I had every intention of saving this post for down the road when I hit my post-baby weight goal. You know, so I could share my journey and then end with a motivational, “Its hard, but possible!”, or, “It can be done, just stick with it!”. Then as I rushed out the door this morning for Tayler’s 9 month doctor appointment and grabbed two chocolate nuggets for breakfast, I decided I needed to write it right now. Like, today. It’s not going to take the route I had once intended, and I honestly don’t know what the message is I’m trying to portray by writing it. I have a feeling this one is for me more than it is for anyone else. It’ll probably be a little scattered and unorganized, and might go in a few different directions, but I can assure you it’s honest, and if anything, I hope it gives you some comfort knowing that you’re not alone. Losing the baby weight and being able to identify your body in the mirror as your own after the months of changes it has endured is hard. Simple as that. Its hard.
To give my story some context, I need to back up just a tad. I’ve always been an athlete, I’ve always loved sports, and back in my hay day I actually used to be pretty good at a few of them. I’ve always had an athletic build, and have never been model thin. But I’ve always loved my body. Like I promised in the title, I’ll do this in honest to goodness numbers. (Absolutely terrifying, but also kind of exhilarating!). What have I got to hide? Anyway, all through college I weighed 130 pounds. That weight suits my body in a healthy way. The picture below is me at that weight. God I hate her (and misss her!). This was when I could drink 3 (or more) nights a week, get crappy food before bed at 2 a.m., rarely workout, and I still had these abs. Did I mention I hate her? My point is, 130 suits me well.
After college I became an elementary school educator and during my first year of teaching 5th grade I gained a few pounds. If you know a teacher, you know that first year is incredibly time-consuming and stressful. It wasn’t much, but a few pounds. I still looked good! A few years later my mother-in-law began to lose her battle with breast cancer. So, my husband (fiance at the time) and I moved out of state to be with her. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with her everyday, and be there to help out in anyway I could. Oh, and we were getting married in a few months back in Michigan, so I was trying to finish planning a wedding. Needless to say, it was a few months of very minimal sleep, stress, and complete focus on everything else but myself and my health. A combination of these different factors brought my weight up to 144 pounds. It was the heaviest I’d ever been, and my wedding pictures reflect it. While I wouldn’t change that time with my mother-in-law for anything, it was hard.
I stayed at this weight until we decided to start trying to expand our family. After losing my mother-in-law, I didn’t have the motivation or desire. None. 144 was the number I started my pregnancy at and I felt good. How could I not? I was pregnant!
Over the course of those 40 wonderful weeks I gained 32 pounds. Magic number of 176. It was a great weight gain for me, Tayler was beautiful and healthy, and I couldn’t wait to start finding my way back to me.
Over the first two months I shed 20 of those 32 pounds fairly quickly with minimal effort. Tayler and I would go on walks everyday, and I was breastfeeding which helped (supposedly?). But my weight plateaued at 156. The number I just couldn’t seem to get past. At 2.5 months postpartum I finally got that surge of motivation to kick it up a notch. While I couldn’t play with my diet too much because of breastfeeding, I stepped up my physical workouts and started running again. It felt great. I was active daily, and with a few months of discipline and not letting me be too hard on myself, I crushed through 156 and got down to 137. Seven pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight! I was killing it!
Then the weather started to get cold, and as Tayler got older she started hating being in the jogger for longer than 10 minutes. The girl had an agenda of her own, and it was to move! Fast forward three months, and here I am now. Still at 137. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of myself and I’m happy I’ve been maintaining. But my goal is 130, and with hopes of adding to our family in the near future, I’d love to hit that number soon. At the moment, however, I’m just kind of at a stand-still. When moms get down on their postpartum bodies, the advice they hear is usually one of three things. And its the same things I myself say to other moms. 1. “It took you nine months to put the weight on, it’ll take at least that to get it off!”. 2. “Your body has endured so many changes over the past nine months, be patient!”. 3. “Be proud of you new body, look at what a beautiful gift it gave you!”. It all sounds great. But #3 was the one that especially got me time and time again. Whenever I’d look in the mirror before a shower and get emotional over this body that didn’t feel like my own, I’d feel guilty because “it gave me such a beautiful gift”, so why couldn’t I embrace this new body with joy? My love for my daughter runs deeper and wider than any words could ever express, so why didn’t I always love the body that gave me her?
Well, for starters, its because before I was a mom, I was also a woman and a wife. I still am a woman and a wife (among other things!). I still want to feel beautiful in my own skin, and I still want to feel like my body reflects what I feel inside. I still am a wife who wants to feel confident and sexy for my husband. Yes, I gave him a daughter and he more than shows me and tells me all the time how beautiful he thinks I am, but its more than that. People take time to adjust to a new haircut, so why isn’t ok to take time to adjust to a new body? I weigh less than I do pre-pregnancy, but its distributed differently now. My hips are bigger, my boobs are lower (don’t even get me started on my devastation about losing my boobs!), and my core still isn’t as strong as it should be so every time I eat I look 15 weeks pregnant. Most days I’ve embraced these changes, but I don’t feel guilty anymore when I have a moment or a day when I’m upset about it. Because the truth is, its hard.
Dinner time can be chaos. I don’t have time to make a 5-star gourmet meal while I have a very mobile daughter getting into everything and wanting and deserving my attention. When you’re breastfeeding, you can’t really diet – those calories are too important for making milk. At the end of an entire day working or chasing a little one around after a night of minimal sleep, sometimes all you have energy for is face planting it in the corner of your couch. Some of us need sleep too desperately to “get a quick workout in before starting the day”. Some weeks its too busy or chaotic to get to the grocery store when needed, and the only thing left in your pantry is a box of mac n’ cheese. So you eat it. Sometimes all you’re able to manage is a week full of takeout for dinner, and you refused to only order a grilled chicken breast with a side of broccoli. Sure you try to utilize your husband or family so you can squeeze in some “you time”, but what about the times your husband works insane hours or you don’t live by family? There are the weeks you’re on point with your diet and exercise, and weeks its crashes and burns. Its hard. Its really, really hard. (That’s what she said? Anyone?).
I guess maybe I’ve somewhat stumbled on the point I was hoping I’d have in writing this. Whatever you feel about your changing body, the goals you’ve set, the progress (or lack thereof) you’ve been making, its all justified. Embrace it, pick yourself up, and keep going. I’ve still got 7 pounds to go. I’m not sure if I’ll get there, but if I don’t, so be it. My motivation is coming from the mom in me who wants to have a healthy heart and body so I can watch my daughter and future grandbabies grow for a long, long time. It is coming from the wife in me who wants to feel like I did in that lingerie I wore on our honeymoon, which will surely drive my husband insane. It is coming from the woman in me who wants to look in the mirror before a shower and be able to say, “dang girl, you are one badass chick with a sweet little scar to prove it”. And some days I do feel that way. But no matter the number, I just want to be healthy. I deserve it and my family deserves it. Wherever you’re at, just keep going. Shake off the bad days, cut yourself some slack, but keep going. This stuff is hard.
I’m coming for you 130!