My Gym Routine Has Nothing To Do With My "Post-Baby Body"

Ad failed to load

I've always been a bit of a gym rat and working out has continued to be a big part of my life since becoming a mom. But ever since I had kids, people often assume my workouts are driven by a desire to make my body look like it did before giving birth when, in fact, "fixing" my postpartum body is the last thing I'm worried about. When I went to my two-week visit with my OB after giving birth via c-section and pleaded with him to let me workout, I was furious when he refused. He demanded I wait a full 12 weeks before attempting any activity without taking the time to discuss with me how I felt or how my body was healing post-surgery.

If he'd only asked, I would've explained to him that after spending the last two months of my pregnancy on bed rest my body felt creaky and weak. Coping with the stress of having preemie twins and my new role as a mom left me feeling like I wasn't myself anymore. I wanted to go to the gym solely because it was a habit of mine, and I thought doing something for myself that was a part of who I was before I became a mom would make me feel better help me handle the transition from Megan to Mommy more easily. I tried to explain this to my doctor, but he cut me off and said:

Just diet for now. You've got plenty of time before swimsuit season anyhow.
Ad failed to load

I went home in tears, worried that by becoming a mom I had given something up I hadn't bargained for. Most of all, I didn't care about being beach ready. I cared about my mental health and my emotions. I cared about taking care of myself so that I could take care of my sons.

Megan Zander/Romper
Ad failed to load

The idea that women only work out in order to "fix" their bodies is everywhere. We're marketed waist wraps and told they will help us "lose the mummy tummy." There are interviews accompanied by glossy photo spreads of celebrity moms who lost their baby weight or Instagram pictures of women who claim to have achieved "MILF" status. Don't get me wrong, if you want to feel fabulous in your body, I'm all for it, but the expectation that you should need to look or a feel a certain way after baby isn't a norm I'm trying to get down with.

So much of the discussion around women's postpartum bodies is about how they look, and sure, I like to feel confident in my clothes as much as the next woman, but my main goal in working out is to maintain or hopefully improve how my body functions, not to lose weight or look like I did before I got pregnant.

I work out almost six or seven days a week, sometimes more than once a day if the mood strikes. I run, do yoga, take group fitness classes like Step and Zumba, and I lift weights. I do all this because I love how it makes me feel, not because of how it makes me look. My family is known around the neighborhood as "The Walkers" because we're often seen with our kids in the stroller out for a family 5K in the afternoon. I completed my first half marathon last year and I'm just about to start training for my second, with hopes of completing a full in early 2017.

Ad failed to load
Megan Zander/Romper

I understand that for some people, I might not look that strong. My body in no way "perfect" and based on the number of unsolicited Facebook messages I get from women asking me if I'm interested in purchasing their diet shakes, people assume that I need to lose weight. But I don't spend those hours sweating it out in the gym because I want to be thinner, I do it because working out is a big part of who I am and what I love. I feel on top of the world when I'm able to do more pushups than last week or when I get that shaky feeling on the stairs that only comes the day after Leg Day. I don't put much stock in what the scales says, since I know that lifting weights, drinking water, and recovery swelling means that number is a somewhat unreliable indicator of my overall fitness level. But when I peel off my sweaty clothes to take a shower after a really fun dance class or a great long run outside and step in the shower, I feel invincible.

Ad failed to load
Megan Zander/Romper

Society has ways of shaming women who dare to take the time to workout without their kids. We have yoga classes where you bring your baby and insanely heavy jogging strollers marketed to women so that moms can workout without ever leaving their kids behind. As a brand-new mom, I fell for the guilt trip. I had an 80 lb. monster of a jogging stroller I used to strap the twins into and then struggle against gravity to try and stop us all from flying down a hill, all in the name of being a "good mom" who didn't leave her kids to "selfishly" work out.

Ad failed to load

But as my kids got older and gained weight the jogging stroller turned our runs into walks, punctuated by lots of stops to soothe crying toddlers and retrieve fallen sippy cups. Now I take the time to go out by myself for my workouts and I refuse to feel guilty about it. I rationalize my time at the gym as the equivalent of someone who gets her "me time" by going for a regular mani-pedi or massage. Running is what recharges my batteries, and if I ever do feel any guilt over my time at the gym I remind myself that no one has ever once turned to my husband while he's on the treadmill and asked him who's watching the children. Getting my workouts in is important to me, and I'm not going to feel guilty about it just because I have two children.

I workout consistently now, not because I'm trying to make my body look like it did before I had children, but because I have children and I want to raise them to appreciate having mobile, healthy bodies. I have premature ovarian failure, which makes working out crucial to maintaining my health and I want to live a long, healthy life so I can spoil my grandchildren rotten one day. Still, even without the health benefits, I'd want to workout because fitness is a big part of who I am.

Megan Zander/Romper
Ad failed to load

Growing up my mom was (and still is) a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. My dad played on multiple softball teams and is a referee for high school basketball. My sister was a competitive softball player and gymnast. We went to the local track for fun on the weekends and planned vacations around whether or not we could rent bikes to go for long rides. I grew up as part of an athletic family, and it's important to me to maintain an active lifestyle, not just because it's what makes me feel like myself but also because I want my own raise my own kids to appreciate the euphoria that comes with moving your body. I sleep better at night knowing when (OK, fine, if) the zombie plague ever comes, my family will be able to outrun them, at least for a little while.

My kids are 3 now and I don't hold onto the size and shape my body was in four years ago before I got pregnant as some sort of ideal. My body is aging and changing. Parts of it are eventually going to succumb to gravity no matter how many pushups I do. Skin that's been stretched out from the weight gain and loss of my sizable twin baby bump is never going to lay the same way against my abdomen as it did before I got pregnant, regardless of whether or not I have a six-pack.

When people talk about personal growth, about becoming more enlightened, embracing the future, being better than we they yesterday, I think that's wonderful. Yet when it comes to women and their bodies after pregnancy, we're told to look backwards, not forward. I refuse to dwell on the past in any other aspect of my life, so why should the way my body looks be any different? Like everything else, when it comes to my postpartum body, I chose to look forward. To lift heavier than I last week, to run farther than yesterday. Where I am today and where I'll be tomorrow is how I assess my fitness level, now not where I was years ago.

Ad failed to load
Megan Zander/Romper

What did my waist measure before I got pregnant compared to now? No clue. But I've managed to shave a full minute off my per mile running average over the last six months, and the satisfaction that gives me is far better than pulling on a pair of pants with a certain size sewn into the back of a waistband no one will see.

Ad failed to load

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

7 Hilarious Differences Between Having A Baby In Your 20s Vs Your 30s

I was 24 when I had my daughter. And even though that pregnancy was neither expected nor pleasant, I was optimistic. Sure, I guess your 20s are "supposed" to be about finding yourself, finishing college, starting your career, and navigating less-than…
By Candace Ganger

Babies "R" Us Was The First Place I Went When I Found Out I Would Be A Mom

For years I struggled to have a baby, and the sight of toys and layettes made my heart hurt. For me, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us were a complete no-go zone, a reminder of everything I was missing out on. My mom would walk the long way around Target…
By Becky Bracken

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger