When I got pregnant with my daughter in July 2020, I was not concerned about the weight gain that would accompany the pregnancy. As a personal trainer and fitness writer, I have always trained regularly and viewed my workouts as ways to help me stay strong, prevent injuries, and gain energy, rather than as vehicles to help me lose or maintain weight, or look a certain way.
So my pregnancy workouts continued to focus on these things. While I was pregnant, I exercised because I wanted to; it just made me feel better in the midst of all the chaos of 2020. It was a way to keep my feet on the ground as the pandemic hit New York with full force, and to provide an outlet for all of them. the anxieties I faced having children and giving birth. Plus my first trimester was so hard (FYI, morning sickness can last all day) I didn’t care What I ate, as long as I could keep it low.
And then I was pushed into the new role of parenting, and postpartum life came along. In preparation, I have taken many courses and read countless articles and books on how to care for a newborn baby. But like many new parents, I felt mentally unprepared for the range of emotions that come with motherhood when it actually happened. There were times in those first four weeks when I felt elated and grateful, and then there were times when I thought: Why have I done this before?
On top of that, there was an added stressor that I didn’t expect: it seemed like every time I opened my social media feeds I saw posts from trainers, influencers, and celebrities touting how they “picked up” in their pre-pregnancy body just weeks after giving birth. I was engulfed in before-and-after images of sculpted abs, slim thighs and muscular arms. They were pear-tree and running fast miles, and they had glamorous photos to prove it.
Meanwhile, three months postpartum, my tummy was soft, my arms were tired from the weight of a colicky baby, and my legs were numb after spending hours on the couch struggling to breastfeed. My linea nigra (the dark line that forms on your stomach during pregnancy) had not yet faded, and even at seven months after giving birth, there is still a faint line. It was my image of motherhood.
Early in my pregnancy, I didn’t expect my body to « bounce back » a few months, let alone a few weeks, after giving birth. And now that I’m in my seventh month after pregnancy, although I know it’s still relatively early in the postpartum process, I don’t expect it to be. already go back to the exact way it was before the pregnancy.
Knowing all of this, however, was still not enough to prevent these messages from triggering feelings of anger, grief and jealousy.
During this extremely vulnerable period of my life, I found these messages devastating. I felt my own sanity, and what I used to believe about fitness and my body – that strength and function trumps appearance – began to falter. And that really surprised me. I’ve never been triggered by social media in the past, and as someone who has worked in fitness and has been covering it for years, I knew that not having crunches or shrinking waistlines didn’t mean you weren’t fit and strong. I had never fallen into a comparison trap, but suddenly found myself in this position.