I spent the whole first year of motherhood apologizing for my body...at least in my mind. I had the surreal experience of moving to a new city when our twins were just a few months old...when wearing jeans without an elastic waist seemed a distant memory. In those early days of new motherhood, it was challenging enough just to get out the door let alone meet a whole new group of people. I remember one of the first times I willed myself to load the babies and their gear into the car to make our way to a Mommy & Me class on the other side of town.
This was a big deal considering I had never driven on an LA freeway and I had NO idea where we were going. When we finally made it, I recall cringing inside as I politely introduced myself to the circle of twin mommies. Instead of basking in the accomplishment of actually leaving the house with two infants in tow and not having a meltdown, the only thing I really wanted to tell these potential new friends was, "This is not the real me. This is not what I look like. Really.
I have been spending a lot of time writing about the identity shift that comes with motherhood here on The Huffington Post and on my website thewellmom.com. But one of the things I haven't really discussed is how hard it is to embrace your new role when you just don't feel like yourself. If you are a mom, you know what I am talking about. From the moment you come home from the hospital, you stare in the mirror hoping the same old you will look back at you. And instead, all you notice are the bags under your eyes and the shapeless blob that used to be your mid-section. It is humbling. And at the same time, you feel so guilty for even worrying about something so superficial: Geez - I've just brought new life into the world and all I'm worrying about is whether I'll ever be able to wear (blank)?
Since it is the time of year when people of all shapes and sizes are newly resolving to get fit, I wanted to share my own Body After Baby story. I will forever strive to get stronger and fitter. But for the first time, I finally feel close to the old me.
Two weeks after delivery, I had about 30 pounds to lose. I bought a scale. I worked out with a trainer. But in the end, the weight loss was painfully slow. There really wasn't any magic bullet other than following the old "calories in, calories out" adage. Not very sexy...I wrote down what I ate, exercised just about every day (thank goodness for spinning) and put a little more effort into strength training (I'm one of those people who really doesn't like lifting weights even though I know it's good for me). And I looked for success stories of real women who lost and maintained their weight rather than dwelling on the fantasy "body after baby" stories in the tabloids. You know the ones about the Hollywood starlets strutting out of the hospital in their skinny jeans. SO not fair.
In the end, it took me more than a year to gain the confidence to venture back to a dressing room to try on clothes. There were times that I wished I could see results faster. But one day, my "fat" pants started getting loose. I finally worked my way down the array of sizes in my closet to the point that I HAD to go shopping. And it was sweet.
Recently, through the magic of television, I had the chance to actually see how far I've come in two years. A former colleague of mine had me on his morning news program and pulled some video of the two of us on-air when I was hugely pregnant. I was embarrassed and a bit jarred to see this surprise flashback. But you know, what? It reinforced to me that all of the time at the gym and logging onto my Weight Watchers account has actually paid off.
So if you are a newish mom struggling with the challenges of bouncing back, I want you to know you are not alone. It can be done. It takes hard work and a really supportive partner. But you can do it. Each week, The Well Mom features tips and advice from fitness experts and nutritionists to help all of us get through this motherhood marathon. Sign up for our weekly email and register to win a free gift set from vedaMAMA organic skincare through January 1st. Be well this week.