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Packing on the pounds: Not just for mommies

Gaining weight during pregnancy is like the flab that comes with old age — it’s inevitable.

But there’s another side to this coin. Dads-to-be and significant others seem to suffer from a phenomenon commonly referred to as “sympathy weight.” Think the “freshman fifteen” in college — it’s absurdly common yet totally avoidable.

Take my husband, for example. During my first pregnancy he seemed to match my weight gain pound-for-pound. Relishing in a freezer unusually full of vanilla bean ice cream, a pantry stocked with dark chocolate and dinners crammed with protein, it was easy for him to indulge right along side his pregnant counterpart. Plus, according to him, there was a distinct increase in beer and wine consumption on his part. He blamed stress.

“I was coping,” he said. “Preparing for the fact a tiny human will completely rely on you can be daunting.”

(Insert sassy rebuttal about the pain of childbirth here.)

As a result my man packed on about 15 to 20 pounds.

My husband was not alone. It’s not uncommon for men to experience a variety of feelings and physical changes while their significant other is pregnant. These are lumped into a condition called Couvade syndrome. Experts in the medical community dispute the cause of the syndrome — some believe it is purely psychosomatic, while others believe it has biological causes. But they do say it’s common. Mild symptoms include mood swings, increased appetite and disturbed sleep patterns. In more extreme cases, some men report morning nausea, labor pains and post partum depression.

While conducting my own poll of local moms, nearly all reported their men gained weight over the course of their pregnancies. Some said the guys in their life cached extra pounds as a result of frequently cooking large meals, while others said their men just couldn’t resist joining their lady in an extra bowl of evening ice cream.

In the case of my husband, he swore things would be different with this pregnancy. For every pound I gained, he promised to lose one pound.

For him, it was a good goal — one that, if met, would leave him with a “healthy” body fat percentage and perhaps the chiseled abdominals I would surely be lacking post-pregnancy.

So far I’ve gained 20 pounds. My husband has lost exactly 4.6 pounds. He might be 15.4 pounds behind, according to his guidelines, but he has four months to catch up — er, lighten up.

With 16 weeks left to go, a few quick calculations show he could lose the remaining poundage if he shed just over a pound a week. With a healthy diet and regular exercise, this is absolutely doable.

But I’m due to really tip the scales in the third trimester, when the majority of weight gain typically happens. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a woman in the second the third trimester of pregnancy typically gains between 1 and 2 pounds per week. Hence, I could pack on another 30 pounds by week 40. Frankly, I hope it hovers around 16 pounds — 1 pound for each remaining week.

It’s unlikely my husband will be able to keep losing at the same rate I’m sure to gain, but there is little harm in trying.

So what can those dads and significant others do to fight back against the bulge?

Be the motivator.

Help that beautiful pregnant woman stay active by engaging in exercises you can enjoy together. Take a family outing to the beach. Bring a Frisbee or a kite to stay moving. Take a walk in the rain forest, a bike ride to the grocery store or a stroll downtown. Local tours often offer discounts for locals. Try out the zip lines on Douglas Island, take a flight out to Taku Lodge or enjoy a nature outing with one of the many sightseeing outfits in town. As I’ve mentioned before, every little bit adds up.

Dads can also strike up an exercise plan of their own. It will be beneficial mentally as well as physically. Let’s face it, the thought of kids can be scary. Sure, it can also be amazing, enlightening and rewarding. But for some, it can be downright terrifying. Hence, it may be nice to take a little “me time” after dealing with the emotional ups and downs that can plague a mom-to-be. A good sweat on a regular basis may be all a guy needs to de-stress and reduce feelings of anxiety.

This week’s trail of choice is the Herbert Glacier Trail. This rolling trail is catered to a variety of users. Often runners, bikers and hikers will frequent the trail on a sunny day and it’s wide enough to give ample room for all users to enjoy the path easily. From the trailhead, located just beyond mile marker 25 on Glacier Highway, the trail extends 4.6 miles toward the Herbert Glacier. It provides scenic views of the Herbert River and of the glacier itself at the trail’s end. If hiking, plan for about four to five hours round trip.

•••

    • Week-by-week
    • This week’s mileage: 32.7 miles.
    • Runs: 6. 
    • Pregnancy stage: 24 weeks.
    • Trail of choice: Herbert Glacier Trail (Length: 9.2 miles, round trip).

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