Pregnancy changes a woman’s body, sometimes forever, and though these changes are not always welcomed, it is important to remember what a beautiful privilege it is to grow a human being!
There is a lot of pressure on mothers today to ‘bounce back’ to our pre-prego bod. Why is that mom at the gym who had a baby the same time as you, back to running marathons and to looking like she didn’t just have her 2nd child or any child EVER for that matter, while you’re still working to get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans? We are always comparing but the reality is… you are not her! We are all different! We have different bodies, different genes, different levels of motivation and time and circumstances and priorities…and it is about time we stop feeling the pressure to be “that” mom – the one with the washboard abs who looks like she never housed a child!
I am not one of those moms. I never was in fact, not even pre-kids. Even when I ran marathons I didn’t have rock solid abs. Nor when I did track workouts at the crack of dawn. Not when I did Bikram yoga and not even when I swam, biked and ran! Not when I did weights or worked out with a trainer, and not even when I worked out twice a day! Not when I did Weight Watchers, not when I ate zero carbs, and not even when I nearly starved myself in my twenties! Not when I was a kid, not when I was in college, not pre-kids and not post-kids! And you know what?? That’s OK with me!
About 2 years a go I won a plank challenge in my Bootcamp class. These less than fabulous set of abs did an 8-minute-plank! EIGHT minutes! I’ve run marathons, completed a triathlon and ridden several 150-mile charity bike rides with this body, but most important of all to me…I’ve housed my 2 babies! (And had a few other failed pregnancies in which I still grew and stretched!) Do I look at those skinny 6-pack-ab mamas with some degree of envy? Sure, I’m human and I do live in this world, but I also understand that unless becoming uber fit suddenly becomes my new job complete with on-hand trainers, chefs and nannies, it is probably not happening with these genes and in this lifetime! And that’s OK with me!
As long as I can chase my kids around the yard or race them at the park, I’m good! As long as I can rock out my Latin Fusion class, get through a Bootcamp class without passing out, go for a run when I feel like it and survive power yoga from time to time…I’m happy! I want to be fit for my health. I want to be fit so that this body, which housed my 2 amazing kids, can be around for them and with them as long as possible. I want to be fit because it feels good.
I want to be fit and healthy for me, not because society tells me I should be! Our culture is screaming THIN, FIT, STRONG ARMS, NICE SHOULDERS, FLAT TUMMIES…it is literally defining what ‘fit’ looks like, what ‘beauty’ looks like, what ‘sexy’ looks like and what you and I should look like, but you know what?! This mom is so over it! I don’t meet that criteria and that’s OK with me!
I housed two babies IN MY TUMMY and I am over the moon proud of that! I expanded 60 pounds twice and it was quite uncomfortable but I am so thankful that my body was able to sustain my growing babies for those nine plus months! And they are worth every bit of my less than perfect post-baby bod!
And you know what else world?! I’m still beautiful!
It has taken me two kids and several years to get to this accepting place and I hope that by sharing of myself that I might empower other mothers who also don’t fall into that category of post-partum rock-solid-ab-moms – to stand proud and feel good in that mom-bod of yours! I am not talking about letting ourselves go by any means. I am talking about being squishier or wider or rounder in some areas than you once were perhaps. I am talking about that loose skin and those abdominal muscles that have been stretched and pushed out again and again to accommodate a growing baby…a real HUMAN BEING in your belly!
I am not suggesting that we not work out and stay fit and healthy. I am suggesting that we stand up to that expectation of ‘bouncing back’ and to that perfect-mom-bod ideal and that we redefine what is beautiful! I am suggesting that we start to see ourselves as beautiful with all our post-baby imperfections, that we find a man that tells us we are beautiful even if we don’t ‘bounce back,’ and that we give the finger to the rest of the world and its ideals about what a woman’s body should look like because we housed a BABY in there, and that my friend, is truly BEAUTIFUL!