If you ever want to be showered in praise and compliments for putting in minimal effort, all you need to do is get super pregnant and then go to a group exercise class (not a pre-natal one – those ones are full of pregnant ladies and nobody will think you’re special*).
At 28 weeks pregnant, people have stopped tip-toeing around the subject of my larger-than-usual belly, and approach things in more of a, “wow, look at you!” kind of way. Which can be annoying in the way it’s annoying whenever something big is going on in your life that prompts everyone you encounter to make the exact same comments and ask the exact same questions (yes, we know it’s a girl, due end of May, we haven’t decided on a name, and no, our toddler has no idea what’s about to happen), but it’s fine. I wish everyone would approach me by doing what I have trained my mom to do, which is to essentially greet me every time she sees me by asking, “what would you like to complain about to me today?” But the standard questions are totally okay too.
What I’m getting at, is I have passed the stage where people are shy about commenting on my pregnancy. So when I show up to my weekly run group or bootcamp, it’s fair game for conversation topic. I actually appreciate this, because since I chose not to share my pregnancy publicly in the first trimester, it was like I was just a lot slower and fatter for no reason. Which isn’t a huge deal, because most people don’t pay attention to how slow or fat I am, but it seems a little unfair that I was creating the miracle of life inside of me and all I had to show for it was extreme bloating and getting closer and closer to last place at the competitive races I had signed up for.
So you can imagine my relief when I could finally explain to people, who were completely oblivious to my normal athletic capabilities – pregnant or not, that the reason I was struggling lately was because I’m pregnant, and not because I’m lazy or otherwise defective. Once they know, everything changes. Instead of going to workouts and performing entirely unremarkably and having nobody comment at all, I can now go and any amount of effort invokes comments like:
“You’re so inspiring!”
“Good for you!”
“I can’t believe you’re still at it!”
You can’t imagine how wonderful it is to finally get the adoration and praise I’ve felt deserving of my whole life during every workout I’ve ever done, pregnant or not. Because honestly, working out while pregnant can be painful and difficult, but I like to think that I put just as much effort into all of my workouts, even when I’m not gestating. I’ve also been known to workout through a lot of injuries, which isn’t a good idea, but also makes things super painful, so this isn’t totally new territory.
I felt particularly deprived of praise during my first trimester – I didn’t have any real limitations in terms of range of motion, but all of my oxygen was being sucked away and into my baby, so as I would push myself, breathing became a real struggle. But nobody knew of my delicate condition and there were zero compliments given for merely participating, like there are when everyone knows!
Now I have this big belly and pretty intense ligament pain, so I just can’t run fast enough to experience the limitations of insufficient oxygen supply. Every workout, my legs feel amazing and want to run way faster, but the shooting pain around my pelvis keeps me from doing that, so I never end up feeling like I’m working as hard as I otherwise would in a workout. Yet, non-stop praise from the people around me for working out! It’s fantastic.
Of course, this also makes me think that I should always be praised like this for working out hard. Because running through pain isn’t super fun, but who does a hard track workout and isn’t running through some pain? Just because my pain is in the form of pelvic ligaments that are screaming at me instead of the pain from lactic acid building up in my muscles and burning lungs, doesn’t make it any more heroic.
I guess what I’m getting at, is everyone who does a hard workout should be praised more, if inflicting pain and fatigue on ourselves for the sake of improving fitness is something deserving of praise. It’s just nice to finally be getting the recognition I deserve for exercising.
*Although I do actually recommend pre-natal workout classes for their many benefits aside from praise for being a special snowflake.