Having a child does make you fat. I can hear the cringing of my fellow coaches all the way from the comfort of my desk as I write. It is true, though. Pregnancy is a time when women get big. And post pregnancy, life is unrecognisable, so staying big is easy. Getting back to your former size is hard. Little bundles of joy carry with them sleepless nights and haphazard, poor eating habits. These bad habits start partly as just a way of surviving in the early days, but become cemented soon enough.
But I can understand the coaches I work with, too. As pregnancy is natural, normal. It’s the unnatural, abnormal eating habits we sink into that determine whether baby weight beds in long term or melts away. And they are quite right to point out that blaming excess weight on having had a child is unhelpful. It’s unhelpful in the deterministic, fatalistic nature of the idea – having babies makes you fat. Sounds like an inescapable fate, rather than something we can take control of.
So I deliberately sit on the fence here, maybe it’s not helpful to you all. But it’s true and not true at the same time. I admit that even though I have lost the weight I put on in pregnancy, it wasn’t easy and still isn’t. For lots of reasons. When I was child-free, my time was my own. Even time at work did not compare to the demands of taking care of another person’s every need. When my single or child-free friends say they are too busy for a workout, to prep food, to eat right, I bite my tongue. I felt like that, too. Truth was, I didn’t realise how easy I had it.
After the first few months of being a mum, the weight didn’t just melt away. And my body was a different shape, too. Bigger hips, bigger tum. Everyone is so complimentary of the pregnancy glow and spread, that I suppose I was also in a fair bit of denial. Once I realised that my ass really was that big, I had to take responsibility. What I had been doing – surviving off whatever toast or caffeine I could shove in quickly – wasn’t getting me anywhere. But how I was going t do anything different when I hardly had time to shower, let alone prepare veggie-rich meals and workout? Part of the reason for my success has been that it dawned on me that if I was going to be fit again after baby, I was going to have to work harder. It might not be fair. But it’s reality.
That’s when change really started happening. Even now, I have to work at it, sometimes compromising between my ideal and what life with a 2-year-old will allow. Just that now I might get by with a spritz of perfume and dry shampoo, rather than a shower, if it means having time with my little one and getting in a shorter workout than I’d like. Accepting that it’s harder might sound unfair, but it does get you ready for the work ahead – not kidding yourself that it will just happen without lots of effort. Fit mums do exist! Every one of them I’ve met has a plan to keep themselves that way. Make your own plan today!