Swimsuit season: it’s real and it’s scary

I was pregnant with my youngest for almost 41 weeks. During that time I gained exactly 50 pounds. Last week my baby turned 10 months old. And 10 months and five days after her birth, I finally hit pre-baby weight.

Well, small caveat. Pre-THIS-baby weight. I still have five pounds to go before I hit my true pre-pregnancy weight. But who’s counting.

Oh, that’s right. I am.

Why does this number matter so much to me? I’m a believer of “it’s not the number, it’s how you feel,” but having a goal number gives me something tangible to work toward. So, how do I feel now that I’m (almost) there?

Like I still want to run the other way, hands flailing in the air, when the sea of swimsuit displays (in MARCH no less) starts to invade my personal space.

This is a complicated topic for me, full of layers and ever-changing emotions. Some days I’m encouraged and am driven by my progress (Hey, I see muscle definition peeking through!) Other days I’m frustrated and disgusted with how far I have to go (dimples, dimples everywhere). Maybe it’s normal for emotions to shift and change, but it leaves me feeling unsettled. I feel like I fit squarely in the middle of the two movements about postpartum bodies.

It’s either:

Accept your new body!  All those stretch marks are tiger stripes! Wear them with pride! You grew a human! Your new body may look different, but embrace it!

or

Just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you have to look like one! Fight like hell to get that body back! Get your workout in any way you can! Also, eat kale!

I tend to teeter between both camps. At the beginning of each week I set my intentions, feeling motivated, determined and energized. I schedule workouts on my lunch hour and have a buddy to help hold myself accountable. My husband and I plan our meals on Sundays to minimize bad decisions during the work week. But as the days creep by and unforeseen roadblocks pop up, I catch myself shifting a bit, ever so slightly losing my balance, tipping to the acceptance side of the scale. Maybe I’m doing okay just the way I am…

But that’s not it.

I’m not complacent—I’m impatient.

You would think by my second baby I’d have this process down. I’ve seen my body change once already, so why can’t I relax and give it the time I know I need? It’s easy to demand results NOW, and when I fall short, take on a “forget it, it’s not happening” mentality. It’s a constant battle to not let defeat take over. I have to consciously remind myself the road back from having a baby is a very long one.

My postpartum weight loss journey is nowhere near over. I’m still slowly clawing my way back. Even though the number on the scale is almost back to normal, I’m different. That’s something that no amount of patience will change. Over the last four years, I’ve gained and lost 50 pounds twice and birthed two humans. That’s huge! But so often the advice is “just give it time” and “you’ll be back to normal soon.”  I’m not one of those women who bounced back without breaking a sweat. I have to fight for every pound.

I realize my work is twofold—it’s going to require acceptance that there is a new normal AND patience to get there. There’s no denying my body is different even though the scale thinks we’re back on track. It’s also okay to not love all of the changes. I can be grateful and in awe of what my body accomplished, but I don’t have to like the deflated balloon it left behind.

It’s a process.

It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop striving for improvement. To feel better. Build strength. Radiate confidence. But it’s going to require a little head-down perseverance and positive self-talk to get there. I hope one day the number on the scale and what I see in the mirror will collide in the most beautiful way. For now I’m going to try to respect the transformation my body has been through.

I’m still not trying on a swimsuit in March.

 

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