Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fat Chance

My doctor basically told me there's no way I'm going to get my flat stomach back. I can work out and try to slim down somewhat but most likely my tummy will never return to its former (pre-pregnancy) state. It was depressing news but I didn't want to believe her. After all, I've seen celebrities who popped out babies and then returned to wearing bikinis a few months later, showing off their slim tanned tummies. Of course the majority of them didn't balloon up to nearly 200 lbs while they were pregnant. Some of them barely seemed to gain much at all, just had a cute little baby bump the size of a melon. Sickening, I tell you! On top of that most of them have tricks and tools at their disposal which I don't -- liposuction, personal trainers, a home gym, nutritionists, gourmet chefs who can cook healthy meals, airbrush artists who can correct their flaws in the magazines, etc.

Before becoming pregnant, I was 125 lbs. By the end of my pregnancy I'd gone up to 190 lbs!!! After having Michelle it seemed that I was shedding a lot of weight rather quickly. Of course 10 lbs was just the baby so that was gone instantly. Then another 10-20 lbs in blood and/or water weight came off within the first couple of weeks. Breastfeeding burns 500-700 calories a day and since Michelle wasn't really letting me eat, I was barely consuming enough to survive for the first month. Consequently I had lost 45 lbs before I knew it. "Just 20 more to go!" I thought, "this will be a breeze!" Yeah, not so much. Since Michelle is a little more manageable these days and I've found new ways to entertain/pacify her for a few minutes (including her bumbo chair, jumperoo, pacifier) I'm actually able to cook and eat meals now. It seems that the last 20 lbs is the hardest to lose. I plateaued at 145 lbs and have actually GAINED a few of pounds instead of losing more now. I was hoping to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 125. I'd settle for 130. Of course I'm not really helping matters. I haven't really been working out other than carrying Michelle around and I started doing a little yoga. And my eating habits haven't been stellar. I've given into temptation quite a few times. I've also heard that if you don't eat enough for a while your body goes into starvation mode and as soon as you do eat again, starts storing fat to keep from starving again. (One of the reasons deprivation diets don't work. Even if you lose in the short term it can't last. Eventually you will eat again and then you gain even more than before.)

During pregnancy my legs and feet blew up to nearly twice their size. If you read my previous posts while pregnant I even included photos but the pictures didn't do the feet justice. My feet and legs were MASSIVE! They were so swollen it was beyond cankles. They were tree trunks (and we're talking ancient trees with hundreds of rings from deep within untouched forest!) I was so relieved when the swelling did go down a week or so after giving birth. It was nice to see my old feet, ankles and legs again! Most of me did return to normal. Except my belly. I still look pregnant. Decidedly less so than I did in July but still somewhat pregnant. About five months pregnant. I'm still wearing my maternity jeans. They're just so darn comfy with that big elastic thing at the waist. I heard a model say many years ago that to stay (or get) slim you should wear your tightest jeans. That keeps you from eating too much during the day. If you have expanding pants with an elastic waist, you're more likely to expand to fit them. It makes sense. It's like when you eat too much turkey and have to undo your button. With a drawstring waist and no button to pop, you may be tempted to go for seconds or thirds. The turkey isn't the only thing to get stuffed! I could try the tight jean thing with one of my old pairs but I'd rather not walk around uncomfortable and unable to breathe. (As a sidebar, I knew someone who shall remain nameless, who used to wear jeans so skin tight they had to have assistance and a pair of pliers to pull the zipper up! That was the style in the 1970s-1980s...) Aside from the belly my breasts are bigger too but I don't mind them. They can stay. I didn't really have jugs before but then I didn't have milk either! I'm hoping they don't deflate like balloons once I stop breastfeeding...

It's harder to find things to wear these days. I try to wear things that are comfortable. I'm kind of in limbo between the pre-pregnant me and the pregnant me. Some things are too big, others too small. I was pleased that Michelle actually slept long enough for me to reorganize my closet the other day. I put away most of my maternity pants. I did keep my pair of medium maternity jeans which I wear almost daily. I tried on a lot of my old pre-pregnant jeans and pants and was disappointed to find that the majority of them were way too tight. I did find a few looser ones and low rise ones that leave room for my belly. I didn't want to get rid of my skinny jeans. I just put them away for now. I'm hoping maybe I will fit into them again one day. I also dug my sweaters out of hiding and put away the halter tops. I think it's safe to say that summer is well over. The leaves have turned and are falling. It's getting colder than ever. I finally broke down and put my furnace on.

I toyed with the idea of buying a girdle. I've never worn one. I'm not even sure they still sell them or if it was just something they had in the 1950s. I've only seen them on TV. I knew someone with a beer belly but it was hard as a rock. A lead belly! Not much you could do to conceal that but mine is soft and squishy so it can be squeezed in. I figure when I'm wearing clothes no one would know. Since I don't plan to date anytime soon it's not as though anyone is going to see my bare flabby stomach. But I want to be slim again, just for my own sense of well-being. Plus I still have a drawer full of bikinis that I don't want to get rid of. Part of me is hoping to prove my doctor wrong and show up at her office with six pack abs by next summer. Sure. Could happen. (Well no, I didn't even have a six pack before. I think it's harder for women to get them. I had a two pack at most.)

I was pleased to discover that I'm still able to do a headstand at least. I haven't entirely lost my strength, balance and coordination. I guess it's like riding a bicycle. You may be a little wobbly at first but once you learn it your muscles remember even years later. I am going to continue doing yoga and will try to do my headstand once a day as I did before. It is a great workout for your core. I feel all of my muscles tightening as I do it. Unfortunately I don't think it will be enough by itself to lose the "mommy tummy" so I'm also embarking on the "30 Day Shred" again. I've been putting it off because it's a rough workout (it nearly killed me when I did it years ago but it did help me to lose 15 lbs within a month before I went on my tropical vacation.) Of course these days, with the baby, it would be harder to find the time and the space to do the workout. That's what I tell myself as an excuse to keep procrastinating.

Aside from exercising there are of course other things I could be doing to help me lose weight, or at least not gain it. Buying Halloween candy ahead of time was monumentally stupid! I got a 90 pack of chocolate bars (I almost got the 40 pack and then thought "I don't want to run out on Halloween if there are a lot of kids") Yeah. Sure. It's just more for me to eat! There are still a few weeks til Halloween. How many chocolate bars do you think I'll actually have left to hand out to the kids?! Any? I should have waited to the last minute to buy Halloween treats. When I know there is chocolate in the house, it's almost impossible not to eat it. It beckons me from the cupboard. "Come on, just a few Smarties...You know you want to!" That's just way too much temptation. I've lost count how many I've actually consumed so far. The problem with those little bite size bars is that you lie to yourself. "Oh this isn't much! Look how small it is! This can't hurt!" After all, there are only 45 calories in a mini box of Smarties, 40 in an Aero (zero calories in the bubbles after all!) and 60 in Kit Kat and Coffee Crisp. So one by itself won't hurt you. But like they say about Lay's Potato Chips, you can't eat just one. You have enough of these suckers and it adds up. I don't know anyone on the planet who would have the discipline and self-control it would take to eat just ONE candy bar when there's a box of 90 (or 80 now...) just sitting there. This stuff is dangerous. I shouldn't have it in the house! Even as I type this I'm craving it!

I remember being a kid at Halloween and being so excited to come home with my haul, dump out the sack (usually a huge bag or pillow case) and then go back out for another round. Then at the end of the night you dump everything out and sort it into categories (the OCD organizer in me LOVED that) -- things you don't eat which get thrown away (dangerous homemade stuff or partly open packages that Mom forbade us to have as it may have razor blades in it, as well as Kiss candies and black licorice which I hated), chocolate bars, chips, hard candy, etc. And then you'd gorge yourself on about 20 candy bars and a few tubes of rockets and chips and cheesies (even though Mom said just have one of each. AS IF.) Back then I was lucky. I had such a fast metabolism I could eat anything I wanted, as much as I wanted, and never gain a pound. I was rail thin as a kid, still slim as a teen. It wasn't until I hit my 20s that I started to gain a little. Then much more in my 30s (I blame work. A Krispy Kreme opened near my work back then and guys kept bringing in boxes full. I was eating the plain honey glazed like they were going out of style. They melted in your mouth. I squished them down to the size of a Timbit so it didn't look so bad. God they were good! On top of that I was a shift worker and they say that messes up your metabolism and makes you gain weight because you're eating at strange times -- like having lunch at 2 a.m. on nightshift.) At 40 I managed to work out and get back to the best shape of my life, which I hadn't been since I was 20. Little did I know that I'd get pregnant and gain more weight than I ever thought possible. Being pregnant seemed a good excuse to eat. I wasn't exactly careful about calories. I figured it would all come off after I had the baby. I didn't realize how tough it would be to shed.

These days it isn't just my eating habits that are sabotaging me. It's my drinking habits. I have a weakness for sugar. I loves me some Coca-Cola! Especially in those delectable little glass bottles. Mind you, it's only 100 calories in a bottle but they're completely empty calories with no nutritional value whatsoever. (And yes I do limit my caffeine intake to 1 or 2 drinks a day. I don't drink coffee or tea. Coke is my one vice. I don't smoke, drink or do drugs either. I never did, even before the baby. Sugar is my addiction!) Add to that the healthy things that I drink -- several glasses of milk, which actually has 130 calories a glass and fruit juice which has 120 calories -- and I may have close to 1000 calories a day without even including food. 

And when it comes to food, it's hit and miss. I make some healthy choices (Special K cereal -- I even add flax seed meal to my cereal for an excellent source of OMEGA-3; asparagus; big garden salads with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and carrots; bananas, blueberries, pears, tuna, chicken breasts, lean ground beef, whole wheat wraps, pasta etc) and some not so healthy -- hotdogs, burgers, pizza.  I do try to eat healthy for the baby's sake since I am breastfeeding. I make sure to have fruits and vegetables, protein and calcium every day. I'm still taking prenatal vitamins so hopefully I'm passing on to the baby all the vitamins and minerals she needs (also giving her vitamin D supplements since that's one thing lacking in breast milk) regardless of my diet. But of course I crave the junk foods and they're the quickest and easiest thing to grab. 
Photo by James Harvey

I do still have my little personal trainer but she's not quite as demanding as she used to be. And while she does give my arms a good workout, carrying, rocking and dancing her every day, I don't think it does much for my belly. My arms actually aren't too bad. They're about the same as they were before. I figure they'll be getting stronger as time goes on and Michelle gets heavier. But I need to do something for my abs. A healthy diet low in sugar and fat is the first step. Exercise is the second. I suppose I should be doing sit-ups. I've never liked them. It's hard to do something that isn't fun. At least yoga is somewhat enjoyable. Jillian Michaels workout is a trip through hell but at least following along with her DVD keeps you motivated. I just have to psych myself up to start it. I'm afraid I won't be able to do it. I remember how hard it was. There were times I thought I'd pass out from exhaustion. It burns about 500 calories. So between that and breastfeeding I should be good to go. I can even have a Big Mac and a bunch of Halloween chocolates. I don't want to do the workout in the basement because it's two flights of stairs away from Michelle (even with the monitor I wouldn't feel comfortable with that.) So I have to clear a place in the family room to do it and then hope that she gives me half an hour to get through it (mind you, I might be happy to have an excuse to stop!) I will do it and once I start I will commit to the full 30 days as I did last time. And with any luck I may lose 15 lbs like I did with the workout years ago.

I look back at my old bikini photos from last summer. I know that there's a fat chance (or a slim chance?) of me returning to my goal weight again after all that my body has been through but I'm going to try. I'm not going to let the doctor discourage me. Anything is possible if you want it badly enough. It just takes discipline and hard work. I just have to be more careful with my diet and if I slip up then just make up for it by exercising more. It's about balance. I will start to work out hardcore (very soon! Maybe tomorrow. Or the next day...) My motivation used to be looking good for Mr. Right. Now my motivation is just to feel good and to be healthy, for me and for my little girl. Something tells me once she's walking I'm really going to have to be in shape to keep up with her.

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