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How Motherhood gave birth to my Self-acceptance

I am not an athlete. I'm just your regular sporty woman, average cyclist among other things. I'm a working mom going again through motherhood.

I've stopped trying to fit in cycling jerseys but still picking up new challenges and still enjoying a cookie.

Since being a mom, the goals have changed, my body has changed, my life changed and I needed to adapt. I don’t chase external rewards. I chase myself.

I could talk about many topics involving motherhood: insecurities, dissatisfaction, expectations, fear, etc. But instead, I will tell you about how I focused on what was essential to me and how I centre myself over motherhood amidst the mess that is thrown at us.

When I started training a long time ago, I would get warned “Don’t get too muscular”, “You will get too bulky”, “Don’t be too thin!” External outcomes were all too often the focus of conversation over determination and hard work.

When I started motherhood, not only did the pressure of the social expectations surrounding my body image grow along with my belly, but so did the expectations on how I should use my time and my freedom, namely regarding caregiving.

I went looking for advice and I realized much of the conversations we have surrounding body's is in ideals rooted in the concept of a woman as perceived to be the weaker gender, where aesthetics matter more than strength.

“You will lose your weight in no time”, “Don’t lift more than your baby’s weight!”, “How lucky to have a husband helping with ‘your, duties”, “Postpartum essential: 5 exercises to get a flat belly in 3 weeks”, and other garbage.

I was pushed on to the idea of how I could get back “as fast as” possible as “before”. I lost a concept of what I was capable of. This mindset was negatively impacting my self-esteem.

I believe that building myself around self-love and self-confidence is essential for longevity and a balanced relationship between my body and my soul. And yet, the media, commercials and products we are exposed to, often push a very harmful image on women geared towards their own physical appearances. They are promoting a single and unrealistic image standard for women. Thinness, counting calories, fast results, attractiveness and 2 kg dumbbells are dominating women health’s advertisements.

What about an image making me feel strong, confident, authentic and valuable?

I wish more would value how we feel, why we do what we do, rather than how we look like.

Valuing features and character traits that can enable a person to flourish in all aspects of life.

I found myself guilty at first when making time for myself, but ultimately, it makes me a more happy and patient mom. It shows my children that I have a life that matters, too.

I don’t look to have the weights decrease on the scale, I am excited to see them increase on the bar.

I eat for pleasure and I eat for fuel.

I am proud to high-five my kids all covered in sweat, it feels pretty cool.

When I get a little time for myself, I am looking to dive into the pain cave and come back stronger, pushing towards my abilities, or simply feeling united with myself.

It’s how I feel rewired.

It’s how all comes together in a long lasting manner.

It’s how I centre myself on what feels essential.

And I am proud that my children will grow with the idea that a woman can be strong and healthy.

But this is my perspective, my definition of what a capable, beautiful and healthy woman should be.

What’s your definition, how do you centre yourself? What is your safe place?

I am embracing any initiatives that tries to reshape our culture beyond the expected realm and allows us to flourish into what we are meant to be:

our fullest potential.

About Bao-Anh

“Sometimes you just gotta go.” In her spare time, when she is not playing with her kids or chasing to pull the perfect espresso, you can find her with a barbell or on her bike, willing to hurt and have fun doing so!

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