9 Months On, 9 Months Off
Today, 3 days away from the “9 months on, 9 months off” imaginary postpartum weight loss deadline I gave myself, I completed my first race running with Audrey in tow (in the BOB stroller). I’m pretty proud of myself for being able to run 6.2 miles pushing a 25 lb stroller and a 16.5 lb baby, and a 10 min/mile pace isn’t too bad with a stroller on a hilly course.
That being said I am not in the running rhythm I initially planned to be at this point. During pregnancy, I had planned to train for and run a half marathon this spring as the baby weight loss plan. And while I could potentially survive a half marathon at this point, it would only be a survival type race and not one that I could feel good about.
I am still 3 lbs above pre-pregnancy weight, and they won’t be coming off in the next 3 days, or maybe ever. I am also perfectly ok with this. Having a baby has changed my body forever. I am still nursing, and hear from other nursing moms that things may still shift after weaning, but I’m not counting on it. Even if I lose those 3 lbs (or more, gasp!) after weaning, I think my wider rib cage and wider hips are here to stay. I am ok with this because it is the shift in my body necessary to carry Audrey for 9 months. My body made room to allow her to grow healthily, which, for a short torso’ed mama like myself, meant an expanding ribcage, and for almost all mamas, expanding hips. I won’t ever wear a size 0 again and my belly may always be a touch on the soft side, but my arms have surprised me with how long they can hold and hold and hold and hold a napping baby.
Hypothetically, things could be different if I went on a strict diet and exercise plan Hollywood-style immediately postpartum. But I’ve never really believed in dieting or exercising in a way that I cannot maintain long term. I haven’t killed myself dieting and exercising in these 9 postpartum months. But I didn’t exactly do that before pregnancy either. My attitude towards food is always nutrition first. I eat real food and don’t count calories. I eat nutrient dense foods and my body is usually satiated way before overeating occurs. I truly believe this is why that during pregnancy and nursing, I ate/eat slightly more than pre-pregnancy but not in the rampant hunger kind of way people associate with pregnancy and nursing. I am not exercising as much as I did pre-pregnancy, simply because I don’t have as much “me” time, but I am still running and do a little bit of yoga (these days more 15-20 minute sessions at home than hour long classes at a yoga studio). Eating and exercising are long term life style choices for me, and I prefer “diets” and “exercise programs” that I can maintain for years and years instead of choosing something new every few months. And for all the years pre-pregnancy, running and yoga has been a familiar combination for cardio and strength training while also relieving stress (which is probably the number one reason I do them). So, while I wouldn’t grade my postpartum exercise effort as exceptional, I think I have managed a reasonable amount of exercise, the kind that I don’t have too many regrets about.
While there is a lot of social pressure for moms to lose their baby weight ASAP after giving birth, I write this primarily to remind myself that while some days I don’t feel as confident in my clothes as I did before pregnancy, I want my daughter to see that her body is an amazing machine. The female human body is simply incredibly. The amount of physical transformation my body has gone through in the last 18 months is difficult to comprehend even as someone who lived it (and every mama goes through this!). I want her to know that she shouldn’t take her health for granted, that a well-maintained machine will last longer and have fewer issues in the long run than one that gets neglected in its youth. And that a body that is fueled by the right foods and maintained by exercise will surprise her (the way it did me). It will be able to grow, birth, and nourish a small human (or more than one!), and after giving so much of itself to that small human, still remember how to pound pavement mile after mile (almost) like these last 18 months were a distant memory.
I hope that baby Audrey with her adorable baby thunder thighs will never feel like her worth depends on whether there is a gap between her thighs or some “goal” number on the scale. You only get one body, it may come with some genetic traits that aren’t considered the most desirable by the masses, but it’s yours. Own it, give it the right fuel, let it practice its craft through regular exercise, allow it to live to its fullest potential… and it will be able to do the most amazing things when asked. You will be surprised.
Just for fun, a photo of my almost 9 month old crawler’s chubbies!
And one of when mama’s body ran these same 6.2 miles a year ago, while carrying a wee little Audrey.