We all have at least one of those friends: the genetic lottery winner that missed out the day the Fat Cell Fairy was sprinkling out cell allotments. These types of people handle pregnancy really well. They don’t even look pregnant, except for the belly bump. These same people are the ones wearing their pre-pregnancy clothes the first day they are home from the hospital, all the while lamenting that they still have those pesky ten pounds to lose. Their baby looks like a prop in a model shoot. “I’m lucky,” they say sheepishly, as they catch you staring at the body that gives no indication it ever resembled a Weeble.
You see, I’m not one of those people but I happen to be friends with about five of these genetic masterpieces. I showed up at one such friend’s house for my son’s first play date when he was about three weeks old. She had just given birth to her fourth child days earlier. She answered the door, holding her son like a football in one arm while she was breastfeeding. She was smiling, glowing, and wearing skinny jeans. After birthing four kids! I lugged my screaming baby in and tried to find somewhere to prop myself up to breastfeed him. You see, for me, breastfeeding was an architectural feat. I needed just the right chair, with just the right amount of pillows at just the right angles. I was in shock seeing my friend wander about her house, socializing, with her baby stuck to her body happily. Once my baby was arranged at the breastfeeding bar, there was no budging. My smile was pasted on, I was glowing from sweat, and I was still wearing my maternity clothes. It took all my effort just to try and blend.
Getting frustrated with my inability to lose the baby weight, I asked all these skinny mothers I knew what I should do. “Just keep breastfeeding,” they’d tell me. “The weight will fall off.” In an effort to figure out the mystery of my rapid weight gain, my skinny friend that was able to vacuum while breastfeeding offered, “maybe if you didn’t have so much help, you’d lose weight.” In my sensitive state, this implied that I was sitting around eating bon-bons while my husband did everything. Great! Not only was I fat, now people thought I was lazy.
I was never genetically gifted, but I was once thin. Granted, I worked out all the time, which is easy to do when you’re thin. I didn’t have to worry about my jiggling fat rolls, or about sweating too much. Being fit was just a part of my life. Even after I was hit by a car, months later I remember getting back out on the tennis court, falling over in my efforts to return the ball while my recovering broken leg, elbow and collarbone shrieked with pain. But I didn’t care what I looked like. I was determined to get back to who I was.
But pregnancy steamrolled my determined self, and post-pregnancy sealed it. I mean, who is heavier after they give birth to the baby? Me, that’s who. After packing on an extra twenty pounds I went to the doctor only to discover that I was in the throes of post-partum thyroiditis. “It will go away,” my doctor reassured me. “This is common.” Months later I went back, still fat, still sweating, still miserable. “Can’t you give me something?” I begged. A few tests later and she agreed to give me a thyroid pill because, congratulations I was pregnant again and the new baby needed the thyroid hormone. What about me? I thought. I needed these pills twenty pounds ago!
So I went through my second pregnancy, still fat but not gaining a pound due to my newly introduced medication. I was thrilled. The last thing I needed was to pack on another twenty pounds with this pregnancy. Everything was smooth. I actually started losing weight. After giving birth, my doctor ran a blood test and suddenly I had too much thyroid hormone so I was immediately cut back. I woke up the next morning fifteen pounds heavier. Well, not the exact next morning but it was pretty quick. After a few tweaks to the prescription, “because thyroid medication levels are an inexact science,” I finally plateaued….at FAT.
I settled in on my post-partum thyroiditis crutch and I let it grow roots. I didn’t work out with any urgency because I was waiting for the medication to kick in and for me to lose weight. But the weight loss never happened. “I can’t work out until I lose weight,” I thought. “I’ll look terrible.” Finally, I decided to give in to the repeated efforts of my friends to join their mother workout group and see if anything changed.
It was while doing a yoga DVD in my living room with a friend that my son came running into the room in hysterics. “Don’t lose the jelly belly! Don’t lose the JELLY BELLY!” And he threw himself around me and held on tight, like a nature lover trying to save his favorite tree. I reassured him that the jelly belly wasn’t going anywhere and everything was fine. And, surprise, surprise, yet another reason that anchored me to being chubby. My kids loved me anyway, right?
A couple of weekends ago, my jelly belly loving son was invited to a charity event in Seattle called the Color Run with the family he should have been born into; true adventure people types. This mother exudes energy and confidence. I packed his bag and prepped him for his weekend away while my other son and I settled into holding down the fort at Couch Potato Capital. It was his first sleepover at someone else’s house and a weekend full of firsts. The mother was great, sending me pictures from the road; pictures of him getting ready for his big run, pictures of him smiling. Gosh, I missed him.
Every picture the Adventure Mum sent me tugged at my heart, seeing my little guy, not a care in the world, enthusiasm shining from his face. But, it was the last picture that came through that really reached me. Years of coasting on my thyroid condition, letting myself settle in to being overweight, flooded by in a Whoosh! Ears bent from his headband, big sunglasses, covered in paint and the biggest smile on his face. He didn’t care how he looked; he was completely in the moment, experiencing all he could and giving 100%. And he was doing it with another family, while I looked at text message pictures of him from my couch.
So, in that instant I decided to kick myself out the door and remember what it’s like to be active. To remember what it feels like to say “Yes!” To be the person I was before I learned how to master the Power of an Excuse. It’s time to relinquish my reign of Couch Potato Capital and be the Mum my kids deserve me to be. I may be a genetic Weeble, but I’m lucky too. Next Color Run, I’ll be standing with my son, not caring how I look, smiling and covered with paint.
Are you ready to say “Yes!” to a healthier you? Join Fischer Fitness for Small Group Training sessions that will start and end at Discovery Village on Tuesdays & Thursdays from June through August for only $20/week ($21.70 with tax). Choose the weeks that work for you, based on your child’s Discovery Village camp schedule. See you there!
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by Kristi Fischer