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Sure, Jay-Z means run this town in a more hardcore way, but the song keeps my jog moving along.

Last night I had the best run I’ve had in a really long time. It started out like all my other runs, with me putting it off and putting it off until it becomes ridiculous. Kirk is out of town but my dad was here, so I waited until after the kids had gone to bed just to make sure he wouldn’t have any problems. And I waited and I waited. I hate running. Finally I hauled myself out  the door. It was a treat to run at night, so much cooler and way less people to judge how my back fat jiggles. I ran my usual route. I probably ran only slightly faster than I do with the jogging stroller.

When I arrived back at my house however, my legs didn’t feel like lead and jelly at the same time. I was winded but my lungs weren’t demanding I rip the oxygen mask off the nearest retiree. In fact, both my muscles and my lungs seem to suggest they could go farther. I declined to offer. Why ruin such a small victory?

So what’s the big deal? A year ago tonight I was sitting on the couch with a newborn. Jane weighed almost 9 lbs when she was born. She came in about 30 minutes, with no drugs, not even a little bag of i.v. fluids to help her mommy out. I was waddling everywhere I went, which wasn’t very far from the couch, where I could sit on an ice pack. Running anywhere seemed about as likely as waking up tall and blonde. But shortly after that night I knew I had to get moving, even just a little. When I had Grace, she was 18 months old before I realized the baby weight wasn’t going to just fall off. I had waited all those months stupidly believing it would just fall off if I parked a little farther from the store. Baby weight gain is a lot more stubborn than that.  And with all I had going on in my life then, I had to stress about the size of my pants.

With Jane, I knew better. I knew that I had to get up and get moving, even slowly, when I could. And you know what? I think it’s helped keep me sane this last year (except the brief time I tried to take my misshapen postbaby body to step aerobics. Can you say floor to ceiling mirrors?). I strapped that kid in the stroller and off we went, waddling around the jogging path. At some point I stopped waddling and we both started enjoying the walks more.

Eventually I just started running. Even though I hate it and I hate people who do it in their little shorts and their perfect form. It’s really the only vigorous exercise I can do and bring Jane along.

So, last night I was pretty proud of myself. At least in this one little corner of my life I’ve come a long, long way in the past year (despite being out of a job and daily believing I might lose my mind or feed my kids too much fast food). I’m a firm believer that it takes a lady at least a year to get herself back together after having a baby. I don’t care if you leave the hospital in your prebaby jeans. You just need that long to find your new balance. Now, after a year I feel more like me. I don’t waste so much time worrying about my back fat (although if anyone knows of a way to suck it in like you can suck in your gut, let me know).  And I’ve found something I can do just for me. Which is the best thing any mom can do for herself.