Monday, August 13, 2012

Weight Loss: A Pregnancy Reassessment

The beginning of this year marked my dedication to losing weight and getting healthy.  I upped my water intake, exercised hard 3-5 times a week, and ate well.  I dropped 25 pounds and two sizes from January 1st until mid-May.  I was right on target with my goal of losing a safe 4-5 pounds a month.  Then I got pregnant.  We threw caution to the wind once and ... well... here I am 13 weeks pregnant.

I am over the moon with joy, but this teeny little part of me is frustrated.  Not with the baby, but frustrated that the 25 lbs (of the 146 lbs I needed to lose) could come back. Frustrated with none of my clothes fitting and of being in that weird place where I don't look pregnant yet, but I just look like I'm letting myself go and gaining weight. I had planned on not continuing to attempt weight loss, but to still track my food and eat healthy so I don't gain excessive weight.

Then the nausea hit.  The smell of vegetables and fruit make me hurl.  I also just today had a half-cup of coffee and it tasted delicious.  The past 6 weeks I've abhorred the smell of coffee, broccoli, oranges, spinach, "flavorful food"... "nutritious food."  I've subsisted on fried fish sandwiches, chicken, bread, and taters.  I think the only veggies I've actually kept in stomach include Caesar salad and sweet potatoes. 

I felt like a Miss Fatty Failure.

I decided to just concentrate on three things to work on in my early pregnancy:  1). water intake, 2). prenatal vitamin, and 3). sleep.  I am exhausted constantly.  I mean, I am pregnant, nursing, working full time (with some added drama from workplace drama queens), and I have a teen, a tot, and a husband.  I haven't done any exercising or completed any of my stitching projects in favor of napping and sleeping every chance I get. 

I will say I've noticed that I haven't put on weight as quickly as I did when I was pregnant with Atticus.  I was in maternity clothes by 8 weeks pregnant.  Now I am 13 weeks and I've just now donned maternity wear and I'm still wearing a few stretchy pre-pregnancy things.  I am not nearly as hungry as I was with Atticus, during that pregnancy my blood sugar kept dangerously dropping and I craved sweet tea, Mexican food, steak, and spinach.  I ate and ate and ate and was never full.  I'm not feeling that way now, so I'm hoping that means that I can control my weight a bit and not let it spiral out of control. 

The second trimester usually starts about 13/14 weeks and on Wednesday I will be 14 weeks along.  I've come up with new goals for this trimester:  1) start logging my food again, 2) attempt to add in fruits and veggies, and 3) go for a walk 3 times a week. I'm constantly thirsty so keeping up with water isn't a problem and my prenatal vitamin is a habit now so I feel okay with adding other goals.  Sam is encouraging me to sleep as often as possible and he never makes me feel guilty.

My ultimate goal is to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.  Baby #3 will be born around February 9th and I'll be on maternity leave until about May 1st.  That gives me time to recover from surgery (c-section and tubes tied), get my milk supply well-established, and start exercising again. 

In thinking ahead, I was overwhelmed when Atticus was born. I had Hope vaginally and didn't expect the pain and discomfort of a c-section (folks who tell you c-sections are easier haven't had a baby vaginally... c-sections suck) and Atticus had horrible colic stemming from a dairy intolerance. All of a sudden the healthy yogurt, cheese, muffins, etc... were making my kid sick.  I was hungry and felt like everything would make my baby ill (y'all dairy is in EVERYTHING).  I'm better prepared this go.  I have my list of dairy-free snacks and I'm planning on doing some freezer meals sans dairy.  JUST IN CASE.  I'm also stocking up on groceries early and overall preparing for the recovery from a c-section.  After I had Hope I spent maybe two days feeling crummy (I had to get some... ahem... stitches) and then besides being tired I was bebopping around the house.   With Atticus I was swelling from pitocin to the point my skin was splitting, I had an incision that reopened, and I was frustrated that it seemed to take my milk longer to get in.  I was so determined to have a "nuts and berries hippie sunshine birth" that I refused to read about c-sections, tour the OR, or prepare for a potential operation.  I have to have a c-section this time and I'm determined to not go into it scared and ignorant. 

What does all that rambling about childbirth have to do with weight loss?  A lot.  I'm a perfectionist.  I say I'm doing the weight loss for health, but I am doing it for vanity just as much.  I want to feel pretty and wear what I want and I feel like less of a woman if I don't match that ideal of  how a woman should look.  I wanted a natural childbirth because it is best for baby (in my opinion) but also because I wanted to feel powerful and independent in my own body... I felt like I would be copping out by getting a c-section.  I want to be a perfect mama from birth onward. I have to accept that my body is my body is my body and this body isn't ever going to be the "ideal" anything, because the ideal woman is a myth air-brushed, edited, and manufactured by patriarchy.

I think liking your own physicality is a difficult thing for a plus-sized woman.  On one hand I believe we should like ourselves and feel beautiful and confident.  On the other hand I have big issues with the fat acceptance movement.  That deserves its own post that will probably make me an outcast fat girl, but I will say one issue I have with fat acceptance is that it almost advocates for passivity with weight loss.  When I started trying to lose weight after college I weighed 356 pounds.  When I renewed my commitment to health this past January I weighed 296 pounds.  Sure... my numbers were good (cholesterol, sugar, blood pressure), but I wasn't healthy.  Or maybe I am healthy now, but I know that if I am 296 at age 50 I will be suffering.  I've seen my overweight relatives struggle with fatigue, joint pain, foot issues, and other ailments. I want to be hiking, getting tattooed, and running around with grandkids.  Not on the couch suffering from wear and tear exacerbated by weight.  Fat acceptance seems to say "I love myself.. I'm confident... I'm sexy.. and I'm going to stay this way!!!"  Fat acceptance to me should be "I love myself. I'm confident.  I'm sexy. And I love myself enough to change for a healthier, longer life."

That's the plan:  healthy pregnancy, healthy recovery, healthy breastfeeding, and then back to losing weight so I can wear those cute dresses and live to a ripe old age. 


Susan in TX said...

I think you have a great plan for yourself. I found out at 39 weeks with my first that I was going to have a c-section. As soon as they got her out, they said "ALL your babies will have to be c-sections!" I had four of them, and there is NOTHING easy about the recovery imo. But we can't fret over the things we can't control. Going into the c-section healthier will help you in the long run with recovery. Best wishes to you on this journey!

Amanda said...

I didn't have any nausea during my pregnancies, but I had a really difficult time in the last trimester of all three pregnancies for several reasons, mostly due to sciatica, decreased mobility, and sudden huge size gains that meant I was uncomfortable and stressed all the time. With my first two pregnancies, I thought I did well by eating right and gaining the half-pound per week or so that they recommend, but then I got to the third trimester and would gain 20+ lbs in the last few months. By the time I got to my third kid, I played it safe by gaining only 5 lbs in the first 6 months, knowing I would gain 20 in the last trimester (and I did).

When you're pregnant, you just have to deal with symptoms. Now that you've gotten past some of them, you can try to even them out with something different now, just like the plan you've got. Just don't give up!

And I don't think you're the outcast with regards to the fat-acceptance movement. I get really, really frustrated with it as well. I do believe we should be fighting to end fat stigma, and that people should learn to love themselves regardless of their size, but I don't like the whole "I'm fat and beautiful and therefore don't have any reason to lose weight - losing weight is stupid and pointless." I've seen way too much of that. Too many people justify their size with excuses and plattitudes. I do think the pressure to be media-thin is misplaced and dangerous, and I think beauty of many sizes can be celebrated, but there's a difference between celebrating beauty and using "beauty" as an excuse to treat oneself poorly. /endrant

Katie @ Mama the Reader said...

Making it through the first trimester is hard... especially with a little one (plus a teen in your case) to look after. You just do what you can. It was oatmeal and tea and graham crackers this last time for me. No veggies. No fruit. No protein. By 16 weeks that changed and I got serious about nutrition and exercise. In the end, I still gained far less weight the second pregnancy, and being in better shape really REALLY helps recovery - whether it's vaginal or surgical.

As for method of birth in regards to body confidence and issues, one of my friends said once that she really saw her 2 c/s as a triumph for her body in that she was willing to literally be cut open to birth her baby and of course recover from that to eventually feel like a normal person again. It was an eye-opening comment for me because I was so OBSESSED with having a vaginal birth and feeling inadequate for my section that I never gave myself proper credit. My doula said to me this time that I "had always been a warrior mama" and that she was glad that I finally realized it after my VBAC. She is so right yet again in that I should have seen things about myself that I ignored in the aftermath of my c/s.

I'm not sure if any of this makes sense, but I just wanted to say that taking care of yourself in pregnancy is a good thing *when* you are up to it, and that regardless of the shapes or nuances of our bodies as women and regardless of the method of birth, the whole process of growing, birthing, feeding a baby really is miraculous. And we should give ourselves credit. :)

Amanda said...

@Amanda I'm definitely opposed to fat stigma. In fact no one should be ostracized, bullied, or discriminated against REGARDLESS the issue, but it is true that fat acceptance swings hard in the other directions. It becomes an excuse. There is one blog I read - and I really like this blogger a lot -- but she talks about fat acceptance with every post, but then she also complains about difficulties with trying to get pregnant and acid reflux.... both things could be a product of being over 300lbs.

Amanda said...

@Katie I totally agree. I think women are programmed to find "things to improve". We are too hard on ourselves. Even knowing that, it is still hard to admit to myself when I'm being too crazy.

o said...

I agree with what you say about fat acceptance. I used to read one blog and I truly believe it was morally reprehensible, it worried me that she convinced so many people that a BMI of 50+ was healthy. I do know the problems with BMI, but I think that was pushing it.

I can't add to anything you've said in your post and the comments other than, once again - yes, completely agree.

Frances said...

Taking things slowly but surely is a great way towards losing weight. You don't want your weight to get that "yoyo" effect so aside from a healthy diet, maybe checking out the weight loss treatments offered at websites such as will be helpful as well.