We throw off the lie of perfection and cling to our identity in God as we strive to be whole, healthy, and fit. Our goal is wholeness, not perfection.

Archive for November, 2014

Permission to Be a Mom

My body is not my own.

My name’s Reina and I’m a recovering fitness addict, image addict – I’m not sure which one is more true.  The last time I was regularly active, it wasn’t so much of an obsession as it was a really positive outlet.  But once upon a time, I was a fitness addict.  I was more concerned about the end product and it overshadowed the joy and blessing of being able to move and breathe.  I pushed my body’s limits just a little passed comfortable in order to get stronger, and faster, and build endurance.  And let’s face it, I wanted to look good in jeans.

I’m definitely a recovering image addict, and I think that’s something I’ll struggle with as long as I’m on this side of heaven.  It changes, the degree to which I struggle with it.  And also the specific focus of the obsession regarding image, that changes.  There are better seasons, better days, and then there are those days and seasons when I really struggle to let go of the opinions of others.  I truly do believe that it’s an illness, disease, whatever you want to call it, that women are prone to be effected by more than men. Or maybe we just reflect it or act out on it in differently than guys do.  In ways that are more noticeable.  I don’t know.

One of the unexpected benefits of being a new mom of twins is that my twin pregnancy really humbled me in the area of obsessing over my fitness and image.  I was teaching fitness classes when I became pregnant with the twins.  I really enjoyed it.  I loved the endorphins, the comradery of teaching group fitness classes, the whole group dynamic – and it could be a class as small as two people.  One person actually, when it came to my 5:30 in the morning classes.  It was awesome to have other like minded people allow me to partner with them in the endeavor to get healthy and fit, to strive for progress over perfection.  We formed real bonds, created real community.

When I got pregnant I thought, “This is awesome!  I’m going to keep teaching classes and I’m going to teach until it’s time to give birth.”  Then we found out I was carrying twins and I was told that wasn’t going to happen.  The last class I taught was in early August and the next fitness class I participated in was in October.  And in those two short months I could tell the difference in what I could handle, or rather couldn’t handle.  The next time I worked out again was in December and whoa buddy, what I could do was limited even more.

During this time (August to December) I was gaining weight (to be expected) and battling pregnancy acne (as if I wasn’t self-conscious enough already with the rapid weight gain).  It was becoming more and more evident that my body was not mine.  My body was a home to the two lives growing inside me.  It was a cafeteria to feed them.  I was also processing their nutrients, their blood, their oxygen, their waste.  There were so many things my body had to regulate, and my body’s needs took a backseat.

And although I was okay with it during the pregnancy, I really did think that once they were born and I reached the six weeks recovery period (really eight with a Cesarean) that I’d be able to jump right back into working out.  More than trying to get back in shape, I was trying to get active again.  It took me several months of chiropractic care to get my hips and pelvis to stay put and not jostle out of place.  I started doing well for a few days at a time, which became a few weeks.  I was doing at home workout programs and seeing some real improvements in my endurance and muscle tone.  And then the boys went to daycare and I went to work.  They got sick and lovingly gave their stomach bug to me and my husband.  After that, it just seemed like every time I put two days together of working out that something else would pop up.  It really feels like – not as an excuse, but as a reality check – that God’s telling me that now is not the season.  Now is not the time to focus on my fitness, but to focus on being a mom.

Although they are not living in me anymore, and I’m not their house anymore, I’m still their number one source of nutrition.  I’m still supplying the majority of their nutrients through nursing or expressing milk and sending it to daycare.  So I really felt God focusing my attention on my nutrition and food intake.  Unfortunately, when I lost a few pounds in September, my babies lost weight, too.  I’m not sure if my weight loss was tied to their weight loss or if it was just the timing because they had another touch of the stomach bug.  Honestly, I wasn’t heartbroken about not focusing on my nutrition.  It’s not easy to eat 3,000 calories of healthy food every day.  It’s time consuming and it’s costly.

But that didn’t change the fact that I felt torn between being okay with wearing my maternity jeans and wanting to hurry up and “bounce back” to my pre-pregnancy body.  There’s a lot of pressure in our society for women to “bounce back” and look like their pre-pregnancy self with a quickness.  Never mind the magazines that feature new celebrity moms who have lost their pregnancy weight and more in less than three months.  Those magazine covers have been around for years.  When comparison rears its ugly head I’m able to remind myself that those celebrities have nannies, personal chefs, personal trainers, and they do not have the schedule normal moms do.  What gets to me is when I see normal moms on Instagram and Facebook talking about hitting that pre-pregnancy mark.  It’s much easier to get caught up in the lie of “Well, if she can do it I should be doing it.”  It seems like getting back to pre-pregnancy size or smaller isn’t just a goal anymore, it’s an expectation.

I know I’m not the only new mom (or new again mom) who is looking for, waiting for, aching for permission to be okay with walking in the truth that our bodies are not our own.  To be okay with the current season of life.  Not that there isn’t a time to lose fat and tone up. I just know now is not that season for me.  I’m not willing to give up what little sleep I get to wake up super early in the morning to work out before my house wakes up.  And after a full day – waking up around 4 to either nurse or pump, getting myself and everyone else ready for the day, working 9 hours, doing Mommy stuffy with our oldest, nursing and getting the twins ready for bed when they get home from daycare*, putting our oldest to bed, cleaning the kitchen and preparing all bottles and pumping supplies for the next day*, and spending time with my husband before going to bed by 11 – I’m spent and working out is the last thing I want to devote my time and energy to.  If you’re a mom out there and you’re able to juggle working full time, a newborn, older kids, a husband, nutrition, and fitness – mad props to you.  I’m just not there right now and that’s okay.

Since having the twins I’ve noticed that what and how we feed our kids is a huge deal.  I see plenty of debates via social media about breast feeding versus exclusively pumping versus formula and mushy food versus baby led weaning and all sorts of craziness.  I regularly see posts where women lovingly give one another permission to feed their children however they see fit, to do whatever is best for their family.  People say things like “As long as the baby is happy, healthy, and thriving, let’s encourage one another and not tear each other down.”  I see plenty of those posts.

We may not talk about it outright but I definitely sense that there’s this issue of “bouncing back” from a pregnancy and how long it takes.  I’d love to see just as many, if not more posts, of new moms (and new again moms) giving each other permission to enjoy being moms and not having to feel the pressure of to do so within a certain time frame.  Giving each other permission to be present for the very, very short period of time when our children rely so heavily upon us.

So if no one else out there on the interweb can relate, then so be it.  But if you can, please hear me when I say you have permission to be a mom.  Because that’s so much more than enough right now.

*when my husband’s schedule allows he helps out with these tasks

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Amateur Juggler (October 4th)

I need to take care of myself.  What does it look like to you to take care of yourself?  There’s basic hygiene, water, nutrition – you know, the basics.  I’m just wondering how other full time working moms take care of themselves.  I remember doing it when my son was a toddler up until the time I got pregnant with the twins.  I did it with the help of having a membership to the Y, and then being a group fitness instructor.  So that kept me accountable because if I didn’t show up to class then class didn’t happen.  But now that I have twins and I’m back at work, I don’t really know what it looks like to take care of myself during this season.

I know sleep is a huge priority (as I yawn).  I know that spending time with God is a priority, but it seems like it’s something I don’t ever get around to, not how I used to, not how I’d like to.  I haven’t worked out in a really long time and I can feel my body craving all the good chemicals I get from working out.  I know I need to go out on a date with my husband.  It feels like it’s been forever since we went somewhere that wasn’t church or with family.

I know there are things I can do to take care of myself, I just don’t see how to juggle it all.  I’m missing margin in my day.  I need white space.  I need…how do you clear things off of your calendar and to-do list when all of the stuff has to be done?  I have a friend of mine at work who used to joke with me “Reina, all you need to do is get yourself a wife.”  All I know is I feel overwhelmed and spent.  So if you’ve got tips or suggestions on how to refocus energy and time, I’d love to hear them.

#NoFilter – Part 2

So I decided to take this self-presented challenge for the month of October (clearly failed didn’t meet that goal so I’m trying it for November).  I’m going to start writing unedited.  I’m not going to take the time to bold sections that seem important that stand out for some reason.  Quite honestly I don’t know why I started the practice of bolding  words.  I’m a little bit anal retentive a little obsessive compulsive.  So I just kept it up because the idea that there wouldn’t be consistency from one post to the next kind of gave me a nervous tick.

I’m just going to be writing and not really worrying about coming off as clever or witty.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, if people find humor or some wit within the words I string together, that’s cool.  That’s awesome.  That’s great.  But it’s not going to be my intent or my focus for the month of October (November).  I’m just going to write.  I just feel really overwhelmed right now (not writing during October did not help this feeling go away) and I feel worn.  It reminds me of the song by Tenth Avenue North.  I already liked the song, but then when Mike Donehey explained that it was written because of – or not because of, but in response to – something his wife shared with him when they had a newborn.  Which was she was just worn out.  Late nights with the baby and all the things that having a newborn brings.  And I can relate to that right now.

Although I am overwhelmed and feel worn out, I also feel burdened with a lot of things I want to put on paper, or rather, onto my computer screen.  Just a lot of ideas, and feelings, and thoughts.  And again, I’m not going to be concerned about an audience.  I don’t even really think I have an audience.  Maybe some really loving friends and loyal…yuck, I hate the word followers.  But anyways, there are maybe a few people who read this.  And thank you for reading.  I appreciate seeing that it’s been read, commented on, or liked.  But I’m going to be a little selfish here and just write for myself.  And if people can relate, that’s awesome. That’s great.

Right now I can’t concern myself with an audience or how it’s received, because then I start second guessing myself and I start editing while I’m writing rather than just putting down the words.  I start focusing on the reception of the words rather than the words themselves.  And what I write loses a little bit of its authenticity.

So that’s my self-imposed and self-accepted challenge for the month of October (I had all sorts of reasons to not start writing again in October).  I don’t know if anyone else, any other bloggers, or Instagrammers, or Facebook posters can relate to feeling burdened with the concern of how their words or pictures are received.  Focusing on the presentation rather than just sharing without filtering, without constantly editing.  So, if you’re up for the challenge, I’d be happy to have some company.

side note – On October 4th I recorded three different blog entries using an app on my phone.  I thought that if I spoke the words and then transcribed them it would help with trying to edit while writing.  I like the practice and I think I’m going to stick with it for the rest of 2014.  Crazy how that isn’t a very long time.

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