As a fitness professional for more 20 years, Lisa Druxman has helped thousands of women transform their bodies. Now, with the release of her new, body-positive video campaign, Passion Project, Druxman is looking to help women transform their minds as well.
“For so many women, no matter how we change their bodies, they are still not comfortable being in their own bodies,” she said in a recent interview.
In the Passion Project, Druxman highlights seven women, ages 20 to 70, who express their own experiences with body image. Some share common frustrations of not liking certain body parts when they look in the mirror, while others commented on how they would feel beautiful when they lost weight or if they were proportioned differently. Druxman wants women to be able to look into the mirror and not see their imperfections first, but to see their own beauty here and now—not 15 pounds from now.
“Change the lens that you’re seeing your beauty,” she said, asking women to stop looking in the mirror and picking themselves apart by fragments and parts, with this stretch mark here and that bulge there. “If you’re going to fragment, look for the good—the strength and the definition you earned through your fitness.”
Druxman, who has been helping moms and moms-to-be get fit with the fitness program Fit4Mom since 2001, wants women to stop measuring their value by the number they weigh on a scale. “We need to redirect our goals so they are not so ego-based,” she said, suggesting that women not get obsessed with counting calories and pounds, despite the great societal pressure to be thin. Instead, she encourages women to change their focus to becoming healthy and strong, with more energy to fully (and even playfully) live their lives with the ones they love.
She feels this is especially important for new moms. While women believe in the idea of putting on their own oxygen mask first to have the energy and strength to take care of their child, Druxman said that most mothers don’t put this into practice. Normal, sleep-deprived moms are struggling to juggle caring for a newborn with household chores and other familial duties, much less make time to care for themselves.
“We’re often martyrs as mothers and try to do it all,” she said. “But it’s important to carve out some time for yourself, fueling your body with fitness and food.”
Druxman stresses the importance of mothers getting adequate sleep for sanity and health. She also encourages moms to take naps when babies are sleeping and to exercise wherever they can fit it in. Women can make great progress in their fitness goals by working out a couple days a week, exercising for the 20 minutes while their baby is in tummy time or by doing a stroller workout.
“It’s important to realize time constraints don’t mean you can’t get a good workout in,” Druxman said. Just because a new mother may not be able to get in an hour-long yoga or spin class does not mean she cannot still see the benefits of exercise, say from a 20-minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout.
Because the body is put through a lot of forward movement during pregnancy, Druxman encourages moms to focus on their core and back strength for balance. “You want to put muscle back on with lean body mass,” she said, encouraging a combined core and cardiovascular workout.
Stories of celebrity moms, like Kate Hudson and Victoria Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio, losing 45 pounds or more of weight in three or four months put unnecessary pressure on new moms to lose weight fast. “It’s very harmful to compare yourself to these celebrities,” Druxman said. “They have nannies, personal trainers and chefs.” Many of these celebrities also have the help, time and energy to work out two to three hours a day, six days a week.
Druxman said that most women can experience changes in their bodies six to eight weeks after adding exercise to their routine, but they should expect that it will take nine months to a year to get pre-pregnancy body back, depending on what their fitness level was before pregnancy. “Have the gratitude for your body getting you through pregnancy and delivery,” she said, “and the grace to realize it took nine months for your body to grow a child so it’s going to take some time to get back in shape. Be patient with yourself.”
While the barrage of unrealistic representations of women and mothers in media is hard to avoid, Druxman said, “If the imagery you’re looking at doesn’t make you feel good, start looking to new sources of input.”
A typical human has 60,000 thoughts a day, she said, “and 98 percent of your thoughts are what you said to yourself yesterday. So if you want to change a thought, you need a do-over thought to replace the negative one. We need to keep going to the place we want to get to mentally.” By doing this consistently, we can start to retrain the mind to think positive thoughts and get the body to start doing positive things.
Druxman encourages women to start looking around to see how beautiful real people are. Mothers especially can take notes from their children. “It’s time to say, ‘how do my children see me?’ and start looking through their lens,” she said. “Children see you as beautiful and only see your flaws when you point them out.”
With the Passion Project—which included a liberating, naked photoshoot—participants found increased self-confidence and peace of mind. They reflected on how much time, energy and peace of mind is wasted when women don’t recognize their innate beauty. “With age comes wisdom, and so many other things are important. And I’m so sorry I didn’t get this earlier on,” said Judy, age 70.
Druxman said Judy emphasized the reality that one’s body is going to change over time and the importance of realizing how amazing you are right now. No matter what age you get to, you’re going to look back and ask yourself, ‘why didn’t I realize I was good enough back then?’
Fit4Mom is the parent company of Stroller Strides and Body Back, which help new moms, moms-to-be and seasoned moms, exercise with a community of other like-minded women—those with similar goals, struggles and hectic lives. The classes provide a safe and supportive environment for women to share and help each other with the difficulties of raising a family, and keeping mom’s health a priority when all too often we let that fall to the bottom of our priority list. Learn more at fit4mom.com