I was just about to jump in the shower after a weekend workout when my husband excitedly reminded me that he’d been saving two special beers for us to crack open and share that night over a curry. “Oh yeah, I forgot that, fun!” I lied.
As I took my shower I was trying to process some conflicting emotions and when I got out Jared could tell I wasn’t ok. Enter pregnancy hormones and someone slightly insecure about some extra postpartum pounds, and I was quickly in a pile of tears explaining to a patient husband why the thought of beer caused a meltdown.
Back up a year to my pre pregnancy life. Before being pregnant, I always had the body shape that I wanted. Not out of kind genetics or luck, I just knew what I wanted, knew how to exercise and eat for it, and adjusted if need be to stay there. If I put on a few pounds I’d pause, pay attention, and lose it. Then after pregnancy in the midst of losing baby weight, being a new mum, and having a new schedule of life to learn, I’m left without the same options for making those choices.
I have a new body, and I feel like I’m having to fully relearn how to manage it.
People say all kinds of things about baby weight but I know one thing: I don’t have access to the formula of life that kept me in shape before baby, and my body isn’t the same as the one I was working with before pregnancy. I’m now breastfeeding, in recovery, needing more sleep, there’s an extra human in my life… I have to learn a new body and a new me. But how on earth do you do that? Is there a new number on the scale that’s my new ‘perfect number’? Or a new dress size? What am I aiming for? What’s my new normal?
So on this melt down day, asking all those questions, and having managed to squeeze in a workout between feeds, the last thing I wanted to do was down some empty calories. But equally, and this is where I was so conflicted causing the ‘meltdown’, I didn’t want my early days of motherhood to be marked by me choosing to value my figure over having fun with my family. I deeply wanted to start this motherhood journey as I mean to go on, and be a fun mum. I want to manage my body and life in ways so that my family don’t pay a price for me staying in shape the way I want. If me having the body I want is costing my family having fun, then I don’t actually want that body anymore.
I can’t say I know the answers to all my questions. I’m on a slow journey of figuring it out (and there are still some extra pounds coming along for the ride) but one thing has become clear to me: The perfect body for me is one where my whole family thrives.
Whatever body I aim for, or have, it needs to be one where my family is fully alive and loving life while I maintain it. If being a fun mum and a happy wife means I say yes to an extra beer on date night, or an indulgent pint of ice cream, or no to a workout so I can have family time, or sleep to help me be a nice person (!) then I want to do that. If in turn that means I maintain a different kind of body from my old ideal, then my ideal is going to have to change. Ideal isn’t the same as it used to be.
So I’m giving up? Far from it. I’ll keep doing my squats and lifting weights, I’ll still get up early, and I’ll be running with my stroller at nap time, but I don’t want to yawn and be a bad mum because I squeezed in an early workout when I really needed sleep. And I don’t want to be a killjoy wife when my husband treats me to a really special beer. I’ll happily choose to drink my calories for a joy filled date night with my husband, and miss a workout for snuggles with my baby, regardless of what body that gives me. Because it’ll be a body that is in the middle of a happy family. And it’ll be the perfect body for me. Because the perfect body is one where my family thrives.