Almost Fearless

The Art of Taking Little Steps



I had Stella by c-section at the end of February, but it’s taken me a long time to heal, including a second surgery, a post-op infection, etc, etc and finally, this week I was all cleared after the last round of antibiotics.


It just took me 9 months to do it.

I stepped on the scale today and I weigh 30 lbs more than I did when I was nine months pregnant.

30 lbs… more… then when I has hugely and heavily and impossibly pregnant and thought I was gigantic.

Here is the thing, I am deeply ashamed of this. I am horrified at myself, as if I ate donuts and cheesecake by the pound for the last nine months and gluttoned my way to this weight. I know I didn’t do that, but it doesn’t matter — that’s what I think everything else who sees me thinks. I am embarrassed of myself. I feel this so deeply that I don’t want to meet new people until I lose some weight, like I want as few people as possible to ever see me like this, and if you’re in my circle now, that’s fine, but that’s it – no new friends.

I mean it bothered me when I didn’t lose the weight from being pregnant with Cole, but there’s a certain number on the scale where you’re just like: wow, this is not humanly possible. We all have our number and I sailed past mine. Now I just step on the scale and think, “Really, this is happening, okay. I mean where’s the limit? If I can weigh this much, what is stopping me from just weighing like 500 lbs? Time? A sprained ankle? Where does it end? How far can this actually go, because at this point, I don’t even believe this is possible, so certainly I have no clue.”

It took all my will to run a workshop in September, to meet all these bloggers while still wearing a back brace and maternity clothes, unable to walk more than three blocks to find a restaurant and having to admit, “Hey guys, can we turn back?”

Yet, I want to write about this, because what is that? If I had any other kind of surgery that required nine-freaking-months to recover from, especially the kind of complications that I have had, would I feel this guilt? Would a guy? Have I internalized some rule that I am supposed to have babies and bounce back right away? Am I really like this? Aren’t I smart, funny, awesome, nice and worthy of making new friends, even though I am carrying this extra weight? I mean it’s one thing to want to be healthier, but when you start thinking that maybe you could just become a hermit, isn’t that something else?

I feel like to move forward I have to carve this self-shaming out of my psyche and almost shove it away so I can move forward. Clean slate. No looking back. It’s not easy.

So this morning, I put on my tennis shoes, took two advils, and after an hour and half of combined effort with Drew we got the kids fed, dressed and teeth brushed, and I didn’t even shower, I just pulled my hair back into a ponytail and we went to the beach, to walk. After the first five minutes, every step was painful, but I pushed on.


The ocean makes me happy. I carried Stella in a sling and Cole ran circles around us. We made it 15 minutes down the beach until the pain in my lower back stopped me. I kept bending over to try to stretch the muscle because it felt like a spasm, but as soon as I started walking again, the pain returned. We stopped at the closest cafe and Cole was like, “That’s it?”

That’s it.

I have a long way to go. It makes me mad and frustrated but I have to let go. I have to just embrace it. Somewhere in there, there’s a lesson about body image, but the fact is, I can’t just positive-mindset myself out of this. I will get up and spend 90 minutes wrangling my children to walk 15 minutes on the beach every day for weeks, and it will suck. It will hurt. Eventually I’ll be able to walk more. Then a little more. But it’s not going to be easy. There’s a certain kindness I have to learn through this, I think, an appreciation of how lucky I am to have my health, even though it’s not on my terms. I should be less hard on myself, but honestly, truly, that’s difficult too. Little steps, salty air, the beautiful Banderas Bay stretching out to my left and my family rooting me on — those things help. For someone who always wants to dive in and do it all, and do it now, maybe I needed to learn this lesson. Be thankful, be happy, go slow, relax.

Of course, I would have much rather learned this lesson from an extremely moving TED talk or Brene Brown’s latest book, but we don’t always get what we want. You know, just let me download this knowledge and acceptance into my brain somehow like in the Matrix. Maybe tomorrow I will wake up and feel differently, but right now this feels complicated, it’s not just physical therapy, it’s all mixed up in the way I feel about myself, with a dash of panic over not having any control. Little steps are so much harder for me than giant leaps. Giant leaps I can do. Being patient takes skill.


Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”



  • Thank you for being so brave in this post. It really helped me to read this, especially as I’m forging ahead with baby steps in my own struggles and it is HARD and everything HURTS. You’re right, there are some lessons we have to learn in person, patiently, by living through it. Rooting you on from afar.

  • What a brave post, Christine…! Thank you so much for writing this. I can really, truly relate to this with a different health problem I have that the world probably thinks is largely my own fault, similar to the whole eating-donuts-and-cheesecake-by-the-pound feeling you described, even though it’s everything but. And it’s forced me to have to allow myself to not be so stubbornly positive about it all the time; I’ve had to give myself a break and admit that ‘wow, this SUCKS. and I hate it.’ I’m learning to trust that little steps will add up in time, and even though it sometimes feels like forever, “this too shall pass” 😉 One day at a time.

  • Christine, watch “The Intouchables.” Rod and I watched it last weekend — we found a French copy on Netflix with English subtitles — and I still can’t get it out of my head! I understand as you say that you can’t just ‘positive-mindset’ yourself, but that movie sure helped me to re-think my perspective and I hope you could find it inspiring too (as well as laugh a lot). ….This past week, I confess, I was guilty of eating mince meat and pumpkin pies by the pound:) …..

      • Yes! After watching it, I went online and found an interview with the real Count Phillipe. He is such a wonderfully nice, positive man. When I’m huffing up stairs or feel a new ache, I picture Driss lifting Phillipe like a sack of potatoes and feel grateful:)

  • Christine, I always love your voice in your writing, but this is really a standout post; I’m so impressed and touched by your openness. Congratulations — you’ve taken the first big (not baby) steps toward making change. My sister, with whom I’m extremely close, struggled with morbid obesity for most of her lifetime (100+ lbs. overweight), and for years it was this awful unmentionable taboo subject between us. When she finally opened up and expressed the kinds of feelings you expressed above, it was a huge relief for both of us and her first step toward changing and getting healthier. I have two pieces of advice that I hope will help: first, leave the kids at home under Drew’s care so you don’t “spend 90 minutes wrangling” your kids to get out for a walk. The 15 minutes (which I bet will soon grow to 30 minutes) should be YOUR time with no barriers, such as getting kids dressed and ready, keeping you from getting out the door. I am addicted to my solo time running — it’s a time in the day of mindful reflection when I do some of my best thinking — and you just can’t get that if you’re distracted by watching your kids. Make it part of your daily routine, and soon your kids will understand that this is the time of day when Mom goes out. Secondly, I empathize greatly with your lower back pain; hopefully some weight loss will help relieve it. I suggest you take the mindset that “sitting is the enemy” because sitting exacerbates lower back problems as well as (of course) contributes to being sedentary. When my lower back pain was at its worse, I kept a yoga mat by my desk and tried to remind myself to get up every 45 – 50 minutes and lie down flat on the floor and do some simple stretches and physical therapy moves for 5 – 10 minutes. It provided a break from working at the computer that was good for my whole body, not just lower back. I’m really rooting for you and hope you’ll continue to post updates about how you’re making progress and/or when you slip up (because progress will probably be three steps forward, one or two back) so that your virtual community can support you. Take care and good luck!

    • Thank you! That’s a really good tip about standing… I have been reading about other writers who stand for part or most of their day while writing. I am going to start trying that a little a build up my tolerance. I think if you stand all day it’s like one really good cardio workout by the end of the day. Every little bit helps. (I know some writers actually walk on a treadmill while writing too! Susan Orlean does this. Crazy smart.)

    • Good tip about going for the walk alone, as a mom of a new baby you don’t get much of that, and I agree all of you could benefit from this. For a good laugh watch this . For the pain have you tried acupuncture? A mix of standing and sitting and stretching (in my old office visitors were often startled to find me lying on floor stretching). And thanks for the honesty in this post. It will resonate with so many, as it did with me (middle aged and 42lbs overweight with a gammy ankle) and it helps to know that it is not just me that feels this way. Best wishes, and you will get there, one day and one step at a time.

  • I had lower back pain after my first pregnancy. My Doctor prescribed pain killers. My friend the physiotherapists fixed it. My SI joint was tipped. He tipped it back and showed me some exercises for when it acts up. It was like magic.

    It may not be the same thing for you, but I had to share in case!

    Go, Christine, go!

  • Thanks for baring your soul like this Christine, I love it. And I can relate to the idea of just wanting the knowledge and the lesson already! Ok! I get it! I feel like that with a lot of issues in my life which all relate to control and fear, but even though I know to trust the process of growth and go through the pain in order to learn/heal, I still resist. There is a saying that you cannot think yourself into right-thinking, you have to act yourself into it, and though I wish it wasn’t so, I have found it to be true. These little steps on the beach, becoming aware of your shame, sharing it with us, actively giving yourself compassion while you recover and probably shedding more than just pounds in the process, are actually BIG leaps. Lots of love x

  • I have so been there. Not the c-section part but the other part. The part where you look down at your body and think… How did this happen? This isn’t me. Also, I totally get how taking big leaps is so much easier than the intolerable baby-steps it takes to get back in shape (I once weighed 80 pounds more than I do now). Use all of that drive and workaholism you have and focus it on your health. Obsess over it if you have to. That’s my advice. DIVE IN like a maniac, like you do on everything else. And thank you for being honest, the Internet needs more of it.

  • Hi, Christine!
    May you be happy and well. Thank you for sharing.

    Your words are touching and inspiring.

    Sending you blessings, Anna

  • Thank you for being so brave–you are not alone in this journey! I went on a tour to India and Nepal a few years ago, and a few days before I was going to head home, I needed emergency abdominal surgery (my intestines twisted). To make a loooong story short, I ended up having to stay there an extra 2 weeks and I was already homesick and tired of the culture. I was alone in a third world country except for my tour guide and I felt like my body betrayed me. Good times! But after I got home and began the year long healing process (I had 30 staples and much less intestines), I realized my body was far more knowing than I could understand. Our bodies are majestic and amazing; any healing is going to be a balance between challenging yourself and honoring yourself–only you know what that is. So in this process, listen to your needs, remember to be gentle and just keep plugging away. The magic happens inch by inch. I’m rooting for you!

  • Hi Christine – Brava for your honesty. I have been there too after a C-section – and the worst thing I did was to carry my baby in a sling… as I found out when she was around 6 months old. The pain in my lowere back was appalling and my chiro suppested I carry her any other way than in a sling. The difference was extraordinary. It was a slow process shifting the weight – but it does get better and the weight does shift! As you say baby steps. Hugs to you F x

  • I so get that notion of giant leaps. You’re right. They’re easier. It’s the little day to day slogs that are the real challenge. Four weeks or so ago I was feeling these same maudlin thoughts. And then I set myself a challenge to spend 15 minutes each morning on a $10 exercise bike Steve brought home from the tip shop. The first morning I could barely do 15 minutes, let alone get it past the first and lowest setting. Yesterday I did 20 minutes, 9kms ( a PB 🙂 ) of which two kilometres was on the fourth setting. I haven’t shifted any weight as yet but I’m feeling stronger and a little fitter but the most important thing is I’m sticking with it. You have to find ‘your’ thing Christine. Something that’s doable, that you can stick with. We had a table full of friends around yesterday and were talking about this and everyone of us had a different ‘thing’. And you have to become like a machine, don’t lie in bed arguing with yourself about whether you should or shouldn’t do it. Just jump up, put on some good music, and do it. You’ll start feeling so much better. And quietly proud of yourself. Little by little you’ll do it. You will. x

  • Ugh. The same thing happened to me: gaining a few more pounds with each baby. After 4 kids, I found myself out of breath just climbing my one flight of stairs in my house, and was horrified to enter my height into a BMI calculator and find that I had to lose 60 lbs just to hit the top of the “healthy” range (I realize that BMI isn’t the be all & end off of healthiness, but I had no concept of what a healthy weight was, so that’s where I started).

    I joined (FREE!), started tracking my daily caloric intake, and started walking a few days a week. Then I added a fitness DVD. Then I tried to do SOMETHING each day. After 9 months, I’d lost 70 lbs. I celebrated by starting to train to climb Mt Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous U.S. My husband & I summitted in July, and I’ve kept the weight off for 1.5 years. I feel great!

    Keep taking baby steps, Christine. You’ve got this!

  • Hi Christine, thank you for writing that post. I can sense the tremendous courage you poured out of yourself to put those words down on paper (er, on screen). I have never experienced c-section or any surgery for that matter, but I do understand how the big leaps seem to be much easier than taking baby steps. One thing I learned this year is to be patient with my body – it needs to take time to adjust itself. However, once it’s adjusted, I know that the human body is powerful and amazing and it can do so many things I never thought possible. So, here’s a high-five for taking baby-steps *high-five*!!

  • Hi Christine ~ I’m mostly a lurker but have been following you & Drew for a couple of years and love your honest approach to life. You will work through this current challenge (you’ve shown us your strength many times!) and I agree with everyone who is encouraging you to go for walks on your own. Of course, take the kids sometimes, but give yourself that bit of freedom to truly focus on your goals. Back pain is not easy to remedy but again you have received some excellent advice here – stretching, standing, walking. A good massage therapist might help … might be $$ though. Bottom line ~ you can do it and you have an army of supporters cheering for you. Onward … one step at a time …

  • I second the comment below that this is an incredibly brave post, and I absolutely agree with this: “I have to carve this self-shaming out of my psyche” that is exactly what you have to do, not lose weight or even get fit. You’ve said it yourself above: you are smart, funny and awesome, and none of that has anything whatsoever to do with what clothes size you wear. Tell yourself that every day until you believe it!

  • I am so sorry Christine, that is hard and truly sucks, but if anyone can figure it out-you can-you are amazing! so much love ,Chelsea

  • this is singing to me…. I had my daughter in December of 2005… at the doctor last week I weighed in 10 lbs. heavier than the day I had my daughter (also via C-section).. I never believed I could weigh this much…I don’t know what happened…I am not alone…

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