As you prepared for parenthood, did anyone warn you with statements like, “your life is over”? Whether you heeded this warning or not, you probably knew that your life would surely be different. You prepared for that the best you could without really knowing what to expect. What I had not prepared myself for was the loss of my identity. My body spent six years trying to be pregnant, grieving loss, growing and birthing babies, and/or feeding humans. During those years, it was not truly my own. My body and I had become strangers.
In 2018, I decided to take my body back. I started by signing up for the Fit4Mom Twin Ports Body Back transformation class. It had to work right? I mean “body back” is the name. At that time, I had been working out with Fit4Mom for a couple of years (for prenatal and stroller classes), but I had not yet done this class. This class is JUST for women (no kids allowed). It’s important for me to say that this was not about getting my pre-baby body back.
I wasn’t looking to be featured on the cover of a magazine with a headline of “How She Dropped the Baby Weight in just a Matter of Weeks.” This was about taking back my identity.
What I didn’t expect was that I wouldn’t just take back my body, I would become in awe of its capabilities. However, it didn’t start off that easy. I entered these classes with insecurities about what I “knew” I couldn’t do, worries about how I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the other women in the class, and also some defensiveness about the habits that I would have to give up.
The Power in Showing Up
This class required me to physically show up at least two times a week. What I didn’t expect was that it would also challenge me to show up mentally.
The workouts were TOUGH and pushed me to do things I hadn’t done before or even thought were possible. Because of the progress I was seeing–and I am not talking about weight loss or muscle building (although that did happen too)–my confidence grew. This led to learning who I am and seeing what I can do, which allowed me to imagine where I could go from there. This time was for me, just me.
I soon realized this is what had been missing from my life (spending time in my own mind and body). All of my time was dedicated to raising humans, which had blurred who I am outside of that role. Choosing to focus on myself created space to hear my inner voice, which said, “you can do hard things” and “you are worth it”.
My Surprising Results
I am no longer a stranger in my own body. I have found who I am now and who I want to continue to be. I am stronger than I ever knew I could be. I am dedicated not only to being a mom, but I am also now dedicated to showing up for myself. This isn’t just good for me, but it’s good for my family.
My children see me taking time for myself, along with all of the things that I do for them. They see me engaging in healthy self-care activities and achieving goals that I have set. They cheer me on as I cross both literal and figurative finish lines. They feel the benefits of a mom who is carrying less stress because she is taking care of herself. Most importantly, they are being raised by a woman who is confident in who she is as a person. Because of this, I believe that my children will continue to grow into strong, confident humans who will take care of themselves in the midst of caring for others.
Make Space For Who You Are
Because parenthood means that you are no longer living your life for just you, it has become clear to me the importance of intentionally creating space that allows for the rediscovery of your identity. This specific class (or even exercise in general) doesn’t have to be how you find your way back to you. It could be returning to a hobby you used to love, reading an actual book or even drinking one cup of coffee that is still hot… every day… alone. Parenthood may alter who we were before kids, as individuals, but a part of this journey is finding the pieces of ourselves we value most and reclaiming them.