I’ve posted many a caption on privileging inner beauty.
And, yet, I too, am afraid of being judged by the way I look, rather than the person I am. During my pregnancy, this was especially true. Because, for the first time in my life, I was (and still am) overweight.
At my heaviest, in my third trimester, I pushed past 200 lbs. Often, strangers commented on my HUGE belly. I was told over and over that I MUST be carrying twins and that my baby HAD to be over 10lbs. My self-worth hit an all-time low. I was so insecure about my size that I would avoid sharing my due date. If did disclose it, the responses became all-too-familiar: “Oh wow! You look MUCH further along.” “Only 5 months!” “You look ready to POP!!” “Man, are you sure you aren’t having twins?” Each casual comment led me under the covers with any food that came with dip.
The woman that used to saunter on any dance floor in booty shorts was fading. I was still wearing the red lipstick but I’d lost the sassy hair flip and the bop in my step.
In the last three weeks of my pregnancy, my OB cautioned against further weight gain. THE LAST WEEKS OF MY PREGNANCY. The time that most healthy women gain a pound a week. My OB was lovely, but between the chronic ache in my hips and my swollen sumo-sized feet, I had little else to look forward to besides cake. How was I going to stop gaining weight?
My insecurities paralyzed me. The worse I felt about myself, the harder it was to lose weight. Plus, pretty much anything that wasn’t fried or smothered in mozzarella made me run to the nearest bathroom.
And, I was PREGNANT. But, this didn’t stop strangers from giving me unsolicited dietary advice or encouraging exercise or flat-out telling me that I looked HUGE.
Here’s where, if I had the time, I’d cue quotes from feminist scholars much much more knowledgeable than I, for their insights into the social control of the female body and the impact on mothers. But alas, my baby won’t sleep long enough for research, so I’m just going to tell you how it feels to be treated like your body is more important than your mind, your heart, or your spirit.
It fucking sucks.
After the birth of my son, I threw myself into weight loss. I committed to working out 4 days a week and I actually followed through. I went to yoga classes; drank more water; ate a hella lot of vegetables; went to more yoga classes; jogged; did squats and so on and so on.
Today, it’s 7 and a half months later (which shocks the hell out of me) and due to my consistent efforts, I’ve lost 54 lbs.
I weigh 158 lbs. These pictures are shot with unflattering light, sans filter, and without stylish clothes, and clever angles. But, I’m proud to share them, nonetheless.
Because these pictures are not just Before pictures. They are also After pictures.
They are After I grew a living being inside my very vulnerable, very beloved, and very scared body.
They are After I labored for fifteen hours and pushed a perfect 6lbs and 15oz baby boy outside of my uterus. (No, he wasn’t 10 lbs. Yes, he was the greatest gift I’ve ever received.)
I refuse to be ashamed of my weight. I refuse to be uncomfortable with the pouch that used to hold my son or the extra rolls that stretch out my tattoo. I refuse to do anything but love my body for its strength, for its health, for its gorgeous cocoa butter scent, for its ability to nourish my son, and for its boundless capacity to love and give to others.
Still, I want to be physically stronger. I want to leap on beds with my son. I want to sprint across the soccer field with him lagging behind.
I know I’m not the best version of myself today and I believe that that assessment is an incredibly personal one.
So, I’m going to work even harder. I’m going to hit the gym 6 times a week. I may or may not forego a cupcake or two. I’m going to squat deeper while holding my now 16 lb son, and I’m going to run longer and faster than any other time in my life.
And, I’m going to invite you along for the journey.
I’m going to do these things out of a deep love for my spirit, heart, mind, and yes, my body – exactly as it is now, for it carried life’s most precious gift – which is, undeniably, at least a thousand cupcakes, and (of course, also, my Zekaya) because what is life without tiny cakes?
AND for my future body that I will love equally as much, for having carried me through the next three months of sleepless nights, frenzied Zumba mornings, lunges with a squirming baby, and oh-so-many lazy snuggles.
I welcome your encouragement and support for the next 12 weeks, as I chase the kind of body with energy for five rounds of tag, dozens of games of hide-and-go-seek, and an unfiltered love for all things covered in frosting.
Here we go.