Saturday, June 2, 2012

Celebrity and societal post-pregnancy weight loss pressures

Heads-up: This is a non-Austin blog post. Instead, after having stumbled upon this article criticizing the media for attacking celebrities and their post-pregnancy bodies, I feel compelled to share my experience.

Brief summary: 
"The increasingly common expectation for new moms to prioritize slipping back into skinny jeans over child-rearing is ridiculous, and the window of time in which they have to do it is getting smaller and smaller."

The article talks about how amazing it was for Beyonce to drop 60 lbs in five months but that it's unfortunate  how her newly firm abs are bigger news than her baby is. It also mentions that Jessica Simpson is jumping on the Weight Watchers bandwagon (for a reported $3 million!!). The author acknowledges that while Simpson has been scrutinized for her figure for years, the endorsement is such a smart move since she can get paid for the very thing that gets her so much publicity.

Having recently gone through these motions myself (minus the celebrity scrutiny part of course) I have a few comments:

1. I do not pity celebrities for anything (positive or negative) that comes with being famous. They know what they got themselves into--and they make a crap ton of money which should make up for dealing with the negativity. If they don't want the publicity, don' t be famous. Having said that, I still think there are better ways to publicize celebrity. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all.0

2. Lets be honest--most of these celebrities have live-in nannies and other assistants to raise those kids. Even if a woman's body naturally bounced back after pregnancy (and she didn't feel the need to spend more time working out over bonding with the child), I doubt the celebrity is the one who would actually be raising the child. 

3. I haven't talked about this publicly (just with family), but given the negative nature of the article and society's stereotypical view on women, I feel compelled to share this part of my story. 

I was very nervous about what pregnancy would do to my body. The last time I LOST weight was 14 years ago when I had major back surgery (you would have lost your appetite too if you were stuck with hospital  food for two weeks). I didn't even lose weight two years ago while training for a half marathon. And who has time to exercise while taking care of a newborn... unless you're a rich celebrity who can afford to pay someone while you work out?! 

Yes, I was scared about the weight. I was terrified about the delivery. But none of these factors were stronger than the desire to start a family.

I only gained 35 pounds during pregnancy. I say "only" because I know people that gained 60. And it's completely out of your control. I do feel lucky that mine was on the lower end. But the bottom line is that either way your body changes. Clothes fit differently. And I've never felt less feminine in my entire life than I did after pregnancy. 

I lived in hoodies and warm up pants with drawstring waistbands for at least six weeks. Getting "dressed up" meant I put on the maternity jeans and a loose/comfortable top. When I finally made myself start wearing pre-pregnancy pants again, I cried every time I got dressed. Like I said--the clothes just fit differently. And of course the waistband was snug. I felt disgusting. 

 So here's the point:

It's been nine months since I had Austin and I'm 20 lbs UNDER pre-pregnancy weight. Damn proud of that. Since I borrowed my mother-in-law's old Weight Watchers stuff in January I've learned about portion control and the benefits of more fruits and veggies. I have not done much working out at all except for occasional walks with Austin in the stroller. No joke. 

I'll be damned if I'm going out to buy a whole new wardrobe after I just spent 9 months in a completely different wardrobe (which by the way is now packed away in my basement until we decide to take the "baby #2 plunge." I feel amazing. And best of all I feel like I am in a better place to teach my child about how to take care of his body.

The author's closing words: "I’d rather believe that all the agony and energy spent suffering over post-baby weight gain could be channeled into something positive. Like caring for that new miracle. And feeling pretty kickass for having had created it."

Having a baby whips you into a routine like nothing else. For me, it was the perfect time to adjust bad habits and learn better ones. And there is no better motivation than a mini YOU, with his whole life ahead of him, to force you to take care of yourself so you can ultimately take care of him. 

I do feel kickass for having created my little miracle in Austin, and you better believe I'm going to do it again one day. It's not "agony" if you do it for the right reasons.