I love the above picture of a pregnant woman (photo credit). It so clearly shows the beauty in her less than flat stomach. It shows how she is embracing and loving those changes and her body. If only we could have the same attitude towards our body after pregnancy too! How beautiful that would be.
But what about when we have legitimate concerns about our weight, or our pooch-y stomach, or simply prefer a smaller stomach. Can we love our bodies, and still want to adjust certain things about it? Can we accept ourselves, and still work for change?
I have gotten many a sheepish email since I started my series on belly fat – women who feel that their stomach could use a little tender care, but are worried that they are giving into society’s wrong pressure to have the perfect body. They aren’t sheepish that they have a bigger belly – they are sheepish that they are interested in trying to get it back in proportion.
It’s a hard balance to find in our crazy, crazy world.
(Read the rest of the series here: How Stress can ruin your health and give you a big belly, Dietary Changes that Help with Weight and Belly Fat, Do you have a mommy tummy or diastasis recit? What Made the Biggest Difference in Losing my Mommy Tummy, Five Reasons I am Going to Talk about Belly Fat )
I have had so many interesting side conversations with many of you since I started my series on “mommy tummies” or belly fat (the two topics have kind of converged in this one series). But all of that escalated when I shared my success using the Itworks wraps here. Included in that post, was a picture of my stomach, showing the difference it made.
On a personal note, after I posted it, I had many, many conflicted emotions about it. The main reason I choose to share the photo was so that my readers could have proof that they really did work. I really didn’t want my readers to think I was scamming them. How convincing is it to say that I wrapped something around my waist, and it shrunk in size?! I was very skeptical about the idea at first myself. I was also concerned that sharing about this product could feed unhealthy self -esteem. (That is, I didn’t want people to think that I was sharing it because we should be ashamed about having “bellies”.)
The most important conversations I had with many of you were about our view on beauty, our value, and the pressure we have to conform to a certain modal to be “beautiful”. A question I was asked by several people was, “Am I caving into society’s pressure to try these wraps, or trying this eating plan?” I think that’s an important question to consider and think about, regardless of what changes you are considering.
One of the things I said early in this series was that the main reason I wanted to address this issue was because some types of belly fat are linked to a variety of serious health problems. If you have a muscle separation causing a belly pooch (called Diastasis Recti), that can cause back problems and digestive problems. We aren’t looking at belly fat and pointing fingers and moaning about wanting a perfect body. We are simply trying to figure out if our body is demonstrating physically an issue we can fix for a better, healthier life.
That has been the focus of this series. But where do the Itworks wraps fit in? In a lot of ways, they don’t. Yes, the herbs and ingredients can provide good nourishment to your skin. And your skin is important. But you can get that nourishment from many, many products, and truthfully there are purer products out there. Obviously what is unique about these products are that they tone, and lift, and pull back skin that has gone through a lot in a dramatic way for some people.
In the end, a lot of the benefits of Itwork products are physical…and yes, about our appearance.
Which begs the question, “Is it okay to make changes – or use products – just for the sake of appearances?”
My personal opinion is, yes, it’s okay to do things solely because of their benefit to your appearance, within reason. This isn’t about being a size 2; looking like your favorite actress or fulfilling some ridiculous standard society loves to throw at us. This is about loving and caring for our bodies. If using certain products, wearing flattering clothes or jewelry, or doing stomach exercises, is an expression of healthy care towards your body (and fits within your budget and is part of a well-rounded life), then go for it!
This is about loving your body no matter what, and accepting it as worthy of respect no matter how much it looks different than the bodies on magazines. There is this beautiful verse in the Bible that I think Christian and non-Christian alike will find interesting. Paul tells us in Ephesians five that “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.”
For those of you who are unsatisfied, angry at, or hate your body, what would it look like if you loved others like you love yourself? Would that be a picture of love to you?
Paul is trying to show in that verse how tenderly and completely a husband should care for his wife. He takes it for granted that there is a natural, healthy love we have for our body. Not an egotistical, prideful, selfish love, but one that is based on the recognition of what an amazing creation our body is, and how honored we are to have it (as a Christian, I believe we are made in the image of God, which elevates the body even more). Our bodies are worth honor and respect and love, and when we say that we love someone else like we love our own body, that should signify a deep care.
So how does that relate to working on belly fat, and how we see ourselves? It means this: Care and love for your body will look different at different times. Sometimes that might mean changing your diet around so that you can reach a healthy weight. Sometimes it might mean looking in the mirror and instead of seeing all your “flaws” seeing how absolutely lovely and amazing your body is. It can look like taking care of it so that it looks nice. I think that when I dress in an outfit that makes me feel attractive, make sure my hair is shiny clean, and put on jewelry, for me personally that is an outward sign that I am honoring this vessel given to me. Sometimes it means looking at a lumpy stomach, and loving it for how amazing it is, what is accomplished, and how beautiful the process of motherhood was that made it that way. Sometimes love speaks by eating foods that nourish the skin, and natural lotions that help prevent stretch marks, and yes, even Itwork wraps. Sometimes it means looking at society’s messed up standards in the eye, and rejecting it whole-heartedly and completely. At times, it may mean changing habits because you need to show better care and love towards your body, at other times it means facing the mirror and saying, “This is good and there is no reason to change anything.”
In the end, yes, you can be doing exercises to heal your diastasis recti, changing your diet, and using Itworks wraps because you hate your body and want to change it. But that is backwards. If you decide to do any of those things, please do them because your body is a beautiful thing worthy of respect, love, and care.
We can only work on our appearance while rejecting society’s pressures on us if we are content to be healthy and love our bodies regardless of what that looks like for us. Some of the ladies I know that use Itworks wraps with great success are plus sized ladies who love their bodies, and are simply using them to help look their best. Many people I know who excel at cooking nourishing food are far from model like, and they embrace their robust, healthy bodies.
Use this series to perhaps find out new ways to love and care for yourself, just like you would care for a beloved friend or spouse. Don’t use it to beat up yourself over things you can’t change, shouldn’t change, or haven’t changed.
What do you think? Is it possible to find a balance between the two extremes?
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When I first found your site I was excited but this series and especially this post makes me think you are just another one of those people who aren’t really interested in what’s best for your body.
Wow, Sara, that feels really harsh. You said,”especially this post makes me think you are just another one of those people who aren’t really interested in what’s best for your body.” Either you have mistaken my intent in this post, or I have grossly misrepresented my intent in my writing. This post was supposed to be about loving our bodies no matter what, and if we do anything (whether using some lotion/skin product, making dietary changes, or work on healing diastasis recti), it should be done as a way of honoring our body – not hating it where it is at. If you are reacting to the wrap, I respect others decisions not to use the wraps, if they feel it doesn’t fulfill a “loving your body” criteria. That is absolutely a valid decision that I am very okay with. This post isn’t supposed to be about whether or not you should use a wrap, but rather what our attitude should be in making any decision in regard to our bodies. Perhaps I should clarify, that when I said above, that it’s okay to do something because it could has a “positive” effect on our appearance, I wasn’t saying that it’s okay to do something harmful to your body for that goal. That wasn’t the point. I was just meaning that when I try to dress up and look nice, that is one way I honor my body, and also when I used stretch mark prevent lotions during pregnancy, that was just another way I was trying to honor my body too. But if other readers also feel that intent wasn’t clear, I can edit the above to make sure that was clearly communicated.
I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ve been following Kimi’s blog for years now, and she’s always so real and honest about health–and everything that goes along with it. She explores the easy stuff and the hard stuff in a very respectful manner.
Thank you so much for this comment. I really appreciate your kind words, and am so glad that I have been able to communicate respectfully, as that is always my goal. 🙂
This comment is strange considering if you had taken the time to actually read her blog you would find she is definitely interested in what is best for her body. Not only is she interested in what is best for her body but her family and friends as well, and all her readers. She puts hours of research into health topics and knows more than most when it comes to what is healthiest for our bodies. It saddens me to see people aren’t willing to learn new things. There are more ways than one to take care your body. I am sure Kimi wasn’t trying to promote this post as being all our bodies need to be healthy, or all we need to do to take care of our body. In fact I think you missed the point of this post entirely, so I won’t try and explain it for you again. This is coming from someone who goes to the gym at least 3 times a week, and I know there is more to taking care of my body than that. Kimi’s blog promotes healthy eating and getting the nutrition that our bodies need to function at its best. I am not going to assume that if she isn’t posting about a gym and how much cardio and weight training one should be doing that she isn’t taking care of her body. It is your loss if you don’t follow her insightful posts.
Kimi, I truly appreciate your writings and your concern for maintaining our health through good eating / habits. It is dismaying to find our words being misconstrued or coming from a vain heart versus a good heart. Individuals see (or read) what s/he want or what her/his heart feels which is sad. As I grow older, I realize that I have made some pretty wise choices about my health and diet. It wasn’t about wanting to be particular size. My choices were about being able to keep active and healthy … the size part just came about because I was healthy enough to be active. I also was aware of my family history (i.e., diseases) and didn’t want to go down that road then … and now. I, a non-drinker or non-abuser of any meds, learned that I have a fatty liver so I have to figure out how to battle the belly fat so I don’t get diabetes or any of the auto-immune diseases on both sides of the family. … I could care less ‘how’ I look … I just want to be healthy as I go into my 60’s because I want to continue to be active and hit the volleyball courts when I can. Keep on writing … from your heart.
Thanks so much for your comment, Theresa! It really warmed my heart. You said, ” I just want to be healthy as I go into my 60′s because I want to continue to be active and hit the volleyball courts when I can. ” You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing a little of your story, AND for the encouragement. 🙂
We can embrace it and look for solutions at the same time. Isn’t that what life is all about? You are giving very moderate suggestions. You’re not telling everyone to hit the gym for 45 minutes a day with targeted ab work.
One of the most toning activities I’ve done (surprisingly!) is the Alexander Technique. It’s not even exercise. In fact, they don’t even believe in exercise from what I understand. It’s just about learning to move in a fluid, unstressed and aligned way. Most people tone up simply by changing their their posture (and we should think of posture as a dynamic, not static thing) and the way they breathe.
What is wrong with changing habits when our body sends us a signal that something may be wrong?
Thanks, Natalia, for the comment, and for sharing about the Alexander Technique! I’ve never heard of it before, and it sounds like a wonderful way to calm a stressed body as well as tone!
Articles like this are good ways to weed out the haters. I thought you were incredibly brave posting your belly pictures. Its awesome to hear about products that actually work. Thank-you
I have yet one more reason for wanting to be rid of belly fat besides just looks or health. After having to take a round of fluoride-based antibiotics for a serious kidney infection I couldn’t shake, I ended up gaining 40+ lbs in a month, and I swear all of it went into my belly. Three years later, I still can’t lose it, no matter what probiotics or diet changes I make, or how much sunshine I give it. Not only does it affect my self-esteem, especially since I’ve never had a ‘beer’ gut before, but it keeps me from twisting and bending in ways I used to be able to move. Worse, it affects our sex life, because there are certain positions I *can’t* do anymore, not with this bowling ball belly in the way. So, yeah, I want rid of it, and now! *Almost* enough to consider the wraps. If I didn’t already have issues with keeping my liver clean, I’d go for it, but the chemicals listed in the ingredients make me nervous.
And, FWIW, I think your posts have been very helpful, and not at all focused on having a perfect body, but rather a healthy one.
Thanks, Kathy, for sharing so personally with us! Your story is a great example of why I really, really think that we need to resist the notion that weight gain (and/or belly fat) simply happened because someone was making poor lifestyle choices. While that certainly can be true, there are a lot of different reasons people gain weight or have a belly! You’ve probably already thought of this, but it almost seems like your weight gain was connected either to the infection and/or your gut health (since antibiotics can wipe out healthy flora). Or perhaps it could have been the fluoride?
I usually am a just a blog reader, but this post just MADE me have to comment…I would like to thank you so much for calling attention to diastasis recti. I couldn’t have cared less if you posted pictures or not. I am SO grateful because I always wondered what was wrong with my body post-babies. It is not vanity; it’s finally being able to give a name to something I was scared to ask about for fear of being treated like a hypochondriac. I could have accepted my “pooch” if it was just belly fat, but I knew that abnormal bump shouldn’t be there. I only weigh 106 lbs, so imagine how a diastasis protrudes when there isn’t much to hide it. You gave me the confidence to march in to my doctor for my check up today and finally ask him about it. Not only did he confirm it, but it was one more thing to check off my worry list. Thank you and on a personal note, don’t worry about pleasing everyone, it just isn’t possible.
I am so excited that my blog post helped you figure that out (and thrilled that your doctor was knowledgeable about it and was able to confirm). Helps me feel that my blogging does make a difference! 🙂