These gorgeous words are written by blogger Jessica Etcell from Bend It Like Pretcell about the importance of self love from the inside out both pre and post baby and how to do it!

When I say loving yourself, loving your body, self love – I am talking, really, about the same all encompassing thing. It’s an undeniable, soul rocking graceful confidence and acceptance of yourself. It makes you live intuitively from a place of joy and ease and grace. It makes you choose love over fear. It attracts others to you. It makes you look at your body with respect and awe and your first impulse is NOT criticism. It makes you shun deprivation, starvation, self-punishment or anything that is because you ‘should’.

You would rather be (honestly) 5kg heavier (or 20kg, seriously whatever) than obsess and restrict and hate yourself down to a specific number that someone else said was beautiful.

You also love yourself enough to treat your body with the respect it deserves. And yes, that includes owning your feelings and emotions and not numbing yourself out with food, shopping, tv or other addictions. And not beating yourself up when you catch yourself doing those things.

Beautiful woman.

I know we are in a culture of self hate and being self critical disguised as being ‘healthy’. When you go to the gym because you are too scared not to. When you eat organic salad because you are too scared not to. You might get fat. You might get sick. You worry what other people will think.

And post-baby? Forget it.

The grieving for our ‘old body’, the pressure (from ourselves) to bounce back, the struggle to accept the new way our body is. We want it to look like we never had a baby (just question the absurdity of that for a second).

I want to say this to you.

It’s time.

It really is time to move into a new phase of your life. The phase where you wholeheartedly love and accept yourself. What would that feel like? Not just to say it, but to really live it. Self love is a choice made every day by more and more women. It is your birthright. No, it doesn’t matter what you look like. Actually, it never has. I can almost guarantee that even at your slimmest or ‘most attractive’, you still felt insecure.

I know at my lightest weight as an adult woman, I weighted 52kg, and I was so proud of that then, but it was never enough. And, I also had bulimia. I battled it for 5 years in my early twenties. So yeah, I was at my physical peak and people would tell me all the time how great I looked. But inside, I was a fucking mess.

Your physical appearance has nothing to do with your level of happiness.

Today, I am a mum of 2. My body is not ‘perfect’ (it kinda is when you think of what it can do!). I am not a size 8. Or even a size 10.  I’m actually not really sure what I am because I very rarely even stop to worry about it (I used to weigh myself multiple times per DAY). I have stretchmarks. I am bigger. My boobs will never be the same. My stomach is a bit poochy, it honestly (honestly) doesn’t bother me at all.

I have the most wonderful relationship with food. I never (never) feel guilt over anything I eat.
I have total appreciation for my body and recognise that I am beautiful. I notice the good things about myself as my default.
I don’t do anything because I should.
I eat intuitively. I only ever exercise or move my body if it would feel good to. I never force myself to do anything like that.
No I haven’t gotten fat (I’ve actually lost all my baby weight with ease). No I haven’t gotten sick (I’m actually glowing more than I have in years).

What I have gotten, is a deep and unshakable connection to myself. A new confidence. An acceptance that isn’t teetering on my weight or physical appearance.

Do you know how much of a relief that is? It’s worth pursuing. Please really hear me when I tell you, you can do this too. You can find this place of peace. It isn’t letting yourself go, it’s letting yourself live! Yes Jess, I hear you, but how (HOW?!) do I get past what my body looks like now that I’ve had a baby?! I feel so ashamed. I feel disgusting.

LET’S CHAT FOR A SECOND ABOUT BODY ACCEPTANCE AFTER BABY

I could never relate to those posts where mums were saying “I’m a tiger who earned my stripes, I’m proud of my stretch marks.” I thought that surely they were either making it up or it was just a way to make themselves feel better, because seriously, who could be PROUD of stretch marks? I didn’t get it. But I do get it now.

Beauty is so much more than one body part in isolation. Beauty is an experience.

Giving birth is one of the most meaningful experiences a human can experience. You did that (I don’t care the method). Maybe you have some marks to show for it. Your soul is also enriched. Your heart is also bigger. Your capacity to love is otherwordly. You are forever changed for the better. You ARE more beautiful on every level.

The depth of human beauty extends far beyond the physical AND it takes maturity to recognise true beauty.

Beauty is all about perception and attraction. Attractiveness is energetic and undeniable confidence is attractive! It is so much more than looks. People are a package including their whole energy, aura, vibrance, how they care for themselves, how they feel about themselves. The part of you that you feel most conscious about, goes unnoticed (or even celebrated) on someone who embraces and owns it! The part that is unnattractive isn’t the physical part – it’s the energetic part – it’s how YOU feel about it and what you are projecting out from that place. Now that you are a mum, body love is not just a choice you can make (although it is). Body love is your responsibility. Did you know that?

Did you know that everything you do is creating a picture of the world for your kids. It’s literally creating their reality and shaping their perception of what ‘normal’ is. If you are constantly on diets – that will feel normal for them. I’m not just talking about obvious calorie counting diets – I’m talking about ‘cleansing’, ‘fasting’, restricting, detoxing – calling yourself unclean or wrong and that you need to be fixed. Overexercising. Feeling guilty for eating cake. Actually, feeling guilty for eating ANYTHING (a post for another day).

If you are not at peace with your body – you will teach your kids – every breathe of every moment – to not be at peace with theirs.

Is that what you want?

You cannot fake it. It starts with you.

Some practical suggestions for bringing this into your reality:

  • Make the choice to love and accept yourself.
  • Keep practicing – every time you catch yourself out of alignment with your intention, just bring yourself back. No judgement or beating yourself up. It takes time to build new habits and ways of thinking and being.
  • Give yourself permission to stay as you are forever. Seriously. If you never changed physically, could you be ok with that? Imagine yourself as your child, can you see that no matter their physical appearance they are loved beyond measure? They are perfect beyond measure? That you never want them to feel any other way? That the thought of them feeling insecure makes your soul hurt? You are that child too. You are that perfection too.
  • Meditation. It helps. Alot. Seriously, once you start to realise those awful, negative and crazy comments in your head are actually NOT you – it’s such a gamechanger in your ability to live a positive, self love and gratitude filled life.
  • Eat and exercise intuitively. This is scary for a lot of women, I completely understand. I recommend the book Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth if you are being pulled by this concept. I highly highly recommend.
  • Affirmations and positive thinking are wonderful – but sometimes you feel like you are just speaking the words and faking it. Try to spend some time on a regular basis really just feeling ok with being you. This might look different for everyone – but I recommend writing down a list of things that make you feel really good – like dancing, or gardening. Write down times when you feel beautiful, or peaceful. Write down the things people compliment you on. Start to notice the good things about yourself. And yes, there are so many good things if you can just look closer and maybe through someone else’s eyes (for now). I recommend that you spend more time doing these things.
  • Throw out anything in your wardrobe that is too small, unflattering, uncomfortable or that you just don’t feel absolutely amazing in. It is better to have 3 pieces of clothes that flatter, fit you properly and are comfortable than a wardrobe full of stuff that makes you feel second rate. You are worthy of clothes that make you feel like a goddess. If you don’t have ANY, sell the stuff you have for some money to buy some.

If you notice that voice creeping up that says “how the fuck could I be ok with being overweight? Having acne? Looking like a freak?! These stretchmarks all over my god damn body!”

Breathe.

I know there is a voice in there telling you that these things are not ok. That you feel a rising panic and a need to DO or CHANGE something because you can’t bear another second of being you. That you feel like a fake. That you feel hopeless. That you don’t know how you can ever feel another way.

All it takes is a choice, in that moment, to start to shift your life more toward love.

When you catch this voice take a breathe just watch it with curiosity. Notice how bitter and angry and unloved it sounds (feels?). Where does this pain come from. Can you see that it is not true? Can you notice that you are actually watching these feelings, which means you separate from them. The watcher is peaceful. The watcher is love.

The watcher is YOU!

What I’m talking about is mindfulness. Body love requires self love. Mindfulness is the key to self love. Self love is the key to happiness. But it all starts with a choice. It’s so simple.

You won’t regret it.

Love Jess x