Given the growing popularity of the term “Dad Bod,” I wanted to have a little chat about mom bods, and more specifically, mom body image. And mom self-care.
In case you happen to have not heard the term, Dad Bod refers to a dad who’s let himself go a bit and maybe has a bit of a belly and a bit “extra” going on all over. It’s a guy who’s more about being a dad and enjoying his life than he is about having a six pack and showing it off at the pool.
What’s hilarious about this? Men are embracing it! Men are using humor to laugh about their Dad Bods, and maybe even in some cases using the notion to justify their own desires to drink a bit more beer and do a few fewer crunches.
And all this is happening while I for one feel like I’m seeing way too many moms in teeny bikinis on social.
Know this right now: I am not hating on the moms in the teeny bikinis. I love a strong, confident mom, and I also feel that if you’re comfortable and that’s your thing, go for it. Show up and show off.
However, I feel that, once again, us moms are being slammed with mixed messages from all angles. And THAT is what this Mom Bod post is all about.
I could rant for awhile about the differences between the pressure placed on women vs. men when it comes to our physical bodies/skin/etc. For today, I won’t go there, as much as I would like to. Instead, I just want to talk about how you can deal with the reality that you are, indeed, living in a mom bod, and how you can learn to stop trying to change it, and instead love it!
How do you choose whether to embrace your Mom Bod?
I think this: I think it doesn’t have to be either-or.
It isn’t either you decide to have the Mom version of the Dad Bod and let yourself go..
Or, you starve and crunch and sweat and battle with your body to try to get it to look Instagram-ready.
Both options exist, and you absolutely can choose one of them.
But what if there’s a better option that is kind of the best of both worlds?
You have to decide for yourself what works for you, but what I want to say more than anything is this:
It’s okay to embrace the body God gave you, and I have a secret for making it easier to do so:
Be the strongest, healthiest, and happiest version of YOU.
Please hear me:
I want you to be happy in your body, whatever shape or size you are.
But I also want you to live a long and healthy life.
If that’s wrong of me, then I’m wrong. And I’m okay with being wrong. Please if you think that it’s wrong of me to want you to have a healthy heart and lungs, stop reading.
If you think it’s wrong of me to want you to have the energy to frolic with your grandchildren in the ocean someday, please: stop reading.
Because yes, I do very much care about you being healthy. I very much care about you fueling your body well, having a strong and healthy heart, fighting off osteoporosis, and having the energy to do whatever you desire at age 50, 60, 70, and beyond.
Beyond that: I want you to love your body. And from years of loving fitness, I believe that working out will help you love your body. When you push hard, you not only release those happy endorphins, but you also just feel strong and empowered, and that’s a source of confidence, joy, and body love.
So when you work hard you feel good, right?
There’s also this: from my own experience with years (decades, really) of eating really poorly, I also know that you will feel better when you give your body more healthy, nutritious foods than non-nutritious foods.
Do I want you to be skinny? Not at all, unless that’s your natural healthy build.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down? I hope?
I believe that your healthy mom body image will stem from a healthy body, and you doing the things that you know you want to do anyway, and less from your body looking any particular way.
It’s called self-care for a reason. You feel good when you care well for your people. You will feel equally good when you care well for yourself. And then the bonus is: you’ll also have a healthy and strong body, so you’ll have more energy to care for your people!
I think there are four elements that might help you get on a healthy mom body image path. If you think you want that, and I hope you do, read on.
First: As always, begin with Mindset.
I love to talk about mindset. I am sure it’s about my background as a counselor, but I completely believe that how you talk to yourself is going to make or break your success, in every aspect of your life.
Changing your mom body image may be a practice. It may take time. And that’s okay. You have time. What counts is that you make a decision that, right now, you are going to do the work to stop hating on your body.
Your body has been the vehicle that has carried you this far in your life. Without your body, you wouldn’t be here, in this place, today. If you’ve given birth, your child or children wouldn’t be here.
Our bodies perform miracles. They allow us to run, to swim, to feel the sun on our skin, to enjoy the pleasure of sex.
Without this vehicle, where would you be?
Whatever perspective shift you need to make, be open to it.
But start with the messages you are sending yourself about your body. Be willing to catch yourself the next time you are unkind to your body. And be open to choosing different language.
And if you find this really hard, that is okay, as I have said. One way to “fake it til you make it” is to try a mantra. What message can you send yourself that you maybe don’t yet believe, but really, really want to?
It might be, “I am learning to love my body,” or “My body is strong and it is becoming healthier every day, and for that I love it.”
What message do you need to hear?
Choose a mantra, or some words of affirmation, and when you struggle, simply repeat them. Just like any habit, repeated often enough, it just may become your truth.
Second: Work your tail off on a regular basis.
Push yourself beyond just going out and going for a walk and calling it a workout. Set a lofty (but attainable, with hard work) goal, get a plan in order to put some legs under that goal, and then get after it!
When you work hard at your workouts, you will simply feel stronger and healthier. Enjoy that feeling of pushing your lungs and detoxing. Feel the power of pushing your muscles.
There is nothing that says that after a certain age, you have to cut back and only go for walks with your dogs! Push hard, and enjoy how your mom body image shifts when you realize that your mom body is strong and powerful!
Next: Nourish your body well, and eat to feel great.
Eat right. Choose foods that make you feel great, and every day choose one or two treats that make your taste buds and your heart happy. This isn’t about dieting (diet is a four-letter word that I won’t let my children use and I don’t us), this is about nourishing and loving on your body through the foods you choose.
Become a student of your healthy mom body. Tune in and listen to what your body tells you it wants to eat, and feed it those healthy foods. Then, when you feel like enjoying a cocktail or some ice cream, you’ll choose for yourself just how many and just how often- because you’re a grownup, living in your beautiful, healthy mom bod.
Less counting, obsessing, and starving. More enjoying food. Maybe try intuitive eating and give up dieting forever!
Finally: Be willing to be patient and trust the process.
Give it time, and see what happens to your body, and how you feel about your body.
Consistently work on your mindset, repeating mantras as often as possible until you believe them and that body positivity begins to permeate how you care for yourself.
Go and workout. Get sweaty. Detox. Push some weights around. Go to a hot yoga class and revel in sweating your face off. Go for a run. Run as far as you can, and then walk, and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.
Give your body good food. Feed your body the way you want your children to eat. Get your five a day and drink your water and enjoy your daily treats.
And trust. Because those three steps, made habits, performed often enough, can truly transform how you feel, living in your beautiful mom bod.
Because what I know from living in my own mom bod? And what I hear from other friends living in their mom bod?
If you’re enjoying your body (and your life) by challenging yourself to be strong, and when you’re eating well (and enjoying life’s little treats), and you do this consistently?
Your body becomes a Mom Bod you feel great in.
If you’ve had babies, or you’re over 30 (or 40, or whatever), amazing fitness and nutrition won’t restore your body to something Kardashian-like. But it can help you care a whole lot less about that reality.
And maybe even find joy in the caring less!
And if you’d like to connect with other moms, doing our best, working hard, finding joy, and embracing our Mom Bods? Check out Mom’s Running Club, where we do just that!
And if you’d like to try intuitive eating? Check out this post, or grab your intuitive eating PDF below!
Till then, keep on taking care of your Mom Bod and keep on loving your life!