Thursday, June 6, 2013

TLC for the postpartum brain

I don't know about you, but I feel depressed when I focus on the parts of a problem that I cannot control….the parts that are immoveable. When it comes to my physical appearance, though, I have often done just that: focused on things I cannot control. Given that fact, I could have very easily slipped into self-loathing postpartum. I could have gotten lost in the plumpness of my still pregnant-looking belly or the dark line that ran its length, fixated on the wideness of my hip bones that never fully disappeared, longed for the breasts of my former self, obsessed over the millions of new freckles and beauty marks that erupted all over my body during pregnancy, cried over the loss of skin elasticity in various locations, or pitied the fact that my belly button has been forever stretched and reshapened. But, I didn't. Sure, these issues occur to me at times, but I have chosen to focus on what I can control. 

In the first few months postpartum, I can honestly say that the joy (and lovely euphoric hormones!) of new motherhood almost completely shielded me from any negative thoughts about the state of my body. There was no time or reason to focus on my appearance. All I could see was how awesome my body was, because it made a perfect, beautiful little creature. I felt thankful (and still do) that becoming a mother changed the way I view my body and the importance I used to place on my appearance.

Then I arrived at the point in time when my attention began to take short breaks from obsessing over my baby. I began to slowly take stock of what had happened to my body. But, I tried not to ever linger in the mirror, because it can be overwhelming (and paralyzing) to look at the whole picture postpartum. Your entire frame has endured a massive ordeal—a metamorphasis and subsequent deflation in a relatively short period of time. It finally occurred to me that I was never going to look the same again. Maybe close, but never the same "same." 

It's not just about the weight, though. For me, losing the weight was step one. But step two is a much bigger project: renovations. That's the phase I have been in for awhile now. And for sanity's sake, I have chosen to break those renovations down into manageable chunks rather than having the expectation that I can fix it all at once. Because, when I was focused on the entire package, I just wasn't working out. I mean, who has the time to do cardio, an ab routine, weight train, tone your arms, tighten your butt and thighs, practice yoga, etc. etc. all while mothering a baby?

So, I thought to myself why not pick one thing? Maybe, the one part of your body that bothers you the most….or that you'd most like to show off. Because, sometimes, having one awesome part of your body is a great way to detract attention from the less appealing parts and feel confident about what you do have going on. Age-old female trick, right? So, just one body part. Work on that until you achieve a noticeable difference and then move on to the next. All the while, working in some light cardio so the parts that aren't being focused on are still getting a little attention. For me, this has been a great way to ease into exercising postpartum while keeping myself motivated instead of giving up because it's too much work.

To that end, I will share the workout I am currently loving (and focusing on) tomorrow. Check back then!

Did you miss my earlier health & fitness posts?
5 ways to lose the baby weight without trying
My go-to meal: fueling a healthy, fit pregnancy and losing the baby weight

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