In my last post I mentioned that I started running again two weeks after I gave birth to my son. That may seem shockingly early to many of you, but I was ready both physically and emotionally (what can I say? I’m a quick healer). Moreover, I was itching to get outside after so much time cooped up “resting” with a wailing newborn. …Ok, he wasn’t always wailing.
As I can imagine is true for many athletes–or any woman really–one of my big concerns when I got pregnant was that my body would never be the same. During pregnancy and childbirth things get stretched, engorged and… well, let’s be honest… flabby. After the first couple months I didn’t recognize my own body in the mirror and, after several more, the image reflected back was downright shocking. As my body changed to accommodate this amazing creature growing inside it took on a new shape that was beautiful, empowering…and undeniably permanent in many ways. Of course I wanted to run and shed that extra weight. Who wouldn’t?
I stated with slow 3 mile loops around the neighborhood 2-3 times a week (Started? Who am I kidding? It never progressed much more that that!). After 2 months I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes and after 4 I was actually a couple pounds below below my pre-pregnancy weight (to put this in perspective I gained 50lb during my pregnancy and only lost 9lb in the days after giving birth).
I attribute some of my weight loss (and all of my fitness) to running but, as the extra lbs fell away my motivation to run followed suit. These days my running has been reduced to no more than 15 miles a month and so I think it’s safe to say that breastfeeding/pumping had more to do with my weight loss than anything.
Which brings me to today, 14 months postpartum. You see, my son nursed for the last time this past week. It was a slow process wherein he dropped a feeding one at a time over the last 3 months. It was important to me that I let him take the lead; never pressuring him, never denying him. While I never anticipated nursing past a year (heck, I wasn’t even sure I would last a week at the beginning!), I wanted him to make this decision on his own and to be comfortable with it.
And that’s exactly what he did–one day he woke up and simply didn’t ask to nurse. Two days later he crawled onto my lap, patted my breast twice and then got down and ran off to something more captivating. It was if he came to say a final goodbye and thank you.
So, why is all this relevant to fitness and to this blog? First and foremost since I’m no longer nursing I no longer have the calorie deficit I’ve come to rely on! Breastfeeding helped me burn about 550 calories a day (approximately 20 calories an ounce) for the first year when I was nursing and pumping exclusively. When I introduced whole milk at a year, and only nursed mornings and evenings, I’d guess I was still burning about an extra 200. That’s still the equivalent of a 2 mile run every day–which granted isn’t much compared to my marathon training days, but it’s kept my waistline fairly trim nonetheless.
Long story short, now that our nursing days are done, I guess it’s time to get back to the grindstone and pick up my training again. I’ve become a casual runner lately–lacing up my shoes only when the skies are clear, the breezes are blowing and I’d be crazy not to run. It’s been great, actually. Yes, I felt guilty at first, but after a couple months of letting my runs go in deference to spending time with my family I realized that, simply put, my priorities had changed. Once I accepted that, the guilt slid away and I could actually enjoy spending Saturday mornings with my two favorite guys.
Becoming a mom changes everything. For the past year, this tiny person that came to reside in our house has been all consuming. I have given everything to my child and I’ve enjoyed it more than I ever could have anticipated. But he’s not a baby anymore; he’s a running, dancing, chattering little boy that doesn’t need his mommy for every little thing (like breakfast!) as he once did. And now that Daddy’s on duty, I plan on celebrating my newfound freedom with a new 5am morning run schedule.
See you out there!