I’ve learned a very important lesson in the process of becoming a mother. In order to age gracefully and become truly, timelessly beautiful, we must surrender our attachment to the youthful bodies we once had and revel in the fact that, as much as it sounds like a cliché, it’s really true that our essential value lies within. Cultivating inner beauty shines right through your skin, muffin top, stretch marks, and all. You can embrace this transition with love, or you can fight it with a machete, spending the rest of your life perpetually in the plastic surgeon’s office, cutting and Botoxing and lifting for the rest of your life.
My post-baby body journey proved to me that truly sustainable weight loss only happens from a place of self-love. If you’re trying to hate your body into skinny submission, it’s gonna pile on the pounds.
You know what I’m talking about, sisters. Your attempt be a Body After Baby rock star goes something like this:
You feel inadequate, insecure, and unsexy as a new mother, so you go to the fridge to make a salad so you can lose your baby weight and feel better about yourself. But then you spy that carton of ice cream, and it beckons to you. Maybe this will fill up the hole within you. You take one bite, but then you remember about Jenny Craig (or Weight Watchers or The Zone Diet or the South Beach Diet- or whatever). While the ice cream melts in your mouth, you start berating yourself. “You’re such a loser. You have no willpower. I can’t believe you just took that bite of ice cream. That’s your whole fat allocation for the day. Why didn’t you eat a salad? You can’t do anything right. And if you can’t follow this diet, you’ll be fat and ugly for the rest of your life and nobody will ever love you. You suck. I hate you.” You feel so awful that you dig your spoon in and finish the whole crate of Ben and Jerry’s.
Jeez. No wonder you’re having trouble losing weight.
But if you learn to love yourself- fat, cellulite, stretch marks, sag, and all- you feel motivated to nurture your precious God Pod with healthy foods, movement, and love. I believe you must start with loving acceptance for the divine, radiant being that you are. Every one of us was created as a perfect, whole being who is weightless. Within you lies that beautiful, perfect spirit, regardless of what the world sees on the outside. You must reclaim, honor, and love that part of yourself to begin your journey to a healthy weight. As long as you punish yourself into trying to lose weight, it simply won’t work.
Even if you lose 100 pounds because you’ve limited yourself to 500 measly fat-free, sugar free calories per day, you will likely discover that you are 100 pounds skinnier and you still hate yourself. And one day, when the evil voice in your heads says, “See. You’re skinny and you still suck,” you will pick that Ben and Jerry’s container back up and dig in.
I still have my moments in front of the mirror. And I still feel a twinge when I see the bikini photos of me before I had my daughter. But now I know I have something much more valuable- not just the joy of having brought a precious new life into the world, but the knowledge that I am in the process of crossing over from young, insecure, superficial hottie to wise, sage, sultrily sexy Mama.
So bring on the stretch pants and push-up bras. Bring on the leggings that cover up my varicose veins. I still cling to my vanity and do what I can to make the most out of what I’ve got. And I’ve still got it, baby! I’m telling you- I’m MILF material, in spite of how pregnancy ravaged my body may be.
You won’t hear me yelling at my post-baby body anymore. Nope. Not me. As S Factor founder Sheila Kelley says, “Treat your body like a gifted child.”
So I resolve to kiss and hug my body, to nourish her with whole foods and green juice, to rub her down with lavender-scented coconut oil, to affirm her inner and outer beauty, and to speak in loving, gentle voices when I’m standing in front of the mirror.
What about you, Mama?
Lissa Rankin,MD is an integrative medicine physician, author, speaker, artist, and founder of the online communities LissaRankin.com and OwningPink.com. She will be sharing the findings of her research about self-healing in her upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House 2013). Lissa lives in Marin County, California with her husband and daughte