I could feel it all crashing down on me — running two businesses, raising an energetic 2 year old, breastfeeding and co-sleeping with a 9 month old, supporting my husband’s new business, showing love to family and friends, and trying to lose my last 10 pounds of pregnancy weight. And I — my body, my health, my spirit — did not factor into any of my daily goals or objectives. The night it all came crashing down I walked out of my house, still in my night gown as my daughter screamed inside, got into my mini van and drove around the city for an hour while the words, “I can’t do this anymore” scrolled across my mind like a marquee and sometimes escaped my lips.
I’m a disciplined person. Type A. A doer. That’s how I’ve always been.
I have measured my value as a woman and a mother by what I achieve, what I build, and how quickly I do it. And this weight loss? I’d added it alongside a long list of directives that I felt — obsessively, oppressively — I NEEDED to achieve. Being raised by my strict Haitian father — a man who is the definition of bootstrapping, who had gone from being raised in a mud hut, to graduating with a doctorate from one of America’s most prestigious universities and having a storied career in academia — left a deep impression on me.
I associated progress with pain. Because that’s what I saw. I saw that my father’s journey was painful, was physically and mentally uncomfortable, required sacrifice. And I associated that pain with progress.
But I knew, deep down, that what I was doing felt life-ending.
Yes, life-ending. Because I was going against my flow. When my lids started to lower and my body signalled that it needed sleep, I went to the kitchen, poured another cup of tea, and kept working. When I spent time with my husband, on a rare night it was just the two of us, and began to feel amorous, I ignored my need for intimacy. And when my body begged for me to grant it mercy, a respite, a break, I continued forcing myself to the gym, eating half portions when my lactating body needed more, and self flagellating whenever I veered even slightly from my ‘weight loss’ path — a path that had nothing to do with health.
But that night, driving through the city, my body, my mind and my spirit all said, “Enough.”
Because it was clear that I didn’t need a weight loss challenge.
Not a weight loss challenge. Not a ‘make more money’ challenge. Not a ‘have a more successful business’ challenge. Not even a ‘be a better mommy’ challenge.
The challenge I needed, was a self-care challenge.
To challenge myself to believe that honoring my body and listening to its rhythms didn’t have to be incongruous with productivity and performance.
To challenge myself to divorce my long-held association of pain with progress.
To celebrate often how BOUNTIFUL my life is.
To adorn my body with clothing, to paint my face and my nails, to braid my hair.
To put my body in sync with my spirit.
And so I’m done trying to lose pregnancy weight. Because I believe that if I honor my body, everything will fall in place. The weight will come off in its own time. But more importantly, my obsessive NEED to lose weight will come into perspective.
Because why am I diminishing my body — my full, strong, healthy, beautiful body — to a number?
This self-care challenge is new for me. It feels foreign, but it feels good and it feels right. And that’s what matters.