I get asked just about every week, “How do you have four small children and stay so thin?” I usually shrug, give an awkward laugh, or mutter, “I’ve got other problems, don’t worry!”
But it’s time for the big reveal. Yes, all of my mom of four, 31 years old, 5’10”, size 8, wearing my high school jeans secrets. Disgusting? I know. I didn’t dream of being more slender at 31 than 21 any more than the next girl.
And don’t be fooled, I’m no Ivanka Trump with a cantaloupe bump and stilettos. I’m a whale. I wear maternity pants at six weeks gestation. I gain about 50 lbs. each pregnancy. I eat like a fullback. My body believes in “go big or go home” for growing babies. And then by eight months postpartum I weigh less than I did on my wedding day. Voila! It’s always weird and amazing.
Is this just how I’m made? That’s certainly part of it. But the other part is my diet secrets. You won’t find these in health magazines—no expensive powders, chia seeds, smart workout routines, or essential oils. These are…different.
- Only eat food left over by your children on their colorful Ikea plates.
- Tell your pediatrician at your baby’s six-month appointment that you’re ready to stop nursing at night, and then don’t do it for another year.
- Never sit down.
- Make food for yourself and then leave it in the microwave.
- Try to eat a snack while holding a baby.
- Run one-half to three-quarters of a mile every two to five weeks. Sometimes walk.
- Make a lovely dinner, enjoy some family time, and put your children to bed only to realize at 10 p.m. you didn’t actually eat your dinner.
- Heat up some of last night’s dinner at 11 a.m. and call it breakfast.
- Have a colicky baby who is only soothed by breastfeeding and mildly improved by removing from your diet all dairy products, beans, soy, coconut, broccoli, and onions. Then hold or wear that extremely chubby baby all day long.
- Bend over to pick up toys at least 275 times a day for a lower back “workout.”
- Consider earl grey tea and cream a meal replacement (obviously not while doing No.9).
- Make a delicious plate of food, sit down with it, and then feed it to a child who says “please” without being prompted.
- Forget you missed a meal and find it perplexing you’re irritable and tired.
- Burn food on the stove while you rescue a child who’s stuck in a couch.
- Trade your Kind protein bar for your toddler’s half-eaten squeeze applesauce packet.
- At eight weeks postpartum, launch into a competitive volleyball game (the sport of your youth) before you’re ready. Throw your awkward, fleshy body around the court for several hours. Ask to drink a teammate’s Gatorade to survive the fourth game, like an overheated minivan in a Nascar race. Return home to a crying baby and unamused husband. Fall into bed, zombie-wake every three hours to nurse your baby, and the next day revel in the pain of every sore muscle from your unwashed hair down to your un-pedicured baby toe. You’re working out again! You’re doing it all!
- Pull out a delicious frozen meal of shrimp-and-rice casserole, heat until bubbly, then remember you’re doing No. 9. Watch your family eat it.
- Experiment to see if nursing your baby more often makes his thighs even squishier.
- In a quiet afternoon moment, think about making some food for yourself, then fall asleep on the couch.
- Shed tears when your husband spontaneously makes you a breakfast of braised eggs topped with a little onion, bacon, chopped olives, cheese, and a touch of cream because you forgot what food prepared with care for an adult palette is like.
- Shower or snack? Shower.
- Proudly raise a no-pacifier, no-bottle baby whom you can’t separate from your body for more than one and a half hours.
- Buy whole foods on your responsible budget that take 20-30 minutes and a stove to prepare. And frequently run out of all snacks except stale pretzels.
- Pop a cough drop at 7 a.m. and think later you must have had breakfast with strawberries.
- Marry someone who only prefers to eat meat and vegetables. Have children who don’t eat potatoes in any form. Unknowingly live in ketosis.