‘Even if you lose the weight, you’ll just gain it all back. This is too hard for you.’ I felt sloppy and ashamed of my mom pooch.’: Mom of 3 dedicates to a healthy, positive lifestyle through ‘self-acceptance and love’

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“Movement has been a part of my life since I can remember. I put on my first pink tutu and little ballet slippers at the age of two. My passion for dance turned into a 12-year journey of spending hours upon hours at the dance studio, going to conventions, performing and competing. Upon entering high school, I traded my point shoes in for Nikes and a cheer bow! I instantly fell in love with the sport. I loved the physical demands of the sport and how it challenged me. I continued to cheerlead all the way through college at the D1 level only this came with new and exciting territory! This was the first time I was introduced to strength and conditioning in a weight room setting. Of course, I loved being exposed to something new and challenging.

Courtesy of Katie Morton

After college, I stayed active through coaching high school and college cheerleading but I was definitely not as physically active as I had been for basically my entire life leading up to that point. Although I had a gym membership and knew what to do, not having the accountability or responsibility of being a part of a team, I rarely went. Naturally this, age, and the food choices I was making caused me to gain some weight. Although I would say it wasn’t a big deal and didn’t bother me, body image eventually became a thing for me. I noticed it first in my wedding photos. I didn’t even want to have pictures hanging around my house because I didn’t like the chubby arms and wide face that glared back at me in every picture. Still, I wasn’t really overweight and made no efforts to change up the habits of exercise or nutrition.

At this point in my life, I knew ZERO about food, what healthy eating looked like, cooking, none of it! I was never taught these things growing up so of course I only practiced what I knew. And as a former athlete, I never before had to worry about what I was eating. I ate a lot of fast food, frozen food, microwaveable food, and could barely make macaroni and cheese from the box. You would think with this diet, that my weight would continue to go up, but really I’ve always liked to be active and I kept just enough movement in my life to keep my weight steady.

Fast forward to my very first pregnancy. This showed me just how uncomfortable I was with my changing body. It wasn’t really about weight for me, it was more about my body changing and me no longer feeling like it was my own. I didn’t like not having control over the changes and started to become very insecure with my body. I have only two pictures of my baby bump during my first pregnancy because I was so uncomfortable that I didn’t want to take pictures of my bare belly or even progress pictures throughout the nine months.

Courtesy of Katie Morton

I had my daughter in October and by Christmas had already lost most of the baby weight without really trying, thanks, 26-year-old body! But I was still 10 pounds heavier and my body had definitely changed. I felt sloppy and ashamed of my mom pooch. I remember that summer, doing everything I could to hide my body. I didn’t take my daughter to the pool as often as I wanted because I didn’t feel comfortable in my swimsuit. There was a dress that I found at Old Navy that I felt covered my body well and made me look ‘okay enough’ so I bought it in four colors and wore them add summer long. I recall talking family pictures or pictures of me with my daughter and I would immediately go through the pictures and either crop out most of my body or delete the picture altogether. I was not only dissatisfied with my body but really I was starting to become unhappy in all areas of my life.

As my daughter’s first birthday approached, I was tired, sick all the time, unmotivated, and overwhelmed with motherhood. I felt guilty for not having enough energy after work to play with my daughter or go to the gym, which by the way I still had a membership to and would go maybe 2-3 times on a good week. And yet, I saw no results. I knew it probably had a lot to do with my nutrition but I didn’t know how to change that. I also had increasing anxiety around the fact that I would soon stop nursing my daughter and would need to feel her ‘real food’ which intimidated the heck out of me because I didn’t know how to cook. But I knew I didn’t want to feed my daughter the crappy food I was eating!

I knew something had to change. Living like this was not working for me and I felt like I had no more joy or spark for life and was becoming overrun by guilt and mom stress. Enter Beachbody. I had been following another mom on Instagram and watched in amazement as she worked out from home, was fit, energized, happy, engaged with her kids and life, and truly seemed to be superwoman. She shared that her happiness and productivity derived from one source, taking the best care of herself that she possibly could. I was so intrigued that I had to try! I mean, I had always loved movement and exercise and without fully realizing it, had let that part of my life die and allowed motherhood and negative self-image to take over.

So I went all in. In October of 2014, I committed to making a full lifestyle change. I knew I was tired and wanted to feel good about my body again so that 10 pounds had to go. But what I’ve ended up gaining from this journey was so much more than I bargained for. I started with a 21-day workout program that also taught me a ton about proper nutrition. I very slowly and painfully learned how to meal plan and prep and cook actually meals! After 21 days of workouts and changing up my eating habits, I had lost 7 pounds and 7 inches, which, on a small framed person, added up! This was encouraging but really what was happening here was way bigger than weight loss.

Courtesy of Katie Morton
Courtesy of Katie Morton

For the first time in a long time, I felt like myself. I felt energized and motivated, excited about life again! I felt like I had something for me outside of work and motherhood. I had exercise and movement in my life again, in a convenient and sustainable way. The confidence and pride for being able to try something new and succeed at it followed. There was a mental shift, a mindset shift that happened here and that is really where my success came from. I started to believe that I was worth the time and effort to take care of myself.

I paired my health and fitness journey with whole healthiness, which included internal healthiness. Slowly but surely I replaced negative self-talk with affirmations and belief in myself. I became my own cheerleader again and coached myself with both truth and grace. I fueled my mind with positivity through podcasts and self-help books. Through all of this, I learned that lasting change would only come through self-acceptance and love. Body shaming, negative self-talk, allowing your mind to run rampant and create fear around failure, none of that would allow me to successfully live out a healthy lifestyle. The journey has been way more about learning about myself and how to control my mind, than hard exercises and strict food intake.

Courtesy of Katie Morton
Courtesy of Katie Morton

I think one of the smartest things I did from the beginning was deciding that no matter what, I was not going to give up on myself. I made a commitment at the very beginning of my journey that no matter how many times I ‘failed’ or fell off the wagon, I would just get up and continue to try again. Nothing worth having comes without hard work and perseverance, and most people would nod their heads in agreement. So I rationalized that creating healthy habits within my life would not be an exception. Going into this journey not just knowing but expecting it to be difficult and hard work made it easier for me to push through the hard.

This brings us right back to mindset or internal strength. Again, I argue that long term success in health and fitness has little to do with finding the perfect exercises or diet, but is sustained by identifying and combating internal demons. The lies that we tell ourselves, you know what I’m talking about, things like ‘You’ll never be successful at this,’ ‘You failed the last time you tried so what makes you think you’ll be able to do it this time,’ and ‘Even if you lose the weight, you’ll just gain it all back. This is too hard for you.’ Putting in the time and effort here, internally, is possibly more difficult than exercising but is the necessary work to finding true healthiness.

This journey has changed my life. It’s changed my family’s life. It’s allowed me to show up as my best self and everyone close to me has benefited from my healthiness. Yes, I now know what proper nutrition looks like and can cook healthy meals for my family. We also prioritize movement and being active in our home. But these are all maintained through my own internal healthiness.

Courtesy of Katie Morton
Courtesy of Katie Morton

The habits I have put in place to keep my mindset in check are the ones I believe drive this entire bus! Prioritizing my health looks like waking up early and starting my day intentionally before my family gets up. It’s journaling and writing daily positive affirmations and thoughts of gratitude no matter how hard the season I am living. It’s reading something that challenges me and grows me over scrolling social media. It’s being mentally present and aware so that I can actively combat any lies and self-doubt that tried to creep in.

This is healthiness to me. Not just convenient exercises and simple nutrition (I mean, I practice those things daily), but finding a way to accept yourself, love yourself, and seek WHOLE healthiness from the inside out. That’s been my five-year journey and it’s gotten me in the absolute best shape of my life, physically and mentally. Even as a former college athlete when I thought I was at my peak, if you will, the person I am now as a 32-year-old mom of three is so much healthier, stronger, happier, and more confident than ever before. What I’ve been able to achieve and the peace I’ve found from this journey has become my anthem. I am now a health and fitness coach by profession, but as you can probably gather, I teach women way more about themselves than just how to lose weight.”

Courtesy of Katie Morton
Courtesy of Katie Morton

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Morton from Denver, Colorado. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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