“I just tell myself, if the pregnant lady can do it so can I!”
“I mean, you’re super pregnant and if you can do it, what’s my excuse?”
“I’m not even pregnant and I can’t keep up with Ashley!”
“Good for you – I can barely make it to the gym three times a week and I’m not even pregnant!”
The first couple of times someone said these types of things to me, I felt good – I won’t lie. I’m really proud of how active I have been able to be throughout my pregnancy and I am absolutely reaping the benefits of that activity. My blood pressure is great, my weight gain has stayed pretty low, and aside from some general pregnancy discomfort I probably wouldn’t have avoided, I’ve had a pretty painless run to-date. Best of all: I feel really strong, both mentally and physically. And, at first, I wanted to believe that I’d simply inspired someone else to get out there and move.
But here’s the thing… and it’s an important thing…
The pregnant lady didn’t start here.
It’s easy, I think, from the outside looking in for someone to simply see an eight-month-pregnant chick hopping on the spin bike or doing kettlebell swings and feel a sense of “well, if they can, I can” but the truth is this: that workout was years in the making. Being able to complete high-intensity workouts wasn’t a began-in-pregnancy thing. I’ve been training 5-6 days a week for a very long time.
(And to the annoyance of many, I feel slow and sluggish and even a bit out of shape right now. Because compared to a year ago, I am. Everything is relative.)
So, while the first few times I heard this quasi-praise from others for my level of activity in a positive light I now recognize it to be part of a very troubling and problematic narrative. Because, you guys, we’re not all starting from the same spot today.
Do they all mean well? Yes. But the underlining message scares the shit out of me. The underlying message is that we’re all competing and comparing ourselves to others which is damaging, dangerous, and sets us up to fail.
And on the flip side, I often hear the opposite messages, too.
“You shouldn’t be doing that in your condition.”
“Is that safe?”
“You should be more careful.”
“Are you sure you should be doing that?”
“Now is the time to rest and give your body a break, not be working out.”
(Fact: nothing makes people feel the need to comment like pregnancy! )
Let me assure you, I have not done a single thing in this pregnancy without heavily weighing the benefits, the consequences, and discussing it with the literal medical professionals in my circle of care. I called the pharmacist to confirm Tylenol dosing safety, for crying out loud. Believe me when I say that I’m not doing anything I think will put the health of my baby or my own safety and well-being in peril.
At the end of the day, what’s safe and works for me in my body on any given day might be vastly different than what’s safe and works for you – pregnancy aside – and it is always subject to change. If there’s one thing I hope we can all take into 2022 and beyond, it’s to honour our bodies and stop comparing ourselves to others.