The New Way I Am Approaching Weight Loss And Loving My Body

My new approach to weightloss2015 was a year I not only got to know my body after four kids (including twins), but love and appreciate it’s new curves and past accomplishments. I knew that I wasn’t completely done my weight loss and strengthening journey, and always kept my weight at the top of my to-do list.

I would tend to deprive myself of foods I really loved, or activities I wanted to participate in because I hadn’t “hit my goal yet.”

But, while away on vacation, something within me shifted. I thought, “screw it, I am going to treat myself occasionally, strut around the beach in a bikini and LIVE.”

Body after babyI had fun with my kids and enjoyed an occasional dessert. At one point I did have to reel it in, and I ditched my Florida vice: cereal.

American cerealFact: Did you know that American Corn Pops are completely different than Canadian (where I live) Corn Pops? I have to give the U.S. this one, because your Corn Pops are WAY better. Also, Cracklin’ Oat Bran is not sold in Canada… the more you know!

But something really interesting happened. I stopped stress eating. I was feeling happy and satisfied, and not feeling like I wanted to binge eat and watch T.V. while my kids napped.

When I got home I decided to weigh myself, preparing for a five pound weight gain. I hadn’t kept up with my 20 minute workouts during my three-week vacation, so I knew I had done some damage.

My jaw dropped when I realized I had only gained one pound!

This has completely changed my way of thinking about my weight, and how I am going to approach my lifestyle this year. Instead of making losing weight my number one goal for 2016, like it is EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. What if I make happiness, living, thriving and laughing at the top of my list?

I will be resuming my 20 minute workouts this week, but I will make sure they are fun, and enjoyable. I will carve out more time for things I enjoy and moments of relaxation, so I don’t burn myself out and end up comfort-eating.

Maybe having “lose those last ten pounds” as my New Year’s resolution, does more damage than good? Maybe that’s too much pressure, and it is setting myself up to fail?

Okay 2016, I am ready to LIVE!

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I Bought My First Bikini Since Having Four Kids

Mom in a bikini 1

I had planned on doing this, and blogging about it for a few months now. I finally decided to pull the trigger. Once taking these photos I held onto them for about a week debating whether or not to post them. I spoke to Mike about it, and he said if I feel comfortable, then he doesn’t mind. I made the decision mostly for myself, as part of my journey of accepting and loving my body after having three pregnancies, (one being a twin pregnancy), and celebrating what it is today.

After having my twins one year ago, I had thrown the towel in when it came to wearing a bikini. I started to have this mentality that my body was, (although bouncing back incredibly well after having four kids), not perfect enough for a bikini. I thought I was too old at age 32 and that it would be inappropriate to be wearing a bikini at this stage in life.

But recently, I was in the presence of some incredibly beautiful mothers of all ages and all sizes while they confidently sported their bikinis. Here I was, covered up with a tankini and long flowy pants. These women were glowing, despite their stretch marks, or curves left over from having children.  I felt envious of their confidence. My entire life, I have always been inclined to cover up. Even before having children.

I have no problem wearing tight fitting clothing that doesn’t hide my curves, but I started to realize, while I was sitting among these brave women, that I really had a problem showing skin. Right then and there I decided that I would venture back into a bikini.

mom in a bikini 3

When I finally found THE bikini, I forced myself out of the comfort of the private change room and took a photo in the store… this was a BIG deal.

I have been working hard at losing all of the baby weight after giving birth to my twins, I am really happy with my body, not forgetting what it went though not too long ago. I am not quite at my fitness goal, and I am making sure I am losing the weight slowly and purposely. I don’t want to do any kind of “quick fix”. I am making a lifestyle change.

I made the decision to splurge and get a bikini now, and to stop putting it off until I reach my weight-loss goals. I want to celebrate the skin I am in.

Mom in final bikini

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What Having Four Kids Did To My Mother’s Body And Her Confidence

My Mother CollageMy mother had four kids and like me, her body went through a war.

I recently sat down with her and asked my mother how she felt when she was pregnant and how the changes in her body impacted her confidence. What she told me opened my eyes to how backwards society’s view on the postpartum body has become.

Before having kids and going through four pregnancies, my mother felt better than ever with her body and who she was. My Mother 2Soon after my mother and father were married, she became pregnant with my oldest brother. She felt her prettiest when pregnant. She was glowing, full of pride and it was the happiest time in her life.
My Mother's PregnanciesBack then, (between 1976 – 1984), women weren’t expected to “bounce back” like we are today. As a public health nurse, she knew it would take a good year to recover from having a baby. Women were taught how to properly care for themselves and their postpartum body. She was even given specific exercises by the nurses in the hospital, to help the healing process, without adding too much pressure.My Mother 6My mother holding me (pregnant with my younger sister)

Without the constant images that today’s society is constantly bombarded with on the internet, women didn’t obsess about their postpartum figure. My mother’s role models were smart, beautiful and strong women such as Jessica Lang and Meryl Streep.

Mothers didn’t judge each other. Yes, they were conscious about losing the baby weight at a healthy pace, but the focus was on caring for their babies. Which is such a simple, yet beautiful concept.

FamilyI remember my mother reading my sister and I books each evening. I loved to cuddle up to her soft body. When she would dress up to go out with my father, I always thought she was the most beautiful mommy.

As my mother’s body changed she never hid behind baggy clothes. Sure, she fell victim to some fashion trends. But she never started dressing to hide her shape.My Mother the 90s Fashion VictimMy mother made sure she never lost herself in the shuffle. After leaving nursing to be home with her children, she pursued her passion in opera singing. I remember her going out a few evenings a week to sing and perform on stage. She would get her moment to shine and then be ready to go back and give to her family again the next day. My Mother 12My mother rocking a bikini AFTER having four kids. 

This all makes me pause and wonder… if all of us mothers would just stop competing against each other in the great body after baby race and genuinely start caring about each other’s health, happiness and wellbeing, maybe reaching a personal goal would come much more naturally.

I can’t thank my mother enough for being such a positive role model for me, now that I have four children. My view of the postpartum body is that of awe and pride. I don’t feel ashamed of my curves and I make sure I am kind to my body.

Thank you mom!
My Mother 13Myself, my mother and sister today

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10 Acts Of Kindness You Should Do For Your Postpartum Body Before Starting A New Exercise Routine

collage bodyAfter having three pregnancies and four kids in the span of five years I have learned a thing or two about regaining your shape after having a baby.  Unfortunately it has taken me until now (and a twin pregnancy) to truly respect what my body has done for me and be okay with my curvier shape.  The good news is I can share some real life advice with you!

Often the only green light we wait for after having a baby is that six week postpartum doctor’s appointment, getting the go ahead to be able to exercise.  But there is so much more!  Here is a list of acts of kindness that I strongly urge you to do for yourself before starting up an exercise routine to set yourself up for success.

1. Start a journal.  Keep track of your emotional forecast.  Right now your hormone levels are still working themselves out.  Quickly jot down how you feel each day and what parts of the day you feel the most ambitious and energetic.  After doing this for a little while you will probably see a pattern.  Pick that part of your day that you are at your peak to squeeze in some exercise. For me it is early morning before everyone in our home is awake.  For you it might be your baby’s nap time or at the end of the day.  Also journal what you are eating each day and how much water you are drinking.  It may surprise you how many snacks you are sneaking when you are recording it.  Keep track of how you feel after each meal as well.  Did you feel sleepy and sluggish after that big plate of pasta?  Did you feel energized after that salad with grilled chicken breast?

2. Buy yourself a pretty and comfortable workout outfit that fits you now.  It took me a long time to learn this one.  I have some very stylish pre-twin-pregnancy workout clothes that are still a little snug on me.  I have made a point to get a comfy and flattering workout outfit that fits me now so I feel confident when I go for a jog around our neighbourhood or even just do some exercises in our home.  Are you really going to feel motivated going for a jog in your too tight yoga pants and your husband’s sloppy, oversized t-shirt?

3. Have your thyroid levels checked.  This is a biggie.  It is very common for pregnancy to throw off thyroid levels and that can wreak havoc on your energy levels, cause hair loss, slow weight loss and more.  For me, each of my pregnancies has thrown off my thyroid.  The biggest postpartum hyperthyroid symptom I have experienced is gastrointestinal pains.  Just ask your doctor to make sure your thyroid hasn’t been impacted by your pregnancy.

4. Put your scale in your basement.  Or somewhere in your home that isn’t too convenient.  It’s easy to say don’t weigh yourself, but come on, let’s be real.  We are all curious about that elusive number, especially after pregnancy.  Aim to weigh yourself every other week or so at the most.  Just go by how you feel and how clothes are fitting to asses your progress.

5. Don’t make a big announcement.  I have been guilty of this one on many occasions.  I’ll announce to my friends that I am not having that dessert that they have offered me because I am going to lose all my baby weight by yesterday.  Don’t do it.  It puts too much pressure on you.

6. Start a hobby that isn’t exercise and brings you joy.  Having a new baby involves giving an incredible amount of yourself each day.  It is so important that you don’t get lost in the process. Once the dust has settled a little, try to find time to do something for you, whether it’s reading a book, being creative or even getting out an evening here and there baby free with your friends.  If you are already feeling happy and balanced, then sticking with an exercise routine is much easier than waiting to hit that goal weight for happiness, only to be left feeling empty.

7. Have your iron levels checked.  Sorry, TMI, but this one has been life changing for me.  For most women, after having a baby your menstrual cycle is heavier.  Try having two and then twins.  I finally discovered that this horrible run down feeling I was having once a month was beyond the regular PMS symptoms I used to get.  I now take iron supplements around that time each month and skip the crash and burn.  This one is worth having a discussion with your doctor about.

8. Get your diet and portion control in check.  During each of my pregnancies I have relished in the freedom of eating large portions and basically whatever tickles my fancy.  But once I am on the other side of having a baby, it’s time to get those eating habits under control.  I have found doing a few months of Weight Watchers (not sponsored) after each pregnancy is a great way of yanking me out of my food hangover.  This is also a program that supports breastfeeding and will make sure you are getting enough calories so your supply doesn’t dwindle.  Regardless of which approach you take to help your eating habits, make sure you reassess and make sure you are not eating enough for two anymore.

9. Rethink your pre-pregnancy wardrobe.  We have all heard those urban legends about women who leave the hospital in her pre-pregnancy jeans, right?  I’m not her.  I recently went through my wardrobe and made the decision to get rid of those super low rise jeans I have been holding onto for six years without wearing.  Everything on my body has moved about four inches south.  I used to be apple shaped and now I am pear shaped.  Although my size may reflect my old self, my style and fit of jeans is more in the high rise arena… and that is okay with me.

10. Reflect on the pregnancy journey your body was on and respect it.  Don’t forget, your body just spent nine months with your resting heart working 40% harder, your blood volume almost doubled, the amount of air moving in and out of your lungs doubled, your skin has stretched a ton, oh, and you have created a tiny perfect human.  Reflect on what your body just did and be PATIENT!

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I Didn’t Know I Was Supposed To Be Striving To Be Flawless

collage 1I have found myself really, really happy since this viral phenomenon has occurred.  I was happy before but I have felt this additional sense of purpose these past few weeks.  Don’t worry, ever since I blogged about my experience with handling negative comments, I was able to get it out of me and haven’t looked back.  I have also found I am devoting more of myself to my children.  Yes, I would enjoy them before but I am finding myself slowing down more and immersing myself in these very intense moments of connection.  I am not sure if it is because I am having more of a balance between career and motherhood that I know I need, or if it is their innocence and the fact that they have no idea what is going on out there.  But my heart is full.

collage 2

I have been enjoying reading every comment, email and message beyond words.  I have come across a couple comments that have been very kind and encouraging but ending with the implication that it is expected that I will have plastic surgery on my tummy once I have hit my weight goal.  Not to mention the similar comments I received from random strangers while pregnant with my twins.  Instead of feeling insulted, I have been left baffled, thinking “oh am I supposed to get a tummy tuck?  I don’t plan to.”  I am really happy with my fitness progress.  It is happening at a pace that suits me, makes me feel healthier and happier and I am not pushing myself too hard.  I am about 15lbs away from my initial weight goal and I am realizing that it may be too much if I lose another 15lbs.  I don’t want to lose all of my very womanly curves.  So I won’t be focusing on the scale, only on how I feel.body 1I still have a bit of that hanging tummy, and it may shrink more in time but for now all I see is my body healing from the war it went through during my twin pregnancy.  It is getting stronger and I am finding carrying my girls much easier!body 2Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti plastic surgery, I am just pro loving your body for what it has done and continues to do.  If having plastic surgery is what makes someone else love their body and feel better in their skin, then go for it.  Just make sure it is for you.  Not anyone else.  Besides, if I were ever to have plastic surgery, my tummy would be last on my list.

In 2001 I had to have a complete thyroidectomy which has left me with a very visible scar across my neck.  It wasn’t supposed to be as visible, but I had a terrible reaction to Codeine and swelled up like a tomato which disrupted my incision site.  body 3

I had been sick for a long time and finally having a diagnoses of hyperthyroidism and the subsequent removal of a hyper-plastic tumour and my thyroid was such a relief to my suffering. I have never rushed to have plastic surgery on my scar.  I partially see it as a positive symbol of being healthier.  I have been approached by a couple doctors about revising it, but I really couldn’t bother.  The surgery and all that comes with that seems like such a chore to me.  I almost always forget it is there, other than when someone points it out.

But the biggest reason I haven’t got rid of it, is I see my scar as a visible “line in the sand” in regards to how far I will go with my body trying to be flawless.  It’s a slippery slope and the line has to be drawn somewhere.  I am flawed.  My flaws tell my story.  Who I am.  Where I have been.  The hardships I have overcome.  The people I have given life to.

So, I will never say never, but right now I feel in awe at my body’s ability to be pushed to such painful limits and come back from the war with more fight in it than ever.IMG_4632