the swimmer who was training for the Olympics a mere month after giving birth. They’re not the norm. I have nothing against them, but most women have neither the full-time personal trainer nor the drive needed to stress their bodies like that while their bodies are still recovering from a birth. The intense physical and mental exercise that hardcore training requires is not where most women are at after having kids and should not be held up as the standard.
Plus I’ve always been a fat-kid at heart. And by fat-kid I mean the kind of person who knows she should exercise and eat well, and might even know how to, but would rather eat Ben and Jerry’s (Phish Food, am I right?!) and binge watch Orange is the New Black or Outlander. So how does THAT girl, the regular one, how does she get her confidence back?
--First of All, She Waits--
One day soon enough (could be 6 weeks, could be 6 months after birth), she’ll think, “It’s Time.” Not time to get her old body back, but time to take back the control of the one she’s got. Until then, she bides her time, bonding with her baby and promising not to worry about her body until she has the energy she needs to make another change in her lifestyle.
--Please Be Safe--
When you are ready, and you have the time needed to make a change in your life, remember that confidence isn’t about crash-diets or insane exercise— changes that aren't sustainable in the end leave us feeling less confident because we couldn't attain our goals. All diet and exercise changes should be undertaken after a discussion with your doctor, and CERTAINLY only after your 6-8 week checkup with your OB. The great news is that confidence isn’t about our bodies anyway. Confidence about how we FEEL about our bodies.
--Start with Small Food Changes--
You’ve had a lot of change in your life. So pick something that you think you can do better for yourself every day. But remember, it’s not about weight loss, so whether it’s fewer calories or less white flour or one less sugary drink or being intentional about packing a snack for yourself when you leave the house, make sure you’ll feel good about doing it, and that the change is sustainable.
--Be Intentional About Moving Your Body--
Don’t promise to start going to the gym if you hate it. Find something you like to do, and do a tiny bit of it every day. Gardening, going for a walk, playing fetch with your dog while you run from one side of the yard to the other. Whatever you choose, energy permitting I encourage people to do a bit more than they did the day before, because we’re talking about taking control. So if today you do one 10-second plank twice a day in your living room, then tomorrow try to do two 15-second planks. Or three 10 second planks. (Also, planks are great for your core, which needs a lot of help after giving birth.) But the exercise can be anything.
--Wear Clothes That Fit You and Make You Feel Good--
Try to do this every day, but at least have two outfits that you feel great in at the size you are right now. You can’t be confident if your clothes make you feel frumpy or tired or whatever it was that you were feeling yesterday. So invest in an outfit or two (or three) that make you feel great, right now.
--Feed Your Soul--
I know this sounds like it doesn’t have to do with our bodies, but it does. Do something that makes you happy that’s outside of being a mommy and a wife. Something that feeds you. It doesn’t have to be big—it can be tending to a small garden or baking bread. It can be volunteering some place or it can be leaving an anonymous and kind note for someone else, or maybe a 10 minute meditation each day. But a happy heart will find more energy and time for self-care, and it is an important part of confidence.
--Treat Yourself Well--
If you like pedicures but NEVER go get them, now is the time to do it. A massage, a haircut, new eyeshadow… whatever makes you feel so good that after you’ve done it, you think, “Ahh…. That’s better.” Go do THAT. And I don’t mean nap or sleep, because those are a given (even though they don’t feel like it if your baby is still waking up all night long). I mean something that is a special treat for you in life when you’re NOT just trying to survive early parenthood.
--You Are Worth It!--
Once you realize that you are worth the effort, that you aren’t a slave to the image you have of yourself before birth, and that we don’t have to make any major, life-changing alterations to our lives to feel like our best selves, that’s when the confidence shows up. Confidence that your body is merely a reflection of your genetics and your choices. You can’t do anything about the genetics, so there’s no use lamenting that. If you’re making better choices for your body, you have nothing to be upset about. You can have the confidence that you are the best you can be right now.
That’s how I got my postpartum confidence back. It’s what I help my postpartum clients do, and now you’re in on the secret. Confidence and a smile, and you’ll feel like a million bucks.