Find yourself asking ‘Exercise? What’s exercise?’ since the brood arrived? Louise Emma Clarke understands entirely…
Exercise is a doddle when you are pregnant with your first, isn’t it? As my bump grew, I started attending pregnancy yoga classes in the morning, meeting friends for strolls around malls in the afternoon, and swimming gentle laps of my pool as the sun began to set. It was all very idyllic and well, all so Dubai… Working from home helped matters greatly, with my biggest concern being when I would squeeze in a trip to a coffee shop for a Caramel Macchiato (decaff, please).
I was convinced the baby weight would fall off as soon as the little fella arrived. I had visions of parking his pram at the end of the swimming pool while I swam laps, cooing and waving as I got to the end of the lane. He would give me a big smile as if to say ‘carry on as you are Mummy! I am quite happy here! That mummy tummy is my fault, after all!’
When he arrived, of course, the only exercise I got were sprints around our villa in an attempt to soothe him off to sleep at 2am. And even that stopped for a while when the family next door had a party one evening and every head in their garden turned as I began marching the pram around our living room whilst singing ‘Hush little baby’ in nothing but my underwear.
I researched buggy fit classes and was very proud of myself for opening up the laptop and getting that far. I even wrote down the contact number and timings in my notebook. But that’s as far as I got. As the weather cooled, I started to walk to the nearest mall every day to get our dinner and it felt great to finally be pounding the pavements – but that was also the time that I was seriously craving creamy deserts and posh chocolate biscuits, so those inevitably made it into the basket to undo all my hard work.
I know there are ladies out there that do manage it. One of my friends is a personal trainer and was back in the gym when her baby was a few weeks old. I experienced feelings of genuine jealousy, but also feelings of genuine confusion. Didn’t she want to sit on the sofa all day watching re-runs of Keeping Up With the Kardashians while she kept up the endless cycle of feeding baby and feeding self? What was wrong with her – or in fact, what was wrong with me?
Another friend signed up to Beach Bootcamp every evening for a fortnight, while her husband looked after their little one. As I watched the weight drop off, I experienced those familiar niggles of jealousy – but I also spent a lot of time pondering the other ways she could’ve spent the babysitting time. I’d probably don my gym kit to convince the husband I was off to exercise, before driving to a mall to spend an hour relaxing in a nail spa, browsing the racks of Zara, and finishing it all off with a Caramel Macchiato for old time’s sake (extra shot of caffeine, please).
I did eventually lose the weight, but we’re talking 16 months down the line – and for that, I don’t have a class, gym, or trainer to thank, but an extremely energetic toddler to keep me on my toes. He got round to shifting that mummy tummy after all.
But just as I got back to my pre-baby weight, I was pregnant with his sibling - and here I am once again watching the scales rise in horror every week. This time, however, I don’t have time for morning yoga sessions, strolls around the mall, or evening laps in the swimming pool. It’s certainly not idyllic and I have no romantic visions of what life will be like when the baby arrives. The thought of a wailing newborn in a pram at the end of the pool is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat – and that’s not even taking into account the two-year old, who would most certainly be throwing himself off the side of the pool to join me.
The pregnancy app I downloaded is telling me I should be out there getting some exercise, avoiding fatty foods, and making time every day for some relaxation. I’m starting to realise these things weren’t written by mothers. If I had the honour, I’d order: ‘Take it easy! You’re growing a baby! The baby weight will fall off as soon as he or she has you running around in a year or so! Now pick up that tub of ice cream, insert spoon, and indulge.’ And on that note ladies, I’m off to find a spoon…