It’s a cliche but it’s true—I’ve never been more in awe of my body than after childbirth. For a brief period afterwards, I truly felt like an Amazon warrior (one with mesh underwear lined with witch hazel pads instead of armor, but pretty damn powerful nonetheless). And the meals I ate afterwards were consumed with abandon—nursing left me constantly starving and so the more carb-loaded, butter-laden and delicious the better. In the weeks that followed, my body that had stretched beyond comprehension during pregnancy settled into a softer, squishier version of its former self and I oscillated between appreciation for and complete indifference to how I looked, too obsessed with keeping a tiny human alive to think about myself in any other way.
But all good things must come to an end, and as the sleep regressions passed and new milestones were reached, I eventually started to feel some element of “Oh wow, my pre-pregnancy jeans still don’t fit.” And so, during one particularly bleary-eyed nursing session, I found myself Googling the inevitable “how long to lose baby weight.” (If you’ve recently had a baby, please don’t do this—the internet is lying to you and no good will come of it.) It’s not that I was particularly stressed out about the number on the scale, but I did start to think that I should probably cut back on my double breakfasts (a habit I had started during pregnancy and happily continued well into the fourth trimester) and maybe do some exercise. And so, six months after the birth of my second child, I started boxing.
Why boxing? Partly because my husband already did it and had an excellent trainer, and partly because I wanted to do something that made me feel as strong on the outside as I knew I could feel on the inside. And yes, if I’m being honest, I also wanted to fit back into those damn jeans.
Initially, boxing didn’t make me feel very powerful at all. It made me feel awkward and out of shape. But slowly, I could feel muscles that had been lying dormant awaken as I began to understand punches and combinations and footwork. It’s an odious phrase, but with every slip and pivot my body was, quite literally, “bouncing back after baby.” But the most amazing part of the workout wasn’t the calories burned—it was the mental focus and physical reprieve.