I had a discussion with a co-worker this morning that got me thinking about my weight struggles and body image. As we spoke, I finally acknowledged how completely disoriented my own body image is, and has been for as long as I can remember.
I have never been thin, but I have been healthy. The thinnest and healthiest I have been in my young adult/adult life was when I was on the swim team in high school! Ouch. But even then, I was larger than many of my teammates.
My weight has gone up and down quite drastically in the past ten years. Before baby, I weighed my heaviest in January 2006. I distinctly remember sitting in a planning meeting for CARD at the Desmond, feeling my pants press up against my stomach, and thinking ENOUGH. Immediately afterwards, I drove to L.A. Weight Loss and signed up. LA had worked for my grandmother and mother, so I was generally familiar with the idea. I was committed and worked really hard. I was down 40 lbs by May.
My weight creeped up once I started Law school, but was almost back to the May 2006 weight when I got married in January 2008. From then until I got pregnant in the Fall of 2011, there was a 15 lb weight range that I just fluttered around. Up a few pounds, down a few pounds. Sometimes I ate well. Sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I exercised. Sometimes I didn’t. Rinse. Repeat.
I have never binged and purged, but have tried my fair share of calorie restricted diets, juices, low-carb, no-carb, you name it. I ran, had personal trainers, took spinning, trained for a team triathalon, did boot camps, you name it.
So many times when I started a “diet” or tried to “eat better” or “exercise more often”, I felt embarrassed or ashamed of my past roadblocks. I didn’t want to reveal my efforts, lest I “fail” again, and be tossed back in the “Oh you and your weight loss attempts” pile.
And then I got pregnant. The first few months I was plagued by generally mild morning sickness, but it the worst I had ever felt. (Just ask Bob about my weekend Harry Potter Marathon sessions on the sofa). I ate a whole lot of carbs- bagels with cream cheese, crackers, toast, rice chex, etc. and I didn’t gain a stitch that first trimester. After that was when the weight piled on. At first I obsessed about each pound, while at the same time repeating to myself “you are supposed to gain weight. You are supposed to gain weight.” That extra boob, butt, and belly would help me grow and nourish my baby!
But then came the baby bump. Sure I tried to eat well, but the change of my body profile really changed my perspective on how I looked. I felt healthy. I felt powerful. I felt sexy. And you’re damn straight I want a piece of cheesecake! It even came to a point where I stopped looking at the numbers on the scale at the doctors, and told them to keep me in the dark. I was going to gain what I was going to gain, and as long as I wasn’t throwing McDonald’s in my face every day, things would turn out fine.
Once the cute baby bump was gone, I struggled with my immediate post-partum body. My exercise was restricted, and I was afraid to alter my diet lest it affect my milk supply. Once I was cleared to exercise and my milk supply was well established and Vivian was thriving, I decided it was time to think about losing “the baby weight.”
But unlike every attempt before, this one somehow seems more legitimate, more socially acceptable, more matter of fact. I joined weight watchers, just as a way to help me keep track of what I eat. So far getting down in weight is my priority. I plan to slowly get back into regular exercise (other than walking), but I’m not going to push myself with grand expectations.
Maybe this time slow and steady will win the race.
(This post is Day 2 of NaBloPoMo October 2012. Come back tomorrow for Day 3!)