I’ve been writing off and on over the past month about Spanx. Why I wanted to lose weight, how I cut back on my calories and made exercise a habit, and shared some practical tips that I learned on my pregnancy weight loss journey.
Now, the more challenging part is putting into words some of the inner struggles I faced with a post-pregnant, overweight body. I could share a lot of thoughts, but I wanted to summarize just a few of the battles I faced in my heart.
1. I began to compare myself constantly to other women. Not their accomplishments or their character, but the size of their stomachs. My own was doughy, as I’ve explained before, and I hated feeling bigger than my peers. The quick up and down glances from other moms didn’t go unnoticed, and I would suck in my tummy as much as possible to make it look like I wasn’t still pregnant. No matter which side of the comparison game you’re on–winner or loser in your own head–it’s dangerous. It creates either discontentment or pride and will ultimately lead to discord with others.
I’ve had to stop comparing. Just because someone else might lose their baby weight sooner doesn’t mean I’m any less of a person. If I have a post-pregnancy belly for the rest of my life it doesn’t really matter. There are much more important things to concern myself with than whether or not my stomach is perfectly flat. Yes, I want to take care of my body and be healthy, but I can’t expect my journey in this to be the same as anyone else’s.
2. My husband delights in me regardless of my size and even my ‘dough-like belly’. Bradley was in training with the Navy during my first pregnancy, and we only saw each other once every 6 weeks or so. I distinctly remember the way he looked at me when he would see me for the first time during each of my visits: jaw-dropped, eyes popping out of his head, gawking at my stomach. It was a bit unnerving and made me self-conscious about my size, but it didn’t change his love or his desire for me.
Through all of the changes in my body over the years, it’s sometimes hard to believe that he desires me. BUT, when I lost the excess weight and started exercising the squishy-ness started to turn into muscle, the love handles began to disappear, and I found it easier to believe him. Not because anything changed with him, but because I felt better. I’m learning that the squishy-ness is not an issue. He loves me. He delights in me. He desires me. I’ll stop there.
3. The act of learning self-control in any area of life teaches me so much about my walk with the Lord. Making myself run consistently wasn’t easy. It took time, energy, sometimes it was painful and the results weren’t always evident. When I pushed myself to keep going, though, my mind would frequently turn to Truth. “Let us run the race before us…”, “Fix your eyes on Jesus...”, “Train yourself to be godly…”, “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength…they will run and not grow weary...”. I don’t listen to music or podcasts while I run. I enjoy the space for my soul to think and reflect, pray, meditate on Truth. Running and removing things from my diet took acts of self-control. It was a decision to move in a direction that I wanted to go.
It’s the same with my spiritual growth. I have to want it. I have to take time for it. I have to train myself in all matters of godliness. Whether it’s reading the Bible, praying, choosing to be joyful rather than grumbling, speaking gently instead of raising my voice, showing love when I feel unloved or forgotten–these are choices that I make. And I cry out to God to help me. Because it is only ever by His grace that I am able to become more like Christ.
I’ll probably always have Spanx in my drawers. They’re handy to pull out, like I have the past two Sundays so that I feel a little better in a dress. And if I have to wear them forever that’s fine; so far my ‘dough’ hasn’t disappeared. But as I’ve tried to accept the changes that pregnancy brought to my body, I’ve learned to embrace the outer struggles as an opportunity for the Lord to train and change my heart.
This is the conclusion of a series, Sometimes I Wear Spanx. Click here to read all posts in the series.