A year ago today, I felt so much shame by what I saw in the mirror. I had expected to carry a few extra pounds post-partum, but wasn’t prepared for such a vast change from my former skinny self. And just to kick myself when I was down, I felt loads of guilt that I was focused on how I looked, when I was so blessed to be holding such a precious gift.
Pre-pregnancy, my 5’3″ frame held steady at 115lb – and that was without effort. French fries and frozen yogurt a couple times a week? Yes, please! One or two workouts each week? If you consider reading Self magazine on the elliptical a workout. Since I was lucky enough to stay trim despite the lack of concern I had for my health, I embraced weight gain throughout my pregnancy.
In fact, I couldn’t wait to see Ryder grow inside of me and have the baby bump appear on my tiny frame. At 20 weeks, my OB suggested I slow down a bit. I had already gained the 25 – 35lbs suggested for the entire duration of pregnancy with another 20 weeks to go. Despite her suggestion, I packed on 60 pounds by the time Ryder arrived.
After all, I had planned to breastfeed, and others had helped to plant the seed that the weight just melts right off with breastfeeding.
This was not my experience. Breastfeeding was incredibly difficult for me. I had a low supply and tried everything suggested by my lactation consultant to produce enough milk to nourish Ryder with. Struggling to provide the bare minimum put weight loss on hold. On days where I tried to lower my caloric intake, my supply dropped. In fact, I had to eat MORE to keep my milk flowing. I made a promise to myself that I would focus on feeding him and when the time was right, getting back in shape would become a priority in my life.
The morning I took my before photo, July 1st, 2015, I peeled off my husband’s shirt (because thats the only clothing I could fit into those days) and looked in the mirror, where my reflection mocked me. I weighed in at 154, just about 40 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. It had been more than three months since I had Ryder and it was clear the bonus weight wasn’t a result of carrying a baby or that my uterus still had some shrinking to do, but rather from actual weight gain. I had overcome so many things in my past and I certainly wasn’t going to let some extra weight knock me down.
I spent the next few months researching various diets and weight loss programs and coming up with my plan of attack to get back i shape. I utilized social media platforms, such as IG and facebook groups to find others who had walked before me (no pun intended) and in the meantime, I started walking a few miles each week. Despite the walking, my weight didn’t budge.
I’m not a nutritionist and I have so much more to learn about the way nutrition effects our bodies, but I am confident that my body hung onto every single pound of fat because I had had a pre-pregnancy history of being underweight and starving myself when I wanted to squeeze into smaller size jeans. My body was telling me it needed that fat to nourish Ryder and feared I would deplete myself of a proper energy source.
Six months after having Ryder, my supply completely dried up. I was working with a lactation consultant, yet my tank was empty. Our pediatrician helped me feel at ease about switching Ryder to all formula and I must say, I felt a whole new level of freedom as a parent. It wasn’t about getting the green light to begin dieting, but the amount of time (90 minutes of pumping every single day) that was taking me away from Ryder, was suddenly lifted. I didn’t feel that constant disappointment that my body wasn’t making enough or waking up every four hours, despite Ryder sleeping through the night, to pump.
I started dieting immediately. I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app and logged everything I consumed. Every. single. bite. I’m a perfectionist and I felt like this was right up my alley, as it gave me a way to be precise. Above tracking my caloric intake and weight loss progress, it really helped me to understand portions and what some of my cheats were, which I had never considered taboo. For example, I used to add french vanilla creamer to my coffee every morning and assumed I was adding the serving size – 1 tablespoon at 35 calories per serving. It took me one day of measuring how much I actually consumed, before I cut the habit cold turkey. In actuality, I was pouring 3 tablespoons, and drinking 2 – 3 cups of coffee. Thats 210 – 315 calories I hadn’t thought about. I switched to unsweetened vanilla almond milk (30 calories in 1 cup) with a little stevia.
Through tracking and watching what I ate, I lost 20 pounds over the course of four months. It was a great jumping off point, but it isn’t something I could do long term. It took some serious dedication, but led to some really embarrassing moments. I brought my own food to mom’s nights out and when my friends were sharing an order of fries, I would pull out my 20z. baggie of steamed green beans. On date nights we were limited to restaurants where I could find out how many ounces of chicken or steamed broccoli were on my plate. I meal prepped for the week, but eating the same thing days in a row became boring.
After the new year, I stopped tracking calories and starting doing intermittent fasting, theiflife. Basically, the jist of it, is that I consume all my calories within an eight hour window, then fast for 16 hours. IF is much more of a lifestyle than a diet. It’s something I can maintain long term. Lou and I both follow IF and chose our eating window to begin at noon and end at 8pm. This basically just eliminates breakfast and late night snacking (which was always my weakness). We can eat out with friends. We don’t have to plan meals in advance. We can even have pizza for dinner!
Doing IF with very minimal exercise – walking and one pilates class each week – helped me drop another seven pounds in two and a half months, bringing the scale down to 127. It wasn’t my pre-pregnancy weight, but I started to fit into some of my old clothing and feel more comfortable in my skin.
I wanted to incorporate fitness into my routine, but I was tired all the time. I figured all moms felt the way I did. Who wouldn’t be tired after chasing around a toddler all day?
In the start of April, I took a bootcamp class with my friend Tina, who also happens to be a mommy. 15 minutes into the class and I walked out. I couldn’t keep up and felt like I was going to pass out. I was mortified. How could I be so out of shape I couldn’t even complete a class filled with a bunch of moms? Other tired moms!! Moms who had much younger babies than I do or multiples, who would laugh at my, “I’m too tired because I have a toddler” excuse.
A couple days later I read an article shared by Kristina Rattet, nutrition coach and one of my favorite fitness bloggers fitforwardmom, about exhaustion caused by anemia and I started to wonder if I could be anemic. A visit to my internist and some lab work confirmed I was iron and vitamin B deficient and it could easily and immediately be rectified with a daily women’s multivitamin. I ran out and picked up some vitamins and felt immensely energized within 48 hours. Plus, I’m officially a grown up now that I take vitamins.
It was time for me to step outside of my comfort zone and tackle the world of fitness.
I’m very fortunate to have a husband who values fitness as much as Lou does. Lou has lost over 100 pounds and in the four years we’ve been together, I’ve never heard him give an excuse for anything. He wakes up at 5:30 to spend time with Ryder, works full time, goes to school and finds the time to workout every single day. From day one, he’s been my main source of inspiration. He makes me so proud and it motivates me to try and do a fraction of what he does.
Just before Ryder was born, Lou bought a Peloton bike for our house. Knowing how difficult it would be to leave the house and go to a gym or spin studio, he thought it was the perfect solution for “us”. Peloton has a large tablet attached to the bike, which offers live and on demand classes. It literally feels like you are taking a class at a spin studio, right out of the comfort of your home. Classes range from 10 to 120 minutes, which makes it super easy to find a class that fits your schedule (or your little ones nap schedule).
Lou was constantly sharing his love for the Peloton bike with me and with all the newfound energy I had, I was finally ready to give it a try.
The next week, I met Morgan, my personal trainer. She was subbing my pilates class and has the physique I dream of achieving. I almost fell off the reformer when I heard her mention she had a toddler. It helped point out that I couldn’t hide behind the excuse that I birthed a child – since here was another mother who looks incredible. By the end of the class, I knew her energy was the motivation I needed to kick my butt in gear.
The best part is, in addition to teaching pilates, she’s also a spin instructor and is very familiar with Peloton. Working with her keeps me accountable. We plan out my workouts for the week in advance and she has me share every workout so she can confirm I followed through and view my numbers. She continues to set goals for me to achieve during each class and every time I walk away thinking I’ll never reach them.
Somehow over the last two months I have transformed into someone I never imagined I could be. I wake up early every morning to sneak in a 45 minute ride to start my day. My output numbers have gone up every week. I get giddy when the instructors call me out in class and I feel incredibly proud of myself. I absolutely love Peloton – it’s more than just a bike, it’s a whole community.
The funny thing is – I weigh 127 pounds. I haven’t lost a pound in months, but I feel amazing. And confident. And sexy – things I never thought I’d feel again. I’m 12 pounds above my pre-pregnancy wight and I don’t ever want to go back to being skinny fat. I want to be strong and healthy. Most importantly, I want to show Ryder the importance of perseverance.
This past year has been such an incredible journey. I’ve learned so much about my body and how food and fitness play into how we feel. It’s no longer about the size jeans I wear or the number on the scale. It’s about feeling proud. And accomplished.Waking up with energy and being ready to push limits. I can’t wait to see what limits I’ll push through in the next few months.