For wellness coach Krystal Woods, new motherhood became the ultimate lesson in self care
Krystal and I met when I attended a "BYO-Baby" dance class she taught. Strapping my kiddo into a carrier and jamming out to late-90s Britney Spears was definitely one of my most memorable and fun experiences as a new mom! I loved Krystal's tiny-but-mighty energy, her creative verve (it's not easy choreographing for a bunch of frazzled, baby-wearing moms), and the fact that we both had hippy-ish names.
Krystal was as fit and sprightly as a high school cheerleader, and I wouldn't have guessed she had struggled with weight gain and body image issues...but then again, what young woman hasn't, to some extent? And then there's the fact that pregnancy sends every mom through a series of not-always-pleasant physical transformations, all while she's adapting to massive life changes seasoned with unpredictable hormone surges.
Knowing what a health and fitness powerhouse Krystal is today, I wondered how the physical trials of pregnancy and postpartum had affected her body image. Here, she shares candidly about her ongoing struggle for balance and self-acceptance, and how being responsible for her baby's life awakened a wellspring of intuition and self love that has nourished her happiest, healthiest self.
How Pregnancy and Motherhood Changed My Body Image
by Krystal Woods
A part of me died the moment I learned I was pregnant (surprise!). Once a completely self-involved, confused soul, I abruptly transformed into a woman with an unwavering purpose: to be the mother my son deserves.
The old me struggled to stay consistent with my health and wellness. Health had always been important to me, but anxiety, depression, bad relationships, toxic jobs, and self-destructive behaviors always sabotaged my efforts. When I learned I was growing an actual person, it became my sole purpose in life to cultivate the healthiest environment possible for him or her. I was finally able to make my physical, mental, and emotional health my highest priority. So in addition to exercising and eating well, I started meditating regularly.
When I learned I was growing an actual person, it became my sole purpose in life to cultivate the healthiest environment possible for him or her.
Meditation awakened in me an unexpected source of knowledge: intuition. While I had soaked up advice from books and well-meaning loved ones, I was able to quiet it all and mother from a place of steady confidence I had never experienced before. I knew what to eat, how to move, where to give birth, who to surround myself with, and when to stop working.
After I gave birth and dove into the wellness business, I was bombarded with messages like “get your body back!” But wait, I thought, my body is right here. It just grew the most precious life inside of it, then birthed that life without medication right here on my bed...and now it’s sustaining that life with this magical fluid called breastmilk. Why would I want my old body back?
I felt like people were waiting for me to work out, diet, and post impressive transformation photos.
I say this with the gift of hindsight, but in the moment I felt pressure, especially as a wellness professional. I felt like people were waiting for me to work out, diet, and post impressive transformation photos. So even though it went against my intuitive nudges, that’s exactly what I did. I started strictly following a meal plan that had me measuring out everything I ate, doing intense workouts regardless of how little sleep I was getting, and feeling like a failure if I strayed from “the plan.” In addition to triggering some old, damaging food and exercises issues, I actually gained more weight during those few months than I had the entire time I was pregnant.
My body was screaming, “why are you punishing me?”
I was creeping into old territory and started feeling depressed, which scared me. So I did what worked before: I meditated. I slowed down. I listened to my intuition. I slept when I was tired, I took breaks from fitness when I felt like it, and I ate ice cream when I craved it. I forced myself to follow my own path, and I shared it authentically with my audience.
Only when I stopped focusing on how I looked to the world was I able to regain any semblance of peace, and the side effects were weight loss, clarity, and overall improved quality of life. Even better? I was teaching my son, by example, to live authentically and to practice self-care: body, mind, and soul.
Only when I stopped focusing on how I looked to the world was I able to regain any semblance of peace
I share this story because I think it’s an important lesson that we are not taught as mothers, as expectant mothers, as women, or as people. Especially in these times of complete media inundation, it can seem impossible to quiet the noise and listen to our own inner knowing. But here are some questions I ask myself daily: Who do I want to be for my son? What do I want to teach him? Because I now appreciate that what’s more important than firm abs and a tight butt (which don’t last forever, by the way) is the ability to think and feel and Be in alignment with myself and my true purpose.
Krystal is a wellness and life coach, helping women improve their lives and relationships through intuitive eating, fitness, mindset work, and more. She is co-lead for Chilis on Wheels Honolulu, a non-profit organization that brings healthy, plant-based meals to the community, as well as the founder of Present Parent Network, a community for parents and caregivers. She teaches weekly adult dance classes in Kailua and is available for workshops and speaking engagements. To learn more about Krystal and get her free 7-day, plant-based meal plan guide, please visit www.krystalewoods.com.