Welcome to Fitness Friday! It’s a cause that is very dear to me. You might have heard this alliteration before, I can’t imagine I’m the first to use it. When I say Fitness Friday, I am talking about a social situation that has significant meaning to me as a woman, a mother, and a single mother, although, truthfully, I could have stopped the list at “woman”.
Allow me to say that I am the furthest thing from a jock that you will find on this planet. There are plenty of terrifying women who breastfeed and weight lift and eat only raw salmon and acai berries they grow from their victory garden. I am not one of these women. I am truly impressive when it comes to numbers of Doritos eaten, but not so much sports played or weights lifted.
When faced with the prospect of an early morning run or an early morning read, I would infinitely prefer a book. I know it’s the lament of all mothers/people, but I don’t have the TIME. Sure, I could leave my baby with the sitter for ANOTHER HOUR and go work out at the gym, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I miss her. I would rather be chubby and spending time running after my daughter than sweating in front of strangers.
As a feminist and a human I’m appalled by our culture’s war on women. Living after several big feminist movements we are now expected (note that we still have certain expectations placed on us) to go to college, land a dream job, land a dream Significant Other, land the perfect house or apartment in our dream city, get up early and make healthy breakfasts and lunches, go to work, pick up your dream kids, make a delicious, healthy dinner, spend quality time with friends so as not to be the dreaded Boring Parent Friend, and be amazing in the sack, because you’re allowed to express your sexual yearnings now, and you’d better, or your SO is totally justified in finding sexual relations elsewhere. Oh, and during all of this, you’d better fit in some time to work out, girl, or you’re going to look strictly like a “Before” picture, and no one will stick around to see the “After”.
I recently saw an ad that made me a bit ill. It was a woman wearing itty-bitty gym clothes surrounded by her four children. The caption said “Mother of four – what’s your excuse?” obviously drawing the comparison that she, the mom, is super fit, and you, a schlub, are not. Firstly, if she really is as fit as she looks on the cover of that magazine, it’s because someone is watching those hooligans while she hits the gym in a big way. Secondly, anyone can look good with photoshop (google photoshop gifs, you won’t be disappointed). Thirdly, while I’m glad that she is in shape and healthy, insulting me with someone else’s fitness doesn’t send me into a “working out” mood. It sends me into an “eating cake” mood, because I’ll never look that good in lycra. I’ve accepted it. It’s okay.
And that’s just being thin. That’s something anyone and everyone in our Western culture can relate to. What about stretch marks? What about the moms all around the globe pulling their shirt up in front of the unforgiving mirror and staring at their stretch marks, wondering if they’ll ever go away? Perhaps if they take a bath in jojoba oil they will go away. Maybe if they look up pictures of pregnant Kim Kardashian they’ll feel better. The jojoba oil won’t help, and neither will Kim Kardashian. The only thing making those things go away is time and the ability to stop touching them even though they do feel weird and it’s kind of fun to run your fingers over the ripped flesh. It’s a grotesque kind of fun, but whatever.
One day, fat and depressed, I was so hysterical over whether or not I would ever lose weight, I began to google weight loss after pregnancy and stretch marks after pregnancy. There wasn’t much to go on that was helpful. A lot of it was obviously photoshopped, no one was being honest, and it seemed like the only people doing well with losing the weight were women in their forties, whose kids were in school and old enough to take care of themselves while they went for a jog. There were a few sites that actually talked about what stretch marks and women’s bodies look like even a year after pregnancy and these sites were beautiful and helpful. The majority, however, were for ads on stretch mark creams and fitness videos.
So let’s consider Fitness Friday a consciousness raiser. I want to raise the level of discourse being held on real women and real women’s bodies. I am a single mom with a one-year-old baby and a full-time job. I can’t possibly be the only one. All the single ladies , put your hands up if you’d like to read about my journey to health and fitness. I will be sharing progress pictures, talking about what I’m eating and what I’m doing to lose weight. I’m far from being an expert on fitness, but I’m willing to share my experience and I want to encourage all the women out there who are unhappy with their bodies to take action. Even if that action seems small, it all adds up.
EDIT: I wanted to include a picture yesterday, when I posted this, but my brother came over to hang out, and I didn’t have a chance to post the pictures. So here they are, stretch marks and old orange sweats included.