Of all the congratulatory messages I received after birthing my little boy, one message came with an addition “weight gain after baby catches up faster than you think! Lookout” It was probably few hours since I had officially become a mother and in jest someone had managed to remind me of my “fat-girl-in-class” days! I’d be lying if I said that the thought wasn’t on the back of my mind. The thought was with me since forever. Forever is a broad time. Let us stick to ever since I had been married. Secretly, weight gain had petrified me from pregnancy more than anything else. Well that was almost 6 years back!
But running had changed it. It had changed my outlook to weight loss. Weight loss was no longer that ever slipping goal, I feared and struggled. Heck! weight loss wasn’t even the goal. Neither was fitting into the little red dress in ann taylor. Some chord had struck and I was enjoying workout. I loved and still love running. I love the various rhythms the body experiences in a single continuous run with the outdoors. I had begun to love pushing the body to the limits, to the stretches, to the strength training and balancing yoga poses. Running became me and yoga my trustable companion.
It is said 21 days is what it takes for a habit to make. I didn’t track that, but over a couple of years, what began with wanting to be fit and energetic, turned to many little milestones and lifestyle changes. Like one good habit chained another. Subconsciously, more “whole” foods became part of our diets, sugar craving had come to a standstill, smoothies’ fruits and veggies were enjoyed, and brushing and flossing became second nature. My biggest milestone was caffeine was cut from my diet for 5 days a week! We had some binge or planned-treat days, and slowly we stopped looking forward to them and it didn’t matter if we missed an occasion to binge!
What happened to the little red dress, did you wonder? It fit, it fit perfectly. But, it didn’t satiate or bother me. Wait! I didn’t even buy it finally. Was I glad I didn’t! I had races to run, poses to practice and since there is no dearth of those, my challenges kept mounting. I had begun to understand and relate to my body. When I look back, it had sort of single handedly taken away the fear of pregnancy from my mind.
I embraced pregnancy with gusto like no other. I made changes to my workout routines as I listened to my body. I shifted to slow jogging and less twisting yoga poses, eventually dubbing down to walks and mindful yoga stretches. Yoga, I practiced everyday like second nature. I ate mindfully and researched on healthy options. It helped that I had no real craving that I couldn’t stop myself from. Or probably my body and mind were already tuned out of cravings for a while now, it helped. What surprised me most was, I gave up caffeine for a good 20 months! Just like that.
My labor wasn’t a breeze. But, I cringe every time someone exalts me for doing it without epidural. I wish it wasn’t looked at as a feat and endorsed. It wasn’t a tough decision honestly, because of the place I was already at. I no longer relate to the “me” that was scared of running or workout. So, I don’t know, may be if I took a time machine and got pregnant being the one who didn’t have a good feeling being under my skin, I would have thought I can’t bear the pain my body will put me thru either! But, now I felt happy under my skin, I felt I had a relationship with my body. I wanted to be in control of whatever my body went thru. The reason was as simple as that and not any “proving my strength and tolerance” I often get mistaken for!
Riding high on new mommy adrenaline and recovering fairly well from my third degree stitches in 6 weeks, I was ready to plunge into workout again with lily steps. And the unpredictable hit soon after I had resumed yoga. First parenting lesson of expect the unexpected with kids. It threw me off my comfort zone and turned my life into an irregular schedule. It took me so long to recover emotionally and by then my body had settled into feeling like a second pregnancy. Between, pumping, work and sleepless nights, I yearned to find that time to stretch or walk. If I managed to squeeze it in, there was the lethargy and tiredness that followed.
Unlike popular belief, my body type preferred to retain fats for lactation instead of shedding. Again, I was learning more about my body. The weight gain didn’t bother me as much as the huffing and puffing I felt pushing a stroller uphill, did. Finally, I decided to let it go and stop fighting this fight and take it up when my schedule cleared up. I promised myself it will get better. And better it indeed did!
Twelve months post partum, refreshed from a short break called NRI India trip, fighting jetlag and feeling haphazard and alone, I was surprisingly feeling finally in control. There was no better time to give those rusty legs a go. Winter was at its peak. I was sleep deprived. My house was a disorganized mess. I was learning toddlers can tire you with fun and games. It was a perfect setting for challenging me to get going.
The first week was horrible. I also decided to get a head start with bootcamp class. Soreness was an understatement for ten days after. Like a blob of cheese that had just decided to move, I felt directionless. But by day five, a mojo had set in. Something was starting to feel different.
In about couple of months, the evenings I felt refreshed and energetic. I tackled night waking much better. Stress of early parenting and marital rollercoaster that comes with it seemed manageable. I was beginning to take up procrastinated chores from months ago. Chain reactions are starting to roll in with meal plans, better organization and the old wardrobe is back in business. I simply feel like a better person each day!
My challenges are more realistic now. The unknowns of parenting and toddler management demand that. I bounce back after tough days and weeks. I understand that routines may change. Being adaptable at work, home and work out front, I love all the juggling. Probably it seems like the right time to say this and hope it stays that way for a long time to come –
I run, therefore I am!