There are a lot of things I can relate to when it comes to pregnancy. The puffy ankles, the bad back, the heightened senses and mood swings to name a few. But when it comes to morning sickness and loss of appetite, I’m completely stumped. In both my pregnancies, all I wanted to do was eat!
Whereas pre-pregnancy I’d always eaten healthily, exercised regularly and maintained a stable weight, I suddenly couldn’t stand the smell of cooked vegetables, fish or meat. All I wanted was pasta, cheese and cake (and ice cream and hot chocolate…). I’m educated enough to know that I should have been eating better than I was, but I just couldn’t help myself. Needless to say, I put on about 20kgs (44lbs) during both my pregnancies (that’s a third of my normal body weight!) and was faced with the prospect of having to diet, when I’d never really had to before.
Both times, people reassured me that I looked great, that the weight would soon ‘drop off’ after giving birth. But let’s face it, we all know most babies only weigh 6-8lbs so I knew I’d have a mammoth task on my hands to get back to my pre-pregnancy self, if such a thing was even possible.
After my first pregnancy, I managed to lose all but 2kgs of my excess baby weight (15kgs) within nine months. I tackled it sensibly without completely depriving myself, which meant hitting the gym three times a week, cutting back on bread and pasta, but still allowing myself a few treats and G&Ts on a weekend. It seemed to take forever, but I believed in the process (eat less, exercise more) and eventually it disappeared by the summer.
And then, bam! I fell pregnant with our second baby and started to pile the weight straight back on again. You’d have thought I’d have learnt my lesson the first time around, right?
Not long after having my second baby, I wrote a post about how the diet could wait, but here I am, six months later, and I’m starting to get fed up of feeling frumpy and wearing the same old baggy clothes. Not only that, I fear that if I don’t tackle the weight now, I probably never will, and I refuse to spend next summer with chafing thighs and bingo wings while my pretty sundresses lay abandoned at the bottom of my wardrobe.
The good news is that I’ve managed to shift some weight just by running around after an 18 month old and a newborn and having little time to eat. But this isn’t a healthy or sustainable way to go about it, so I’ve started to focus on my diet this past month and I’m getting back into the gym a few nights a week. And in doing so, my focus has actually shifted. I’m no longer fixated on what the scales say, as I can tell just by the fit of my clothes if I’m making progress. And having spent those first four to five months in a sleep deprived and slightly depressed state (which I recognise now), I actually feel like the old me is starting to come back. I love the way I feel after exercise and it makes me more likely to make healthy choices the next day. But more importantly than that, I’ve discovered that I actually NEED this time to myself.
When you’re constantly running after two under two, stuck at home all afternoon as a slave to naps and feeds, it can feel quite lonely and isolating. Knowing that I can escape the house for a hour or so – and have a shower on my own! – does wonders for the mind, body and soul at the end of a challenging day. Whenever I falter about going to the gym, I tell myself to just go for ten minutes. By the time I’m there and start moving, I always end up doing a full workout. And progress is progress, no matter how small. It may take me another six months to shift the last 8kgs I’d like to lose, but that’s ok. Because, wobbly bits or no wobbly bits, I’m starting to like myself again, and that’s all that matters.