What does it mean to be Bad Ass? I have contemplated, cogitated and reflected on this a number of times since the idea of BAM entered my mind.
It all started when a good friend of mine, and fellow Bad Ass-a-terian, completed her first SUP triathlon in 2016. I was still in the midst of new motherhood surviving on very little sleep with a 6 month old little boy who did not seem to understand the concept of rest at all. I was also still in pain with my pelvis and desperate to get back to some kind of pre baby physicality.
I have never been at peak fitness in my eyes, not if you are talking running the London Marathon. But I have always been active and my fitness was mainly strength related as a keen water sports woman spending many years working overseas as a windsurfing instructor. Pregnancy and birth curtailed that activity very promptly and post natally I was feeling weaker than ever.
As I watched my friend complete the course, I was taken by the amount of little people that were at the event cheering their mum's and Dad's on. The hugs and kisses as they crossed the finish line were just awe inspiring. The pride and light in the children's eyes as they wore their parents medals and showed them off to each other was heart warming. The familiar squawk of hungry baby broke my thought as I went in search of somewhere quieter to give Finn, our little boy, a quick feed.
It was right then that I had a real moment. There was not really anywhere that I could go to feed a little more privately. I know that some would say I should have just whapped out a boob at the finish line but I was never comfortable with too much flesh on show prior to breastfeeding, so to pop one out and probably inadvertently feed half the crowd as I had breast milk oversupply (too much milk that sprays everywhere when you are due to feed especially in a noisy area where baby wants to come on and off every two seconds!) was never going to happen. My little boy would never feed under a cover either - thanks little man :)
The closest I could get to quiet was on the end of a bench near to an old man basking in the sun with his labrador. It felt awkward. It was then however that I heard the tail end of a conversation between two other ladies who were there with their sub 12 month old babies. One said "I would love to enter something like this but there is not much for the kids to do whilst I compete and these things always end up being quite a few hours long. There is no where decent to feed or change babies and the car park is quite a way away. I am not sure my husband would want to hang around for a few hours with a bored hungry toddler. Maybe in a couple of years time".
This conversation got me thinking about some of the barriers for Mums to get through when wanting to get back into exercising and competing at events postnatally. They are heavily reliant on a supportive partner for childcare. Most Mums will always put their brood first, ensuring they are, warm, fed and watered whilst they get their a-game on and smash out their fitness challenge. There just did not seem to be much on offer to support Mums in getting back into fitness or entering fitness challenges.
I understood the importance of fitness. The focus on fitness for me entirely lies on the mental side of things, with the fitness/body shape part being an added bonus. Since becoming a Mum I felt like I was failing, not coping, and was generally overwhelmed from the minute I woke up (oh yeah, that's right, I was pretty much awake non stop for 18 months! dear god). I knew that exercise would help me but I had little energy and next to zero motivation.
That all changed after this event. I wanted a piece of the action and I had to find a way to get some of it. I knew that it meant a long slow road to recovery, but I also knew I could do anything I put my mind to.
I started talking to other Mums about their experiences and it seemed that we all felt the same one way or another - motherhood was tough on our bodies, our minds and our relationships. Even more reason to begin living the BAM way.
I started my own fitness campaign called "Just one". It meant me committing to just one of whatever exercise I fancied on any given day. This provided me with a wide margin to do something - one bicep curl, one squat, one jog around the block, one mile on the bike etc. One is better than none, and so it began.
I became passionate about spreading the just one vibe to my fellow Mums. I wanted to inspire and show them that the just one philosophy could work for them too. A number of my friends came on board and then the BAM community was born online.
Everyday I get to hear from Mum's that are finding inspiration, finding themselves again, even for just 5 minutes a day. Mum's giving themselves a reason to be proud of their achievements once per week or daily doing 20 squats whilst the kettle boils or while stirring dinner.
Living a Bad Ass Life is not for me to define for everyone else in the community. It is simply what you feel it is in your life, on your terms. That is where the magic happens; where we realise that we are only doing it for ourselves. We become untouchable in that moment where our pulse races, we reach the finish, heart pounding after some cardio or mind quiet after some time on our yoga mat.
That is Bad Ass living Ladies - you doing your thing, un-apologetically, all for your own beautiful body and mind.