So, are we making the Post Natal moms we serve miserable???
I've started to write this blog so many times in my head whilst laying in bed in those moments between 'I'm away and I need to get up' and then suddenly, I had a moment of clarity which meant I was then able to just write it virtually in one go....you gotta love that 🙂 So here goes....
Recently, I've been aware of a huge issue for the modern woman/mom and if you are a guy reading this, please 'bear with' because if you're serving women, these points are big for many of your clients.
I've been lucky enough to be asked to return to lecture at FitPro Live in 2016 and I really wanted to topic that was more challenging that the typical physical issues of Post Natal life (if I have to talk about Mummy Tummy once more I will poke myself in the eye!) and so took it to my trusty colleagues in my Facebook Group Metabolic Mommy.....the question was basically, what should I suggest as a compelling and not-the-norm session title at Fitpro next year? Well, I wasn't prepared for the outpouring that happened....post after post, suggestion after suggestion related to the pressures (self-imposed and otherwise) that women are under to both 'to do and have it all' and the toll that that takes on their mental and physical health on a daily basis. The toll it takes on their relationship with their partners, their families, their kids and most importantly, themselves and as I read more and more of the posts, I had a horrible feeling as I wondered whether we as fitness and wellbeing professionals are MORE PART OF THE PROBLEM RATHER THAN THE SOLUTION!?
Are we selling a mythical and unnecessary level of health, fat loss, fitness and butt-size to these sometimes tired, pissed off, disorientated, got-more-important-things-to-do-with-their-lives women than they actually NEED in order to be 'successful' in the most basic of health terms??? Uh oh.......
Many of you who know me well, know that I have a love-hate relationship with technology....it allows me to reach you and to run a successful business for which I am beyond grateful but as we all know....if we use without consiciousness, these machines can suck the soul out of you and drag you into a pit of self-comparison which for many, can unleash the Hounds of Hell between your ears as described by Jennifer Louden. The internet has allowed you to have a window in the lives/thoughts/opinions of millions of people in the palm of your hand and this is causing huge problems for many women.
With hours of the day spent ingesting the lives/dreams/thoughts and sometimes fakery of others instead of getting clear and working on what's important in our own personal lives, we eventually start to abdicate our role as the captain of our own ship and leader in our own lives and our yardsticks regarding many vital elements of our lives is driven by what we see in front of us on our various screens. BAD NEWS! This begs the question then, when this Post Natal woman stands in front of us seeking our help in her recovery and return to fitness and general de-chubbing post birth....what/who exactly is driving her demands and desires? And what/who is driving our prescription for her as part of our 'tried and trusted strategy'?
Because my working day is now seriously time-managed.....my dipping into any other social media platform apart from Facebook where my student groups are loated is very time limited....I quite literally start a stop watch that alarms to remind me to STOP LOOKING because, again, I think you know that you go down into a massive hole and return 2 hours later feeling icky and disorientated at best....anyway, so I took a look on Pintrest and Instagram and search for Post Natal.....holy crap.....well, if that's how a new mom is supposed to look, in a professional and personal capacity, I might as well shut up shop right now....some of these women, were off the scale in terms of thinness, muscularity, levels of fitness and their orthorexic 'nutrition'....I'm made of strong stuff....but even for a moment, I had a feeling that compared to what I see in my mirror, I might be viewed as 'failing'....I don't look like these moms (mostly because I'm 45 and most of them seem to be at least 2 decades younger), I don't jump around like these moms (I've had a Hysterectomy, I mind my Pelvic Floor!), I don't eat like these women (I can always manage a good glass of red wine a few chips), I'm fairly muscular but in now way could be described as BUFF and for sure, not one person since I was around 10 has ever described me as 'the thin one over there'. But, I don't give a rats ass, NO! Because I am the boss of me.....and I long ago, under duress, learned to truly define success for myself. But many of our clients, esp in the early PN period are very much not the 'boss of themselves' and the change in their identity, the activities of their daily lives, their place in the world, the size of their boobs, belly and bum....these women are disorientated. Then......we as women, we go and do it to ourselves.......we manufacture and perpetuate these Pintrest lives which are then held as the gold-standard to which we must all aspire.
IMPORTANT POINT ALERT!
Now if these 'falsehoods' are the benchmark and you're looking at them daily as your guide to success then for sure ON A DAILY BASIS, MOST OF US ARE FALLING SHORT OF THE MARK AND TECHNICALLY FAILING BIG TIME! Everyday when you go to bed or as you are consuming this crap through your eyes and ears and then you look at your own body and your own life and the failed crafting session with your little Tabitha....you're getting this perpetual feeling that you and your life is simply not measuring up to the generally fake, perfect for the camera, exhaustingly unattainable standard that you've unconsciously allowed to be set for your life by people you don't even bloody know or even care about! Urghhhhh!
When I really sit and think about this, I get really, really worried because we have, apparently come so far as women, we can drive, vote, own property, earn the same as a man, we have choices that our grandmothers never did.........but on this thing.....the CURSE OF COMPARISON.....we're still deep in a pit of a) ignorance that it's even happening b) if we do have awareness, we're still not dedicating time and willpower to removing ourselves from 'the loop'. The loop is spending hours on Social Media looking for clues how to be and what matters and how to feel....The loop is comparing other people's outside to your insides.....the loop is not being CLEAR on what matters to YOU....DEEPLY. What brings you real joy and meaning in your life and dedicating your time and energies to those things as much as humanly possible. The loop is being a 'sheeple'.....naively following the masses blindly without questioning the relevance of the information to you and who is providing the information....the loop is anything with 'celebrity' in the title.....I could go on. Ultimately many women (and this was me too at a certain point in my life) are not RUNNING THEIR OWN SHOW! They are not making the rules for their own lives and their bodies and when your hand isn't firmly on your own tiller, your boat is going to be going off in all directions and is more likely to crash into those rocks!
If you just existed in the world all by yourself, without any outside influence.....when would you reach your own personal 'good enough' point regarding your hair, weight, body-shape, levels of fitness, nutrition choices or whatever you constantly 'bag' yourself about on a daily basis?
I bet for many people, the answer is a struggle to arrive at simply because are and allow ourselves to be continually influenced about what's good enough for US by outside agents.
As fitness and wellness professionals serving, informing and inspiring women, are the principles on which we build our businesses and the information and strategies we present to our female clients during this challenging lifephase, are they a healing or a hindrance to stability, satisfaction, autonomous decision-making and overall.....a quiet bloody mind (because as we get older we really do come to learn to that hell can very much be between one's ears).....or are we too perpetuating the myth of perfection? Are our directions adding yet another load to the lives of frazzled, time-poor women? Are we supporting the reality of their lives as they are or are we adding more load for them to carry in terms of unrealistic fitness levels, self-care rituals, clean-eating mantras or ass sizes? Again, where on the continuum are we in terms of healing or harming these women that we serve?
As always, I wind myself down in the month of December, so I have time to reflect, dream and plan and one of the things I will be MASSIVELY focussed on, is the message of my own business because I think I too have been guilty of presenting a 'it needs to be done like this for success' but in truth we all know that it is the client's ability to truly define success for herself with 'distraction' that ultimately mean that her chances of attaining her bespoke idea of success is greater. And guess what, that success might not look like our idea of success but that's irrelevant because all the smart cookies know that in this business of human change....you've got to a) meet the client right where they are and b) give them time and space to truly define what success means to them THEN, together we make the plan to get there, which will also involve continual adjustment until destination. Just one small issue......that's not how any of us were taught to do our jobs at PT school and I think that that's very much the problem.....
I truly feel that it's time for many of us who have 'spent time in the trenches of life' to truly start bringing the truth of our experiences with us to work...and to stop applying 'non-nurturing' principles re: getting stuff done, fitness and fat loss to these women and truly start 'seeing' and pointing our business offerings directly to the deeper needs of our female clients. With every fibre in my body, I truly know that for our businesses to flourish, go deeper and become more meaningful to both us as practitioners and our clients we must start to create a massive space for a heartfelt discussion and some uncomfortable but huge information to be revealed during our consultations to truly help the client work out WHAT SHE WANTS AND WHEN SHE'LL FEEL SUCCESSFUL ON HER OWN TERMS. Because a goal that is set that isn't actually YOUR GOAL is just another burdensome and a pain in the ass that leads women to feeling that they are failures and they 'can't even just do this simple' thing.....and it's just not true....the arrow was simply mis-aligned to the target! Find YOUR TARGET, YOUR GOOD ENOUGH.....watch your bullseye hit-rate improve!