For Brianna Bell, a Canadian mother of three and the voice behind Brianna Bell Writes, losing weight this year is at the top of her New Year’s resolutions. But according to a recent Facebook post of hers that’s quickly going viral, it has more to do with modeling self-love and dignity for her girls than anything else.
In her post, Bell eloquently describes how she’s looking forward to shedding weight, but that she also wants to show gratitude for the body she has now — the “before” as she’ll one day refer to it. Because that body may be a few pounds heavier than she’d like right now, but it’s also accomplished many beautiful things, isn’t something she should look back on and be ashamed of.
“I am not pregnant. I just like cookies, and bagels, and butter chicken,” writes Bell in her post. “I asked my husband to take a ‘before’ picture. The photo of me before I start my weight loss journey. Before I start to make wiser decisions about what I eat and how I move my body. ‘Don’t smile you’re supposed to look miserable,’ my husband joked. But am I? Am I miserable? Do I hate myself and my body? Sometimes. But that’s not what I want to remember about this moment. It’s not what I want to remember about the ‘before’.”
In the photo that accompanies the post, Bell pretty much looks like every mom I know, including myself. But she says it’s her desire to get healthy — not super skinny — that’s driving her new road to fitness.
“Yes, a change is a needed,” Bell writes. “I want to lose weight. I want to feel healthier, stronger, and fitter … But I also want to remember [the] before. I want to remember my round belly that appears to be carrying a baby, but is just evidence that I carried three very large babies in my tiny 4 foot 11 inch body.”
Bell tells Babble that she hasn’t actually felt healthy for a long time — both physically and emotionally. So this quest to kick-start a healthy new year is a lot more about being healthier and happier.
“I had perinatal depression while pregnant with my last child, and it really impacted the health of my body,” she says. “I knew that a change was needed to nurture my body back to health, but also I had to give myself some grace and props for all it’s endured carrying three babies, birthing three babies, and nursing for over 4 years total (and still going!).”
And while reaching a new goal weight is certainly part of her journey, she’s quick to note that it isn’t the whole point of it.
“Having three daughters had a huge impact on my self-image,” Bell explains to Babble. “I want to be a positive role model to my children, and I know that the way I talk and act is setting a foundation for how they see their own bodies and health.”
Bell shares that her daughter recently told her “being thin is a good thing, and being fat is bad” — a convo that sparked a long talk between the two about body acceptance and self-love.
“In the end, she had a new respect for the language that she was using about bodies,” Bell says. “I see her choosing her words carefully, and I’m so proud of her. And she’s only 5 1/2!”
While reading the post, I found myself relating to it on so many levels. Like so many moms this week, the moment the ball dropped on January 1 and ushered in 2018, I was busy dreaming up some ambitious dieting goals for my New Year’s resolutions. No. 1 on the list? Getting back to my college dress size, which for me is an astonishing six sizes away. (Gulp.) The motivation behind my own desire to lose weight comes from a place of shame over how much I’ve gained since entering motherhood eight years ago. I never lost the baby weight, instead I just ballooned outward; and for years, this has led to a lot of shame and self-loathing.
But Bell’s post stopped me right in my tracks. Especially these words: “My body is a vessel, and this year I haven’t treated it the way it deserves. I want to treat my body with respect and dignity, while also remembering that this ‘before’ picture does not symbolize a rock bottom, or lesser version of myself … I am me and I am beautiful. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.”
YES. So much yes.
Since Bell’s girls are watching her while she embarks on a healthier path, she tells Babble that she’s planning to be mindful about how she goes about it. According to the Toronto mom, she’s not extreme dieter, though she has enrolled in a weight loss program and plans to get her family involved with better eating and exercise. She may even write about her journey, so her Facebook followers can see the transformation she hopes to make along the way.
Moms have a world of pressure on their shoulders to get so many things right when it comes to raising kids. But as Bell so eloquently captures, when self-care and self-image are tossed to the sidelines in order to care for everyone else, it inadvertently sends a message to our kids that it’s okay to ignore the most basic things in life that can make you happy. Bravo to this mama for taking the time to show her kids that self-love and acceptance can be something to look forward to and to celebrate — and for reminding moms everywhere of that simple fact, too.