Life never really goes as expected. Yet, we never fail to hope, and in some way, expect that it will.

The entire time I was trying to get pregnant, and even when that miracle finally came, I had expected to gain a crap ton of weight. On both sides of my family, history shows a pretty significant weight gain during pregnancy. And shallow me (which does come out once in a blue moon), held out the hope that I’d have a lot of weight to work with post pregnancy to build my dream body. That body that I could only get if I could gain weight and keep it on (dangnabbit ectomorph doom). What I never took into consideration was this: My lifestyle was completely different. My activity level, my eating habits, everything. When the scale tipped out at a 32-pound total weight gain just two days before I went into labor, I was actually heartbroken.

That same lifestyle has also quickly taken all of that weight off. No, I’m not quite active yet, as I had a c-section and am on the bench for the first 6-weeks, but I’m still eating the same as I was pre-pregnancy and while I was pregnant. Just two weeks after birth, I had lost 27 of those 32-pounds.

It was also the first time in my life that I ever had a moment of severe body-image crisis.

In the changing room at TJ Maxx, I found my glimmer of hope. As an ectomorph, I’ve never had any natural shape. I’ve had to use exercise to create any illusion of curves on my small frame. Up until the last two months of pregnancy, I was still wearing my regular, every day pants and slacks. When my belly started to drop, I hopped on the legging bandwagon, as much as I hated to (I’m just a jeans kind of girl). After I came home from the hospital, the day I was to go to my two week check-up, I pulled on a pair of those jeans, got them all the way up, and had just given into the fact that I just was going to lose out on all fronts when… I couldn’t get them buttoned. I couldn’t even get the button remotely close to the hole.

Does this mean I have hips now? Does this mean I no longer have to dig through the pant racks of the juniors department in search of a non-bedazzled butt?

Was the sun trying to part the cloud of doom that had started to crush me mentally?

It was. I could get them up, but I couldn’t button them. And after examination, it was because of hip bones, and not belly. I. Had. Hips.

I tried on, and fit into, at the age of 31, my very first pair of big girl pants (and they made my butt look amazing at that). My mood instantly improved.

Happily exiting the dressing room after I strapped the baby carrier back on, I filled my husband in on the excitement and swapping the jeans I had in my hand for my adorable, pudgy-cheeked baby, we set off back to the woman’s department so I could get more.

Half-way through my digging, I noticed my husband looking a rack over, with an annoyed look on his face. Looking over, I saw a fellow newby mom, her little one tucked inside a carrier as well. I smiled and nodded at her, and told her congratulations, only to receive a scowl in response.

Under my breath, I took back my smile and uncongratulated her. My husband said that she had been watching me like that since I had come in the store, and said she had looked me up and down and even rolled her eyes in my direction at one point.

Why? Why must we as women do this to one another? Over all of this time, society has ingrained it into our minds that we need to compete with one another. That we can’t just accept everyone for the reality of it all: We’re all different. We come in not just different colors, but all kinds of different shapes and sizes.

Some people tell me I’m lucky. While I think of myself as otherwise. But, to some, I appear to be just that – lucky.

My genetics are different. My lifestyle is different. One can’t be changed (and I took a long time coming around to accepting that), and the other can.

The one that can, always is subject to assumptions from outsiders. I workout and eat the way I do to lose weight. I workout to stay small. I workout to make others look bad (if I only had a dollar for every time I heard that one).

None of it is true.

I workout because it makes me feel good. It makes my aches and pains from spondylosis feel good. It keeps me going, keeps the spondy from progressing. It keeps my mental health on the level. I’ve always known a good run, or a good, solid workout session has kept me on even keel, but I never realized just how much it did until I hit the middle of my pregnancy.

I eat the way I do because it makes my body feel good. It keeps my cortisol levels in check (which with PCOS, cortisol will always be an issue), which in turn makes me feel good. It gives me energy to get through the day without a slow down. I get sick a hell of a lot less. It fuels me to perform athletically.

I don’t have to justify myself, no one does. Yet, we find ourselves so often doing just that.

It’s always funny to hear of peoples shock when I talk about my own body. Yes, I’m okay with the skin I’m in, but that’s it: I’m just okay with it. I am in awe of all the things this body can do (make a baby, push/lift the weight it can in the gym, etc…), but looking at it is completely different.

“You’re so confident though!”

I hear it all the time. Confidence does not even come close to equaling having good/positive self-esteem.

The absolute greatest thing I have seen out there today is Mama Lion Strong’s #takebackfitspo movement. wpid-img_20150321_163903.jpgHer words were “I decided I was tired of worshipping fitness model’s bodies online. So I started worshipping my own body. That felt WAY better.”

The reason behind #takebackfitspo is to empower women of all shapes and sizes. All fitness levels. To even put the fun back into fitness. Make it feel less like a job, because that’s what fitspo has done to us. Given us an ideal that we are supposed to idolize and want to strive for, despite the fact that in most cases, it’s extreme, unrealistic – and even at times: dangerous.

While I was pregnant, I did my best to squash the “ideals” of what fitspo images are (what this definition outlines), I wanted to promote that fitspo should be ANYONE, all shapes and sizes, etc… Working to just be healthy, and happy, and not trying to be like the fit pros, etc, out there. Not trying to shame anyone. Make them feel poorly. I don’t know if it worked, I don’t know if I helped break that cycle for anyone, I can just hope I did.

I don’t think this should just apply to the fitness world though. Take it, and spread it throughout.

Join the movement and #takebackfitspo.

Posted by

Mother. Photographer. Writer. Founder of Fit Fridays for Mental Health. Former powerlifter turned weightlifter. Coach & Nutritionist. Spondy/PCOS/Endo. Bully breed advocate.

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