For me, weight has always been a challenging subject. When I got pregnant with K, I was considered ‘obese’ on most BMI charts. Thanks to PCOS and a mild obsession with carbs and processed sugar, my weight hadn’t budged in at least a year. I was told to limit my pregnancy weight gain as much as possible, something that deeply bothered me. I hoped I could ignore that number on the scale for once in my life and know that any pounds added were because of a baby.
During the first trimester, my morning sickness was truly awful. From week 6 to week 16, I was queasy all day and unable to keep anything down before 11 am. The vomiting was terrible enough to ruin the enamel on my teeth, and wound up with 7 cavities. So imagine my surprise when I was down by 3 kilos at my 16-week checkup. Months of Weight Watchers didn’t do what morning sickness did for me.
I gained weight slowly but steadily over the rest of my pregnancy, and at 41 weeks, I had only put on about 8 kilos. I was proud of this weight gain; it was enough to sustain a healthy pregnancy, but not enough that I wouldn’t be able to lose it afterwards. Starting out ‘overweight,’ I had been cautioned about potential risks, and I was grateful to have avoided gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and other things that CAN be associated with large amounts of weight gain.
At my two-week postpartum appointment at the midwives office and all 8 kilos were gone. My body was in a completely different shape than before. Rather than carrying my weight in my upper body (boobs, stomach), I carried what was left around my middle and hips. Though the weight was gone, none of my clothes fit, and none of the styles I used to wear worked with my new body type. Everything was flabby and floppy, and though I was lighter than I had been pre-pregnancy, I certainly didn’t feel better.
As I nursed around the clock, took K out for walks all spring and summer, and made a conscious effort to get in shape, the weight continued to come off. I was down by another 6 kilos by ten months postpartum, the lightest I’d been since starting to TTC in 2011. I was beginning to feel good about my body and how my clothes fit.
And then came what I scathingly refer to as The Backlash.
Suddenly, pushing the stroller and being mindful of what I ate wasn’t cutting it anymore. The weight loss first stalled out and then reversed entirely. When I started back to work in August, the long days of sitting at a desk started catching up to me. Nursing twice per day instead of 4, 6, 8 times left a mark as well. In the scramble to pack a lunch in the mornings, I ended up with a lunch bag full of processed carbs and little protein. Coffee, a nice treat while on maternity leave, became mandatory for functioning, and it was often full of sugar.
Between the hormone shift, a significant decrease in nursing, and the return to a sedentary lifestyle, all progress I had made was gone. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around (the start to holiday binge-eating that seems to be unavoidable at my house), I was back up about 8 kilos, and I was feeling truly awful. And when I felt horrible, I ate more. Then I felt horrible for eating more. So I ate. It was a vicious cycle, and it needed to stop. If I wanted to sustain a second pregnancy any time soon, I knew my body had to be healthy.
I’ve heard from several new moms that this Backlash is a common occurrence. The baby weight all disappears, and then when you’re least expecting it, piles back on again (often just in time to start trying for the next baby). But just because it’s common doesn’t mean I’m going to sit back and let it happen to me. Thanks to my naturopath, a ton of reading and researching, and a new Fitbit from J, I have an action plan for the new year. I know it’s cliche to jump on the ‘New Year, New You’ bandwagon, and honestly, it just happens to be the timing of this whole thing. I know I want another baby. I know I want to feel more comfortable with my body before we try for another baby. I’d really like my clothes to fit again. And a new year (plus weeks of holiday eating) mean this is the perfect time to start.
Here are five things I’m going to do to lose some weight and get my body back in gear
1. Take 10,000 steps a day. This doesn’t seem like a lot of activity for those of you who are…well…active. But for me, even sticking with this primary FitBit goal, I’ll be getting more exercise than I have in months.
2. Drink 2L of water daily. I am notoriously bad for going days without drinking water. I could down 4 cups of coffee without blinking, but water is always a struggle. So another goal is to up my water intake; I know I’ll feel better.
3. Get 100g of protein. By focusing on the protein in my meals, I’ll avoid carbs and get the nutrients my body really needs. I’m thinking of Greek yogurt, protein powder smoothies, and plenty of lean meats.
4. Take my supplements. I spent a fortune on naturopathic consults and supplements, and I have completely stopped taking them. I know that getting back into a routine will help, and my body will thank me for the extra vitamins, minerals, and hormone-balancing help.
5. Cut the sugar. My kitchen table right now is piled high with Christmas baking, gumdrop cake, boxes of chocolates, 3/4 of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and a box of Jelly Bellies. Every single one of these things is tempting me, and every single one of them will just send my insulin-resistant body deeper into a funk. So I’ll have a bite of gumdrop cake, take the chocolates to my neighbour, and save those Jelly Bellies for my next road trip.