A Series Of Thoughts On What It Means To Be ‘In Shape’

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Leandro Cesar Santana / Unsplash

When I first became pregnant I wondered if I would lose all the pounds I would put on throughout the nine months. I wondered if I would have stretch marks on my body forever. I wondered if my skin would take a turn and I would go through another round of acne. As many women wonder, I wanted to know if I would ever get back “into shape.”

Before I got pregnant my eating habits were not up to par. Poor habits that carried over from my undergrad haunted me. Late night eating, drinking way too much alcohol, not sleeping enough ever, skipping meals and then overeating. It felt like every time I looked at the scale the number went up.

Once I learned I was pregnant the alcohol consumption stopped, I started getting a full night’s rest and I ate whenever I was hungry. My belly grew and my weight increased but I finally had this relationship with my body – I was listening and answering in a positive way. 

Since then, and more recently hearing about other women’s experiences with pregnancy I know that we all have the same worries and fears about our bodies as post pregnancy draws closer. Will I lose the weight? How will my body look? How quickly will I get “back into shape”?

Tonight as I was scrolling through Instagram I saw a woman’s post of her pregnant body. It was beautiful. The caption was long and she wrote that she too wondered if she would get “back into shape” post-baby – especially since staying “in shape” was part of her job.

Her words made me stop and think about this idea of “getting into shape” post-baby, but when you think of it for many of us – are we not in the best shape of our lives as pregnant women? We are so acutely aware of what is going on because we are paying attention to the other shape-forming inside of us.

I say this now on the heels of a detox. The previous two months felt like chaos for me. Our family was busy and I forgot to listen to myself. Instead of simplifying during this hectic time I was reaching for the substances – coffee in the morning so I wouldn’t snap, beer in the evening to remind me that I was “a cool Mom” so I could chill, and THC (yes, weed) in the evening to help me sleep. It turned into a vicious cycle and just as I felt my dependency on these vices increase I got sick. Enough to snap me back to reality and rethink these patterns.

It’s been a few weeks substance free and I gotta tell you – it feels so good to be back at baseline. Instead of crawling out of bed for coffee, I can interact with the rest of my family in the morning. Instead of reaching for the beer in the evening perhaps I feel like writing to unwind, or doing yoga, or enjoying the evening in stillness. And instead of having a puff before I hit the sac I wait until I drift off into an ease-filled sleep and waking without my eyes glued shut.

As I began to feel the substances leave my body and baseline return it reminded me of Me while I was pregnant and I realized I really was in the best shape of my life – physically speaking I was in New Shape with my bump and it felt amazing.

So once again I am back into shape – and maybe physically – but now for me staying in shape means so much more. It’s kind of like what I ask my yoga students to do in class – listening to your body, respecting it. Instead of forcing a pose or substance on it maybe asking it first what is it that it wants and needs and am I willing to listen?

With these thoughts and reflections, I realize that physically, mentally and emotionally being in shape comes in many forms. TC mark

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