For many, the idea that one must “bounce back” to their pre-baby body shortly after giving birth creates unnecessary stress and pressure during an already particularly challenging time. That’s why Anna Victoria, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)-certified personal trainer, fitness influencer and CEO of Fit Body App, is using her social media platform to remind the world that the only thing she needs to focus on right now is her baby.
On Friday, the trainer — who gave birth to her first child last year — took to Instagram to share several photos of herself and her family alongside an empowering message.
“What is this obsession with postpartum bodies and ‘bouncing back’?” she wrote. “I recently received a comment judging me as a personal trainer for not having ‘bounced back’ yet.”
While she said there was nothing wrong with new parents spending time in the gym or on one’s nutrition if that made them feel “strong, empowered, [and] confident,” Victoria criticized the pressure to focus on “aesthetics” while also “trying getting a handle on their new role in life, new responsibilities, feeding their baby, sleeping, new dynamics in their marriage/relationship, [and] most likely work too.”
“I am proud of the fact that this last year, feeding my daughter has been my priority. That doesn’t mean fitness hasn’t been *one* of my priorities, it just means I haven’t been in a caloric deficit and intentionally trying to lose weight,” she continued. “WHY is that so bizarre? To be honest, if anything, I think this type of example is what’s NEEDED in this industry! Don’t let others project their insecurities or societal standards onto you. Like I said, nothing wrong with wanting to look your best. But I hope you still appreciate your body at all stages for what it can DO over how it looks.”
Victoria told Yahoo Life that she felt pressure to lose the weight she put on while pregnant even before she gave birth.
“When that’s all you read about and all you see, the amazing ‘bounce back’ stories, it’s hard not to feel like that needs to be you, too,” she said. “Talk about pressure! Thankfully I’ve never felt this pressure internally, but seeing that it’s an expectation absolutely was concerning to me, especially since being physically fit is a part of my profession.”
She pointed out that there are simply way too many important things for moms to work on — their bodies shouldn’t be made into the number one priority.
“Maybe some new mothers really are able to focus on their fitness — as soon as they receive doctor’s approval — and have it not impact their milk supply, if they are breastfeeding,” she said. “Maybe they’re getting enough sleep to be able to do so, etc. But that should be a decision they make for themselves, not because someone else or society is telling them they need to look a certain way.”
Victoria also noted that many people have a false idea about what’s realistic postpartum because celebrities often set unrealistic expectations.
“Many celebrities are where they are because they have amazing ‘unicorn’ genetics, so it’s no surprise they bounce back quicker than average,” she explained. “Not to mention, some even do weight loss procedures soon after birth. I wish more were aware of this so they would know not to compare themselves to an incredibly unrealistic standard.”
Video: Anna Victoria's low-impact core workout
Instead, Victoria said that most people who are making an effort to work out and eat healthfully won’t see significant progress for six to 12 months.
“I lean more towards the 12-month timeline, but that’s simply because I am a fan of ‘slow and steady wins the race’ by losing weight in a healthy, sustainable way that you can manage to keep off for the long run,” she said. “Typically, the quicker you lose it, the quicker you’ll gain it back since quick fat loss is typically achieved through unsustainable methods.”
Regardless, Victoria seeing other women praised for snapping back can “send a poor message.”
“It’s important to remember we all have different genetics and not to compare yourself to someone you see on Instagram,” she explained. “That’s incredibly hard to do in the very sensitive time that postpartum is, so I encourage anyone who is feeling that pressure to unfollow anyone who is making them feel that way.”
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