There’s a lot of pressure for women to “get back” to their “pre-baby” body. The number of products that claim to fade stretch marks, perk up boobs and flatten your stomach is overwhelming. As the founder of Live More Weigh Less and a leader in the body-positive movement, I hate to admit that I absolutely fell victim to this mentality after I had my first son last March.
When the postpartum fog finally lifted after a few weeks of around-the-clock breastfeeding and sleepless nights, I looked down at my body and hated what I saw: a saggy stomach, lumpy thighs and no waist in sight. I panicked, thinking about how the world was going to react to this untoned, Jabba the Hutt-like version of myself. I wanted to hide and do workout videos in my living room until I was “presentable” enough to join society. I was stuck in this cycle of struggle and body hatred for about a week before I realized that I knew better. I had the opportunity to put what I teach to the test. Here’s how I got out of my I-am-the-unsexiest-woman-alive funk to actually feeling sexier than ever before:
I had to choose between hiding and living.
Most women believe that our lives will completely change when we lose weight and all the pain, misery and embarrassment will fade away along with our cellulite. But as long as we are waiting for our lives to begin once we’re thin, our current lives are super boring and flat. Leaving food as our only source of happiness, excitement and connection only leads to raging emotional eating.
When I took a look at my life as a new mom, it left a lot to be desired. Obviously being a new mom is hard, but there are always things we can do to bring in more happiness. I made a list of all the things I would do if I were feeling energetic and beautiful, like make new mom friends, go to art museums, take a hip-hop class and beef up my spiritual practice. I got straight to work putting myself out there and not letting my body hold me back. Now my motto is #NoHiding. This experience showed me that I am alive, powerful and fun even at my heaviest weight.
I had to source my sexuality and femininity from something deeper than my body.
Before I had kids, my sexiness was completely based on how I looked; if I was feeling low, I just put on some hot lingerie or a little extra eyeliner. In my post-baby body, no amount of eyeliner was making me feel like Kate Upton. I had to go deeper. All women have a well of sexiness that we rarely tap into. It’s a wild, primal energy that we can access by listening to some hot music, lighting candles and putting our judgments on hold. This part of us that doesn’t care what others think is raw, powerful and wild.
I embraced the freedom that comes with gaining and losing weight.
I used to think that women should be able to lose weight and hover there effortlessly. After being pregnant and riding the postpartum wave, it became so clear that women are meant to gain and lose weight. We expand and contract every menstrual cycle, every pregnancy, even every season! Our feminine energy is connected to the moon and ocean tides that come in and out all the time. There is nothing fixed or linear about us and we have to stop going against nature.
Once I really understood that my life and my sexiness aren't tied to my size, I effortlessly lost four dress sizes. My weight still fluctuates every month (heck, every day!), but what's important is that every little physical shift doesn't bother me anymore. I know that when I am living more and connecting with my sexiness, I naturally move to a size that feels most comfortable to me at the time.
I learned that my body is meant for more than just to be a glorified mannequin for my clothes.
When I think about my body I am so awe of its power to grow a human. I know this is a bit cliché, but if you’re a mom, you get it. It can be easy to forget the power of our bodies, but I take time every day to reflect on how incredible it is that I’ve grown two humans in this body without even trying. It just happens! This reverence for its sheer brilliance grounds me in the truth that my husband is so blessed to be intimate with my body. It’s like, “Yeah, you are one lucky guy to come into contact with this incredible, magical force of nature.” It’s so important to remember that when people are having sex they are having sex with YOU, and all of who you are, not just a body.
Now as I sit here, two weeks away from the due date of my second baby, I am so grateful to be free from the fear of, “Will I ever look the same?” and “Will I ever want to have sex again?”. The answers: no and yes. I will never look the same as I did before I had my son and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. My body is beautiful, with its silver stretch marks and wider hips and now I know so clearly that I am more than a body. I am a whole woman with a great life and a passion and inner fire that won’t be held back by a saggy tummy. Because of this, I am way sexier than I’ve ever been.
Sarah Jenks helps women who’ve been struggling with weight for years finally have a life and body they love, even if they’ve tried everything. Sarah teaches women that their ideal body isn’t about looking like their 23-year-old self, their best friend or their favorite celebrity. It’s about creating YOUR unique body for your unique phase of life, constitution, and lifestyle. The founder of SarahJenks.com and the creator of Live More Weigh Less, she’s been featured in Redbook, Glamour, Health.com, Parents Magazine, ForbesWoman, The Boston Globe and Martha Stewart.