Working out has never been more rewarding than it has been since finding out we were pregnant, growing bump and all.
Let me give a disclaimer. Before getting pregnant I thought that some people were good at expecting, and others were just weak whiners. HA. Now I realize that most of how “good” you are at being pregnant is a crapshoot of genetics and how your body/baby just happen to be doing. On the whole, this has been an easy pregnancy, and I have had to change very little about my daily habits, my first trimester intense aversion to nutrition not withstanding. Thus, I was able to continue working out without a problem. But if you are someone who was sick day in and day out for months, someone whose schedule didn’t allow naps each day to then have energy for runs each evening, someone who for any reason opted for months of Netflix over the gym, YOU ARE STILL A TOTAL CHAMPION. I had a couple days where I really did feel too sick to move and I was the absolute biggest baby — if I had had that for months, absolutely ZERO working out would have occurred.
Now then. Back to working out while pregnant.
I have never loved it more. And I have never been worse at it.
My once impressively long runs have trickled to shorter runs, punctuated with stints of walking, or stopping altogether if baby boy is positioned in there in such a way where running is just not comfortable. I usually manage one longer run a week of around 7 miles, and a couple short runs, but they are excruciatingly slow and include a number of stops that haven’t defined my running since my high school cross country days, when I was really just there to socialize. On the other days I walk, rocking out my audiobooks and perfecting my ever increasing waddle. I’ve stuck with doing Barre3 3-4 times a week, but I am truly the worst at that, falling my way through crescent lunges, wobbling through chair poses, and taking every last modification offered during core work. Sometimes I have been known to just lie prone on the mat, eyes shut, pretending no one can see me.
But I have never loved working out more.
Because usually, working out has a distinct goal: get skinnier. Look better. Fit into the smaller sizes. As much as I try to shake it, and as much as I have genuinely come to enjoy exercise throughout my life, there is still an objective aspect of it that cannot be divorced from my own lifelong struggle with loving this earth suit I’m living in.
But all those goals are erased when working out pregnant. My body will not be getting smaller this year. It will balloon to the size of a small whale. Instead of abs, I will get stretch marks and flabby skin. Instead of a toned physique, I will get consistently wider and softer and saggier. There is no shaking this reality. I won’t pretend that it is easy to accept. Even if you know that you should be having these changes, your mind still screams against them, still balks at scale numbers rising and tummies expanding. It’s how our culture has conditioned us.
Yet when I work out, I forget that. I run slower than ever and it resounds through my brain: I am strong. I am strong. I am strong. I phone it in on half the moves in barre class and I feel it in my shaking legs: I am strong. I am strong. I am strong. I drag myself outside for a walk and every step reminds me: I am strong. I am strong. I am strong. For the first time, working out has zero to do with looking better, and everything to do with feeling better, with feeling purposeful, with feeling capable of carrying this baby. My success has no correlation with how I look or how others see me, but rather how I feel in my soul not to mention my body. It is freeing, and empowering, and all those other enthusiastic emotions that usually come from just blasting girl power songs really loudly.
I’m not delusional. I know that at 6 months in, I still have 3 months to go that will comprise way more body changes than the first 6 months combined. The runs will grow shorter, then most likely stop. The walks will grow slower, the barre classes less frequent. But however piddly my working out is becoming, I love it more than ever. It reminds me the truth that every women forgets about her body, pregnant or not, and should remember every time she exercises.
We are strong.