3 Ways to Support a Changing Body

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3 weeks post partum

Three weeks postpartum. We suck at selfies!

This isn’t a post about how I lost the baby weight in a ridiculously short amount of time, or about how I intend to lose the baby weight, or anything like that. It’s a post about what it’s like to be in a changing body.

To be clear, all of us are in changing bodies, all of the time. Bodies aren’t static things that stay the same. They change as we age, as we go through periods of good health or grave illness, if we sustain injuries, if we embark on a conscious journey to change our bodies by increasing muscle or reducing fat or in any other way.

Even those bodies that appear to be static are in a constant state of flux, depending on how much sleep you’ve had, what you’ve had to eat and drink, and how much your body has been moving. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to be in a body. 

For the better part of the last year my body was engaged in the work of growing a tiny human. That meant that my body increased in size, roundness, and firmness.

Now that said tiny human is out of my body (and is snoozing beside me as I write this post) my body is changing yet again. Where it was large and firm and round, it’s now smaller (though by no means small), has lost that pleasant beach ball shape, and the firmness has been replaced with a rather squishy texture.

This applies mostly to my experiences in a postpartum body, but I think that it’s also relevant for people who’s bodies are changing for another reason. I’ve experienced a changing body before – reconstructive surgery on my shoulder and a subsequent period of inactivity, a broken ankle, a fat loss journey – and each times experienced  challenges accordingly.

Being in a changing body can be tough for even the most body-positive folks. Today I want to share with you some of my strategies for working with those challenges and feeling good in a changing body.

1. Get yourself some clothes that fit your body today

It’s easy to feel crappy about yourself if your clothes don’t fit, and you deserve to have nice clothes that fit the body you’re in today.

Right now I’m in a transition period where I no longer fill out my maternity jeans and don’t yet fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. I’m basically living in high-waisted yoga tights at the moment. They’re comfy as hell, but it’s also not the most sophisticated wardrobe and makes me feel like a bit of a slob sometimes.

I try to avoid fast fashion and invest in quality pieces that will last me a long time. However, there are times when hitting the thrift store or your local H&M for some nice looking and inexpensive pieces that fit your body well right now is the thing to do.

I’m getting myself a few pairs of transition pants to fill the gap.

And you know what? Another thing about a changing body is we don’t know exactly what it’s size and shape will be if and when you reach a state of equilibrium.

When I had my first child I did end up fitting back into my pre-pregnancy jeans, but they fit me differently than they did before. The part of my body that no longer fit nicely into my favourite jeans? My calves. Weird, but true.

2. Move your body in a way that feels good right now

Depending on why or how your body is changing, your activity level may be not what you’re used to.

I have a fairly easy time giving birth, so I have been able to get back to light activity (like walking) fairly immediately. I also have pretty substantial diastasis recti to repair, so other activity that I’m used to, like yoga, is restricted for now.

Swimming is one of my favourite ways to move my body. It’s how I feel most graceful and most powerful, and it clears my mind in a way that other forms of movement don’t. Because of the risk of infection there are a few more weeks before I can hit the pool again, and I know when I do get back into the water I’ll be slow AF. That’s ok.

When I had shoulder surgery I spent six weeks wearing a brace that consumed most of my upper body, and then spent six months learning to lift my arm over my head again. When I broke my ankle I spent six weeks on crutches, and then months rehabbing my ankle and still never returned to running.

So, trust me, I get what it’s like to go from active to inactive, and what it’s like to have your activity restricted. It’s frustrating! It’s demoralizing! But these things take time.

Rather than pushing yourself to get back to your previous level of activity as soon as possible, try to figure out what kind of activity suits your body the best today, and spend some time with that. Pushing yourself too soon or too hard can result in injury (or further injury). What’s the type of movement that most benefits your body today? That’s what you need to be doing.

3. Nourish your body

Particularly for those who are in postpartum bodies, it can be tempting to delve into restricted eating in the name of “getting your body back”.

But listen. If you are in a postpartum body, your body is healing. Your body is recovering from a substantial nutrient deficit (your baby leeched nutrients from you like a mofo towards the end of your pregnancy). Your body is likely producing food for a tiny human. Your body needs fuel. 

This is the time to focus on nutrient-dense foods. Eating a diet rich in healthy fats (avocados, nuts, seeds, full-fat dairy), high quality protein (eggs, beans and legumes, full-fat dairy) and complex carbohydrates (whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables) will do far more to help your body restore and recover than any calorie deficit will ever do.

 



 

Comments

  1. Thank you for this. This same advice applies to those of us who are past childbearing age and are dealing with the changes that come with aging. It’s a very out-of-control feeling. I’ve had to put away some of my favorite clothes and get new ones to avoid feeling bad about myself when I can’t squeeze into the ones I’ve always worn. Women’s bodies are a mystery, that’s for sure!

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