I gained so much weight while I was pregnant that one of my kind friends said it looked like I’d swallowed a turkey. And I’m short, 5′ 2”, so it didn’t spread out beautifully over the length of my figure. I was just huge. When I delivered my son, I left the hospital 36 pounds lighter than I walked in. Three years later I only weigh six pounds less than the day of his birth. I need to lose another 35 pounds to get back to my average adult weight, but it’s not budging.
Now, I have some mama buddies who have lost so much weight while breastfeeding, they are in sizes dating back to their high school years. Just to give you a context, I’m about to turn 39 and almost all of my mama friends are over 30, so high school weight is a big deal. This is not happening for me. I keep having the feeling that when my son is fully weaned, my body will let go of some of its reserves. I gained ten pounds, all in my chest, before any pregnancy test showed positive. I hadn’t started eating for two. When my body is pregnant, it just turns into a goddess figurine, round and so endowed my upper back hurts from carrying the weight around.
But this latest illness, a sinus infection and kidney infection at the same time, is a call from my body, not just to rest, but to make a radical change, a lose 35 pounds and get healthy change, and I don’t know how to do it.
I have tried making simple changes in my diet, cutting back cheese and butter, making creamy soup recipes with nonfat milk instead of whipping cream or half and half. I have tried cutting down portion sizes, but just feel hungry. For awhile, I managed to go to the gym at least three times a week. I was running, taking spin classes, drinking more water, and going to bed early enough to get eight hours of sleep. I didn’t lose half a pound. The only time in my adult life that I’ve ever lost a significant amount of weight was when I went on the South Beach Diet and took Herbalife supplements and drank crazy shakes for breakfast every morning–after I gained 30 pounds over the course of two miscarriages. I lost both babies before I was nine weeks pregnant, but I gained a ton of weight. And carrying the weight around was just a reminder that I didn’t have the babies. If I wasn’t going to get to be a mama yet, I at least didn’t want a matronly body.
Now, I’m a mama and I still don’t want this body. I’ve been reading about candida diets, the Body Ecology Diet, thinking about the maple/lemon juice/cayenne concoction that was my sole sustenance for a week as part of a body cleanse.
It’s not just vanity, though I sure would like to look at myself in a mirror again or not want to delete every photo of myself, I want to model exercise and healthy eating for my son so he won’t have the same food struggles I have or I watched both my mom and dad have.
So how do I make a major change in the way I eat and live? How do I change my relationship with food so it’s not a constant exercise in self-discipline or giving in to cravings? I was bulemic for years, can’t stand on a scale or count calories because all of the numbers turn me back into a weight-obsessed person who just needs to binge to feel better. So Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig aren’t it. My intutition tells me that getting over a sugar addiction by being on a diet that requires me to cut out most grains and fruit and eat a whole different set of food than the rest of my family (or our society, for that matter) isn’t the way to go. But these little adjustments aren’t cutting it.
How has mothering affected your body? Have you gotten your body back? If so, how did you do it?