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Body Image New Mom Postpartum

Hey, Be Kind to Yourself (and Your Body) Right Now

By Kayla Young
I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk, Inc. to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.

Any time the topic of weight comes up, our spidey sense can begin to tingle. Where is this conversation going? Is someone about to be shamed for weighing too much? Too little? Ordering a burger and fries when they “should” have gotten a salad?

When we’re so prepped to hear negativity and judgment attached to the weight conversation, it’s no wonder that our inner dialogue on the topic can become downright nasty. If weight is something that you’ve struggled with at the best of times, the fact that we’re currently in the midst of a global pandemic probably hasn’t helped matters either mentally or physically. With so much to balance in this weird new reality, it’s time we reminded that inner voice of ours to try to be a little nicer. Of course everyone wants to be healthy, but ain’t nobody got time for a mean girl version of Jiminy Cricket as their guide.

My inner voice sucks. Why is she so mean?

It’s important to assess whether the ongoing dialogue in your head is positive or negative when it comes to yourself and your weight. If that little whisper in your ear is a big ol’ jerk at times, you’re not alone. But if you’re finding that the majority of the thoughts about yourself, your health and your appearance are negative, there’s a good chance that your mental and physical health are also taking a hit.

The inner dialogue that we create can be heavily influenced by the messages we see and hear all around us all day, every day. Right now, there are memes galore about the “Quarantine 15” and other jokes about gaining weight during the pandemic.

Hearing messaging that gaining weight is a worse fate than catching COVID-19 is totally disheartening and perpetuates the stigma that people with obesity deal with constantly.

The tough reality is, quarantine checks all the boxes when it comes to creating an environment conducive to weight gain. If you’ve been reaching for energy-dense treats with high sugar or fat content (I’m looking at you, chips and soda) instead of nutrient dense ones (like veggies and healthy protein sources), welcome to the club of stressed-out, overtired mamas who are doing the same. Certain medications can also play a role in adding weight when you’re stuck at home all day. Try to go easy on yourself as you look for ways to reclaim healthy habits you established prior to the pandemic, but don’t beat yourself up when it doesn’t happen overnight (ahem – notice how I said when and not if).

Let’s not forget that society looks at obesity as something we are, rather than something we have. Labelling people as obese is totally outdated and is verbiage that needs to be tossed, pronto. Just as someone can have diabetes or autism, people have obesity. Remembering that our weight is part of our overall health picture – not the defining feature of who we are – can help us to remind that snarky inner voice to back it up when she’s being unkind.

What else can I do to switch my inner dialogue to a more positive one?

Here are a few things to remember if you’re struggling with an inner voice that leans to the mean side at times:

  • Celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. What are you doing to stay mentally and physically healthy?
  • Right now, there can be a lot of things standing in the way of staying as healthy as you’d like to be. Having less access to healthy foods while trying to self-isolate can make it hard to make the nutritional choices you normally would. Finding time to exercise with kids at home all day, every day and not having access to fitness centers and equipment can be tough. Celebrate the small wins. Ate an apple today? Went for a walk with your tantruming toddler? Gave yourself an encouraging wink in the mirror? YOU GO GIRL.
  • Try to reset your picture of what “healthy” looks like, including the language you use to talk about it, both when talking to yourself and in conversations with others.
  • Remember that when it comes to being healthy, what’s really important is your blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, and overall body fat composition – not just the number on the scale.

What does your inner voice sound like?

Is she your biggest cheerleader? Or just a downright bully? We wanna hear about your inner voice and how you’ve trained her to be more supportive in the comments.

While I have you here, you can also help by taking this survey – not only will it help the medical community understand the barriers around obesity, you’ll also receive further education on the topic and be entered for a chance to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are anonymous and will be shared only in aggregate. TAKE THE SURVEY

Once you’ve completed the survey, you will be asked to provide your email address if you’d like to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will not be sold, kept, or stored; email addresses are used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.

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Our next reco: Good For You - Less Mom Shaming, More Support

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