If you’re follow any of the traditional fitness and diet gurus on social media, then you’re probably familiar with the supposed-to-be-inspirational phrase, “No excuses”.
Raise your hand if someone saying this has ever made you feel like sh*t about yourself. (*sea of hands raised*)
Believe me, I am someone who is constantly pushing myself in many ways to go outside my comfort zone, but I absolutely hate it when this advice is directed at new moms.
New moms have ALL THE EXCUSES. Really, all moms. Our lives are chaotic and we live in a society that wants us to bounce back like yesterday and look and live as if we never had children, but also be EVERYTHING for our families, colleagues, and communities.
“No excuses” implies that I’m making excuses to someone else for my behavior – that I owe the world an explanation for the state of MY body. It invokes shame and guilt. It is condescending in nature: I found a way to be fit, and therefore you have no excuses not to be as good as me. It erases all autonomy and individuality, assuming that all of our lives and bodies are exactly the same and that just because someone appears similar to me on the outside that we’re living the exact same circumstances.
And I hate it.
I hate it because each and every day, I am on the phone with women who are in tears because they think they are failing. They laugh a little when they say “I know there’s no excuses for me to not be eating right and exercising, but I’m really drowning trying to manage ________ “(insert a ridiculous list of responsibilities here that involve keeping small humans alive and thriving).
I hate that society makes us think as women that having our pre-pregnancy bodies should be our priority, not our total health and wellness (that includes our MENTAL wellness as well!).
I hate that the diet and fitness industry uses this guilt technique to target moms and get them in programs that make them feel worse, develop disordered eating and exercise patterns, and profit while not giving a damn about these women and whether or not they are actually thriving.
We actually have tons of f-ing excuses. You have plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t be pushing your body into the ground.
The first is sleep – or lack thereof. Exercise is actually a two part process: pushing and resting. The rest part is just as important as the pushing part. Without it, you’re just tearing your body down with no chance to recover. If you aren’t sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time at night, then intense exercise might be doing more harm than good. Another thing I recommend are the light therapy lamps, when used correctly, light therapy can encourage a circadian rhythm reset which, in turn, may help improve your sleep and other symptoms.
The second is that you don’t owe the world a reason why your body hasn’t bounced back. Your body is yours and you are the only one who lives in it. You know what you can mentally and physically handle. Things are going to get easier as your baby grows, and you’ll be able to tackle more and more – IF YOU WANT TO. But no one is watching and judging you, and if they are, that is THEIR issue not yours.
This is the time to practice radical self-care.
You don’t need the drill sergeant mentality right now, you need self-compassion and self-care. You need to learn to listen to your body and your intuition, and make decisions from a place of love. You need the same loving decision-making that you provide your children.
The ironic thing is, for the women I work with, once we take the guilt and shame out of the equation and they begin to practice that self-care mindset, they naturally develop the habits that the “no excuses” mindset was trying to force.
Guilt and fear are an ineffective way to operate in life, and will get you zero or temporary results with misery as the dominant feeling the whole way.
Self-care makes the process effortless, keeps your total wellness in mind, and feels like FREEDOM.
How are you operating in life? Are you pushing yourself into the ground trying to force results? Or are you practicing radical self-care? I’d love to hear from you.
PS – this week I did a free live training on Instagram about consistency killers – those actions that keep us falling “off the wagon” constantly. It’s short and sweet (less than 15 minutes) and I think you’ll like it – view it here