Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The One With All the New Pants

So, today I went back to the gym for the first time since before I got put on bedrest at the end of my pregnancy. It's been nearly 3 months--the longest I've ever been away. And it was fabulous. Granted, probably not my best trip ever. I haven't shaved my legs since my 6 week post partum checkup (don't judge. I have a newborn, ok?), so I was wearing a pair of too-big sweatpants that tried to fall down while I ran. I was a little disoriented and lacking in decisiveness, so I wandered back and forth between machines wasting time a lot. And after about 25 minutes when I was tired, I just stopped and decided to come back home. But still--great trip.

I've been thinking lately though--having a baby was the absolute best thing that ever happened to my body image. If you'd asked me a year ago right before I got pregnant, I'd have told you I would be freaking out about the amount of weight I'd gain, about my hips spreading, about my abs disappearing and leaving behind stretch marks. But oddly enough, I am not. Being pregnant made me not care so much. In the past few years, I've had many a struggle with my body image. The way I've outwardly handled my [sometimes real, sometimes perceived] weight issues has sometimes been healthy; sometimes unhealthy. I've used disordered eating to drop pounds, and I've successfully and healthfully cut calories to lose a little excess. But I don't know if I could tell you a time in the past 4 years when inwardly my body image has been healthy or positive. So as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I got a little nervous. But as quickly as it came, it left. Now granted, first trimester I didn't have to think much about it, since I dropped a bunch of weight because of puking everything up. But once the pounds came, they came quickly. And for some reason, standing on the scale thinking "This is the lowest number I will see for the next few months" was incredibly freeing. So was the knowledge that I had no choice but to choose a healthy lifestyle and eating habits, because I was now responsible for growing another human being. When the first stretch marks popped up, I prepared myself for the inevitable freak out...and it never came. Nor did it come when 876 other stretch marks followed after that. (I am not kidding. The other day, Geoff says "Sometimes it kind of looks like your belly is on fire--it looks like there's flames everywhere!!" Don't worry--he wasn't being mean, and I wasn't offended at all. He was kidding, and it made me laugh, and he tells me every day how beautiful I am :))

I'm finding myself instead embracing the idea that my life is entirely consumed now with someone else besides myself. And that the time and energy I used to put into my attempts to lose weight or fix something is now put into the daily tasks that involve caring for my son. Life seems so much more meaningful. And, ironically, I feel much more beautiful. I'm not perfect--the first time I went shopping for new jeans, I left empty handed because I refused to buy jeans in my new size even though I found some that fit perfectly (you all know you've done it...) But, I am sitting here tonight typing in a pair of jeans 4 sizes bigger than my pre-pregnancy jeans, and I don't care, so I finally bought them. The cute polka dot bikini I wore last summer will never see the light of day again, but you know what? Next time I go swimming, I'm going to be dragging a bag full of SPF 982, Little Swimmies, floating devices, beach toys, and toting along a little boy. And I'm his mom, and I might have the kangaroo pouch that he used to live in forever on my abdomen. But whatevs. He's totally worth it. And I totally have more important things to think about now. So now, I get to go to the gym to be healthy and for fun--not to meet a certain caloric burn. I'm excited to embrace the new stage of my life, and the freedom it brings. I need to purchase a lot of new clothes, but whatevs :) All part of the fun!


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Heather Nicole said...

this gives me so much hope. you have encouraged me. while your body is complete and beautiful, your inner beauty outshines it all.

M. Mcgough said...

This is awesome! (and BTW I still have stuff for your son. We need to get together soon)

Bethany Blanchard Coleman said...

This was beautiful. :'-) Thank you. And ditto. What a great place motherhood is!