Being a Mum has made me fatter. There are two very complicated reasons for that:
- I eat too much
- I don’t exercise enough
I was never this heavy before I was a mum, ergo, being a mum has made me fatter. And if that all sounds like a stinking bunch of baloney, well, it probably is. I hope you’ll walk through this with me anyway. I need the exercise. Here’s why:
It’s no great secret that pregnancy makes you fatter. You are growing a little human being in there. In theory, you grow little person, get bigger, expel little person, uterus shrinks, get smaller again.
The reality is vastly different, and it is rarely a zero sum game. I always put on significantly more weight than actual “baby weight” during my pregnancies, which is where I got it all wrong. The first trimester of constant morning sickess and all-day nausea meant I became a head-spinning Human Vomitron if I wasn’t main-lining food round-the-clock through the big, gaping hole in my head designed specifically for that purpose.
And the take-home message from all of that?
I ate. A lot.
Once the nausea finally subsided I was rounder and heavier, tired, unfit and in no real shape to hit the gym again. And as I got even bigger – especially two pregnancies later – it got to the point where even a slow stroll to the corner of my street was a feat of athleticism so intense that I could barely manage it without pissing my pants because my bladder was the size of a marble and you could have played jump-rope with my pelvic floor muscles. I know women who were still running at 7 months. I was not one of them.
Exercise didn’t even make the list. Sleeping, eating, showering, biting down on a rubber hose while I breastfed for hours and basic survival made up my daily To-Do lists in those early days with a newborn baby. I admire those women who are able to get back to the gym straight after the umbilical cord is severed, but again, I was not one of them. After my first birth I was so bruised and battered I could barely sit down without pain for 6 weeks, so sit-ups, side lunges and jump squats would have been an even greater assault on my girly-bits than a ventouse extraction of a big-headed baby after an hour of ineffectual pushing.
I also discovered that I am not one of those fortunate women who shrink to the size of a matchstick while they are breastfeeding. My body – clearly as cautious as the host brain it accommodates – holds on to weight while I am nursing just in case I go wandering down the street, make a wrong turn and end up stranded in a desert or some other random ecosystem incompatible with survival, with nothing to sustain the life of my infant child other than breastmilk derived from the juicy fat stores of my own body. And just to be sure I am well-prepared for such a statistically-unlikely scenario, I seem to crave sugar like a junkie craves their next hit of sweet morphine. It just so happens that my body is perfectly engineered for famine. Minus the famine, I got fatter instead.
Kids and Food
Another thing that has made me fatter as a mum is leftovers. I eat a lot of bread crusts. The day that science discovers the secret ingredient in bread crusts that make them toxic to toddlers is the day I drop about five pounds instantly.
The ubiquitous scattering of foodstuffs that my kids abandon is responsible for a hefty chunk of my excess heft. Leftover crusts, mucky bits of fruit that need disposing of, unfinished sandwiches, stray crackers, half-gnawed cheese sticks. The list is endless. I hate throwing away food, and the sheer volume of edible waste my children casually produce would leave me with a constant facial tic if I wasn’t always swooping in like a greedy seagull to clear it from their plates myself. I think I can safely chalk that little quirk down to years of “There are starving children in Africa!” exhortations from my parents during the formative years of my early-childhood. That, and Live Aid. Thank you Sir Geldof. The bottom line: it all adds an extra layer of insulation to the mum tum.
Kids and Exercise
Kids are inconvenient. Kids are time-suckers who can transform even the simplest of activities into a complex balancing act requiring deft logistical management and ad-hoc contingency planning.
Something as simple as throwing two kids in a pram and going for a quick 20 minute run can blow out into a 90 minute exercise in sheer frustration. Take this morning, for example. One kid keeps asking for food. It’s the kid who lives off air and water so the fact that he is actually asking for food merits attention, so I get caught up delivering an assembly-line of postage stamp-sized pieces of peanut butter toast with the crusts cut off. The other child does likewise, closely followed by an equine-sized crap in his nappy. Half a loaf of bread, half his body weight in poo and half an hour later we are finally ready to go.
Then Octonauts comes on ABC2 so I know that I’m at least another ten bloody minutes away from getting out the front door. I use that time to change my one year old, who is strutting around in a white onesie encrusted in yoghurt-coated breadcrumbs and covered in big wet patches of what I hope is just water. As the credits of Octonauts roll I manage to launch myself across the room in time to grab the remote and turn the TV off in one deft motion before Rob the Robot starts.
I’m about to throw them both in the pram when the three year old stridently announces that he needs to “take something”, a process which involves rummaging around an overflowing basket of Matchbox cars for several minutes until he finds the one that has an aeroplane sticky-taped to the top. Once that objective has been achieved they proceed to tag-team me for books, cuddles, books, cuddles. More cuddles. It seems too well-orchestrated to be coincidence. Maybe they want me to be fat? Maybe I’m more cuddly that way?
And when I finally start pounding the pavement I’m still expected to hold up my end of the conversation the entire time I am running, pushing somewhere in the vicinity of 18 kilograms of pram and 26 kilograms of chatty offspring uphill as I go.
If cursing under my breath burnt calories I’d be so damn svelte.