Being a mother is wonderful, but what's a little bit less wonderful is the fact that your body goes through a heck of a lot to get there. While it's a beautiful process with a miraculous result, getting there — gaining weight, wacky hormones, etc. — is hard both physically and emotionally.
Multiply this process by six and you have Australian fitness inspiration Sharny Kieser, who yes, has six kids and still looks like that.
via: InstagramBut that doesn't mean she's without insecurities. In fact, even though she's proud of her body, she's less than enthused about her stretch marks and scars, so much so that she's uncomfortable wearing a bikini. Given that up to eighty percent of people will have stretch marks at some point in their lives, it's not a stretch — no pun intended — to say that people can relate to her.
But it was overhearing her husband talk about her body that changed her whole way of thinking, and she shared this on her Instagram:
via: Instagram"I used to not see the point in exercise because my body was covered in stretch marks. 'What's the point in having a great body if I will never wear a bikini' I'd think."
"If I was ever invited to the beach or a pool party, I'd always decline."
via: Instagram"On the odd occasion I couldn't avoid it, I'd stay inside, helping with the food or the cleaning. I would only wear board shorts and t-shirts. I wished so hard that I could one day wear a bikini."
"Then one day I overheard my loving husband explaining to a bunch of his friends why he thought stretch marks were beautiful."
via: Instagram"They were a sign of being a woman. They are a result of the great love a mother has, that she would scar her own body to bring a child to life... on and on he explained and the more he talked, the more I got it. I had hated myself for the very reasons he loved me. My body wasn't ruined or disgusting, it had transformed from a selfish girls body into a selfless mothers body and the scars were a symbol of that transition."
"A daily reminder that I was a mother."
via: Instagram"I looked at my stretch marks and I felt pride. I felt love. The love of my husband and the love of my children. Each one of them had been nurtured and lived behind those scars for 9 months. I felt pride. I felt love. I felt love for myself. The craziest thing was that when I started to love myself for what I had now, the body I had now, I began to treat myself better." And she wasn't done yet...
"I WANTED to eat healthy. I WANTED to exercise, I WANTED to do the things I loved."
via: Instagram"Just by changing the way I looked at myself with love and pride instead of hate, I had found the effortless motivation to care for my body. Because of this tiny little shift in mindset, magic happened... I got the body I had always dreamed of. The bikini body that I thought was not ever going to be possible for me after being covered in stretch marks, It has became a reality for me. It started though, with me loving myself first. Being grateful for what I had, not wishing for something better." Even if you're not a mother, that's something we can all do.