So you’ve probably all heard by now about the mom that posted her hot body pic while surrounded by her three young kiddos with the tag line, “what’s your excuse.” She has, of course, since posted an apology statement with her intentions behind the picture. I mean who hasn’t said something hoping for the best only to have it backfire so very badly? I feel for her. I get that she meant well and wanted to be an inspiration and yet, she inspired more annoyance and probably lots of hate mail. Lots. Personally, I was too tired to respond.
And yet, I get the backlash. As if women didn’t beat themselves up enough. The things we tell ourselves – we’re not pretty enough or skinny enough; we don’t spend enough time with our husbands, kids, dogs, friends, ourselves; we suck at parenting, time management, cooking, parenting, car pooling, pairing wine; our hair looks terrible; we have too many wrinkles; we’re not sexy enough; we don’t exercise enough; we’re not feeding our kids or ourselves properly. And these were all things we said while driving to work or sitting in the carpool line. I tell my husband that he’s lucky he’s not in my head – it’s a crazy mess in there most days. I’m pretty sure he’s thankful he’s not in there either. It’s constant work to remind myself I am good enough. I am an amazing creation, whether I’m running, lifting weights, have my shit together or when everything is completely chaotic, my feet hurt and the only weight I’ve been lifting the last two weeks is the 10 month old who refuses to crawl or walk. So, I get the backlash. I hate on myself enough. I don’t need someone else who seemingly has it all together to add to the already negative messages in my head. I know she meant well, but …
My friend and often running partner, sent me her thoughts and I couldn’t help but nod in agreement. We don’t have excuses for not looking our best, and we do know what it takes. Sometimes it’s just a trade-off. At least right now. So we make choices. But no matter what, let us all start as she ended her letter, by acknowledging that We Are Awesome. Every one of us. You too, Hot Body, What’s your excuse mom. Not perfect, but still awesome. I promise to do my best to love myself whether my muscles are defined or mostly soft so that my family and friends experience the love I have for myself rather than the hate.
Then, let us collectively acknowledge that we have no idea what really goes on within each other’s lives. The daily tasks we face, the full or empty calendars. How could we, we’re living our own lives, aren’t we? Let us dig a little deeper, love each other a little more. Breathe. Let go. Love others. Love yourself. Repeat. You are awesome.
An Open Letter from a friend on What’s Your Excuse?
What is my excuse? I have no excuses. What is your excuse for making assumptions about my goals or the goals of countless other new (or relatively new) moms out there that are simply doing their best? What is your excuse for even thinking you deserve to ask me that question?
When I first saw your picture, I thought to myself, are you calling me fat? Lazy? Are you telling me that I am not making enough time to work out as much as I need to? All of which are true, hence the super defensive reaction. But, then, I started wondering, since you put yourself out there, what about you? What have you looked like your whole life? Were you blessed with an amazing body from the get go? Have you always been an athlete? Are you one of those really lucky women that gain 20 pounds or less during pregnancy and then fit right back into your skinny jeans? Were you able to workout for 40 weeks with babies in your belly? Or, did you have body issues growing up? Have you fought weight your whole life? Is this some HUGE accomplishment that we should all be congratulating you for? I mean, you rock that body whatever your background and after 3 kids and I will give you high fives all day long.
I myself have fought my weight and body issues my entire life. I was never extremely fat and am lucky that my body hides it well. I never had an eating disorder. I had plenty of friends that accepted me for who I am. Although I have run off and on my whole life, I was never an athlete. I probably hovered at a very unhealthy 30% fat until after my 2nd child. I decided that I needed to make time for me (my first two kids are 17 months apart) and so I got a trainer, decided to walk a 3 day 60 mile walk for cancer and then run a half marathon. I did this as a way to make time for myself and to set an example for my very young children. I wanted them to know that activity is a way of life. It will keep you happy, healthy and you can even do things for great causes at the same time. Then I woke up one day and I was 17% body fat and I wanted to walk around nude because I had never looked so good…then I got pregnant again. And this girl gains 70 pounds pregnant, and honestly, enjoys every minute of it!
As you must know getting to the gym is not easy with 3 kids. I have chosen to do it differently this time. I know what it would take ME to look like you. I know that 3 days of 2 a day workouts and 3 additional workouts a week will do it. I know the calories and percentages I need to fuel my body. I know the food preparations I need to make in order to do this. I don’t want that life. Where would I get the time? From the precious sleep I need to be a good mom for my kids, from my all important recovery sleep that I know working out that hard would require?
Maybe you should have said something like, it can be done! I’m Awesome! Anything other than, “ What are you excuses”? I would gladly have looked at your picture and thought, WOW that is amazing! I do not feel inspired, I feel insulted. Rather than excuses I am going to give you 5 reasons why I have chosen to live my life they way I do. Isak is 15, he needs a stepmother to take him driving and to show him that any workout you can get is a good one because life is busy and you never know when you can get it in. Mia is 6. She is an incredible runner, a born athlete who is driven and focused and thankfully has her father’s metabolism. She needs someone to help her learn to run even if it means missing out on my own workout. Henry is 4. He’s a lover not a fighter. He needs someone to eat the sugar cookies he decorates because he is so proud of his hard work and he doesn’t want to eat them alone. Mia and Henry need someone to take them to soccer practice and games. They also deserve to have their parents cheer them on. Farrah is 1 ½ and she needs me to spend my time with her and not at the gym childcare when we are together. John is an amazing husband. He too, is an incredible athlete. He also loves me, and my curves no matter what. He needs a wife that can spend time with him when he’s not at work. This also means not having to split duties so we can each work out. We both deserve to enjoy our children together. I will gladly take a 20-minute walk to the park together over a 4 mile run on my own. They all need a family that eats good, healthy food together, real food even though it may not be ideal food for the ideal body.
A friend of mine asked me why I don’t get mad that I can’t have my body back right now. Why would I be mad? Because I have 4 amazing kids and a husband that need me and my time? I am mad because people feel I owe them excuses. I want my children to know they don’t owe anyone an excuse for anything except not being a good person and a productive member of society that brings out the best in themselves and others. I want them to be people who encourage others to get out there, get it done and to understand that everyone does this in their own special way. I want them to understand that everyBODY is different and beautiful and that you should treat yours well and respect everybody else’s.
The message I am trying to send to my kids hasn’t changed. I still have a trainer and I run when I can – for a cause. So what if it takes me 3 months to accomplish what used to take 30 days. I AM AWESOME. I hope you are too.