Body issues after baby. You just grew a human. Please applaud yourself.

I think this is really important. Because one of my biggest emotional issues post-Ellie was about my body. And I want to be encouraging in that because I have heard countless women talk about being fearful of having body issues after babies and they aren't even pregnant yet. I blame culture. That's a soapbox I won't jump on today because I will never depart it if I do.

I realize there's tons of stuff out there about "the shape of a mother" and "loving your body because it just went through hell and that's amazing," but let's be real...often times those articles and websites and even encouraging husbands don't help when it's just you in front of the mirror. For me, the hardest thing about recovering from pregnancy is that I don't have my baby here to make some of the things about recovery worth it. I have a 5 inch scar on the most intimate place on my body because of her and yet I don't get to hold her and appreciate that her body came out of me..that totally sucks. Regardless, it's hard no matter what. But mainly, it's so difficult to remember on a daily basis that it took almost a year (!!) for your body to get to the state it was in when you patience is really what it's all about.

Even now as I write this, I'm still in progress and not where I was pre-pregnancy, but I'm working hard and learning a whole lot along the way. And by the time I get where I want to be......I could very well be pregnant again and then the cycle continues. Oh, being a woman. So much joy. So many challenges.

Preface: I really can't speak on this subject as it relates to delivering naturally as I had a c-section for Ellie, but I digress.

For the first week after the c-section, my amazing husband literally had to lower me onto the toilet every single time I had to go, and then brace me while I went. hashtag pure selflessness, forever grateful, honored to be his wife. See what I did there.

At that point in time, I was positive I wouldn't be able to do a single crunch for YEARS. People. My gosh. Pain. I also thought "there is NO way I'm going to cleared for exercise in 6 measly weeks." (I was wrong, reason number 65345 why your body is amazeballs.)

I went for my 6 week checkup and until that point in time had been walking for exercise. Walking slowly. The doctor said I was good to go for most exercises but shouldn't jump back into something like insanity yet, and that I should really ease back into doing ab-work.......especially on the lower abs since they were, ya know, sliced and diced and everything not nice. I'm currently at 16 weeks post-partum (10 weeks cleared for exercise) and I STILL can't do much with my lower abs. I rely on running and other exercises to work them indirectly. If I work them too hard, I get this weird tingly, stingy, pulling feeling where my scar is. Eek.

I really like to mark my progress using my weeks after being cleared for exercise because I think it's way more encouraging and I've never been one to rely on diet to get good results. Plus, before you are cleared for exercise and then still for sometime afterward your stomach is this weird deflating mess and you're all like "Oh my gosh my body literally feels like pizza dough and what happened to my abs and I'll never feel attractive ever again."

Back to diet: we eat healthy around here so I knew my progress was going to pick up speed as soon as I could exercise normally again. Taking pictures is also key because it's hard to notice progress when you see yourself every day! It's awkward, I agree (especially in the weeks just after you've delivered and feel totally NOT okay with yourself.) Just do it, trust me.

One more thing I have been using consistently is the my fitness pal app. It's amazing. It's downfall is that it's purely calorie based so you could technically eat twinkies all day, stay under your limit, and still lose weight--but because we eat balanced meals around here I wasn't worried about that. You can track your exercise and food intake. I wasn't necessarily worried that I was eating too much, but wanted to see what I was averaging...and I was actually not eating ENOUGH..which can slow your metabolism.

I'm a stress-non-eater, so I'm pretty sure that was why that was happening. I mean.....child loss, slightly stressful amiright? Right now I get around 1350 a day, give or take about a hundred, and it still keeps me on target for losing. (I want to stress that I am NOT strict about this number. There are some awesome ways to calculate what your body needs for your size and goals. If I work out, I calculate an average calories burned and factor that in. This app does not calculate calories for strength training because it would be impossible to determine since calories burned would depend on your size, muscle mass, heart rate, normally I just track it for fun so I can see what all I've done. (Adding it to my fitness pal will NOT compensate for calories unless you track it under cardiovascular activity...but doing so would give you a really rough I just don't.) I actually really really really love this app, and I've never been one to calorie count.

Lastly, I really just have to give myself grace. I worked full time my entire pregnancy and oftentimes did not have enough energy to workout adequately, especially towards the end. I tried to walk/jog/do lunges and stuff but if you guys remember, my pregnancy wasn't the most relaxing of times. I hope that I'm working part-time at most during my next one so I'll have more energy to work out.

Most importantly, let me tell you what Jesus has to say about your body:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Nobody ends a blog post better than Jesus. So. Carry on. Love yourself.