Some time ago now, a photo went viral of a fitness blogger posing in a sports bra with a pretty flawless figure, surrounded by her three very young children, with the caption “What’s Your Excuse?”
It caused quite the uproar. While many were inspired by her attitude and physique, others were insulted by the sentiment.
The photo hit the viral internet around the time I was pregnant. I was in top shape myself, having the fittest and healthiest of my four pregnancies. I took a look at that photo and the caption and thought, I should relate to this.
After all, I had gotten back in shape after having three babies and one on the way. I guess you could say I had overcome all excuses I could have had as a mom. But that’s not really what happened – I was only taking care of myself and not worrying about anyone else.
Something just did not sit right with me and that phrase, “No excuses”.
I generally try to assume that most people are not trying to be jerks, and that they have the best intentions. I think she was trying to be inspiring.
I think what she probably meant was “If this is what you want, you have to make it a priority.”
I get it.
But then women out there who truly DO want “it” (a fit body after pregnancy) but are overwhelmed and tired and haven’t even figured out how to fit in a shower see this photo and this caption “What’s your excuse?” and they feel slapped in the face. Less than.
It implies judgment. It implies that someone just asked you, “We have the same life, so why don’t you look like a fitness model too?”
You guys, having a baby is one of the biggest things we will do in our lifetimes. It is this giant source of joy but it is also a huge source of stress and frustration.
The last thing you need during this time is more guilt. More frustration.
This mentality is NOT where you want your head during the first couple of years following childbirth.
Because you DO have excuses. You were up 4 times last night nursing and finally gave up and let the baby just stay latched while you caught one more hour of sleep.
You have been spit up on so many times today that you gave up on changing clothes.
Your hair has been grabbed and pulled by tiny hands who don’t know any better so you yell at your husband instead.
Your toddler had a 20 minute meltdown because you cut his grilled cheese in half.
You went into a meeting and your milk let down in front of everyone.
You sat in the car for two hours while the baby sleeps because you knew if you tried to move her she’d wake up.
This. Stuff. Is. Not. Easy.
You don’t need someone telling you that you *should* be doing one more thing. That you should look like you never had a baby. That you should look this way because society says so. That you are a failure if you don’t.
Maybe that was this fitness blogger’s dream, her priority. That’s cool, it’s her choice. Good for her! (I mean that, we shouldn’t judge anyone else’s life, body, priorities, or choices – period.)
But why are we putting pressure on each other to look like fitness models at 6 months postpartum too?
Can we just all put our eyes back on our own papers, please?
In my case, I ate the food I ate and worked out the way I did because I was just taking care of myself. I found a way to make it work in my life that didn’t make my life more difficult than it was. And it was NOT always my priority. Some days I was just too tired and sleep was more important.
The bonus to that self-care was that I was back in shape quickly.
But you might not be there yet. You might still be in survival mode. You might still be trying to figure out how to shower again. You might be going back to work and getting adjusted to a new schedule.
Don’t let yourself be driven by guilt. You don’t have room in your head for that negativity and energy.
You have plenty of excuses.
When you are ready, move because it feels good and relieves stress. Eat nutritiously because it gives you more energy. Begin to take care of yourself as soon as you feel you can. Do it for YOU.
No one is in the trenches with you living your life. You are on your own journey and your own path. You don’t owe ANYONE an answer to the question, “What’s your excuse?”
I promise you that if you DO want it, you CAN do it. But I’m not your parent or your boss, and neither is the rest of society. You don’t answer to any of us.
The first step will be to let go of that noise created by this kind of rhetoric out in the world. If you listen to it you’ll feel bad, and no positive choices ever come from feeling bad.
Just take care of yourselves, my beautiful friends. Do it from a place of love. Close your ears to the noise of those who are trying to feel better about themselves at your expense.
Someone probably made them feel bad, too.