Many moms struggle with the changes to their bodies after pregnancy. Whether you're trying to get fit or just trying to get through the day, Mia Redworth is spreading her message of self-love and body confidence to all the new moms out there.
Redworth is an Instagrammer and mother to a 13-month-old son who is sharing her fitness journey through the photos and inspirational captions she shares. And she's all about keeping it real.
"REALITY CHECK!" reads a recent Instagram post that showcases two side-by-side photos of Redworth wearing yoga pants in what she calls "bloated" vs "posing" positions.
"No one is perfect," she writes. "I have stretch marks from carrying a baba for 42 weeks, a little tummy pouch from an emergency c section, I have eczema from stress on my stomach and spend most of my time looking like the picture of the left! No awful teas that promise the world can fix this, humans just get bloated! It's totally normal and fine to look like this."
Redworth came to her hard-won perspective after being shocked by what her body actually looked like post-pregnancy. Because society so often shows only Photoshopped models and celebrities who "bounce back" from pregnancy within days, she had never seen what a real postpartum body looks like, or even heard anyone talk about it. She initially hit a low point in her self-confidence.
But about 12 weeks postpartum, she started weight training with the goals of building muscle and returning her rear end to its curvy, pre-pregnancy glory. She decided to document her fitness journey for all the other moms out there, but with a focus on self-love.
"I always wished I had someone to look up to on Instagram and as much as I love the fitmums on there, their lives are so unrealistic for most!" Redworth told The Huffington Post. "Not everyone can live in the gym and not everyone will have abs after pregnancy. I thought about how many other women are out there looking for the same thing. After this, I decided to document my fitness journey, all the ups and downs being as real as I would need someone to be."
A centerpiece of her body positive style is that she doesn't worry about clothing sizes or goal weights. In fact, she hasn't weighed herself at all since the day she found herself feeling embarrassed by her postpartum weight at a meeting with a trainer.
"When I got home that night, I asked myself why I was embarrassed at all. Us mothers have it rough enough feeling like a huge uncomfortable whale for almost a year ― then to wake up with a baby, a totally new body and all this self hatred isn't fair! Especially when you add the stress of a newborn. I got so overwhelmed I eventually sat there and said, 'I've had enough!' I had a baby, and no matter what anyone says sometimes your body needs to gain weight. Who cares?"
Redworth also points out that muscle weighs more than fat, which means your weight on the scale can be deceiving when you're getting into shape.
Recently, Redworth decided to make a point about clothing sizes by posting two photos of herself trying on a pre-pregnancy skirt. In the first photo, from a few months ago, the skirt doesn't even come close to fitting. In the second photo, she is able to button all but one button, but the skirt has gotten much shorter due to her now more muscular butt and thighs.
She urges her followers not to focus so much on clothing sizes and numbers.
"Don't get so obsessed with numbers they mean nothing, you could fit into any size clothing and find issues with your body. Focus more on loving yourself for you, getting rid of the negativity and challenge yourself on why a clothing size is so important to you. Fitness becomes much more enjoyable if you aren't constantly putting yourself down."
Redworth points out that clothing size says nothing about your health, adding that she was very unhealthy from starving herself when she was a size 4, but has gone up a few sizes in jeans since building up her leg and butt muscles.
She also regularly pulls back the curtain on the different poses, angles and tricks that people use on social media to make their bodies appear a certain way.
On a collage of three photographs of herself from behind, she writes, "Instagram is full of posing pictures especially fitness accounts so I thought I would post a different kind of #transformation picture. Me posing 10 months ago vs now and to show you guys what my bum actually looks like when I stand normally without tensing or doing the infamous butt pose."
Redworth says we need to stop comparing ourselves to pictures and people online, and pierces the bubble of social media perfection by pointing out her own stretch marks, cellulite and scars.
She says her son is her motivation to stay positive, because she never wants him to see her appearing unhappy with her body or to have to tell him he can't go swimming because she feels insecure in a bathing suit.
"You just have to sit and think, 'Would I let a stranger say the things I say to myself in my head?' and 'Would I want my child to ever think these things about their own body?' and the answer will always be no!" she says.
And whether you have fitness goals you are trying to reach or are just learning to accept your body as it is, her advice to new moms is the same.
"You have all the time in the world to change anything you aren't happy with, but you only get one chance at making amazing memories with your baby, so never take that for granted. Love yourself despite any flaws and enjoy your life as much as you can. You're beautiful."