mom and son on beachEarlier this morning, a survey over on TODAY Moms caught my eye because of a simple question it poses that just happens to be something I've struggled with for years.

It reads, "Do you love your body?"

And upon seeing it, I immediately blurted out, "No. I hate it." And then I felt like "hate" was a little too harsh, so in my mind, I thought to myself, "I guess I don't hate it. I just don't love it. And I wish it looked a hell of a lot better."

Want to guess what I did next? Duh, I took the survey. And some of the results really surprised me and gave me a much needed wake-up call.

This particular survey allows you to answer each question and then see how other women have answered, which reaffirmed my suspicions that most of us generally aren't happy with the way we look.

But it's the reasons the majority of us aren't happy that shocked me a little bit.

For example, when asked the question, "Does seeing images of Hollywood moms looking super-fit after having a baby make you feel worse about your own body?" -- I expected most women to answer, "No." We all know they have personal trainers, chefs, and all sorts of other resources that make it easier for them to bounce back into shape.

But 67 percent said yes, which means celebrities are a much bigger self-esteem killer than a lot of us want to admit.

And another question was a real eye opener: "How did having children change the way you feel about your body?"

Get this one -- 70 percent of women (myself included) answered, "Worse, I don't like the way I look after having kids."

Sigh. Isn't it a shame that so many of us beat ourselves up and loathe our bodies instead of realizing just how strong and miraculous they are?

A couple of years ago, I managed to bust out of the "I hate my post-baby body" funk, and I embraced the way I looked and finally started feeling sexy again. I let go of the unrealistic expectation of looking like I did on my wedding day. I even coined the term "Mom Sexy" to describe my newfound love and appreciation for every single lump, bump, and imperfection.

But somewhere along the line, I lost it again. And lately, I've been back to absolutely despising the way I look.

After seeing this survey, however, it's clear that I need to go back to the mindset I was in two years ago -- and start loving my body as it is now, not trying in vain to look the way I did 10 years ago. If I did it before, I can do it again -- and so can you.

Here are five ways to love and embrace your body, even if you think you really hate it.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others -- We're all guilty of this, but we have to remember that everybody and every body is different, and that's ok. You'll never learn to love your own body if you can't stop focusing on someone else's. (See, it's ok to be selfish sometimes.)
  2. Focus on being healthy instead of being skinny -- It never fails. When I stop obsessing over the scale, and instead simply eat healthy and work out a few times a week, I start to look at myself differently in the mirror. 
  3. Look at your kids -- Yes, literally stop and stare at your children at least once a day, and remember how hard your body worked to bring them into this world. It is pretty amazing what our bodies can do, right?
  4. Cut yourself some slack -- Think of it this way: Do you expect a 10-year-old car to look as pretty and polished as it did when you first got it? Nope. We take our fair share of wear and tear over the years too -- and that's ok. Give yourself a break, already.
  5. Think about what makes you happy -- This sounds weird, but it works. When are you most happy? Chances are it's when you're in the company of good friends, spending time with your family, etc. Now picture yourself doing those things 10, 20, or however many pounds lighter. Do you think your happiness would change at all? (Nope.)

What do you love and appreciate about your body?

 

Image via Mary Fischer