I lost weight after giving birth. I don't know how much or exactly when it happened, but sometime between all the breastfeeding and anxiety my body just kinda…shrank. At first I didn't have time to notice, but then I started to get that special kind of skinny attention… the kind that feels so good and so icky all at once.
My body has done this before in periods of transition and high stress. I’ve learned that for me, weight loss is generally a sign of too much anxiety, and weight gain usually marks my return to stability.
Which means that I expect–and hope– to gain weight again soon.
Of course, I don’t know the future. Pregnancy and birth can change a body, but as I’m learning to find pseudo balance, and as I’m reducing breastfeeding, signs point to eventual weight gain.
So, how does a body liberation coach approach upcoming weight gain? Here are my 9 steps:
#1 Observe my feelings
I notice when the weight loss compliments feel good and when they feel bad. I notice when I feel an attachment to the smaller body. I release the urge to make meaning of these thoughts.
#2 Remember setpoint weight theory
Setpoint weight theory– the idea that our approximate body size is coded into our genetics and we can’t impact this in any kind of long-term way.
#3 Notice my thoughts and ask myself coaching questions
I notice when a part of me says, “I wish I could stay this thin!” I ask myself the classic coaching question: “What’s important about that at this time?” I hear myself say that it feels like no one notices or cares about moms, that thinness feels like the way to counteract the societal devaluing.
#4 Thank myself
I don't try to change my thoughts. I thank my heart and mind for their honesty.
#5 Feel the feels
A good cry about our shitty culture always helps a little.
#6 Focus on the values
I notice that the underlying value is about feeling seen and loved. It’s true that our society does not offer that for all bodies. I won’t pretend otherwise. But I do know that I have people who see and love me for many reasons not dependent on my size, age, or physical ability (all things that will change).
#7 Remember that I didn’t choose this
If when I was a baby I was offered two versions of the world– one where bodies are ranked and devalued based on size, or one where all bodies are loved unconditionally– I would have chosen the latter.
#8 Remember that I’m not interested in the alternatives
The alternative to letting my body change sizes is trying to control my body so that it stays this size. I used to do that, and though it started off cool and had its perks, it eventually was awful. I’m keeping my promise not to go back there. (You might say nothing tastes as good as body liberation feels… (I’m joking. Some food tastes pretty darn good)).
#9 Remember the truth about beauty and the world
I believe beauty exists in a different realm (more on this another time). Beauty is a body that mirrors the changes in life. Bodies of all sizes are stunning.
I want my daughter to see her mama embrace bodily changes with love.
And practically speaking– I’m buying a mix of clothes– some that fit me now and I know I’ll let go of when I gain weight, and some pieces that look good on me now and have room for expansion (hello belted dresses!).
So that’s my process: observe, notice, acknowledge, release judgements, get curious, listen, feel and remember what I believe in. It’s a bit of self coaching.
How about you? What helps you approach body changes?