I walked into the room and immediately thought “Omigosh, I am so much bigger than the other pregnant women in here.”
Myself, Hillary and Shira, 23, 20 and 17 weeks pregnant.
I went to an amazing fitness and business retreat this past weekend in California. One of the incredible presenters and one of my very good friends Jill Coleman of JillFit Physiques was talking about The Success Mindset. She was talking about what a success mindset was NOT and the number one mindset she listed was “the comparison trap.” The comparison trap meaning just as it sounds, getting caught in a trap of always comparing ourselves to others.
There were 2 other pregnant ladies at this retreat who I knew were a few weeks behind me. As I sat there and listened to this I thought back when I first walked into the room and automatically compared myself, specifically my belly size to their bellies. Omigosh, I am so much bigger than them. I cannot believe they are only a month behind me. I am going to be huge.
Instead of seeing us as all beautiful women whose bodies are literally building and growing a baby, my thoughts immediately went to how I looked compared to them. Though I know I had some of these feelings when I was pregnant with Caleb, I do not remember these thoughts bothering me as much. Maybe because I showed earlier this time (which is very common) or feel bigger at this point or maybe because it was my first pregnancy and had really no idea what to expect or how big I was going to get.
But why the hell does it matter if their bellies were smaller than mine? They should be! They were not as far as along as me. Heck, one of them was 6 inches taller than me, of course she looked different! I am constantly telling my clients that every body is different, genetically, hormonally, and physically. Every pregnancy is different for each woman. All of these differences are what make us unique and is also why there is no one exercise or nutrition plan that works for everyone, pregnant or not.
How could I always be trying to reassure and tell my clients that everybody is different yet, there I was comparing my body to theirs?
As I started to reflect on this more and more over the next few days, I realized that I often fall into this comparison trap without consciously knowing it. Wow, her arms are way leaner than mine, her hair looks so much better than mine, she makes more money than I do, she can lift more than me even though I work in fitness. Working in the fitness industry, my comparisons tend to be focused on the body. I think many women compare themselves to other women. Is it a sign of insecurity? Maybe. Is it a sign of jealousy? Maybe. I am sure the root of it for each women is different as well. Honestly, I am not sure why I tend to do it.
I believe working in the fitness industry is hard on one’s body image. And though I think the industry has done a good job in recent years in embracing strong and powerful women, a good physique is still regarded as important in most areas of the industry. How can I tell someone how to lose weight or to get lean if I am carrying around extra pounds? How can I seem credible? I do feel pressure to stay in shape. And though I feel that I am a fairly confident person, I do worry what people think when I step on stage to teach a class or when I train a client. I like working out and eating right but I am probably never going to be 120lbs with 12% body fat without starving myself and I have to learn to be okay with that. I remember being nervous when I started teaching after giving birth to Caleb. Do I look good for having a baby 10 weeks ago? Are my abs supposed to be this flabby still? Honestly, I was not really sure since my body had never gone through it before. I did not know how long it usually took for someone to return to pre-baby weight or when someone’s abs would look kind of normal. But you know what? I have realized (and this past weekend really helped me) that I do not have to be the leanest person with the rock hard abs to be a good personal trainer, group fitness instructor or knowledgeable about nutrition, pre- and post-natal fitness.
For the most part I have learned to accept the fact that I will never have abs like I did before giving birth. I have learned that I will never be a healthy 120lbs as my body does not like to be at that weight. Though it has been a process for me, I look into my baby’s beautiful blue eyes and realize he is worth every physical change I have gone through. I am also filled with gratitude about being able to become pregnant again without infertility treatments regardless of what physical changes may come again.
For me, I am naturally very competitive and though that serves me well in some areas of my life, I also have to work to keep this trait in check. There is always going to be someone better than me in every area of my life. Someone will always be leaner, someone will always make more money, so why waste time and energy comparing myself to them? Before this weekend, I do not think I realized how much I was falling into the comparison trap on a regular basis in a lot of areas of my life. I am so grateful for the retreat as I learned so many things but I am mostly grateful for the experience of opening my eyes to the fact that I need to take my own advice and realize that we are all different and that is what makes us great.
I am proud of who I am, I am proud of what my body can do physically, mentally and emotionally. I am proud of the amazing little boy I brought into this world and proud to be bringing another beautiful baby into this world. We are all unique and that needs to celebrated. I am my own authentic self.
Shira Nelson http://shiranelson.com/
Hillary Paris Fitness and Wellness https://www.facebook.com/EcoFit206