I have had a hard time writing this post. When my feelings are right out there for everyone to see and feel… it scares me. How are you going to perceive this topic? Will you like it?… Love it?… or Upset that I brought this up?
This all started when I viewed some photos from my fitness photo shoot that took place 1 week out from my comeback Bikini Bodybuilding Competition back in April 2015. For those of you who are new to Fit Body Nourish, at that time in April, I was 16 months post partum. First, let me say, I was so elated that I had achieved my goal of losing the post baby weight! My photographer is absolutely incredible! She captured the parts of me that I was feeling inside. She captured the confidence behind my smile… my essence and my strength. At first glance, I was ecstatic as I looked through these photos then… this happened. As I took a deeper look at these photos, I noticed “what is to me” my obvious stretch marks. The stretch marks, at that moment, seemed so obvious. I couldn’t help it… I just went there….that cold, dark place of body image negativity. I have never had negative feelings about my body before. In the photos, I was about 9% body fat. My body fat is never that low in general, it was just the process of competition prep. As I looked at those photos, I thought, WOW… I seriously can’t do anything else nor do I want to try anything else at the moment. My body fat is low enough for me, and I apparently still have this extra skin and what seemed to be more visibility to my stretch marks. I have lost all the baby weight plus some and am at the lowest body fat I have been in my 20s and 30s. I have even tried a variety of skin products to help reduce the stretch marks. I just couldn’t get rid of them or that “extra skin on my tummy”.
Why did I go there… to that cold, dark place of body image negativity?
My photographer captured something so powerful and so real. I’m radiating from all of my success!!!!! How could I not just see that? It has taken me a long time to cope with this. I am excepting it more and more every day. It’s not perfect, but I’m working towards a positive place. I started writing this post months ago… I would write a sentence or two and either start tearing up or shut it down completely. A few weeks later, I would think about it again. I would start writing and then all the emotions would surface. I hardly talked to anyone about this, because I was too scared of what someone would think. I just hid my feelings and opened up a few times to my husband and a few friends.
I now realize that part of the reason I finished writing this post is because I was feeling compelled to open up and talk to you about this – like it was a way I could put closure on the negativity. Through my research on stretch marks and emotions, I realized so many women are dealing with this, and that’s why I’m pressing the publish button. I wanted to speak out about it. It took me more time than I thought to realize that even though I lost the baby weight, even toned and strengthened my body and stepped on stage for a body building competition… I wasn’t 100% secure that I never lost all that extra skin around the belly along with my stretch marks. I know some people are thinking… really Court, what are you even talking about… but seriously I can’t help it. I am just like so many women out there… I just wasn’t 100% happy with the “new body”. I want to tell you that what may seem good on the outside is not always the case on the inside. Many people continue to have insecurities that may not be seen on the surface.
I did wish it would fully go away, but it looks like it’s definitely here to stay… at least for now.
I am being truthful and honest about this, because I want each and every one of you to know that so many parts play a role in getting “your body” back. I also see a lot of women and men out in the world creating businesses and speaking through social media, etc. claiming to be experts in nutrition and fitness. They are targeting the women, many of whom are vulnerable…that may be desperate to try anything to lose this added weight. These men and women are saying follow this guide or program and you’ll lose all the weight in no time. Eat this and do this and you will look like this in no time.
These people are painting this illusion that getting your body back will be quite simple.
BUT GUESS WHAT? It’s not all true.
They don’t all know exactly what you and I have been or are currently going through. It’s your bodies and mine… not theirs.
There is ONLY a small percentage of women that can just get their “old” body back after giving birth. This is mainly because of genetics. Think of super models, celebrities and of course elite athletes. Most of them were above the average before getting pregnant. Of course there are other women getting their bodies back by focusing on eating right more consistently and by incorporating the right amount of exercise into their routine.
According to the BabyCenter.com, they surveyed over 7000 moms with babies ages just a few days old to 4 years old.
Highlights of the survey results:
– 61% of the total moms expected to lose the baby weight by the baby’s 1st birthday.
– 60% of the surveyed moms with 1-2 year olds: the moms were still carrying around a few extra pounds.
– 87% of 7000 moms state that their stomach hasn’t returned to normal.
– 1/5 of the 7000 moms did in fact lose the weight within 3 months. (about 1400 moms – still a small percentage)
– 62% of the total number of women who lost all the weight and some…. are still unhappy with their newly changed body.
you should know that it takes about a year to get all of the weight off and to find your shapely figure again! This will get better…. just give it more time, consistent exercise, and a clean eating regimen.
your muscle tone will come back and with your effort, gaining more muscle will not be an issue even after having a baby or with your age. If you didn’t catch last week’s post on protein and building muscle as you age, check it out here.
is muscle tone is not the same as skin tone. Unfortunately, some women are genetically prone to having stretch marks and saggy skin. You can read more on this below, there are ways to make that look better over time, but they may not go away completely. Skin will lose some elasticity after giving birth and with age. The older you are when giving birth, the harder it is to regain your skin’s former firmness.
Bottom line is,
(and I’m talking to myself) Be kind to yourself. I totally get it. It’s our body, and we want it back to the old normal. Try to focus on your goals and have fun reaching them. AND WHILE YOU’RE DOING THAT… find comfort in friends and family to help you through this process. My husband has been nothing less than phenomenal. His kindness, his compliments, his never ending support has meant the absolute world to me. It has taken some time, but I am so happy with those stretch marks, because now I see them for what they are worth. My daughter grew inside of me. The stretched skin is a daily reminder of the miracle of life! I am embracing the mom body!
Love the skin you’re in!
Check out these helpful tips below.
There are a few things women can do to minimize the risk of overstretching their skin… BUT you only have control over a few things…
Here are some evidence based tips on minimizing stretched skin and stretch marks.
1. Weight Loss:
Weight loss may make stretch marks worse, mainly rapid loss. I have said this several times, but remember all research shows that weight loss is safest when done slow and steady at 3/4 – 1 pound per week. Any weight loss of 2 pounds or more per week, can disrupt the collagen production of your skin. This happens due to a hormone that is released when you lose too much weight too fast. This disruption can result in the formation of stretch marks. When losing too much weight too fast, as the skin is rebounding from weight loss, the stretch marks will appear closer together causing it to seem more prominent, looking like you have more stretch marks. So slower weight loss will allow the skin to adjust, adapt and regain some elasticity. Eat a healthy diet with good protein and vitamin C. These will help with collagen and elastin production. Drink your water!! This will keep your tissues hydrated!!
According to pregnancy.com, exercise cannot magically make those abdominal muscles appear, but it will help you lose weight, recondition your body and give you a better feeling of abdominal support. Exercise will increase oxygen supply to your tissues and may help boost collagen and elastin production. Remember to have your physician give you the green light as to when you can start exercising again.
What if I told you, you could prevent dealing with “extra” loose skin after pregnancy…
→ Try to not gain too much weight. If you are eating healthy for the baby and you, then don’t worry too much… BUT if you are eating for 2 and pigging out on everything in sight all hours of the day, then you need to step back and realize what harm you could be doing to your baby and body.
→ Gaining weight really fast can cause extra skin and stretch marks.
→ You may have extra loose skin due to having extra loose skin before pregnancy. So if you are actually planning on having a baby, then start your healthy workout plan before pregnancy so you can keep it up during and after pregnancy!
→ The size of the baby in your uterus: THIS IS SOMETHING YOU JUST CANNOT CHANGE. So don’t worry about it.
→ Your genetic makeup can help you or hurt you when it comes to your skin bouncing back. AGAIN, SOMETHING YOU CAN NOT CHANGE, SO EMBRACE IT!
Note: Overall, there are a few ways you can help prevent extra stretching and saggy skin. Again, you can’t change your genetics or your age so just focus on what you can possibly change.
The intent of this post is to inspired you! If it did, please share it!