*** This post is related to my Want Designer Jeans that Fit? HA! post, both inspired by my shopping frustrations last night. This would be the back story. ***
Last night I went shopping for jeans.
Ninety minutes later I left the store, the night an utter fail.
Frustration flooded me because I’ve worked out consistently since last December – when Lil Diva turned three months old and could stay in my gym’s childcare – to lose the No Way Am I Leaving Without A Fight Baby Weight.
It’s something most women, minus the lucky few where it “falls off,” are forced to deal with as a
curse reward for bringing life into this world.
As I poured out my frustrations in shopping while writing this blog last night, the tale of why I was so upset to have a “good problem” – i.e. my pants are finally too big, not too small – burst forth and I decided to put into a different post.
So here is my story of refusing to let that baby weight sit with me until it became The New Normal.
Don’t Gain More than Twenty Pounds While Pregnant
I’m told that works. In theory.
But I’ve only met two people who managed that feat. Ever.
I gained half of that weight just in my first trimester when I had a lot of one on one time with my toilet. I’m still at a loss as to how I kept enough food down to put on any weight.
Oh wait. Now I remember. I ate all the time.
With both pregnancies I gained about 35-40 lbs by the end of pregnancy – not huge, but almost double what one of my good friends gained while pregnant (she only gained the 18-20 lbs). Neither of my children were small at 8 lbs 11 oz (Tackler, 4 days late) and 8 lbs 10 oz (Diva, 6 days early). Still, about a month after both were born, my weight settled: 15-20 lbs of it gone, another 15-20 lbs to lose.
I swear I can hear some of you scoff, “That’s nothing.”
But it isn’t nothing. It’s twenty frakking pounds that my body was perfectly happy to hang on to if I simply let it be.
I was at a loss. After the The Tackler was born, I didn’t know how to lose weight.
Sure I know the math: you eat fewer calories than what you burn.
I just didn’t know how to logistically accomplish that.
With the exception of my first trimesters – where I had to eat before the hunger hit or risk puking the contents of my stomach into the toilet – I have always stuck to a basic rule:
If I’m hungry, I eat. If I’m not hungry, I don’t. When I’m full, I stop eating.
So how was I supposed to lose weight if I couldn’t follow the first part of that?
Plus, I was still nursing. And nursing, especially in the early months, cranks my FOOD EAT NOW meter into high gear following a feeding.
I couldn’t not eat. Several times I was denied food thanks to the natural chaos of two children under the age of three, one a newborn.
I contemplated gnawing off my arm and consuming it raw when that happened. Maybe add a little salt for flavor.
Yes, Nursing Newborn Hunger is truly that strong. For me at least.
It made me want to plot Barney Revenge on all those blessed with good DNA whose pregnancy weight “just falls off while nursing.”
So you see, I completely understand any feelings of ill will toward me for daring to complain that I can’t find pants to fit my pre-pregnancy sized body.
But I fought for every pound.
I exercised at my gym pretty much every day – for eight months straight: four days were a cardio workout, one day was strength/lifting weights, one day was Pilates, and the final day was Yoga.
I didn’t “go on a diet” per say, because I’ve seen too many people do that and then gain the weight back because they went back to their old habits afterward – although several of my friends have had excellent successes with Weight Watchers. One lost thirty pounds by cutting out white bread from her diet.
I just tried to eat smart: I stopped eating before my stomach threatened to explode. Once Lil Diva started on solids around six months old, I tried to avoid eating a bedtime snack – which was a vital necessity when night feedings occurred or I’d simply have a 3 AM snack instead. I attempted to limit my junk food intake, but didn’t forbid it either – one fun size Twix bar or other small amount of chocolate was allowed daily. If there was a special occasion or party, I just had fun and ate what I wanted to. If I craved brownies – my biggest weakness next to Mimi’s Famous Sticky Rolls – I baked them.
And I worked out six to seven days a week. Whether I wanted to or not.
The first month, people kept saying, “Wow, you’ve lost weight.” But I hadn’t. Not really. Total weight loss from first month: half a pound. Maybe one pound. Maybe.
That’s right. Thirty-one days of working out and eating smart and all I had to show for it was one stinking pound.
It was frustrating. But it was also proof that what you weigh isn’t the end all measurement for how fit you are.
The reason people said I’d lost weight was because I’d lost inches on my body, only what I lost in fat, I’d mostly regained in muscle.
I could also run up the stairs now and not be out of breath. I could do classes and leave energized at the end instead of collapsing into a gelatinous pile on the floor – which I did in the beginning. A lot.
I sensed the differences, even if that cursed scale refused to budge more than a pound.
Finally, over the following months as my fitness level improved, the weight started falling off. I took harder and more advanced classes as the beginner ones became too easy. When I wanted to quit, I chanted the mantra, “I want to fit into my old jeans again!”
I didn’t count calories.
There were a few brownie pans of setbacks.
But I made it.
I lost the weight. It just took nine months to lose twenty pounds.
I know five pounds of it is just waiting to come back, because I’m actually more muscular and in shape now than I was before getting pregnant with The Tackler.
But I don’t plan to stop working out and become sedentary. I like having more energy to play with my kids. I need that cathartic release from dancing Zumba so I don’t lose my head on a tough parenting day. I leave hot yoga feeling cleansed and refreshed. On days when I feel more like taking a nap instead of exercising but I force myself to anyway, I always leave feeling better than I did when I arrived.
The two hour break I get from my children while they’re in childcare – is vital to my sanity as a stay at home mother. And my ability to shower before CG gets home.
It gives me a chance to miss my children and appreciate them again. It allows The Patience Meter to refill so I don’t explode while Tackler is Testing the Terrible Threes and Lil Diva is teething molars.
Even with weight loss success, I still have a love/hate relationship with my body:
I love my now muscular arms and legs. I hate my stomach because even though you can see some ab definition thanks to Pilates and Zumba, the defined abs are covered by wrinkled skin that does not wish to return to its pre-pregnancy state of tautness. I feel flabby even though my body fat percentage is lower than it was pre-pregnancy.