As beautiful as it is, motherhood comes with enormous amounts of pressure.
There are the pressures to be amazing moms who can raise star athletes with 4.0 grade averages and model looks.
There are pressures about careers and time spent with family, friends, and everyone else. There are financial pressures.
And there are the pressures about our bodies from what I call the three “s” words – society, spouse (partner), and self. Balancing these is the key to a healthier life, both inside and out, for moms struggling with their weight.
The Pressures of Society to Lose Weight
You can’t walk by a newsstand without seeing the glamorous picture of a celebrity who is a new mother, and has the body of a teenager who has never touched an ounce of chocolate in her life.
For most of us moms, yes, that strikes a chord with our inner womanhood, but we are also smart enough to put that image in perspective. There are, sadly, more painful pressures in society that women place on each other.
You rarely hear a woman speak of how many more pounds she has to lose, but you’ve probably heard at least one boast about her immediately shrinking stomach.
And you’ve almost certainly heard, and perhaps been a part of, a conversation where the expanding waistline of another woman was the fodder for topic.
- Don’t buy the magazines that make you feel bad about yourself.
- Don’t gossip about other women’s weight. It is more unflattering than stretch marks.
- Don’t go on a diet because the other soccer moms think you should. The physical results might be the same, but the emotional ones will be vastly different.
The Pressures from Spouses to Lose Weight
If you’ve ever asked your husband, “Does this make my butt look big?” you really aren’t worried about your butt, you’re worried about how your husband feels about you.
Some spouses might answer that question with a resounding “NO!”, while others might just pause long enough for you to doubt the sincerity of whatever answer they produce.
An even riskier group of husbands might answer truthfully and affirm your worst fears. If your spouse is putting the pressure on for you to lose that baby weight, consider your options.
- Ask him to watch the baby while you head to the gym or go for a bike ride. Don’t hesitate to stop on the way home for a new pair of jeans, either.
- Cook the foods you want to eat.
- Don’t ask him how your butt looks in those jeans.
- Tell him that you have known your body much longer than he has, and you are very aware of the changes that it has gone through as you grew and birthed his child. If he wants to continue to look at or touch your body, those comments will not help motivate you – they will only deject you even more.
- Tell him to shove it. My dear husband knows the first time he tells me I look plumper, heavier, or less attractive because I weigh more, will be the last time he should plan to speak with me for a very, very, very long time.
The Pressures from Self to Lose Weight
Post-pregnancy baby weight feels heavier than its actual mathematical measurement. It weighs on your mind and your self-esteem. It is also, however, the only real and true motivator that will be strong enough for positive, long lasting change.
- Your ability or inability to lose weight does not determine what type of person you are, or what type of mother you will become.
- Instead of striving for a single goal focused on weight loss, strive for balance, because motherhood is one long and continuous effort to keep the scales balanced.
- Your commitment to yourself and your own goals needs to come from within in order for them to be attainable.
- Set reasonable goals. The pressure to lose weight can be overwhelming if your gold standard is to fit into all of your pre-pregnancy clothes. Set smaller goals, such as weekly or monthly, and you’ll feel more accomplished as you move along your path.
- If you feel like you can’t do it alone, seek an unbiased partner such as a personal trainer, physician, or dietician.
- You are worth it to put a priority on your own health needs. This includes the emotional well-being of healthy self-esteem, as well as the physical health of your body. The healthier you are, the more capable you will be when it comes to mothering, working, and loving – but the loving needs to start with you.