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Tag Archives: getting in shape after pregnancy

Om Sweet Om

Baby yogi

Happy baby in Happy Baby

For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting back into yoga after a long time away. So, I found myself one evening in a room full of people, all of whom seemed to have been given instructions I somehow missed.

One by one, the yogis laid out think woolen blankets, then spread out their yoga mats, then layered towels atop the large pile. They rolled back and forth over giant bolster pillows: warming up, loosening their spines, releasing inhibitions and stressful thoughts. As I watched person after person go through their own personal routine, I felt more and more out of place.

Is this a yoga studio or a homeless shelter?, I thought.

When the instructor started moving us through poses, I looked around frantically, trying to decipher the arcane language she was speaking.

“Chaturanga Dandasana!”

“King Pigeon!”

“Happy Baby!”

Ah! Finally one I know! I laughed to myself as I lay on my back like an overturned beetle, wrapping my palms around the soles of my feet. In that moment, my son’s grinning face came to me like a beacon of light through the clouds. I smiled and relaxed a little, easing into the poses and not worrying as much about whether or not I was doing them right.

Moving and stretching, I began to think about how detached from my body I became during pregnancy. My strategy for dealing with the various parts of me growing larger was to just ignore them.

Butt? What butt?

Cankles? What cankles?

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as your belly grows, you can no longer see your thighs. It’s the one merciful thing that happens during pregnancy.

As I reached and bent, rolled and contorted, I tried to get reacquainted with my body. Tried to see the good, make peace with the fact that my body isn’t quite what I’d like it to be. And suddenly, I thought of a favorite passage from Gloria Steinem’s Revolution from Within, where she reflects on her own process of letting go, forgiving herself and celebrating herself.

I realized that, while I may not be happy with my body today, there will come a time when I’d give anything to look like this. To be able to bend and twist, to sweat, to experience the feeling of accomplishment that comes after a workout. Instead of criticizing myself, only to one day realize how silly I’ve been, why not celebrate the youth and vitality I have today?

I came home and took Revolution from Within off the shelf, and reread the passage I had been thinking of. It resonated with me as much today as it did the first time I read it. I hope it speaks to you as well.

Sometimes, when I enter a familiar room or street, I think I see a past self walking toward me. She can’t see me in the future, but I can see her very clearly. She runs past me, worried about being late for an appointment she doesn’t want to go to. She sits at a restaurant table in tears of anger arguing with the wrong lover. She strides toward me in the jeans and wine-red suede boots she wore for a decade, and I can remember the exact feel of those boots on my feet. …

I used to feel impatient with her: Why was she wasting time? Why was she with this man? at that appointment? forgetting to say the most important thing? Why wasn’t she wiser, more productive, happier? But lately, I’ve begun to feel a tenderness, a welling of tears in the back of my throat, when I see her. I think: She’s doing the best she can. She’s survived — and she’s trying so hard. Sometimes, I wish I could go back and put my arms around her. …

We are so many selves. It’s not just the long-ago child within us who needs tenderness and inclusion, but the person we were last year, wanted to be yesterday, tried to become in one job or in one winter, in one love affair or in one house where even now, we can close our eyes and smell the rooms.

What brings together these ever-shifting selves of infinite reactions and returnings, is this: There is always one true inner voice.

Trust it.

—    Gloria Steinem
Revolution from Within

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My Marshmallow Days Are Over

Madonna's Buff Bod

This can't be too hard, can it?

It’s been eight weeks since I gave birth to my son. Those eight weeks were preceded by 10 months of pregnancy, during which I ate pounds and pounds of ice cream and considered walking to the cafeteria my daily exercise.

As my delivery date neared, I started working from home exclusively and was so sedentary my sister worried I’d develop blood clots in my legs. My coping strategy for getting through the end of pregnancy involved moving everything I needed — laptop, phone, TV remote, several of my husbands oversized t-shirts, bag of jumbo marshmallows — into bed with me and getting up only to pee.

If you know me, you’re aware I’m not a terribly athletic person. I was in Coke-bottle glasses by age seven. I was the kid who had to be thrown into the pool for morning swim team practice. I was 10 before I mastered a bike. I was a reader, a drawer and a daydreamer. My idea of a fun, competitive activity is lobbing a tennis ball over the net without serving or keeping score.

You get the picture.

My lack of competitive drive causes my husband — a natural athlete and the most competitive person I know — great consternation. Early in our dating years, when we’d visit a sporting goods store, he’d yell out my name and then throw a bouncy ball or Frisbee at me to “test my reflexes.”

I knew what that really meant: he wanted to find out if I carried the necessary amount of athletic genes to produce a champion football player. While I’m certain I never passed these tests, as I surely fumbled every pass thrown at me, my husband decided to marry me anyway — poor vision and “let’s all get along” attitude be damned.

So, now that I’m faced with the challenge of getting back in shape, I’m not exactly brimming with confidence. This just isn’t my area of expertise.

During the past eight weeks, I looked for every any excuse to avoid getting in shape. I was thrilled when I read that I should wait for my doctor to give me the “all-clear” at my six-week checkup before doing any strenuous activity. On the day of my appointment, I was sure my doctor would say, “Absolutely no exercise for you, young lady! You are still far too fragile. Just relax with a bag of marshmallows for a few more weeks.”

That did not happen. Instead, I got a breezy, “Looks good!” and a stack of brochures about contraception. What??!! Does this mean my 10 months and six weeks of special treatment, of having the perfect excuse for total laziness, are over???

After spending the past two weeks in denial, it’s finally time to face facts. Truthfully, I’m tired of wearing the same pair of yoga pants (yoga — ha!). It’s time I got reacquainted with my wardrobe, which I’ve been pointedly ignoring up until now. The only place that’s more of a “factory of sadness” than Cleveland Browns Stadium is my closet.

I’m ready to get in shape. I think.

The last time I felt this motivated, I told my sister (who was working as a personal trainer at the time) to put together a workout plan that would make me “look like Madonna.” After seeing what it would take to look like Madonna, I decided looking like myself wasn’t so bad after all.

But will I ever again look like myself? Veteran moms, please tell me: has my formerly stick-straight shape permanently changed? I’m okay with having a few more curves than I used to, since my former body shape resembled that of a 12-year-old boy. I just want to know what’s ahead.

And, if you have any tips for getting into shape, please feel free to share those too. Especially if they involve lobbing a tennis ball over a net, reading a book or eating marshmallows in bed.

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