As a friend of mine stared at my recent status updates, she emailed me: Bitch.
WHAT?! I replied.
You’re running again! You don’t need to.
…the conversation continued. Mostly about our bodies and how she “hates” her post-baby figure. I turned it, briefly, to running- I do need to. I don’t run for the awesome legs, sun-kissed nose or black toenails. I run because my sanity depends on it. To sum it up: I was a high-risk pregnancy- partially due to miscarriage and partially because of surgeries I’d had. This left me sidelined during 32 weeks of my pregnancy (I ran my last half marathon just a few weeks pregnant… that would explain the intense exhaustion I felt after). All during Addie’s gestation, I worked 60+ hours a week- sure we needed the money, but more-s0, I needed to take up my time. I often stayed late, finishing projects just to avoid seeing my Asics waiting for me at home. At 20 weeks I was rear-ended on my way to work, and that set my back into a spiral. Up until that point, I’d had NO pregnancy pain… from that point on it was pain all the time. I explained all this to my friend and more… I ended it by telling her to take a walk, by herself, with music that she likes, or in a new place. As she goes along, run for a minute, jog, walk- do it for 30 minutes. Tell me you don’t feel better. Running isn’t for everyone, but a family walk that incorporates a jog, a good walk/run routine, or just a brisk walk on your lunch break- if not for your thighs, for YOU- can make a world of difference in your attitude.
So, yes. I do need to run.
Besides that… when I look at my belly now (one year postpartum), I’m not overwhelmed with joy. I have never been a skinny girl. Thin, yes. But I was made to run up and down a field, wielding a stick of composite wood or alloy and leather strings. I was made to run through those skinny girls with my kilt flying high, showing off the spandex shorts beneath. My cleats sounding like a 100 horses, as I slam my feet into the ground. Sometimes I forget that.
Early on in my pregnancy, I went home for my sister’s baby shower. She weighed herself on the super-accurate scale my parents have. When the number popped up, I forgot about everything I just said above. I was so angry at myself for being so big. My sister, at 7 months pregnant weighed what I did before I got pregnant. We are the same height (give or take half an inch)… we are not the same build, and you guessed it: she’s the pretty one. She is blonde haired and blue eyed. She’s thin with lean muscle- not paltry. She’s strong with a long face and a big smile and beautiful skin. I am muscular, and when I’m not in shape, I look round, bulky, dimply. My calves are huge from a decade of dance and gymnastics. My shoulders are broad- good for being a hockey goalie. My face is round and my blue eyes shine from behind long lashes and a shock of dark hair. I have my Mom’s face and my Dad’s body… my sister is the opposite parental combination.
It was then, as she stepped off the scale, I began to take belly pictures.
Through the years I’ve had an obsession with my middle. My legs are always questionable. I wish they were leaner… even with all the abuse I put my knees through, they still carry me… but my belly has always been toned (not well defined, just flat)- until I had a baby.
So, I write all that to share with you my mantra and what I try to remind myself of daily: “You are beautiful.”
[Now, you SAY IT: "I AM BEAUTIFUL"]
I remind myself… You gave birth to a beautiful baby girl a year ago… it’s not easy to take care of yourself with daily life, let alone when you have a baby. The house is always clean, the dog always walked and fed, the baby clean and smiling. The cabinets are organized and you’re up-to-date on your work. All appointments have been made and kept, the correct paperwork is filled out and sent. All phone calls are in and logged (fighting insurance companies is a full-time job). It goes on from there.
Give yourself a break and love it.
I’m a bit softer… but every extra pound, every little stretch mark… that’s Addie. Sure I’m down a few pounds from pre-baby… but it’s not the same. It being my body. My limbs feel heavier, my butt a little wider, my arms rub as I trudge up another hill in the park. What hasn’t changed is the rush, the surge, the high I get from logging miles. It’s not easy to get out there, but once you’re on the road- it’s hard to stop.
Let’s love our bodies,
ladies everyone! Those 20 minutes you think are not going to make a difference, will make a heck of a difference compared to 0 minutes. Get out there and do it. Walk, jog, run, play catch, skip with your kids, play flag football with friends. Get active. Get healthy. And love yourself, love your mind, love your body.
I hope (when we’re ready) I carry just like I did with Addie- (all in the front):
For now, my middle is soft but my mind is strong. Run for sanity- reap the benefits of body:
I hope you know how beautiful you are.
It is so hard to love yourself, especially when we have SO many pictures of our youth reminding us of the times when nothing jiggled! It’s a different love. I think of my pre-baby body as my first love, but as I evolved into wife and then motherhood, it’s a more mature love. A respect for what I’ve done in life and all I have yet to do.
Maybe someday I’ll love myself without trying, but until then… I repeat my mantra in anything but a full-length mirror!