So let me lay down some facts for you...

Yep, I gained a lot of weight this pregnancy. I know it, the world knows it, end of story. Crap happens.

I didn't "let myself go" or give up on caring about taking care of myself. In fact, I had a strong desire for a healthier pregnancy this time. Due to circumstances beyond my control, that didn't happen. Life happened.

Besides not being able to control what was happening to me while growing Brynlie, I had another worry that haunted me since week 9.

I have always loved running.

But after the horrible, excruciatingly painful half marathon that helped determine the whole miserable course of the pregnancy, I became afraid of it. Something I loved so much had put me through hell and had left a wake of destruction in its path. I felt betrayed. I felt like I failed my body somehow. I was upset.

I missed it so much and yet every comment from friends about being able to run again just scared me. Maybe I was more afraid of the possibility of never being able to run again if my ligaments never healed. I'm not really sure what it was. But the whole concept was a tender subject. I tried to be supportive of friends in their running journeys but it was difficult.

I was also terrified to begin working out again. I had no idea what was going to happen, how my body would react, and now I had 40 extra pounds weighing me down.

Luckily, working out has been amazing and therapeutic. I needed it as a way to release frustration and anger about what was happening with Brynlie. I always come home much happier and a better mom. It's my drug.

It was a challenge at first, no doubt about that. Any stabilizing exercise made my ligaments hurt, and still does, but over time it's getting better and better. I can feel myself getting stronger and my body is slowly, slowly starting to heal itself from the horrible 9 months it had.

But I hadn't officially tried running yet. I had done a little here and there when it was part of my workout, but it was never for more than a mile and it was hard on me. I was really worried what was going to happen if I tried to do more than that.

Last week I bit the bullet and officially tried a 3 mile run on the treadmill. It was agonizingly slow, I had to take walk breaks, and it left me extremely sore in the ligament region. It was not good. But I kept telling myself it was a start, even though I was worried to try again.

I've had another 3 mile run down on my weekly exercise plan twice since then and both times I have chickened out and ended up doing other cardio.

Today I had planned another run. I had dreams about it all night, and I awoke with this ridiculous sense of determination to just get it done, no matter what. Even after possibly breaking my pinky toe last night and being woken frequently from the pain I downed some ibuprofen, taped the toe, and got on the treadmill.

Friends, it was euphoric. No, It wasn't easy. Yes, I had to take walk breaks again. But not nearly as often as I did last week and my last mile was strong and at my usual pace before getting pregnant. And best of all, there was NO ligament pain. None!! Praise the heavens!!

To say that I needed this was an understatement. Yes, I'm suffering for it now with my toe swelling and aching like who knows what, but it was worth it. And it was even on the treadmill. I HATE the treadmill. I finally feel like the running fire has been lit beneath me again and that there is hope of me continuing to run from here on out. I can only get stronger, right?

I feel like that's been the theme of my battle to get back in shape. Its been hard, it's been slow and steady progress, but it has been happening and it's been worth it.

I want to be clear about something. I am NOT ashamed of my current body. I'm not afraid to see people and I don't try to suck in or hide that I got bigger. I had a freaking baby. I know getting back into shape takes time and that it will happen, but hating myself until then won't do anyone any good. I am who I am. My body changed, but who I am as a person hasn't. I'm still Megan. I'm still me. And regardless of what the scale says, I will always be me. And I will always love who I am.

Aspiring to be healthy is a lifestyle change for me, not a destination. I love exercise. I love running. And I love feeling good about what my body can do. I'm so glad that today's run was such a success. I would have had a very hard time losing this hobby of mine. I still plan on taking it slow and steady, but I feel like I have a part of me back. And I love it.

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