So. Postpartum. What a crazy B postpartum is. If you read here regularly, you know my story about what I didn’t expect postpartum and how my transition back into fitness has gone.
If you’re new, in a nutshell: I was pretty fit before, couldn’t workout much at all during pregnancy, and was shocked how much I had changed and could not lose weight/snap back after a baby for no apparent reason other than birthing a human/not sleeping ever is HARD. Not ground-breaking, but still hard for me. 10 months later, I am feeling a lot more like myself and actually sleeping.
What I really want to hit on today is acceptance and support for all moms, no matter what goals they are or are not trying to accomplish. I am not posting this to say that all moms should have the same goals or that being fit is the only way to be. I personally have been two very different women on this issue.
I have been the doughy postpartum teary blob that so wants my own body back, desperate for it and seriously hurting inside that I am but a shell of myself (and covered in spit up, on top of it all). Through those early days I hated on every other “fit mom” out there. Hashtag #fitmom? More like #youmakemelookbadandwanttocry. The amount of resentment and jealousy I had for moms who appeared to “snap right back” was unreal. I won’t lie to you and tell you all my issues with that have gone away either, but I’ve come a long way.
Flash forward to almost a year since popping out a kid, the fog has lifted. ThankyouJesus. Fitness is appealing again. I have the energy for it. I can take Claire to the Y and get a workout in in peace. I am seeing results. I stopped breastfeeding and that has helped me lose some weight too. It’s all kind of falling into place. And so I’m starting to get more interested in fitness like I was before.
C and I after a trail race
But suddenly, I’m feeling some judgement. Suddenly I feel like I’m going to piss someone off for being a “fit mom” type and using that hashtag. #Ireallydontwanttobeajerk #seriously
Suddenly, I feel like it’s war all over again, but on the other side. On the other side of this issue, now I am a mom that is ready to get back into fitness and kick it into high gear. I paid my dues of being the chunky PPD see-food diet kind of mom for a while. I’m done with that and so so excited to move on being a better version of myself, whether that’s like I was before pregnancy or not.
Should anyone hate on that? I really don’t think so.
But here I am at a crossroads with who I was and who I am in the present. Both of those women exists within my still-flabby, needs-a-lot-of-work, but-finally-fits-into-my-jeans frame. I have been both the mom sitting there on Instagram getting honestly really angry that someone with a three month old baby already has her abs back and I have been the mom posting progress pictures of my biceps and dang proud of it.
I’m here to say that neither of those are wrong. Yes, I had serious jealousy and internal issues in how I felt about other moms. I could not be happy for them until I started seeing any kind of change for myself. But it’s 100% normal to hate them in your head. In all that time that I was bitter, I never said anything on mom’s posts like that. I had to unfollow some people so I wasn’t seeing stuff like that daily to drive me insane. And that is okay too.
It’s also not wrong to be the mom who is super proud of herself for signing up for her first post-baby half marathon or losing the last ten pounds or helping other women with fitness. It’s not wrong to want to work out with your baby, leave your baby at the gym, do a workout DVD during nap time, or prioritize yourself.
What’s wrong to me though? Hating on those moms who are just trying to do good (and actually telling them so). Yes, there is absolutely a fine line on what is “good” and what’s just downright bragging. But in hindsight, when I was bitter mom, the things that bugged me then don’t seem nearly as offensive now. I was very melodramatic by thinking that others were sharing things to brag on and on about themselves and intentionally make me feel bad. Others were posting things without even thinking of me at all, so of course that cannot be true.
a recent gym scene from my daily trips to the Y
But why tear them down when the issue is honestly most likely with yourself? That’s a hard pill to swallow for sure, but I mean it. Why hate on someone else when the problem is actually yours? Sure, you may not agree with what someone posts. I particularly hate bra only/stomach bearing posts. Why? I wouldn’t post a picture in just my regular bra so I don’t see how a sports bra is any different. But also because I hate my abs. I’ve never had abs. So seeing someone with a flat enough stomach to post a picture in just a bra has always not been my fave. But I have come to terms with what I don’t like about it and realize I won’t do that for myself. What other women are comfortable doing is totally up to them, though. And I shouldn’t be bitter about it because it’s not what I would do.
Something that makes no sense in all of this is that our society praises women who get back into shape in weeks time and bashes moms who “lose themselves to motherhood.” Neither of those are healthy ways to look at it. But it seems like in the real world when you actually talk to moms, they are all hating on the women who are getting back into shape (a good thing) and seemingly glorifying the Starbucks-drinking-yoga-pants-wearing type of motherhood (not always so healthy). Are we all really so jealous and insecure about our own bodies that we actually hate a thing that is good? The thing we too would want for ourselves, if we could have it?
On the flip side of this, I get that fitness or getting into really good shape is totally not everyone’s priority, especially after having kids. I so so get that. Maybe fitness has never been part of your life, so why would it be now when you have more on your plate and less time than ever? Fitness is a personal decision and if a lifestyle including fitness is just not happening post-baby or ever, I can support that too. While I love fitness, I’m not going to force my love of it onto anyone else. That’s for them to decide.
Some judgement that I have faced from a few friends is them being baffled by how I could possibly run or sign up for a race within a few months of having a baby. I had some comments like “Omg I can’t even run a mile, how did you run 6 miles after having a baby?!” or “I heard running can lower your milk supply. Be careful…” These comments were from non-fitness people, though. They are looking at this through a microscope, thinking I just randomly decided to run 6 miles three months after having a baby as if I had never run before (although they did know I was a runner). But I didn’t do this randomly. I ran a full marathon less than a year ago at that point and come from a running background, which had definitely stuck with me despite taking a break from running.
It was disappointing to say the least that when I was so proud of getting back into running, people were quietly questioning me for running with Claire in the stroller so soon. Not the choice everyone would make but she is totally fine and I’m the one who gets to make those choices. I was so proud of signing up for a race to give me some motivation to get back into running, but it seemed like a select few were raining on my parade because it didn’t fit their view of “normal.” But my normal was running four times a week before I had a baby, so I wanted to get back to that!
after my first post-baby race, July 2015
Something else to consider is that I follow a lot of fitness professionals. To be disappointed that I didn’t have abs post-baby is dumb because have I ever had abs? NO! It’s like comparing apples and oranges. I also had a very tough pregnancy and ate like complete garbage through all of it. And that easily continued for months after having a baby. Is it dumb to wonder why I was not making any progress and others who have backgrounds in nutrition were making progress faster? So, so dumb. But when you’ve just had a baby and you’re emotional, you don’t see that. Oh, no. The whole world was out to get me and tell me I was doomed and fat
It’s also not fair to start hating on someone when fitness is their job. It’s not my job to inspire people to get fit. I’m not getting paid for that nor do I have a background in that to help me get there. But a lot of women do. I don’t think any of these women have a secret that means they could snap back faster than the average mom. They just live a healthier lifestyle period. And for the longest time, I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to blame it on genetics or say some people were just lucky and I wasn’t. Nope. They make conscious healthy choices every single day. That is their secret. It’s not because they are some different crazy breed of people. Seriously. The more I make those decisions for myself like taking the extra walk, drinking a lot more water, not buying the cookies and not binge eating, I am seeing a difference too. Really.
I’ve never come across any criticism about my “fit mom” type of posts yet and I doubt I will. I have some pretty awesome followers all around! And I don’t do fitness for a business. I am not even close to the level of fitness that some moms are at. But I know I am at a greater level of fitness than plenty of moms I know too, and so it worries me that I am not resonating with them but actually making them angry. I would just hope that, no matter what state your mom bod (or even your still-haven’t-had-kids bod) is in – I would really hope that people will support my fitness choices. Fitness is GOOD. Fitness has done nothing but make me happy and completely transform my life. And as a mom, it’s even more important now to get that endorphin-producing me time in.
For the moms who are bitter – know that I was bitter too and sometimes still am. It is so hard to work to get back to a state of normal. Time has been the single best thing to help me get where I want to be though. So be patient with yourself. Really patient. And unfollow those people for a while or stop going to those places that make you feel so bitter. It’s okay to not like all that stuff at the moment.
And for the moms who are taking healthy steps toward fitness, I applaud you. You’re going to be stronger for a next pregnancy someday. You’re setting a good example for your kids. You’re trying to beat the odds of obesity in America. But also remember who is watching – those moms who envy you and hate you all at the same time. Be careful in what you say.
I also know that this whole topic can have the mom and just-had-a-baby part of the equation taken out. The real question isn’t really about moms and fitness (although for some reason when you become a mom, the judgement police seem to come out of hiding like none other). The question really is – can we stop hating on fit people? Even if we are not like them. Even if they are fitter than us. Even if we will never be “that fit.” Hatred does not breed anything but more evil in the world. Support, even when you really don’t see eye to eye with someone, is infinitely the better choice.
No matter what our fitness goals, backgrounds, or how many kids we have – we are all in this together. Too often I think we approach life as if we are in this all alone. I know I can’t do motherhood alone though – it’s way too hard! I hope that even if you don’t completely agree with everything I said, you can at least agree that being accepting and supportive to moms of any size, background, or fitness level is the best way to approach this tender subject.
Questions for You:
- Are you the bitter mom, the proud mom, or some mix of the two?
- What is your general opinion of “fit moms” today?