I’ve been mulling over the idea for this series of posts for a few months now. And I have to say…..I’m REALLY stepping outside of my comfort zone for this one. But I’ve decided that there are more positives than negatives, and if it’ll help more people, then I’m going to put myself out there.
Most things that you see online these days, especially in social media, are carefully curated to reflect only the best parts of someone’s life – the parts they are glad to share. Perhaps it’s to show how great their life is or perhaps even to instill jealousy in others. And I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of only posting the best things in the past as well. Prior to now, I would have never been brave enough to post what I’m about to. And honestly, I’m still not totally comfortable with it, but I’m going to bare all for a few reasons:
- I want this blog to be as honest and authentic as possible. How can I expect others to trust me with their struggles if I don’t share my own?
- I really believe that this is possible, and I’m willing to put myself out there and show you all the ups and downs while I test everything out on myself.
- It will help to keep myself accountable. It’s always easier to stick to a goal (regardless of what that goal is!) if you let others know about it. If you know others are watching, you’ll be less likely to slip up (or at least make a conscious decision about it one way or the other).
So what am I talking about?
Welcome to my post-pregnancy weight loss journey.
Now, maintaining a healthy weight has been a struggle for me my entire life (I’ve eluded to this fact in my About page). I was an overweight, lumpy little kid. I was always self-conscious about this growing up (even from a young age…like age 6!), and I felt like it was in my face all the time. My sister was naturally slim and my best friend was (and still is!) model and gorgeously thin, and I was always painfully aware of how big I was next to them. I even remember a comment from my grandfather when I was in middle school. My grandparents were caring for us one weekend, and during a meal my grandfather said to me, “Why can’t you be skinny like your sister?” Comments like that stick with you, especially when you are young and haven’t developed a thick skin yet.
When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I started to look at fitness magazines and implement the suggestions to try and lose some weight. I joined the school volleyball team (even though I was horrible at it). And it helped…a little. I was more active and slightly more confident, but I didn’t love myself or my body.
During high school I didn’t feel like I was the biggest anymore, and I had some days when I felt pretty and attractive, but I still didn’t have much confidence in myself. Overall I was in an OK place with my body. I tried to keep up with exercise and a change of eating habits, but I just figured that genetically I was stuck with what I had and that was that.
Now we enter the college years. These 7 years of my life (I did 3 years of undergraduate and then a 4-year graduate program) were all over the place as far as the scale and my body confidence was concerned. I started out good, but did gain the freshman 15 (or more – not too sure as I did some scale avoidance). Then after a particularly painful breakup with a guy that I thought was going to be “the one”, I really ballooned up. (I’m very much an emotional eater!!) However, I counteracted that by deciding to start running marathons, even though I hated running and never ran unless I had to (I can share that story later if anyone asks). While marathoning and doing all the training that marathoning requires, I dropped a lot of weight fast and physically felt like I was in the best shape I’d ever been…..but I still didn’t love how I looked. I think by this time I was so trained to hate so many things about myself, that mentally it was too big of a hurdle to overcome. But I started to burn out on running. My graduate program was becoming more and more challenging, and I had less time, energy and desire to train. I also had some nagging knee and shin pain from all the time pounding the pavement. But I was terrified to stop because it seemed like high mileage training was the only thing that was keeping my body at the best it had been my whole life.
It was at this point that I graduated with my optometry degree and moved from Michigan to Maine. Since I was new to the area and didn’t know a soul, my up and down weight cycle started all over again. I had a difficult time finding new running routes I felt safe and comfortable in, so my exercise regimen slacked considerably. And I had a difficult time at first finding other young professionals to try and become friends with, so my emotional eating reared its ugly head again as I soothed myself with food. Luckily, the friendships came about and I started to feel more comfortable in my new city, but old habits can die hard, and I still found the scale going up. Plus the weight gain seemed to come on so gradually, that it wasn’t until I started to really look at some photos of myself that I realized I was getting to a bad place again.
So I did what I knew worked before – I threw myself into exercise. But this time it wasn’t running. It was Zumba, pole classes, dancing classes, yoga, etc. The variety kept me interested and kept me from getting injured, and I managed to like my weight once again by the time my wedding rolled around, but it wasn’t sustainable for the next chapter of my life – being pregnant with Matthew and becoming busier as a mom.
Now, I do consider myself lucky that I didn’t get really big when I was pregnant with Matthew – and I credit that to all the good habits I had in place just prior to becoming pregnant with him. I know that once the weight goes on, it’s harder to get off again, so I tried to only put on what I had to in order to have a healthy pregnancy. What I didn’t factor in (especially since I didn’t know!), was how hungry I would get when breastfeeding. I remember the first couple of months I was home with Matthew I felt like I could just never get full. And I remember being worried about how much I was eating, but everyone kept telling me that breastfeeding burns 500 calories per day and so that basically gave you license to eat whatever you want – and I think I took that too literally.
The other part of the problem was that when I stopped breastfeeding, I didn’t stop my breastfeeding eating habits. I no longer had that extra calorie burn going, but I got used to taking in all that extra food and I started to feel my clothes tighten once again. But by this time, I was too busy with some transitions in my career and running after my toddler to pay much attention to it, and I started to gain once again.
Then finally I had a couple of things converge that made me realize it was time to tackle this weight gain/weight loss yo-yo once and for all:
- My brother-in-law was getting married and I was asked to be a part of the wedding party. Myself with 3 other amazingly gorgeous, thin women – nothing like that to get a girl motivated, right?
- Rob and I were talking about having a second child. I knew that if I didn’t get my weight under control before that, I would likely end up like so many other women who keep gaining with each child and never ended up taking it back off. I didn’t want to start out my second pregnancy in a poor place. (Plus, I know that conception happens much easier if you are at a healthy weight, and I didn’t want to give up wine and sushi any longer than I had to!)
At this time Matthew was about 2.5 years old, and I decided that enough was enough. I wasn’t going to have this poor relationship with my body, my weight and my self-confidence anymore.
So I researched, I learned, and I educated myself – not only on things I had done right in the past (also reminding myself of what I did wrong), but on new things that I’ve never paid attention to before. And I started to take the weight back off. At this point, my weight was averaging in the high 150lbs. Not horrible, but it’s a lot on my petite 5’2” frame. And I was “soft” – nothing was toned and everything jiggled. Since I knew that another pregnancy was upcoming, I didn’t try to take my body to what I ultimately wanted it to be, but I wanted to at least get happy with it again prior to getting pregnant and putting weight back on. And in 2 months I took myself from the high 150s to a bridesmaid weight of 144 – about a 15 pound loss in 2 months – without the crazy diets or exercise I had done to myself in the past. In fact, it actually felt easy, and I was super excited to see how much further I could go.
But then I got pregnant with Emma, and I had to put the weight loss goal on hold. Instead, it became again a goal of a healthy weight gain – knowing all the well that I would have to take every pound (and then some!) off afterwards.
So now here I am – post-pregnancy number 2, and ready to share my weight loss journey with the world. Since my husband and I have decided that two children complete our family, I know that I now have free reign to try and get my body where I want it to be. And my goal this time is to do it in the most sustainable way – using the plan I started with before I got pregnant with Emma.
I don’t have a magic number in mind for the scale. It’s going to be more about how I feel, how my clothes fit, and the confidence I have in myself when I look in the mirror. And I plan to do it without a crazy exercise routine (because I really don’t have any time for that now with two kids and a career outside the home!), and while eating food that everyone in my family will enjoy – Matthew & Emma included. And I’m not going to give up my favorites either – sushi and wine will still very much be on the menu!
So you can expect to see routine updates on my weight loss journey – complete with potentially non-flattering photos, measurements and scale readings. I believe that it’s possible to achieve a body I love, and sustain it for a lifetime, without depriving myself of the foods I love or killing myself with exercise in the process. And I’m going to prove it, with you watching and holding me accountable!
All the best,
P.S. The easiest way to follow along as I post updates on this is to sign up in the blue box below. Not only will you be the first to be notified, but you’ll get a free gift just for signing up!