A Different Kind Of Mom Bod

I’m supposed to say, I love my body. I made little humans. I really like the cellulite that showed up on my butt. Aren’t these the things I’m supposed to believe with all of the body positivity, motherhood vibes and girl power that I champion??

Postpartum feelings are confusing and after both of my pregnancies I haven’t felt how I thought I would. For the last three years or so I’ve given my body away in a pretty substantial way, by going through two pregnancies in a relatively short period of time. Truth be told, I still give my body away every single day. I nurse my almost three week old, I hoist my two year old into the car, I schlep the dog up the stairs, I wipe dirty little faces and I pick up an endless array of toys.

It might sound selfish (and it feels selfish) that I want my old body back. I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking, “Ashley, you’re not even three weeks postpartum. Let yourself heal. Give it time. It took months to make those beautiful babies, so allow yourself to take the time to get back to where you were.” I get it. I agree, but it’s not that easy.

Seeing your postpartum body for the first time can be a pretty big shock. It’s hard (and amazing) for any woman to see such a huge transformation. Being that I recently shared with all of you that I had history with an eating disorder, it feels even harder seeing this change in my body, especially for the second time.

The good thing is that I’ve been through this all once before and I know what my body is capable of. I know I will lose the baby weight, regain my strength and feel like some semblance of myself again. I just hate the waiting game. It’s uncomfortable, but life can be uncomfortable.

While I was pregnant with Gialina I worked out 5-6 days per week, ate a balanced diet and treated myself when it felt right. With Viviana I did the same routine. The only difference that I can think of is that with Gia I stuck with more cardio based workouts, and with Vivi I continued my weight training with my cardio.

I gained 43 pounds with Gia and 40 with Vivi. The only reason I tell you this is because I’m a firm believer that your body is programmed to gain a certain amount of weight while pregnant, regardless of what you do. I did everything “right” through both of my pregnancies, yet I still beat myself up for not gaining the recommended 25-35 pounds.

Obviously those numbers can’t apply to everyone. The woman who is 5’2″ will very likely gain differently than the woman who is 6’0″. We aren’t the same and neither are any of our pregnancies.

Trust the process. This is my own reminder to myself to do just that. Sometimes when you put things out in the universe (like sharing vulnerabilities) good things happen. Healing happens. Support is given. People feel less alone. That’s my intention here. I’m reminding myself that I will get where I want to be soon and if you’re in a similar season in your life, you will too.

I’m sure you may have heard the saying, “people only show their highlight reel” through social media outlets. A friend of mine reminded me of this the other day, and it’s so true. Of course we are all quick to share the great things in our lives, but I find it just as important to share our bumps in the road or messy moments. We are all so much more alike than we realize. The moment we stop pretending that we are better than one another or comparing our highlight reels, is the moment we will all feel more connected.

 This is about my entire self, about all the parts of me – more than just getting my body back. It’s about the parts that existed before two little people filled my arms and my heart, and the parts that will continue to exist long after those people have fully grown.

Share your experiences – good and maybe not so good. I having a sneaking suspicion that someone else will reach out in appreciation, creating a ripple effect. Pass on kindness, pay it forward and if comfortable, share your truth.

Xo

My Week Long Social Media Detox

I’m pretty sure that from the beginning, technology was meant to serve us in a positive way. Social media is supposed to make our lives better by allowing us to have more time and connection to others in our already limited schedules. But are the likes of Instagram and Twitter really adding value to our lives?

I will certainly admit that there are times where I feel like a slave to the social media machine. It’s sometimes hard to totally “log off,” especially when our jobs and lives almost require us to be online. I catch myself scrolling through my Instagram sometimes before even hopping out of bed in the morning, and for what?

Of course social media can be a good thing, but even too much of a good thing can be harmful. For this reason, I decided to take a little break from all things social media for one week. Some of you may scoff and say, “One week is nothing!” While that may be true, at least I’ve remained true to my word for the last week by going completely cold turkey. For me, the main culprit of addiction is Instagram. I use Facebook as well, but Instagram is something that I feel more invested in, for whatever reason.

On day 2 of my detox from the online world, I realized just how much I casually visited Instagram. Day 1 was easy to go without, but the second morning I found my fingers twitching to click that little icon on my phone. Thoughtless Instagram scrolling sometimes serves as a little mommy getaway during nap time or when Gia is happily watching an episode of Sesame Street. But what was it that I was really longing for? Nothing on Instagram that I was “missing” was going to change my life, or make it better for that matter.

On Day 6 of my little detox, I realized I wasn’t even thinking about social media. With this newfound sense of “freedom” I found myself using short bursts of time for more useful things than online scrolling. I’m a pretty productive person, but this past week I’ve been more motivated to just get things done. I’m not sure if it has everything to do with not being so online, but I’ll take it.

During the past week I’ve accomplished a lot – Gia’s big girl bed is in her new room, bedding for it has been ordered, I’ve had family over for dinner, I’ve taken family to appointments and planted in the yard, just to name a few. Along with these to-do’s I’ve also felt more mental clarity. I know that sounds a little wacky, but it’s true. No trying to keep up with the Joneses, less feelings of inadequacy and more pride in the things that I have accomplished. If I can attribute these feelings to less social media usage than I may very well make this a regular thing.

We all know that social media sells a false reality, which can be especially toxic for women. We all usually post our best pictures – many times showing us on our latest adventure, silently proclaiming (with or without intention) how great our life is. Herein lies the comparison problem. It’s extremely difficult to remind ourselves that people post what they want others to see. If you say you don’t, you’re probably lying.

When I first looked at my Instagram feed after not seeing it for a week there was a couple things I noticed. I realized that I didn’t miss much of anything and I immediately had a negative thought creep into my head. After seeing a pregnancy Instagram account post a photo of a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant, I found myself comparing my pregnancy size to her. First off, I’m a couple days shy of 23 weeks, and second – it doesn’t matter! Everything I’ve been trying to stop doing the past week came racing back. I’m just pleased I was able to instantly realize how irrational and ridiculous I was being for thinking I should look like that woman.

The thing about comparing our lives to each other through social media is that it’s completely unfair. Nobody’s profile is perfect – it’s all filtered and sterilized! So why do you and I keep feeling a twinge of despair for not having as many likes and followers as the next person? Here’s where I insert a friendly reminder: Comparison is the thief of joy. A flower doesn’t think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms. Lions don’t concern themselves with the opinions of sheep either. Wish I could say I came up with those quotes, but I didn’t. They are just words I try to remember when I catch myself feeling inadequate after looking at the hottest blogger’s Instagram feed, or my mom friend who seems to always have her stuff together.

One of 30 newly planted friends in my front yard – my beautiful hydrangea:

I understand that we live in a day and age where social media is truly a big part of all of our lives. There’s lots of tangible benefits too – keeping us connected with friends and family from all over, and augmenting our social lives, rather than replacing them.

My biggest takeaway from this personal experiment was that there is so much more to life than meets the eye. My perspectives have been shifted and I’ve been reminded of what’s most important in life – our family, health and happiness.

I read an article prior to going offline for the week about a man who takes a month long break from social media every December. I thought this was a really great idea and would be something that I could benefit from. If I implement this same practice the only thing I will miss are sharing photos of my daughter. (Soon I’ll be saying daughters! Crazy!) Other than that, it sounds like I need to pick my month of the year to go on my vacation from the online world.

Have any of you taken a deliberate break from social media before? I’m curious to hear what it did for you. Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts about what the app addiction is doing to our world.

Xo

Self Care Is Not Pampering!

When I talk about self care, I feel like many people tend to think I mean pampering.  They couldn’t be more wrong!  While pampering does fall under the self care category, not all self care is pampering.  You still with me?  To me, self care is being your own best advocate, setting boundaries, making time for hobbies – it’s simply creating time for what you need and doing what you can to make it happen.

That last part is key – doing what you can to make it happen.  Today I did a bit of self care and I’m so glad I took a small part of my day to make myself a priority.  It’s too easy in life (especially when you have the demands of family, children, a career and everything in between) to forget about what you need to do for yourself so you can thrive.  I tell myself when I’m feeling unnecessary mom guilt that if I don’t take good care of myself, I cannot take the best care of my daughter and family.  Additionally, I want to lead Gia by example and let her know that it’s important to be good to your mind, body and soul.

Forms of self care that I’m working on:

  • Unplug – Yes, I’m telling you to put the iPhone down!  It’s not that easy to do, especially with social media, e-mails, phone calls, face time sessions, etc.  I feel a sense of freedom when I take a break from my electronics, as hard as it may be in the moment.
  • Practice Meditation – Okay, this one I’m really, really bad at.  For the last few years my New Year’s Resolution has been to practice more yoga.  Want to know how much yoga I’ve done in the last few years? — that’s right, NONE!  Wait, I take that back.  I did go to a wine and yoga retreat a couple of months back with girlfriends.  Does that count for a mini meditation?  My point here is, it’s good to practice something that makes you feel that mind-body connection.  For me, I think yoga will make me more mindful and relaxed, so I’m holding myself accountable by talking about it here.  Minimally, I’d like to at least do some deep breathing and stretching once a day.  Hopefully you guys can keep tabs on me and make sure I follow through!

Photo Of The Last Time I Did Yoga:

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  • Sleep – You’d think sleep would be an easy one after chasing a busy toddler all day long.  Not so much!  I’m someone who suffers from pretty bad anxiety and have had a history of depression, which, unfortunately does not make for a sound night’s sleep.  Just because I have anxiety and have had depression do NOT mean that I don’t love my life and appreciate it.  It’s the perfectionist in me that puts me on planet crazy and keeps me from sweet dreams.

Gia Demonstrating What I Need To Get Better At:

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  • Talk To Someone – Psychologists, therapists and spiritual mentors can make some people feel a little bit uneasy, I get that.  I’m not into all that stuff either, but I see the benefit of it.  For months I’ve been putting myself on the back burner regarding my anxiety and today I finally said, enough.  As uncomfortable as it can be to talk to a total stranger about your deepest thoughts, it’s such a release.  Today that’s exactly what I did – I went and talked to a psychologist about my feelings of anxiety and feel so much better.  It doesn’t mean that all of my “problems” are gone, but it’s a big step in the right direction.  I have to say I’m kind of proud of myself!  🙂

Forms of self care that I rock at:

  • Energize Your Body – I do something to “move” every single day.  It’s not selfish, it’s good for me and good for Gia.  I go to the gym to train five days per week.  Obviously when things come up or if Gia doesn’t feel like playing in the child care for an hour then I reevaluate.  The days I don’t get a traditional workout in, I take Gia on a walk or we go on an adventure.  It makes me feel so much more awake and alive for the entire day.
  • Take A Bath Or Shower – This one sounds a little, well, gross.  You don’t always get to shower when you want to after having a child.  Sometimes you’re too damn tired and other times you literally cannot.  Maybe that’s TMI, but it’s the truth!  I make sure to use my favorite body wash and skin care products when I get cleaned up.  It makes me feel beautiful and refreshed to smell so nice and have hydrated, happy skin.

Even Our Dog Homie Needs Some Self Care:

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  • Read Something, Anything! – I’m a big book worm and I read anything I can get my hands on.  Lately my reading has been in the form of other blogs that motivate me to be the best version of myself.  I try and set aside time to read when Gia is down for a nap or after she’s gone to bed.  It’s the perfect way for me to wind down.
  • Enjoy A Piece of Chocolate, Or Glass Of Wine – Better yet, enjoy the chocolate and wine together!  I used to fret over anything “bad” that went into my body.  No more!  If your body wants a little treat, then by all means, eat the chocolate and drink the wine!  The gym and your regularly scheduled eating routine will be there tomorrow.  You won’t fall off track – it might even help you stay on track by not depriving yourself of what you want!

Gia says it’s okay to get chocolate wasted once in a while:

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I hope you guys can relate to some of that!  How do you self care?  I’d love to hear how others take care of their mind, body and soul.  Comment and let me know!