Self Gratitude

Thanksgiving – my favorite holiday. I love the food, the atmosphere, and the gathering of loved ones. Most importantly, I love the message behind Thanksgiving, being grateful and showing thanks for what we have. I think it is important to have a specific day designated to acknowledge our blessings because we can get so caught up in our day-to-day life that we forget to stop and be thankful.

I am thankful for so many things this year. I am most grateful for our healthy, growing, and happy little man. I am also blessed beyond measure for my husband Bernard who has been the most supportive partner in crime on this crazy new journey of parenthood. I can keep going, our supportive and loving families and friends, our home, our understanding places of employment, the list goes on and on.

For this post, I want to write about a specific thing I am thankful for and it might seem a little odd, but one of the things I have come to be grateful for this year is my body.

I wrote a post earlier this year about my issues with my changing body as my belly grew larger and I was in the full swing of pregnancy. It took me a little bit to adjust then, but I came to really appreciate the work my body was doing – growing a human life. You can download any number of apps that will tell you what is happening in-utero each week and to think that this little being starts out as a bunch of cells that transform into a little person it is nothing short of remarkable.

When I was pregnant, especially towards the end people would ask me what I was looking forward to doing most once I had my son. My answer never changed, I wanted to go for a run. Prior to becoming pregnant, I ran a half marathon and I caught the running bug during training. When I was thirty-seven weeks, swollen belly and ankles, waddling around, all I could think about was the wind in my face and my feet pounding the pavement.

After having the baby via c-section, I had restrictions. I could not exercise for six weeks. I felt great at week five, but my doctor told me to take the time to rest, I had major surgery after all. I was itching to get my shoes laced up so once week six hit, that is exactly what I did. While I didn’t think I would be running like I did when I was training for the half marathon, I didn’t think the run would be as difficult as it was. Not only was I completely out of shape, but my stride felt different, and the pounding of the pavement made my incision and stomach muscles ache a little. I slowed down my pace to the point where someone who was briskly walking could have easily passed me. But, I kept steady at that pace and completed my run. While it felt good, I recognized then that I was not just going to bounce back as I had anticipated.

The other thing I was most looking forward to was doing yoga. I love stretching and I find yoga relaxing. However, similar to the running, my body just felt different. Everything is tight and internally things seem a bit shifted. While I could easily touch my toes pre-pregnancy, now not so much. This too was an adjustment.

Here is what I have come to recognize, parenthood is all about patience; but, it isn’t just with your child, it is with yourself too. I have been harsh on myself in the past, putting myself down and saying negative things about my body. In the past, I have had to actively stop myself from doing it. Since having my son I have been more negative about my body because I did not bounce back the way I thought I would. Therefore, I am actively day-to-day trying to combat it.

I haven’t run since that first time, my doctor said to listen to my body once I started exercising and take it slow. My body said it wasn’t ready yet. But, I have done yoga for a little bit each day and little by little I am gaining back my flexibility. Though things have shifted internally, I focus on being grateful for those changes. Those changes gave me my son.

Most importantly, we need to pay attention to how we speak to ourselves. You may not realize it but how you talk to yourself and the things you say can have a detrimental effect on your mental well-being. If you say something to yourself enough, you can end up believing it or use it as an excuse for why you aren’t willing to step up and make an effort to change. My stomach muscles are not strong like they were pre-pregnancy, I can either step up and do something to change it – eat better, do crunches and cardio, etc. Or I can continue to say negative things about myself and watch the issue worsen, either way, it is on me.

I think we spend a lot of time focusing on other things and not listening or giving due attention to ourselves. Perhaps we feel guilty about it or feel conceited but I think some YOU time is important. Even if it is just for a short amount of time, we need to show ourselves a little gratitude for the vessel we have been given to move through life.

So be grateful, count your blessings, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.