I think we can all agree, motherhood brings with it some enormous changes. We’re learning to care for a tiny, helpless human being. We’re using our breasts to feed a person. We’re looking for nuance and hidden meaning in yawns and cries. And our once-flat stomachs have become bloated piles of wrinkly mush. (Ha ha! Who are we kidding? Our stomachs were never flat. At least not mine. Yours looks stupendous.)
But seriously, I think that approximately one hundred and sixteen percent of new moms are trying to lose weight and firm up. In order to support our babies during pregnancy, our bodies put on a protective layer of fat. And in order to make room for another human being, our skin stretched out further than we imagined possible. I don’t know about you, but this left my stomach looking like a deflated balloon. And what is up with that flap? If you’ve had a c-section, you know what I’m talking about. It’s not pretty.
Shortly after my third child was born, my daughter walked in on me in the bathtub. “Mommy, why does your tummy look like a bottom?” Thanks, honey. I love you, too.
So, like every other mom on the planet, I’ve tried a thousand different diets and read almost as many books on nutrition and exercise. I did eventually lose my pregnancy weight, and I think I’m in decent shape. (My tummy doesn’t look like a bottom anymore.) But it is hard work! I exercise five days a week. With twenty-pound dumbbells. And Jillian Michaels videos. I can swim a mile and do three pushups with my son sitting on my back. (OK, now I’m just bragging.)
And here’s the thing. It never ends. Every day I have to pay attention to how much rice I’m serving myself at dinner. Every day I have to get to the gym or do a yoga DVD. Every day I have to resist eating the M & M’s I give my daughter for potty rewards. (Yes, I’m that mom. I’m not even sorry about it. I’ve cleaned up enough poop and pee for two lifetimes.)
Which is why I was so excited to see this in my Amazon recommendations. Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight: New Science Proves You Should Eat Chocolate Every Day, by Will Clower.
What? You mean I could’ve been eating the M & M’s this WHOLE TIME? Apparently, dark chocolate does all sorts of good stuff for your body, like reduce cancer risk, boost heart health, improve mood (I knew that one! Woot!), and help with weight loss. Dr. Clower recommends doing all these fun little experiments with dark chocolates. Here’s one: Line up several different brands, take a bite of each, throw some wine in there while you’re at it (Wine!) and decide which one you like best. This will be your “ender” to eat after meals. Direct quote: “Have something at the end of a meal that’s rich and wonderful and makes you moan out loud.” (Does Bradley Cooper count?)
Warning: do not actually read this book if you don’t want to find out that you really can’t eat the M & M’s. Even the dark ones. Only chocolates with seventy percent cacao or more will work. Apparently, sugar and fat are still bad for you.
And here’s more good news. A recent study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health found that less exercise actually helps you lose more weight! The scientists followed 60 moderately overweight men for thirteen weeks. The guys who sweated it up for 30 minutes a day lost significantly more weight than the guys who did it for an hour. Their theory is that when you spend less time exercising, you have more time and energy for doing other fun, active stuff. Just imagine if they’d done that experiment with moms. If anyone can cut a workout short, it’s us. Here is a transcript of my last yoga session:
Jillian Michaels (my personal hero and bicep idol): Now we’re going to jump-switch lunges.
Me: huff, puff
Sophia (crying): Mommm!! Emma pushed me off the toilet!
Emma: I only did it because she won’t leave me alone. Can’t we sell her to another family?
JM: Now slow lower to chatarunga.
Me: (hovering an inch above the ground) Emma, you can’t push her even if she’s annoying.
Emma: But I want her to get diarrhea that shoots out of her mouth!
JM: This is where you dig in! Do not quit on me!
Raymond (climbing on my back): Want to do pushups with Mommy!
Me (collapsing): Oh God. We’re all going to our rooms.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sweating just thinking about it. I think I’ll go eat some chocolate.