None of Yo Business

Scrolling through my Instagram feed as I do most mornings, I came across a picture of a 30-something influencer and her daughter smiling for a pic at a beach in Mexico. Said influencer is the mom of four children under the age of 10 (including a set of twins) and her body does not speak of such a thing.

Her blog launched her to the world of fitness apparel design and now she’s running a growing company (IVL Collective, if you’re interested) of premium activewear for women. As such, of course, one would feel that one needs to look the part, she does want to emulate her brand after all. Comments to the photo were, of course, nuts.

You see, for any woman in the know (such as myself), it is pretty obvious this already very slender woman has undergone a tummy tuck. She has been forthright about her breast augmentation years ago and her need for a redo as it is time for one. Side note: breast implants don’t last forever. You do need to get them redone every 10 years or so and report anything that seems not right about them to your doctor immediately. Now back to the story. This woman has also mentioned her want of getting a tummy tuck before. She also works very hard for her body as evidenced by her numerous workout class-related posts.

Anyways, the comments on her picture ran the gamut from women spouting off all the oohs and aahs and general female cheering, as one does, to people calling her out for her tummy tuck and chastising her for 1. Getting one; 2. Not reporting it to all her fans and followers.

And so here I am feeling the need to weigh in. Folks, what women choose to do with their bodies is their ding dang business that can be as private or as public as they want it to be. Each of us may have “rules” about what we are open to in terms of self-improvement, and while the body positivity movement is a good and necessary thing in society today, that must also include a woman’s right to do what she wishes to do to be her best possible self, as she determines. And it’s no one’s business but her own. If other women want to feel envious, disappointed that such results were not achieved “naturally,” judgmental that a woman would go to such lengths instead of accepting what has been dealt them, etc., those are issues that they must deal with for themselves. For the women that seek help through a variety of ways to take control of their bodies and lives to feel great again, more power to them.

Why? I repeat: It’s no one’s business but their own.

As a mother of two good-size babies who had crappy belly skin elasticity, my mid-section was TRASHED after baby #1. Baby #2 neither improved nor further destroyed the mid-section, just gave it a little more of a beating. At the time (22 years ago), no one was talking about diastasis recti and what happens to the abdominal muscles during pregnancy, nor was there any information out there on how to help the problem through proper corrective exercise. Ladies: crunches and sit-ups make it worse, and guess what I did a lot of? Crunches and sit-ups. Now if those muscles did correct themselves and regain their rightful place, there was still the continental road map of the United States with highways and byways etched on my belly thus rendering the skin shot to hell. What that meant is that no amount of exercise and weight loss was going to fix skin that was beyond fixing. And believe me, I tried.

So, after working hard for four solid years after my last baby was born and the baby factory was shuttered, I consulted a plastic surgeon about abdominoplasty. I did that after completing two half-marathons, losing all the baby weight (from both babies, mind you), even trying various creams and rubs—basically doing everything I could physically do to regain a mid-section I could feel good about. The goal was never to wear a bikini again or be able to wear crop tops, etc. I wanted my mid-section to match the rest of the body I consistently worked hard on. My hubby, who had witnessed what I put myself through over the years was in total support. Not that he wanted this wife with tight abs, but said he admired my work ethic and because of that, he felt I deserved to get the results I wanted.

And so I got a tummy tuck over 13 years ago and it is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’m also so grateful to my husband not just for his support, but for how well he cared for me post-op. He was and still is, my greatest strength.

I chose not to share about this till now because it’s no one’s business. But in the spirit of solidarity with women who choose this route and get all kinds of passive/aggressive comments, or flat-out insults, or feel the need to lie about it for fear of what others think and say about it, I’m being honest about my experience. This is to say, as I will always say for myself and other women: Our bodies, Our choices.

Women, when are we all going to stick up for each other just in the spirit of kindness toward one another? Are we still giving voices to the inner 7th-grade mean girl when we are grown women with educations, careers, marriages, partnerships, and children to raise? Seriously? To those women who feel the need to weigh in with negativity, I say, get a life. To the rest of female-kind just trying to get through with their business, you are heard and seen and cheered for.

Let’s all do more of that.

Do You Have an Exercise Personality?

In the 1980s, there was this actress who is now in her 80s and still getting arrested for protesting things she feels are unjust. Her name is Jane Fonda and while our parents might best know her for Barbarella or being called Hanoi Jane, she’s the one most credited for launching home workouts and an overall fitness craze that has only grown since then.

You can still find her workouts on Amazon Prime, and if you do check them out, you’ll notice some of her moves are still in play today in many group fitness classes. Now if you were down to don shimmery tights, a high cut leotard, and leg warmers, from an aesthetic point of view, her workout might have been right up your alley. But what if you weren’t? In this block of time where anyone who wanted to be bodaciously fit and young-looking subscribed to the aerobics trend and that wasn’t your cup of tea, were you relegated to a life of unfitness?

If you could track the trajectory of fitness trends since the 1980s, you would be well familiar with Reebok Step, Tae Bo, Hip Hop, Body Pump, dance cardio, dance sculpt, Insanity, Tracy Anderson, P-90X, Les Mills, Yoga, Pilates, OrangeTheory, Pure Barre, etc… I could go on. And this list doesn’t include walking, running, swimming, and traditional weight training.

Are we supposed to dip our toes into the pool of all of them? Of course not!

As fitness modalities have become better developed and accessible to the masses, it has become easier and easier to find activities that speak to us—your exercise personality.

A lot of people on the fence about committing to a fitness lifestyle find the idea of physical activity daunting. If you were to believe Instagram or Beach Body informercials it would appear that the path to a better body and greatly improved health involves doing some really hard stuff. Well, it doesn’t.

So, if you feel awful because you dread intense, high-energy workouts and when you have tried them you feel closer to death than anything, that’s ok. Does yoga numb your mind and body to absolute boredom? Do you need burpees and EDM to feel better? That’s cool too.

The point I’m making—and this is gleaned from a lot of years trying many different workouts, earning a personal training certification, and finally understanding that we are wired to do different things—is that each person has unique exercise DNA. The key to reaping all the benefits from a workout plan is to do what you are already hard-wired to do—and feel good about that.

How do you find out your exercise personality? You already know. Think about activities—if you aren’t intrigued, your body might be telling you that isn’t your workout. Even better is if you try something and feel worse for it, or don’t find a connection to it. If that’s the case, move on.

Your workouts should be something you feel good about returning to. They should be something you look forward to doing (for the most part—we all have our days it all sucks). We are lucky to be living in a digital age that has transformed the fitness world. Your greatest asset to finding modalities that are meant for you is YouTube, IG Tv, etc. Look up things. Watch how they are performed. Try something out. See how you feel and how you connect to it.

Most of all, don’t compare yourself to people you know or people you wish you knew on social media. You will get the most out of fitness if it is right for you. Find your unique path forward in the world of movement. At the end of the day, that’s all exercise is: moving your body. So align yourself with the style of movement that makes you feel good and be consistent.

And watch the Olympics this month. I tell you what—nothing is more inspiring to the goal of getting in shape than watching all those badasses tear it up in their particular sport!

You got this!

If you want to hear more about this topic, including the story of my first experience with OrangeTheory, subscribe to my podcast, The WiloPod.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash