Women give up a lot of things (like a whole lot of things) when they become pregnant. They forego their nightly glass — or two — of wine and their mid-afternoon Venti coffee. They give up many types of seafood and sushi. And they avoid pepperoni pizza and cookie dough. But there is one thing fitness blogger Sia Cooper isn’t willing to give up: her six-pack abs and her pre-pregnancy workout routine. That’s right: Cooper is eight months pregnant and still sporting some amazingly impressive abs.
But not everyone believes Cooper’s decision to continue such an intense exercise routine — she works out an hour a day, five days a week — is healthy. And now the 26-year-old mom, nurse, and Instagram star is facing some tough criticism.
Cooper’s journey began several months ago, when she first started documenting her workout routine and her pregnancy on her website, Diary of a Fit Mommy, and on Instagram. According to Cooper, her goal in sharing her experience is to help inspire other moms (and moms-to-be) to be fit, to be healthy, and — most importantly — to care for and nurture themselves.
In fact, in a recent interview with Us Weekly, Cooper explained:
“I want to inspire other moms out there that you can get a little creative and find ways to fit your workout in. One of the most common excuses that I hear is, ‘I do not have time’ … the truth is that we all have time — you just have to make it and not feel guilty about doing something for yourself.”
But some Instagrammers are viewing her photos and motivational messages as the opposite of inspiring. In fact, a quick skim of her feed shows that many believe Cooper is intentionally shaming bigger women. Scroll through, and you’ll quickly spot more than a few judgmental comments, sad faces, and “WTFs.” Many comments also question the safety of her workout routine, and even go so far as to imply that she’s putting herself, and her baby, at risk.
Speaking with Us, Cooper was quick to dispel those concerns. “Many people will say it’s unhealthy or that I am hurting my baby, but everything is perfect as I am currently at a 20 lbs. weight gain,” she said. “With my first son, I worked out as well and I ended up gaining 30 lbs.”
According to the American Pregnancy Association, in most cases, exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, it is beneficial. And as for the former claim — that she’s “fat-shaming” bigger women — I can see how others may feel that way at first glance. Especially those who, for one reason or another, cannot workout (or truly cannot find time to workout); but to be fair, I generally believe her intentions are honest and good.
Take this recent post, which was accompanied by the caption:
“At 8 months pregnant, I often get asked how in the world I find the motivation to wake up each day and go workout.
The truth is, I have to fight for it everyday. It starts with rolling out of bed and to be honest, my back hurts. Finding extra energy is like searching for Waldo and holding back from a tub of ice cream is like trying to escape the Temple of Doom in an Indiana Jones movie. It’s hard and I’m not superhuman.
But when I roll out of bed each day, I tell myself I gotta do it for the health of my unborn baby, to set an example for my toddler, to look good for my husband, and to take pride in myself.
A healthy, happy family starts with a healthy, happy mommy. That-to me-is all worth it right there.”
Sure, that can seem preachy, if read a certain way; and the phrase “take pride in myself” in that context could be taken to imply that bigger women do not. But I think that statement is more of a faux pas than an intentionally hurtful remark.
I think what Cooper means is that all moms — new moms, old moms, and moms-to-be — are worth it. They deserve the time and the energy, to take care of themselves in whatever way they see fit. Does that mean that all of us should have abs of steel at eight months? Hell no.
Because, as it seems to bare repeating, every body is different. Every woman is different. Every pregnancy is different, and yes, every woman’s pre-pregnancy fitness routine is different. But it also doesn’t mean Cooper is “bad” or “wrong” or intentionally endangering the welfare of her child simply because she is super fit, and super small. (For the record, I gained just 20 pounds over the course of my pregnancy because I too am small-framed, and because I ran throughout my pregnancy. In fact, I ran until my 38th week, with my doctor’s blessing and my body’s.)
An as she recently shared with the Daily Mail, Cooper’s own foray into fitness was born out of her own issues with body image, and years of struggling to overcome an eating disorder.
“Overcoming bulimia was not easy for me to do,” the told the paper. “All of my life, I was told that I was chunky and that I would be prettier if only I were slimmer,’ she says. ‘Browsing through fashion magazines did not help one bit, but I thought these women were a symbol of beauty and what I should aspire to look like. I finally woke up one day and realized that if I did not stop what I was doing, I was going to head down a dark path that I possibly could not pull myself out of.”
Instead of shaming one another, let’s start supporting one another. Instead of bashing one another, let’s help one another. And let us remember that, at the end of the day, we are all moms and we all want — and do — what is best for ourselves, our children, and our families.More On