Last week, a family member said I’m looking thin and that she hoped I was done losing weight post baby.
Weight is a tricky thing. Body image is even trickier. What one sees isn’t what the other sees, and when are we really happy?
When I was 16, I had a great body. It was free from stretch marks, I was in a healthy weight range and my jeans fit me well. But I still didn’t feel as if it was what it should have been – or could have been.
Now, here I am, 13 years later with a body that’s birthed four babies and I’m finally becoming satisfied with it. But what changed?
Let’s get real here. I’m 5’8″ and weigh 145. That’s within the healthy BMI range, if that’s your thing, and I fit into my jeans well enough.
But is that too thin?
I don’t think so.
Do I have wiggle room to come down? Sure.
Am I trying to?
It’s been a hard mental struggle hearing the comments from some that I’m too thin. It just feels so personal. So judging. Immediately I start to question everything I do. Do I work out too much? Am I eating enough? Am I over training?
But then I come down, and I look at myself and then ask, “Cassie, do you know what you’re capable of? Do you know your limits?”
Yes, yes I do.
Every week minimum, I spin three times a week, because I teach. I also look forward to Friday Body Pump. I try to get in to BP Wednesdays or Sundays, but that just depends on how I feel or the kids and such.
On top of that, I’ve begun training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I’m not going for time or a PR, but I do want to finish it without any pain. So I’ve been running a minimum of a mile a day just to get the body used to the pounding running requires.
If I’m tired, I stop.
If I don’t feel good, I skip out.
If something hurts, I stretch it out.
Do I ultimately want to have a smoking hot body? I’m pretty sure everyone would want that, if that was an option.
Will it happen? Meh. Who knows.
When I was pregnant with Claire I obsessed about looking on the internet for postpartum workouts and ways to get my body back in shape, fast. By the time I got back to pre-pregnancy weight, I was already pregnant with Luca. Same for Mae. After Mae, I was convinced I was done having kids, and I was getting my body back, slowly but surely. But I made a promise to myself that it was going to be about health, not about bikini model thin. Because, let’s face it, three kids and many stretchmarks later, I realized my modeling days were long over.
I joined group fitness, became a certified instructor and committed to become a healthy, strong person for my kids to look up to.
One thing I don’t talk to my kids about is weight. We talk about being strong, healthy, capable. I think it’s very important, especially with having the job that I have, to make sure my kids know that I don’t expect them to be able to do the workouts that I do. Are they welcome to join me when I workout at home? Of course. But it’s not mandatory and it’s certainly not used against them. Their body image, positive or negative, starts with me and how I see myself.
That’s why I’ve chosen to see myself for what I am.
I buy workout pants that have a wide waist band to hold in the lower belly and stretchmarks. Let’s be honest – those aren’t going anywhere. Plus, it makes me feel better.
Some days I look at my legs and see only where I need to improve, not that they take me through sometimes six days a week of hard, hard work.
But most days I see Mae looking at me, and I smile and say, “Mama’s strong, huh?” And she says, “I want to be just like my Mom.”
It’s a fine line, body image. A very fine line. Some will see those photos and think, “Wow, there’s a lot of room for improvement,” whereas some may think, “That looks healthy.” I can’t change other peoples’ opinions about myself and who I am or what I look like. What I can do is continue to work hard and do the things I love to do, with the outcome that I earned this body. It’s the only body I get.
What my hope is that my girls will always view themselves for what they are. Strong, beautiful, capable women who have beautiful bodies, inside and out. That exercise is good because it makes you feel strong and happy. That being a badass is more important than being frail and dainty. That being who they are is paramount.
Last night, I posted a photo on instagram (and later facebook) with this caption:
“Every few months I take a photo of myself to see my progress. Some days I feel like there’s been none or that I’ll never have the body I want. But today, when I took this photo, I had to give myself some credit. Am I supermodel thin? Heck no! But that body has carried four babies. One just under a year ago. If I keep going the direction I’m going, I may not have the body I’ve envisioned, BUT, I’m farther today than I was yesterday. So I’m going to keep with it.”