It’s no secret that women have to battle criticism constantly…too fat, too skinny, ugly without makeup, has cellulite, stretch marks, saggy skin…and that’s just in her own head…add social media to the mix and the criticism is times 10. Fit Mom Strong Mom is all about supporting women…moms, especially, feel proud about their pre, pregnant, and postpartum bodies. We want to be a place women can come for information, motivation, and support. We had the pleasure of meeting, Strong Momma Heidi, of Reclaim the Fit Mom. Heidi’s mission is the same as ours, so it was only natural that we share her story! In an attempt to document her journey to getting fit after pregnancy, this mom spends 465 days tracking her ups and downs in a humorous investigation into fitness and motherhood. The result? The Fit Mom Project.
FMSM: What gave you the idea to write your book?
Heidi: I’m a writer at heart, and followed that passion to graduate school for my MFA in writing. During and right after graduate school, I wrote a fair number of short pieces, mostly nonfiction essays. But, then children and a full time job happened, and I had to scale back my time dedicated to writing. After my second child was born, I really wanted to make an effort to build writing into my life. I also really wanted to make an effort to build a healthier lifestyle. I hadn’t thought about combining the two until after I ran the Twin Cities Marathon in October of 2013. Unfortunately, I suffered an injury during the marathon. I finished the race, but not nearly as well as I had hoped. I spent the next few days feeling very sorry for myself, beating myself up for not training right, for not eating well enough before the race. I was so hard on myself, and was not allowing myself to take pride in the simple fact of having even attempted a marathon with a 7-month old! Well, this happened to coincide with an ABC News article that came across my Facebook feed about the “No Excuse Fit Mom” controversy. I had never heard of this No Excuse trend, and I have to say, it kind of pissed me off. I am generally angered by anything health-related that is measured by a woman’s body image, and the idea that Fit Moms were being defined by this thigh-gap washboard ab image really put me over the top. And that’s when it all came together. I started a Facebook page called The Fit Mom Project (now called Reclaim the Fit Mom). I planned to spend a year documenting my attempts to become this image of a Fit Mom while also working full time, being a mom, etc. I ended up documenting a bit longer than a year because I wanted to track progress I was making in the sport of CrossFit, and my strength and athletic goals quickly usurped my body image goals.
FMSM: How long did it take to write? What were some of the challenging moments? What were some of your shining moments during the project?
Heidi: The book is based on The Fit Mom Project, and so some of the chapters came directly from blog posts I had written. That said, I did want to fictionalize it a bit to protect the privacy of my friends, gym mates, and trainers. That was probably the hardest part – wanting to honor the truth and reality without inadvertently hurting anyone’s feelings. I really care about my gym community, but I also went through a lot of stuff emotionally and physically during that 465 days, and I wanted to be sure that came through in the book.
As far as actually writing, I began writing the book in February of 2014 and received the final draft back from my proofreader the last weekend in June.
The best moment so far since releasing the book was the book release party we held at my gym. It was a ladies-only event, and we drank wine, bedazzled blender bottles, and attempted to make workout tanks from old t-shirts. It was so much fun, and was such a great showing of support from a community of like-minded women. In fact, it was so awesome, I’m now in the process of building a brand around the concept of having such parties. More on that soon! 😉
FMSM: What do you think is the biggest challenge women face during postpartum?
Heidi: I can’t speak for other women, but for me it was feeling isolated and constantly comparing myself to other women/moms. I have a strong personality, and I am pretty mentally tough, but I have struggled with body image and disordered eating since high school, and that all sort of resurfaced for me, especially after my second child. I had gained weight, of course, but I also had to have an unplanned c-section, and that really threw me off mentally and physically. It’s so silly now, but those two extra weeks of mandated time off from exercise (which I should have relished in bed with my baby!!) I spent obsessing about my stomach fat. I think this is so sad, and I know I am not the only woman who has suffered from poor body image post-pregnancy. That said, very quickly after I started The Fit Mom Project and found a community of women who supported me and never made me feel bad about my body, my self-confidence began to soar and I was able to change my mindset completely about my own body.
FMSM: Your mission is very similar to ours, what do you hope to accomplish with The Fit Mom Project and Reclaiming the Fit Mom?
Heidi: I have a lot of aspirations for where this is all going, but most importantly I want other women to feel empowered to define for themselves what “fitness” or “fit mom” means to them. I mentioned that I’m working on building a brand, but more than that, my co-founders and I want it to be a community of women (and men!) who come together for two main reasons: to feel better about themselves and to find a community of supportive people who motivate them in that first goal.
FMSM: Where can moms find out more information about The Fit Mom Project?
Heidi: Interested readers can find the book on amazon: http://amzn.com/B010QW3L3O
Readers can also learn more about me and the book on my website: heidiriversmarshall.com
Finally, please Like my Facebook page, Reclaim the Fit Mom, and follow me on Instagram @reclaimfitmom to stay up-to-date on our growing community and brand!
FMSM: Thanks, Heidi!