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Children are just dumbells with legs to moms

Bathing suit weather crouches on the edge of May, threatening to spring just when you still haven't lost that five, 10 or 15 lbs. of baby weight. Don't despair. You simply haven't had enough babies.

Using a multiple regression formula with height, weight, types of pets and favorite color as variables, holding economic status constant and accounting for availability of stairs, I have calculated a multiplier that, when computed with the limit of b, exactly determines the number of children a person must have in order to achieve her ideal weight.

My magic number equals four.

I began the intense formula derivation process after the birth of my first child, when a typical morning began at 2 a.m. Then again at 5 a.m. And again at 7 a.m. By breakfast, I felt too tired to eat.

By 10 a.m. hunger set in, but baby wouldn't let me put him down. Clutching my infant tightly, I executed a deep knee bend and with my free hand rummaged in the refrigerator to grab a limp carrot protruding from the crisper.

Add a few years and a few children, who enthusiastically vie for my attention at constant intervals, and get the perfect prescription for a weight control and birth control plan wrapped into one.

Prior to children, my husband and I paid for a gym membership. We turned over greenbacks for the opportunity to walk on a treadmill, sweat on a stair-step machine, and repetitively lift noisy weights with our legs and arms. Only later did I learn that I could participate in these same activities in the privacy of my own home, for FREE! I'm such a stooge.

These days, a routine program of exercise includes picking up the sofa cushions and placing them back on the couch in four sets of eight reps each day. If I hold my stomach in while performing this exercise, I call it my ab-buster. If I catch the culprit who threw them off, I call it my butt-buster.

My cardiovascular workout, generally triggered by an eerily quiet house, necessitates walking up and down the stairs and in and out of rooms, repeatedly calling the names of children who do not answer.

The correct form for this particular callisthenic requires entering all rooms at least twice and calling every child's name a minimum of 40 times. When at last I find myself out of breath and pause long enough to glimpse them playing merrily in the yard, I rejoice for the blessing of the aerobics as well as the silence, chiding myself for seeking to destroy the serenity of the moment.

Forget using hand weights while working out. Try body weights. Each of my brood, from smallest to largest, tolerates me carrying him up and down the stairs, often adding obstacles, for my benefit, of dangling feet that barely clear each step and the dead weight of sleep.

Finally, don't overlook challenging dinner sprints, related to wind sprints, conducted each evening at six.

During this drill I rapidly scuttle from table to stove, table to refrigerator, table to island, and table to stove again. I'm not trying to beat the clock, but rather the flow of thermal energy from my food; all the while hoping to sneak in the ever-elusive bite of chow between dashes.

In view of the cost of the gym versus the costs of a home and children, financially I came out ahead with the gym membership, sort of. Really, it boils down to this:

One mortgage: Too much; Child maintenance for four: Extremely expensive; Lifting children instead of weights: Priceless.

Web posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004

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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01

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