Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's 7:47 a.m. on Saturday

"It's 7:47 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I'm hustling to get a spot in my very popular 8 a.m. step class"

So begins the article "4 Truths About Our Post-Baby Bodies." The writer, Lisa Sadikman, goes on to explain that on the way into her step class, she overhears a conversation between two women, both remarking how they have a few post-baby pounds left to drop before they'll be happy, despite the fact that, according to the Sadikman, both women looked fit and fantastic.

But then Sadikman takes a tone that is almost critical of these two women aspiring to drop all of those baby pounds--at the least, she sounds like a defeatist. Sadikman lambasts the notion of "getting your body back," concluding that its an unattainable end point. As she says: "Somehow even though we know that life will never be the same, we expect our bodies to be."

I understand the point Sadikman is trying to make. She's trying to relieve new mothers of added stress of trying to conform to others' notions of beauty. The article wraps up by noting that although never the same, your mommy body will do wonderful things you never dreamed of and she challenges the reader to find beauty in the right places (like the new cutie you just brought into this world), and so it's ok if your body doesn't fit the stereotypical notions of "beautiful." To be sure, those are great points, but they come in the negative packaging of: "Your body will never look the same, so just accept it."

No. Thank. You.

By wonderful coincidence, I read the article on Saturday around 7:47 a.m.  I thought it made a couple good points, but why can't a girl have it all? Why can't I work my back side off to get it back in shape? We need to send a more encouraging, uplifting message to mothers. Yes, your body will be different in some ways. But that doesn't mean you can't aspire to get it back to the shape it was before pregnancy--or, gasp, even better shape. We all know that even without pregnancy, everyone's body is different, and we can only do the best we can with what God have us. But that doesn't mean we have to indulge--even for a second--the idea that because we're mothers we can't have as good as or better bodies than we had before we brought our blessings into the world!

I'm not pretending for a second that having children doesn't make things harder--it does! After Nick was born in November 2013, my life has been all about time. What time to get up, go to bed, how long will I need to feed Nick, how much time do I have to pump, how long have those bags of frozen milk been defrosting, what time is Nick's next appointment, how long will this workout take, when does Nick need to be fed...AGAIN... :)  Before, squeezing in a workout was just a matter of finding the motivation to get at it. Now, squeezing in a workout means finding 30 minutes when life is not completely chaotic to get fit. It's harder, but it's not impossible.

It comes down to time management and doing the best I can. Alex and I work as a team, and I am so thankful for him. As Nick's mom, I don't want to miss any moments that we have together as a family. Based on Nick's regular sleeping schedule, I have figured out that I need to get up around 6-6:15 a.m. For some of you, this might be early, while others it is the opposite.

After pumping breast milk for 20 minutes, I start my workout between 6:30-6:45 a.m. The workout program I am currently doing is P90x3. The workouts are 30 minutes, and I totally feel as if I get a solid workout each session. This past winter/spring I completed workouts that were over an hour. So, this just meant I needed to get up earlier. As Nick has gotten older, I have adjusted my schedule.

It hasn't been easy, and it's often meant sacrifices, but this is what's worked for me.
7 months postpartum.
I'm not saying it's easy. Or perhaps like a good infomercial disclaimer, perhaps doubters will say that my "results are not typical." But if you think that. If you let the doubt in your mind, if you believe that "your body will never look the same again," then you're being self defeating. Maybe your body will never look the same again, but that doesn't mean you can't try to get it there!

With this positive mindset, I'm going to take each of Sadikan's points in turn.

1. "Your body will never look the same again."

My body has actually never looked better! And I don't mean that in the "your body is beautiful because it nourishes life" way. I mean it in the "she looks good in a bikini way."

For me, I think pregnancy actually helped me get the body I have now. During my pregnancy I read about women wearing a girdle for 3-4 months postpartum. Doing so gave me a relatively flat stomach to start from.

And don't forget breastfeeding. When you're breastfeeding, your body literally has two nozzles that serve fat straight out of your body! For several months, in addition to breastfeeding, I pumped 30 ounces per day. That will really shed the fat!

Plus, breastfeeding made me more mindful of what I was putting in my diet, because I knew it would be going to Nick, and I wanted to give him the very best nutrition.

So maybe Sadikman is right, your body might never look the same. Hopefully it will look better!
No cropping or editing needed here! Alex is to my right picking up Nick who wanted to be in the photo! #mylife
2. "Your body will not function like it once did."

Again, I think all of the health benefits of breastfeeding and a better diet has left my whole body better than ever! My skin is clear, my mind feels sharp, my muscles are toned, and my bodily functions feel like they are working better than ever! Plus, we have the added bonus of my biceps having grown from picking up Nick, and my squatting and flexibility overall have improved tremendously from constantly picking up Nick and rolling around on the floor with him.

3. "Instead, your body will do amazing things that you never dreamed it could do."

Sadikman writes, "Your core will tighten and hold you firmly in place as you lift your child from crib or catch her as she jumped from the bed into your arms. I didn't know how fast I could spring until my toddler slipped from my grip and darted towards the parking lot. You will surprise yourself. Marvel over what you are capable of with this new mama body."

YES YES YES! I mentioned this above, but playing with Nick has forced me to use different muscles that never got used before and my diet improved tremendously. Before, my attitude was "I will never be flexible! I don't want to look 'bulky'! I like crackers too much!" Well, guess what former Jamie--when you have a baby, you don't have much of a choice! Times have changed, for the better!

When I play with Nick, I've been working on not bending over, but squatting at his level. As Nick plays, I will do a few abdominal reps just to feel a quick burn. When Nick practices walking, I run in front of him to do jumping jacks as I cheer him on! Even when we go on our daily walk and talks together, I sing to him as I move up and down those hills! How great is that? I get to bond with my baby, get my heart rate up, and do all of this with 20 lbs strapped to my chest.

As we all know, motherhood changes everything. So use it as an opportunity to force your body to do wonderful new things. But also teach it to do the things it used to do even better.

4. Beauty is where you find it.

This is the most important point that we should always keep in the back of our minds, and I'm happy to see Sadikman close with it. She explains that even though your body might not be as "beautiful" as it was before, you'll find the beauty where it really counts: in your child. I think our son is the most beautiful thing on this planet, I enjoy listening to my husband sing to Nick so sweetly, and I am always amazed at Nick's triumphs as he grows every second! I truly love being a mom! Nick is beautiful (in a manly way, of course).

But the beauty doesn't have to get siphoned from you and into your baby. First you love your husband with all of your heart. But then you have a baby, and somehow your heart and all of your love grows to include that new baby.

So too can the beauty in your life grow with the birth of your child. Your baby can be beautiful, and you can be too. Don't let anyone tell you it cannot be done. As your child grows and develops into his or her body you can be working to grow and develop into your new post-baby body.

And the beauty doesn't have to stop there, because I can share it with others. I love writing on this blog because it lets me motivate and inspire other women to grow their beauty (whatever that might mean to them) by showing them that they can do this too. You don't need those celebrity trainers or chefs. You also don't need quick fixes that suggest you'll lose pounds fast. None of those things last or are sustainable.

What will last is when you decide to change your lifestyle and become a "better" you. Push yourself mentally, physically, and emotional. Ride your bike to work, create a healthy meal, get moving someway somewhere. Maybe your goal is to get more "beautiful" than you were before you got pregnant. Maybe you want to just be healthier. Maybe you want to have the energy to go on a hike with your family. Whatever goal you set, there's only one way to get there: you've gotta get up and work towards it. Don't let someone tell you that you will never be the same. You are the authority on what is possible.

And once you meet that goal, reward yourself with more love and activities. Reward yourself with more beauty and a better you. Don't settle for short-lived rewards that involve sugar--you didn't work hard just so you could eat a cookie. You worked hard to make yourself better. Think about how good it feels when those endorphins start flowing, and you crush your goals. How does that compare to treating yourself and cheating on your diet? Now, eating can be a reward, but why not include healthy rewards into your healthy lifestyle??

Sadikman is correct to say that "there's no going back", don't feel "bad" about the new you. I agree with that. You're a brand new person--you're a mom! And that's the greatest job you'll ever have. So get fired up that you have such a great opportunity! "Champion the mama body" you have, and give up the whine!

By: Jamie with help from my love, Alex.