As a new Mama, I have been plagued by body issues. On an intellectual level, I can understand how biology and physics change your body when pregnant, and how those changes can be permanent in some ways and how your body can be restored in others. On a societal level, I have been lectured a thousand ways about this very subject. Open a magazine, turn on the news, even listen to your mother and her friends, and eventually your own friends. “She ‘let herself go’ after the baby.” “She looks so amazing, she must have had work done. No one looks that good a month after her baby is born.” I would high five anyone who managed to make it to child bearing years without hearing this negative messaging. So is it any wonder that a woman can get negative about her post baby body?
Enter Shelly Robinson, stage right.
Shelly is a women’s health coach specializing in helping busy moms get unstuck, reclaim their health, and rock a life they love, one baby step at a time.
Because remember, not only did your body change, but now your whole life has with a new baby and no sleep and no time to cook meals but obviously a need to eat and no energy and etc. etc. Shelley is helping women get positive about their new bodies and their new lives, as well as providing tips to live life fully. She and I sat down to chat about the good work she does.
Good day, Shelly, and thanks for taking the time to chat with me about this. It’s an important issue for me, and I am sure many women can nod in agreement that post baby woes get them down too.
Thank you for the opportunity to chat with you and your awesome readers, Cristin!
How did you get passionate about this issue?
I became passionate about this issue for two big reasons.
After my first baby, I felt really pressured by the messages we receive in our culture (that you mentioned) about how FAST we’re expected to get “back into pre-baby shape” (um, hello, we just gave birth to a baby – can moms have a sec to appreciate this miracle before being asked how soon we’ll be back in our skinny jeans?!).
But to be totally honest with you, I pretended not to care. Six years ago after having my first child, if the topic of losing weight or getting “back in shape” came up with my husband or friends, I’d blow it off and act like it wasn’t a big deal when/if I got back into shape.
But in reality, I was secretly counting calories and restricting foods, desperate to drop the weight. Back then, I associated my self-worth with the scale and whether I fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. So, I punished myself on the treadmill, did ridiculous detoxes, and made my life miserable all in the name of getting my ‘pre-baby’ body back.
The other reason I became passionate about helping moms reclaim their health was related to my struggle with infertility (something many of your readers can probably relate to, as infertility has become more prevalent in our country).
Though I don’t specialize in that field of health specifically, my thirst for knowledge on this topic during that time in my life led me down a very fascinating and enlightening path about women’s health in general. And, the more I learned, the more I wanted to take that knowledge and passion and use it to serve and support the women I love most in this world – mamas.
Why do you think women have such body image woes post pregnancy?
Unless you live under a rock, it is incredibly hard to escape the onslaught of media images, stories, and messages we receive about what moms *should* look like after having a baby.
When we’re bombarded with these messages on a regular basis, women can’t help but feel disappointed when they don’t live up to the unrealistic expectations that Hollywood/media/marketing gurus paint regarding how a woman’s body is supposed look after birth.
I believe this onesie has been taken off the shelves, but a few months ago this was actually being sold in stores. Thank God, consumers were outraged and demanded it be taken out of circulation immediately. But these are the kinds of forces women and little girls are up against.
Somewhere along the way, the miraculous story of how awesome it is that we can even grow and carry new life in our bodies gets completely lost. I think if we as a society saw what a gift that is, we would focus much less on the physical aspect of our post-baby bodies and more on the miracle of childbirth itself.
How can these body image issues manifest themselves?
Wow, that is a wonderful question. Often people don’t see the direct relationship between how they perceive themselves and how that ripples across other aspects of their life.
When you see your body as the enemy, that lack of self-love tends to manifest into how you show up in the world. As a result, women end up feeling disempowered, unworthy, and uncomfortable in their own skin – not a fun or enjoyable way to spend this time we’re given here on Earth, right?
More specifically, though, negative body image can also translate into binge eating, numbing out on social media to avoid those uncomfortable feelings, an inability to handle stress well, a lack of passion for life, and, most sadly, passing those negative beliefs about ourselves on to our children.
I know in my heart of hearts that no mother would ever intentionally pass that on to her kids, but our brilliant children pick up on EVERYTHING and they *know* when they’re mama loves herself and they also *know* when she doesn’t. So, by helping moms heal the relationship they have with their body, I’m also passionate about helping them pass those values on to their children.
What sort of tips do you have for someone to adjust how she feels about herself?
One thing I know for sure is that how you feel about your body has nothing to do with your body and everything to do you with your mind.
When I work with moms on changing the way they see themselves, we spend lots of time on mindset work in the beginning. We treat the brain as a muscle and train it to begin seeing her body as beautiful and whole. It takes some time to rewire our brains into believing this because for many women, they’ve spend their entire lives believing the opposite to be true.
Here are a few specific and practical ways to “retrain” your brain into believing what’s true about your body (that it’s whole and beautiful, NOT broken or unattractive).
- Create a brief affirmation about your body, write it on a post-it or put it on your desktop – somewhere you’ll see it multiple times a day – and say it regularly throughout the day. Here are some great examples that I encourage my clients to start with.
- I also encourage clients to write a letter to their body, thanking it for all it’s done for them. So often, we spend time criticizing our bodies for what we don’t like, and it’s amazing how differently we feel about ourselves when we tell our bodies what we actually appreciate about them.
- Lastly, for women who’d like to take a deeper dive into this topic, one of my favorite books on body image and weight loss is “A Course in Weight Loss” by Marianne Williamson.
Do you have any suggestions for women who find themselves going on carb benders at the end of the day (slowly raising my hand on this one)?
Absolutely! I struggled with this for years and can totally relate to the desire to want to face-plant in brownie batter after a long day in the office and/or with children.
The first thing I recommend is integrating self-care into your day. By taking small breaks and doing something you enjoy during the daylight hours, your desire to numb out on sugar or carbs at night decreases dramatically.
Second – and I know this one is much more challenging because I am living this struggle right now with a baby and kindergartner who BOTH like to party at night – but SLEEP as much as your life permits. Getting proper rest is crucial in managing carb cravings, particularly at night.
I actually have a free guide on this very topic entitled “How to Not Eat Cookie Dough After the Kids are in Bed” that can be accessed here for even more helpful tips in this challenging area for so many moms.
How can a new mom integrate exercise in her newly crazy life?
Finding the time to exercise can feel daunting to moms, whether you’ve got a newborn or a 10-year-old, but it’s totally possible to do if you can manage 10-15 minutes at a time.
You don’t need a gym membership or an hour a day. High intensity/burst training is perfect for busy moms as it allows you to get your heart rate up and your sweat on in a short amount of time, and continues to burn fat and calories hours after your workout.
One of my favorite fitness experts who provides free at home 15-minute workouts (requiring no equipment) is The Betty Rocker.
Going on walks with your kiddos or getting in any sort of movement you enjoy are also great options. It’s important that our children see exercise and physical activity as an important part of life as well.
I think partners can really help or hinder this new body acceptance process. What advice do you have for a new Mama who might not feel supported by her sweetheart?
Another awesome question! It all starts with mom. When you believe you’re beautiful (inside and out), you exude that confidence and it shines through to everyone, including your spouse. Your sweetheart will love and appreciate your enthusiasm for your body, and it will impact your relationship in an amazing way.
But if you’re not there yet (which is totally okay!), I think it’s important to be honest about that with your spouse, so your sweetheart can do specific things to help you feel beautiful and confident in your new body. That type of vulnerability with each other is another awesome way to grow closer as a couple.
If people wanted to learn more about you, how could they connect with you?
I would absolutely love to connect with moms out there who want to reclaim their health, their bodies, and their life. If you’d like to learn more about me, feel free to scamper on over to www.shellyrobinson.com. You can also join my Facebook community at www.facebook.com/FillUpOnLife/.
Lastly, don’t forget to grab my free guide which can be accessed here! You’ll join an amazing community of moms who are ready to take back their health and live an empowered, joyful, and amazing life, one baby step at a time.
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Thank you, Shelly, for taking the time to talk to me about this.
Below, let me know if you try any of Shelly’s suggestions and how they are working for you.