I sat in a seminar this weekend and I was deeply moved when I heard Dr. Anil Gupta speak. He simply stated “happiness is fulfillment” This simple statement can get super complicated but one thing I can really get from that is that if we are fulfilled emotionally, internally fulfilled we then have the opportunity to identify as happy.I bring up this statement because I often hear women say after babies (3 months to 10 years and beyond) that their unhappy with their bodies or they just want their “body back.” I then usually try to break down what is happening hormonally in their recovery, the why behind their physical changes. Then I take it a step farther and explore what changes they have had in their body and teach how they can be mindful of those, heal the body and be protective of their body so they don’t end up with a joint replacement later in life or in diapers in a wheelchair. I preach this body restoration after child birth that I truly believe all women who have had a child are entitled too. We do the best we can and I am not perfect myself. As I write this I am 18 months postpartum and still breastfeeding and still healing while working on restoring my body. I am nowhere close to the weight I was before I had babies and my body ascetically doesn’t even come close to looking like what it did. But let me get real, I wasn’t happy with my body then, constantly striving to diet and change it. So now a good 40 pounds heavier, I am becoming acutely aware that “getting the body back” won’t bring me that happiness, I thought I was striving for.
One thing that blew my mind this past weekend is that I am realizing the reason, women (myself included) are seeking this “ body back”, “fix my body” mentality is simply because of the lack of fulfillment.
Here are some very real possibilities about why fulfillment could be lacking: postpartum depression, blues, anxiety, emotional high and lows, life changes, exhaustion ect. We as women are expected to be 100% fulfilled through this new born baby. Now yes can babies be a temporary source of happiness through the endorphin hit you get while looking at them, absolutely! But the work and life changes that occur with this new baby, toddler, kid or teenager can be depleting. Therefore, women tend to have the mentality of needing to get their “body back”. However the body ascetics is an external source of happiness not internal. It’s like saying once you have the big fancy car you will be happy. So once you get your “body back” you will achieve the happiness. One important fact is once you have kids, your body is postpartum for life.
I am writing this not to deter the journey for healing after birth. I want to bring awareness to the feeling of wanting your “body back.” I am of the opinion that healing is much more powerful when it comes from a state of fulfillment and respect for what your body has done and supporting and restoring your body with love. I am not just writing this to you, I am writing this to myself. I am writing this to tell you that your desire may be to jump back into cross fit, orange theory or to start training for a race right away because ascetically you feel the drive to get your “body back”. However pursing that without proper healing can cause more problems down the line.
Proper healing is having your abdominal wall assessed, ensuring your core muscles are coordinated and able to work for you and the activities and sports you want to do. Proper healing is getting a comprehensive pelvic floor muscle exam to determine your pelvic floor is balanced and your scar tissue is treated and that the muscle can appropriately contract and relax. Proper healing is making sure you feel supported as you dive back into loading and unloading the dish washer or go back to your exercise class. By the way, it’s never too late for this assessment. Most people look for symptoms: pelvic pressure, separation of their abs, peeing their pants, pain or discomfort with sex, constipation, diarrhea, not being able to hold there poop or something falling out of their vagina. The thing your health could be improved before these symptoms occur.
At Body Motion Physical Therapy we help women recover after their babies so they don’t have to be plagued with stiffness, aches, and limitations in activities or suffer from embarrassing symptoms. We are hungry to create a magnificent feeling for you. We want to be part of your fulfillment journey, so you can experience the pure joy that comes from babies and kids and therefore you are prepared to manage when the struggles get real and patience are tested. Having a “self-care” plan to support your love for your body is what we are really good at. This right here is the tool you need to start your journey to reclaiming your fitness, to begin feeling strong and to explode with confidence.