When I Gave Up On My Body

by Danielle DeMarco

When I Gave Up On My Body

No one is harder on my body than me. 

Sports, health, fitness and exercise have always been a major part of my life. I am a former college gymnast. I’ve competed in a fitness competition and CrossFit competitions. I was a personal trainer, and I would have died if I didn’t work out six days a week. When it comes to the bubble of exercise, I’ve been around the block. 

I used to obsess over working out, my body, what I ate, how I looked. I would never give myself a break.

I would get mad at my body for not being the way that I expected it to be. I would get disappointed in my body for feeling tired or injured. I would push my body to a point where it would say no more. I forced myself into three months of extensive physical therapy for a back injury. My body was never enough.

Then, April 15, 2020 came and everything I ever knew was about to change.

The day my husband Mike and I found out we were having a baby. The most exciting news in our entire lives.

But why couldn’t I enjoy it 100%?

An erupting volcano of emotions and the one thing I couldn’t help but think, how my body was about to change forever. Let’s face it ladies, we all hear it, we all think it and we all know it. 

The first couple of weeks were great. I felt no change in my body (aside from morning sickness, which is all-day sickness). I continued to exercise as hard as I did weeks before. 

Then, I started hitting the month markers. I couldn’t go as fast, I couldn’t lift as heavy, I couldn’t run as well. I started to see pounds loading up on the scale. When I started going pound for pound with Mike, I was feeling some type of way. 

It wasn’t the same and I let it get in my head. Am I ever going to be what I was before this pregnancy? Will I ever be able to lift heavy again? Will I ever be as fast as I once was? Will my body look like it did before April 2020?

December 31, 2020 our beautiful baby girl, Gia Bella DeMarco, joined the crew. The first few weeks were a blur. Moving slowly from the delivery, no sleep and nursing around the clock. I couldn’t wait to feel normal again.

At last, my six-week postpartum appointment, my doctor tells me I can start riding the bike for small increments at a time. I was ecstatic. Finally, the moment I’ve been waiting for. I can finally “get my body back.” 

Little did I see coming. A road to recovery, not a destination to my goal body.

I said it earlier, no one is harder on my body than me. So I pushed myself and I landed in pelvic floor therapy. 

I was angry, frustrated and disappointed. I “did everything right.” I exercised my entire pregnancy, up until the day I gave birth. I was only down for six weeks. How could my body fail me like this? I’m not where I want to be and at this point, I can’t even do the exercises I need to do to get there. 

After several cycles of pushing myself, take a week off, push myself, Gia gets sick, push myself, now I’m sick. I had no consistency and a whole lot of feeling helpless. I finally gave up….

But this isn’t the type of giving up, when you’re almost to the finish line and you say I can’t do this anymore, I quit. 

I mean, giving up on putting an immense amount of pressure on myself to get my “old” body back. A body that is nothing compared to the body that grew and carried a beautiful healthy baby for nine months. A body that nursed exclusively for a year. A body that proved to me it was so much stronger than any weight I’ve ever put on a barbell.

I finally started appreciating my body. I finally started to truly love my body in every stage it went through. I finally cared the least about what my body looked like then I had ever cared in my entire life, and I loved it the most. Not because of what it looked like, or what size it was but because of what it had done. What it continues to do.

Health and fitness are still a major piece of my daily life. Some days I get to do a structured class at Motives. Some days I can only workout for 20 minutes and some days I don’t get to work out at all and it’s ok.

Since April 2020, I’ve learned more about my body than ever before. More than the years of gymnastics, competitions and training taught me. I learned the true strength of a woman’s body.

I sat down to write because I am a mom.

I’ve battled with my body, and it took a lot for me to learn that fitness is a journey, not a destination.

I want other women to know they can still love their body in all stages of life, even after pregnancy.

And it’s better when you know you’re not alone.