I run... to lose weight

This was the main reason I started running back in October 2009. The waif like proportions I was promised as a result of the breast feeding that so "naturally" comes to new mothers, simply did not materialise. In fact neither did. My son did not sleep for the entire first year (at least it certainly felt that way) combined with a financial necessity (and, if I'm honest, a desire) to return to work full time after 5 months meant that my husband and I were in a constant state of decrepitude. The thought of exercising or starting some sort of diet regime was anathema, indeed incomprehensible, therefore swept under the carpet with rest of the dirt we didn't have the energy to clean.

I don't think I looked huge particularly - I tend to hold weight well as I am broad shouldered and quite tall - however I look at photos from my son's 1st birthday and vow never to return there. I'd leaked, being the operative word, from a size 12 into a size 16 and felt terrible.

In the meantime, an antenatal class acquaintance had set up a local exercise class called Buggyfit, part of a national franchise of postnatal classes that encourage mums to get exercising again after having their babies, by making the babies and their prams integral to the exercise - genius, no need for childcare! The classes take place in the open air, for about an hour and generally involves brisk walking, stretching and strength exercises utilising the pram for balance and resistance. It's also a great opportunity to meet other new mums and to participate in some exercise camaraderie. Our classes took place on a Sunday morning at 9.30am in the local park and started in a very cold January in 2009, a year after my son was born. Sunday mornings were brisk, but brilliant. Emma, our instructor, was so incredibly supportive, humorous and an outstanding motivator that it didn't matter if you were dying on your arse at the end of an hour, felt like your lungs were about to explode or (in a lot of cases) your child had spent the entire hour screaming the park down. We just enjoyed being in the fresh air and feeling like we were gaining control of our unruly bodies again.

After a few weeks and a surge of motivation, I began to eat less copiously and more sensibly. Things were coming together and I started to lose a bit of weight gradually. As the summer came, Emma started another evening session called Mums, Tums and Bums for mums only, for those wanting to step up the pace a little. This was a bit more like circuit training which I had never enjoyed before but actually being in a non-competitive environment in the park, having a laugh made it great fun. By Autumn, interest in the classes had waned a little as the nights drew in and the dark unlit park seemed like a less attractive option for ladies in Lycra, so we started Power Walking. Emma planned out a few well lit pavement routes around Barnsley and we just headed off at a fast walking pace. We never walked longer than 5k/3mi which generally took us around 45 minutes to complete. We tended to meet around 6.30pm so this meant that my husband picked up the bedtime routine baton rather than me. I worked from home some of the time so fortuitously I did not have the problem of a commute from work, having to don the kit and rush out of the door again with my top on inside out, however I did work compressed hours, finishing at 6.30pm, so the day was packed in.

One day in October I remember talking with Emma about how much easier I'd found a particular hill on our route and that I thought, with the hill aside, I might be able to run a bit of the 5k. There was no way I'd ever run up the hill though. Ever*. So I gave it a bash one evening, on my own, with my newly purchased high vis armband. Admittedly the adrenaline of running alone in the dark probably helped but I made it round the route (walking the hill) in about 38 minutes I think. Triumph!

Ten months of fun-ercise with some great support from Emma and a husband willing to take on some solo childcare a couple of evenings a week had hoodwinked my body into playing ball. I had lost nearly 2 stone in weight and could run for more than 10 minutes (my previous gym treadmill record at the same weight pre-pregnancy). More to the point, I actually LIKED running. Who knew! I gained a great sense of achievement knowing that I'd built up the capacity to run from scratch, and could be safely competitive (Who me? competitive? Not I...) with myself and beat my previous "personal bests" and all the time, my wobbling bottom was becoming just that little bit less wobbly.

Ever since the defining moment of realisation that I could, and was ready to run, I have been running. Sometimes really badly, not very fast and with the get up and go of an energy saving light bulb in those tentative first few seconds, but I've done it. It's been elementary in my ability to lose my baby weight and as a result I've discovered something I love doing, which costs nothing (unless you have a trainer "habit") and is now fundamental to my mental health (as my husband has recently pointed out after a 6 week long period of downright grumpiness on my part, correlating with the same in running abstinence).

You can lose weight and enjoy the process.

*I have done the impossible and run up that hill. Several times - to prove it wasn't a fluke.