Posted by: Ingrid | November 14, 2010

Thank you, Kara (a rant)

I really admire Kara Goucher for a number of reasons.

I think she is a fantastic runner and I was very excited to learn last Spring that she and her husband were expecting their first baby this past September.  It was fun following her blog and getting a glimpse of what pregnancy is like for one of the world’s fastest female marathoners.

While I intentionally searched for her blog, I noticed recently that I seem to have a knack for stumbling upon (truly – I don’t go searching) blogs of pregnant runners that just leave me frustrated.  I love reading about pregnancy, even when I am not pregnant – something about the fact that the experience is so similar and yet so different from woman to woman makes me want to read more.   (And have you noticed that the entire world seems to be pregnant right now?)  Especially with pregnant runners, I am very interested to see what we as women are capable of.  The thing is, these blogs I end up finding read something like: I began this pregnancy 10 pounds underweight.  Now that I have reached 39 weeks, I have successfully lost 20 pounds, now run a 5 minute mile, and recently won the Boston marathon at 37 weeks.  Instead of sporting a bump I resemble a crescent moon.  Who knew pregnancy would be so great for weight loss and speed!

Okay, not quite that extreme, but you get the picture.  It is aggravating, frustrating, and somewhat demoralizing as a woman to read these sorts of things.  When I was pregnant I struggled with weight gain fears and body image and the frustration of getting slower as a runner, so maybe my reaction to these blogs is simply jealousy.  I think it’s more than that though.  I think there is a fear that we are passing on an unrealistic and unhealthy message about pregnancy to women as well as a sadness that we can’t let pregnancy be a time when our body is growing and changing in order to sustain the life of a baby.  It’s as if we’re supposed to go through pregnancy absolutely unaffected by what’s going on inside our bodies.  How strange and counter-intuitive is that?!?

I know that the focus a few years ago that kept popping up on magazines was the fact that Hollywood stars would get pregnant, gain average to above average pregnancy weight and then be back in their size 0’s a month later.  Annoying?  Sure.  But if they have the resources to hire nannies, cooks, dietitians, and a gym drill sergeant and want to put the time there, I guess that it’s their choice, frustrating as it may be for the average sleep deprived mom.

What concerns me more than an unrealistic bounce back from pregnancy is an unrealistic nine months of gestation.  I have gotten the impression from multiple women the idea that you are “lucky” if you can gain minimal weight (minimal being under the recommended 25-35 pounds for an average sized woman).  There almost seems to be the idea that if you are truly a runner or really thin you will be able to keep weight gain way down.  While I know there are some thin women who may not gain much weight while pregnant and are genetically pre-disposed to do so (or who are miserably sick the entire time), I worry that the “ideal” nine months that some thin women and runners strive for will be even more unhealthy than the myth that says you should be able to slip on your skinny jeans and walk out of the delivery room.

With all this in mind, it was such a relief to see mention on Kara’s blog of how she had lost all but seven to eight pounds of the thirty-five pounds of pre-pregnancy/pregnancy weight that she had gained.  Thirty-five pounds!  I never realized how refreshing it would be to see something like that.  So Kara, thanks for not only be a terrific runner and mom, but also for showing neurotic women everywhere that the experience of a normal pregnancy and the weight gain that comes with it, is okay.

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Responses

  1. Thankyou…this is something as a waiting to get pregnant “exerciser” that I need reminding of 🙂 Not that I would be an obsessive weight watcher…but that is an issue in the media which can influence me…

  2. Thanks for posting this. I saw that on Kara’s blog too and felt the exact same sense of relief.

    What’s funny is that I followed your blog while you were pregnant — I was pregnant too, six or so weeks behind you. And to me, your blog read just as you read others: an embodiment of a “real runner” who kept her weight down and continued to run — well — through pregnancy. You may have felt and personally experienced something different. I was benched by my doctor at 20 weeks (placenta previa, which resolved on its own), and I was so jealous of you, running half marathons, looking all skinny and cute with just your bump and nothing else…

    Anyway, just delurking since it sounds like you’d be surprised to find out that others saw in you exactly what you were envious of in others. And I say that only with good, happy thoughts.

    • No, I appreciate your perspective. I will admit that aside from staying active the whole way through I felt like I was a fairly average/typical/boring active pregnant woman! I started at a normal smack in the middle of average weight, gained just under average pregnancy while running fewer miles than the average hard core runner at a slower pace. I suppose how you see things will be based on your experience and perspective. Thanks for helping me see things differently! And I am so glad that your Placenta Previa resolved itself… That’s one of the things I worried about while pregnant


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