Hey Young Running Friends: Don’t Fear the Post-Baby Body!

This morning at the track I was discussing my recent appendectomy and lamenting the fact that I had not known more of the details about the surgery ahead of time. Had I known the surgeon was going to make an incision right at my navel, I would have asked if he could have fixed my diastasis recti just above that. The conversation then turned to c-sections and tummy tucks. My twenty something running friends sans children were horrified. With their mouths agape they declared never to have kids, lest their bodies be ruined. Well, I am here to tell you, fear not young runners, having children will not ruin your body.

If you decide to have children one day, your body will change. It will grow and adapt to house the new life growing inside of you. You will feel the miracle of little hands and feet moving inside of you and hear the heartbeat of your little one. There is nothing else in the world like it. And when the time comes for you to meet your baby, you will learn just how strong and capable your body is. Your body can grow and birth another human being. It can give life. And then it can continue to feed and nourish your baby.

And yes, after giving birth and breastfeeding, your body may be different. It may take some time to return to its pre-pregnancy shape. In fact, it may not return to it’s pre-pregnancy shape and that’s okay. Post-pregnancy bodies are beautiful, strong and wonderful too. In fact, each one tells a story. The story of a mother who carried a baby, nourished a baby, and loves a child even more than she thought possible. It is one of the greatest love stories ever told.

Is my 39 year old body like my 24 year old body? No, not at all. Sure, my 24 year old body had less wrinkles, sags and stretch marks, but I did not appreciate it. I struggled with body image and self confidence. At 39, although I still have plenty of moments of self-doubt, I have a better appreciation of what this body can do. Each sag and wrinkle tells my story, and it is a story of love and of triumph. I feel stronger now than I did at 24. This body has taken me to many wonderful places, and I look forward to seeing where we will go in the future. But best of all, I have three wonderful little people beside me who call me mom. So enjoy your pre-kid bodies, my friends, but when the time comes, don’t be afraid of the changes!

Present Moment Living for the Type A Personality

Eckhart Tolle teaches us that lack of acceptance is at the root of suffering. I’ve been thinking of this quite a bit recently as I find myself wanting things to be different than how they actually are and then recognizing that if I would just accept the situation as it is, my pain and suffering would go away and I would feel more at peace. As someone who has issues with letting things go though, this is much easier said than done.

For example, I want to run the 18.6 mile Payette Lake Run this weekend, but I can’t because I just had an appendectomy two weeks ago. My wanting to run the race and the fact that I am wishing the situation were different is causing me pain and suffering. If I simply accept the situation, I will feel content and at peace. Wow, it sounds so simple when I write it out! Why is it so hard to implement?

Here are some more: My child is being irritating, I want x, y, or z to be different about my body, or I wish that my husband would appreciate me more. All of these things bring about some sort of pain or suffering in my life because they stem from the fact that I am not accepting things just as they are. So how can I do better?

Well, I think Eckhart Tolle would say that I should focus on living in the present moment because the present moment is really all that we have. (But what if the present moment really sucks? Let’s be honest, sometimes it does. But for the purposes of this post I am just talking about when we make it harder on ourselves than necessary. Which for me is a lot.)  Sometimes I focus on my breath and try to really notice what is around me. One way I can do this is by taking inventory of various things I can hear, see and feel right at that moment. But really living and staying in the present moment is difficult. My mind often wanders to worries about the past or future. And that’s okay. If I can live some in the present moment each day I am making progress.  After all I am a Type A control freak (see paragraph 1 re issues with letting go).

And speaking of being a Type A control freak, I went for my first post-appendectomy run today. An easy 3 mile run/walk on one of my favorite trails with my dog. It was a beautiful run in fall-like weather. My legs wanted to go, go, go! They were saying, “Hey, have we been tapering? Let’s race!” My core on the other hand was saying, “What the heck are you doing?! Get back on the couch and let’s watch some more football!” It felt like a weak, achy, unparticipating blob. But at least it’s a start. And now the rebuilding process begins. Hopefully I will emerge even stronger, both physically and mentally.