We all know motherhood is everyone's excuse for not fitting into her wedding dress, which is often true and a fine rationale as far as I'm concerned. But there are some for whom parturition and its environs have the opposite effect. After a few months of nursing the chub down, I haven't had trouble getting into any dress I've worn in the past 10+ years. Lest your VBA alarm begin sounding, let me assure you that this does not mean I look at all good. If a blushing maiden is a slender birch and a fruitful matron is a shapely linden, I'm Charlie Brown's Christmas tree once the baby hits about 6 months. Which, at 30, is just the look I was going for.
The strange workings of this cellular mass I've been issued (heretofore, anyway--every time I'm pregnant I think, well, this is the time I'll chunk up, so watch this space) have brought to my attention a fertility issue that doesn't get as much press, because most health care providers spend their time lecturing us about how terribly terrible it is to be overweight. As someone who puts on a lot of weight during pregnancy, I'm quite familiar with this too. But having very low body fat can be an impediment to conception. I'm an idiot and know nothing about medicine, chiro, magnetism, Brewer's yeast, or your health care belief system of choice, but I've read that having one's convenient health proxy known as BMI in the 19 or lower range can put a girl in problem territory in terms of fertility.
The preachy hobbyhorse I'm getting at for CSPP types is this: a woman of childbearing age should think very carefully before she decides to train for the Iron Man. 12% body fat may be what we see on the cover of Shape, but that is not a good shape for a mother in her fertile years.
Being physically fit is not, for us, about looking great on the beach or running a marathon or holding our own on the tennis court or fitting into our wedding dresses or getting back to a certain weight. It is about maintaining the healthy body necessary for the nurturing of a new life--which is probably rounder and definitely softer than what we've been hypnotized into considering attractive.
Most moms can benefit from taking a walk when they get a chance. For some people that walk wisely replaces a listless hour on the couch, and for others it wisely replaces a sweaty, panting hour in the gym. It's either ignorant or disingenuous for those who don't need to take off a few pounds to say, "If I get pregnant while I train for my marathon, I'll just quit." Training itself may well put the body out of commission for pregnancy.
Physical fitness is a vain god of our time, and as grotesque a caricature of the ideal it imitates as any vain god. Resisting the temptation to fitness excess (whether through exercise or starvation) has direct and quantifiable consequences for the ongoing work of mothers.