Thursday, April 11, 2013

Post-Baby Body


The other day at the gym, I found myself on the middle bike between two single ladies on my left and two on the right. I didn't know for sure they were single. I just had a feeling born out of years of being single myself.

Let's just say they were young, energetic and one other thing that I was not…I was not wearing an outfit like theirs. Their outfits seemed designed for the gym. The clothes were put together with consideration for fit, performance and appearance. They each had shoes that matched their shorts, shorts that matched their shirt, etc. Their outfits suggested thought about the lift of the backside and the poof of the pony-tail.

mom's celebrating their post-baby bodyI used to have gym outfits like theirs. Since becoming a mom, it's become hard to distinguish between the clothes that I wear at home and ones for the gym. My outer wear is likely to reflect my internal harried state. My gym clothes are sure to symbolize my lack of free time and the nature of my 24/7 job.

Frankly, I just don't care what I look like at the gym. I feel like a bad-ass dressing like a slob. I want my clothes to say, "I pushed a baby out of this body without drugs; I've earned the right to dress however I want!"

If this posture sounds obnoxious, please hear me out. It's not lost on me that not caring about clothing this vociferously seems oddly related to caring about it. Still, there's something empowering in this stance for me. My choice in clothes (or lack thereof) reflects the fact that my workouts have become more about taking care of myself and being healthy than using exercise to pursue a body that conforms to a standard of beauty dictated by others.

I'm not implying that woman with nicer outfits than me or women who are single and/or without kids are ill-intended in their workouts either. I don't know their intentions.

What I do know is that they remind me of pre-baby me. I spent too much time worrying about how I looked before I had Claire. Like many women, I've struggled to gain acceptance of my body.

Having a baby has been a rite of passage for me, in this respect. I've learned that my body is so much more than its appearance. I grew a baby with this body. That's a revelation. Some women do it more than once. I am in awe of them.

Of course, I still have days when I wish I had flatter abs or I worry about fitting into my skinny jeans.

On other days, I experience my body as bountiful. I look at my daughter, and it isn't possible for me to believe otherwise. She exists regardless of my physical appearance or what clothes I wear.

I feel grateful for the body that made her. I feel its power and its wonder. I deserve to feel this way more often.

We all do.


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99 comments:

  1. I love this and wish I could feel the same way! I need to hang around you more often. :)

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    1. Would love to hang out! Maybe, you could teach me how to jog! :)

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  2. I agree!! After 4 babies my stomach isn't going back without plastic surgery, but I would do it again without a thought. So worth it!!!

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    1. I'M SO WITH YOU!! I've only had 2 kids, but my 2nd one used to try to push himself out through my skin during the last trimester... really... You could literally SEE him pushing. Not kicking... a LINE where he'd be trying to cut me open or something. So needless to say, 7yrs after that birth, my stomach is the ONE place that won't 'bounce back'

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    2. I love hearing these stories! Your children are so lucky to have you.

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  3. Perfectly said Rachel and seriously need to remind myself this more often, because when I have trouble fitting into my skinny jeans, sometimes I can get a bit down, but hearing you put it like this truly puts it all in to perspective.

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    1. It's a rare woman who never worries about her body, but I think we deserve a break from it from time to time!

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  4. That is a great sentiment and I totally agree...I think I will claim this empowering stance as my own...since I have no real excuse now that our daughter is eleven. ;)

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  5. Great post. I am trying to gain some type of resemblance to the body I had prior to three kids, and slowly but surely it's happening. However, I feel it may take the rest of my life just to get back down to a decent size body according to society's way of thinking.

    However, I am learning that I am still sexy in my own way. I also wouldn't trade having three kids for anything in this world. I may not win any beauty contests or turn heads anymore, but like you, when I look at my kids I see that it was more than worth it. :)

    Great words of thought!

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    1. Thanks, Crystal. I wasn't kidding when I said I was in awe of women who have more than one child. You rock!

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  6. Well said! After I had my daughter, she's 14 months now, I still have that pooch on my stomach. I don't care though, I have a beautiful baby and that is more important and worth it. :)

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  7. When I was subbing I had a gym membership at the gym down the street from the center. I live in a college town. Therefore most of the people there were either guys with no necks or college age sorority girls. Here I was just trying to get back into shape-I felt pretty self conscious the first couple of times but luckily got over it. I did buy a couple of things to work out in, not because I was worried about how I looked but so I had something to look forward to wearing! My shoes didn't match my outfit, by the way (who does that?) ;-)

    I still care too much about that stuff, but am much better than I used to be. Since then I have joined a gym here close to home. The members there are mostly like me-mostly moms trying to either get back into shape or are there for their health. I must say though the equipment isn't as nice and the hours aren't as accomodating, I DO feel more at home!

    As a former anorexic now carrying 140+ lbs on her extra small frame, it's hard not to be critical of my appearance, acceptance and simply being comfortable in my own skin is something I'm still working on!

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    1. Congrats on overcoming anorexia. That's REALLY amazing!!!!

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    2. Oh, Sarah! I am sending you a big hug right now! What Mariane said is really true. I am so proud of you!

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  8. I so remember fawning over the perfect outfit and wearing makeup to the gym!

    These days, I could care less because like you said, it's not a matter of trying to look good, it's a matter of trying to make me as healthy as 'me' can be.

    And I love the end of your post. You're right, we do deserve to feel just that way, way more often than we allow ourselves to do. Well said!

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  9. I certainly have a lower expectation of what my body should and does look like post-babies and I actually LIKE some of the womanly curves I've gained - but alsas I still strive for my body to bear SOME resemblance to its pre-babies version!

    I think your attitude is both inspiring and empowering - just wish I had your confidence!!

    Great post :)

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    1. Yay, you! Womanly curves are great. Thank you, Serena.

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  10. Such a great post! I have 3 boys my youngest just turned 10 months and it took me till the 3rd pregnancy to be more excepting of my body. I grew 3 little people inside me so I realize my stomach might have a pooch and love handles but my babys are worth it.

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  11. Eh, I don't even go to the gym. I walk the neighborhood and have figured out dragging a wagon with kids in our backyard works pretty well. But I used to be the matchy-matchy girls. In hindsight, I wonder if anyone noticed?
    My main post-pregnancy mind shift has been that, even though I've lost the weight I gained, those clothes don't fit me quite the same anymore. Where did these hips come from? :)

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    1. Hey, whatever works. You sound industrious! And hips are great!

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  12. I love your perspective on this. As a gym rat myself I notice when there is a single guy or single girl working out. I love watching it ...
    It's nice not to have to worry about it!

    ¤´¨)
    ¸.•*´
    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    www.raising-reagan.com

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  13. What a great post! I struggle with this myself. I'm glad you get the chance to go to the gym though! That in and of itself is a big deal! Eff what you're wearing! I hate the ones who wear makeup at the gym. It's like come on, really this isn't the club.
    -Jai @mamistimeout.com

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    1. It's hard to get to the gym, now that I have my daughter.

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  14. I have never had a child nor worn coordinated workout gear.

    You are so right to appreciate your body for what it's done.

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    1. Thank you, Stephanie! I don't picture you as a coordinated workout gear type of gal. I do see you with some fab outfits though! :)

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  15. Oh I needed this today! I was just giving myself a mental whipping for not having the body I had in my 30s

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    1. Oh, good! Glad to be of service. The mental whipping needs to stop!

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  16. I needed this today, too! Thank you! I've always felt great and loved my body after I had my first daughter, but now being pregnant with baby #2, I started not feeling very attractive as the weight piles on. But you know what? It's not that I'm getting fat, my body is making a baby and getting ready to give birth again, something that I am SO proud for being able to do naturally, without drugs, and hope to do again.

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    1. Great, Kera! I struggled with worrying about the weight gain when I was pregnant with my daughter too. Just remember that you are awesome!

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  17. I never knew what a number a c-section did on your stomach, even years later. I still have this weird "pouch" or shelf area around the scar. No amount of gym attendance will fix that, I fear.

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    1. I think that's true for most women. We will never have our pre-baby bodies.

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  18. I love my body now. I feel so strong, like I can do anything.

    -Jenna
    stopdropandblog.com

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  19. I never care what I wear when I am working out. You are just going to sweat in it anyway! I say spend the time you would have spent worrying with those important to you instead!

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    1. Whatever works for people, I say. But I like not worrying about it better for me.

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  20. Yes. Yes. And more Yes. There's so much post-baby-body-loathing going on up in here. I'm such a culprit. But there are so many more moments that I should be celebrating it...despite all that I'd like to fix.

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    1. I love what you wrote Jen. It's true. I don't think I will ever be totally fine with my body, but I also agree that there should be some moments of celebration!

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  21. Kudos to you! I've always wondered why women spend time looking nice for working out when they're going to get sweaty within minutes. I'm not a mom and I already look like a hot, sweaty, mix-matched, Medusa-like mess after I've run a couple miles....I'm guessing I'll resemble a feral forest child when I have a kiddo and have less time available to put into my workout attire.

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    1. I can't quite picture you looking like a "feral forest child", Heather, but your image made me laugh!

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  22. I remember pre baby I used to selectively choose what I would wear to the gym. Now post baby and momma-on-the-go days I'm thrilled if my socks workout match. Pretty much, after baby I stopped sweating the small stuff.

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  23. UGH. I HATE those girls at the gym. When I see them I think, "Why are you here? Shouldn't you be on a corner somewhere?"

    I'm with you though - it's a totally different mentality once you're a mom. Granted, I haven't reached full acceptance of my body JUST yet...but I'm getting there. The human body is an incredible thing. Thanks for sharing!
    Kaylynn
    AmongTheYoung.com

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  24. "I deserve to feel this way more often." YES!! It doesn't matter what you wear to the gym; it just matters that you're doing it for you and you're feeling great about it. But you already said that, didn't you...:) Loved it!

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  25. Yes. You have earned the right to feel good with whatever you choose to wear. One day those girls will be trudging around in a mum uniform too, and you will have the last laugh :)

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  26. "I pushed a baby out of this body without drugs; I've earned the right to dress however I want."
    Sorry to disagree, but shouldn't everyone have the right to dress however they want? single, childless or mums of 5 kids?

    (Also, If you came to my gym the ladies that you assume to be single would most likely be mums. I'm just saying that assumptions are often wrong.)

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    1. I agree with you. Everyone should be able to wear what they want. I also agree with you that assumptions are often wrong. That's why I wrote the second sentence of this post.

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  27. With you there; I can't stand gyms although I am going to join one just to get fit. If I have to worry about what I look like whilst working out then I think I'd rather stay home and do some sit ups!

    CJ x

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    1. Best of luck with the gym, Crystal! Doing sit-ups at home works also! :)

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  28. Good post. I've struggled with my weight my whole life and I have never felt comfortable with my body. Being Pregnant, this all changed. I loved the way I looked, I felt happy in myself, and for the first time ever comfortable and confident. Now my baby is 8 weeks old and I am just surveying the damage caused by giving birth. I cant say I still feel like I did when I was pregnant but I am definately more relaxed. I feel better in my own skin definately.I've never dressed well for the gym, and to be honest just getting there is a big achievement for me!

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    1. I love your story! Thank you so much for sharing it!

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  29. what a lovely post! i really really agree with this and i may not be perfect but i will be perfect for my children! xx #PoCoLo

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  30. Our bodies are works of both art and industry. We need reminders like yours that the latter is the more amazing feat.

    (I came from mommifried's link up.)

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  31. Oh how I wished I could go to the gym, but if I did I would be dressed just like you. My mummy tummy is here to stay, but at least I can look at me children and realise they are worth a little wobbly belly

    Commenting via #PoCoLo

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  32. Rachel! You are brilliant. Thank you for the reminder that my body looks the way it does and that it's okay (although I really could stand to lose about six pounds that I totally cannot blame on my son as they are newer than he is...sigh...)
    And dude! I bet you totally rock the bad ass mommy gym clothes. Like a pro. Beautiful post, friend.

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  33. Love this post! I have found that I need to accept the body I have now. It will never be like my body before and I am okay with it. I do still want to get to the gym more often though!! Love the post!

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    1. Going to the gym is important to me too. It's some alone time, where I'm taking care of myself. It helps my head too!

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  34. A great post and so very true. It's amazing how your priorities change when you have a baby and what mattered before, really doesn't anymore! I find myself questioning whether it should have done in the first place. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo again and for all your support xx

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    1. Yes, your priorities change in a good way!

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  35. Great post. I never care about what I wear! The fact you go to the gym amazes me, I dont think I wold have the guts! Well done you!!!

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  36. yep. I am happy to be just getting to the gym I don't care even a little what people think about what I am wearing. I do get dressed up for my husband and then I care what I look like, and that is what motivates me to get to the gym!

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  37. I've been doing Just Dance 4 on my Wii at home, I just have to feel bad that the avatars are so skinny. Some day... I might be an avatar too.

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    1. Oh, such a bummer to hear the avatars are skinny! Man!

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  38. Some days I can look at my body and love it, other days no so much. These days I wear what I want as well. My kids are grown but I know I have earned the right to wear what I feel comfortable in whether that is in a long flowy skirt or stretchy pants.

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    1. Yes, it's a work in progress for me too. Comfort is key! Couldn't agree more!

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  39. My post child bearing wardrobe is lucky to be clean, at this stage of life you're lucky I'm not dressed head to toe in purple plaid or plaids and stripes or something else that would remind you of your grandmothers drapes. ;) Stopping by from Mommifried!

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  40. Even when I *was* one of those young, energetic girls at the gym, I made fun of *those* girls. We used to say that they came to the gym "in full armor" intent more on meeting guys than on working out.

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  41. Here here!! Abso-freaking-lutely! So beautifully put!

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  42. I love this post, thanks for linking this one up for #magicmoments xx

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  43. Great post. When I do go to the gym, I'm usually in grungy sweats and a shirt with stains on it.

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  44. Linking up with my Friday Flash Blog community. Thanks for joining and sharing in the fun! Have a terrific week and see you this weekend.

    Jennifer
    www.thejennyevolution.com

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  45. I love your positivity,it's funny how intimidating the gym can become. I sometimes feel like I should be toned up before I even venture in.

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    1. Oh, man, that's not how it's supposed to be! But I hear you!

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  46. What a wonderful post - it is so hard to get used to the physical transition in body shape, it can feel like a stranger's body at first that you've got to discover anew.

    Thanks so much for sharing at the Friday Baby Shower - Alice x

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    1. Wow, I love this sentiment! Thank you for sharing it.

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  47. I've been struggling lately with my body image since I've started gaining weight and more than a few people have been asking me if I'm pregnant. 2 today in fact! So your words in this post mean a lot to me, especially the last line: "I feel grateful for the body that made her. I feel its power and its wonder. I deserve to feel this way more often. We all do." Thank you for sharing and for your inspirational words. Stopping by from Friday Flash Blog.

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  48. My gym clothes rarely match, and my tshirt always has at least one stain on it of unknown origin.

    Who am I kidding? We know exactly where those stains came from....cake.

    Hold your head up high. You have an amazing life and you have better things to do than ensure your work out shoes match your sports bra.

    You've got the right attitude. :-)

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  49. Awww, you made me cry! What a beautiful tribute to mom body!! I struggle SO much with the body that my three kids have left me with, but I honestly never thought about the fact that this body made them. I have more appreciation for the empty tube socks hanging from my chest right now because they were sacrificed to provide food for my babies. Thank you for helping me to shift my perspective and to appreciate the gifts that my body has given to me. I am so grateful you linked this up on Honest Voices today. It is exactly the honest voice that this mom needed to hear. :)

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  50. Honest diapers works great for my son. He's on size 3 now and we've been using expensive diapers ever since he was a newborn. I have never had a problem with them. We tried thinner diapers but they didn't work on him. I think it really just depends on each child. Anyway, Honest diapers are great.
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    ReplyDelete

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