After two kids, I bare the war wounds that many do. My thighs and hips have silvery lines, dimpley texture and jiggly movement and yet I have relatively no self-consciousness with them. My stomach mostly escaped stretch marks, and the skin is starting to look less stretched out. Give or take a little bit, it’s even back to its original size, possibly even its original consistency.
But as long as there is some padding around my waistline — which likely was there before kids too — I will still see my body as a work in (desperate need of) progress. Soft is weak.
I was talking with my fitness instructor about moving from stroller fitness to a bootcamp style workout and whether I was ready. She laughed and said I was more than ready and had been for a while. She then told a story about having drinks with a friend who also takes the same fitness session I do. This friend had told my instructor that she was trying to kick up her fitness a level and set herself a new goal: keeping pace with “the fit girl with two kids.”
I scanned the class for who the fit girl with two kids was, ignoring the obvious context and the fact I was pushing my double stroller at the time. Obviously, the fit girl was me. Once I made the connection, I laughed derisively. “I’m not fit! Oh man, you should have seen the back cleavage I had when I tried on a dress the other day”
My brain worked on dissecting that story through class. I thought about the strength of my legs as I rocked my box jumps that I used to have to do as step ups. I thought about the fact that planks no longer leave me gasping for breath, despite the fact they aren’t a cardio exercise. I realized I actually smiled when it came time for hill sprints. Yes, I was undoubtedly fit.
You can’t see my ab muscles. Even with a lower body fat percentage, I couldn’t see their full strength. That makes it hard to face my body in the mirror without judging the squishy bits. But when I chase after a giggling toddler at the park, or toss a baby in the air, I can feel their strength. I may not feel comfortable in a bodycon dress, I may not be able to squeeze into a dress I used to have to hold my breath to zip up anyway, and I may not confidently rock a cropped top, but fit doesn’t have to be dictated by our clothes.