body image

Reflections on Losing Weight

Recently a reader asked why I wasn’t trying to lose weight this time like I did the first time. I wanted to address that.

When I lost weight the first time, it was definitely “easier” (weight loss isn’t really easy, but looking back, it was definitely easier then than now). I was younger, I was living alone and in complete control of my diet. I cut out trigger foods entirely–no pizza or ice cream. I counted my calories and was somewhere between 1600-1800 calories during the duration of my weight loss journey.

I ate the same things every day. I had a fake egg McMuffin for breakfast (an English muffin, egg beaters microwaved and a slice of cheese) or oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch was a turkey and cheese sandwich on low calorie bread with a serving of Wheat Thins. A snack was an apple. Dinner was a Lean Cuisine with a salad. And dessert was sometimes a rice krispie treat (90 calories) or a chocolate Fiber bar (150 calories) and a glass of milk.

I didn’t drink my calories. I drank a lot of diet soda. Then eventually I cut out diet soda and switched to sparkling flavored water.

That was pretty much my diet for 16-ish months. Small variations here and there. Sometimes for dinner I’d cook a chicken breast on my George Forman grill and have a salad and some cooked vegetables. Sometimes I’d splurge and have a cheat meal in a restaurant.

Once I reached my goal weight and maintained it for a little while, I changed my diet. Eating so much processed food was not great. Yes it helped me lose weight because I could accurately count my calories and I had built-in portion control, but really it wasn’t something that was a lifelong thing. Eating processed foods like that helped teach me portion control and realize how I should  be eating.

When I moved in with Michael (a million years ago), I started eating REAL FOOD. I’d have Lean Cuisines at work for lunch because they were easy and portion controlled. But other than that, I wasn’t eating a lot of processed foods. And that has pretty much been my life for the last 8 years–eating real food.

I maintained my weight loss for 10 years–give or take a 5-10 pounds.

Then I got pregnant.

I did really well when I was pregnant. I didn’t go nuts and say “I’m pregnant! I can eat anything!” I wasn’t “eating for two”. I gained 33 pounds while pregnant. I lost about 18 of that right away, I’m sure part of that was just baby. LOL

But then I struggled. Breastfeeding became my focus and my goal and whenever I tried to lose weight my supply would tank. So I decided to just wait until I was done breastfeeding to actively try and lose the weight.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been trying a few different things in order to lose those last 15 pounds. The reason I haven’t done “what I did before” is because I don’t really want to do a highly processed food diet in order to lose the weight. Sure it worked last time, but I don’t necessarily feel like it would be the healthiest option for me now. I am not sure what to do or why what I’m currently doing isn’t working.

Part of me wants to just be ok with being 15 pounds overweight. I want to be one of those people that loves my body no matter what size. But I really struggle with that. It’s weird to feel like I did when I was 250+ pounds. I KNOW I am not back to where I was, but psychologically I feel stuck in a weird place in my head where I am overly critical of my body, I hate that none of my clothes really fit properly — even though I’m not really in a much bigger size — and I hate having my photo taken.

Then I think, is this the message I want to pass on to Logan? Do I want him to grow up and be critical of his body, self-conscious, or have food issues like I always had? No. I don’t. I don’t want to look at certain foods and thing “these are bad” and I don’t want Logan to feel that way.

I realized recently that my brain had changed into that “Bad food, Good food” frame of mind. Doing this diet recently that’s limiting carbs–I am now looking at foods that are high in carbs and thinking “I can’t eat that, there’s too many carbs in it.” It’s very weird–especially since 6 months ago I would have eaten that rice or English muffin and not even thought twice about it.

I’ve seen it creep into my brain in regards to everything. “Bad Food.” Logan is exploring eating “real food” and I’m trying different things. I caught myself the other day when I was making him breakfast of a frozen whole wheat waffle with peanut butter on it (one of his favorites) and I thought “carbs are bad.” Um, he’s 16 months! He doesn’t need to limit his carbs. Absolutely ridiculous. But that’s where my brain is these days–being critical of “Bad Food.” I don’t like it.

Since March I was doing the lower carb diet thing and lost about 7/8 pounds (gaining and losing the same 2 pounds since the initial loss) and lately I’ve kind of stopped for a few reasons. First, I stopped losing. Second, I was tired all the time. Third, I was feeling frustrated that I was restricting and not seeing results. Lastly, I didn’t like how much I was focusing on “Bad Foods.”

I’m not going crazy eating carbs now, but I am eating more of them on occasion. I’m still trying to keep it to a minimum but I’m not being super restrictive. I’m staying the same in weight. Several of my pants are loose and baggy, but I’m not seeing results on the scale.

I emailed my doctor and spelled out exactly what I eat in a day and what my exercise looks like in a week. I was honest and told her exactly what I was doing and said it wasn’t working. Her response? “Wow, you’re already doing everything I would suggest.” GREAT. 🙁 Except she said eat whole foods, drink more water, and reduce my calories to 1400 a day (instead of the 1500-1600 I was eating). Okey dokey! Reducing my calories it is.

So that is where I am at currently. I’m considering tracking my macros on Cronometer instead of tracking calories (a friend suggested tracking macros instead of calories because it is working well for her). I am also considering turning off the calories I burn exercising in MyFitnessPal so that I am not eating back those calories I burn. I will keep you posted on what I decide.

 

The Weight Gain

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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??

comparison

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?