As a non-diet dietitian, body image is something I have studied, talked about, prayed over, researched, and quite honestly prided myself on knowing a fair amount about. Today as I write this, I am 3 months postpartum and I have been served a heaping slice of humble pie.
Yep, I assumed I would slide right into my postpartum body unaffected by culture, media, and my own baggage. It was naive of me, but I thought with knowledge and a level head I would be ok. I just plainly didn’t think I would struggle. Today I am a higher weight than I have ever been, more sleep deprived than I ever thought possible, and just raw enough to be on my knees. I’m learning about body image from my Heavenly Father through an innovative teaching method – personal experience!
You see, recently I read something diet/weight loss/thin ideal oriented about “being in the best shape of your life postpartum.” The part of me that is not quite sailing into motherhood and this new body like I thought I would was intrigued…in an unhealthy way. The healthy part of me was angry – angry at our culture for putting that expectation on women to “get back down to your pre-pregnancy weight quickly” or “shed the pounds in no time without decreasing your milk supply.” And angry at myself for even flinching over it.
I do think it is normal for every woman to probably take some much-needed time to get used to changes that inevitably come after giving birth, and after my humble pie, I am allowing for this. However, I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I love my job, I love my clients, and I really do love my body.
As I pondered all of this and processed the statement of “being in the best shape of my life,” I heard a still, soft voice reminding me of something profound. I AM in the best shape of my life. I just delivered the most beautiful blue-eyed baby boy I have ever seen in my life. I nurtured him for 38.5 weeks with my body and now I am feeding him with my body. My body is doing all of this.
I am certainly not the shape I was a year ago and I may never be again. But I love my son. I love my husband for giving him to me. And I love my body for allowing me to give him to this world. For me, that does define this shape, this body that I am now living in. I know I will continue to catch negative body thoughts, but I get to remind myself of this truth and do the work that I have helped others accomplish. I am so very grateful that I know the non-diet message that leads to food and body peace and that I know God’s unconditional love.
Two verses I have given clients in the past to meditate on have come rushing back to me as this lesson has become so real. The first is Psalm 84:1.
How lovely are your dwelling places, Oh Lord God Almighty.
I am His dwelling place and this postpartum body I am in IS so lovely. The Word speaks this truth to me.
The other verse is Job 22:21.
Now acquaint yourself with Me and be at peace.
Peace comes when I draw close to my Maker, stay present in my body, eat intuitively, honor my energy level, and exercise when it feels good. Focusing on gratitude will help me continue to believe the truth that I really am in the best shape of my life. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray you can believe this truth as well.
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Kristen is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in eating disorders, oncology, and pediatrics. In private practice and in life, Kristen desires to incorporate the truth of God's Word into her life and the lives of her clients, knowing that it is the Truth that sets all of us free! She and her husband Keith love being part of their local church community and seeking God's will in all areas.