Abs, Instagram and Happiness

Being fit does NOT mean having a six pack and cut obliques. Being fit CAN mean that, but to me it means being strong of body, soul and spirit.

For the last 18 months, I have been fit of body, but my soul and spirit were weak.

I am a mother of almost 2 (second is due June 29th!). My son, born July 2014, suffered from constipation for 8 months, which caused him to have reflux as well, and we trudged along for 17 long months of him waking every 30 min-2 hours, nursing all night long, needing help to sleep through naps, never having a moment to ourselves. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, truly.

I quickly sank into post-partum depression, but denied it for a very long time. I even went to my Dr. once, and talked my way out of anti-depressants, and never went back for help. It’s hard to open up about it when you’re in it, and having convinced myself I didn’t really need help, it was even harder after that.

Then winter of 2015 hit, and I hit my ultimate low. This is where my journey begins.

I was angry all the time. I hit my dog harder, and more often than I can bring myself to admit, and I’m grateful dogs are as loving, and forgiving as they are loyal.

I began yelling at my 17 month old son to sleep, to stop touching me, to stop nursing, and I’d have to put him down and go, leaving us both to cry in anguish, so I didn’t do anything really harmful to either of us.

I began contemplating ways out; adopting him out to one of our families, for certainly they could do a much better job than I ever could as his mother. Thankfully other things were too horrid for my mind to contemplate, so as soon as those darkest of thoughts entered, they shuddered away. I believe this was Holy Spirit, guarding my heart even when I had completely lost sight and touch of who God was.

My mind, was a fog. And the battle was waged under the haze.

I finally broke. I needed sleep, and I needed it because I was dying. Inside, but maybe outside as well … I felt like I could not live one single more day without a full nights sleep. It was the slowest torture I’ve ever felt, and even as I write, tears well up in my eyes to think of the pain I surrounded my family with, because I didn’t get help. I asked for help; I opened up.

I went and slept at my parents house for 5 nights, leaving my husband, who had lost just as much sleep as I had, to fend for himself and take on night duties full time. To this day, I know God surrounded him with the fiercest of love and strength, to pull him through those nights, as he had anguish and sorrow in his heart as well. It was a long, weary battle. But I slept. And I slept again. And again…

I finally started regaining clarity and with that, a sense of direction, and something I’d been praying about for a few weeks became the clearest of answers to me, I contacted my friend and asked her how to become a beachbody coach. I knew I needed to get working out again, that this was my happy place. I’ve loved fitness for a very, very long time, but as a new mother, almost forgot how, unless I was running outside during the summer. I knew winter had shut me in (Canada, hello freezing), and I knew that I needed to make myself a priority again. So I started to research.

I researched the shakes, because it was something totally new and foreign to me, but I knew that I absolutely needed something to get me healthier on the inside than I had been capable of getting myself for the past 6 years, and especially in the last 18 months. Once I fell in love with the shakes, I researched the business, and what I kept finding was: people first, profits later. People first. People first. People first. It was like their banner. Be YOU. Help OTHERS. Be healthy. Be fit. People first. I couldn’t love or agree with something more.

I joined, first for myself. And really, I can’t even verbalize a ‘why’ that I joined. I can’t explain it. I’ve always wanted to get into fitness for a living, but never knew how, and why I figured this was the time, well I can’t say. But it changed my life. What I see now, is that I knew I needed accountability, I needed something to be passionate about, and I needed something that was just mine.

I got my program, CIZE; Endorphins began to rush, my fog began to lift, I began to figure out how to help my son sleep, we started sleeping more, eating better following the nutrition guide; I drank my shakes and had energy like I hadn’t had for a long time. I began to heal, and my amazing husband who has loved fitness as long as I have joined with me, and we started taking our lives back. Back from depression, back from lethargy, back from apathy. We wanted to win.

I cried a lot over the next few weeks, and 5 weeks later, I still cry at the end of every single workout. I cry because it’s a burst of joy that I can’t explain. It’s a sense of accomplishment, a sense of my old self, a sense of a bright future, and just plain fun in my life again.
When you workout, and eat right, your body will be what it will be. If you end up having some physical goals, so be it, but they will come from a healthy, happy mind. A mind that has exercised daily the habits of self love, dedication, and feeding their body like the temple it is.

If when that is done, you are still bigger than me (which is 5’3 and around 110-120lbs, I don’t weigh myself, ever), then guess what, you’re still freaking fit and an absolute rockstar in my eyes. You don’t need to be me, or anyone else on this planet, to succeed at fitness. You just do you, and that joy is yours to own. You don’t need a six pack to post a body proud photo on Instagram. You don’t need 600 likes to tell you that you meet this societies standards. You also don’t need to stop working out because working out means you don’t prioritize your family first. I don’t believe in fit shaming, I don’t believe in fat shaming, I don’t believe in skinny shaming … I don’t believe in mom shaming.

I don’t believe in shaming.

My highest engagement posts on Instagram aren’t ones of flexing, they aren’t of my “tiny preggo body”, they are of my raw, real posts about the challenges of motherhood and PPD. It  became so clear to me that fitness of mind is more important, and it’s a much harder muscle to work, but it comes from determination, and just hitting play every single day.

We are all worthy of looking in the mirror and seeing a masterpiece, created with purpose. That doesn’t give us a reason to eat like crap and sit on our butts all day, because that’s not how our bodies were designed to function.

But it does give you a reason to love your curves, love your chub, love your skin and bones, love your thighs, your arms, wings, tire, muffin, thunder thighs, big hips, cankles, skronny, lanky self. Whatever you use to describe you, turn it into a compliment. And then get up, and get to work, and treat yourself like the freaking princess God made you.

You ARE worthy. You are ARE beautiful. And you have my support.

Welcome to Braids and Brass, my name is Michelle, and I am a fitness and health coach, a mom pulled from the wreckage of depression, who still struggles day to day, but continues forward none the less.

I hope I can help you find community, accountability, self love and encouragement on your fit journey, and I welcome all that you bring to mine.

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10 thoughts on “Abs, Instagram and Happiness

  1. I’m so pleased to be getting to know you.
    All my life I’ve put everyone’s needs before mine, and I can relate to the post -partum depression . I didn’t know for years that I had suffered with it after my second daughter was born. It was only realized when she was going on 3 or 4 years old and I would see pictures of her as a baby and it was like looking at someone else ‘s life. Sad , but back then there was no knowledge of post-partum in the medical field.
    You are one strong lady , and you’ve awakened a real need in me to start putting my needs for a healthy life & body first and foremost from now on.
    I’m putting more thought into my meal planing and I’ve joined an aqua class. Now that I’ve got two new knees and no pain I’m also walking more everyday.
    Just Know that you and your blogs are very inspiring .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love all your comments and encouragements ❤ So valuable to me and I'm so glad to be getting to know you too, and walk this journey together! Knee pain is no joke, good for you for getting active and just bearing down and doing it!

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  2. You do have an amazing testimony for those who are going through the hard mom stuff, we all need to share these things so no one feels less than they are. Let’s face it, It’s hard being a mom! You are a beautiful child of God and the only mom he wanted for A, and he is beautiful inside and out because of you and L. Lots of love your momma

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know you personally but I can honostly say that following you on IG and now reading this amazing blog, as I am expecting my first who has some health problems, feel so much better about the feelings I have felt. I can’t wait to start my new healthy lifestyle journey that you have helped me stay positive and motivated through planning and I can’t wait for many more posts!
    Sending love from Georgia 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well THIS made my day! ❤ And it's 100% right, you are NOT alone in how you have felt! The struggle is real momma, stay strong and ask for help as much as possible! You won't regret it. Find me on Facebook! Michelle Gross 🙂

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  4. It’s like you picked up all these pieces and built something beautiful with them. This was a very brave (and important) thing to write because it gives others permission to have broken pieces. And, most importantly, it gives others hope that they’ll come out of the darkness and build something beautiful too.

    You have a great story. So happy you’re sharing it.

    *virtual hug*

    Liked by 1 person

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