Many of us have lost weight before, but we’ve gained it back somehow…..over and over again. Yo-Yo dieting is something with which we are quite familiar. At some point, we may even experience hopelessness and powerlessness. Through years of working with mothers, dieters, individuals coping with affective disorders, and other mental health conditions, i’ve learned a great deal about how we treat ourselves, talk to ourselves, and exacerbate our own symptoms or conditions. Are we expected to know exactly what to do or how to treat our own conditions? The expectations we place on ourselves are often unreasonable and irrational. It’s not your fault; you just didn’t know how! We experience Yo-Yo dieting not because we don’t know what to eat or what exercises to perform, but because we are using the wrong motivations. Rather than trying a different diet, or a different trainer or training program; consider using a different motivator…..different fuel. If you find your car is puttering or isn’t driving as smoothly as you’d like, are you going to simply try driving in a different direction or are you going to check the mechanics? Look under the hood! Consider what is missing on a deeper level…mentally and emotionally…check under the hood when you find yourself disappointed with your weight loss journey.
How many of us have been motivated by a desire to change something wrong or something we dislike about ourselves? How far did we get? For some that may have worked, but for most of us, this isn’t a powerful enough motivator. How many of us (moms especially) have the time, energy or motivation to get revenge on someone who’s wronged or hurt us? At some point in our lives, hate motivates our actions very minimally if at all, and we’re more likely to walk away rather than to do something. On the contrary, how motivated are we to act in love? Let’s consider the strongest love most of us experience as mothers; our children. If our children are hurt; if they come home from school crying hysterically because of something someone said or did to them, how motivated would we be do do something about it? For most of us, love is a far more powerful motivator than hate. So now that we know this, let’s take a brief look at the relationship we have with ourselves and our bodies. We’re going to be far less motivated to prioritize our physical health when it’s extremely inconvenient, and quite difficult if our focus is solely on changing something we hate or dislike about ourselves. I’m not saying we shouldn’t work to change the things we dislike (if we can), I’m only suggesting that we allow love to be the fuel….the powerful motivator!
Before embarking on any physical health journey, consider building a stronger sense of self compassion, self-love, and appreciation for your body. Work to create a reality based perspective about your body. What I mean by a reality based perspective is keeping in mind not only the things wrong with your body, but also the things that are right. Our minds naturally go to the negatives, so we have to be intentional about creating mental space for the positives. Yes, you have stretch marks after having children, but why? What do they indicate or represent; your body stretched as your baby grew. Your body did exactly what it was supposed to. It worked extremely well for you, but sometimes we forget that part, or at least don’t create enough cognitive space for it. Why did you put on extra pounds? You had cravings? Well scientific studies have proven that cravings are real! The hormones released during pregnancy trigger the parts of the brain responsible for cravings and other impulses. Additionally, in light of the nausea, swollen feet, hip cramps, and the other discomforts, shouldn’t you be allowed to indulge in ice cream from time to time? I’d say, yes….absolutely yes! Nonetheless, if you’ve gained weight and your body changed, remembering these real factors will help us to build the self-compassion and self-love that will be a far more powerful and effective motivator than hate or disdain.
Physical health is about making healthy choices for your body in love and care. Not only exercising to lose weight, but doing it because if done correctly, it feels good to your body, and results in increased energy and improved mood. Physical health is about choosing foods that make you feel good and energized rather than heavy and lethargic. It’s about fueling a body you love with the premium fuel rather than trash oil.
So, I know your next question: “ok, so how do I learn to love and appreciate my Mom Body?”
We suggest starting with creating the following habits:
- Write down every single way in which your body worked for you during pregnancy, and read this list every day for the 1st week of your journey.
- Look in the mirror and point out every single thing you like. Do this EVERY day for the 2nd week of your journey.
- Write out the benefits of eating healthy and exercising. Focus solely on what you gain (i.e. increased energy, motivation, focus, etc.)
- Create a goal to be more physically active, but choose ONLY something you would enjoy (i.e. a nice walk outside, a dance class, etc.) and a reasonably attainable frequency to start such as 1 or 2x per week.
- Be more Mindful. Take a moment after each physical activity to notice how you feel. What is your Mood? What are you thoughts?
- Repeat #1 🙂
- Follow Mom Body Pride on Instagram and Facebook for additional support, tips, and guides.
“A thousand-mile journey begins with the first step, and can only be taken one step at a time.” -Stephen R. Covey
About the Author: Ashley Morris MSW, LCSW is a Psychotherapist, Fitness Trainer, and Proud Mother of 3! Led by passion to empower others, she offers individual counseling, Coaching, and Group Therapy and Workshops. She specializes in Weight Loss and Weight Management, and affective disorders such as Depression and Anxiety. Her office is located in Orlando Florida though she travels for workshops and trainings.