Allowing Imperfect Perfection

Serious real talk alert. This post is a long one and an open/more personal one. This past weekend, a friend asked me if everything was going as good as it seems on Instagram with the little babe. I instantly felt a bit of guilt for potentially showing so much good that I seem like one of those people trying to only show perfection on social media. This virtual world is proven to make people feel bad about themselves and I want to do the opposite with my online presence. The reality is I just don’t have as much time in general to share on the channel as I used to as I navigate new-Mom-hood, and when Cooperman is being fussy it doesn’t even cross my mind to snap a pic or take a video.As an anti-diet dietitian and someone who wants to be real and build others up, I realize this is a problem, though. If I want to get the point across to my followers that they’re enough… and that the bad, the ugly, and the struggles are OK and shouldn’t make their self esteem come crashing down, I surely need to show that I experience those things too – on a daily basis.

I still haven’t posted follow ups to “intuitive eating: a respectful lifestyle”, but I really want to get across that it is just that – a lifestyle. Your mood, your self-talk and your relationships influence your hunger, appetite and tendencies to deprive yourself of food or use exercise as a drug… and vice versa. Life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine and that’s OK. You should feel whatever feelings you have without suppressing them. Express them to others. And then increase your awareness of what stresses you out and brings out the worst in you so that you can make conscious connections and improve upon the worst in the future. But, another thing with intuitive eating and an intuitive lifestyle that’s different from a diet is that the end goal is not perfection. It’s essentially acceptance of imperfection.

So heres some real talk. While I’ve shared some of my past struggles, I realize I don’t share enough of my day to day struggles. I try to be an eternal optimist around others because I’m inherently an overly anxious person whose mind is constantly racing. Ive learned a lot about my anxiety over the years so the way I handle stress has become my second nature way to keep my anxiety from getting out of hand. {This includes that withholding from carbs or going too long without eating makes it worse, but so does enjoying a sugary snack or dessert without protein or fiber} Looks like in turn I’m not doing a great job of being real!

And I guess I should have realized this a little while ago. When I joined my main mastermind group in early 2017, I remember being shocked when I was told they thought I had my shit together (business/entrepreneur wise). They now know I’m far from that.

As a professor, my closest work friend asked a few years back how I’m able to stay so calm and never let work issues bother me. I remember being shocked that’s how it seemed. Me? The one who used to have panic attacks in grad school and never let anything go?

As I looked back I did realize that part of my coping is to block those feelings of anxiety when they arise. Or to shift my mindset to something more positive and productive as quickly as possible. Anyone predisposed to anxiety knows if you keep thinking about something that stresses you out, it only gets worse. And that when you’re feeling anxious it’s hard to think about anything else (like sharing on social media that you’re anxious).

I also don’t want to seem like a downer and complainer. As a swimmer growing up, I was always the one telling teammates they could do anything, as a friend giving others pep talks and as a family member find myself always wanting to build other’s confidence. I also hate when someone only shares the negative on social media and have “unfollowed” lots of negative Nancy’s over on Facebook if I’m being honest here.

But, to be relatable it’s important to share what’s stressing me sometimes if I’m going to share the lights of my life with the world too! So here’s my reality.

I didn’t share a ton during my pregnancy cause I always felt like crap. 24/7 from week 6 on, I was nauseous and eating food (one of my favorite things and the focus of my Instagram account) was down right miserable. It was a necessity but not enjoyable, and I actually never ever felt hungry (while I love food and cooking against, I’m still trying to gain normal hunger back). Not easy when you’re preaching enjoyment of food and intuitive eating to followers and clients!

Before that, I was terrified to become a mom. In a selfish way, not because I thought I couldn’t be a good Mom. I had a lot of anxiety in the first half of the pregnancy thinking I’d have a hard time adjusting to not being able to do what I wanted to do all the time and having to put my business goals and entrepreneur hustle on hold. Now that Cooper’s here, I’m making it work without worrying about where my career is going, and actually wishing I was just spending more time with him. Who would have thought?!

On that note though, I’ve gotten upset several times because I chose to start working so soon after his arrival. I had the opportunity to start working with the Phillies organization. Awful timing with him arriving mid March, during spring training, with the season starting 2 weeks later. If I didn’t do it now, someone else would have the gig and there was no “I’ll just do it next year”. I’ve never wanted to be full time for a team or college so being able to be a contractor for a pro team was an opportunity I had to take, even with the timing. I’m lucky I can do a lot of the work from home and only have to be on site a minimum of 6 days a month… still with him just over 7 weeks old, Tim’s already had to convince me that I’m not a “bad mom” and that I did the right thing.

This isn’t a new mentality just as a mom though. I struggle mentally to feel confident that I make the right career choices and too often will say “I wonder if” even if I’m in the middle of a great opportunity! I also am usually thinking of wayyyy too many potential business possibilities or ventures to fully immerse myself in what steps I can take right now. I guess you can say I sometimes lack direction. Motherhood is surprisingly helping with that, but it’s a flaw of mine for sure that you’d never know by following my social accounts.

To tie all of this into my philosophy and how I educate on my blog and accounts, let’s now touch on the post-partum body and fitness. Which, to make sense of everything means going back to pregnancy when I just didn’t have the energy to post about anything. I’ve gotten a lot of “you look great” comments since having the baby. I appreciate that it’s women who are saying it to be nice and make me feel good, however, if you were pregnant, delivered a tiny human and are now keeping that lil’ babe alive, no matter what you look like, you look/ARE awesome! This experience is no joke and everyone’s body reacts to it differently.

Also, I try to advocate for giving compliments that don’t have to do with someone’s body because you never know how that impacts someone mentally. For example, if I had a strong dieting and disordered eating history, and was restricting my food intake to lose the baby weight, that comment could be dangerous, encouraging the restrictive behavior. As someone breastfeeding, that can in turn also impact milk supply and not only how much food baby is getting, but also then my stress levels further.

In terms of how it impacts me, people also don’t know that in my second trimester I was REALLY worried I wouldn’t gain enough weight. With how nauseous I was, I lost weight in the first trimester and was terrified my baby wasn’t getting enough nutrients. I as a dietitian got my diet on track as best as I could and my weight gain was within the recommended 25-30 lbs by the end. However, comments from others like “you don’t look pregnant” or “you haven’t gained an ounce have you??” didn’t make me feel great early on. Then, towards the end, I got everything from “you look great” to “could you get any bigger?” to “stop eating so healthy / you should really gain more, that baby needs more food!”. Thank GOD I became pregnant with much better body image than 5 years prior and less of a care of what others think than the majority of women.

Anyway, I DID gain weight while pregnant like you’re supposed to. But, due to the current comments I’ve gotten about my account and my body and the fact that I may be perceiving things as perfect without intending to, I decided to take a couple pictures to describe my real life and real feelings post partum {both pictures below depict how I really truly feel}. Everyone’s bodies will be different during and after pregnancy and THATS OK. What you see on the outside often doesn’t match up with what’s going on inside at all so choose your words wisely.

It’s been humbling getting back to fitness – my #1 stress reliever and where I forget all my worries – since I was cleared a week and a half ago. I’ve gone on two run/walks and not jogged for more than 5 minutes without stopping due to the pelvic pain and awkwardness. I can’t do more than 6 push-ups which I realize now is a lot for some people, but not for me. I am reallly feeling that lack of core strength everyone talks about too. But, Sunday I went to my second Zumba class since being cleared to exercise. I’m SO happy I found it before becoming pregnant.

As a former athlete, I was very regimented in my fitness routine and honestly had the mentality that zumba wasn’t a real workout. Well, it is an intense one at the NAC, at least with Rosalyn and Chris’s classes. But it’s also SO fun and a 60 minute class goes by super fast. I would not have exercised past my due date if it weren’t for this joyful movement and I would have been even more miserable while pregnant if not for that time getting my mind off the nausea and releasing endorphins.

Sunday I made it through the whole class and while I was pouring with sweat felt AWESOME at the end. Still, despite feeling strong and high on endorphins, underneath I was wearing core support workout leggings since my core is so NOT strong right now. I also want anyone’s recommendation for sports bras because nursing has dramatically increased the size of my chest {sorry male clients if you’re reading} – and I feel physically uncomfortable most of the day on top of it impacting what I can wear. So much so that I have next to nothing to wear in my former wardrobe. And I’m not exaggerating. Friday was rough as I went through my entire closet to find only one flowy casual dress that sort of fit and one sweater I could put on over my new day to day normal wardrobe – tank tops (the kind you wear under clothes or don’t leave the house in).

My point is, life over here isn’t perfect, but at the same time it sort of is. Accepting my anxiety and learning to manage it means it doesn’t bother me as much and run my life {though this was harder while pregnant}. Accepting my body means I exercise in ways I enjoy and I’m not forcing it everyday to “get my body back” post-baby – cause that really doesn’t matter and the strength/fitness part that does matter for health will come with time. Accepting my new body means my discomfort is temporary and won’t impact my ability to enjoy exercise and my everyday life. I just need to find some time to buy new clothes! I promise to share more of the not do glamorous and perfectly imperfect experiences in hopes it helps anyone feeling insecure remember everyone has good days and bad and most of us are still trying to figure “it” out .

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