As those of you who follow me on social media or receive my newsletter know, I'm currently growing a human being in my body. I'm in the home stretch of my pregnancy, expecting my first child, and I'm feeling really well. And as much as I appreciate a complication-free pregnancy and the magic of both my body and the baby's as it grows, I haven't been a big fan of pregnancy. I'm totally looking forward to motherhood but the last 37 weeks have been hard for me. I'm just not one of lose ladies that loves pregnancy. I'm okay with that.
And of course, there's the inevitable talk of "getting your body back". Ah, that old chestnut. When I was three months pregnant, a popular recording star was on the cover of a fitness magazine baring her 6 pack of abs taken three months after giving birth to her son. Intimidating. And then we all praised Princess Kate for allowing us to see her still swollen belly when she was discharged from the hospital and how "real" she was and how "healthy" an image. And then just a few months later, her perfectly flat, stretch-mark free, taught belly was on display in a picture of her playing volleyball and we all praised her again for "getting back into shape". There are countless examples of celebrities (who have lots of help and lots of money and often, lots of plastic surgery) bouncing back after pregnancy. And it's very difficult, even while pregnant and focusing almost entirely on the health of the baby, not to become worried and preoccupied that your body will never look like it looked before.
Add to this 21st century anxiety the fact that I'm not only in show business but in the health business. How distorted will my body be? Will I look like I used to look? How long will it take to get the weight off and the tone back? Will anyone in either field take me seriously or judge superficially and will I constantly feel like I have to announce to the world that I just had a baby, not because I'm proud but apologetic?
None of these feeling is appealing to me. I want to be proud of my baby and proud of my body for what it's done. I hope to have a natural, non-medicated, non-surgical birth and I hope to breast feed for as long as possible. If I can achieve these goals, I want the world to be as fascinated by my ability to do it as I presently am. Pregnancy and birth and breast feeding are positively magical and I don't want for a second to feel sad or self conscious or ashamed of my body while it's happening.
As I think now about the concept of getting my body back, I look forward to the things my body used to be able to do that it can't do now because I'm sharing it. I want to sleep on my stomach (oh, bliss!) or my back again. I want to be able to bend at my waist (and I'd like to have a waist again). I want to put my shoes on without becoming winded because my airway is restricted by 30 pounds of fluid and baby. I want to run up and down the subway stairs without holding on to the railing because I know exactly where my center of gravity is. I want to run! I want to twist in yoga class. I want to take an Advil if I have a headache.
Many of my overweight clients focus so much on the aesthetic results they hope to achieve in weight loss. I like to help them focus on all the great things they could be doing with a healthier body. One client recently took a very long walking tour of Chicago and saw a thousand things she never would have seen unless by foot. And now that weight is less of a factor for her, she was able to have this amazing experience. That's a great reason to want to lose weight and it takes some of the pressure off of needing our body to look a certain way. What is your body good for besides what it looks like? A MILLION THINGS.
I’m trying to take these thoughts to heart as I near the end of my pregnancy. I have to remember that a huge percentage of that million things is in play for me as I finish growing my beautiful child: as I birth it, as I feed it and as my body continues to accommodate two of us for the next year, even after my child lives in the outside world. I plan to get my body back in the way we usually mean after pregnancy. I hope it happens sooner rather than later. But mostly I'm looking forward to what my body will be able to do again. I hope I can keep appreciating all of the things it's doing now and will do in the future. I think my little one will be a wonderful reminder of what’s important.