This was pretty much how I lived for the first twenty-five years of my life—carefree, bone-thin, and com- pletely unaware of my fitness or nutritional needs. Sure,I was athletically gifted and spent most of my time mov-ing rather than sitting. I played sports up until my fresh-man year of college, and started going to the gym at agefourteen. However, after I graduated with my bachelor’sdegree and settled into a desk job, my lifestyle startedto catch up with me. I could no longer rely on geneticsto help me beat out the effects of my poor diet. When Igave birth to my daughter, I lost the weight quickly— but not for the right reasons. The stress of being a new parent and starting a new career left little time for me toeat or take care of myself. I didn’t spend many sessionsin the gym after she was born, and I rarely ate, uninten-tionally starving myself thin.When my daughter was two, I found out I was preg-nant with my son. By this time, I started to pack on alittle weight but was in complete denial of this whole process. I still squeezed myself into size five jeans andcovered up the fat that spilled out over the top of them.A little more than three months into my pregnancy, Istarted showing pretty well. There was no guessingwhether or not I was expecting. I steadily gained excessweight over the months and did little to control it. I atemy lunch as soon as I arrived to work and went out for another lunch in the afternoon.Along with uncontrolled hunger and extra poundscame a bulk of pregnancy complications. I found my-self in and out of the hospital more times than I care toremember, and I ended up on bed rest by month seven.I still haven’t exactly figured out what bed rest entailswhen you have a career and a busy toddler runningaround the house, but it was supposed to mean I saton my butt all day and did nothing. I tried my best butwasn’t very successful with it. My body could no lon-ger carry my pregnancy, and I gave birth to my son onChristmas Eve, four weeks before my due date.At this time, I thought little of my lifestyle havinganything to do with pregnancy complications. I blamednature as I sat with my son in the neonatal intensivecare unit. My body just wasn’t designed to carry a preg-nancy to term, or so I thought. Looking back now, Iknow in my gut that this could have all been preventedhad I taken care of my body, giving it proper nutritionand exercising regularly. I brought my son home fivedays after he was born, and along with my new babycame an extra fifty pounds of weight.I was overweight for the first time in my life. I had
been the skinny type; the kind most peoplewrinkle their nose at because it was hard for me to gainweight. I’m certain if my body fat had been measured atthe time, I would have fallen in the obese category witha pathetic muscle-to-fat ratio.I learned to accept the extra weight rather than doanything about it. This was mostly driven by self-con-sciousness and embarrassment. After I gave my bodyenough time to heal, I stepped into the gym on a fewoccasions only to leave disappointed.I stood in the mirrors by the dumbbell rack feelinghopeless. I couldn’t run due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and poor endurance, and I couldn’t lift weights because I had no strength. At that time, I was com- pletely and utterly in the worst shape of my life. I had become the very definition of “out of shape.” But tome, it was the curse of being a mom. I believed what Ihad been told—that babies steal your beauty and ruinyour body.
Genetically speaking, I was spoiled growing up. I had the skinny kid gene. I ran around in my youth fromsun up to sun down, scraping my knobby knees on the pines I scaled in my Colorado backyard. I wouldbreak from a day spent running around the Rockies to feast on giant servings of fruit and cookies, andthen it was back out for more exploration.