What Pregnancy and Postpartum Running Has Taught Me about My Body
I find it funny to look back on my ‘body journey.’ <I totally made that phrase up, so bare with me. To be totally candid, my body has gone through so.many.different.stages, even before motherhood.
As a kid, I was an average size. Not really skinny, not overweight. As I grew and became more of a woman and less of a kid, I felt awkward in my skin and wanted to ‘tone things up.’ That’s when I started and fell in love with running, but eventually running and food restricting became an idol in my heart and life and I went from being ‘average’ to ‘fit’ to skinny to scary skinny. Even through the haze of malnourished thinking, God got a hold of my heart and mind, freed me from my ED and I eventually gained a healthy amount of weight back.
After I ran my first half marathon, I continued fueling like I was training and gained a couple extra pounds. It wasn’t a big deal, but I certainly didn’t feel quite as confident as I had when I was pounding miles and in intense training, but I was ridiculously happy because that is when I met/starting dating/fell in love with and married Landon.
After getting married, all ‘routines’ were thrown out the window and I started creating new habits and routines and food choices together, as a couple. I hovered around the same weight, but continued running and started increasing my mileage again. Although I was about five pounds or so above my ‘happy’ weight, I really didn’t care and I was happy – maybe a little complacent.
Three and a half months into marriage, Landon and I found out we were pregnant and I obviously gained weight. I ran though my pregnancy and ate healthily, so the weight gain was minimal. I remember feeling so thrilled and excited about our pregnancy for numerous reasons (one of them was a relief knowing I could get pregnant – since I didn’t know how much damage my ED had caused with fertility)
After Benaiah was born, I quickly slipped back down to my pre-pregnancy weight and lost even more as I started exercising and running more.
So, here I am almost a year postpartum and I really couldn’t be more thrilled with my body. NOT because I have this perfect body or this awesome 6 pack (hahaha….) but because as I look back and see just how much my body has gone through (ED, ED recovery, pregnancy and postpartum weight loss + marathon training) I am amazed at just how well designed our bodies are.
And even more so that the weight or the muscle tone or the abs, etc. more than the physical side of things, is what I’ve come to appreciate about my body. The body that God designed in His own image.
Sure, I may not love some things about all of my ‘quirks,’ but to be able to go from being so skinny I didn’t even know if I could have a baby, to growing a human, recovering and running better than before I had Benaiah, amazes me. And to be totally vulnerable here, I feel like running is now less of ‘How can I change my body?’ to ‘What CAN I do?’ As a mother and a wife, I want don’t want to focus how small my waist is or how muscular my arms are and more on what my body can accomplish with the right care, nutritionally and physically (exercise/sleep/etc.)
I will be the first to admit, I like to be a certain weight and be muscular and all of that, but when I look back on my life, I don’t want that to be the thing about my early motherhood years I remember the most. I want to remember pushing my son in the stroller because I wanted to see what I was made of, I want to remember pushing my run later in the day so I could have a few extra minutes cuddling Benaiah, I want to remember trips to park and the zoo and less of cranking out exercise purely for the sake of body image.
Do I exercise to maintain my body and do I have goals for my fitness and running, of course.
Do I want it to run my life and be an obsession, no.
Becoming a mother has taught me so many things, one of them, that our bodies are amazing things, designed to do incredible things, and we should treat them well, with lots of rest, lots of healthy movement (i.e. running), lots of laughter, lots of hugs, and lots of love.