Ladies: Stop This Now

Ok, Ladies.

Raise your hand if:

You only wear your most flattering leggings to work out in public (because the shame! You might have cellulite that someone can see).

You don’t wear leggings for workouts at all, and it’s not a comfort thing, you just don’t think you can “pull them off” (Spoiler alert: you can).

You come up with something negative about yourself to counter just about every compliment you receive, especially from other females. 

You start important conversations with “this may be a dumb idea but”…

You can’t go outside without your “face”. (Eyebrows, false eyelashes, full contouring, what have you). And not because you feel beautiful wearing it, but because you’re terrified of what you look like without it. (Spoiler alert: you look great.)

You feel badly about yourself on a regular basis because of something physical.

You look in the mirror to mentally pick apart your self perceived flaws, not to celebrate yourself.

You use workouts as a punishment for food, not food as fuel for workouts.

Looking back on this list, I think it’s safe to say that there are many, many women out there who can check off multiple things on this list. And unfortunately, this is not an all inclusive list of the ways that women knock themselves down daily. And for some, these are daily occurrences, more the norm than the exception. So the question here is:

Why?

Why do we feel that we are offending the world if they see our cellulite? Why do we feel the need to mentally preface our ideas and comments in the work world? Why do we think that we are not worthy of public visibility without a full face of makeup? And why oh why do we punish our bodies with workouts and mentally tear ourselves to shreds just because we are not “picture perfect”?

To be totally transparent here, this post came about because I almost didn’t post a workout video in my Moms Empowered Facebook community the other day because the leggings I was wearing in the video are less than flattering, especially on camera. A place that I preach is a safe space, an uplifting place, an EMPOWERING space for myself and other moms, and I felt that I wasn’t worthy of posting my video. Why? Because thighs, that’s why. And I’m slightly ashamed to admit it. But the thing is, no matter how much we work on our self worth when it comes to aesthetics, for many of us there will always be that nagging voice in the back of our head that pushes us to hide these videos, cover up those thighs, dress in all black just to hide the imperfections.

The key, though, is not to necessarily learn how to shut that voice off completely, but to be able to reason with it. For me, I had to come back to the video after a few days and re-view it with new eyes. I had to remind myself of what I preach to others — of progress, not perfection, and re-shape the way that I saw myself in that video. We’re all working towards something, and I’m certainly no exception. I’m not perfect, not by a long shot.

But that practice of rehashing your thoughts is one that can help a lot of us through these negativity practices that we have so deeply ingrained in ourselves. Stop avoiding clothes (especially workout clothes) just because you think other people might not find them the most flattering on you.  Stop putting on make up because you think that other people need to see you that way. Stop looking in the mirror with preconceived notions of perfection and then berating yourself when you don’t measure up.

Just stop.

Make a plan, revisit the way that you think about these things, and set small action steps to change the way you are treating yourself.

Pledge to go just one day at work without negatively prefacing any of your ideas. Promise yourself for just ONE DAY that for every compliment you receive, you will simply smile and say “thank you” (and on the inside, you can jump for joy and shout HELL YES!! because you have worked hard for those arms, darn it!). And you know what? It might be really uncomfortable. The urge to demean compliments about ourselves is so ingrained, it can become physically uncomfortable to accept (and maybe even celebrate) a compliment at it’s face value. But to embrace that discomfort is to begin to see your own worth, and that is one of the most valuable things we can offer ourselves.

It can become physically uncomfortable to accept a compliment at face value. But to embrace that discomfort is to begin to see your own worth, and that is one of the most valuable things

Do a grocery run without your full face of makeup. And while you’re there, smile at people, walk with your shoulders back, and act like you’re the mother-effing queen of that grocery store. You don’t need contouring or eye liner to make you worthy of being out in public.

Stick some positive post-it notes to your mirror, so that for every negative thought that creeps into your head, a positive or uplifting message will be shouting right back at you.

These things are just small steps, but they could be the small steps that add up to a few of you feeling a little bit more worthy, a little bit more confident, and a little bit more kick ass (because you are, all of you are.) And what I’m not saying is that we all need to burn our bras, stop shaving our legs and go make up free forever. I do love some good eyeliner, I’ll tell ya! And when something makes you feel good about yourself, it’s a wonderful thing. But the thing that does need to go is that negative mind set.

The only thing you need to remember is that you are enough just the way you are. And if you want to be better in your own eyes, then by all means, do what makes you feel good. But do it for you, not for them.

 

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I Can Tell You What To Do, But You Don’t Want To Hear It.

If you are having trouble with your weight, with your nutrition, with your motivation, I can tell you what to do.

I can tell you how to fix all of it.

But you don’t want to hear it. (And you shouldn’t!)

I can certainly tell you what foods you should or shouldn’t eat, what exercises you need to be doing, and what activities that you need to fulfill yourself, but that doesn’t mean that I should.

But wait a minute, as a health coach, doesn’t that pretty much go against my entire being? Isn’t that what I’m here for — to tell you what to do to magically make things better?

I think this is the biggest misconception about working with coaches, and about change in lifestyle in general. It is not up to me to create these changes for you, it is up to us to work together to create the change that you want, and do it in the way that is best for you. (Note I didn’t say easiest.) You see, change must come from within you. It can not, and should not, come from someone on the outside giving you a list of “musts”, and “shouldn’ts” and “nevers”.

When we think start to think about change, we sometimes come to the conclusion that someone else has all of the answers, and that there must be some easy way out there to end up where you want to be. Truthfully, when it comes to health and wellness, there is no one set list of answers that will get everyone to their goals. Sure, there are some general guidelines that are usually a good idea to follow (limit fast food, move regularly), but even those have spectrums and variables and wiggle room depending on each situation.

And I can tell you from experience, that yes, I can tell you what to do, what to eat, and exactly how much to exercise, and you might think that you want to hear it, but you don’t. If you’re looking for a change from your current health or nutrition status, that change is only sustainable if it comes from reasons that are within you, working towards goals that also come from within you. This is especially important to realize, and extremely difficult to comprehend, if you’re one of the many women who has been stuck on the same weight-loss/self-loathing/roller-coaster for the past X amount of years. I see and hear of so many women who try the same things over and over again, jumping from one set of answers to the next, only to continuously end up in the same place they have been. Why is that? What is stopping them (you?) from making changes and creating the progress that you want?

These are the answers that I can help you with. As a health coach, I am here to help you to delve deeper into how to make this work. Let’s leave the must’s, never’s, and shouldn’t’s behind, and create a new narrative. One that helps you to make the changes that you’ve been looking for, the changes that will provide you with true, sustainable change, and the strategies to keep it up on your own.

With all of this being said, if you find yourself in the presence of a trainer or coach who thinks that they have all of the answers to your future health, take what they say with a grain of salt. Yes, personal trainers often write programs, and in that case, we are “telling” you what to do. But your coach should not tell you that the only way to your goals is by eating paleo, by doing olympic lifts if they make you uncomfortable, or by running a marathon. And they shouldn’t tell you NOT to do these things either. What they should do is listen, work to find a strategy that will work for you, help you to find your specific “why’s”, and help you to find the “what” that will help you to get there.

Forget goals– Try This Instead.  

Last year at work, we had a staff retreat to start the year. You know those “retreats”; the name is misleading as it’s really just a day long meeting? Well needless to say, I wasn’t exactly stoked about the whole experience. But before the retreat, we were told that we were going to be taking part in the One Word program, and we would need to prepare one word on a sheet of paper for that day. The word was supposed to be ours — one word that we would want to embody throughout the year at work. My word for the year was Empathy, and I made a cute little arts and crafts poster to show it.

Now though, I’m not at work anymore. I practice empathy on a daily basis because it’s at the core of who I am as a person — I empathize even when I don’t really want to. But for some reason, I was recently thinking about this exercise and started thinking about what my word would be now. Life is different now, my priorities are different, I’m almost a completely different person than I was just a year and a half ago.

I also realized that at this point in my life, although I have things I want to work on, I don’t always have time to sit down and write down lengthy, specific goals for myself. Some days I’m lucky to just brush my hair, so a list of goals seems to be a little bit out of my wheelhouse right now. But one word? I can do that.

So I got to thinking. What is my one word? One word that encapsulates who I am, who I want to be and what I want to show Izzy as an example. And who knows — maybe my word will change next week, next month, or a few months from now, but at least it gives me something to focus on for the time being.

Presence. 

These are the months when Isabelle is growing and changing at a pace that I never thought imaginable. She changes seemingly overnight, and if I’m not present and aware, I’ll miss these subtle changes happening right before my eyes.

Likewise, little things I love that she does tend to disappear in the blink of an eye, and if I’m not present to notice them, they may disappear and be gone forever. Take, for example, when she was about 4 months old she had a span of about two weeks where she would do these loud, long, dramatic yawns that made me laugh every time. If I wasn’t paying attention and present during that time, I wouldn’t have those as a memory, because they’re gone from her ever changing vocal repertoire now.

But this word is not only important for my relationship with Isabelle right now; it’s important for my relationship with myself. I need to be present in the limited time I get for myself if I want to maintain some sanity and sense of self.

I need to be present during my workouts, because the time I have for them is so limited. If I’m off in La La Land, I’m not going to get done what I need to get done, and in turn, I won’t feel like my best self.

I need to be present during my limited time with Will, because my marriage is equally as important to sustain and flourish right now as my “me” time and my “Izzy” time.

I need to be present when on the phone with my family and friends — a feat that has proven to be very difficult nowadays, but those relationships deserve my time too, when I’m able to give it!

This one word involves so many pieces of my life, and it is equally important in all of them. Rather than make specific goals right now, which I realistically wouldn’t follow, I can easily think about this one word during my day and during my interactions with my loved ones, and my time by myself. I can try to incorporate it into different parts of my day, working on it a little bit more every day until full mental presence becomes my norm, and not something that I have to work on (hopefully, right?).

I’m feeling good about this, this one word. I’m feeling weight off my shoulders, not having specific goals to live up to right now, just letting things come as they will and working on each moment in that very moment.

If you’re feeling stressed or pressed for time, or unsure of what your goals should be right now, give this a try. Do some brainstorming, and figure out what words and themes are important to your life. You may find one common thread between them, and this may become your word! It’s much easier to focus on one word than several small steps, and it may give you something to focus on, which could in turn spur some inspiration or motivation for larger goals. (Along these same lines, my girl Monique recently wrote a great post about just doing something in order to get your inspiration flowing– check it out here!)

So if the thought of specific goals weighs you down more than it motivates you, take a few moments to think about one word. You may just feel lighter and more focused, without the stress of resolutions or deadlines.

What’s your word?

 

Change the conversation 

For those of you who have daughters, they are listening. 

If you don’t have a daughter, but you spend any amount of time around young girls, they are listening. 

Whether she’s 10 hours old, 10 weeks old, or 10 years old, she’s listening. And it’s time to change the conversation. 


My daughter Isabelle is almost 3 months old. She doesn’t talk yet, of course, but she listens to me talk all day long. She’s picking up language and building connections in her brain, connections that will someday allow her to not only understand what I’m saying, but to speak words herself. And I want to make sure that the words that she’s understanding, and the connections she is making, have nothing to do with my self worth due to the way my body looks. 

The other day, we were in the kitchen, and I was chatting away like always. 

“Mama needs to get a workout in!” I smiled at her. 

“Mama needs to get a workout in so that I don’t get f…..” 

I looked at her looking at me, and stopped my sentence short. Of course the F word I was about to say, I’m embarrassed to admit, was “fat”. After all that I preach about working for health and energy for yourself– I was about to reduce that all to that one demeaning word. 

No, she can’t really understand yet what “fat” means. She can’t say the word, or tell me what it means. But she’s listening. 

In that moment I realized that my responsibility in that conversation is so much bigger than how I feel on any given day. It’s so much bigger than anything to do with me, because how I finish that sentence over time could determine how she feels about herself for the rest of her life. I make a point to tell her daily how strong she is. How smart she is. How brave and successful she’ll be some day. Yes, I also tell her she’s cute and pretty, but those are not the focus of my time with her. But how often do I speak about myself that way to her? It can’t be “mama needs to workout because she doesn’t want to get fat”. It needs to be “mama wants to workout because it makes her feel strong”. “Mama gets to exercise and it makes her feel powerful”. 

We have to change the conversation, and it starts with how we speak to ourselves. 

My body is not the same after having Isabelle, and it might not be for quite some time.  My weight is exactly where it used to be, but everything else isn’t. My body shape and composition has changed, and there are days that I struggle with how much work it will take to build my strength back up. 

But I can’t put that on her. She’s listening. 

She’s listening to every mention of the word fat, to every mumble about my glutes disappearing. She’s watching every time I look at my belly in the mirror or give my thighs a little squeeze. Those things might mean nothing to her now, but over time they will. And the last thing I want is to someday walk in on her giving her own thighs a disappointing squeeze, or offering up a sharp criticism of her abs. 

We are so much more than that. We are so much more than hips or bellies or cellulite. We are strong, independent, brave, powerful, intelligent, and kind. We are generous, thoughtful, inquisitive, and honest. All of these things are what I want Isabelle to strive for–  not how much fat she can pinch between her fingers. It’s up to me (us) to change this conversation and to take our bodies out of it completely. 

Because we are so much more than that. 

And they are listening. 

Don’t Fall For These Holiday Health Scams

Oh, the holidays. 

The 6 weeks out of the year between Thanksgiving and New Years when health and fitness scams are at an all time high. 

Ate too many Christmas cookies? Lose all the weight and 10 lb more by following this diet! 

Went a little too wild at one too many holiday parties? Detox with this magical tonic and lose 20 lb! Oh, you don’t need to lose 20 lb? YES YOU DO. 

Too much pie and not enough exercise? Just follow my 1000 burpees-a-day plan and you’ll be shredded in no time! 

Exaggeration, yes. But unfortunately, none of these are that far off on what people will try to sell you around this time. So today, we’re talking about those health lies and fitness scams, and how to spot them. 


The first, and most obvious rule is this: 

If it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is. 

Even though that’s a rule that most of us follow in our daily lives, when it comes to health and fitness, many people have a tendency to buy into hype and promises, no matter how far fetched a plan may seem. I think it’s just because we all want to believe that there’s an easy way out there. But trust me, if there was a magic pill, diet, or shake, it wouldn’t be a secret. 

Remember The Cookie Diet? Bingo. 

If they claim extraordinary results with minimal effort, it’s too good to be true. Likewise, if they promise something that makes you think “why doesn’t everyone use this if it works so well?”, it’s too good to be true. And if it comes in pill or powder form, you guessed it, it’s too good to be true.

Other red flags for health scams:

Specific results promised within a specific time frame. 

The truth is, every human body is different and responds differently to fat loss techniques. What works for your best friend may not work for you and vice versa. Just because Joe Schmoe got X results with Y strategy, you are in no way guaranteed the same results. In fact, I can almost guarantee you won’t get the same results.

So any plan or trainer that tells you that if you follow these rules for a specified amount of time, you’ll see these specific results? Yeah, they’re lying. 

Lose 10 lb in 2 weeks with this special diet! This, my friends, is a scam. Run away, and run away fast. 

You must do THIS exact thing to see results.  

Along those same lines, any trainer who tells you that you have to work out at a certain time of day, or eat a specific breakfast every day, or do one particular exercise in order to reach your goals is not worth your time or precious money. There is no one size fits all option when it comes to health and fitness, and if your trainer treats you exactly the same as every other client they have, you’re getting a raw deal. Health and fitness, and especially fat loss, cannot be cookie cutter from person to person. 

A magic pill, shake, supplement, etc without changing anything else in your life. 

Again, there is no magic. If you’re told that you can reach your body goals by taking a pill or mixing up some powder every morning, and that you don’t have to change anything else about your life, don’t even give it a second thought. It does not work, I promise. Even if it’s backed by your favorite celebrity or fitness guru, it Does. Not. Work. Fat loss and body change is hard work, and it’s an all encompassing project. Fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, environment– it all plays a role. And anyone who tells you different, will also probably try to sell you on my next red flag… 

Using the phrase long and lean. 

Want to spot a fitness con artist in one second? Look for someone who promises that their workout plan will make your muscles long and lean. This is impossible, yet it’s a goal sought after by many. You cannot make your muscles (or your arms, legs, or torso) longer. You cannot buy yourself the body of a ballet dancer if you’re not genetically built like one already. This is one of the oldest fitness scams in the book, but unfortunately many women still fall into the long and lean trap. Can we let this one go in 2017, please? 

Detox

The word alone makes me twitch. Anyone who tells you that you need their product to help your body detox from all of the sinful torture you’ve put it through is flat out lying to you. Human bodies have evolved to have a masterful detoxification system– it’s called your liver. You do not need to starve and survive on juice for 3 days in order to take advantage of this wonderful organ of yours, it does its job quite well on its own! Imagine that. To put it quite simply, I’m pretty sure the phrase “juice cleanse” is one of the biggest assaults against the true health and fitness industry. Don’t waste your time, money, or sanity, especially not in the name of health. 

So with all of these scams and lies out there, how can you reach your body and health goals? Good old fashioned hard work. It’s not catchy, it’s not sexy, and there’s certainly not anything to trademark. But there are real life results that you can’t get from a pill or powder. It’s hard, and it takes time, but you can do it. The right way. 

Top Two Tips For A Guilt Free Thanksgiving

So here we are again, huh? 

The Holidays. 

The dreaded food-everywhere-sugar-frenzy-packed-schedule holiday season. Also known as the guiltiest time of the year. 

From pie to cookies, to stuffing and green bean casserole, the upcoming six weeks can be a nightmare of temptation for dieters, riddled with guilt and “shouldn’t”. 

If you ask me though, the holidays are already packed with too much other stuff to be filled with guilt too. With all of the parties, get togethers, family time, gift shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, etc, how does anyone even have time to feel guilty? So here’s a thought: just don’t. 

My top two tips for a guilt free Thanksgiving? 

1. Eat what you really want. 

2. Don’t feel guilty. 

I know, it sounds like I’m being a jerk, because we all know it’s not that easy. And you’re right– it’s not always easy! But making a conscious decision to enjoy the food choices you make, eating them mindfully, and letting yourself actually enjoy them will go a long way towards your holiday sanity. 

What do I mean when I say to eat that pie or stuffing mindfully? It really comes down to 3 things: 

1. Note the flavors, textures, etc. The reasons that you love this food are exactly what you should focus on. 

2. Acknowledge the emotional or mental component. Does this apple pie have a nostalgic pull for you because you used to make it with your grandmother when you were young? That’s ok. Food is often connected to memories both good and bad, and I think it’s important to acknowledge and embrace this rather than shut it out. Whether we like it or not, food has an emotional sider that can add to your enjoyment of it, but it can also take that enjoyment away. Make sure that this food does the former, honor that feeling, so that suppressing it doesn’t lead to over indulging or binging later on. 

3. Make sure every bite still tastes good. You know when you eat too much of a good thing and it just doesn’t taste as good after a while? Even your favorite foods can fall victim to this tastebud paralasys as I like to call it. Stop before you get to that point– what’s the point in eating something if you’re not going to enjoy it? At first, this will take practice. But over time, you’ll begin to recognize this point without even thinking about it. 

And what about this not feeling guilty? How are we supposed to do that after all of the goodies that we come across at each and every holiday event? 

This one also takes practice. It takes patience and self love, and careful thoughtfulness when it comes to the three steps listed above. It’s ok if you eat pie and cookies…and stuffing and candied yams…and a second helping of mashed potatoes. Even if you do go a little bit overboard (let’s face it, most of us will), it’s one day. One meal. One tiny percentage of your time when your focus should be on family and love and laughter, not on the calories on your plate.

The food you eat on one day will not completely derail you from your goals. If you are trying to reach certain body goals though, be aware that going all out for the entire holiday season will probably set you back a bit. If you’re ok with that, own it, and drop the guilt. If you’re not, pick the times/parties/foods that you will indulge with, do so mindfully, and free up some brain space for creating new amazing memories with your family and friends– not calorie guilt. The bottom line is that this time of year doesn’t have to be stressful when it comes to food. This is just another day, another week, another month on your journey. You’ve got this! 

Repeat after me: There is no room for guilt at the Thanksgiving table. 

Especially this year– the political turmoil will take up enough space as it is. And after that awkward family argument, you’re gonna need that pie. Just enjoy it, ok? 

True Life: This is Post Partum

You’ve all seen it before: the celebrity who walks the red carpet 2 weeks after baby and looks perfect– glowing and radiant even. The fitness blogger who shows off her new-mommy 6-pack abs and asks “what’s your excuse?” making every other new mom out there feel less-than, at the very least.

But you know what? While those are real people, and yes, real results, they do not represent the norm. And they certainly don’t represent a standard of where you “should” be, 2, 4, or 6 weeks post partum.

I will tell you to start out that I had an unexpected c-section with Isabelle. Some things occurred to make this medically necessary for the safety of all involved. And while it broke my heart in the moment, I did what I had to do to bring this beautiful baby into the world. That being said, my journey is going to look a little different than another mama no matter what her birth story looked like. So on that note, this post is in no way a “what to expect” or a list of things you should feel after baby, because the truth is that we’re all going to experience this a little bit differently.

The goal today is just to give you a real life, un-glammed, imperfect glimpse into my story, with the hopes that it can help out other moms who are lost in a sea of “shoulds” and perfect post partum abs.

Showering is a luxury.

There are many days now where I have to strategically find time to shower quickly, and many days where I don’t even get to shower at all. Life just after baby is anything but glamorous, and you’d be surprised how much little time you actually have to get anything done. All newborns do is eat, sleep, and poop, right? So there’s plenty of time during the day to get lots of things done and even relax? Nope, not so much. All of those things happen with such frequency, never mind the new mom challenge of figuring breast feeding out, and you’ve got a literally 24/7 job on your hands. I firmly believe that’s the reason babies are so cute and smell so good– so we don’t mind the constant hard work! Case in point: it took me two weeks to write this very blog post. Time is not on my side these days.

Everything was swollen.

I don’t think I looked in a mirror for a full day after my surgery. But by the time I did, I was shocked by how swollen I still was. From my face down to my toes, not only did I still look pregnant, but I looked like I had been pumped full of fluid and air. Pants that were loose on me at 40 weeks pregnant were now tight, and you can imagine what a trip that is mentally when you’re kind of expecting to get your body back once the baby makes their exit. The swelling went down in about a week, but I’ll admit I was a little bit nervous that it might hang around forever (irrational sleep deprived thoughts).

The scale has dropped quickly, but things are a far cry from my “normal”.

I’m going to write a bigger post just on this topic, but here’s the overview: at two weeks post partum, I was already down to just 7 lb over my pre-baby weight. I’m not sure exactly where I am now since we don’t have a scale, but I’d say I’m somewhere in that 5-7 lb range. Yay, right? Well, not so fast. It’s actually a perfect example of how the scale doesn’t mean a whole lot, because my body is much different than those 7 lb will tell you.

Although I kept up a very active fitness routine while pregnant, lifting weights right up to the end, I still lost a significant amount of muscle mass over those 9 months. And add in recovery from surgery, and you’ve got full body atrophy at a maximum. Of course Isabelle is well worth it, but this body, although only 7 lb away from my before-baby body, is drastically different, and will take lots of hard work in the months to come.

Healing is frustrating.

Along that same train of thought, healing from a major surgery is not something I expected. After my remarkably easy pregnancy, I naively thought I would go into labor, waltz into the hospital, and pop out a baby a few hours later. Not so much. Complications led to surgery, and then all of a sudden there I was, recovering from a major surgery I never even bothered to read about ahead of time. Being told that I can’t work out for 6 weeks is tough, and feeling completely incapacitated was not part of my game plan. Lesson learned:when it comes to child birth, a birthing plan is ok, but be prepared for everything, and take nothing for granted.

That being said though, although Im not cleared to work out for a couple more weeks, that doesn’t mean I’ve been just laying around not moving at all. I have been doing everything I can safely do to keep my muscles engaged and functioning– daily walks and some glute and core rehab exercises. I will outline all of this in a later post, but suffice it to say that in all aspects of life, fitness is relative. I may not be anywhere near my fitness prime but I am doing everything possible to take care of myself and set myself up for future success.

No sleep is really, really hard.

Getting by on a few hours of sleep every once in a while is rough. Going an entire month with 2-3 hours of sleep per night (and sometimes less), is unthinkable. But here I am, in this club with all new parents, who find out that our bodies can adapt to some pretty crazy things in order to take care of these little bundles. Sleep deprivation is a form of serious torture,and here we are in the thick of it, day in and day out– and still expected to function like normal adults! So next time you see a friend with a new baby, and you jokingly ask about how much they’re sleeping, know that the truth is worse than you can imagine. And cut them some slack.

The emotional overload is something I never could have imagined.

Now, this might sound like I’m complaining, or that everything is all bad, but the truth is, there is nothing to compare to the amazing and gut wrenching amount of love that erupts from you when this baby comes into the world. There really are no words that can describe what it feels like to look at her, to smell her, to snuggle with this little tiny bundle of warmth. I stare at her endlessly, wanting to breathe her in, wanting to preserve this newborn stage forever. Sure, some things are really tough right now, but I know that this is such a fleeting time in our lives, one that seems stressful yet magical and wonderous all at once. The strength of emotions has been surprising to me, and as cliche as it sounds, you can never really imagine it until you’re going through it.

Along with all of that love and wonderment though, there have also been plenty of tears, and thats ok. After child birth, a woman is basically a raging inferno of hormones– hormones that cause emotional swings so strong its almost laughable. I’m not going to pretend I haven’t cried, haven’t already felt mom guilt, or haven’t doubted my ability to do this. But the truth is, that’s all a normal part of this process, one that I wish were talked about more openly. So cry it out, mamas, and find support where you need it. It truly takes a village!

After all this, the long and short of it is that the immediate weeks post partum are both wonderful and difficult, and everything in between. It’s the start of a new life, a new you, and probably one of the most amazing things that I’ll never truly be able to describe.

Other moms (and dads), what were your first few weeks like? What did you find most challenging in the early days of parenthood?