No. That is not misspelled “momentum”, it is mum tum. As in mummy tummy, baby bulge, muffin top, etc. I hate it although I’m usually fairly oblivious to it.
It’s on my radar today for two reasons; firstly a photo of me beaming proudly beside my daughter on her first ride on her Very Own Pony. The lovely “I just ate 3 dinners” t-shirt tightness was very obvious… Only, I hadn’t just eaten one dinner let alone three. Oops.
Secondly, and more importantly, I hurt my back again…since kidlet #2 arrived I’ve had a recurring back injury which is due, I believe, to a little gift pregnancy left me: diastasis recti – or abdominal separation. Yay!
What’s the connection? I imagine you wondering. Well, apparently a major cause of women having a sort-of-still-preggers belly look months after childbirth is due to diastasis recti. It’s not fat, it’s literally your abdominal organs bulging out through the separation of your abdominal muscles. Great. Thanks gravity. And laws of physics. And pregnancy. Sigh.
So it’s time that I did something about it – not to look good, although that will be a nice side effect – but because I only have one body and ain’t nobody going to look after it for me.
And this is something that I want to pass on to my little girl (and boy, for that matter). The mentality that our priority is being healthy and doing the right thing by our body. That a body is beautiful when it is healthy and respected. That the number that matters is never your weight…it’s numbers like your cholesterol, your iron levels, your white blood cell count.
Our health is something so many of us take for granted and only truly value when it’s threatened or, in sad cases, gone. I’m guilty of doing it…that’s why I hardly ever exercised and only went for my first run at the embarrassing age of 35. As in, 3 months ago. Oops.
In saying that, I eat reasonably well and am active. I’ve never been more than slightly overweight and I have always tried to be grateful for my health and respectful of my body.
I think too many people believe their value as a person is determined by what they look like as opposed to what they do, how they behave, how they treat others. We focus so much energy on criticizing our physical appearance – my butt is too big, nose too small, eyes to close, hair too thin, I’m fat, this wobbles, my legs are short….do we spend even a quarter of that energy reviewing our behaviour? Did I speak kindly today, is there someone who I think needs a shoulder tonight, did I waste food, create unnecessary waste, act dishonestly, hurt someone.
What do you think you will be loved for? Your nice legs or your generous heart?
In the same vein, do we give as much energy to appreciating the awesome and frankly amazing things our bodies do every day, as we do being ashamed and resentful at the aspects we don’t like? I’ve grown two entire human beings in this body….yes, I have stretch marks and loose skin, a 5 inch long c-section scar and the aforementioned Grand Canyon Ab Separation…and whilst I absolutely do not love these marks and scars, I recognise them for what they are: proof that my body can do and has done amazing things. In return I try to take care of it and respect it, and even go so far as to love the skin I’m in because it’s me. It’s the only one I am ever going to have and it’s a good one. I am healthy and able and that, my friends, is a gift that I recognise and value.
If you focus on the wonder of your physical self, it’s much easier to see past your little imperfections – and trust me, majority of them are so little no one sees them but you.
This is not to say that I think you shouldn’t give a shit about appearance. That anyone who cares what they look like is wrong. Physical appearance is important to most people and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good. At the most basic level we are animals and instinctively we look first and talk/smell later. So caring about your appearance is both natural and understandable.
My point is that you should at least care as much about your actions as your appearance and that you should at least appreciate your body for what it has, can and does do, as much as you criticise it for what you perceive as its failings.
If you can retrain yourself to gain this bit of balance, you might just find that the positives you feel about you start to overtake the negatives – and that can only make your life a brighter, healthier space.
And that can’t be a bad thing.
So, that’s me. I’m off to write up the exercises I need to start doing to get my Ab Split healed and stick it on the wall so I actually do it. I hope it might flatten out my mum tum….but you know what, if it stops my recurring back pain I’ll be very satisfied and if it gives me flatness of tummy I can be thrilled.
I hope you, if you’re reading this, can start to objectively counter your negative body thoughts, one by one, and turn your focus ever so slightly from what you are to who you are and land somewhere in the middle. The world can only benefit from more kindness, respect and happiness.
(Well the world minus the companies that profit from our misery and self doubt…sorry diet pill people and exercise machine pushers)