I’ve never had a baby, let me first say that. In fact, one of the things that terrifies me most about pregnancy is that it may change my body forever. Call it narcissistic, I call it “I care about what I look like.” When did wanting to look and be fit become such a crime?
This week, celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson made famous by her Method Workouts and string of celebrity client endorsements, came under fire for comments she made in DuJour Magazine regarding women and post-pregnancy bodies. But as the media loves to do, it was all taken a bit out of context.
Tracy was quoted saying, “A lot of women use pregnancy as an excuse to let their bodies go, and that’s the worst thing. I’ve seen so many women when who come to me after having children with disaster bodies that have gone through hell,” she said, adding that they use their kids as an excuse for letting their bodies go.
Sure, at first glance this seems harsh. Pregnancy is difficult and it changes our bodies, and it’s certainly a season in which we put the needs of our baby before our own.
But isn’t she right to a certain extent? My own mother had two very difficult pregnancies during which she gained a fair amount of weight. But as soon as she was able to, she started right back up on her walking routine and got back to her pre-baby weight within a year of giving birth.
To me, that’s normal. So when I see women who gain a lot of weight during pregnancy as a result of eating poorly and being inactive, I don’t feel that bad for them just like I don’t feel bad for myself after week of heavy eating and I’m left a few pounds heavier for it. It all comes down to personal responsibility.
Don’t get me wrong, what a woman does with her body both during and post-pregnancy is her own prerogative. But to a certain extent, there has to be a concern for the baby’s health as well as our own. Is eating fast food and sitting on the couch all day really that great for the baby, or is that just a mom indulging in what she wants during her pregnancy?
When Tracy made those comments, she was speaking from a place of experience. During her first pregnancy, she gained a reported 60 pounds as a result of poor diet and lack of exercise. But during her second pregnancy, she took a different approach and only gained half that amount and also added in workouts to stay fit.
To defend her comments, Tracy appeared on Good Morning America today. Admittedly, she said she was “mortified” when hearing how the story was presented because it ‘sounded so bad when it came back like that,’ adding, “That’s not what I meant.”
The DuJour comments came after Tracy was interviewed for her new pregnancy workout DVDs that she’s spent years developing. “I’ve spent 14 years very focused creating all of this original content,” she said, adding that she wanted to make sure she could give women something that really works so they can be “their most empowered selves, and their most beautiful, proportioned selves.”
Tracy clarified what she intended to say, being that pregnancy is difficult, each one being unique; and that in today’s society, women have a lot of pressure to look a certain way so they turn to diet because fitness routines usually let them down. As a result, a lot of women use pregnancy as an excuse to let their bodies go and eat all of the things they couldn’t eat before. But the catch is, they usually end up regretting it later.
More than for the sake of looks, Tracy pointed out that being healthy during pregnancy is about the baby’s health. “Research is really telling us now that for women, to have empty calories going into our bodies during pregnancy we are setting our baby up in their first nine months of life for the rest of their life for their health,” she said. “Our instinct is the most important thing – we as women have to listen to our own bodies and our own cravings.”
What I think Tracy was really trying to hit on is that women shouldn’t be sidelined from taking care of themselves during pregnancy and use it as an excuse to eat poorly and be inactive. If anything, it should be a time when women pay more attention to their bodies so they can be healthy for themselves and for their children.
In summary, Tracy’s message is this: “We have a lot more power to stay connected to our bodies than we think.” I agree in full. In talking with multiple mothers about the power and strength our bodies possess especially during labor, I think pregnancy is anything but a time of exemption from health – it’s a time of feeling healthier, stronger and more feminine than ever.
I don’t know when and if I’ll become pregnant. But if I do, you can believe that I will be eating well and staying active for the sake of my health and for the sake of my kids. Health isn’t everything in life, but I believe fully that it should be a top priority. And I think that’s what Tracy was really trying to get at – not that we should all be a size 0 three months after giving birth because that’s not realistic or healthy for anyone.
photo via John Salangsang
August 29th, 2012