“A lot of new mothers don’t prioritise themselves, they let themselves go, they put weight on, they just don’t care and they give up”
“The three main excuses I hear are ‘I’m too tired, I’ve got no time and my kids are my workout”
“I know mums are really busy and haven’t had much sleep, but it’s all about the kids and they don’t prioritise themselves anymore”
– Allan, 24, personal trainer
Ladies, we’ve just been told.
A young man trying to promote his personal training business came out of the gates this week with a resounding slap-down to all those apathetic new mums and their flimsy excuses to avoid exercise, and yet it somehow escaped my notice?
I mean, I’m a mummy-blogger for god’s sake. How did I miss this? Whilst it makes my skin crawl with shame to admit it, I have to confess it’s mostly because I’ve let myself go in the intellectual department since having kids, and I just don’t make time to read The Daily Mail like I used to. I’ve spent far too much time peering into my son’s nappies and not enough time perusing quality tabloid newspapers. The contents are remarkably similar, for the record.
Humour me, if you will, with a hypothetical. Let’s go on a kooky journey together.
Pretend you are a man, and that you are going to have a baby. Coincidentally, the man in this hypothetical scenario is also a personal trainer in his early twenties.
This particular scenario requires us to skip to the end of 40 long weeks of pregnancy. And when I say “skip” let me just reassure you that there will be no actual skipping. It is physically impossible anyway and you will literally piss yourself if you try. Just imagine that you feel fat, fatigued, uncomfortable and that it’s impossible to walk without feeling like every single one of your inner organs is pushing down on your pelvis like they want to force their way out of your rectum.
Then there are the sharp stabbing pains up the shaft of your penis that catch you at random times in public places, the ones that make you involuntarily clutch at your crotch and gasp so loudly that everyone notices.
That’s kind of what late-stage pregnancy feels like. You won’t be rushing down to the gym for jump squats, burpees or HIIT workouts, trust me. The only HIIT you’ll be doing at 40 weeks gestation is the type that involves swinging your open palm at your partner for breathing too loudly when they sit next to you on the couch.
You’ll want to do this in sets of 10. Rest. Repeat.
Now, let’s imagine going into labour and giving birth. Because the subject of this pregnancy hypothetical is a man, we will need to frame the experience of pain during labour in physical terms that a man might understand.
Given the lack of a uterus, we will require an alternate way to simulate labour contractions. With that in mind, your birth partner will be required to kick you in the testicles at regular intervals – with increasing frequency and intensity – for a period of between 3 and 24 hours. This is very physically demanding on your support person, and you may need to enlist the services of a doula. Once you are completely consumed by unimaginable pain and begging for your own death, you will then be required to push a mini-watermelon out of your asshole.
Sound like fun? It sure is.
But it doesn’t end there. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can don the togs and dash off to the gym immediately. No way. They need to stitch your ass up first, and beware of that first bowel movement. It hurts even worse than you think, but you’ll be bleeding out of your rectum for a week anyway so try not to worry about it. You might want to lay off the squats for a while.
It gets better. The mini-watermelon you just squeezed out of your butt wants to chomp on your nipples every three hours, day and night. It will do this for anywhere between 6 weeks to 6 months, waking and feeding around the clock. The nipple-chomping watermelon will also cry a lot, require regular nappy changes and insist that you hoist it over your shoulder and walk up and down the hallway for hours on end in the middle of the night while it screams.
That damn watermelon. It’s almost as though you can’t put yourself first.
Oh, and because I forgot to mention it earlier, the day before your milk comes in your breasts will literally explode in size overnight, looking and feeling like – you guessed it – rock-hard mini-watermelons. That hurts as much as it sounds too. They also leak. You’ll find yourself browsing for melons at the supermarket, some random baby starts crying over in aisle nine and your boobs will shoot milk out of the front of your shirt with the force of a fire hose. Pregnancy and birth really play havoc with a man’s body.
The take-home message?
You probably won’t care much for exercise, unless it involves rapid eye movement.
Look, he seems like a sweet kid. A sweet kid who genuinely wants to help people find the best versions of themselves. But he is a sweet kid who has NFI what it feels like to be a new mum – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. And because it is biologically impossible for him to ever go through this profoundly life-altering experience himself he will never know just how far off the mark he is.
Maybe one day he’ll have a wife, they will have a family together and he’ll get a tiny glimpse of what mini-watermelons can do to people. The knack they have of turning you into a literal shell of yourself. The way they irrevocably change your body and the way you feel about yourself. He might learn about a level of deep fatigue he never knew existed, the type of chronic exhaustion that doesn’t compare to pulling an all-nighter on a Friday night or staying up to 3am watching infomercials for fitness equipment or going fully ape-shit in the weight room. He might learn that mini-watermelons suck your time, your energy, your motivation, your self-esteem, your physical strength, your mental stability and at times your will to live.
The burpees and jump kicks can wait.
Unless you’ve gestated and given birth to a mini-watermelon, lay off the mansplainin’.