It’s now been 10 weeks since my baby Todd was born. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot so I might as well put it down in writing. This blog has become a place for me to journal, it seems!
Before I found out I was pregnant, my weight was 99 pounds. After much discipline with diet and exercise, I’d achieved this all time low of body weight and body fat. That sounds bad, right? I promise I’m not anorexic! I’m also not disordered in my eating at all. My diet was simply nutritionally rock solid (plant-powered NSNG). And, I was exercising for a balance of upper body/core strength and cardio conditioning.
I’ve always been an “exerciser,” never missing more than a day or 2 a week. Eric and I were avid mountain bikers every weekend in non-ski season. We’re avid skiers every weekend during winter. I did yoga, pilates, swimming, road biking, walking and running. I’m the type of person who gets depressed when I can’t work out. My body needs to be moving!
Just before I got pregnant, I wasn’t trying to lose more weight. I was very happy with my appearance. In fact, I had come to the realization that- for the first time in my life- I was no longer striving for a goal. I was there! What next?
Next…I got pregnant!
During my first trimester, I got desperately hungry. I also felt incredible fatigue. There was no way I could exercise. I started gaining weight steadily. I didn’t fight it. I gave my body what it needed at the time. My legs and butt store fat the easiest, so I quickly outgrew my pants. I bought bigger ones at the thrift store and I outgrew those too. Finally, I started wearing only dresses that I couldn’t outgrow!
Throughout my pregnancy, I used hunger as my guide. I ate the same healthy foods that I ate before, but I did indulge in a fair amount of junk food, especially early on. After 20 weeks, I cut back significantly. I gained just under ~1 pound per week throughout my pregnancy. Once I got my energy back (late first trimester), I still didn’t exercise as much as I wanted to because I was working so much. I was saving money for my maternity leave.
My highest weight (at week 37) was 132.8 pounds, which means I gained about 34 pounds total. I lost a few pounds after week 37 because my belly just couldn’t fit much food in there. It was also summer and I was craving mostly fresh fruit.
When I was pregnant, I assumed that my stored body fat would fuel my milk production. I planned to focus on breast feeding rather than quickly losing the pregnancy pounds. After Todd was born, I ate generously to maximize my milk supply.
As it turned out, breast feeding didn’t work out for us. Todd’s been exclusively formula-fed since his 4th week (See “My Bottle Baby” for more details.) Although I was heartbroken about my breast feeding failure, it was a freedom to start eating just for myself. I was no longer eating for two. I could start focusing on losing the extra pounds and inflating my flabby muscles.
The food part has been easy. At home I have no temptation whatsoever to eat junk. I’m back to my old NSNG (No Sugar No Grains) way of eating. I’m not eating much because I’m so sedentary right now.
The exercising part has been the struggle! I’m not doing much yet. My pain was significant for the first 4 weeks. (And I was exhausted!) I started doing some light abdominal and upper body resistance work and short walks at week 5.
I way overdid the walking during week 6 (up hills pushing the stroller 4 days in a row): BIG mistake. For week 7, I limited my exercise to yoga (twice) and a couple gentle walks. Week 8 in Bend, OR I did a few more slow, level walks. Last week (9) I did yoga once. This week (10) I’ve done a little light abdominal and upper body resistance work. Since I’m home with Todd, some days I get out of the house and some days I don’t.
My physical healing from childbirth is taking so much longer than I ever expected it would. Superficially, my episiotomy incision seems to be healed, but perhaps I have some deep sutures that have not fully absorbed. My scar tissue feels thickened. Internally, I’m still swollen. Sorry for the TMI! (I’d like to think that I’m not alone in my experience.)
What I feel from all this is an uncomfortable pressure in my perineum. I can tolerate household activities like standing up to cook, but I still feel moderately impaired when I walk any distance, including during basic shopping activities (especially when moving baby and car seat in/out of the car and loading/unloading the stroller.)
I have been exercising my patience!
I took a post-partum belly pic at week one. (Trust me, the frontal view does not show the degree of pooch that was there. And, pictures don’t show the mushiness!)
I’d planned to take regular “progress” pics, but it just didn’t happen. It didn’t make sense to take pics of progress that wasn’t happening. I won’t make real progress until I can exercise properly.
I took this belly pic this week. The pooch is still there. My skin is loose and my abs are weak.
I’ve had to re-evaluate my goals. Whereas my old goal was to get my old body back ASAP (!!), my new goal is to just feel “normal” again. It’s not about how “perfect” my body looks, it’s about how my body functions.
“ASAP” just aint happenin’! I’m settling for “maybe eventually.” Last week my weight was 113.2 pounds, which is still 14 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight.
Is my goal to be back under 100 pounds? I don’t think so. My body has been forever changed by having a baby. My short term goal is to get back in the ~105 pound range. Mostly, I’d like to fit into my old pants. My biggest pants are just now starting to get baggy.
Priorities? Now I have a baby to take care of. Duh, right?! That’s made it a lot easier to be patient with my healing and my body. My concept of time is different. The days go by so fast because I can spend hours feeding, sitting and playing with Todd. When I do get up, it’s to cook, do household stuff…and take a shower!
For the first time in my life, I’m letting myself enjoy this slower pace. My full time job right now is simply taking care of Todd and taking care of myself. I don’t need to be more “productive” than that. This is the time for me to take a break from my go-go-go lifestyle.
Honestly, who I am trying to impress anyway, when I strive for ripped abs, lean legs and a firm butt? I look more than fine according to most! When I take Todd visiting, friends always comment that I don’t even look like I was pregnant. “You’re so skinny!” they say. I doubt that Eric really cares all that much, either. Obviously, I’m only trying to impress myself.
Bottom line: I’m giving myself a break…which is very different from just “letting myself go.” Like I said, my eating is back to baseline. Without doing much exercise, I suppose I’ll find out what can be done with diet alone!
Pretty soon I’ll get a lot more disciplined with exercising. I know I will, because it’s just the way I am. I’ll do what I can, when I can, as I continue to heal. And, I’m really looking forward to ski season. We’ll take Todd to the lodge and take turns making turns! By next spring/summer, we plan to pack him along on hikes.
The post-partum period is definitely the “4th trimester.” Trimesters are 13 weeks! Just like all of them (especially the 3rd!), the fourth one can’t be rushed. I surrender…
And I’m happy!