True to form, this past weekend of Whole 30 was a rollercoaster ride. Unless you live under a rock, you know the east coast got slammed by winter storm Jonas. The weather resulted in the cancellation of an all-expenses-paid trip to my beloved alma mater, which I had been preparing for and excited about for many months. I was even working on a draft of my “Traveling on the Whole 30” blog post which would have featured all your favorite themes especially my favorite, “pumping next to strangers at the airport.” When my 9am flight was cancelled a day in advance, I got booked on a 5pm flight and held my breath. By the next morning, the 5pm flight had been cancelled as well. I spent the entire day reeling from the loss and wishing I had a bottle of wine and a carton of ice cream to drown my sorrows. Fortunately for my Whole 30, the weather prevented me from acquiring either of those things and we had nothing of the like in the house. Unfortunately for my Whole 30, we had very little food in the house at all, because I hadn’t planned on being there. But I limped through the weekend on Bilinski’s sausage and canned veggies and I emerged victorious on Monday, Whole 30 in tact. I also ended up having a fabulous snowed-in weekend with my loves. My little girl is such an absolute blast to hang out with right now – happy and playing throughout all of her awake time, and quick to fall asleep when she’s tired. So I should be careful not to complain too much. Ann Arbor will be there when I am ready for the trip. (This summer, maybe?)
Icy roads kept my office closed until the afternoon, leaving me with a few extra minutes to myself in the morning on Monday, Day 25. I used the time to workout at one of my favorite places, my local YMCA. It had been a little over a week since I’d hit the gym and I’m reserving my energy stores for baby care and packing; so I took it easy doing a few of my favorite lifts, some planks, and a very light jog on the treadmill. It was very quiet during this time of day and I enjoyed not having to share the fitness floor. One other gentleman was working out during the same time and he approached me and made note of how nice it was to have the space to ourselves. I agreed. Then he made a comment that I had little response for – something about not having to deal/share with all “the pretenders.” I responded the only way one can to an overly presumptuous, self-righteous comment like that. “Yea,” I said, and re-inserted my headphones’ earbud and went back to my workout.
At first it felt good to be included among the ‘non-pretenders’ by this individual who apparently has the time to workout at 9am on a weekday. Then I thought, I can count on one hand all the times I have been to the gym in 2016. I am only here right now because I don’t have to be at work yet due to the weather and I was able to drop my child off at daycare. I am only doing this 10 minute treadmill workout to try to get my lungs ready for a spin cycle class on Thursday night that I haven’t done since I was in my third trimester. I have spent 82% of my workout trying not to look in the mirror at the part of my body where my daughter used to live, which seems not to have been impacted at all by the previous 24 days of clean eating. I have spent the remaining 18% of my workout reminding myself that I would not trade anything, including a taut tummy, for that baby girl. I would also never judge any mother for their body after giving birth. I also do my very best not to judge any woman at all for their body, though I struggle to apply the same empathy to myself. Not to mention that my squat has gone from bar +150 to bar + barely 50 and my legs are on fire from a measly 24 lunges on each leg.
So am I a pretender? What does that even mean? I am here, using my free time to work toward optimal health, carrying along on my back all the baggage associated with ideals of women’s postpartum bodies. And I feel pretty darn good about that. And I think anyone should feel pretty darn good about whatever efforts they’re taking to work toward their own optimal health. I’m not sorry that we can’t all get to the gym every single day and that it’s not straightforward for all of us to have chicken and broccoli with dinner. Because that means we are also living rich and meaningful lives full of babies and friends and parties and careers and art and fun and food and life! And I feel bad for you if you measure a person’s commitment to health and happiness based on the number of hours they spend at the gym.
So here’s to the pretenders! The New Year’s Resolution gym-goers, the elderly woman lifting 5 pound dumbbells with her 20-something personal trainer, the high school athlete in the off-season, the new moms just figuring it all out, and every other person who is here when they could be (and might rather be) somewhere else – as long as you’re doing the best you can, you’re doing all anyone could ever ask of you, and all you should ask of yourself. Cheers!