Heidi Klum burst my bubble this week. The Project Runway host, Victoria's Secret model and mother of three mercilessly threw cold water on my fantasy that with enough will power and working out, my postpartum bod could one day resemble hers. In an interview with Marie Claire magazine, she said, "You can't kid yourself," when it comes to bouncing back to being model slim if the pre-baby you didn't start off like that to begin with. Really? Yup, it's true.
Seriously, I do appreciate her candor. The fact is, it's hard not to feel a little deficient when one doesn't emerge from pregnancy looking like she's ready to strut down the catwalk in skimpy lingerie. But with the celebrity baby bump obsession running at full throttle these days, few newish moms can resist aspiring (no matter how unrealistic) to look like preening Hollywood goddesses when they walk out of the hospital.
So, with Heidi in mind, here's a little pep talk for my peeps - those women who are healthy and strong and still don't wear a designer sample size...Let it go! All of this pressure to be perfect takes a lot of the joy out of this new phase of our lives. Frankly, it's not just the happy moments we're missing while we pore over tabloids promising to reveal the post-baby diet secrets of the likes of Christina Aguilera and Denise Richards. All this focus takes a heck of a lot of energy - energy we need just to make it through a typical day of mothering.
I'm not saying this is easy to do. You can't walk into the supermarket without all of those headlines screaming at you about who in Tinseltown is thin or fat these days. And let's be honest, it is a guilty pleasure to kick back and page through the photos (Stars...They're just like us. Not!) But fun aside, we can try to be a bit more mindful of setting realistic goals and turning our attention to what's really important - being healthy and centered for our families. Letting go of perfection (or the tabloids' image of perfection) can really go a long way.
Of course, the push for perfection transcends fitness and body image. There are women who believe they have to put a hot, home-cooked meal on the table every night...or women who feel unless they make partner and manage to get to toddler class once a week, they are "bad mothers." We all have our hang ups about what it means to be supermom. But as the authors of Mothers Need Time Outs, Too advise, we need to take stock of what is really important and go a little bit easier on ourselves. They share some tips in this week's issue of The Well Mom, including my new favorite: "Accept imperfection, perhaps even revel in it."
In my own life, I'm trying to embrace this hard lesson. In my quest to stay disciplined and fit while taking care of my twin two-year-olds, running my weekly e-zine, The Well Mom and serving as a consumer spokesperson for Yahoo! (oh, and writing this weekly blog), I decided to train for a triathlon. I even wrote about it here a few months ago. I had the best of intentions. What I failed to realize when I signed up for a training group, is that I did not have the time to commit to the coach's program. I was able to modify the workouts to fit my fragmented schedule. But because of family commitments, I just couldn't make it to practice twice a week. Nor did I ever find time to get my bike in shape, learn how to change a flat tire or research renting a wet suit. Suddenly, this triathlon was starting to add a lot of stress to my life when it was really meant to be something fun. So, after yet another week of missing practice and a run-through with my teammates, I decided this is just not my time to do this particular race. There will be others later this summer and fall...and later in my life. I feel a weight lifting off my shoulders as I write this!
Heidi Klum is not the first glamorous star to openly discuss the impact of her image on us regular moms. Not too long ago, Julia Roberts chalked up her enviable post-baby figure to genetics (and exercise). We might not like to hear the truth. But kudos to them for telling it like it is - and in a sense, setting us free.
That's not making excuses. It's realism.
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