I had this vision when I was pregnant of practicing yoga with my infant baby laying next to me joyfully kicking around, maybe stopping to breastfeed then going right back to my practice.
Well, that didn’t happen. I’m 4 months postpartum and just now starting my yoga practice back up. I ended up with two bouts of mastitis and one breast abscess that needed to be surgically drained (accompanied by a 5-day hospital stay). On top of that I had a wound-vac attached to my breast for 7 weeks after surgery making yoga not only hard to accommodate around the tube coming out of my boob, but also painful.
I was stiff. Still am. I could feel it in my knees, thighs, hamstrings, and back how much I needed my practice back. But my body needed time to heal more than I needed to force myself back into yoga before by body was ready. And besides, the only way to take care of a newborn at home was to take care of myself first. I rested as much as I possibly could while caring for my newborn baby; officially putting yoga on pause until further notice.
I feel more stiff than I did when I first started yoga. But I guess it makes sense given what all my body has been through in the last year. I’m choosing to love myself and my new post-baby bod. I’m choosing to remember that my body doesn’t have to be “hard” to give love to my baby, in fact, he probably enjoys the squishy-ness.
My yoga practice is slow, thoughtful, and full of love for myself and what my body has done for me and my family. My boobs are two different sizes and one has a round red scar where I had an abscess; but they continue to fuel my baby with nutrition, love, and comfort all the same. Yoga is often interrupted by a crying baby in need of nursing or a cuddle and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Some days yoga doesn’t happen. I am reminded of this when my stiff body is climbing into bed at the end of the day. It’s going to be a long road back to where I used to be in my practice but for now I’m okay with trading 90 minutes of yoga for sweet baby cuddles and a down-dog here and there.
I ran into an old friend the other day while taking my dog for a walk. It turns out that she has lived on the same street as me for a year and we never crossed paths. As we were talking and catching up she talked about her life in New York City and how her career in theater made her feel the need to be perfect. She constantly watched what she ate and always felt pressure to have this ideal body image. Although she’s still passionate about theater she faded away from it and decided that she really needed to experience “the stuff of life.” I hugged her and went about my walk and those words stuck in my head… the stuff of life. Do I enjoy the stuff of life? Am I too hard on myself? Am I too strict on my diet? Is eating a cookie (or two) really that bad?
With my wedding 4 months away I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Do I want to look amazing and fit on my wedding day? Of course. Does it matter? Not really. We’re getting married because I love him and he loves me, not because I look hot in a white formal gown. True love goes beyond that. But here’s the hard part… Showing that amount of love to yourself. I have a major inner battle with this. I love myself. I am proud of what I have accomplished and what I stand for as a person. But do I love myself every time I look in a mirror? … That needs some work.
I think we all need to learn to enjoy the STUFF of LIFE. Eat healthy foods, fuel your body, love your body, love your Self. But at the same time, have fun, eat a cookie, laugh, play, and go out with friends. Have a few glasses of wine, treat yourself to dessert (you deserve it) and be happy.
I have decided that to prepare for my wedding I will not restrict my diet any further. I will eat the foods I like (thank goodness I love veggies!), stick to my organic/whole foods/no processed diet, and amp up my workout schedule to what it was before grad-school happened. So far I’m enjoying getting back to my workout routine and feeling better about being active every day.
Warning… When you want to wear your yoga pants all day because “they’re comfortable” it’s not necessarily a good thing. You need to do more yoga in those yoga pants and less drinking coffee, snacking and studying. I speak from experience.
So here’s my confession… I’ve gained weight since I started grad school. The truth is that I wanted to wear my yoga pants 24/7 because my jeans were a little too snug for my liking. At first, I beat myself up and had tons of self-destructive thoughts. I called myself fat while inspecting my thighs in the mirror, I even beat myself down during yoga when my clothes fit a little more snugly. My thoughts were making me feel horrible. I knew I hadn’t been able to exercise or attend as many yoga classes as I would like, but my diet was still pretty good and so I didn’t understand why I had gained the weight. I then realized that I was turning to late night coffee to keep myself up to study. And of course, I was snacking. A lot.
The remedy… I switched from late night coffee to early morning yoga and it made all the difference in the world. Who needs coffee when yoga naturally caffeinates your body?!?! I also started up my no-processed foods diet again: Click to view: Fuel your life… which I wrote in my pre-vegetarian days so I just made some vegetarian modifications. I feel so much better! None of my outside stresses have changed, the choice to be more proactive about my health and well being came from within. Does that mean that I have to get up earlier to practice yoga in the mornings? Absolutely. I just look at it as a time-investment in my happiness.
So the thing about negative self-talk is that you can read all you want about how bad it is on your mental/emotional health but you just can’t change your thoughts because you’ve read one article about positive body image and/or daily affirmations. Even though that all sounds great, like most things in life… It takes work. For me, when I am conscious about my diet, get plenty of exercise and plenty of me-time I feel like I have done all that I can to make the best version of Lindsey. I’m still working on it, but my thoughts about my body are slowly turning back to happy ones!
Practice self-love… Whenever you catch yourself comparing yourself to others (“He’s so much smarter,” “She’s so much prettier.”) or when you catch yourself in negative self-talk (“I’m so stupid,” “Ugh, I’m so fat.”) STOP and name 3 things that make you special, make you unique, or that you’re really good at. Plant seeds of positivity and honor yourself as the miracle of light and creation that you really are!
Morning yoga routine… Today must be the most beautiful day I ever lived.