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2008-07-07 - 4:06 p.m.

I weighed myself when I was at the doctor’s last week and I’m currently 10 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. I don’t anticipate doing anything about that in the short term, because I can’t even lift Biscuit in his carseat bucket yet, much less go back to the gym, and I have no intention of dieting, heaven forfend, at this stage of the game either. I may have been semi-careful of what I ate and made sure to get plenty of exercise when I was pregnant, but the enforced inactivity post-partum gives me an excuse to indulge. Besides, I’m breastfeeding, so calories go more through me than into me, right? Right?

I do have plans however, to start working on this weight when I can safely resume a reasonable activity level. In fact, my ideal is I’d like to get below my pre-pregnancy weight by a good 15 pounds. I’d like to be between 130 and 135 and think that’s both a realistic and sustainable weight for me.

I’ve seen friends go through this when they have kids: they gain weight during the pregnancy – sometimes a lot of weight – and for awhile they’re kind of stuck with it. Eventually though, for most, it seems like something just mentally comes to a head with them and they lose the weight. I’ve seen it more than once, and frankly, from what I can tell, what makes that crucial difference is a shift in perspective. These women stop putting almost all their focus on their kids and start putting more priority on their own needs.

This is a good thing.

I know that society seems to prefer that women be martyrs, that we put our children, our husbands, even our parents and siblings before ourselves, but this is not a healthy thing to do. We need to be strong women and model good behaviour for our kids – this is the best way for them to grow into people that respect themselves and the women in their lives. Making healthy choices and doing things that make us stronger and happier are essential.

Sure, all body types are beautiful and loving yourself, imperfections included, is important, but it’s a fact that having a reasonable body mass index – not too high or too low – means a chance to live longer and enjoy life more. It also gives us better odds to spend more time with our children and, if we’re lucky, grandchildren. My husband’s grandparents died young: his longest-lived grandparent passed away when he was a small child. My children are getting to spend time with their great-grandmother, who’s 83, swims and walks every day, plays bridge and the stock market, and has a gaggle of close friends. If I’m lucky J and I will be like her someday: active and plugged into our community. But back to my point…

When your child is born, you shift yourself down your personal priority ladder to a spot behind your tiny, impossibly perfect baby. You make yourself available 24/7 to attend to their needs and often have trouble stealing 10 minutes for a shower. This is natural and a not-unreasonable thing for the stage you’re in. And you probably will always put your kids first, but at some point the division will have to change from the 95% kids, 5% (if that) you. If it doesn’t, boy, will you be lost when they leave the nest and go off into the big, wide world. No, at some point you will no longer be the only food source for this child – they’ll be eating solids and can even pour their own cereal into a bowl and add milk without the kitchen turning into a disaster zone. At some point, let’s face it, you’ve got to find yourself again, and not the parent self, but the woman self with adult interests.

For my friend Jo, those interests included, among other things, a return to her former love of volleyball and she joined a team. Today she looks great and I think she’s fitter and healthier than before she had kids.

For myself, after Grommet I went back to teaching at the gym, which I love to do. And when I was pregnant with Biscuit I actually added to my fitness routine (yoga and a bit more gentle cardio), rather than slacking off, and am convinced this contributed to my having such a healthy pregnancy. When I no longer have a burning pain near my incision every time I exert myself, I fully intend to start being more active – using my pool, walking and, hopefully, getting out on my bike (I may need one of those Chariot things with a bike attachment for this to happen). J and I are even thinking of joining a softball league next year. I know I’ll have to give up my daily “treats” too at some point, but hey, one step at a time. Let’s not be too hasty. After all, if I can’t swim yet because of some pesky doctor’s orders then, for me, “quality of life” includes a chocolate Frosty while dangling my feet into the pool.

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