Running for my life

Running for my life

Saturday I’m running the Soldier Field 10 Mile race and there is a chance I may cry at the end of it. I mean, there is a good chance my bones and feet and various chafed bits will cry both figuratively and literally but there are other things going on as well.

This is my first big race since I had the baby in August. When I signed up for the run in January, I envisioned the race being the cap on my post-baby physical transformation—all the baby weight would be lost and I would be in shape again. I’d be back to normal.

Having run eight pretty undramatic miles on Saturday, I feel physically ready for the race. I can envision crossing the finish line and (let’s just be honest) posting my triumphant photo on Facebook and then wearing my finisher’s medal as I drink my lone complimentary beer. Barring any dramatic weather or broken legs, worst case scenario, I will run/walk this thing and that will be that.

As for the other stuff, the weight, the shape, the normal? We’ll see. Depending on the day, I’m six to eight pounds away from being back to my pre-baby weight. I gained 45 to 50 pounds with this kid (believe it or not towards the end I didn’t feel like getting on the scale that much), which I know is making my former boss—who used to pinch her forefingers and thumbs together to show me how tiny my fetus’ stomach was to caution me against thinking I had to “eat for two”—probably weep. I have no regrets about this though. My doctors were happy with me and while I enjoyed some treats, I didn’t go all Jessica Simpson with the slutty brownies, either. I ate like a pregnant lady, not a normal lady and not like two pregnant ladies, either.

The weight loss process has been…interesting. The first 20 pounds came off in the hospital (thank you, water weight.) The next 10 came off with a modicum of effort. The next 10 with even more effort, and so on. Each bit has required more and more fight, though, and now I’m at the place where I’m really working at it, to the tune of getting up at 6 a.m. every morning to work out, missing the best time with the baby when he’s well-rested and cute and happy. I just wanted to put that out there for the moms who are struggling with losing the baby weight: it’s not just a matter of trying a little harder or putting some baby carrots in your purse to snack on.

It means spending time working out that could be spent with your partner or baby or resting or working and all of that is precious time. Instead of taking the easy, delicious route of ordering in or the nutritious, family-style route of cooking with the family, I often prepare my own, separate, lower-calorie dinner. I’m not saying this is the right way for anyone. It’s just what I’m doing. I’m being transparent about this as a salvo against the magazines and trainers who say you can be a yummy mummy or a hottie mommy or a bodacious breastfeeder or whatever the hell it is if you just prioritize yourself and whatnot. It’s a drag, especially those last few pounds that nobody knows about but you but you suspect if you hold onto them will replicate over and over again and then you’re on What Not To Wear crying about how you used to care about how you looked before you had kids.

For the normal, well, whatever. There is no normal anymore and what is normal to me now is only going to be that way for a short amount of time. I laugh at what I thought I knew six months ago just as I know that the me in five years will wet my pants in hilarity over the ignorance of the me now.

For a while I thought that my life is a shelf that can only hold so much stuff and that I need to remove a few things like cooking or a social life in order to include items like exercise and time with the baby. But a doctor I just saw this week who specializes in moms who struggle with normal and work and babies and stuff implied that maybe such compartmentalization is not ideal. I have to wait for my next appointment to find out what household feature my attitude towards life should more ideally resemble. Perhaps a soothing koi pond?

Finishing the race will not be the thing that brings my pre-baby body back (and the post-race pancakes won’t help) but in a new world where a lot less feels in my control, having set a long-term goal and accomplishing it—and getting a medal for it, no less—it will make me feel better about all those early mornings.

Follow Claire Zulkey @Zulkey