This New Year is one that is filled with hope amongst uncertainty, and optimism amongst doubt. It is these opposing concepts which have become the new normal in a world that has shifted so radically. However, it is normal for human beings to have more than one emotion, more than one opinion, and more than one thought process as these unpredictable days go on.
As a new mom to a 9-month-old baby girl, the unpredictability of the pandemic combined with the pressure to maintain balance and navigate the waters of eating disorder recovery can seem impossible at times. The new year often produces added pressure for new moms to make unrealistic personal commitments to themselves, dimming their innate maternal capabilities. Pushing back against the pressure to have a new year resolution can feel daunting, especially for someone who struggles against the diet culture narrative.
Further, the pressure that a social media dominated culture places on new moms to “bounce back” after baby is one that is largely distorted and unrealistic. Instead of judging oneself for not looking like one of them, they can resist the pressure for ‘perfection’ and enjoy the body they do have.
The following are some tips that have worked for me as a new mom to push-back against the body obsessed new year’s resolution culture:
1.) “Thank you, but no thank you….”
New mom’s face a tidal wave of opinions and advice once they welcome their baby into the world. When the new year rolls around, not only is the media proclaiming a “fresh start”, but the inevitable pressure to “bounce back” into pre-baby shape is especially pronounced during this time as well. You will often come across well-meaning friends and family who will give their two cents on the diet that worked for them, how to lose the weight or what their resolution looks like. The, “Thank you, but no thank you” approach is one that validates the person’s advice, but respectfully declines- giving you reclamation over your body and acknowledges your commitment to living mindfully in the present.
2.) Shifting Body Perspective
New year resolutions are generally always set in the negative, forcing us to look at ourselves in a gloomy light, picking apart what we deem undesirable. One effective way to move away from this negative angle is to take a step back and view your body from a fresh perspective. Accepting that your body will never be the same after baby can be a tough reality to face, however, there are ways to shift that thought process. Your body created life, it held a human for 9 months and then brought that life into the world- what an incredible feat that is! As a practice, try connecting with your body as a vessel for life, appreciating each part that nurtured your little one. Shifting body perspective is a worthwhile way to move away from the diet culture surrounding new year’s resolutions and develop a sustainable, positive connection with your body and your baby.
3.) Practice Mindfully Living in the Present
Taking a deep breath and asking yourself, “What do I need right now?” can be a profound way to connect to your body in the present, opposed to obsessing over the surmounting pressure to change for the new year. Asking yourself this question shifts the focus to the moment at hand, forcing you to take note of not only what your body needs physiologically, but what it needs emotionally as well. When we make new year’s resolutions, it strips us from this practice and prevents us from considering what we need moment-to-moment. These changes are often disguised as self-care, and the reality is that many of these resolutions focus too much on unrealistic long-term goals, opposed to focusing on our ever-changing, unique daily needs.
4.) Break the Mom Body Comparison Cycle
Human curiosity is a funny thing; it can cause great joy and discovery, but can also cause unnecessary pain through destructive comparison. The new year gives way to discussions and comparisons of what our friends and neighbors are “vowing to change” for the resolution. This lends itself to new moms inevitably comparing themselves to other new moms, whether it is their friends online or the mommy and baby at the Target check-out line.
As someone who will always be in recovery from an eating disorder, the temptation to body-compare to other mom’s is especially potent. Breaking the new mom body comparison cycle is a practice, and it is one that must be mindfully cultivated daily until it is no longer a habitual go-to. One way to do this is to radically accept that every woman’s body is different, just as every baby is different, and the cycle of comparison is a losing battle. Once we understand that biologically and physiologically, we are beautifully unique from one another, then we begin to view how unhelpful the comparison cycle really is.
If scrolling through social media is your go-to comparison avenue, try installing a meditation app. instead, shifting that scrolling time to 20 minutes of effective mindfulness practices. Alternatively, if social media is your way of winding down, consider following more body-positive mommy accounts that advocate for real women of every size.
New Year’s resolutions can be effective avenues for change, yet, it is important to ensure you are making change for you, which can be difficult in a culture that thrives on the art of comparison. New mommies have it especially hard right now, and as a new mom in ED recovery amidst a pandemic, I know I am not the only one. Rest assured, you are heard, you are strong, and you are supported.
Written by Emily Bachmeier, MA