This whole journey of becoming a mom has revealed (on top of everything else) my personal anxieties around my body. I thought I was too grounded to be someone that jumped the gun postpartum and started working out too hard too soon. Well, turns out, I’m not that grounded at all.
Since the beginning of my pregnancy people have been saying to me “you’re so fit, you’re totally going to bounce right back”. It felt good to have the confidence of the people! I felt mostly confident myself, but I did also have some concerns. The reality is that sometimes the “bounce back” is not a reality for everyone in the way that they hope for even if they are fit and healthy going into their pregnancy. I had major postpartum body goals thanks to some of my amazing mama/trainer friends and of course the countless celebrity bounce back paparazzi beach photos (let’s not pretend we aren’t influenced by those). I thought these “goals” were perfectly normal until now.
I dropped about 15 pounds and went from looking 9 months pregnant to about 51/2 months pregnant pretty quickly in the first few weeks after delivery. But then that was it, the last 5 months aka 20 pounds have yet to say goodbye. So first of all, let’s note that this is normal. Everyone’s body is different, everyone’s recovery is different. Also, everyone’s expectations are different and sometimes they are harmful instead of helpful. For a while I was being “patient” and letting myself heal and focusing on the important things like nourishing baby Z and recovering. I mean let’s be honest, it really hadn’t been that long after all, being patient shouldn’t be that hard, right?! At 4 weeks post delivery, all of my so called patience evaporated and I had a full flung anxiety attack.
Before I started doing burpees every minute on the minute from breakfast till dinner, I reached out to some of my friends for advice. Luckily I have some brilliant-mama-fit friends who talked me off the ledge and told me to take hard chill on trying to speed up the process. Every single one of them waited the at least the full recommended 6 weeks if not longer before getting back into real workouts. I mean think about it, intuitively we know it would be crazy to start working out intensely after a major surgery or injury without fully recovering first. Completely crazy. With everything we go through from pregnancy to delivery, why would pregnancy be any different.
It was a revealing moment for me, because underneath it all, I was questioning whether I would be able to love my body at every stage of healing and beyond. What if my body didn’t “bounce back” like I expected, also like everyone else expected? What if there were no more 6-pack nike shoots in my future? Then what? Was I going to spend the rest of my life avoiding mirrors and withholding love and acceptance from myself?
I think we learn to comparison and self-critique from a very young age. We learn it from our peers, the media and important men and women in our lives. It is crazy when we think of all the forces that work to get us to question our worthiness, especially based on superficial traits It’s a cycle. One that I want to break for myself, for my daughter, for all the women in my life.
The best advice I got from two of my friends when I was panicking, was to take this time to reconnect to my body. Both of them recommended breathe work, walks with my new little one and of course kegels. I was extremely grateful they shared their wisdom. Allowing myself the space to actually feel and respond to my body has been an bonus I didn’t expect. I’ve added the breathe work into my day whenever I remember (walking down the street, grocery shopping, drinking tea). Sometimes I wonder if I’ve ever truly been connected to my core at all before this!
Having a baby is an incredible gift. It is undeniable. I spend every day in awe holding this little being. I find it interesting observing all the emotions I have around this amazing change. I feel lucky and overwhelmed with gratitude and I also feel resistance to change in some areas of my life all at the same time. The truth is having a baby means your body has changed. Like the rest of your life, it won’t be the same. You have brought life into this world, how could anything stay the same after that and why would we want it to. So instead of trying to bounce back, it’s time to move forward. And I don’t mean we should accept a less than badass version of ourselves, I just mean the way we treat ourselves, heal ourselves, train ourselves should level up like everything else. That takes honesty and patience and diligence.
I’m at week 9, which is really barely any time at all when you think about the lifetime we spend in these bodies of ours. I’m still the same distance from my original fighting weight and shape. But my mindset and my values are shaping up. No, I have not yet resolved my issues around my own body love and self image, but I have committed to nurturing myself and to the process of becoming. I offer this post because so many of us struggle with these issues at different point in our lives. Please know you have an friend wherever you are in your journey. I will be writing about my journey along the way, so please reach out, tune in … let’s journey together.