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This summer has been a real test of self-esteem for me. I don’t know what my problem is, but I never got around to buying a new bathing suit, so I’ve continued to wear the two-piece I’ve had for a few years. If we’re being completely honest, it’s not a good look. The top is stretched out from my boobs going from their 27-year old glory, to ginormous first time nursers, to slightly less ginormous second pregnancy/nursing vessels, to something that only vaguely resembles what I remember them to be.

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You know, when I was 22, my breasts were like right about there. Nice and perky. Gravity has taken them (sigh) to there. It’s like 22…28…22…28.”

It’s also not a tankini or a one piece, so my stomach is all out there. Now, look. For having two kids I guess it looks pretty decent. But I’m so NOT comfortable with it. When I’m standing in front of the mirror I’m all, alright. Not bad, lady. Looking good. And then one day I was on my hands and knees playing on the floor with the kids and I happened to notice my stomach looked like a weirdly deflated donut. My eyes pretty much fell out of my head. Where did THAT come from? I decided to only stand up for the rest of my life.

I’ve spent most of the summer either wearing a tank top over my suit, or strategically placing a child in front of me until I can get in the water. The most ridiculous part is that in truth, no one is looking at me or judging me except myself. At least, I hope not. But yet…

After Owen was born I dropped all the weight in just four months. By the time he was a year I had lost so much (too much), that I was in a size I hadn’t seen since I was 16. And the thing of it is, I didn’t have to really do anything do get there. It just happened. My postpartum body wasn’t the same, but it was pretty close. The second time around was TOTALLY DIFFERENT. After Ryan, the weight loss crawled at such a slow pace that I realized I wasn’t going to be so fortunate again. This time I would have to work at it. I joined a gym, started running and after nine months got back down to my happy weight. Then summer came and I put my membership on hold because I figured I would be outdoors and could keep up the exercise that way.

SNORT.

I chase the kids around, yeah. But exercise? Real exercise? I haven’t done that in three months. Which is why, despite my weight being where I want it to be, my abs have just surrendered into Mom Tummy.

The short-term solution would have been to just buy a new suit. And while I should probably still do that, I will know the donut is lurking beneath that thin layer of lyrca-spandex. And so I decided enough was enough. For real. No more pseudo-exercising. No amount of wishing it away, or sucking it in, or hiding it beneath clothes is going to firm up my stomach. I’m going to have to work at it.

And that suuuuccckkks.

Yesterday I started The 30 Day Shred (again. Again, again. I’ve done this a handful of times but have never actually completed it. I skipped level 1 this time and plan on doing levels 2 and 3 for a little longer.), and will reinstate my gym membership this fall. I am so determined to get myself to a place where I feel confident again. My body will never be the same as it was, I know this. But I’m pretty sure I can get it to a place I can be proud of. A body I can feel comfortable in again. A body that allows me to eat a donut instead of carry one around with me. Wish me all the luck!

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Exercising with children. Not always easy!

- When I stop to think about it, the last almost 2.5 years of my life have been defined by sleep, or the lack thereof. Owen didn’t sleep, then he did, then he would regress, then he would sleep again, and then, blissfully, he slept through the night. Then we had the crazy idea to make another little person who would interrupt our sleep and even though he actually sleeps pretty decently most of the time, he still wakes up.

But we were prepared for that. Infants wake up. What we weren’t prepared for was for Owen to suddenly start waking up again in the middle of the night, but here we are. He is — and of course, usually within 20 minutes of Ryan so YEAH, that’s fun — and he’s waking up scared. He wants to know “what’s that noise?” and holds us hostage in bed with him. We try to reassure him, to address his fears and help him to see there is nothing to be afraid of, but it’s keeps happening night after night. He has a solid routine and a night light and we always come in when he gets scared, but so far, no luck. A little Googling tells me this is common around the 2-2.5 year mark, but still. SLEEP, CHILD!!

- Ryan, however, is having a really good sleep last night into today, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

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- Something irritated Kodiak’s skin, and he’s pretty much gnawed a hole in his side. It’s gross and I feel bad for him and since at-home care doesn’t seem to be working, we’re taking him to the vet today. In the meantime, we had to keep him away from it, so we were forced to put him in the Cone of Shame. He can’t maneuver well with it, so he crashes into walls and gets stuck in doorways. Is this not the most pathetic face ever?

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- I ordered a bunch of new clothes and they came yesterday. It was about 50/50 with what I’m going to keep, and that was a little disheartening. I KNOW I had a baby eight weeks ago. I KNOW it takes time for everything to go back. I’ve done it once before. But this time I’m having a harder time with it mentally and the fact that I still cannot pull my regular jeans up past my thighs makes getting dressed one of the least enjoyable parts of the day. People have been very nice and tell me I look great, but I just don’t feel like me and I’m uncomfortable in my skin right now.

I bought a pair of jeans a size larger than I normally wear and they fit. So at least I can feel a little stylish and retire (some of) my yoga pants. Back in the day I used to watch a lot of What Not to Wear and I remember them always saying to “dress for the body you have now, not the body you’re hoping to have later.” I guess that makes sense, although it could get expensive!

- Today is grocery day. Wish me luck.

 

Though not to my face, a comment was made recently about my weight gain while pregnant. It wasn’t a nice comment either. When I heard about it, I initially brushed it off with a sense of disbelief, but as the day went on it started to eat at me. I got irritated, then I got angry. And I got my feelings hurt.

I am 27-weeks pregnant. I am not fat.

There’s a difference, you know.

Like most women before pregnancy, I was conscious of my weight, tried to exercise and eat well and maintain an attractive and healthy body weight. It’s fluctuated over the years (especially in college), but I’ve always been on the slender side. When I gain weight, my problem areas are obvious. My arms get big, my face gets round, my breast get big. I carry weight on my top half, and paired with my Russian bone structure and broad shoulders, it’s not easy to hide. While I’ve always been mostly confident in the way I look, I have of course wished X,Y and Z were thinner/smaller/stronger at some point. I am human — and a woman — after all.

It takes a mental shift to gain weight for a pregnancy. Suddenly you’re supposed to gain weight. You have to gain weight. Your baby requires it. All the “rules” disappear. Hell, they get harder to follow. Now, not only are you supposed to exercise and eat well, now you’re also supposed to gain anywhere from about 10 to 40-plus pounds, depending on what you weighed before pregnancy. And while I fully believe that pregnancy and the body change that comes with it is beautiful, I will admit that it’s a hard pill to swallow.

I was told at the start of my first pregnancy to gain about 35 pounds. I remember nodding my head as my OB talked, while smugly thinking on the inside, “YEAH RIGHT.” For the first 20 or so weeks the gain was slow. A pound here, a few more there. I would get on the scale every week and make note of what the number was. I felt a sick sense of pride that I wasn’t going to be one of “those” pregnant women who blow up like a balloon.

Around the six-month mark, the weight started to come on faster. I had a few appointments where I gained 7-8 pounds in just a month. Clothes fit differently and I started to get puffy. The hot flashes started too, so not only was my face round with an extra chin, but it was often bright pink without any warning. I remember standing in front of my closet trying to dress for something, and feeling like I was going to burst into tears any moment because I just didn’t know what to do with this foreign body.

Rationally, I knew that growing a human means your body is producing lots of extra blood and fluid, growing a placenta, and oh yeah, a BABY. All that stuff has WEIGHT. I also knew that sure, there’s some extra fat there, it happens. I was hungry. Having those rational thoughts in my head did not, however, soften the blow when a close friend remarked that she was surprised how disheveled I appeared at a party; how unlike me that was. I had finally found something to wear and was actually feeling cute, so I was so taken off guard that I mumbled something about not having anything that fit right, then went home and sobbed.

She didn’t mean it to be cruel, but her words stuck with me, even two years later. The comment itself wasn’t the worst part. What made it so hard was that the gain, the change in my body, was beyond my control. It wasn’t from too many late nights at the bar with a pitcher and a plate of wings. It was just what my body decided to do.

At last count before Owen was born, I gained 37 pounds. That washed the smug right out of me, I’ll tell ya. I left the hospital two days later about 20 pounds lighter and carrying the most beautiful 8 pound, 1 ounce baby boy. Four months later I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and by the time he turned one I was 17 pounds below that, actually teetering the line of unhealthy from months and months of constant nursing, little sleep and not enough attention on keeping myself healthy. (Sadly, this was a time I was told by many that I’ve never looked better. But that’s just our society for you, I guess.)

Today I find myself right back in the same position as I was in two years ago. Six months pregnant, 24 pounds gained, mostly all belly, but recently seeing the effects in my arms, face and breasts. I’m right on track to gain just as much as I did the first time, despite chasing a toddler, exercising more and having little time to sit and be lazy. The only difference is, this time I was feeling pretty good about it, bolstered by the knowledge that my body will (mostly) return to normal and that whatever changes are happening to my body now are worth it for the reward at the end.

But that comment yesterday, well, it opened up an old wound and like the razor sharp edge of a paper cut, I think it’s going to take some time to heal.

For the record, no matter what you’re thinking, the only thing a pregnant woman wants to hear is YOU LOOK FANTASTIC! It doesn’t matter how secure she is — or appears to be. Just tell her she looks great. Because she does.

Arms, face, breasts…and a (blurry) happy mama.

One of the most important things you can do in your pregnancy is gain weight. Of course, it’s suggested you do it in a steady and healthy way (extra veggies, not cookies), but in the end, the goal is the clear: gain weight to promote a healthy pregnancy.

It’s hard to wrap your head around. Four months ago I was still thinking about maintaining a “healthy weight” — feeling a little discouraged that I had gained some of those pre-wedding pounds back. Now the idea of a “healthy weight” has totally changed. Now I have to gain weight, not lose or maintain my weight.

And I will, of course I will. Anything for my baby.

But still, it’s an adjustment.

The “ideal” weight gain for pregnancy is about a pound a week beginning in the 2nd trimester. I say “ideal” because every woman, and every pregnancy is different. Ideal for me is not the same as ideal for anyone else. It’s all dependant on your Body Mass Index, how you gain weight, what you weighed before pregnancy, and a host of other factors. No two women are the same.

As of yesterday, I’ve gained five pounds by the end of my 17th week of pregnancy. I’ve done my best to eat as healthy as possible and I guess it’s working. One thing I want to work on though is incorporating more exercise into my routine. The first trimester really kicked my butt nausea-wise, and exercise was the furthest thing from my mind. The last time I tried to exercise in the first trimester was walking the dog on the beach. I dry heaved into the dunes about six times that day.

And then the second trimester started and it became bitterly cold so yeah. I’ve been lazy. But I’m determined to walk and pratice some prenatal yoga and do light cardio and weights more in the coming weeks.

Yesterday my doctor told me that since my body mass index was on the low side when I became pregnant, a weight gain of 30-35 pounds would be smart for me. That number scares me a little. But I’m not going to stress about it. I’m going to do exactly what I’ve been doing and if I hit that number, I hit that number. If it’s lower, it’s lower and if it’s higher, it’s higher.

In the end, it’s about Baby.

But let’s be honest, I wouldn’t mind if the majority of that weight went right to my belly and not to my face, arms and butt.

What, a girl can dream, right?

Congratulations! We made it to the end. Not everyone has weighed in yet (keep ‘em coming!), but between your comments and emails thus far, I’m able to calculate that as a group, we’ve already lost more than 150 pounds! That’s a whole person!!

I am thrilled to see how inspired people are to keep working at a healthy lifestyle. Whether you reached your Challenge goal or are on your way to reaching it, everyone is so excited about their progress.

Like Britt:

“Total, I lost 9 pounds! 4 pounds more than I had hoped to lose. I couldn’t be more happy! I’ve changed my eating habits by using Spark People and did about 14 days of the 30 day shred as well as started running again.”

Or Kristin:

“Down another pound this week to 140!  I had a pretty excellent training week too! Swam 6200 meters, biked 55.6 miles, ran 10 miles, and did 2 days of weight training in the past week.  Even though I ended up with only a 2 pound weight loss, I’m ecstatic at how well I’ve been committed to training over the past few weeks, which was more important to me anyways! “

My Challenge didn’t meet the exact results that I had hoped for, but I’m feeling really great. I lost a total of 3 pounds, toned up significantly, joined a ridiculously hard exercise class, bought a bike, and started paying more attention to what I eat. I FEEL healthier. I AM healthier.

And I couldn’t have done it without the support and inspiration that all of you provided throughout this challenge. Thank you all SO MUCH for participating. I hope that it will help you continue on the path to a healthy lifestyle.

Please, keep sharing your results today and read what others have to say. All this pride should not stay hidden.

Thank you again and NICE WORK!

Hi all. Just a reminder that the Challenge actually ends tomorrow, so leave your final results in the comment section of this post and get ready for some major celebrating tomorrow!

As much as  I’d like to point you all to the Challenge page this week and rave about everyone’s results…I can’t. Because you see, I spent a very.long.time. updating it and when I hit publish, the whole thing went blank. I tried to retrieve it to no avail, and I have no idea how current the version is that’s up there now.

There was some yelling.

So this week, please leave your results in the comment section of this post instead of emailing me. Check back frequently during the day to see how everyone is doing. If you did email me already and wouldn’t mind reposting here, that would be great. And next week — our FINAL WEIGH-IN OMIGOD — I will make sure we are current.

It doesn’t look like I’m going to make my goal of a 5 lb. loss in four weeks. I’m down another half-a-pound this week, but I’m not dropping as quickly as I thought I would. I’m pretty much OK with it though, because what I am achieving is a healthy routine that includes regular exercise and healthy eating. So if I keep it up, I assume eventually I will lose those full 5 lbs. I hope!

Tonight I’m starting a new group exercise class that I’m excited about. I hear that the class changes every week so it doesn’t get stale and it’s an hour and a half, three times a week. I hope I can make it through!

I wanted to share with you a healthy Mediterranean-style meal I made for dinner last night. It was so tasty, I almost forgot we were eating so healthy.

Make a salad of greens, one chopped avoacdo, one can of black beans (rinsed), half a cup of corn and one grilled chicken breast, chopped. I lightly seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper and chili powder. The combination of flavors, textures and temperatures was just so yummy. I’ll probably be making it for lunch again this week.

OK my loves, let’s make this last week count. Seven days!!!!

GOOD LUCK!

Can I just tell you all how excited I am about this little challenge of ours? As of today, more than seventy people are participating, offering support and being all around inspiring. I’ll admit I’m slightly overwhelmed by the task of organizing all your amazing results, but I’m getting through all your emails ad comments and will continue to update the Challenge page as the week goes on. Keep sending in your results!

Although I edit them down on the results page, I’ve been receiving amazing emails about your successes. Even if people stumbled, you’re all so positive and excited about your progress.

This week I threw myself into workout overdrive. In one day I ran, biked (we’re picking out one for me to buy, so I sampled a few. OW my butt.), and did an hour ab and arm program OnDemand. I couldn’t walk the next day. Like, holding my lower back, creeping around the house couldn’t walk. I may have overdone it.

After that day I maintained a regular workout routine, but found that no matter how many times I got on the scale, my weight wasn’t budging. Not even a little. And then…it went UP. I got really upset about it. Here I am, working my tail off and reading all these amazing weight loss stories, and I can’t drop a pound? What’s the deal?

I’ll tell you what the deal is. I’m weighing myself far too often. Not to mention, I’m weighing myself at different times during the day. Apparently I’m not alone.

LittleSpoon emailed me with this:

“What was I last week? 171.4? Well this morning I was 170.2. Great right? Well not when you consider the fact that I was 168.0 on Sunday. Yes, I weigh myself everyday. I’m fascinated by the daily 2 pound weight fluctuation. Even when it severely pisses me off.”

She had a loss, but she’s beating herself up because she weighed less one day, then went back up the next. I get it! I made the decision to lay off the scale and only weight myself on Weigh-In mornings when I first wake up.

I’m down 1.7 pounds!

No, it’s not a huge drop, but it’s a drop. Weeeee!

I’ve also noticed that some of are you are getting frustrated because you had big losses the first week, followed by little or no losses the second. Don’t get discouraged! Have you ever watched The Biggest Loser? The trainers on the show always talk about the second week curse. Participants lose a bunch of weight initially because they haven’t been working out in so long. After that, the body regulates, shakes itself out of its “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME OMIGOD!!!!” shock and starts losing gradually.

So if you lost four pounds last week and only one this week, don’t worry! You’re still doing great! I bet you have another loss next week.

And remember, we’re all in this together. We all have struggles. As a matter of fact, today, let’s talk about them. What’s your biggest hurdle so far? How do you think you can overcome it?

Mine is motivation because I get bored with my normal routines. I plan on tackling it with a new group exercise class.

Go on, share!

Thank you to everyone who sent in Challenge results over the last day or so. I’ll be updating the page this evening. Everyone is doing so great, it’s so inspiring!

Except, you see, I went out and bought that scale. And to my dismay, I gained a pound. UGH. Remember when I talked about that night of mojitos? I’m pretty sure that’s what did it. I’m trying not to let it get me down, and have been focusing on what I eat a little more closely. Something that’s always been true about me is that I need something sweet after a meal. It doesn’t have to be a huge slice of cake or anything (although, mmmmm, cake), but it does have to be sweet. Sometimes fruit works, sometimes it has to be chocolate.

While grocery shopping the other day, I noticed that Kashi TLC Fruit & Grain Bars were on sale and the dark chocolate coconut one was calling my name.

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Oooooh my.

I ate them all this past week, so I no longer have the box to tell you the nutritional facts. But trust me, they’re pretty darn good for you. And the calories are low enough that you don’t have to feel guilty about having one after dinner. Just as long as you don’t follow that with ice cream.

Apparently, they also come in a pumpkin pie flavor. Be still my heart.

What’s your favorite tastes-to-yummy-to-be-good-for-you treat?

Congratulations on a successful first week! Of the more than 60 of you who signed up for the Challenge, I only heard results from 29 of you. I have to say I was a bit disappointed in that. I’m not going to nag or hold anyone accountable, this isn’t school! But I want you all to remember that the point of doing the Challenge this way and sharing weekly results…weight loss or not…helps keep you motivated to continue while inspiring others.

Stepping off soapbox.

Please direct your attention to the new Challenge page, where you will find a list of participants, their goals and accomplishments. Eventually I hope to include blog links, but I didn’t realize how long the updating would take so I’m a little behind. Please continue to send me your Week 1 updates if you haven’t already.

Since I organized this whole thing, I think it’s only fair to pull my stats to the forefront and be honest about my journey. At my yearly physical a few weeks ago, I weighed in at 129, a 5-6 pound gain since this past winter. I was sedentary for most of the season, alternating between unemployment depression, aversion to the cold, and just plain laziness. My goal is to lose 5 pounds before my brother-in-law’s wedding at the end of August, tone back up, and conquer the running loop near my house. I also have a long-term goal of lowering my cholesterol.

Week 1 brought two runs and daily workouts OnDemand. I tried to mix it up…I did yoga, pilates, cardio and A-List Arms, which I really enjoyed. I am disappointed in myself for not running more, and need to stop making excuses for not doing it. (The heat, being the main one. I can run in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.)

I don’t know how much I weigh, because my scale crapped out on me. But to stick with the Challenge goals, I will be heading off to Walmart today to buy one. I think I’m going to go old school and forgo the digital scale this time for one with the needle I can calibrate. I think that will give me more accurate readings each week.

My stumble was a bar crawl last Thursday, where I had three mojitos and the aforementioned big cookie. I don’t want to think about how many calories were consumed that evening.

 As I read through the amazing emails and comment updates, a common thread I noticed was that many of you had the same problem I did. You worked hard all week, then gorged on the weekend on drinks and summer food. So I think this week’s topic should be tips on how to avoid flushing all our hard work from the week down the toilet when the weekend comes. What are your thoughts?

Next week: share your best “anyone can do it” workout tip. Starting thinking!

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