Everyone talks about how important it is to love ourselves, flaws and all, but do we walk the walk when it actually matters the most?

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For more than a decade, Anupa King was an avid marathon trainer and runner with rock hard abs. In 2017, while carrying her youngest son, Levi, the Guyana-born social media influencer expected to put on some extra weight (NBD, right?)—but what she didn't expect was to still look pregnant nearly a year after giving birth.

"My abs had split open, and I hadn't even recognized it until I started losing weight. I noticed my stomach was wrinkled and bulging, and I absolutely hated it. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror," King says. "Through having multiple conversations with other moms on Instagram, I realized that what I'm going through is very normal. Social media tells us that we have to bounce back right away, but that wasn't the case for me at all. I was very motivated to move forward, but I needed to love me to do that. I needed to know that the body I was in did a miraculous job of creating life, nurturing those two lives, and keeping them healthy, alive and happy."

Recently, the mom of two wrote a poignant letter to herself on Instagram, a year into her postpartum journey.

As King says: Stop hating you for thinking you have an ugly stomach and start loving you for how absolutely stunning and beautiful you were and still are for carrying and caring for you two gorgeous little humans.

Stop thinking about how hard you need to work at bouncing back after baby even if at 1 year postpartum you still look pregnant and focus on your objectives at staying healthy and happy and active.

Stop worrying about what others will think if they see your wrinkled stomach and start thinking about how absolutely blessed you are for what you've created.

Be you! Be the best you, your negative energy about you and your body shows and it's ugly. Give yourself some grace (a lot) and time (a whole lot) to heal emotionally, mentally and physically. You're one tough mama and you've got this.

King admits that feeling 100 percent like herself again isn't a reality most days, but she urges new moms to be gentle with themselves because it makes a world of difference.

"There's something so wrong about having all my hard days documented and not having the days where I need motivation documented, or not documenting the days where I had something extremely exciting happen," King says. "So I started writing these letters to myself about how much I criticized my body when I shouldn't, how much I need to love myself because of what my body has done, and what it's capable of continuing to do. I needed the reminder that what I'm doing is everything and it means everything to them."

Amen to that.

Follow Anupa King on Instagram @denupzter.

Princess Gabbara is a multimedia journalist and storyteller. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @PrincessGabbara. Visit her website at princessgabbara.com.

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