This article originally appeared in “Chicago Tribune”
Last February, I wrote myself – or rather, my body – a love letter. I was nine months postpartum after baby No. 2, celebrating my 31st birthday and truthfully, not in love with my body. I’m terrible at positive self-talk, so I figured I’d put up a more convincing argument on paper.
When I started writing, I wasn’t sure where it would take me. I didn’t know if I’d ever embrace my postpartum self, but I knew I needed to try – not to try and “get my body back,” but to try and love mine as-is.
The crazy thing is, writing this letter and making it public on my blog held me accountable. I knew I needed to walk the walk. I was not going to preach body positivity and self-love and then secretly wage war with my scale.
So I didn’t. I put the scale in the back of my closet and hid my skinny jeans in a box with my maternity clothes. I refused to equate movement with calories, and instead of stressing about workouts, just started moving with my kids. I filled my social media feeds with the most body-positive people I could find, and stopped following anyone who posted #fitspo pictures of their abs. I practiced moderation, even when I wanted to take things to extremes. I trusted my body, listened to it, moved it, cared for it and made it stronger. This past year, I’ve loved my body not for how it looks or what it can do, but for being a part of me. And for all of this, it loves me right back.
I’m sharing an excerpt from my letter to inspire you to write your own. Tell your body what you adore about it, be thankful, be sensitive, be encouraging, be whatever you need to be. It just might be the love letter you need to receive this Valentine’s Day.
What an incredible year it’s been! Last year at this time, you were growing a tiny person inside. I hope you’ll never forget the feeling of little feet pressing up against your belly, the sensation of never being alone – even at your quietest moments …
… I struggled with my expectations of returning you to your pre-pregnancy shape. I was annoyed that you couldn’t move the way I wanted to move, but also that you needed to eat SO much. But every time I considered cutting calories, you reminded me that you still have a HUGE job. I’d look at my happy, healthy, squishy baby and we’d be back on good terms.
We’re still kind of going through this, aren’t we? I’ll push a little too hard, and you’ll come back and teach me a lesson. Lately I’m listening to you sooner and it seems to be working out.
I’m learning to accept and embrace a new version of you, rather than comparing you to the body you were two years ago or anytime before that. So much has changed about both of us over the years. You’ve been with me since I was a chubby baby; a skinny and uncoordinated pre-teen; a pudgy product of the college bar scene; an injury-ridden runner; a woman on a mission to get strong; and of course, now a mom of two beautiful boys.
Someday, I might spoil you with daily strength-training sessions or weekly long runs – and you might respond with a half-marathon personal record or rock-solid abs. And someday, we’ll be doing Silver Sneakers workouts at a community center, and I’ll just be grateful you can still squat.
Dear body, you’ve brought me this far, here’s to the long haul!
Support from other mamas is priceless – let’s do this together! Share your love letter with me and I’ll share it on my blog and Facebook page, and perhaps in a future column. You can email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nicole Radziszewski is a freelance columnist. She lives in River Forest and is a certified personal trainer and mother of two. Check Nicole out on Facebook at Facebook.com/mamasgottamove.