Feb 102016
 

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I wanted to write a post about how I’m feeling because, after all, this was a blog about gaining and losing weight and addressing body image is important to me. Read these two recent posts about the topic of weight gain and pregnancy:

Let’s Talk About Weight

Body Changes During Pregnancy

For the last few months I’ve been handling the weight gain pretty well. It was slow in the first trimester, most of the second trimester it was steady but not extreme. Then around 26 weeks I had a big jump. Even though everything I read said this was normal around that time period, it was kind of devastating. I was shocked to see an 8 pound difference from last doctor appointment. 8 pounds in one month?!

After talking to some friends that had had babies and reading that this jump was normal, I was able to talk myself down a bit and not beat myself up about the weight gain. After all, I had been staying consistent with my fitness (working out 5 days a week) and I was still counting my calories and 85% of the time I was staying within the range my doctor suggested.

Then at 27 weeks the bump POPPED. It wasn’t a cute little bump anymore, it was a “wow there’s definitely a baby in there” bump. It’s crazy to see a drastic change in just one week. Where did that big bump come from?!?

Once I was in the third trimester and the weight was consistently climbing and the baby was getting bigger, I was struggling. A lot. I’d have good days and I’d have bad days. It was hard to see my body changing in such a major way. It was HARD not to compare those changes to the OLD body I used to have. I kept trying to remind myself that this is pregnancy, I was gaining weight for a healthy baby, not because I was obese.

Those old memories were hard to shake, though.

It was hard not to focus on the number.  It was hard not to feel like I was back at my 25 year old self when I was obese. At my highest weight I was 255 pounds or so.

What’s hard to ignore is just HOW HARD I WORKED to lose that 110 pounds. It took nearly 2 years of hard work, daily effort, diligence and focus to lose the weight. So seeing the number on the scale tick up and up felt like a failure to that success.

It’s difficult to articulate just how it feels. Because logically I know it’s ok. My doctor isn’t concerned with my rate of weight gain. Everything has come back normal, right on target, baby is healthy. I’m happy I am able to stay active and workout, even if I am modifying a lot of activities. That has definitely helped my body image, self-esteem and just general mood. Working out gives me a boost of happy feelings and that’s good. So if I can still workout, feel good and I know logically that things are normal and ok, why do I get bummed out when I see my body getting bigger??

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It’s been said before many times but it’s really true. Comparison is the thief of joy. It is SO HARD not to compare yourself to other pregnant ladies. I’ll see them at the gym and it looks like they are further along then I am, yet they are all stick thin with a basketball belly. You know the type. They don’t seem to be gaining weight in other parts of their bodies…like I am…and I compare myself. Then I feel badly and then I shame myself for comparing myself and it’s a vicious cycle.

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It’s weird not having ANY control over your body changes. Something that happened when I lost 110 pounds was that I realized I was in control of my body and I COULD lose weight. Then when I spent 6+ years maintaining that weight loss, I was still in control. I could make decisions on what I ate and I made good decisions most of the time and was successful. Then all of a sudden, I was no longer in control of what happened to my body, even though I was still TRYING to be in control of it. Letting that go has been a struggle for me — I am not good at giving up control.

What sucks is the comments I get from other people. People who either think they are being charming or funny, but are not. Just don’t. Never make judgmental comments, even “joking” about a pregnant woman’s body.

I was looking through some Facebook posts recently and saw some photos of myself from last year and the year before–when I was feeling down about having gained 10 pounds or so. My first thought was, Damn, I was so much skinnier! Then I thought, why didn’t I realize it at the time? PERSPECTIVE.

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I came across this article: The Dirty Little Secret About Pregnancy Weight Gain and was a little uneasy…expecting it to be gimmicky or a waste of time but reading through it, it really spoke to me. It was more about finding perspective, and not the judge-y article I was expecting. Here is a tidbit from that article:

“According to experts, these are the main concerns:

  1. You’ll be more uncomfortable with all that extra weight to haul around.
  2. You could develop gestational diabetes.
  3. You might have high blood pressure, which can lead to scary complications.
  4. Your baby could be big, making labor more difficult and possibly leading to a C-section.
  5. You’ll have your work cut out for you to lose more weight after the baby’s born.

For me personally, I have no signs of gestational diabetes, my blood pressure is consistently low, and my baby’s growth is right on track.

Leaving only concerns number 1 and 5, which are really just about my own convenience. After talking to my midwife and reading up on the risks, I’m not concerned about my “high” pregnancy weight gain.”

It was kind of an eye-opening DUH moment for me. Perspective. I do not have gestational diabetes. My baby is not measuring extra large, my blood pressure is normal and I’m not having any other issues. On top of that, I am counting my calories per my doctor’s instructions and I’ve been exercising pretty much the same throughout. Those are all positives! So what if my body is gaining a little bit more than I was hoping? All signs are pointing to healthy–isn’t that the most important part?

I have no idea how much I weigh at this moment. Once I got to the middle of the third trimester I stopped looking at the doctor’s office. I didn’t need to know how much weight I was gaining because really…this pregnancy has shown me that it’s out of my control and feeling badly about myself isn’t going to be a positive thing at this stage in the game. Besides, I’m almost to the end. Why do I need to know right now? Maybe my focus needs to be on other things for these last few weeks.

So I’m not weighing myself, I’m still working out when I can, doing what I can, counting my calories and eating healthy, and LETTING IT GO. My mind is now focused on the baby and not the weight, even if I do have a “bad” day. I can’t wait for him to be here and I’m happy my body is doing so well as he grows.

How am I feeling now?

At 35 weeks I am finding that I care less about the weight gain. Maybe that’s because I haven’t been to the doctor in a few weeks and I don’t know how much I weigh…ignorance is bliss? But I’m honestly feeling pretty good about my body right now. I feel like I’m in the homestretch and just generally feeling happy with my body these days!

If you’ve had kids, how did you feel about the weight gain?

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Jan 272016
 

“When the will is ready the feet are light.” 
–  Proverb

When I was trying to lose 100 pounds, or when I had lost the weight and was trying to keep it off, I can’t tell you how many times someone told me “I just don’t have the willpower that you do.” There was something negative about that statement to me. Not just the negative self-talk where the person was saying “I Can’t” without even trying, but also the implication that willpower is something you have to struggle for.

What is the difference between dedication and willpower?

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Recently Michael gave me a compliment about my pregnancy. He said he admired my “dedication.” He said he was impressed with how dedicated I have been at eating well for me and the baby, still working out, not slacking on my gym schedule (but also taking days here and there when I did need rest). My comment was that overall I was really happy with my pregnancy and I felt like I had done things “right” for ME. My diet didn’t change all that much, just ate a little bit more. The one thing I regretted was not cutting out the sugar. I voiced my concern about giving my kid a sweet tooth before he’s even here…but I just didn’t have the willpower to completely cut out sugar from diet.

Again, that word. Willpower. It feels so negative. “I didn’t have the willpower to cut out sugar” = I am weak and dependent and addicted to sugar. That’s what I think when I hear myself saying that. Then I feel deflated and think, why am I so weak? Why CAN’T I cut out sugar from diet entirely?? What’s wrong with me.

“Using willpower is exhausting: I had to put myself in the mindset of “I’m gonna do this.” Which is a hard mindset to get into. But now that it’s a habit, it feels natural. I don’t use any willpower on it, and I have willpower leftover for dealing with other occurrences and forming more habits. I’m less exhausted when I use less willpower and rely on habits I’ve built instead. Who doesn’t want to be less exhausted? (source)”

It really is. The concept of willpower is overwhelming and exhausting and feels unattainable. It feels very “all or nothing” to me. Sure, when I was trying to lose 100 pounds I did have an all or nothing attitude about my diet because I had to. I was trying to overcome my food addictions that had lead me to weigh over 250 pounds. I couldn’t eat trigger foods (pizza, ice cream, candy) at ALL because once I started, I couldn’t stop. BUT once some time had passed and I had focus and dedication and was seeing results…it was a lot easier to make exceptions once in awhile because I COULD control it. I knew that having some pizza would not mean I’d eat the entire thing. I had formed a new habit and I was dedicated to my new lifestyle. THAT made it easy.

Some tips:

Stop making excuses – saying “I don’t have the willpower” is a cop-out. Sorry, but it is. Okay, so maybe you don’t have the willpower to try something different in order to lose weight, but do you have the dedication to yourself to at least try? Dedication sounds so much more positive to me.

If-it-is-important-to-you-you-will-find-a-way.-If-not-you-will-find-excuses.

Make it a habit – Instead of looking at weight loss goals as a willpower thing (or lack of willpower thing) I found it easier to think of losing weight as a good habit I was forming. Exercise is part of my routine now. It’s a habit. It’s scheduled on my calendar like everything else in my life and I don’t even think about it. That makes it easy. “Oh, it’s Tuesday– a gym day.” Just like going to work Monday through Friday, or doing grocery shopping every Sunday…whatever it is, it’s part of my routine and schedule now and it’s so much easier just doing it then NOT doing it.

Check in with your goal – I liked to have a spreadsheet with my weekly weigh ins when I was losing weight. It was a visual thing for me, I could track it and see patterns and it was nice seeing those numbers go down.

Make sure that goal is realistic – setting out to lose 100 pounds in 6 months is just setting yourself up for failure. Trust me. You’ll feel overwhelmed and desperate and honestly, losing that much weight in such a short time isn’t the healthiest thing either. Making smaller goals not only gets you to the finish line in  a healthy way but it also gives you something to celebrate when you reach each landmark. Maybe once you lose 25 you get a pedicure, when you lose 50 you buy yourself some new clothes. Whatever it is that helps you stay focused on the end game will make it easier to make small sacrifices when times are tough and you REALLY really want to eat five donuts. 😉

Five Truths of Weight Loss

Psychology of Weight Loss

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
–  Henry Ford

And of course, even doing some of those things above, you’ll stall out. Plateaus happen. We get discouraged. We stop seeing results. Then it’s time to change things up. Maybe running at the same speed and incline on the treadmill week in and week out isn’t getting you the same results. So try intervals. Run outside. Try something else to shake things up.

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Break Your Bad Workout Habits

Married to My Workout

Weight Loss Plateaus

How to Stay Motivated

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I feel like taking “willpower” out of the equation alleviates some of the pressure. Instead of feeling like one slip-up means absolute failure, changing your thinking to “I am dedicated to losing this weight and tomorrow is a new day to try again” makes us more likely to be successful in reaching that goal. None of us are perfect. There will be slip-ups. But they don’t have to send us back to the starting line every single time.

So be dedicated to your goal. Dedicated to yourself. Ditch the willpower and focus on being determined instead.

What do you think? Is willpower an easy concept for you? Or does something else help keep you motivated to lose weight?

 

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