I think it’s pretty well documented that there’s an expectation for new mothers to lose baby weight and get their “body back” in no time. Society piles a lot of praise onto celebrities and socialites who seem to snap back to their pre-baby size overnight (and, really, good on them), but for most women who have to work and take care of a family without the benefit of a personal trainer or nutritionist, it’s just unrealistic.
I can only speak as a celebrity, but I get asked about when I’m hoping to get back in shape – got to be ready to fit into those Dancing With the Stars costumes, right?
As a lifelong dancer, I’ve always been active and health-conscious. I love the feeling of dripping with sweat from a session on the treadmill or the burn that comes after a dance rehearsal. (I guess I’m crazy like that.) So it was important for me to eat well and work out as much as I was able while pregnant with Shai.
Doctors told me that, ideally, I’d gain 25-30 lbs.; I figured, “I’m an athlete. No problem,” right? I ended up gaining nearly 40 lbs. And when I did finally give birth, I walked out of hospital looking 5 months pregnant still!
But you know what? It’s totally worth it. Sure, that may seem like a lot of weight to gain, but it’s exactly what Shai needed to be born healthy and fully developed.
Look, I’m all for losing the baby weight after giving birth, but I really do feel that everyone’s journey is different and no woman should be pressured to stick to a timeline for her body. That’s why I don’t really have a set time for when I want to get down to my pre-baby size.
Instead, I’m just listening to my body. It still feels like my organs are all jumbled up and in the wrong place, which makes lifting weights out of the question. So I’m concentrating on eating whatever will make the thickest, creamiest milk for Shai and, as far as exercise goes, just doing what I can when I can (though I’ll admit that by day 8 I just had to move, so Maks and I snuck down to the basement to try out some Rumba exercises). Would I love to have my flat tummy back by the time Dancing With the Stars premieres? Of course! But for now, I’d be happy to get to, I don’t know, a 4-pack if that means I get to spend more time with Shai in my arms.
I guess what I’m saying is this: I’m a professional athlete with years of nutrition and fitness experience. Even with that background, I know that losing all of the weight I gained during pregnancy will take time and hard work. My boobs won’t ever be the same. My body may not ever be the same. But to be able to hold Shai and snuggle him and watch him grow? That’s worth every pound and every stretch mark.
If you are determined to lose that baby weight, the important thing to do is check with your doctor to make sure you’re not doing anything too strenuous or damaging. Beyond that, listen to your body, set realistic goals and remember to love yourself even when there are setbacks.
So all you happy, healthy mums out there – whether you took three months or three years to lose your baby weight, or even if you never do – you just made, grew and nourished a life with that body. Not your partner. Not your doctor. Not the person on the cover of a magazine. And that’s pretty incredible, if you ask me.
Photo Credit: Shane Russeck