Ok so I had told myself that I was absolutely NOT going to blog about post-baby weight, ever. That would just be annoying, right? I thought so. But it has been on my mind a lot lately and I figured, this blog is supposed to be about “my journey through pregnancy, motherhood, and all it entails.” Well, this is part of what it entails so I’m just going to be real about some things I’ve been struggling with/learning/thinking about lately.
A couple weeks after I had Riley, I felt GREAT! I mean, I even felt attractive. Squishy tummy? Psshh, please. That is still waaaaay better than how huge I was at the end of my pregnancy! Once the swelling went down, I was feeling GOOD. A couple months after I had Riley? I wasn’t feeling as great as I did in the beginning, but I was surprised at how much the post-baby weight was not bothering me. But it really wasn’t. I thought, “Hey I just had a baby a few months ago, this is totally normal.” No big deal. Now, 6 months after I had Riley? I’m feeling the opposite of great.
Disclaimer: I am not writing this post to complain about baby weight. I have several friends that have struggled with infertility and I know that they would take the extra weight in a heartbeat if it meant having a baby. I know it must be so painful and frustrating for them to hear women complain about “baby weight.” It is good for me to keep that in mind, and it constantly challenges and convicts my heart and my attitude. I wish I were holy enough for that fact in itself to be enough to keep my perspective straight. Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a self-centered sinner (yea right, a “bit”…) and that means I just can’t get my stuff straight on my own, if you know what I mean. But God has been teaching me a lot through this lately, so I hope to be honest and real with you all with what I am learning.
Here’s the deal: 5 of my friends who have had babies in the past year or so lost all of their baby weight by the time their baby was 6 months old. So I just assumed this was normal! I thought for sure I would be back to my pre-baby weight by 6 months. Well, here we are. Riley will be 6 months old next week and I am nowhere near my pre-baby weight. As a matter of fact, if it weren’t for the lose fitting tops and dresses I wear, you might ask me when I’m due. In coming to the realization that I’m not going to be 120 lbs. anytime soon, I started really struggling with my weight. Granted, my doctors told me that it would be good to gain between 20-30 lbs during pregnancy and I instead gained 55 lbs. At this point I’ve lost almost 40 lbs, so had my body followed their guidelines, it’s likely I would be back to pre-baby weight. But 17/18ish lbs feels like a lot when you’re only 5’1” (short people, are you with me?). 55 lbs is a loooong road down, my friends. Maybe I was a bit too lenient with myself in my food choices. Perhaps I should have exercised more. Or maybe it is just genetic. But WHY THE _____ DOES IT MATTER!??! I have a beautiful, sweet spirited little girl and a husband who constantly affirms me. More than that, I have a God who designed me, loves me, and has claimed me as His own.
Here I am, comparing myself to other women once again. Want to get real honest? I confessed to my husband a little while ago that I secretly want to lose weight faster than all the other women around me who have had babies recently, and I want people to look at me and think, “wow, she just had a baby?! You couldn’t tell, she looks amazing!” I even had images in my head of being at Rockbridge (InterVarsity’s summer camp where we will be in a week) and everyone being amazed at how good I looked. Think that’s sick? I look at women around me who have had babies, measure myself against them, and get discouraged if I feel like they’re “ahead” of me in this weight loss game (see this post to read more about the “Insecurity Games”). If you thought I was a really good person up until this point, I’m sorry to take the scales off your eyes. This is what my heart is really like.
But the truth of the matter is people are not going to be amazed, likely don’t give a rats tail about how much weight I’ve lost anyway, and I could still pass for a few months pregnant. And I have not been OK with this fact lately. As I was thinking about the above confession I made to my husband one day, this crazy thought wiggled it’s way into my mind: What if God is deliberately keeping me from losing this leftover baby weight, because He wants to teach me something? Obviously my heart is being ugly, and I know that God cares more about the appearance of my heart than my outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). So what if He were not to allow me to lose that weight because if I did, I would puff up with conceit, arrogance and judgment? Although my body would be in better shape, my heart would be in worse shape. This was a very humbling thought.
Fast forward a few weeks after that thought, I decided it was time for the “Crackdown Smackdown.” I had been exercising by going on long 1 hour+ walks with Riley and doing some ab and arm work. But this was time to get serious. I was going to start running and doing pilates 5 days a week. And as soon as I decided that, I got sick. For 2 weeks. I would try but couldn’t even go on a 10 minute walk, my body was so weak. Just as soon as I started feeling better, it was time to finish packing and move to Chapel Hill, which took up every ounce of returned energy my body had mustered in it’s recovery. So my new plan was: Get everything unpacked immediately, so the Crackdown Smackdown can start early this week. Well the only “down” I’ve been doing is sitting or laying, as I am once again sick. This time it’s asthma related, so I really can’t workout unless I’m fond of asthma attacks (I’ve learned from experience). Yesterday I was feeling discouraged and as I walked across the street to Bruegger’s Bagels I told God, “I just don’t get it. I really want to get back into shape, but I feel like some force is coming against me and not allowing me to do so. It’s been almost a MONTH that I have not been able to workout now!” Yea well, that “force” is a person and He has a Name. Yahweh. I realized this when I sat down with my half diet, half regular coke (or as one friend calls it “half chemicals, half cocaine”). I opened my bible and journal to learn from the book of 1 Timothy. Wouldn’t you know that this little verse is in there, “…train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it hold promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Well… OK, fine. I get it. I realized this: God cares about bodily training, it is good. It is a good thing for me to take care of myself through exercise. And there are times in my life where I want excuses not to workout when what I really need is discipline to do it. But this is not one of those times. This is one of those times where I am so attached to the idea of working out in order to achieve and control a specific image, that I get frustrated and angry if it’s taken away from me. Bodily training is of some value, but godliness is of value in every way! And this is the training God knows I really need right now. Godliness is not competing with other women, not mentally and verbally tearing my appearance down, and not wanting people to worship me. Basically, it is not what I’m doing. And God my Father loves me SO much, that He wants what is best for me. He is willing to withhold fitness from me in order to train my heart and make it more fit. Just like any type of training, training in godliness is hard. It is hard to just be in the body that I am right now with my squishy tummy. It’s hard to continue to wear maternity clothes when my adorable, tiny little pre-preg ones are staring me in the face. But it is training my heart to become more like my Savior, who “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:6-7).
During this time of training, may my prayer be John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I pray that when people look at my life they would not admire how attractive I am or how wonderful, but would admire my Savior who lives within me.
Ouch, my spiritual “muscles” are already sore from this training 😉