I have always found part of my identity in my physical fitness and in turn, having an athletic body. It is something I have worked on consistently in the gym and in the kitchen since I can remember. Growing up, I was heavily involved in sports, and my dad had a gym in the basement. The bonding time with him was centred around sports or seeing what I could do in his gym. How many chin-ups, push-ups or calf-raises were the go-to bonding experiences.
Just over six months ago, over the age of 40, I gave birth to a beautiful, happy and healthy baby girl. While pregnant, I really took it easy with my activity level as I was high risk due to my age. At my first appointment with my excellent OBGYN, she told me ‘Don’t worry about your age…it’s all about how healthy you come into and stay in during your pregnancy.” Words I will never forget.
For the next nine months, I walked my 80-pound American Bulldog every single day – including the day I went into labour. The odd at-home yoga or stretching class was also included, and I was really in touch with my nutrition. As an Integrative Nutrition Coach, it’s sorta my thing.
After giving birth, I didn’t want to push things. I wasn’t in a hurry to ‘lose the baby weight’ or ‘bounce back’. Rather, I wanted to do things at my own pace, in a healthy and safe way. Breastfeeding full time, I was and still am really vigilant and focused on eating a healthy diet, that would also help me balance my hormones. I don’t think this is something we as women consider enough when we think about food. I gained a healthy amount of weight during my pregnancy…about 35 – 40 pounds, and have always been focused on how healthy I FEEL rather than a number on the scale.
Fast-forward four or five months, and things were going exceptionally well for both Baby and I with our health and happiness. I slowly started getting back into my fitness regime. However, I did start walking the dog and baby one week after giving birth, and I honestly think that activity saved me. When I was about four months post-partum, I started doing some core workouts and light weights. Nothing too crazy, but just enough to help me feel great.
Next, I decided I was ready to start doing some at-home yoga videos while Baby was napping…my body felt like it needed the stretch and the mental health piece for me is always a bonus. So, I got into my capri tights and a sports bra, laid down my yoga mat and pressed play. And then I did a downward dog. Now, if you have had a baby before, or you’re over the age of 40, you might know where this is going. In my sports bra there it was staring me right in the eyes – the extra skin, hanging there and not my prettiest moment. As someone who has prided herself on having a toned tummy, I was not thrilled. But in an instant, I quickly changed my tune.
In that moment, I realized I did something I wasn’t sure I was always going to be able to do. I had previously miscarried, and had been told by doctors that my chances of having a baby after the age of 35 get slimmer by the day (thanks for that!). And here I am into my 40’s thinking maybe a baby wasn’t in my cards. But wow were they all vehemently wrong.
So instead of getting down about my downward dog sports bra look, I changed that vibe to one of my favorite yet. Just a short six months ago, I had a FULL HUMAN BEING INSIDE OF ME! I created a human life that is healthy, happy, hilarious, full of sunshine and love. I have been able to sustain her human life with just my body feeding her and nourishing her every moment! Rather than worrying about what my body might look like in that moment, I celebrated what my body had accomplished. At age 40 plus, I became a solo-momma for the first time, and I am so damn proud of myself. I am so proud that my body could do it! And that after six months I could look great in a bathing suit, do a couple hundred sit-ups, do 5 km walks every day with my big ol doggie and Baby girl. Rather than self-shaming me for the things that aren’t quite back to ‘there’ yet (and might not ever be), find the utter excitement and love for my body for what it CAN do.
And therein lies the truest form of self-love I have felt. I always tell clients not to worry about what the number on the scale says, but rather how they feel. Do you feel energetic? Do you feel healthy? Do you feel happy? THAT is what counts.
In that moment, downward dog and all, I became really happy. I mean so happy that my eyes welled up with tears happy. And today, I am the best version of me and things are only going to get better. The mind shift was mind blowing. And sometimes we have to have those moments to remember who we really are, what’s really important, and why loving our bodies based on our abilities is the most important thing we can do. We need to normalize our bodies for being through so much and we become so strong, physically and mentally, because of it. And if all I end up with is a little extra skin on my tummy at 43 post baby, I am pretty damn blessed.
I would love to help you get your nutrition back on track and your health goals achieved. Whether you have had a baby six months ago, six years ago or baby making isn’t your thing, I’m here and would love to connect. Check out some of my programs here.