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I’ve started this a thousand times.

I’ve started writing this blog post roughly a thousand times in my head. I’ve edited it, I’ve redrafted it, I’ve added, I’ve deleted… but I’ve never actually stopped to write a sentence down.

Our little one came in-

(sorry about that- she was crying and needed to be held… now, where was I?)

Our little one came in November and turned our family of 3 (husband, myself, and our dog) into a family of 4. To say she’s given us a run for our money is an understatement.

I’ve always been pretty protective of my schedule and my routine. I don’t like to deviate too much from what I know and am familiar with. Let’s just say that babies throw that ALL out the window. It’s been a total and complete adjustment, but in a good way. And to be honest, it’s taken me a few weeks to be able to say that- to say that it’s a good thing.

Change is hard. And harder for some (my hand is WAY up).

She cried a lot those first 5 weeks, and didn’t sleep a lot. I felt like a human milk machine. Showers were few and far between, while the tears rarely ceased (for both of us). I felt empty and defeated at the end of most days, just thinking “This is it? This is life now?!” There were times I mourned* the loss of my freedom and ability to shower each morning and eat a hot meal while it’s still hot and just get in my car and go to the store in under an hour. (*mourned=sobbed uncontrollably)

Luckily, it’s getting easier. She’s crying less and sleeping (a very little bit) more. Or maybe I’m just getting used to the sleep depravation- it’s anybody’s guess. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the kindness of others. It takes a village to raise a child, and even telling a mother that she’s doing a great job sparks a fire that I cannot describe in words. Feeling that love and support helps to refill my tank.

It’s a slow process. And I’m a constant work in progress.

As I became a bit more comfortable with my role as Mom, I longed to do the things that helped me feel like myself again- working out and eating things that aren’t necessarily  Spaghettios or Oreos. (Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE those and still enjoy them from time to time, but I also know they don’t make me feel as good as my leafy greens do.) I’m ready to start feeling better about the new person that I’ve become- inside and out.

It’s Love Your Body Week at UND- one of my favorite times of the year. I love the idea of celebrating yourself no matter WHAT. Love your body or not, it’s a great reminder that there is always something to be thankful for.

A friend asked me what I loved about my body the other day. The truth is, since having a baby there isn’t much. Sometimes I like the way my hair falls. And I like my eyes- they seem to be one of the only things that didn’t change with pregnancy and birth. Almost everything else stretched and expanded. It’s incredibly frustrating to have nothing that fits unless it has an elastic waistband or extra fabric gathered around the middle or 3 sizes bigger.

But this friend is one of the more resilient, thoughtful, and positive people I’ve met in my life; she helped me to remember that my body is not just a size. And I suddenly felt as though I had permission to look at my body with love and acceptance as I thought about it’s capabilities.

This beautiful body created and carried and delivered a baby (that’s pretty bada**). My legs carried me for many miles throughout the pregnancy, despite sciatic nerve pain that brought me to tears some days; and now they help me rock.and rock and bounce.and bounce.and bounce.and bounce until our little one finally quiets and drifts off to sleep. My arms are strong enough to carry her from place to place and give her a bath almost every night- a favorite time of the day for both of us alike. My mouth allows me to make funny faces and noises that bring a smile to her sweet face…oh how I love those sweet little smiles.

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Geez, when I stop and really think about it… my body is pretty dang awesome. Sure, my clothes may never fit the same again… or at least not for quite awhile… but in the meantime it’s doing exactly what I need it to be doing. And I LOVE it for that, and I accept where it’s at- stretchy waistbands and all.

And now I turn to you, Dear Reader, and feel inclined to ask:

What do YOU love about YOUR body?

Love… My Body?

It’s Love Your Body week.

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I remember the first time I heard of this while attending UND. I just laughed.
“Me? Love this?! Umm… OK. Let me get back to you.”

You see, I lost 130 pounds, and although a very large part of me has gone away (literally)… I still have a lot of reminders of my former self.

My skin hangs. And stretches. And it’s covered in stripes that used to be red, angrily declaring that my skin was being asked to take on more than it was capable, and are now (thankfully) a flesh color.
It’s not pretty, and most days it doesn’t make me proud.

At times I happily claim it as my “weight loss trophy.” But then there are those times when I’m with people who don’t know my story… and all I can think about is the possibility that they might think that I have really odd-shaped rolls and a very “unkempt” body.

The truth is that I go to the gym most days of the week. Exercise is such a great release and escape for me. Make no mistake- I work out! And for years people told me that if I lifted weights and did sit-ups they were SURE my skin would “bounce back.”
Well… I tried that… and it didn’t.

Option 2 was surgery to remove the excess skin. It’s a very dangerous procedure, and the thought of them slicing and dicing, and then stitching me back together like a rag doll is extremely nerve-wracking.

So. Here I sit. With my loose skin.

About a year ago, I made a conscious decision to quit weighing myself. It had become a way for me to determine my mood and the kind of day I was going to have. If the number was up, it was going to be a bad day. If the number was down, I allowed myself happiness (and an extra marshmallow or two).

I wanted to stop doing that to myself. I wanted to feel “normal.” I wanted to feel FEELINGS.

It was really hard at first, but a year later I feel much more confident in my abilities to make healthy decisions (without an electronic device as my moral compass and guide). My clothes fit just as good as they did a year ago. (In fact, I probably wear them more confidently not having to worry about the number of pounds that they are encasing.)

One of the most important changes I’m working on now is learning to Love My Body. ALL of it: accepting my “flaws” as unique bits of beauty; exercising because it feels good and gives me strength, not because I saw a bigger number than I was comfortable with and need to try harder; eating healthy foods because they taste good, not because I “screwed up” the day before; looking in the mirror and smiling at what I see.

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Pardon the cliche, but life is really short. I’m 27 and often wonder when that happened (and you will figure this out the older you get, too!).
I’ve spent far too long dwelling in the negative, forgetting to appreciate what I have and what my body does for me. The truth is, it’s been awfully good to me.

How about you? Do you want to cut yourself some slack and Love Your Body? Do you make healthy choices because you Love Your Body? 

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