A Different Body

I knew that things would be different after.

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1 Week Postpartum

Having lost 110 pounds — nearly 10 years ago — I had some loose skin on my stomach. It wasn’t too bad. I think a combination of being 25 years old when I started to lose the weight and the fact that it took me a year and a half to lose the weight made the skin “bounce back” a little easier. But I still had a little bit. It was something I was self-conscious about. Even at my skinniest (143 pounds) I never felt truly comfortable about my stomach. I wore a bikini in Hawaii and it was both scary and liberating but I was never 100% confident when I wore it. It was just the way it was.

Something happened when I got pregnant. I was no longer self-conscious about my stomach. As it grew I also grew to love it. It was something special and wonderful. Even during that in-between stage where I just looked kinda chubby and not quite pregnant yet, I still loved it.

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Now that Logan is here, my body is mine again. Sort of! Things sure have changed and in a lot of ways it feels like my body is that of a stranger’s instead. My stomach is kind of oddly deflated right now. It’s not really about loose skin as much as just being “deflated”. It’s a bit weirdΒ and it feels like it’s not my body.

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I’m definitely in-between in clothes. Nothing fits quite right. Part of that is the extra pounds and part of that is the deflated stomach issue. So maternity clothes are too big and baggy, my old clothes are too small, the clothes I wore in the early months of my pregnancy sort of fit but don’t look quite right either. Pre-pregnancy I was in a size medium for most shirts, now mediums don’t really fit but sometimes the large sized shirt is too big. I need a half size!

I recently decided to buy some new clothes. I just had to. Breastfeeding = I definitely needed new bras. I bought some new workout clothes that fit a little better. Had to buy a pair of jeans for work (pre-pregnancy I was a size 8, now I’m somewhere in between a 10 and 12 and of course neither size really fits well!). I bought a few pairs of capris, shorts and shirts. Some of them are in a size bigger than what I used to wear, some aren’t. I’m trying not to give the label too much mind, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit disappointing.

It’s just weird not feeling quite yourself. πŸ™

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15 weeks post partum

Another issue I’ve discovered is that postpartum healing takes time. I knew it would. But to be honest I “bounced back” pretty quickly at first and perhaps went back to some activities to soon? Who knows, hindsight and all that…but I’ve stopped running temporarily. Partially due to the flare-up of my back issues. I am disappointed for sure. I thought I was “Back to Normal” (normal???) and so it is frustrating to see my limitations.

Talking to my doctor about some of the general issues I’ve had she explained that breastfeeding does a number on your body that you just don’t realize. The big one? TheΒ ligaments are still loose like when you were pregnant. I did not know this. It’s funny–there are a zillion books, websites, blogs, etc about pregnancy and all the shit your body goes through giving birth but rarely do they ever REALLY discuss the aftermath. I know in our childbirth class she whizzed through the postpartum part in 30 minutes and didn’t cover any of the issues I had after giving birth (perfect example: hot flashes? Who knew that was a thing?!?! Thank goodness for Google.).

My doctorΒ said some of these issues I’ve been having won’t resolve until I stop breastfeeding (come on ligaments! Get back to normal!!). Again, I’m disappointed. I was really looking forward to getting back into running, running outside this summer, and running the two 5k’s I signed up for this fall. It was kind of crushing to realize that that might not happen and I just need to make peace with that and do what my body CAN do. I’m trying not to think about it, or put too much pressure on myself but it’s hard. I was so expecting this all to just happen naturally and I was healing really well and felt okay to get back into fitness.

In addition to my back flare-up I’ve noticed my IT band is inflamed. I haven’t had issues with my IT Band in years (thankfully my runner’s knee hasn’t returned–knock on wood). I am guessing this is related to breastfeeding and ligaments being looser.

So in a lot of ways I am feeling frustrated with my body.

I saw the physical therapist I was seeing last year for my back this week and she said that my back issue is entirely related to being pregnant. My core is gone. The repetitive issue of bending over to pick up the baby, not having core strength due to pregnancy just lead to a back strain. She thinks the IT band flare-up is also related to my core issues (and the breastfeeding thing) so basically it’s all just a “you had no core strength for almost a year injury”. She said that running probably didn’t help–because you DO use your core a lot for running. So I went back to running too soon and should have focused more on core strength in those early days of being back at the gym.

She also suggested I don’t do the ab machines at the gym (she said they are not good for the body), which I stopped doing once my back hurt. She gave me some PT exercises to strengthen my core and I’m hoping that I can try running again soon.

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My new goal is to focus on strengthening my core and doing some low-impact activities. We used to go hiking every 4th of July–we didn’t this year–but I’m hoping we can start that soon. It’s a good, low impact activity we can do together.

I knew things would change, but it’s hard when you feel like you are “normal” and yet…you aren’t back to your normal yet. I keep forgetting that for nearly a year I had limitations!Β So that’s what’s going on in my life right now…healing, strengthening and waiting!

 

9 Responses

  1. This is your new normal now. Your body went through a huge thing and it’s still learning how to adjust. Just take it one day at a time.

    I love that picture of you and Logan with your glasses. Those are super cute on you!
    Lori recently posted..Cycling flights

    1. That’s what everyone says, my doctor included, that there’s a “new normal”. I guess I am finally realizing that!

      Thanks! Those glasses are new. πŸ™‚

  2. If it makes you feel better, mine turns 8 months on Saturday, and I’m just now starting to feel like I have my act together with all this. I’ve started/stopped regularly working out I don’t even know how many times since February. It’s been a real struggle to give myself the leniency I need.

    1. Yes! It’s hard not be too hard on yourself. In a lot of ways I felt like my “old self” and expected to go back to the gym and do the same intensity and same activities I could do pre-pregnancy. While working out through my pregnancy helped a lot, I guess I didn’t really realize that it WAS different and I couldn’t just go back to “normal” after the baby!

  3. You’re so inspirational. I have never been very motivated to work out, or even be healthy and I really need to. I haven’t had a baby and can’t really relate to much of this, but I can relate to changes & body image. I’ve always been pretty small, but it’s all fat and my weight fluctuates about 20 pounds up and down. I got stretch marks when I hit puberty. They covered (well still cover) my hips and went down nearly to my knees. My gigantic size A boobs were even covered. I guess my skin just sucks! This last year they have now connected along the sides of my stomach, from hips to boobs. I’ve gone up 20 pounds in the last year and a half or so and I’ve been in a bit of denial. The fact that I have grown out of all my clothes, including the larger sized ones that I bought when I found something I liked, apparently wasn’t enough of a wake up call. I often buy 3 sizes when I find something I like, because I do yoyo so much, unintentionally. So a year ago I was wearing a six, but also buying an 8 & 10 because I was at my lowest weight since 9th grade. Now I am a 12. Oops :/ The problem is that it’s an unhealthy weight gain from eating a lot of crap and not being active enough (walks just aren’t enough). And the cellulite and stretch marks are now a permanent part of me. I don’t really have body mirrors in my house. I have one that I lean against the wall sometimes, but it doesn’t give me a very good idea what I look like. I thought that would be good for me and my body image, but it really wasn’t. I was just denying/avoiding reality and that hasn’t done me any favors. Not seeing myself enough has caused me to get quite upset when I am out somewhere, or at a friend’s house, and I see myself in the mirror. I often kind of freak out and have to leave. I am shocked and disgusted because I convinced myself that I looked better than I really did. I actually dropped out of school and quit jobs before because I glanced in the mirror before going in and just couldn’t handle being seen.
    I’ve been at my parents’ house, dog/house sitting, for the last week and they have a full size mirror in their bathroom. I was pretty disgusted when I first saw myself in the buff, as I undressed for the shower, but I think I needed that dose of reality. I’m actually more comfortable with my body now though, after seeing it every day for a week. I’m no longer in denial about what is happening there, with the less than ideal changes that have taken place, but I’m not depressed about it. I think it’s a healthy awareness and I’d like to put a mirror in my bathroom at home. I don’t want any more surprises when I am out in the real world πŸ™‚
    I know my blog isn’t related to this at all, but it asks for a URL, so I’m going for it πŸ™‚

    1. Awww Jen you are being way too hard on yourself! Seriously!

      I understand what you mean, though. It’s really hard to be kind to ourselves and not judge the stretch marks and cellulite etc etc. As for the dose or reality, I know what you mean and I think that awareness is good. There have been times in my life where I was in denial about my body, too, and didn’t think I was that bad but then I had a reality check–like trying on clothes I packed away from last year or something. When they didn’t fit I was like, oh yeah I’ve still got some work to do. It’s kind of helped me a little bit when I am tempted to have that second cookie or something.

  4. Eating real food and doing low impact exercises, with strength and core all = long time benefit ( the number of exercise addicted, high impact, chronic cardio peeps in the weight loss space frightens and saddens me, trading food addiction for exercise addiction is still a problem).

    I follow a Primal approach (from Mark’s Daily Apple) exercise- low intensity walking & hiking as much as I like (5-6 miles), with 2 days of high intensity short sprinting and lifting (we are talking 15 mins tops) Super awesome time wise and my genetics and age also thank me I’m not out there beating myself up over NOT doing hours of cardio.

    Whatever you do, it’s way beyond calories in and calories out. Whatever frustrations you have now will be worth the finding what works for your genetics, age, and hormone status.

    Onward and if this gets you off the calories in, calories out mode then, it’s worth the struggle and victory you will see a few years later. I’d love to apply to 24 hr fitness to get my hours of chronic cardio back post baby, sigh!

    I’m excited for you and the key learning you’ll do in the first year post baby, and I know you’ll get to your fitness health and happiness spot. Don’t let stinking thinking send you on any food binges.

    Onward, cheering for you.

    1. I agree, it is easy to replace food addiction for exercise addiction. That is one of the main reasons I enforce a 2 rest day a week rule and have for years. In the early days I definitely made that replacement and didn’t take rest days and it was NOT good!

      As for the food, finding what works for you is great. And sometimes it has to change. Doing the same thing doesn’t always work for people. Switching it up is good. For example, I sometimes go through phases where I eat a more vegetarian type diet. I don’t want to be a vegetarian (I was for a decade a long time ago) but sometimes taking a “Break” from eating meat is good for me.

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