Here she comes...
She's walking toward you, gorgeous smile, gorgeous hair, gorgeous figure (even after popping out a handful of kids), and despite her glowing aura about her -- admit it. You're secretly hating her.
It's a human flaw that not all, but a lot of women inherently possess -- jealousy. It's not an attractive trait by any means by for some, it's a secretly hidden attribute that brews ferociously inside them.
Why is it that it that it's so easy to give the "hot mom" the eye roll as you turn to whisper to your partner or friend something nasty about her, and potentially a woman you've never met. "Just look at her. Who does she think she is? What good mom actually wears something like that?"
Is it wrong for that mother to take pride in her personal appearance? Is it wrong of her to look good and be fit? Or even wrong for her to want to look good?
Bottom line: a "beautiful" woman doesn't fit one mold of 5'2" and 105 lbs, long blonde hair, blue eyes, perfect teeth and smile, fully accessorized in the best name brand clothing line and shoes.
Beautiful is a smiling woman. Beautiful is healthy. Beautiful is confidence. Beautiful is strong. Beautiful is energetic. Beautiful is uplifting. Beautiful is inspiring. Beautiful is resilient. Beautiful is in the way she carries herself. Beautiful is in the way she lets the trivial and unmindful pettiness unaffect her. Beautiful is in the way she understands the hard work it takes to have something, well... worth having.
....Beautiful is in the way she takes care of not only her family, but herself. Her emotional, spiritual and yes, physical, well-being.
You know we've all heard it, laughed about it, and jokingly went along with it... but what truth it holds: if Mama isn't happy, nobody in the family is. All too often we do what we think is best in putting everyone else first, which, let's face it -- is part of the job. But all too often we become the selfless martyr, bitter, and resentful for everything we do for others and not taking any time to do something important for ourselves.
And let's admit it, naturally we all want to not only feel good, but of course we want to look good, too.
At the end of the day, you have to be happy with yourself before your partner, children, family, friends, acquaintances or the next passer-by can fully enjoy the beautiful person you are, inside and out. Learning to love and accept ourselves, admit to our shortcomings, and take a step forward in bettering our self, is not an easy task.
I am about to bring my fourth baby into this world. I gave birth in 2008, 2010, 2012 and now 2014. With each pregnancy I put on about 40 pounds and so my body has had to (and will again), work off a total of 160 extra pounds of pregnancy weight. Not only do our bodies endure so much mentally and emotionally, but it is physically taxing on our body to go through so many changes, in the duration of carrying our baby.
Although this coming back after each baby proves to be more challenging every single time, the best part about going through the process of bettering myself is knowing I'm not alone. It's a true challenge, an absolute undertaking, and as someone who has been an athlete for the best part of their life and not making the healthiest choices in college, therefore putting on a significant amount of weight from it, I've learned my lessons... the hard way. However, because of the ups and downs, trials and errors, and roller coaster ride my body has been on, especially over the past decade, I have learned what works, and not just temporarily, but what sticks.
After becoming a wife and mother to multiple children, it was a hop, skip and a jump of putting my own needs last. It's just what had to be to make everything else work and keep functioning. And then I realized I needed something for me. I realized I deserved it. I realized I was worth it. And so with sheer determination, complete and tireless motivation, and most importantly, believing in myself and that I was strong enough to do it, I decided to make some changes that would benefit not only myself, but my entire family, too.
I began working out. At first I had a few failed attempts at keeping up with some of my favorite workouts' schedule and what it called for everyday, but after falling off the horse two or three times, I became addicted to feeling good and held on tight. There were many days I completed a workout after pushing pause maybe seven or eight times to change a diaper, help another toddler on the potty, or attempting to play catch or put a puzzle together in between my breaks or certain moves. I realized that not every workout would be completed before the babies arose (yes, no matter how much earlier I set my alarm, there were days someone woke before or right with it) and that nap times always didn't go as planned or leave me the opening I needed, especially being a working mother.
But I learned to simply expect these curve balls. Each day I knew they'd be coming, but I became resilient to push through them. Each day after my workout was complete, I had such a natural high coming off of me, it was amazing to quickly see my husband and children notice the difference in my all around moods and temperament. I was eating better, I was becoming healthier, I was becoming stronger, but most importantly, I was becoming happier, which in turn, was creating a much happier atmosphere in our home.
What is the last thing you did for yourself? For so many of us it's fear that we're too far off from our goals. It's simply not having the time or energy to put into it. And you know what, I get that. We're all busy just trying to survive another day. But I have learned that it is crucial we make us a priority, too.
Beginning to take the step in making a complete lifestyle change is not going to be easy but let me tell you, once you are in it for the long haul, you will be thanking no one else but yourself for giving yourself one of the best gifts you can possibly give you -- health and happiness.
As mothers who are constantly on the go, running around like chickens with our heads cut off from one thing to the next, it's second nature to be ready for the daily obstacles and challenges that will continually be thrown at us; but... we must be bigger than them. Ultimately, this is our journey to greatness. It's about one baby step after another and even when it can be scary and difficult, you're still putting that one foot in front of the other.
Remember nothing worth having comes easy. Step outside of your comfort zone. Your fuel, your fight, your desire must be greater than your desire to stay the same.
Do something today that your future self is going to thank you for. How many other fad diets, tricks, and quick fixes have you tried? If the plan doesn't work, change your plan, not your goal. Do not be discouraged by the past attempts made that didn't pan out.
One of my favorite quotes from a man who failed many times, had hundreds of doubters, and thousands of obstacles that it would have been easily understood by many if he would have thrown in the towel, Mr. Walt Disney: If you can dream it, you can do it. Tell the nay sayers to step aside and watch you do it. And quite honestly, your biggest opponent is going to be the one staring back in the mirror at you. It will be a learning process for "you both" as you're going to have the internal and external battles, but let the strong, empowering you, win.
Don't just talk about it, be about it. Being the matriarch of the family holds so much responsibility, including setting an example of what being healthy actually means.
If you happen to be on the envious side of wishing you looked like someone else's beautiful, realize that you are already your own beautiful. But we all come to a point where we may need to ask ourselves how we're presenting that to others. What may need refinement or tuning up to get to our maximum potential.
Remember, we're all moms. We're all on the same team. We're all a work in progress to become the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be. And with that, comes a lifelong commitment.
Be the change. At first they'll ask you why you're doing it. And later... they'll ask you how you did it.
Photo submitted and taken by Kelly Shearer, of Shearer Photography. Pictured above is mother Tara and her two daughters, Isabella and Mila.
Follow Regan Long on Twitter: www.twitter.com/reganlong