I see you there new mom. I see you there mom of two or mom of five. You make a joke as you enter the exercise room how you got lost and ended up here. Or you say nothing and try to blend in with the step benches on the back row. Your eyes are super intent not to catch my gaze as you tie your shoes again or aimlessly scroll through your messages. I welcome you to my class and I can tell you just want me to shut up. Or you make a joke and call yourself “chunky” or “value size” as you tell me how you used to be fit. You used to be here all the time. Lots of “I used to” nervous chatter.
Your stretched out yoga pants are wearing thin in the thighs meaning you bought them when you were a smaller size – or these are the only pants you can wear these days. The only pants you wear these days. The only pants that fit as you’re caught between refusing to wear your maternity clothes any longer and refusing to buy new clothes at your current size. You pull at the pants in an unconscious attempt to stretch them out a little more, show your shape a little less, ease the pressure from the waistband.
I see you, and you know what? I’ve been you.
I know what strong fortitude it takes to step your big toe in an exercise class surrounded by fit moms in bright tank tops and sculpted leggings. And I know sweet momma what it takes when you used to be the most fit, in the best shape, the one with the most endurance for burpees or high knees because those moms tell me their stories of current shame too. Heck I didn’t even know what a burpee was two years ago when I was much rounder than I cared to be and had to stop the class to ask the teacher to explain the bizarre move she was asking us to do.
Every day I wore stretched out black yoga pants hanging on by a thread. I sweated more than normal with those long pants and shapeless T-shirts until I started to see muscle that I didn’t know existed. Then one day I bought a pair of (long) exercise leggings and eventually got myself to crop length then wowzer I succumbed to my tank top envy.
And honestly all along nobody else cared what I was wearing. However with mirrors in every direction I was reminded each workout session of the girl I was until finally she was just a memory. Until she was just a “before” picture.
But it takes one step.
To make this a life season and not a life sentence, you must take that first step.
Then you need to take it again and come back when you are sore and can’t easily lift your little one. Then another step to give everything you’ve got when you’ve got nothing to give. And helpful hint, you won’t fall asleep in a high intensity interval class. You might in yoga. Don’t take any class that starts with the word “gentle” unless you have serious knee and joint issues! Speaking from experience here.
And you might cry – not from pain or embarrassment, but from the sheer fact you are finally doing something for you. That you’ve carved out “me” time. That you matter. Then as fate would have it in that moment of ecstatic glory you’ll see a worker from child watch scanning the gym for you because your child needs a new change of underwear. Speaking from experience again.
So yes I see you. Yes I’ve been you. And yes I have faith in you . . . but only if you have faith in you too.
Faith enough to stick it out when you would rather nap. Faith enough to believe if nothing changes, nothing changes. Faith when your brain cannot compute the next move and you have to speak up to ask me to repeat what we are about to do. Faith that you are worth making the time to feel better.
And no this isn’t about getting to a certain size either. Cut the darn tags out of your clothes if numbers nobody else sees are taunting you.
This is about getting to your best you. The mom who comes in the gym and sees familiar faces who hold each other accountable and celebrate each other’s wins. The mom who says “hi” to the instructor and groans a little when class starts but by the end knows she absolutely needed that “me” time. That her family absolutely needed her “me” time.
So I see you hiding out or nervously chatty . . . and I welcome you. Well deserved sweet friend. Well deserved.