(TW: weight and fitness; Dip out from this if you need to, because I know that it’s hard to talk about fitness, just, in general; the well has been fully, fully poisoned by fatphobia and sanctimonious wellness bullshit. I actively try to fight that, but I know it’s still triggering to a lot of folks.)

Happy New Year!

This comic isn’t necessarily parenting-related, but I think that ‘getting back in shape’ is something that a lot of people struggle with after they give birth, so this one is going out to all the people, especially moms, who feel the pressure to fill up their precious New Years resolutions slot yet again with another often-doomed wish to ‘start going to the gym’.

If your resolution this year is fitness-related, you’re among something like 50% of the population. The gyms are usually packed with new people in January* which can feel a little strange. Like the ‘real’ gym rats are judging you. But, hey! If that’s you: you’re in common company, and I welcome you, friend. To paraphrase Confucius: It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you don’t stop.

(*uh, when it’s not a pandemic and the gyms aren’t closed)

But, okay, hear me out: this isn’t completely unconnected from How-Baby-the-comic-about-motherhood. For me, my journey from devout couch potato to jocknerd is a thread in the tapestry of who I am as a mother, because of what the expectations (and physical demands) of motherhood have done to my body, my time, and my identity.

Let’s get to, for a moment, how the idea that you ‘need to get your body back’ after giving birth has become synonymous with losing weight, when I think the more interesting phenomenon is actually how giving birth is a slow erosion of control over your body. Between trying to conceive, the roulette dangers of pregnancy, fulfilling every need of a newborn, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, often permanent and debilitating changes to your body… control of one’s body is lost in so many ways, and one’s needs are subordinate to another’s.

Framing this phenomenon as being about weight loss is a fatphobic, capitalist sickness – it’s not the real problem, but it’s easier and more lucrative to sell a diet than it is to shift a mental paradigm. It should really be more about supporting people who’ve given birth in reconnecting with their bodies and their needs – literally getting your body back – after such a massive loss of autonomy.

For everyone, fitness goals shouldn’t be about punishing the soft, vulnerable animal of your body for having the audacity to do as you asked it to do – maybe to birth a baby, or survive a pandemic, or just to stay alive long enough to be blessed with some wear and tear. It’s about taking some time out of your day to listen to your body, to tend to it; to put a little bit of work into the precious vessel of your soul, because love is labour. We labour every day for others, our families and our bosses, and your body deserves a little of that care as well.

Realizing that helped me approach my fitness goals with love, not with hate – and the love has sustained me far, far longer than the years of self-hatred did.