Okay, okay. okay…enough already with the litany of excuses for over-eating and not exercising. However, hear me out (this is meant to be light and satirical). Although it really isn’t funny, or ironic, when you feel like a swollen version of yourself… or when you have a closet full of clothes…that you can no longer wear. For me, I have never struggled so much with weight in my entire life (as I have as a Mom), and I think I can make a pretty good case for why that might be (though this doesn’t actually solve the problem…does it?)
So, how does Motherhood make you a bigger you? Let me count the ways…
- Eating is a stress response: Maybe it is just me…however I think that being a Mom is both wonderful…and stressful. Trying to balance work and personal aspirations, while spending quality time with family…is stressful. Staying up half the night with a sick child….is stressful. Having a messy house….is stressful. Overeating is a very common reaction to stress. Could you pass the Cheez-Its, please? It’s been a long week.
- Mothers of young children gravitate towards prepared foods because they are short on time. Yes, mothers seem to spend every minute of their day tending to everyone else’s needs; therefore, it is simply more convenient to grab higher-calorie, prepared foods than to take the time to wash, slice, dice, and cook whole foods. Also, Moms can often rationalize eating higher-calorie foods as “treats”, or special indulgences that they deserve for a long day or sacrifices made.
- Mothers are tired and over worked. How about this common scenario? When the kids are put to bed, and you do get a few free moments to yourself…who wants to work out? You are drained and tired… and all you really want to do is crash out in front of the TV, or curl up with a good book.
- Who has the time and extra money for joining a gym with daycare? Ah, the excuses are adding up. However, most families are trying to find ways to cut expenses these days, not add $600-$1000 per year in family gym or YMCA memberships.
- Grazing is fun. Do you find yourself “grazing” all day? Just grabbing a little bit of food here and there. Finishing off your child’s mac n cheese, sampling baby food pouches, or bringing a bag of kettle corn with you to the computer while you scroll through Facebook updates? I’ve never done any of that.
- Losing that last 5-10 pounds of baby weight can be tough, especially while breast feeding. While studies do show that breast feeding women typically lose weight more rapidly than their formula feeding counterparts (Dewey et al 1993, Bradshaw & Pfeiffer, 1988, Kramer et al 1993), the body does store extra fat during pregnancy for nursing. Therefore, a woman’s last 5-10 pounds of baby weight can be difficult to lose. Additionally, I have a theory that nursing women focus too much on the message that they are “burning 500 extra calories per day” (and include that in their mental accounting for calorie intake). yet, they do not account for all of the time that they are sedentary in a nursing chair. Quick calculation: a newborn nurses 8-12 times in 24 hours for 20-45 minutes. Therefore, a new Mom is sitting still for roughly 5 hours per day when she would otherwise be active. Don’t get me wrong, I am Pro-Lactation. However, I would like to point out that the “lose weight with your milk factory concept” probably isn’t quite as efficient as lactation specialists would like you to think.
- Who wants to take their baby outside in the summer heat or winter cold? The weather is an easy (and often valid excuse) for new Moms not getting outside to exercise. However, proper layering and sun-shading can often do the trick. Some rules of thumb: babies should receive all the layers of an adult, plus one (for cold weather); some also reference the 90/20 deg rule for extreme temps, depending on your child’s health (are they vaccinated? Were they premature? Between 20-40 deg keep time out short, frost bite can develop in 5-10 minutes); for sun, the AAP says keep babies <6 months out of direct sunlight, and apply sunscreen every 2 hours to children > 6 months.
- Drive-thru windows are just too convenient for busy Moms. Many frazzled Moms have zero time between coming home from work and jetting off to soccer practice in the evenings. And now you can order pouches of apples and cartons of milk to go with a Happy Meal. So why not hit the drive thru? You might even order a diet Coke for yourself, however the truth is that you will probably also grab a $1 McDouble and some delicious french fries, which is not exactly helping your Mommy figure.
- Motherhood made you more humble and less vain. It is truly a blessing to experience growth and maturity as a Mom. Life does not revolve around you…and yeah… it feels good! You might also feel liberated by not caring about your personal appearance so much. Your hair is in a pony tail? Who cares. You look like a slob at the grocery store? Oh well. And those stretchy, fleece pants that you lived in all winter? Unfortunately, they are masking your 10 pound weight gain. Apparently vanity can be a pretty powerful weight loss tool!
- Your husband was already making you fat before the kids arrived. When you were single, you used to eat cereal for dinner, now you feel compelled to fix meat (and lots of it), potatoes, and some other side dish; you like grazing, he likes big meals (so now you partake in both); you like soup for dinner, he likes soup for an appetizer; you like steamed broccoli, he likes broccoli coated in Velveeta; you like sushi, he likes fried fish n chips; you like cheese pizza, he orders the Italian Meat special; you prefer to not eat after 7pm, he brings chips n salsa to the couch at 10:30pm; and finally… food can be a sixth “love language” for many husbands. Does FOOD=LOVE in your house? Well, unfortunately, it might be making you BOTH fat.