Belly Love: Seeing Beauty in Brokenness

Your Core: What if it's not just about accepting what you can't change but having courage to change the things you can?

My son turned 5 this past week, and as I pondered his birth and my belly and all it’s been through, and as my Facebook timeline kept showing me those photo projects designed to convince women to just accept their bodies “as is” after having babies {which sort of worries me because, while we cannot do much about stretch marks and extra skin, we can close separated abs, and doing so can virtually eliminate lower back pain and incontinence, so maybe we shouldn’t celebrate our bodies “as is” after pregnancy…anyhoo #endrant} well, I posted in our private member forum – where women know about diastasis and are learning how to heal – that I want to do a a simpler version of belly lovin’ on Fit2B. Now, normally we do not show much skin on this modest, family-friendly fitness site,  and {if I am honest} we really do focus on facing what’s fallen apart, so this post REALLY turns this site on its ear since you will see bare bellies and {just for this precious moment} we aren’t analyzing them; we are simply being grateful and choosing to rejoice in all that is still good about them. This is what I requested from my members, word for word, and you can see for yourself what the response was below…

Your Core: What if it's not just about accepting what you can't change but having courage to change the things you can? Fit2B.com

How about a new blog with your bellies that have positive words written on them? We send so many hate messages to our tummies… and so does the media. If you dare, I’d like to challenge you to help me send a different message to the world: Think of one positive word for your core, then write it on your belly, then take a picture of your belly, and send it to me at beth@fit2b.us … Use plain black letters or decorate it. Use fancy script or tiny print. Use washable ink or permanent. It doesn’t matter, but I’d love at least 10 contributions to our “Belly Love” project. And I want ALL the bellies of ALL shapes, sizes, and healing stages. Bring it!

The response was incredible and nearly every photo sent in moved me to tears. You see, My heart is to empower women to find their true core so they can be stronger mothers, partners, wives, and contributing members of their communities, and I don’t do that by tearing them or their bodies down. I work really hard to be there for them, to encourage them, to listen to them and support them. Separated muscles can be healed, and – when it does – there is a spiritual and emotional core to these members of mine that also starts to reconnect. Truly, it is humbling and worship-inspiring miracle to behold!  Okay, without further blathering from me, here they are in the order I received them.

Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com“As I am not a photographer I did the best I could and I think it is indeed beautiful. Love this project I am glad I can be a part of such an empowering group. I am not embarrassed anymore of my belly. I am glad you like it that much and I can help such an awesome project!” -Jenny H.

Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness

“As I commented on your forum post, I chose Impressive for the belly word because during my first c-section, the nurse (who had 2 or 3 shifts during my 41 hours of labor) told the doctor, “It doesn’t look like much now, but if you saw her walking the halls, you could tell that her belly is impressive!” That word stuck with me as I looked back on my pregnancy with my first born and with grew with my next 2 pregnancies. With the way my body is shaped and how large my boys grow, there is no where for them to grow except out . It is amazing how much my belly grows to accommodate the baby. Complete strangers are constantly amazed by how big my belly grows during pregnancy. (Although, I am choosing to ignore the rude comments from people who insist that I don’t know how far along I actually am or how many children I am pregnant with) This is the first pregnancy that I am now aware of how to use my core to help draw the baby in closer to my spine which greatly helps ease the lower back pain. Thanks for heading this up! I love the idea.” -Heather W.

Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com“I can’t write upside down and backwards so I used sticker letters. Going through the stickers I had, I noticed lots of great words and that led me to a word book of mine with more ideas: love, remembrance, delighted, influential, cherished, awesome, amazing, supportive, jubilant, peaceful, calm, quiet, adventure, happy, contented, generous, grateful, brave, confident, courageous, determined, encouraged, assured, creative, fascinating, hopeful, alive, feisty, appealing, caring, crazy, devoted, sexy, value, treasured, joy…” -Charissa W.

Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2.com“I am such a perfectionist! Everyone knows it. I saw your request and was thinking about the perfect word to write on my belly. When I stumbled on this phrase, it fit. My husband wrote the words on my belly. The moment was special for us both.” -Lori L.

 Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com

“It took me a long time to accept what the picture shows. I’m a work in progress, I know that. It’s a good reminder to myself when I am saddened/upset that my core isn’t where I “wish” it was at. It’s a reminder that it was strong once and it can be strong again. Thanks for all you do Beth!” -Velita H.

Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com“My husband wrote this for me, which is a gift in itself since he’s blind and only learned to write because I asked him to! 😀 My word was “Loved” -Christy M.C.

Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com

“why I chose “fruitful”…..I honestly had a hard time thinking of a word at first, but that one kept coming to mind for some reason! When you said to do a positive one I think I was just automatically thinking of my babies being born and that being the reason why it looks/feels the way it does…..and that even though it’s made it weak (for now anyway!) it isn’t really a totally bad thing. Does that make sense??!<br />

The verses in the Bible about children being the fruit of the womb and a wife being a fruitful vine and that it was always looked on by God as being a blessing just really stuck out to me. My belly may be stretched and a little broken and not look perfect by “some peoples” standards now, but it has been fruitful to bare me four beautiful children……and to me that makes it awesome! Our 2nd and 3rd babies are 5 years apart and we thought I wouldn’t be able to have anymore due to health reasons but then SURPRISE…we’ve been given not just one, but two more blessings!! The last pregnancy especially was when I noticed the biggest change in my abdominal muscles and was “diagnosed’ with DR and I wish I had known about you sooner to save myself some pain and problems but I’m thankful to have a way to bring healing to my body now and even more grateful that this stomach was able to be fruitful, in spite of everything.” -Tyra W.

 Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com

“I have chosen the word ‘miraculous’ for several reasons: The first is that my husband and I tried to get pregnant for 5+ years before I underwent a laparoscopy (which revealed SEVERE endometriosis and massive scarring). Prior to that, we both went on diets, lost 50-70 pounds, depending on the day, and really tried (at least, in my case) to improve our health so that we would be more likely to conceive. Nothing worked. After this procedure (lets call it what it was: surgery.) we turned reluctantly to a fertility specialist, injectable fertility medication and IUI (Intrauterine insemination). We decided that we could afford ONE round, but after that we would just have to wait and see! Miracle of miracle, that pregnancy test (and the 6 after it..lol) turned pink, and I went in for an ultrasound at 7 weeks..and there were two embryos. TWO! I carried these precious girls to 37 weeks, was induced against my better judgement, and after 14 hours of hard, pitocin-induced labor was strong-armed into a C-section. I hated my belly. Hated it! Even after reminding myself almost hourly that this belly carried these two miracle babies (one of whom is perched on top of my belly..her favorite place to be!) for 9 months, I still felt so weak and useless.<br />
Reenter yoga at around 5 weeks PP. I am slowly getting stronger. I can do things now that I haven’t been able to do for months, and in just a short period of time, I am noticing a dramatic increase in my core strength because of Fit2B. My belly is still there, it supports me supporting my now 9-month old twin girls, and I am slowly learning- for the first time- to RESPECT it. After all, it carried miracles.” -Amanda B.

 Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com“Why i chose astounding as my word… I wanted a word that expressed my sense of wonder and awe at what my belly has done, is doing and will do. It had to be a word that was not too endearing though. While I am in awe at the miracle that is my belly, we are not quite good friends again yet. This made it a bit of a challenge…But yes, I am ASTOUNDED at this belly. At this body even. I’m sure we’ll be on better terms again soon!” -Nicole L.

 Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com

“I saw this story awhile ago and thought it really showed how messed up our perception of post baby bodies are compared to some other countries . I am in no way endorsing the writer or the subject of the story but, I do think it gives valuable perspective…… ‘Every time I see tips on how to get rid of stretch marks, I recall reading Dr. Maya Angelou’s experience. She said while traveling in Africa.. she stayed with a tribe that bathed communally. She said the women began to weep and console her and she did not know why. They thought she was childless because she had no stretch marks. In their society, marks are a badge of honor. They said even if the baby passed away and she was kidnapped into a new village, if she passed and could not speak for herself, the marks would tell her story and she would get the proper rites at burial’ -Azali Mizan” -Sara K.

 Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com“Hi Beth, Here are my pictures. 🙂 I did one with my baby and one without–feel free to use either or both. I thought it was cool to have her in the picture since she is the reason my belly is the way it is. 🙂 She was safe when she was inside of it and she is safe now when she’s cuddled against it. 🙂 “-Catie W.

Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com

“i picked healing because while my belly has a way to go, in my opinion, i am so encouraged by the progress and healing this far. I started with an 8+ DR and am down to about a 2 now & my core is so much stronger, i can see the healing happening.” -Jennifer M.

Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.comThis one from Sarah B. didn’t come with a story, but I love her word – Grace.

My favorite? It’s one that says “loved” in laboriously scripted letters written by the hand of a blind husband who learned to write just for his wife. How sweet is that? It makes me blubber each time I see it! Which one is your favorite? What word would you write on your belly?

Belly Love: The members of Fit2B Studio - a site that specializes in routines for diastasis recti - write words of hope and affirmation on their tummies to show the world that beauty can still be found in brokenness - Fit2b.com

I chose healed, and I asked my 7 year-old daughter to write it. At first she tried to spell it “held”… in permanent marker… I corrected her as I looked down at the top her head and ran my fingers through her hair – so unlike how it was all bald when she first slid out between my legs almost 8 years ago. “No it needs an ‘a’ before the ‘L’ and then ‘e-d’.” But of course, my belly did hold her and her brother. So I love the typo on my tummy. The sweat you see is from a long walk I had just taken… with my shirt on of course 😉

Beth Learn
Beth Learn

Hi there! I'm the founder and CEO of Fit2B Studio, LLC here at fit2b.com where you are hanging out right now! As you may {or may not} know, we provide home fitness routines and resources for those who wish to get all-over strong starting with their cores! We are your warm up for life, and our mission is "Changing lives one tummy at a time." Why? So you can look better in a swimsuit? Well, that's a lovely side-effect of our workouts, but my heart is to help you be a stronger contributor to your family, community, and world! I believe your core matters because it’s at the middle of you, and you are in the middle of your home which is where your ability to make a difference in this world starts! If your middle is muddled, then everything you’re in the middle of - motherhood, ministry, making dinner (yes I love alliterations) - will be muddled by your middle’s muddling. Say that five times fast. Ha! Anyway, yeah, I live on a little farm in the Pacific Northwest with my husband and two children, 14 chickens, 3 goats, 4 cats, 2 horses, 1 Digory Dog and a Chihuahua named Charlie who is NOT allowed inside for very good reasons. My hobbies include reading very long historical fiction novels, natural homesteading, fermenting foods, race walking, crocheting rag rugs out of t-shirt yarn, a little bit of piano, and OF COURSE lifting heavy things and playing with exercise props! Join me here at Fit2B and find a new perspective on working out that will create lasting changes in your body and mind!

35 thoughts on “Belly Love: Seeing Beauty in Brokenness

  1. Melissa W says:

    Tearing up here. Wish I’d taken the time to be a part. I think I’ll take a picture and post it for me to look at, though, and remember! Thanks for reality!!!

  2. Karyn says:

    What an amazing group of women! Thank you all. You are truly inspiring, and I’m grateful for your transparency. If I had to choose a word for my tummy it would be “cherished” I carried 5 babies, 3 are with me here on earth and 2 are waiting for me in heaven. I cherish every one of them, and am grateful the Lord chose my tummy to carry and protect them.

  3. Kaely says:

    This is so inspiring! It’s so wonderful to see women embrace their bellies in all their glory without griping about the things that are imperfect about them. I am currently 31 weeks pregnant with my 3rd (they’ve all been c-sections), and I have very large (one 9lbs and one 11lbs) babies! I look a lot like the ‘impressive’ belly and really appreciate her saying that she chooses to ignore the rude comments about not knowing how far along you are or how many babies you’re having. That’s very encouraging to me as I get all those same comments!

  4. Brooke says:

    This is so sweet! I thought about doing one but ran out of time. One of my thoughts was “safe”, so that was my favorite one. My belly had held four babies (one at a time). It was a safe place to be- wrapped in Mama’s love!

    • bethanylearn
      bethanylearn says:

      Brooke, isn’t that such a great word? Even when my belly was still squishy after having babies, I thought that made it safe, too… a safe place to rest their little heads, to cuddle, to land…

  5. christinamroz says:

    I really enjoyed seeing the words people put on their bellies. I’m having some blogs come out in the next several weeks that about my brokenness in this area and how I’ve healed. Keep up the good work.

    • bethanylearn
      bethanylearn says:

      Christina, oh you should take a picture with a word and put it on YOUR blog and then link it to this project 😉 It is definitely a journey. I still need to add my picture to the mix!

  6. Matina says:

    Beautiful photos and words! Thanks to all for being vulnerable and real- I’m sure you are blessing and encouraging many!

  7. Vicki Barnes says:

    I only have one word for this….HUMBLED. I am truly humbled at what I’ve seen and read in this post. It reminds me that I am not alone, that there are others out there just like me and that I am not helpless in regaining strength in my core. Thank you Bethany and the wonderful models for there stories, I’m inspired!

  8. laura d says:

    pregnant with baby #1…my tummy isn’t quite ready to match the pics, but i am working through the pregnancy/moms workouts to strengthen my core during this period of my life!

  9. Gina Blomgren says:

    This is a beautiful post. I think too many people get caught up in the “perfect body” aspect after child birth.

  10. Carly T says:

    This is a good reminder that we (women especially) should accept and celebrate our bodies for how they function rather than how they look. Our bodies provide us with so much, and to respect them means to treat them kindly, not just to obsess over certain parts being too big or too small or too ________ (fill in the blank). Society often sends the wrong messages about what women should value about themselves. Thanks for helping counteract that with some positive messages.

  11. Briana says:

    I love these pictures. It’s not about the photoshopped magazine women, it’s about REAL women. We don’t all have the same body. We don’t have the same daily trials. We are all unique in our own way, but it is still beauty! Love this!

  12. Jennifer A. says:

    I LOVE this idea! It’s a beautiful collection, of beautiful women. Sometimes we forget how amazing our bodies are, and to celebrate the process. It is amazing what we accomplish when we work with our bodies, and how strong women can truly be. That is for sure, something we, and society, should celebrate! 🙂

  13. Jutta P. says:

    This gave me shivers. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I also am learning to love this body and belly that have carried my 2 children and are even now carrying a 3rd. I am so blessed!

  14. Becky says:

    My baby girl is 7 months old. I’m within 5 lbs of my pre-baby weight, but the shape of my belly is different now – definite Mummy-tummy. I start thinking I’m OK with it, then make the mistake of looking in a full length mirror naked. Or going shopping for a bathing suit. Or trying on my favorite old jeans. Yesterday someone asked me if I’m expecting baby #2 already (I’m not). These pictures are all moving, but I find the ones with the baby in the shot truly inspirational. I’m going to go take a belly and baby picture and stick it on my mirror alongside a side-angel shot of my 9 month pregnant tummy. Then I’ll cry. Then I’ll start getting over it.

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