I’ll just come right out and let you know that there’s no secret nor spell to rid stretch marks. At least not in this blog post!
Phew! Good to have the disclaimer out of the way …
Pregnancy and childbirth affect our bodies interestingly. I don’t think that after two babies, my body will ever be the same as it was before children. My hips sometimes feel a little out of whack, my core muscles might be hiding in there somewhere, and the left side of my neck spasms all too easily from carrying my kids around on that side. And my boobs! Let’s just say that gravity and breastfeeding are quite – well – deflating.
The most visible change to my body, though, are the stretch marks that now cover my belly. They’ve faded a little but they’re still there: reminders of my two beautiful, BIG babies.
Teaching and practicing Bikram Yoga before pregnancy, I always wore clothing that showed my belly. After pregnancy, however, has been a different story. At first I felt embarrassed by the way my stomach looked to don anything other than a tank top and leggings. My stomach was so different than before. I quickly fell in love with the “high-waisted” shorts and capris. I loved the style, but deep down I admitted to myself that a big reason why was because they hid my changed belly.
Recently though, I’ve been wearing whatever pair of shorts and yoga top is most accessible, which usually means whatever is clean and lying (unfolded of course) on the top of the laundry basket. Suffice it to say, I’ve been getting well-aquainted with my stretch marks. And you know what? They’re not so bad! Sweating in yoga class, seeing how this new and now permanent addition to my body moves with the rest of me has created a new level of self-acceptance and self-compassion. These stretch marks do not indicate imperfections and weakness, but rather they are a reminder of how our bodies and lives constantly change and grow. What’s more, I have these marks because the two biggest loves of my life – my son and my daughter – created them. My kids are now in the world, living and experiencing for themselves, but they’ve left a visible mark (more accurately marks) on my body that I’ll have for the rest of my life.
I hope someday my daughter sees these marks on my belly when I’m wearing a bikini or a belly-showing yoga top. I hope she asks me about them. I want to tell her lovingly and happily that she helped change my body in a visible way. That even though the was only in my belly for nine months, she helped leave these marks which I’ll be able to see forever.
So how does sweating help me with my stretch marks as the title of this blog post promises? Feeling how capable I was in a challenging yoga class, stretch marks and all, caused me to realize how silly any negatives feelings about them really were. Sweating helped me. That’s the key. My experience in yoga didn’t make my stretch marks disappear or even fade; it helped change my mind.
We all have a certain amount of energy to spend. If we spend it on negative self-talk, doubts, fears, insecurities, and the like, we won’t have enough energy leftover for the things we’d rather be focusing on and doing. Like sweating. And living. And loving. And connecting. Acceptance of where we are, right now, feels like such a relief!