I’m Done Stressing About My Post-Baby Body

I’ve always had sort of a love/hate relationship with my curves. I started developing breasts and hips when I was really young, before the other girls. So, my first thought wasn’t, “Boobies, cool!” but rather, “I’m so fat and ugly and these things are gross and if anyone finds out I wear a bra, they’ll make fun of me.” It’s really tough for a 9-year-old to make sense of her womanly body, so my introduction to it all was pretty rough.
Because I felt my boobs and hips made me “fat,” I started dieting when I was, oh, 11 years old. I was eating bran muffins and measuring out my food and all of that, despite my parents’ misgivings. I didn’t have an eating disorder, but I definitely was far too concerned with my weight, especially since I was a healthy little girl.
It started me down a long road of yo-yo dieting, body hatred, and low self-esteem. I was never one of those people who could eat whatever I wanted, but years of juice fasts and fad diets did a real number on my metabolism. And unfortunately or fortunately, I really love food, so whenever I tried no-carb or no-sugar or no-fat diets, it never stuck for very long.

At some point, I finally accepted that these curves weren’t going anywhere, no matter how much I dieted and exercised. I also realized that, gasp, men actually liked a girl with a little meat on her bones. Once I was able to accept my body shape, I felt liberated, but it didn’t stop the cycle of weight loss-weight gain-weight loss-weight gain that had always been a running theme in my life.

Since having my twins a few years ago, my body is far, far from my ideal. Not only have I been unable to lose those last several pounds, but I’ve got this belly pooch, all lumpy and bumpy and loose, that just gets ickier the more weight that I lose. Yes, I know that this body of mine created miracles and I really do appreciate all of its hard work. I mean, I’m one of those people who really loved being pregnant, so I get it. But it’s tough to really appreciate all that your belly has done when you’re trying to fold it into your skinny jeans.

Thing is, it’s been three and a half years since I gave birth to my babies. That’s a long time ago! And in that time, I’ve dieted, worked out religiously, and adopted a healthier lifestyle. I look fine, but I don’t look like my pooch-free, cellulite-free, flat-tummied 25-year-old self. Even with all of my exercise, I’m softer now, squishier. I can’t wear a bikini. I can’t wear short shorts. I can’t wear crop tops. No, my old body ain’t coming back. Ever. Those days are over.

So, having realized that, why should I spend one more minute pining for the body that used to be? Why waste any more time on something that cannot be changed? And even if it could be changed — with surgery or hours of daily exercise or a super-rigid diet — would I want that?

The answer is, hell no! I do eat healthy and I do exercise, but I also eat Girl Scout cookies and Indian food and big bowls of pasta. I finish my boys’ grilled cheese sandwiches and steal a few fries. And I don’t want to give those things up, even if it would ultimately earn me a size 4 body. I’d rather be fat and happy. Seriously, life is too short.

So, I’ve let go. No, I haven’t let myself go, but I’m done trying to make my body anything other than what it is. I eat right and I exercise to be at my very best, and to feel my very best, both for me and for my boys. I take care of my body because it’s the only one that I’ve been given, and I need to treat it with respect, both in words and in action. This is my body at 37, after twin babies, a couple of traumas, and a lifetime of yo-yo dieting. I’m grateful for it, with all its lumps and bumps, and accept it just how it is.

Photo: Getty