“Fit Mom” Stigma | By: Renee Mazza
“Is he YOUR son?!”
I was in the checkout line at Target with my son in the cart. He was about 15 months old at the time and I had just started training for my first competition. I was in gym clothes and sneakers (what else do I ever wear?). There was a girl in the line next to me who was probably about 22 years old. We made eye contact and she said, “Is he YOUR son?!” with shock on her face. I replied, “Yes he is” and smiled. Her response, while flattering, left me thinking for days: “Wow! You have such a nice body…I would NEVER guess you were a mom.” Of course I smiled and said thank you because she was paying me a compliment. But seconds later, I actually felt guilty for being flattered by that. Is it really that shocking to have a nice body and be a mom?!
I felt bad for every girl in her 20’s worrying about the day she will become pregnant and “never be the same”. I couldn’t even count how many times I was told those EXACT words while I was pregnant! “Well, you’ll never be the same…but it’s worth it!” And yes, if I was never the same again, of course it was worth it! Being a mom, raising a child…all of it is incredible and truly has NOTHING to do with whether or not you decide to be fit and healthy!
“…we live in a very judgmental world and we grow up with a certain set of beliefs about what it means to be a Mom.”
There is a struggle many women face mothers I should say. Unfortunately we live in a very judgmental world and we grow up with a certain set of beliefs about what it means to be a Mom. I even hear it now from some younger friends or family members when they refer to others. “Well, she’s a mom so she doesn’t care anymore.” Or “She’s overweight but she has two kids!”
It’s true, we are held to a lower standard as moms. It isn’t necessarily in a negative way… and truly it usually works in our benefit. If we have a loving, well-behaved child and manage to leave the house with a matching outfit and mascara on, people are pretty impressed.
“…it teaches girls to expect less of themselves when they become mothers.”
However, it teaches girls to expect less of themselves when they become mothers. Why are we brainwashed to believe it’s not even worth trying!? “You’ll never be the same!” It all just made me sad. If we believe our bodies are ruined after having children, we will just give up. And as women, if we give up on that, we give up on so much more. Now, let me be clear! While I am referring to our appearance, my concern is not with the vanity aspect. There is a strong correlation between a woman’s body image and her confidence, her sense of identity, her personal relationships, and her physical and mental health! Now I don’t mean we all need to strive to be on the cover of a magazine or win Bodybuilding competitions! But having personal goals is a great, positive thing!
But there seems to be this underlying judgment people have of “fit moms”. Somehow believing we are more selfish than other moms, the moms that better fit the mold. Are we less “mom-ish”? We still spend the same amount of time teaching and playing with our children, taking photos, planning birthday parties, cuddling and telling them how much we love them. We just have less/no down-time! Oh…and killer obliques! My “me time” is spent preparing meals or working out…when it used to be having a glass of wine on the couch. (I still do that every once in a while so don’t feel bad for me.)
There’s nothing selfish about setting an example to take good care of yourself! My son learned to count by doing squats and push-ups with me at a year and a half old…and I think that’s pretty awesome! And I find peace in knowing my children will have learned the best, healthiest method of dealing with stress and heartache some day.
It’s because of my son that I decided to compete in the first place. You see pregnancy all your life…but wow! When I actually experienced it all for myself, watched my body change, learned what it was doing and building each of those 40 weeks, heard a second heart beat inside of me, and saw an actual living, breathing person appear in that hospital, I discovered a whole new level of love and respect for my body. It made me feel strong and powerful…like the possibilities were endless. I needed to see what else this amazing machine was capable of pulling off!
“It was time to make a change. So instead of going to a doctor I went to the gym 6 days a week.”
And if I’m really being honest, my passion for fitness came from my desire to be a better mother. I struggled. (Who doesn’t!?) I was madly in love with my child, but frankly, there’s nothing blissful about having a newborn as a first time mother. I was overwhelmed, impatient, depressed, negative, and very anxious! I remember sitting on the couch after my son went to sleep one night and actually having a hard time remembering the last time I really laughed at anything.
It was time to make a change. So instead of going to a doctor I went to the gym 6 days a week. I worked hard, I started sleeping better, feeling energized, patient and positive. *Noticing the sunny days and appreciating them instead of complaining about the rain.* I was able to focus on how amazing my little boy was instead of how overwhelmed I was by him. And the better I began to feel, the better I wanted to feel! So I made time and energy to make sure we were getting the proper nutrition…and it all came together.
I am a better wife, better mother, and better person because of fitness. My son is now 2 1/2, and I literally stop in my tracks on days I am feeling less patient with him, and say to myself, “Ok…you definitely need a good workout!”
“Mom or not, we should all be striving to stay STRONG and HEALTHY…”
So yes, we put on a teeny bikini and get on stage under bright lights, but we are just as proud as the next mommy of our post baby marks and scars! We all have them, and we are incredible! What we do and what our bodies endure to create life is AMAZING! Mom or not, we should all be striving to stay STRONG and HEALTHY in mind and body…doing whatever it is that makes us feel like us…happy, positive, and confident. It doesn’t take an ounce away from motherhood; it adds to it!
“Your children will become who you are, so be who you want them to be.” – David Bly
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Renee Mazza | Contributing Writer “Bikini Mom”
Renee is twenty-nine years old, happily married, and mama to a fantastic little boy. Fitness is a huge passion of hers, and in combination with becoming a mom, it has brought out the best in her! Aside from being a Natural Pro Bikini competitor, she is also a coach and Personal Trainer. She aspires to inspire, especially fellow moms!