I’d like to formally say that whatever you end up with in terms of how your body looks during and after you’ve grown and birthed a tiny human (or endured miscarriages and loss), is just 95% genetics and pre-programmed systemic stuff. I’m talking about your stretch marks, your belly, your boobs, your butt, and all the other things in this arena. The remaining 4.5% goes to luck. And 0.5% goes to effort.
Now, that’s not the story we are told as women, right? Right. We are told verbally and non-verbally that 95% is effort (remaining 5% hiring a night nurse). And we believe it. We gobble up this bullshit fake statistic and convince ourselves that we will eat "clean" (ugh), drink green smoothies, and exercise just exactly right such that we will somehow control genetics and make ourselves glossy pregnant and postpartum goddesses, looking nothing like our mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers in polyester maternity muumuus. We will exert ALL the effort and we will conquer our genetics, and if you don’t, then you’re lazy and doing it all wrong. Obvi.
Well, let me bust that doppelgänger of truth and let you know that NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, your pregnant and postpartum body is like a train that left the station and you are a mere passenger. The rails are your genetics and the conductor is your endocrine system. Let me repeat: You are a passenger. That is it. You can eat and sweat in all the exact right ways, but if your body wants to go to Humpty Dumpty Ville after a stop in Cankles, it’s just going to do that.
Now, don’t consider yourself a powerless passenger. You have some control over your experience. You can make the ride better by being kind to your body. Maybe don’t eat ALL the sugar and mystery meat hot dogs ... no one needs to visit the train bathroom for unfortunately arduous intestinal adventures. And, you’re going to be traveling for basically your entire life, so prepare your body with common sense wellness protocols. Drink water. Eat a few veggies. Move frequently. Learn about your pelvic floor and do the right kind of training (not necessarily strengthening). Breathe some fresh air. Talk to friendly strangers. But don’t for a second think you’re going to magically hijack the speeding vehicle. Sadly, you are not Keanu Reeves in Speed.
I can tell you from experience, as a daily doer of fantastic HIIT workouts focused on optimal pelvic floor function, that there is not a damn thing I could do differently or with more gusto that would change how I look right now. If anyone could prove that effort could overcome genetics and pre-programmed stuff, well, I’d be the one to do it. I am the exact person for whom it would “work.” And, alas, here I am nearly 4 months postpartum still dealing with a (normal) pooch, huge wobbly boobs, weird pregnancy face, chicken legs, and softer-than-my-usual muscle tone. I was exactly this way in my last two pregnancies and postpartum periods, during which I barely exercised and ate only white food (sour cream and baked potatoes followed by cheese pizza please). Yet, this time, I’ve done everything “right.” Ate all the colors of the rainbow. Exercised every single day. Etc etc etc. I am the same as before, in terms of how I look.
My body will remain in pregnancy pms purgatory until I am done breastfeeding and then it will take its time in returning to some sort of former self. But, then, we have to consider that I am almost 40. So, yeah, I'll be entering a new compartment of the train that involves the shocking experience of AGING. I'm hoping that compartment comes with daily parties and a full time comedian on staff. Because we women deserve that buffer.
Anywaysssss. Now. LISTEN UP. There are a few things that are entirely different for me than my last experiences. These parts of my life have so dramatically improved, it’s hard to even see myself as the same person:
And most importantly, because of how integrated my pelvic floor is and how resilient my spine and my body have thusly been allowed to be, my nervous system is calm and responsive. This means that I can be so so so much more present for my baby and my older children, even on the hardest and most sandpapery days. I am also madly in love with my body. Instead of wishing it were different or finding it gross, I am in awe and I surround it with patience. Also, maybe this is because I am nearing 40, but I quite literally give zero fucks about anything other than MY experience in MY body.
These new realities in my life are such gifts. They bring me to my knees in gratitude. Every woman deserves this.
It’s so simple. Getting here is no mystery. I am experiencing this because I focused on function over appearance and stayed the course in my physical strengthening every day. Had I fallen prey to the trends and the pressures, I would have missed THIS train. This train. The one that I own. The one that is my home. The one that gets me to where I need to be. The one that seats me firmly next to three stunning daughters who chose me and grew inside me and who will teach me grace every day of my life, until my last breath.
Had I co-opted the expectation to be sexy or fit or to bounce back, I know for sure I wouldn’t be here. I’d have strengthened only my surface level muscles. My outsides might be looking sort of “good” according to insane external standards, but my insides would be like a closet full of junk in a hoarder’s house. As soon as you just peek into it, everything would coming crashing out. That is no way to live. I find that when the closet that is my body is organized, I feel serenity. And this translates to my children and my ability to engage in the world.
So, as we head into October and we find ourselves wishing to feel differently in our skin, I will continue to yell as loudly as I can to JOIN ME over here. I don’t have all the answers, but I am committed to be a constant and curious detective of what makes us women (who happen to be mothers) feel integrated from the inside out. I will find ways to make your body work and when I can’t, I’ll keep trying. Because it matters this much. YOUR function matters so much. YOUR showing up in the world matters so much. Bring your bellies and your boobs and your butts and whatever other anatomy yo momma gave you and discover what it means to own your physical experience.
Our “Make It Work” challenge starts on Monday, October 7th. I really hope to see you there. And I also would love to meet some of your friends, so send them a thoughtful gift and grab them access to the challenge (ahem, for only $5). Click the link below to register, whether you are a new member or a current one, and to also grab that gift if you want.
FYI: I'm shameless about opening selling this program to you because I know that if women showed up for function over appearance, so many things would improve in our society's current inability to provide us FULL personhood. Let's do it together.