Have you ever felt like you have no control over your body? Ever since I can remember, I was always the chubby member of my family. It saddens me to reflect on how much I obsessed about my weight, even as a child.
My body was always my enemy. Even as I grew into an adult, occasionally stuck to a diet and lost some weight, I was always experiencing inner turmoil with my body. So, I abused it, made fun of it to my friends, and cursed it under my breath.
I get a pit in the bottom of my stomach just acknowledging that I had these kinds of feelings for thirty years of my life. It sickens me.
But nothing made me feel more out of control with my body than pregnancies. My body was in charge and I was a passenger.
It took me three pregnancies, the final one being a strenuous twin pregnancy to change my relationship with my body. It was that last pregnancy that shocked not just my body, but my mind and my heart so deeply, that it set me on a different course.
I have not only lost the 70 pounds since my twin pregnancy, but I’ve kept it off. Although I am not a fan of focusing on the number, (in fact I don’t even have a working scale right now and quite like it that way), but those extra 70 pounds on my 5’2″ frame were causing health issues, pain and depression. So yes, my journey to self-love through self-care has involved weight-loss.
I have for so long wanted to bottle my secrets and lessons as best I can to pass them on. To pass them on to a younger me. To pass them on to that girl who didn’t know how to not only be in control of her own body, but truly love and appreciate it. To that new mom that doesn’t even recognize her own body.
What actually has been my secret to not only losing the baby weight, but keeping it off? Well, the secret is years in the making. It’s not just a magic diet, or an intense workout routine, but so much more. It’s so much more that no one ever tells you. But I truly believe, without hesitation, that these tips can help anyone who is struggling with their weight.
Let’s rewind to the beginning, shall we?
The day I came home with my twins.
On the day I came home from the hospital after having my twins, the curiosity was killing me… how much weight had I lost now that two human beings had exited my body? They each weighed 6 pounds, so, I figured, maybe I had lost 12 pounds, or even more because you have to count the amniotic fluid and placentas. I hopped on the scale and was devastated. I had only lost 3 pounds.
I looked down at my massive swollen feet, and the logical side of my brain told me that I was retaining a lot of water and needed to be patient. I had been through this twice before after giving birth to my older kids. But come on, two freaking people, it didn’t seem fair.
As I looked down at my body, I didn’t recognize it. It was bruised and mushy. I had swelled to a weight that I didn’t think my 5’2″ frame was capable of.
I picked myself up and switched my focus to what was most important: caring for my four kids, healing from my C-section and basically surviving our family’s new dynamic.
The time had come. I was given the go ahead from my doctor to slowly start exercising. This is it. This is the moment I had been waiting for. I had been dreaming about taking my body back since I spent day after day, on my sofa, with a pillow between my knees, growing babies.
At first my progress was slow. Keep in mind I was trying to care for four kids as well as myself. It was so difficult to carve out any “me” time. It wasn’t until I began waking up before anyone in our family each morning to exercise. That’s when everything began to fall into place.
I made time. I stopped waiting for time to find me and I made sure that I carved out time for exercise.
I began to love and appreciate my body. I have struggled with my weight since I was a child. Anytime I would make some strides with my weight-loss and strengthening goals, it came from an angry place where I felt I had to punish my body. Having twins was finally the event that changed the way I looked at my body. It has done incredible things and it was to be celebrated and cared for.
I was focused on my goals. Losing the baby weight was my number one goal. I planned to eat healthy foods, indulge here and there and not beat myself up about it. I also wanted to get in shape again, especially knowing I was finished having children. I would take my time. But this time it was different. I had simple goals that were for me and no one else. I wanted to be strong. I was over hurting my back when I pick up a baby. I want to be flexible. No more pulling my neck while reaching for a pacifier that had fallen under a crib. I wanted to go to my closet and feel good in whatever I put on. No more pulling at waistlines and being limited to leggings.
Little did I know that I was heading into a one-year weight plateau….
I started to play little mind tricks with myself, like, you’ve got this far, you can take days (or weeks) off of exercise. Or after an exhausting day of building my business, while giving enough attention to my family, I would “reward” myself by gorging on unhealthy, or ridiculous portions.
Every once and a while I would find my rhythm and work at getting a few more pounds off, but despite making “losing the last ten pounds” my number one goal, I would continue to self-sabotage.
Then, at around 17-months postpartum, I made the conscious decision to relax. I embraced my body again, and was proud of how far I had come.
This was also the year that I was starting to hit on something that would again pop up in year five. I realized that I needed to experience more joy and laugh more. But more about that later.
I switched my focus of weight-loss. I stopped making “weight loss” my New Year’s resolution. Maybe having “lose those last ten pounds” as my New Year’s resolution, did more damage than good? Maybe that’s too much pressure, and I was setting myself up to fail?
I rewired my brain. I also started to realize how much I was stress eating and began my journey of rewiring my brain to stop thinking, “you deserve this,” and instead think, “this won’t fix your problem.”
I began to see my body’s purpose and know it’s power. I knew that the war my body had been through was it’s own and couldn’t be compared to other bodies. I had no intentions of erasing my journey, just rehabilitating the body that brought my kids into this world.
As year three began, I started to feel ready to go after a new goal… strength. But every time I tried to get myself into a rhythm with exercise, or healthier eating habits, I would get in my head again and self sabotage.
I began to dive deeper into reasons why I was self-sabotaging, which ended up going way back to some injuries and illnesses I experienced as a child and I stopped seeing myself as broken, and realized that I was self-sabotaging out of fear.
After this important realization, I told myself “I’m not broken, I’ve just been scared.” It was time to let that fear help propel me forward so that I can reach my goals, drop the excuses, be secure within my success and know that wanting to reach the finish line is not selfish, it’s self-love.
I got help. Sometimes going it alone isn’t enough, and it’s okay to get some help. First I trained with a personal trainer for three months. This taught me that my body was far from frail, or broken and that I can push it farther without fear. I also signed up for a healthy eating program just long enough to help me understand what size portions I should be consuming, and what times of the day I should be eating.
Last spring, after a quieter winter, life got busy. I lot of exciting projects came my way, I had a lot of travel, both for work and vacations, and the kids schedules were getting busier.
During that excitement I noticed my energy levels lagging, heart palpitations kept coming and I was often light-headed. I kept putting it off and finally I went to see my doctor when it dawned on me that I hadn’t had a physical in over FOUR YEARS!
My blood work came back showing that my iron levels were in the toilet. So I started to take iron supplements and my energy levels came back.
Just as I was starting to feel like myself again, I had another major setback. By the end of August I started having abdominal pains that were different than any IBS symptom I had experienced in the past. But, typical me… I ignored them.
Well, I ignored them until my husband convinced me to go have them checked out. I was immediately sent to the hospital and was diagnosed with Diverticulitis that day.
This for me has been a big wake-up call. I have been making some huge lifestyle changes including being less busy, moving towards a more minimalist life, having laser focus on work, but not trying to do everything and making more time to cook.
I have also been exploring my health on a deeper level. I have been peeling the onion as to why I am having so many digestive issues and struggling with my energy and using food as fuel instead of comfort.
Really knowing and caring for my body. Being more in tune with my body and making sure that it is better cared for has helped me stick to exercise routines. I now know that there is a handful of foods that I just cannot eat because I have food intolerances that cause excruciating pain. I would have never found these answers if I didn’t keep digging deeper and deeper.
As the fall approached, some tough stuff came our way, which forced both myself and my husband to self reflect and think about what we really want and what is really important. On the top of my list was to find my joy again. To actually experience life instead of surviving, or controlling life.
I have fun. This year I have been choosing joy and choosing me more. This has included getting a puppy and taking up skiing again. I’ve made caring for my body fun and second nature.
Recently I realized was caring so much for a couple people in my family who were stumbling, and I was working so hard to help them find balance and happiness again, that I began to neglect myself. This formula doesn’t work. I’ve begun to put the oxygen mask on myself first, before anyone else in my life.
I am my first priority. I’ve begun a new journey of self discovery and lifestyle improvement that includes everything from a healthy diet and exercise, to meditation, listening to inspiring audiobooks, massage therapy and doing some things for myself that I’ve wanted to do for a while.
It has taken me a long time to get where I am after having my twins. It has taken a lot of perseverance and hard work. But most of all, it has taken a lot of patience and love for myself.
I knew that post-babies would be a new chapter for my body and that I had to learn how to love my new curves, stretch-marks and dimples.
I have come so far and have been through so much. I have recreated who I see myself as, knowing that although I’ve changed some things, that it doesn’t mean that I have lost the best part of me. This change has come from a place of self care and of giving back to my body after everything it has given and created.
Make time. Love and appreciate your body. Focus on your goals. Try to have goals other than just weight loss. Rewire your brain to break bad habits. Get help. Truly know and care for your body. Have fun. Make yourself your first priority.
The truth is, reaching fitness goals and then maintaining a healthy body is a journey. Use these lessons as a roadmap for you to begin yours and whatever you do, don’t stop. Don’t settle. You deserve this.
Success isn’t perfection. Success is allowing days to slow down. Success is allowing a day to feast with your family. Success is to be at peace with those days and getting back on track the next. Success is embracing your health and knowing deep in your core that you deserve to treat your body like a temple. Success is being able to zoom out and see the big picture, see the humans it’s created, the war its been through and the strives you’ve made.