Looking Good Isn’t the Point

image courtesy of morguefile.com

image use courtesy of morguefile.com

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she notices her favorite pants fitting… well… differently.

For some, that’s the time to walk away from the mirror and focus in on something else, because ain’t no one got time for mirror-mirror-on-the-wall.

For others, it might just be the time to do something. To move. To wake up that body and remind it of its potential. (Or maybe just accept the fact that that woman cannot live in lycra alone.)

I believe we find ourselves in different camps of necessary activity based on where we are in life.

Last year, I had two feet firmly placed in camp Walk Away. My darling two year old and twin seven month olds were not very, hm, how should I say it… independent.

We were in full survival mode – sleeping whenever we could, rummaging into the back of the cupboards because it was so much work to get three tiny humans snow-suited and hauled in and out of the grocery store. Workouts consisted of lifting car seats, squatting to pick up toys, and running after the child whose hands were covered in applesauce. (Please let it be applesauce.)

If that’s you, congratulations. You’re going through what will prove to be one of the most physically challenging periods of your life, all for the love of another human being (or two, or three, or six.) You, Ms. Knight in Shining Armor, need to reserve every last ounce of strength to function.

That’s all. Function. That is what your family needs. That is what you need. That is what your body needs. Just function.

PS- I’m giving you a virtual high-five right now, because you’ve got this. You’ll get through it, and suddenly, your babies will be crawling and walking and talking and bargaining for FIVE M&M’s MOM, just FIVE.

Sigh. And then there’s camp Do Something. This year. This week. Today.

My camp.

But it’s not for the reason you might normally suspect. Sure, I could use a little less padding. Sure, I’d like my pants to stop eating into my midsection.

Honestly, this camp has everything to do with one fact: I need more energy.

And that’s not just a mama thing. That’s life. That’s Newton’s law of motion. Objects at rest stay at rest. Objects in motion stay in motion until acted on by another force.

I do best when I’m in motion – spiritually, creatively, and physically. So when I found out there was new local gym offering childcare, I shrieked. I called my mom. I begged my husband.

And the first night that I beeped my key card and walked in the door, I felt a little like I was coming home to a place I’d been away from for a very, very long time.

Never mind that after two days, I felt I’d been sacked by a wild rhino. Or that after a week, I was downing the Tylenol immediately post-workout. I figured what I really needed to do was schedule an appointment with the personal trainer and get a few ideas on how to build back up to where I wanted to be.

And then, the words I didn’t want to hear landed squarely on my shoulders.

You’ve got some strengthening to do. In your legs. Your core. Your back.

So basically, everywhere.

I don’t know why that surprised me. I know that my core is shot after having twins. I have mild diastasis recti, a wobbly knee full of torn cartilage from a previous injury, and chronic back pain on my right side. I haven’t been to a gym or taught fitness classes for over two years.

But still. Part of me was crushed.

And the other part wanted to go home and make homemade mac and cheese for supper. You know. The kind with cream. And four different kinds of cheese. And butter.

Sigh.

But I won’t. I won’t because health is what keeps me moving. Fitness is a pair of arms that can lift a child, or knees that can easily bend to read stories on the floor. In short, seeing my pants fit differently is only a byproduct of the real reason I want to get back into good physical condition.

Strength matters.

looking good Repeat after me. It’s not about looking good. My best friend and I were laughing about that last week. No matter how hard we try, we’re never going to be our college selves walking around lake Calhoun every day and subsisting on apples and leftover Chipotle. And you know what? That’s OK. (That’s really more than OK.)

The people we are now have grace with our shortcomings. But we also know that when we put the work in, we’ll FEEL better. And feeling better, not looking better, is TRULY, HONESTLY what matters most.

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32 Weeks: Tipping the scales

At the 32 week growth scan, the girls are weighing in at 4.1 and 4.2 lbs and ounces. The ultrasound technicians figure this out by doing a growth scan ultrasound, which means I lay on my back like a bloated wood tick for an hour and watch them sonically measure a plethora of arms, legs, heads, and stomachs. It’s amazing, and also slightly confusing that there’s that much going on just centimeters beneath the surface of my skin.

After she got the reports, my doctor literally gave me a high five, and I celebrated with a Dairy Queen chocolate malt. (After all, it only makes sense to commemorate weight gain with more weight gain.)

I never thought I’d be so excited to hear that my girls were basically the same combined weight that I carried at almost 42 weeks during my first pregnancy. But the whole goal of this pregnancy has been to grow healthy babies. Babies with fully developed lungs. Babies that won’t have to spend any time in the NICU, Lord willing. Babies that can come home with us as soon as they possibly can.

For better or for worse, I have not spent any time dreaming about what these girls will accomplish in their lives just yet. I haven’t lived out scenarios of them graduating from Harvard or climbing Kilimanjaro. Instead, I’ve prayed for them to be chubby, and pink, and healthy.

This is probably not what most mothers dream for their daughters.

But then I start to wonder, why not? With all the social pressures that my daughters will face regarding their appearance, I ought to be unloading dump trucks full of prayers for them to be healthy. Live healthy. Understand healthy.

I’m not talking about being fitness obsessed, or so diet-focused that they have a meltdown if they decide to eat a funnel cake.

playingI’m talking about teaching them to love the amazing varieties of good food we’re so blessed to have access to. About having energy to play and dance to the whimsical songs in their heads. About knowing that no matter what they look like, what they are wearing, how many mosquito bites or pimples or wrinkles they have, they will always be solidly, deeply LOVED.

This morning I listened to a radio blurb on how parents who talk about health instead of appearance tend to raise children who focus on the same thing. This sparked my memory to a really great blog post I read a few years back, titled “How to talk to little girls” by Lisa Bloom. It’s short, and if you ever plan to interact with little girls, please take a minute and read it.

(PS – Anyone coming to our house for dinner is more than welcome to try this with Ellis – as long as you’re ready to read the book Yummy Yucky at least twice.)

Sometimes, the actual work of parenting seems a long way off, and I’m a big believer in being present. So I’m choosing not to worry about it. But I’m no fool – raising three girls is going to be a challenge. It will be one of the most fulfilling things Jason and I do with our lives, and one of the hardest.

But I’m starting to think what might make a sustainable, lasting impact is keeping up with my goal to raise my girls to be healthy.

To be individuals who do not focus solely on themselves, so that they have the time and energy to focus instead on the people and the world around them.

To eat ice cream and kale with equal gusto, because health is a fine balance between enjoyment and good choices, self love and self care.