Let yourself feel feminine, strong and sexy, especially if you don’t.
Two days before my due date I booked a Boudoir session, which meant I was going to take some sexy photos with a very full body. I was feeling femininity to the fullest. I felt good, I looked good and I wanted to document the experience.
I loved my body then, and I also love my body now.
I know this is not a normal sentence to hear, but I really do love my body. I used to down play my adoration because so many other women struggle to accept, let alone love their physical selves. I also thought it made me conceited, shallow, and not normal.
I haven’t always been this confident and I definitely have my “areas I’d like to work on”, but they don’t stop me from checking myself out in the window when I pass by a storefront.
Growing up self-conscious
I grew up as a competitive gymnast. From the age of 4-16, I literally grew up being judged on my looks and physical talent. I was scored out of 10 (back then a perfect score was 10) and every mistake, bent knee or failure to perform a skill took me farther and farther from perfection. It also didn’t help that I was always the smallest and weakest in my cohort.
In university, I took my gymnastics abilities and started competing in Cheerleading. Image became even more important and my soft belly was a major concern of mine while everyone wore sports bras and short shorts to train.
Then I got into weight training and my body started to put on muscle underneath a layer of healthy fat. I started looking stronger but also thicker. My family worried that I was starting to look like a ‘man’, and that wasn’t a compliment.
My broad shoulders and muscular legs, which served me so well with sports was now a source of insecurity. Not to mention that I loved feeling strong and was considering backing off from something that made me feel so good physically and mentally because it made other people uncomfortable, or wasn’t their definition of attractive. F*** that!
Being proud of my achievements
The love I have for my body could be considered vain, but I don’t care. I work hard and play hard to have a healthy body and mind. Most of my life I have exercised regularly and eaten a balanced diet with protein, healthy fats, veggies, fruit, carbohydrates (YES), and innutritious snacks from time to time.
I don’t feel obsessive, I don’t count calories, and I don’t have an optimal body type that I’m trying to attain. I’m at peace with feeling good whatever shape my body is in.
I’ve also spent a lot of time appreciating what my body has been able to perform at different points in my life and how my strength and flexibility has served me. I also am learning to love the parts that I’d like to change because they have also served me. The time that I took off of regular sports and exercise have been times that I needed to slow down, say ‘no’ to going 110%, ground myself, and at times heal my heart.
Compassion during pregnancy
Throughout most of my pregnancy I continued a balance and healthy lifestyle. I didn’t stop carrying heavy groceries or give in 100% to my Chicken McNugget cravings.
I will admit that in my first trimester I did give myself the grace to ease off of my regular routine. I didn’t do any formal exercise or eat as clean as I could. For the first 3 months, I didn’t even take my prenatal vitamins everyday because they made me feel so ill. And we still survived.
(I also didn’t know that my nausea and fatigue would only last the first trimester and for some their pregnancy discomforts lasted the entire 9 months.)
So when the nausea started to fade, you bet it was more challenging to get back on a healthy regiment. But I took it one day at a time and with each healthy meal and every outdoor hike I started wanting more and feeling better.
I continued weight-training throughout the rest of my pregnancy and felt strong, vibrant and excited with my new body.
For many, pregnancy can be awful. I know several healthy friends who were bedridden, had excessive weight gain and vomited profusely throughout their entire pregnancy. I was fortunate to not be in any of those categories so I was going to embrace it to the fullest, hopefully without shoving it in people’s faces and making them feel worse.
Not only did I feel strong, I felt sexy too.
My big, round belly made sex hilarious but we still let ourselves get in the mood and play. I wore my sexy lingerie from time to time and I worked it.
So, I got my nails painted (baby pink of course), threw in my hair extensions and took some scandalous photos with a Groupon I found for $40. (I was definitely happy that my husband was with me because some of these home businesses can be sketchy, especially men offering cheap Boudoir photos.)
Pregnancy, especially with your first, is such a magical time. Never again will you have 9 months dedicated to just you and the miracle developing inside of you. Enjoy it. Love it. Embrace those changes even if you’d rather they not be there because you are growing a miracle. Your body is doing extraordinary things without much effort on your part.
And especially if you are exhausted, over-worked and feel anything but sexy, make the time to doll yourself up and be glamorous. Get into the roll. Pamper yourself and let yourself love your beautiful body.