As I write this I am over eight and a half months pregnant. I have a delightfully round new belly, stretch marks around my hips, some dimples under my butt, bags under my eyes, and a navel that looks like it will explode any minute.
This is my miracle body, and I don't want it to change.
Now, I'm not sure how this is supposed to be a compliment, but I keep hearing "Oh you'll get your body back" or "You'll lose this weight so quickly since you're in such good shape!" all the time.
Truth is, I honestly don't care.
Sure, I'm in the fitness industry. I'm also bombarded by the same garbage that you are. Shame marketing that encourages new mothers to "get back to their pre-baby weight", insta-mommies doing Crossfit in the third trimester, before and after belly photos... I see it, too. And I can't fucking stand it.
If you've been following my journey or MomTrainer for a while, you know that this is something I've wanted for a very long time, and it took what felt forever to get here. This pregnancy has been an absolute dream. (Okay, to be fair a sleepless and stressful one, but all wonderful things take hard work!)
I'm thrilled that my body has been able to sustain a life. I'm loving my round shape and the hard work my body has put in over the past 35 weeks. I have never felt more confident and strong. I spend enough of my twenties obsessing over how my body looked. I don't need to go back there.
My twenty-year old body I could describe as "toos". As in, "too skinny", "too flabby", "too short", "too freckly", "too weak", "too tired", "too pale"... you get the idea. My body was never "good enough" the way it was. I constantly dieted, I over-exercised (and incorrectly, I might add, which resulted in injuries I'm still dealing with today), I deprived my body of quality nutrition and sleep, and I honestly believed I was extremely healthy. I spent hours in the gym, I obsessed over every calorie I put in my mouth, and I prided myself in how little sleep I could survive off of. I booked a ton of acting jobs, modeling gigs, and was constantly complimented on how thin I looked.
I was miserable, and there was no way I could ever sustain that lifestyle and actually be happy or confident in the long run.
Then came the dare.
A dear friend of mine and fellow fitness professional dared me to run for 30 minutes straight on the treadmill. With my knee injuries I didn't think this was possible, but he insisted. I realized my body was so much more capable than what I thought it was. Then I dared myself to complete my first triathlon.
Something shifted in the six months I spend preparing for my first race. I started making my own meals with actual carbohydrates and fats. My "thighs" became "quads". I became more interested in how fast I could go versus whether or not I had cellulite showing underneath my bathing suit. My body became something it had never been before. Suddenly I wasn't fat or skinny. I was fast or slow. Strong, not skinny. A competitor.
I say this not to give you the impression that I suddenly looked like a bikini model with all of this new muscle tone. I had actually gained over five pounds and none of my jeans fit over my new butt. Getting dressed was actually more stressful, but the difference was that I felt so differently about myself that I was more than willing to invest in a size up in my jeans.
I don't WANT to get my pre-pregnancy body back. I want to live in the body that was able to race for 70.3 miles at a time and create a person. I don't care if my hips ever go back in place, or if my "tiger stripes" last forever, and I seriously doubt I'll look into my child's eyes and regret having him or her live in my abdomen.
I'm not in the gym every day because I hope that I'll lose this "temporary" body. I count my calories daily to ensure that I'm consuming enough proteins, fats, fiber, and calories so that my little one grows nice and plump in my bell. My workouts are there to help me embrace this and prepare for labor and motherhood, and ideally another triathlon next year.
Look, I say this knowing that weight gain during pregnancy can be really stressful for some women, but let me tell you that I am not one of them. Nor should we ever assume that women need or want to lose weight after pregnancy. I'm incredibly happy with the way my body feels with this additional weight, and I have the feeling I'll miss this once my little tenant gets evicted in early January. I understand that "being able to lose the weight" is often intended as a compliment, but it doesn't mean it's received as one.
Let's stop making assumptions about women want for their bodies and for themselves. Especially not for pregnant ones.