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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17 Weeks – A little more to cover

towelHere’s the deal: I work at being a fit and healthful individual, because it gives me energy to live inside my life. But let me be frank. I do not run marathons. I have never been a muscle junkie. And no one could ever accuse me of looking malnourished. (I will forever be in love with butter and chocolate malts.)

I am happy, healthy, and have no qualms about being solidly average sized.

But after I learned about the twins, one of my first thoughts (after the initial holy-crap-we-need-two-of-everything-freak-out week) was, I better start lifting weights – now.

This is tricky though. I’ve taken a hiatus from teaching group fitness (instructing Pilates with a belly full of twins? No, thank you.) I’m not training for a backpacking trek, and my personal hand weights are wasting away next to my painting smock in some improperly labeled box in the basement. So I’ve had to come up with a new routine.

Enter: The fitness center at my workplace. Because everyone loves sweating to the 80’s with their coworkers in the middle of the day.

But if I want to get any exercise, this is the only “free” time in my schedule to do it. So, I dutifully pack my gym bag 2-3 times a week, walk circles around the gym like a lab rat on autopilot, and then lift weights.

Anyway, here’s the best part of the story.

On this particular day, I got warm enough to want to shower after my walk, so I grabbed a couple of gym towels and headed down to the locker room after my work out. Notice I say two towels. Just to be safe. 17 weeks is no joke this time around – at this point I am already rocking a sizable girth.

I got undressed, and proceeded to try wrapping one towel around my hips, and one over my top. Except that neither of them were now big enough to close around my newly grown belly. So there I stood, mostly uncovered save for two postage stamp towels, surveying the 20 foot distance from the lockers to the showers. It may as well have been a football field.

As grace would have it, the room was empty. So I took a deep breath, grabbed my clean clothes, and made a beeline for the shower with my hind end flapping in the breeze.

Apparently, I need to start packing my beach towel in my gym bag.

Week 14: Pulling up my big girl pants

Repeat after me. I will not measure my worth by the size of my pregnancy pants.cargo-pants

My favorite pair of maternity pants are a green wad of faded canvas cargo from H&M. (Yes, H&M sells maternity clothes. They are lovely. And usually on sale. If you are in the market, I highly suggest them.) Anyway, I wore the heck out of my favorite green cargo pants with Ellis, and I have recently discovered that I fit into them again. But here’s one thing I did not remember about my favorite green pants. They are 3 sizes larger than my normal pant size.

Guess what. I don’t care. I didn’t care when I bought them, and I don’t care this time around either. They are cute, comfortable, and if H&M wants to think I’m three sizes bigger than what I normally wear, well fine.

Perception about size during pregnancy is a constant battle. But here’s the deal. In order to healthfully carry and sustain another human being inside one’s own body, it is necessary to gain weight. In normal circumstances, I would cringe to see the numbers that pop up on the doctor’s office scale. But in pregnancy, those numbers mean the babies are growing. They mean my body is being a gracious host. They mean tiny fingers soft as silk, dark eyes, skin that dimples at the knees.

For the record, I am being conscious of what I eat. But I’m also fully expecting to gain more weight, and I’m doing my best not to freak out about it. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are the guidelines for tipping the healthy scales during pregnancy.

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5): 28 to 40 pounds (about 13 to 18 kilograms)
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9): 25 to 35 pounds (about 11 to 16 kilograms)
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9): 15 to 25 pounds (about 7 to 11 kilograms)

Now, here are the parameters for carrying twins.

More weight gain. Gaining the right amount of weight can support your babies’ health. It also makes it easier to shed the extra pounds after delivery. For twins, the recommendation is often 37 to 54 pounds (about 17 to 25 kilograms) for women who have a healthy weight before pregnancy — which might require about 600 extra calories a day, depending on your activity level. (FYI: 600 calories is roughly the equivalent of 3 Cadbury Creme Eggs. Just in case you’re wondering, or happen to have a penchant for them like I do.)

Weight gain during pregnancy is one of the most difficult things to come to terms with. In real life, there’s far too much focus on numbers, BMI, miles logged, workouts done. We measure our worth by the size of our pants.

It’s time to stop all that. Whether you are pre, mid, post a pregnant experience in your life please hear me out. Weight is one of the most inconsequential, yet easy things to stress about. So do me a favor. Give yourself a break. Take a deep breath, and think about the baby(ies). Be amazed at what God the creator is doing.

And for heaven’s sake, get yourself  a bowl of ice cream. Not a big bowl, but a nice, happy, average sized bowl. Lick every last bit of sweet from the spoon. Take the time to enjoy it.

And once and for all, quit worrying about the big girl pants.