So last week was pretty crazy, thanks to you guys! I ran a track workout on Friday, looked down at my beautiful shiny Hoka spikes that I just broke in and the first thing I saw was my stomach. In that moment I felt years of self image, self confidence, mental and physical changes of having 2 kids, putting my career on hold, and how the world viewed postpartum bodies all roll into one thought: how many other women see what I see and either feel embarrassed, self conscious, disgust, or confusion? So I posted those thoughts and the photo to IG. Then the internet broke. Well sort of….
Self Magazine contacted me via IG and asked to do a post on my latest picture. Thank you Nina! Apparently the internet world got wind of the article, and Tuesday morning when I woke up, my inbox was flooded. Requests and emails from People, Today Show, CBS, The Doctors, Fitness Magazine, Huffington Post, you name it they sought me out. So I’m on my way down to Camp Verde to do a killer session and my brain is buzzing. Why me, what in the world did I do to elicit this attention and interest?
The workout btw was awesome. Alexi Pappas (known for her bun hairstyle and film making skills) joined me for this session and holy moly was I thanking the stars for her company. We had a 3 mile tempo @5:35 pace and then the real workout started! 1 mile @5:15, I ran 5:08. 2 x 800 @2:34, we ran 2:33, 2:32. Finish off with a little 4 x 400 for dessert, pace @74s, we ran 72s. Solo suffering, together triumphant was our motto for the morning.
Now back to the real world, or at least the world that was about to become mine. The messages kept coming in, all day everyday for 3 straight days. Women emailed me about their own stories with diastasis recti and how some had been dealing with it for 10 years and hadn’t a clue how to heal it. Private messages from FB and IG: “It made me cry seeing your post. I thought I was a freak and the only one who looked like that.” Thank you for sharing, hopefully I will feel as confident as you in my own skin one day.” It was overwhelmingly humbling and I have teared up trying to read the hundreds of IG messages and FB posts, emails and tweets. I want to reach out and hug you all and respond to everyone but truthfully I’m emotionally and physically exhausted.
On top of all this Ben had just left the country to compete for the US at the World Half Marathon Champs and I was a single mom for 5 days, attempting to train and keep my house from exploding. It did just a little:) Riley was sick one of the nights and I was up with him almost all night. But so is the life of a parent, juggling working full time, so no complaining.
Here it is a week later and I’m scrambling to make sense of it all. How do I go viral? A girl who is as nerdy as they come in regards to running, laughs at her own jokes, mom of 2 baby boys, and working towards a dream of making the US Olympic Team on the track? Raw honesty, willingness to share, and no BS. That’s what I envisioned when I started my #journeywithsteph 2 years ago after giving birth to my first son. I wanted people to have a way to connect with me, follow my journey, and if so inclined share their story. So it’s still going, and now it seems stronger than ever.
So my message through all of this is own the skin you live in, don’t be ashamed, support others, don’t body shame, know you’re not alone, and flaunt what you have. I know some of the negative comments and there are very few in comparison to the positive are “why do you have to share that, it’s gross, keep it to yourself.” You know what happens when you keep it all to yourself and bottled up: isolation, depression, negative self image, perpetuating eating disorders, and worse conditions. It’s healthy and cathartic to share. If you don’t want to see if, flip through your social channel and just breeze over it. There’s no need for negative feedback. We are people behind computer screens, behind social media are hearts beating and feelings affected. So try to leave the judgements at home.
Lastly I want all those who have recently followed me and been inspired to know it is you that are the inspiration. You inspire me and hopefully others to be real and share your struggles and triumphs. Being a parent is a blessing, but there are also days it feels like kids suck the life out of you and that’s ok to admit. I love running every morning I wake up but there are days the workout or task ahead gives you the gag reflex and the cold sweats just anticipating how hard you are going to have to work to reach your goals. The postpartum body is a complicated and hot mess but also one that brought life into this world. Yes it’s the most natural part of existence yet what happens to women after is not natural.
There’s a hole in information on how women are supposed to cope with the changes they’ve experienced both physically and mentally. I’m hoping to fill that gap. With the help of all you sending stories and messages I’m inspired to use a platform you’ve given me to make more of an impact than just posting on IG. I’m not sure at this moment what that looks like but maybe I’ll look down at my spikes one of these days and have another vision.
For now, I’m off to chase one of my dreams and race the 10,000m this Friday at the Stanford Invite in Palo Alto. It’s been 4 years since my last track race (2012 Olympic Trials) and aside from forgetting how to turn left I’m confident I’m ready to fly. Thanks to my coach Ben, NAZ Elite, and Oiselle for supporting me through this journey, all of my pregnancies and my return to training.
Stay tuned for follow up blogs where I’ll delve into more details about my experience with Diastisis Recti and share what I’ve learned and how I’ve been working on it. If you have any topics you’d love to hear above please comment below.
P.S. My sponsors have exciting product launches and promos this week so don’t miss out!
My training flat, the Tracer comes to market April 1st and is available to public. Check it!
Oiselle is offering 25% off all bras, use the code BOOBYAH (yeah I said that). Shop Oiselle bras here.