Body Acceptance, Recovery

Beautiful Body Acceptance Adventure

The Beautiful Body Acceptance Adventure began with a blog post.
A blog post in response to a blog post.

Several weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a post regarding loving and accepting your post-baby body.  However, the article did not appear to be promoting love or acceptance of this woman’s post-baby body, but rather searching for social acceptance for how hard she has worked to get back to her pre-baby body (with a few added stretch marks).  As a woman in recovery from a 16 year battle with an eating disorder this struck a nerve, inspiring me to write a response.  The response gained momentum among those on my social media account and with my treatment team, both past and present.  I have been encouraged to share my wisdom and insight on greater outlets and, therefore, have created this blog; the Beautiful Body Acceptance blog.  It is an adventure in exploring the inner workings of an eating disordered mind on a journey toward full radical body acceptance.  For those that do not follow my family blog I will give you the original Beautiful Body Acceptance post below.

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You know what I am tired of seeing? Articles, blog posts, and television interviews talking about post-baby body acceptance. You might wonder why, when I am such an advocate for self-acceptance, I am tired of seeing this–and yes, even a little frustrated. The answer is simple, most of the time they are NOT promoting body acceptance, but seeking societal acceptance and praise for their post-baby weight loss.

Just today I read another blog post “gone viral” about body acceptance after baby. Initially the post started out as appreciating the body for what it can do but then it got into the numbers. The dreaded numbers. A sure-fire way to get someone in eating disorder recovery to play the comparison game is to talk numbers. “Look how much weight she gained and how much she has already lost. Her babies (plural!) are only seven months. What’s your deal? Vivienne is closing in on two! Oh, and you only had one.” My brain began to swirl with negative comments like this, as my reading progressed to the numbers portion of her post. I’m thankful to be in recovery because I recognize those comments are actually coming from the eating disordered part of my brain that I have to fight off every day, several times each day, in order to have a life in recovery.

What Body Acceptance Is To Me:
I am by no means saying I am an expert, or that I have fully achieved this because I am far from it. I still have many times each day when I see my body and think horrible thoughts about the stretch marks, the C-section scar, and how much I have changed in general over the course of a few years. However, when I have moments of body acceptance my weight isn’t even in the picture. It is radical acceptance for the body I have now and what it can do. I realize my body has greatly changed from the body I had before pregnancy. No longer do I have a flat stomach, well-toned arms and legs, or nice perky breasts and sometimes that is okay with me. I don’t have time to work out every day, heck I am lucky if I get to a yoga class during the week, even though I am a stay-at-home mom. My body looks different on the outside and it isn’t what society deems acceptable anymore, but why should that matter? Body acceptance is choosing to look at how my body housed, nourished, and grew a tiny human for nine months. Now my arms pick Vivienne up several times each day and carry her to bed when she has fallen asleep. My thighs, in all their jiggly glory, make a great seat for her when we read bedtime stories. This is radical acceptance. I’m not saying I love my “new” body but I am appreciating all it can do for me now. It isn’t “broken” because I had a baby and I am not back to the size and weight I was before Vivienne. Let’s be honest, I’m in eating disorder recovery which means I don’t know my weight, and for my sanity I prefer to keep it that way (most days).

The Facts:
What I do know is I may never be the size I was before Vivienne or as toned as I was before her. Before Vivienne I didn’t have a little smile to make me stop and start playing. I had the gym to greet me after a long day because I had nothing better to do than make my body stay that acceptable form, as deemed by society. When given the choice, now I would take running around the living room playing “tickle monster” over running on a treadmill any day. I would rather make homemade pizza while dancing around the kitchen to Celtic music and laughing uncontrollably at how silly we are, over taking an intense Zumba class. No, I don’t love my body all the time; in fact I still frequently have discussions with my eating disorder treatment team about how I “miss” the body I had when I was living in my eating disorder before Vivienne. However, I don’t miss it enough to go back to that life. Vivienne is more important. Enjoying my life with my family is more important. Appreciating my body because even when I mistreated it, my body allowed me to have a child and it is still here to help me enjoy that child. That is more important.

My body has changed and I don’t always like the ways in which it has, but my soul has changed for the better. I’m lively, I’m in love with a little 31 inch 20 month old, who has completely stolen my heart and is changing it for the better.

That is body acceptance. It isn’t always loving the body you have but appreciating your body for what it is and what it can do. Body acceptance is saying “Dang, I look good,” regardless of what society says, when you’re feeling on top of the world. Body acceptance isn’t about working out every day and losing enough weight to get back to the “pre-baby body” just with a few extra stretch marks; it is about appreciating the body in this moment, exactly as it is now. Like I said, this is still a work in progress for me and I am not an expert, but I feel like I am getting closer each day to body acceptance and love. I hope other moms of toddlers (and those readers without children) realize you have to accept and appreciate your body for all it can do not just what it looks like. You are not your body.

On that note, I will leave you with a quotation I saw the other day:
“Start with body acceptance. Body love will come.”

With Body Love,
Lane

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