The first time I read it it made me so angry. Every time after that I got a little more angry. It was all over mommy/baby websites. Moms would ask about how quickly you can lose the baby fat and “get my body back” (spoiler alert: never. Your body is never yours again). The advice always given: take it easy. Remember it took you 9 months to get this way.
I felt like it was an excuse; a free pass for new moms to not worry about their bodies and just enjoy not being responsible for the shape they’re in. I pictured women saying, “I’m only 4 months postpartum; I don’t have to worry about exercising for another couple of months.”
I had no grace for other moms because by the time I returned to work I had lost all of the baby weight. Within months after that, I was under my postpartum weight. I was pulling clothes out of my closet that I hadn’t worn in years. Do you get that? I had clothes that I couldn’t fit in long before Milo and now they fit! It was glorious!
I worked hard for these results. It started before Milo was born; I ran all the way through my pregnancy with the exception of 7 weeks at the beginning of my second trimester when I was too sick. I would run and tell myself that it would make getting back to running easier. I would be stronger because of it. And I believe I was, but I also had no idea how long it would be before I was strong again.
I went for my first run 5 weeks after Milo was born. Those first few weeks were worse than running at 39 weeks pregnant. Within 2 months of Milo being born I started the tedious process of training for another marathon. At just 5 months postpartum, I ran my 11th and slowest marathon. It was grueling and frustrating. I may have lost plenty of weight, but I had also lost a lot of strength.
What I learned is that losing weight can be easy; it’s regaining your strength that is tough and those results don’t happen overnight. You can do a 3-day detox and shed several pounds, but after 3 days you’ll have no more muscle to show for it. And as great as it feels to be skinny again, I want speed. I want to be strong. I want to show up at a race and be a contender for the win. Forget the size 0; I want the trophy.
So here I am at 9 months postpartum. Running is completely different for me; before I was just logging miles and getting by. Now I’m doing tempo runs and repeats, and I can actually feel myself getting faster each week. And the clock says I’m getting faster too.
But my stomach is still a sensitive topic for me. It’s common for women to carry extra fat around their waste, it’s the exact location where your baby was nesting for 9 months, and it’s usually the last place to “tone” up. My stomach bothers me from an aesthetic perspective, but also physically. I can’t hold a plank as long as I used to, or do as many pikes as before my pregnancy. I’m working on it, but it’s no joke that delivering a baby wrecks your body.
I keep running harder and longer each week. I’m diligent about my diet, which means I also diligently splurge. And I try to keep offering myself grace. It’s ok if I’m not where I want to be; I need something to always be striving for. It was a long road forming Milo, but there’s still plenty of road after him.