DIY Miracle Diet Makeover Plan

dietBZZ! BZZ! BZZ! The alarm was going off, but I couldn’t find it so that I could catapult it across the room. I was exhausted from spending the night sleeping in fits and starts. With my hair matted to the side of my grouchy face and my eyes semi-sealed shut from feebleness, I rolled out of bed. Today was day one of a new diet plan. And it was clear that I was not heading in the right positive direction.

After the birth of my second child I took a wide look at my lumpy self. I had expanded in all the wrong places and I needed to fix this quickly. I did not want to barrel my way through the calamity of childhood while wearing double digit-sized jeans and harboring a closet love affair with cinnamon buns. Every parenting magazine I read with almost religious fervor showcased fit looking Mom’s who most certainly did not appear to have unhealthy ideas about plowing through a bag of donuts for dinner.

So, I went on a diet and I lost 30 pounds. It was tough work. There were workouts every single day, calorie counting, constant reminders to make healthy choices. And worse, constant reminders that I could not just wake up a waif. I had to work my tush off…not wish it off. But then something happened along the dieting journey. I kind of gave up and got a little too comfortable with my yoga pants and my decreasing desire to leave the house. Who cared if I was round? I certainly didn’t care anymore. Besides…CINNAMON BUNS!

But not anymore, I told myself. And so I committed to a new stupid diet. If I remember correctly, the fad traps I fell into were as follows:

Don’t eat carbs
Only eat a few carbs
Eat all the damn carbs you want, but workout for a minimum of forever everyday
Drink only juice
Fast for 16 – 20 hours a day
Visualize a slimmer trimmer you
Eat cardboard
Forget the word “Diet”. Go on a “Food Vacation!” Everyone loves a vacation!

I hate dieting. Hate isn’t even a strong enough word for it. When I’m on a diet I feel like I am committing some evil food version of adultery. In the reality that exists outside of my crazy body-image headspace, I am not actually that big. I am 5’6” and – as I type this up – I weigh 155 pounds. That is exactly 5 pounds over weight, according to my doctor. I don’t smoke, I can do 12 push ups, I can swear, eat, toss in a load of laundry, and threaten a time out all at the same time. That takes endurance.

My real problem is that I am very much not comfortable with my postpartum body. My belly juts out like a funny looking mound of Mom stuff. My hips are wider. My arms have that weirdo jiggle that I thought only old ladies got. My pants are baggy in the legs and rear, but still tight in the waist. It is frustrating to get used to a postpartum body. Nothing about it feels even remotely sexy or beautiful unless I am watching Dove soap commercials or reading a silly Facebook meme. Only then do I feel anything akin to the warrior Mom spirit who is proud of stretch marks and belly fat.

And so, after a bit of self loathing and one good pep talk, here is my DIY Miracle Diet Makeover Plan that I just invented. It comes in FOUR easy steps. It is free of charge and totally private: no need to download an app intended to blast friends with on Facebook. It doesn’t require epic feats of heroisms or great sacrifice. Ready for it? Here it comes…

Step ONE
Forget diet plans. They don’t work. They suck the already fragile Mom spirit dry and make too much room for feelings of failure and embarrassment.

Step TWO
Eat whatever the hell you define as healthy and that makes you feel good inside and out. Want that donut after a tough day of refereeing insane children? Great! Eat it! Here, have a glass of wine too! Just don’t go nuts and eat or drink too much. Be a lady about it, for crying out loud.

Muffin Top got you down too? Start wearing clothes that suit your Mom body type. No, I do not mean run out and buy Mom pants. I mean, wear clothes that reflect your style but that don’t showcase the parts you feel all weird about.

Drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, smile as much as you can, and do something kind for someone else every day. These are the seeds of health and loving kindness toward the Mom body.

If I may, I will say this too: Get the hell over diets (see step ONE.) Perhaps if we Mom’s get to the point of realizing that after we have children most of us simply don’t have the time (or desire) to look like Maria Kang then we will give ourselves a break in the body image department. Just to be clear, Maria Kang totally kicks some major butt. I wouldn’t mess with her. I just don’t desire to be her.

I don’t know about you, but I’m more worried about teaching my kid that women are too smart to be all obsessed and fearful about the perfection factor of their bodies.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Sarah Cottrell is a member of the Stay-At-Home-Mom Club and proud herder of two loud boys. She earned her MFA in 2012 and then accidentally washed it in a load of laundry. Sarah's work can be found on popular websites like Mamalode, BlogHer, and Scary Mommy. Her work will appear in two new parenting anthologies in 2015.