*By: Linz Bordner*
When my sisters approached me about working together on a blog focused on fitness, fashion, and food, my initial thoughts were: What is a blog? And how would I contribute to the fitness aspect? I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary and was lucky enough to get 20 minutes in on the treadmill during the week.
Since I became a mom of two, my priorities had shifted from it being “all about me” to it now being all about the other tiny humans in my life that needed me on the daily. Doing the zombie shuffle in the middle of the night with an infant and a toddler and waking up looking like Gary Busey after a 3-day bender would now be my new norm. So long were the hour-long workouts and jogs in the park when I had ample time on my hands (and energy, of course). I just accepted it as a phase and that someday soon, I’d get back to my old physical self I once knew. Or would I?
Fitness had always been a big part of my life since I was a little kid. I grew up with a mother who was an avid runner and who spent most mornings doing Jane Fonda aerobics in the living room (leg warmers and all!). My dad worked at Bucknell University’s Athletic Department, and we spent many weekends there playing in the gym. I found a love in basketball and played all through grade school. If I wasn’t doing something active, then I was driving everyone around me insane with my nervous energy.
Throughout college, I went to the gym daily, ran almost every day, and played intramural basketball. If I didn’t expend some kind of energy on a regular basis, it affected my whole being: physical, mental, and emotional. Fitness, I have come to realize, is a big part of who I am, and if it isn’t present in my life, then I’m just not “me.”
While I adored this adventure of being a new mom, my body became somewhat of a foreign creature to me. My second pregnancy was anything but normal. At my 12-week check-up, a 12×12 cyst was found on my ovary. I was advised that I would have to “take it easy” until nature ran its course and the baby was delivered. Telling me to take it easy was pretty much like telling me I would never be able to eat cheese again, a hard pill to swallow, but it had to be done for the sake of the baby and to prevent the cyst from rupturing. With a baby and cyst growing simultaneously, by the end of my pregnancy, I had gained a whopping 70 pounds. Thankfully, I made it through without the cyst bursting and delivered a healthy baby girl.
After I had baby Elin, I still looked 6 months pregnant since the cyst was still in there and was actually bigger than a baby itself. The cyst ended up rupturing two weeks after I gave birth and had to be removed ASAP. After it was taken out, I felt like I just had liposuction. It was mind-boggling what had grown in my body and was thus removed. Due to extreme stretching of the outer skin and abdominal muscles, the doctors told me I had severe diastasis recti and that my body would never be back to “norm.” This led me to ask the reluctant question, “Will I ever be able to wear my pre-pregnancy pants again?” The response was an assertive and unanimous “No.” I couldn’t help but visualize the horror of having to wear my grandmother’s elastic-waist jeans for the rest of my life. Not a good look for someone in their mid-30s.
Fast forward a year later and with clean, healthy eating coupled with light exercise, I refuted what the doctors deemed was my outlook and was pretty much back. Not fully, but almost. Although, I wasn’t expecting to be back to my 20 year-old body, at least I was back to being recognizable.
But my hope for this year and beyond is to gradually bring a fitness regimen back into my daily life. In whatever way, shape, or form that happens, it’s something I must do for myself. And I have come to realize, that’s ok. It’s not about being selfish and feeling guilt as moms sometimes feel when we are doing something for ourselves. Ultimately, we are doing it for the good of the family. You’ve heard it before…If mom is not healthy and happy, then everyone suffers.
Recently, I saw one of those words of wisdom quotes floating around on my Facebook feed that said: “Take care of yourself so you can take care of everything else you want to take care of.” It is really that true.
But this is to anyone who feels like they have lost their sense of self during a transitional phase or health setback in their life. Nothing is permanent and with small steps and a hopeful outlook, you can get back to who you once were: strong, healthy, and whole.
Running a marathon may not be in the cards anytime soon, but I will be wearing my jeans again. Not my grandmother’s, of course.