Moms’ Body Image – Part 2

The main reason I want to have a healthy body is so I can enjoy this time with my children.

My life has changed in the past two weeks.  I’m not the same person.

It’s been freeing and inspiring–beyond words, really.  And it’s going to take a whole lot more than one post to share what I’ve learned, but today will be a start.

When I wrote part one of Moms’ Body Image, I didn’t know what kind of a response I would get.  I braced myself for mean comments and scathing emails, but surprisingly, I didn’t receive even one.

Instead, I witnessed an outpouring of love, full of empathy, heart-breaking stories, and solid, sensible wisdom.   It’s this wisdom that I would now like to share with you. (But for the full scope, you’ll need to go back to the comments on the original post and listen to my recent podcast with Dawn Wessman.)

Below are the two questions I asked and a synopsis of the advice I received.

How do I get to the point that I can really love and appreciate my body?

(The answers to this question are what really changed me.  All the fitness/nutrition advice is meaningless to me if I don’t believe I’m worth the effort.)

Idea #1: Verbally express the love and gratitude I want to feel.

These three comments (along with the suggestions Dawn gave me in the podcast) really inspire me:

I eat healthy and exercise because I deserve to be healthy and happy. I do it because I love myself, and I am worth it! -Heidi

I muster up the effort, and I tell my girls how much I love my body parts. I talk about my beautiful tummy that held babies, my strong strong legs, my lovely hips. It is painful, but I do it until I half-believe it. You should see my seven-year-old beam with pride as she hears me talk about myself that way. I never ever let them hear me talk disparagingly about my body. I put on my bathing suit and jump in the pool with confidence – like cellulite is the latest fashion.  -Heather

One of the things that really helped me was to say, out loud, “thank you” to my various body parts. The thought of it felt so strange, but saying it out loud felt very different. It felt hard. Really, really hard. It might sound silly, but saying “thank you” to my sagging belly, to my sagging breasts, just brought me to tears. So I kept saying it. I would look in the mirror at my body, and instead of saying, “I hate you” I would say, “thank you for holding my child” or “thank you for letting me nurse my son” and it started to extend to the rest of me, until I started saying “thank you for allowing me to bend down today a million times, knees. I’m so thankful you’re still working” and “thank you hands, and feet, and mouth, for letting me smile, and make cookies, and walk through the woods.” -Jess

I tried this positive self-talk for the first time two weeks ago.  While I was making my bed, I told my 10- and 12-year-old daughters about my post and the issues I was trying to overcome, and when I got in the shower, I exclaimed, “I am so grateful for my body!  It is a miracle! It is beautiful!”

Then I paused, a little shocked. Because I realized that I actually believed what I was saying.

My girls, on the other side of the shower curtain, didn’t know why I had gone silent.  Together, they championed, “We can’t hear you, Mom! SAY IT, MOM! Tell us how you love yourself!”

So I yelled the words again. And tears streamed down my cheeks. And it was victory.

Idea #2: Remind myself of truth.

For example, my body is a gift. A mom whose father-in-law has cancer said this:

I am thankful that I have my body to use, to run, to serve others, and to enjoy. If I really push myself in my workout, I think of my father-in-law, and I almost feel like I am doing it for him.

I also need to realize that my inner-critic can be a help.

Personally, I embrace this dialogue in my head and try to use it to my advantage. It sometimes gives me that extra push when I need it to eat more healthy and stay active. I refuse to allow it to control me though or make me feel bad about myself. I instead concentrate on asking myself . . . is this valid? Am I not doing the things for myself that are important to my health right now? Have I been slipping and allowing too much on my plate? Can I control these things or is it just a busier time? Then, if I can do something about it, I take the necessary steps. If I feel I’m being too hard on myself, I force my brain to stop thinking about it by concentrating on what I have been doing to stay healthy and which is reasonable under the circumstances (balancing work, kids, household chores, children’s activities and so on).  -Angela

And I must remember that I do matter.

I think one of the most important things I have taught myself over the years, is that I am not just a mother. I am a whole person. And that whole person deserves as much care as those I mother.  When my body is doing well, everything else seems to do that much better. Taking care of ourselves shouldn’t be seen as a luxury, but a necessity. -Jan

This thought struck my core:

The best thing I can do is look at myself the way God does, cultivate the love for my body that God has. Once, when I was looking in the mirror and hating my body, He told me, “Don’t hate what I love. Don’t despise what I call holy.” -Anne

Beautiful, don’t you think?

And my 12-year-old emailed me several of these reminders from Pinterest:

I love that she’s watching out for me.

Idea #3: Think beyond the physical.

I really feel like we could all do ourselves and each other a favor by not assuming the person who appears to “have it all” really does. Just because some people’s challenges are not as visible as we may feel our own are does not mean they are without troubles. I try to do regular community service to remind myself of this. There is nothing like helping others to keep my own troubles in perspective. -Rachel

I try to avoid complimenting other women on their looks and downplay others’ compliments on MY looks, trying to focus instead on things that are really meaningful and important to women. -Allyson

Less mirrors around the house! (No, really. The less you look at yourself, the less you’re caught up in thinking about your body’s flaws). -Mary

Idea #4: Ignore the media.

My sister-in-law Jodi took this photo in the ladies’ restroom at her university.  I had to include it.  (Don’t you want one of these on your own mirror?)

The media’s impact on our definition of beauty is enormous. Listen to what Rachel said:

Like you, I have a mother who did not obsess over her body–she had breast cancer for 13 years and was often swollen, bald, and bruised, but she was SO beautiful and she never complained about her physical looks–so where did I learn to obsess over this?? The only thing I can think of is our modern media and culture.

This hit close to home because I majored in Communications at my university.  I studied ads that target women. I specialized in dissecting their techniques.  And therefore, I thought I was immune.

But as I thought deeply about it, I realized I had bought into all of this.  The fitness magazines, the slender women on TV . . all those images of “perfection” that barrage me from every which way.

It’s like having someone lie to you as they stare you straight in the eyes–and believing them, even though you know they’re lying!

At first, I was a little upset with myself for being so foolish.  But then I started to feel powerful.

I don’t have to listen to them!

And whenever I feel the urge to berate myself for my out-of-shapeness, I change the dialogue and say to the media, “You have no power over me!  You are lying to me.  I don’t buy into this idea of beauty you are holding up as an impossible standard.  You don’t care about me.  I refuse to give you that control!”

Wow, that feels good.

If we, as the mothers of the next generation, refuse to watch, agree with, and financially support what the media is trying to do, they will have to change.  They’re concerned about the bottom line here, and we are the ones who make that bottom line happen.  This is a bigger movement than I knew, but one I’m so excited to support.

(For more on this, visit this amazing article about photoshopping on Beauty Redefined. They tell the story behind these two Kelly Clarkson photos that were taken only three days apart.)

So, in the meantime, what can deliberate mothers do to protect their families from these influences?

Discuss media influence.  Teach children about airbrushing, trends, and media spins.  Show them this video by the Dove Campaign.  -Mary

I don’t let media enter our life unless it’s something we choose. We don’t watch TV, but we occasionally watch shows and movies on Netflix (usually something from PBS or an old movie). If my husband watches a football game or something with the kids around, we mute the commercials. When I watch commercials now, I’m so surprised at how quickly I start thinking about my own deficiencies – they make a lot of money by making women dislike themselves.

I don’t bring any women’s magazines or catalogs into the house. If I go through the checkout lane with my kids, we look at a magazine like O or something without half-naked women on the cover.

I point out true beauty I see in women of all sizes, shapes, colors and ages. (Three quotes above by Heather.)

Can you feel the power growing within you? Can you feel the love for your body that you deserve? Because that’s a wonderful place to start.

Now we’re moving on . . .

What are the key principles I need to learn to help me put my physical care as a priority?

Idea #1: I can make exercise an appointment.

Adele has a coach who helps her set up a personal home workout program that she executes on her own three days a week.

The trainer is a luxury, but I give up most of what I would spend on clothes. And I am worth it.

Gretchen exercises early in the morning:

I get up half an hour earlier and spend half an hour exercising. I rotate running intervals, lifting weights, and practicing yoga. I run out my door before I have brushed my teeth or made my bed. I just make it happen and it makes my whole day easier. My body and brain feel more alive, and I feel better emotionally because I took some time for just myself.

Suzanne has a variety of methods:

I have had success with an early-early morning walking buddy or group (nice to get to socialize and solve the world’s problems before the sun comes up!), walking groups at the park (where we would take turns with walking and watching bigger kids play on the equipment), indoor walking at the mega mall before it opened with babies in strollers, exercise group with an instructor or videos at the church building, running groups (love Jeff Galloway’s walk-run method), and in bad weather or no friends to go with–Jillian Michaels’ 30 day shred (an under 30 min. workout that works), and lots of audiobooks on long walks alone.

My boys are now big enough that they can go with me on decent runs or bike rides- they are energetic workouts partners with lots to say! My husband and I alternate running 5ks with each of them individually ,and they love it when it’s their turn (not sure if it’s the running, time alone with a parent, the race’s “goodie bag”, or that we get matching t-shirts!).

Mary also makes exercise into a social occasion:

Some things I’ve thought of are doing physical activities with my children, like hiking, playing basketball, going swimming, or, my personal favorite, dance parties around the house after dinner (the added bonus of doing this sort of thing with your kids is that they see that it’s good to be active, without perceiving in you an obsession with exercise or weight-loss). If date nights with your husband are something you make sure happens on a regular basis, then you can play tennis or go indoor rock climbing together.

My point is simply that there are SO many things that we as mothers want and need to do with our time. Finding ways to accomplish two things at once even though your focus is only in one place? That’s golden.

Rachel’s story made me smile:

I still don’t love to exercise, but I found a friend who does and when we exercise together her enthusiasm is contagious. Not to mention my 16-month-old thinks lunges are the funniest thing on earth. He howls with laughter, which makes me do more.

And I’m in the process of applying Kristi’s advice:

I have started making friends with all the happiest people in my work out classes. I have found that makes me compare less and now I have a great group of people of all ages, shapes, and sizes with whom I can’t wait to see every time I go to the gym.

Other mothers enjoy belly-dancing, tap-dancing, or ballet.  (Who says you have to start these activities as a little girl?)

I’ve made exercise a priority for a full two weeks now.  It isn’t an option anymore.  I plan it into each and every day . . . and it feels amazing.

Idea #2: I can wear clothes that I like.

My closet was full of clothes in the wrong size that made me feel squished, pinched and downright ugly. I found a fabulous silhouette that works for my new body type. I’m an apple. I pretty much look four months pregnant at all times. Empire waists are my nemesis. But blousy tops that have an elastic at the bottom, paired with skinny pants are my best friends! Nobody needs to know that underneath that blousy top is a blousy body.  And I use bright colors and fun accessories to draw attention away from my trouble spots. I am the queen of the ‘statement necklace’, and jokingly tell my friends that the statement my necklace is making is “DON’T LOOK AT MY TUMMY!! LOOK AT MY NECKLACE INSTEAD!!” -Beth

Another mom said this:

In the shower the other day I had an epiphany. I am struggling so hard to get back to a woman who no longer exists. For the first time I’m living an authentic inspired life, why am I clinging to an outdated sense of self? Souls change and bodies do too. I had resisted buying new clothes, kept boxes of pre-pregnancy clothes, subtly punishing myself. I decided it was time for re-invention, time to embrace my light.• I went shopping. The spring colors are fabulous, I let go of my judgments around size and bought things that made me feel good. Bright yellow shorts, a rocking maxi dress, even a couple of swimsuits! No more “this will be perfect if I loose a couple of pounds.” If it doesn’t fit NOW it’s not coming in the closet.

Anyone want to go shopping with me?

Idea #3: I can start small.

If our lives our busy with night-time baby feedings, health problems, or major family events, we might not be in a position to start a brand new diet/fitness regimen, but there are small decisions that anyone can start making . . . today.

  • We can make a commitment to eat fruits and veggies first when hunger strikes.
  • We can curb nighttime eating by making it a priority to get to bed at a reasonable hour.
  • We can walk for just 15 minutes a day . . . or jog just a mile.
  • We can drink water more regularly.
  • If our awesome intentions to join an aerobics class at the gym are thwarted, we can have a much shorter routine to fall back on.  Anne says that pushups, lunges and jumping jacks–even for five minutes in the morning–energizes her and helps her maintain healthy habits. Even just stretching for a few minutes when she is sick is doable, and it helps her avoid the daily decision of whether to exercise or not.

Idea #4: I can improve my perspective on food.

We determine our attitudes about food. It is fuel for our body, so we can train our brains to choose good fuel. -Meredith

At our home, we don’t talk about weight. We do talk about being active and we do talk about choosing a variety of good foods, but we don’t count calories and we don’t even own a scale. And I’m better because of it.

The most healthy people are those who are active and eat a wide variety of good foods – not those who are skinny. -Wendy

I trust God/nature that if I eat all natural, healthy foods and work hard, my body shape will take care of itself. -Heather

We learned to let go of “food traditions” like having massive amounts of food for family celebrations or thinking of certain foods as a reward (we discovered that our old reward food made us feel sick). -Jan

I started asking myself if I was eating because I was hungry. I put little mental notes (although sticky notes might work too) on foods I was likely to snack on when I was bored, or wanted a break, and I also started replacing them with snack foods that I enjoyed, but that were better for me. Crunchy things, like sugar snap peas, baby carrots, and really, really good hummus.

I drank more water, and less alcohol. I got out of the house more, for walks in the woods with my kid, and swimming around in the pool as much as I can. Mentally shifting from the idea of my body as a “failure” to the idea of it as something in process, as less of a thing, and more of an embodiment of my spirit–and how best to care for it as though it was holding something precious, and vital to my own well being and the well being of those around me. -Jess

And be brave in my decisions.

I think it’s wise to live your life in the light, and not hide things. We can start there. We eat what we eat, in front of anyone. Eating right and exercising takes courage too. I have had co-workers try to sabotage (or in their minds) tease me if I bring a healthy lunch. I’m not sure why. There were days when I deliberately brought some junk food with me, so I could feel like I would connect and not stand out. But over time, I am learning (still a process for me) to be brave and be proud of trying to be healthful. I have also become aware over time of my “trigger foods.” Foods that once I start eating, I can’t stop–and that leads to more unhealthy choices. I couldn’t possibly stop eating all of these foods, but I wrote down my personal triggers. I try to moderately eat them, and think about it when I am eating. Any food that almost feels “addictive’ to me is something that I have to be careful with. -Janalyn

Idea #5: I can do all of these things for the right reasons.

When Dawn Wessman (from the podcast) spoke at one of our recent Power of Moms Retreats, she said, “What will your children remember about you after they’re grown?”

One child might say, “My mom always played outside with us.”

Another child might say, “My mom read books with me.”

A third child might say, “My mom looked so good in her jeans.”

(She was kidding on that last one.)

Health and fitness are wonderful, but I think the reason I’ve been shying away from really taking care of myself is because it felt so superficial.  But now my motives are different.

I want to play with my children and have energy to laugh with them. I want to be a strong woman who knows she can do hard things. I want to pave the way for my daughters and sons to live healthy, happy lives.  I want to breathe easily each day, knowing that in spite of the craziness around me, I made the time to treat myself like a person.

We can do this, moms.  We can do this together.

 

QUESTION: Did any of the suggestions specifically resonate with you? Do you have anything else to add?

CHALLENGE: Assess where you are on this journey, and set one goal to improve your life today.

Below, I’ve included images and links to all the suggested books, websites, DVDs, and movies that were mentioned in the comments of my previous post.  (There are a lot, so you might want to do a quick scroll and add this to your “Someday Reading/Watching” lists.)

Suggested Books:

The Paradox of Choice: Why more is less by Barry Schwartz.

Bottom line… make rules, in this case about what you are going to eat and do for activity… so you are not making a decision every time you are faced with a decision about food or activity… just follow your rules.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kim: The Life You Want by, Bob Greene, and

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Wendy Watson Nelson

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel: Intuitive Eating. Though the principles of the book seem pretty self explanatory at first, the more I delve into them, the more I realize that our society does not teach us these basic tenets of health. I feel like the book is changing the way I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does This Life Make Me Look Fat? by Jenny Harrop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captivating: Unveiling the Mysteries of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think by Lisa Bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Train like a Mother by Dimity McDowell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Websites:

MissRepresentation

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty Redefined

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking for the Rushed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Smoothie Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courage Zone

 

 

 

 

 

 

True You Self-Worth Tea Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girls Circle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Full Plate

Workout DVDs:

Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jillian Michaels’ Frontside and Backside for Beginners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T-tapp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movies

Forks Over Knives  (also on Netflix)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supersize Me (On Netflix, as well)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also had a reader (Chels from “Fantastic Find”) submit this Christian song “More Beautiful You” by Jonny Diaz.

 

If there are any others you’d like to add, please note them in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. Milz says

    I was sitting here nursing my child reading your blog post bawling my eyes out.
    What a great post.
    Thank you.

  2. rachel.nielson says

    WOW. This is an amazing list of resources and ideas. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together, April. I am inspired.

  3. embaca says

    Hi April, I am a mom of three big boys, (all within 4yrs)all C-sections. I have struggled allot with my post pregnancy body, I’ve been told my stomach muscles will most likely never reconect where they were cut. The best way I can describe how my stomach looks is a deflated balloon. Its hard to think that it will look this way no matter how much I try to improve it, but facts are facts and life goes on. In my quest to improve my body image, and health I have included some messages on my mirror. They were inspired by these two posts, the first one reads-“Thank my body parts for their strength”, the second one-“I deserve to be healthy and happy”, the last one says-“GOD loves my body, MY HUSBAND loves my body, I love my body”. They are on the bathroom mirror where I see them while brushing my teeth, hair, and self talk myself every day. Thank you for your inspiration!!
    Emily

    • says

      Embaca, I have had 3 c-sections and another abdominal surgery, my stomach also looks like a deflated balloon and I get asked sometimes if I am pregnant. It is depressing, but I am grateful for those 3 c-sections because my last 3 (the c-sections) are literally miracle babies and if I remember those miracles it makes my deflated balloon much easier to take :)
      April thank you for this post, it is amazing and I am going to start some positive talk about my body too. I love talking about the different parts and what they do for us. I need to do better with body image since my daughter who is 4 hears what I say and I don’t want her to have the same issues!

    • cleverjeni says

      I, too, have had multiple C-secs (6, to be precise) and I, too, have a deflated balloon belly. I sometimes feel disappointed because I know I will never look the same as I once did – and that’s not helpful. But I would gladly go back and do it all again, without hesitation, because my kids are the light of my life. My 7 year old tells me I’m beautiful, my 12 year old begs me to teach her and her friends to dance, my 2 year old just wants me to pick her up and swing her around. My kids are so glad I have a cushy lap to sit on. This article made me look at my body a little differently, and though I still think I need to take better care of myself, I don’t let my belly get me down so much. My focus is more on what I can do than what I can look like. Thanks for this.

  4. mummyfox says

    Thanks April for being honest enough to be real. Its inspiring to be able to identify with someone’s issues and then see them make a change. I have a question for you. Do you think its possible to make these changes when you have very young children. When its children and housework all day with barely a moment to breathe? I have 3 five and under and I look after two littlies under two most days and to be honest I struggle to make any consistent changes. I seem to start something like this and it peters out as soon as anything extra arrives on my plate. Any tips for making changes in the early years of mothering?

    • April Perry says

      Such good questions! I’ve been thinking about them all week. I know it’s possible to make these changes when you have young children. Not because I had great success with that, personally, but because I know of moms who have. (If one person has done it, it’s possible. And if we don’t know anyone who has, then we do our best to MAKE it possible and BE that one, right?)

      This post might be helpful for you–as far as creating time for yourself:

      http://powerofmoms.com/2008/10/mommys-naptime-101-2/

      The best thing I know is to get to bed early (give up TV, etc.) and get up early for 30 solid minutes of exercise. And then having good foods in your home to fuel your body.

      A LOT of it is the mental stuff . . . which can be done at any stage.

      I think when you have lots of little children, it’s 3 times as hard to accomplish any goal. But it’s 10 times as satisfying, and it gives you a strength that will bless you your whole life.

      You are doing great work. Honestly, you’re carrying a HUGE responsibility right now. I think if there’s any time in your life when you deserve to care for yourself, it’s now. But please remember to be gentle with yourself and acknowledge how fabulous you are.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. Rachelle Price says

    There are some cheap Southwest flights right now, come up and let’s go SHOPPING!!! xoxo LOVE all the honest sharing that is going on with this. It is real and affects every mother at some point. LOVE the growth that is happening!!!

    • April Perry says

      Rachelle, I am seriously considering coming up there to visit you and go shopping. Maybe for my birthday, Eric can buy me a flight and give me a couple of days away. You are wonderful, and I appreciate your friendship so much!

  6. Marie says

    Wow, thank you for your posts on this issue. After your first one, my daughters wanted to go to a mother-daughter swim party. They asked me all day and I couldn’t promise them that we would be going. They really wanted to go and asked if I was going to go swimming too. I still couldn’t promise them anything. I cringed all day and didn’t want to go but I saw how excited they were. Usually I would be one of those moms that were on the deck watching their daughters, but not this time. My girls squealled in excitement when I walked out of my room dressed to go swimming. It even got me excited!! I just forgot about all of my stretch marks and imperfections and it was actually fun and rejuvenating!

    This last post really got me thinking about what my girls are picking up from me and the media. I deal with body issues every single day and I don’t want my girls to do the same. I’m going to start loving my body for what it has done and for what it does for me now. I’ll even be proud of the fact that my stomach looks like a bowl of raised bread dough when you punch it down :) because that stomach of mine gave me 6 of the best kids ever!

    I have made huge improvements in my health and that of our families. We are eating healthier and I have even started exercising again (and my girls are joining me which makes it so much more fun!). I would rather be healthy that super-skinny anyway. Skinny doesn’t mean healthy.

    Thanks so much April!!! I admire you!

  7. Carla says

    I sure appreciate all these words of inspiration and affirmation, thank you!
    I feel compelled to say, -the short film by dove is cool, but I believe they are the same company that sells axe cologne for men (think thousands of scantilly clad skinny photoshopped women running towards one man on a beach). Hopefully I am wrong, because watching something like this video would be so much more encouraging if I didn’t know it’s all still part of a marketing ploy. :(

  8. Seana says

    April, thank you so much for sharing about your struggles. I have never commented before, but I am an avid reader/fan of Power of Moms. It takes immense courage to share openly about this, but trust me- I appreciate it!!!

    I am 23, and a mom of a nine-month old. When I was 15, I had a severe eating disorder and had to go to rehab. Since this time, I struggle occassionally with my body image. The thing that really encouraged me to seek help was that eating disorders are hereditary- primarily because we teach our children how to think about food. At fifteen, I knew that I wanted to have children someday, and I never wanted to teach them to be at war with food like I was. In fact, there was an article I found that had “8 Reasons to Start Loving Your Body Today” that I taped to my mirror. Number 8 read, “Teach your daughter to love hers.” Now, I have a son, but I still want to raise him to take care of his body.

    Like you mentioned, eating is not all-or-nothing, and I love that! We need to eat healthy food, but that does not mean that we can never have cupcakes and/or ice cream; we just can’t over-indulge. These details vary per person, but I still enjoy desserts occasionally; however, I am careful to savor every bite.

    Things that have helped me in the past: 1- prayer. Sometimes I pray to God before I eat. I thank him for the food (this is a luxury), and I pray that He helps me to eat nutritiously and “just the right amount.” 2- I have learned to enjoy exercise. I am careful not to overdo it. When it hurts, I stop. When I feel sick, I stop. I also take breaks. I do not run EVERYDAY. 3- I remind myself of all of the great things that my body has done. It gets me from place to place. It grew and nurtured my son in utero. It currently creates this amazing milk full of antibodies and vitamins that nourish him. When I think of it like that, I really love my body!

    For anyone who is struggling and feels out of control, ASK FOR HELP! It takes a lot of courage to ask for help, especially as a mom, but you’re not alone. There is so much help out there, and sometimes we just need a boost.

    These are WONDERFUL suggestions that you added. I really want to look into those books. I have read Captivating, and it is one of my favorite books of all time. I am one of those always-striving-to-be-perfect type of women, and this book helps me to embrace who I am- as we all should!

    Again, thank you for sharing!!!

    • April Perry says

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Seana. I love seeing how you have made this into your strength. I’ve been reading these comments with my daughters, and we’ve been having lots of great talks. It means a lot to me to have so many good voices and positive resources for my family. If every mother/daughter could have these conversations early on, I think a lot of problems could be avoided. My mom and I have just recently been discussing this, and I’ve been amazed at how deep her pain is on this issue. But it’s never too late to start talking. Thanks again!

  9. says

    The other day my 2 and 4 year old dashed across the room naked and I really noticed their body shapes for the first time. One is built like me. A bit like a rectangle. :) The other has a defined waist and curvy hips. As I studied their shapes, I realized that I am the shape I am because I was born that way. I can’t get the “ideal” body no matter how hard I try because my bones won’t let me. Instead of feeling down on myself for what I look like, I need to focus more on taking good care of the body I have and wear clothing that makes me feel confident. This is the body God gave me and His creations are good!

  10. Ann says

    I know I’m two months behind the rest of you in posting, but I wanted to thank April and the rest of you for these wonderful articles! They have helped me recognize things that I never have before, and have inspired me to make some changes in my life. I was one who at first thought, “I don’t really have a problem with that”, but then started to get real with myself and recognized some very unhealthy thoughts and words I’d think and say about my body!

    Because of family genes, I’ve always been pretty skinny, but when I started paying attention to how I’d criticize my own body, I realized that I needed to make some changes. I’m ashamed and embarrassed to say it, but I find that even with my small tummy I find myself pulling it in when I wear a swimsuit and wishing it was smaller and firmer. I could also list the many other criticisms I am quick to produce every time I look at my body (skin, stretch marks, hair, bum, legs, etc). After recognizing this bad habit, I wondered how I’d feel when I’m older, have had more kids and have even more body “issues” if I kept this up. Since I heard Dawn’s suggestion on the podcast, I made the decision to stop saying negative things about my body – even if it’s a small thing. And in just a couple of days, I can feel the difference! I feel less obsessed with my flaws, and more focused on more important things. I am shifting my focus, and it feels amazing. And like April said, it’s empowering!

    The first step for me was to acknowledge my feelings. I decided to write down everything about my body that I don’t particularly like. Then I thought about why I don’t like each of those things (is it because the women in the media don’t seem to have those issues, or because I’m worried the mom next door might judge me?). Then I thought about whether I would realistically be able to “fix” each of those “issues” or not. Then on the ones that I won’t be able to change, or at least not the way I’d like it to be, I decided to just accept that it is the way it’s going to be. The last step I’ve been working on is to be mentally and verbally grateful for the wonderful, amazing body I have. I took some of the advice you women gave and said some things to my body out loud today, such as “thank you back!” as I bent over to pick up my daughter without pain. It felt a little silly, but made me happy!

    I haven’t finished these steps I listed above, and have just begun what I know might be a long road to a completely healthy view of my body, but I’m glad to have started it and so grateful for the deliberate mothers out there who have inspired me!

  11. Crystal says

    Like you I do my best to care for my body with a busy life taking care of my family. Needless to say I don’t excel in that area, but I have been reflecting on the how in the Renaissance they valued soft curvy rounded women. I tell my husband and myself how lucky he is to have a wife that is so beautiful according to their standards. And it actually has helped me feel better about myself. Clothes that fit help too.

    • April Perry says

      My husband and I just had that exact same conversation this morning. :) I have very curvy hips, and I was thinking a bit critically. It’s so nice to give ourselves a break and not try to fit into the “right” standards of the moment. Thanks for sharing, Crystal!

  12. says

    This post is amazing. It sums up everything a mom needs to know to get started on a better attitude toward her (our) bodies. Thank you so much for pieceing these thoughts together and sharing them. The thoughts that resonated with me the most is to say a daily Thank You to my body. I need to thank my body more for all it can do and not criticize it for all it cannot do. I’ve struggled with eating disorders and body image in the past and I agree that it’s healthiest not to even mention weight in the home with my kids. Complimenting someone on their weight loss is innapropriate in my opinion and does nothing for the overall positive self image.. I’ve often shared this post I wrote with family members who always ealk about weight when we get together during the holidays, and feel that it has made a huge difference in how we interact with each other.
    http://www.sallyseashell.com/2010/11/holiday-complimentsa-weighty-issue.html

  13. Siona Davis says

    Oh my! I just have to say…..I LOVE THIS!!!!! Thank you and you have inspired me, all of you that have put their input in! Dare to be different! or to think differently!

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