Weight gain during pregnancy – and then trying to lose weight after the baby – is an emotional rollercoaster for a lot of women, and perhaps especially for those of us with lifelong issues with food. At the time of my first OB appointment, my doctor told me that I should aim to gain 25–30 pounds during my pregnancy, which I felt quite appropriate. The only tricky part – I was 20 pounds above my happy weight (that weight limit where I feel confident and energetic, where I am not binge and my clothes fit).
That first appointment was early January 2018. Daniel and I got married at the end of last September and waited a few weeks before boarding the plane for our honeymoon, which was two weeks long and full of incredible food. We got home just before Halloween, just in time for me to break into all kinds of holidays with a holiday in my new kitchen. We were in full-on Mary mode, eating our way through Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve – hence the 20-pound gain.
So sure, I was starting at a higher weight than I would have liked, but what could I do? I did not intend to reopen or ban it or “return to track.” I was on a new track to nurture my child. And maybe the simple fact – that I could not diet and therefore had no restrictions on it – made it easier to accept reality.
My sole purpose was to overeat various types of nutritious foods while fulfilling the many, many honors that come to me daily. So what did that jargon mean? This meant that I tried my best, telling me about a mile away from perfection, miles away in the neighborhood.
In total, I gained 48 pounds during my pregnancy. More than I intended, but a number I was very comfortable considering all the challenges that pregnancy throws at you … and as potentially annoying as it sounds, I loved being pregnant. I felt quite comfortable physically for my last few weeks, so I was able to be quite active in my day to day life. I walked every day, cleaned my house without interruption (rubbing in and down cabinets had become a hobby), organized and then reorganized, and DIY landscaping (which, of course, looked pretty ) Was buried in I tried to find a middle ground between providing my child with good, solid nutrition and a wide range of nutrients, while not allowing myself to cause too much stress in trying to be perfect on it.
And of course, I was not always a model of balance and moderation. Two of my strongest cravings were for Indian food and fried chicken sandwiches with mayo and pickles, and an Indian restaurant has a killer lunchtime buffet and a great deli street that makes an excellent chicken cutlet sub if that were to be my pregnancy. Can light up food for you.
And now, here is where things derailed. You can expect to gain weight during pregnancy, but you probably do not expect to gain weight later. In my first few days after being James, I stepped out of curiosity and noticed that I had lost 20 pounds. Huh, I thought, surprised, not just a pleasant surprise as you might think – I was too tired to be pleased with myself. I had no plans to lose weight anytime soon and in our first week, food was the last thing on my mind. I ate quick, convenient meals at all hours of the day and night, when I could, but noted that nothing I liked was anything.
However, the dessert gave me fast energy. Every time I walked through the kitchen, I would cook something – a cookie, a piece of candy – and momentarily it gave me a hit of optimism as if I wasn’t always feeling tired and like I was. It was the same. Looking back now, I understand that I was stuck in the midst of either baby blues or postpartum depression. I still don’t know exactly what happened because of the whole experience of breathing a person, learning to know that little person, caring for them, until all the youngsters are overwhelmed and overwhelmed by motherhood Feeling… is a huge, transformative, life-changing shift in itself that certainly cannot be easy, even if sunny and suited to your natural nature.
And so I ate every day, more and more every day until I was in full binge in an attempt to suppress the finale every night, promising myself that I was going to stop tomorrow and eat healthy I will start to Remember when I told you that I had lost 20 pounds immediately postpartum? Okay, I received those right back, plus 15 extra ! in just two months’ time. It was amazing to do, but I did not like it. Eating continuously makes me wonder! —Heavy and dull. Every part of me was in pain, especially on my back, which I threw several times while lifting James. I didn’t think it was possible, but the Chinese roller coaster I rode was leaving me even more tired.
On November 1st of 2018, I started by eliminating easy, empty calories, like maple pecan flavor syrup, which I am incorporating into my iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts, and going back to basics with regular, structured meals Have been I aimed to eat three healthy meals a day with a breakfast in the evening. I have never been the type to eat snackers or too many small meals. I have always preferred eating some big food. The food varied, mostly based on what I made for dinner because I usually ate what was leftover for lunch, but my emphasis was always on eating whole, single-ingredient foods.
We ate lots of chicken stir-fried with veggies and canned beans as it was easy to make and buy in bulk. Daniel made some crockpot food, like his famous barbacoa (which I’m pretty sure he’s just tossing whatever ingredients he can find in the cabinet with some Cholula hot sauce). I ate a lot of boiled eggs for breakfast because they were easy to prepare ahead of time. The night before bed, my favorite thing to eat was a large bowl of oatmeal with bananas. It was hot and filling and I knew that I would not sleep hungry.
I have never been someone who loved exercise. I wish I would have been the person who loved the gym or couldn’t start my day without a run. But I cannot live with just one exercise routine. This is an area where motherhood really benefited me because I don’t “exercise”, yet I am very active. When James was very young, I would see him walking in the neighborhood in a stroller. I was constantly taking him here and there and rocking and dancing with him.
Then when he became mobile, I think I was more active than when I ran many miles on the treadmill. I get on the floor with him and play my favorite game that I find chasing at a creeping pace. I am constantly bending, lifting, playing, cleaning and moving. And everywhere I go, I carry a crazy cute 27-pound weight with me. Taking care of a child is physical work and I feel that I get enough activity from just parenting.
The most positive aspect of my post-natal experience has been how low I hung on my weight. For my entire life, food was the most important thing in my mind. I was thinking about eating or wondering what I was going to eat. Suddenly, I did something in my life that completely popped into my mind. My change in priority meant that I wasn’t focused on myself, and that’s a good thing.
James nourishes a part of me that I have historically filled with food. Taking care of him tells me all the ways I need to take care of myself. When you are a new parent, you are forced to stop scrolling time-wasting TV, social media – and the little free time you have, you become really clear that You really need to not only survive but succeed to help.
I was able to see what was really important to me and develop a positive routine. I have no obsessive time for food or spend lunch eating. And it is not limited to food. For me, it is essential that I have an hour at night to bathe, do my skincare routine, apply lotion, listen to podcasts, and go to sleep early.
It was James’s first birthday in September, I lost 80 pounds. I felt that I was the best in ages – strong and energetic and balanced. I wasn’t so tired all the time like I was after those first four or five months. My old clothes once again fit. But make no mistake – my bare body (under those clothes) doesn’t look like a model, and it’s not on my skinny either. It is squishy and soft and dim and, well, covered in stretch marks. Because I was older for decades, I had much more skin left after losing 135 pounds 12 years ago.
I had, through surgery, removed the skin from my abdomen and my thighs, but honestly, the removal of thigh skin has never been done and my abdominal skin has lost all elasticity. The flesh on my thighs is rough and impure, resembling crooked. Physically, in pregnancy, it doesn’t help in any way, what happens to the size of the balloon and all, but I really don’t mind. I have never had a swimsuit model figure – and that’s fine! I have spent 34 years in this one body, and it is probably enough time to learn that all the traces of it are just memories of all that has been done for me.