I love reading other blogs and the corresponding comments. One of my favorite blogs is Ivy League Insecurities. Aidan, who writes ILI, recently had a baby, her third. Although she had the baby just six weeks ago, she’s eager to get her body back and posted about this. In my line of work, this is totally normal. At the 6 week mark, most women are cleared for exercise by their doctors and starting to emerge from the new baby fog. Yet, Aidan was somewhat reluctant to share her desire to downsize. In her words “I feel a bit embarrassed and ashamed that I am writing about something that is admittedly so much more superficial than other things I could write about.”
I chimed in and told Aidan she’s shouldn’t apologize for her interest in “losing it.” How we feel about our bodies influences how we feel in general. Taking control of your body, after carrying a baby, or after gaining weight for other reasons often has a carryover effect. Taking the reigns, as I see it, is a good thing and about more than simply fitting in your “reference jeans”. If Aidan had been writing about confidence or carving out time for herself she might feel it was less superficial. Weight loss is as much about that as it is getting physically smaller.
Another commenter had a very different opinion of the post. Someone named Mary said “when I saw the title my heart dropped a bit and I was saddened… sad because with a newborn and 2 littles you were already dissatisfied with yourself.” Now I (vaguely) recall those early days after each of my boys were born. I remember staring at them amazed that they had been inside me for nine months. Yet, this infant adoration didn’t blind me to my post baby pooch. I don’t know if I was “dissatisfied” with myself, it was more like I wasn’t my, physical, self.
Aidan closed her post indicating she should honor her body more. She asked readers “when it comes to your body and your own appearance, are you forgiving or exacting?” I don’t think these qualities are mutually exclusive. There isn’t a day I go for a run that I’m not grateful that my body works. Having lived with a parent who was an amputee later in life, I do not take health for granted. I would say I absolutely honor my body AND like my jeans to fit.
Do you think it’s sad to want to lose weight? Should we be thinking and writing about more “important” topics? What would be your answer to Aidan’s question, are you “forgiving” or “exacting” when it comes to your body?
Love this topic. I am of the opinion that since we LIVE in our BODIES every second of every minute of every hour of every day, that it is crucial to make self-care a top priority. It is so much easier to be your best when you feel your best. I think that there is a misconception that a woman/mother needs to sacrifice herself for the good of the family. I feel that a balanced mom who takes care of herself sets a great example. And, though I have not yet conceived, I am pretty sure that 6 weeks would be about the time I was itching to get a workout in, it releases endorphins, eases stress and makes you feel good! Add to this, the fact that we live in an overly body-conscious society and watch as gorgeous celebs (with such very little body fat to begin with that you wonder how they even ovulate) pop out babies and then do a swimsuit cover in 6 weeks. So, thinking that it is "Sad" to want to get her body back in shape after a baby sounds to me like a major judgment that is coming more from that person's own insecurity about her body than with Aiden's blog. Sorry, Mary, just the way I feel.
As I have gotten older (and by older I mean between ages 19 and 23) I have become very forgiving with my body. I do not shave my legs nor do I wear makeup. Coincidentally I have also been able to easily let go of weight fears because I have been eating healthy – I don't think there is any way to become overweight eating the way I do, unless I were to have a medical problem.
I think it is sad that so many women are concerned with their weight, even those who have just had children. It is not because they are shallow, quite the opposite. Our culture generally finds any fat unlovely, to the point where my skin-and-bones was fearing a pooch in high school and a woman who has just given the world a gift through childbirth worries about her pooch. Women are told from as long as they can remember that beautiful women are skinny and flawless no matter what. Even if you are raised in a positive environment and you have high self esteem it is difficult to escape those thoughts.
She needs love and affirmation. She has given the world a gift and for that she is beautiful. On her belly is a reminder of the nourishment her body provided for this new life. I hope that we can love ourselves and treat our bodies as temples, however we feel is most appropriate.
Why does wanting to feel good about your body have to be "sad" and have to take away from the joy you have about your new baby? I don't see how one has to do with the other. I applaud anyone who is eager to get back to their pre-baby body after giving birth. I think a new mom who forgets to take care of herself is sad. I absolutely agree with cameo that "It is so much easier to be your best when you feel your best." Nobody should ever feel guilty about wanting to be their best.
i agree i wanted to lose after J and will again with this baby its a little harder with no family to watch to work out
oh i am so glad you brought this up! i feel the same way right now sharing my "diet" and weight loss. i was worried to blog about it but did it anyway. you have to do what is right for you and only you know your body and what is right for it. thank you for touching on this subject!
I am sorry but I think if losing weight and looking a way in which you will feel more confident is great!
I know that although I'm at a normal weight, I am not where I want to be. Overall, I am still happy with me but I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to keep working on me.
Thank you, Lauren, for continuing this conversation. I don't know why, but I do really feel a bit superficial and selfish for being so fixated on returning my body to my "normal" so soon after my daughter's birth. I think it's because part of my motivation is purely from vanity; I want to look good because, yes, looking good is part of feeling good. I do think the stronger argument for why it is good to focus on body/health is that I will actually be a much better mother to my children if I take care of my self first. In any event, I thank you – and your wonderful readers – for making me feel okay about my desire to shed the baby weight 🙂
Oh, and the link to my original post is here (as I can't seem to see it above): http://www.ivyleagueinsecurities.com/2011/04/losing-it/
I vividly remember desperately wanting to get my body back after my son's birth. For me, it was a feeling of wanting my body to belong to me again after 9 months of feeling like crap during the pregnancy (my pregnancy luckily had no complications and was very healthy but was very uncomfortable). I relished every stage of returning to normal. I don't think that's shallow at all, it's just a reminder that I'm my own person and I don't fully belong to someone else (only partially!).
These days I'm partly exacting and partly forgiving – I don't love my stretch marks and sagging belly, but I just remember that they are the marks of a body that carried and delivered my son (by c-section, no less). And so I accept my body the way it is, while trying to keep it healthy at the same time.
I don't think it's sad or superficial to want to lose weight or firm-up a post-baby bod. It is natural to want to look your best. I truly believe that when I feel happy with how I look I'm a happier person all around! It's hard to go through so many changes that come with having a baby – physically, mentally, and emotionally. After each of my pregnancies, exercise was a way for me to take care of myself and therefore take better care of my babies. It's true that when mom is happy, everyone is happy.
I also think it is a great topic to blog about. Some people may see it as superficial, but many other people are feeling the exact same way about themselves. Women like to know that other women feel the same way. We can support each other through struggles and successes because we understand each other.
I love reading your blog, because it always makes me think. I think that wanting to be in good shape and wanting to be healthy is a good thing to do for yourself, and who knows, maybe you'll inspire others! After I lost the 30 lbs. that I gained mysteriously, I was so much happier, with myself and with others. I was shocked at how much my mood improved.
I think some people see it as superficial, but I also think that some people can be getting fit for the wrong reasons. I think if you're doing it for yourself and your health, then you're on the right track.
Lauren, nice of you to continue the conversation. I love Aidan's blog and I felt like she should do what makes her feel good. She's accomplished so much already .
Great comments- Cameo I agree about self care. Cassie I wonder if we can "love our bodies" yet still at times want to work on them/make changes. "Fortysomething" I think sharing is helpful to others, both you and Aidan were hesitant and yet people relate (and I guess some do not). Jen- I hear you, the body has to carry a baby and that's amazing but do we HAVE to have a physical map "baby was here"? Laura, exercise for me too is better than any medication or cocktail or just as good. Lauren, I think even if for the wrong reasons sometimes there can be good things derived from exercise and diet. Ayala, well said- we all have to do what makes us feel good, within reason. Thanks Aidan, it's ok if there's some vanity mixed in, you're human.
I'm with you 1000% Lauren. I'll go one step further – I literally didn't want to have a third because I never dropped the weight from number 2. I am completely miserable being pregnant because I feel even if I eat "normally" I pack on the pounds. It's impossible for me to disassociate my normal feelings about gaining weight when I am pregnant. I think if Aidan wants to make it a priority to do something that is important to her after having spent 9 monhts being pregnant -she should do just that! I wish, wish, wish I had done the same three years ago……trust me, she'll be beating herself up way more if she doesn't lose the weight than if she does.
This a very important question for everyone – post pregnancy, starting to get in shape, after an injury, etc. I think the main issues are whether you are kind to yourself and whether your goals are healthy and reasonable.
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Great topic! Thanks for bringing it up!
After each of my two pregnancies, getting back into shape was my "me time" and so very important to my mental (and physical) well being. I gained a lot of weight during my second pregnancy in my late thirties, and it took me a long time to take the weight off. I always tweaked things and continuously worked on getting back in shape, but I was also kind to myself. I truly learned to love the body I was in at the time (and focused on the miracle it was to have that little baby), but at the same time, I knew that I could get back to my "normal" self some day, and I did.
Andrea, I love the idea of tweaking and working but being kind to yourself. I think you summed it up very well.
I read Aidan's post and I don't think it's shallow at all. Honest, yes, but certainly not shallow. There's nothing wrong with wanting to feel and look your best, as long as you do it in a healthy way and don't let it become more important than enjoying time with your new baby.
Wow… This is perfect. For 5 weeks now, I have been spending my 2.5 childless hours every day doing P90X and showering. On the weekend, it's the same. My house is a mess and I feel like I'm behind in every other area, as well. All because I am finally taking time out for me. I was feeling shallow because I'm putting my weight loss before my house and family. I feel better knowing I'm not alone. 🙂
I see absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be back to ones pre-pregnancy weight as soon as possible. I certainly did! And I was WAY happier afterwards. I don't think Aidan is shallow but instead should be admired for being honest….
But then again, I am one of the exacting types…
Ameena, I had no doubt you were an exacting type. Us exacting types need to stick together.
I think that self-love and wanting to get fit are in no way mutually exclusive. I feel that I'm getting fit (and, as a side effect, getting slimmer) BECAUSE I love my body, not IN SPITE of it. And I think that being healthy is one of the best things that a mom can do for her little ones.
Honestly, I have noticed much more of a body change after baby #2 (she is now 2). I am still trying to learn how to be more forgiving to myself for the "mummy tummy" that comes with 2 c-sections. It's tough!
I love this post and following dialogue. Melissa, I love what you said, "Why does wanting to feel good about your body have to be "sad" and have to take away from the joy you have about your new baby? I don't see how one has to do with the other." I agree that I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. It will probably be a few years before I have children, but one thing I want to be able to hold onto is my sense of self as I think it will make me a better mother, and overall happier version of me. If exercise is something I enjoy, a way in which I can piece through the excess in my life and get back to hearing my own voice, then it would seem important that I return to that sense of routine.
I do agree that we are entirely bombarded with media images of unobtainable beauty (can we say Photoshop?), and that there are entirely too many products that promise us hair that is shinier hair, lips and eyelashes that are fuller, waists that are thinner, skin that is smoother, the bigger, better, new and improved you syndrome etc etc, and it's important that we are cognizant of all of this – how morphed and far from reality it really is, and how the celebrity that "bounced back" post baby probably had 5 trainers, 2 personal chefs, 3 stylists, and 4 nutritionists to do so. But I don't think a woman's desire to get back into shape post-baby is necessarily a reflection of her "caving in" to media-induced pressures, but an effort to connect with a certain part of her self. Who are we to judge or deny her that?
I think I have my good days and my bad days. Some days I want to be the perfect size and others I feel like I want to embrace and appreciate every part of my body bc there are so many people who would kill to walk, run, see, hear, etc. I don't think it's bad to want to feel good about your body though, especially post baby. As long as your thoughts on weight-loss aren't taking time away from your kids, then you should do what makes you feel good!
Lauren-Thanks so much for checking in on me. It means more than you know! 🙂 Yes, I am doing better! I tried leaving a response back to you on my blog last week, but blogger was having issues. You hit the nail on the head when you said there is likely something more behind my PB+CC sandwiches. I've had a lot of life changes in a very short period of time (ended a 3-year relationship, got a new job)and I think all of that has caused me to look for comfort in something which sadly has been food. I spontaneously ran a 5k this weekend and I hit the gym and made a healthy meal yesterday and of course writing it out and all the wonderful words of encouragement helped. Thank you so much for your words and for following up with me! 🙂
Also, I loved this post. I'm sure you know which side I fall on since I write a blog all about weight loss, although I'll admit I feel worried that ppl will think I'm shallow at times when I address still wanting to lose more weight. Unfortunately I tend to fall on the side of being a little unforgiving of my body. I worked SO hard to get to where I am that I sometime have this mentality that I my body can be in even better shape and I get upset with myself if I do anything to potentially compromise the body I worked so hard for. I'm working on learning to be compassionate with myself without being too permissive which is a tricky balance.