I Got My Body Back

The last few weeks haven’t been all bad. In fact, one truly amazing thing happened–I got my body back. I’m still not at my pre-pregnancy weight of 145, but at only 2.5 pounds away I can fit into my pre-pregnancy pants. I’m a size 8 again! That is a feat I never thought I’d accomplish.

In April of this year (at six month postpartum) I was 170lbs, the heaviest I’d ever been without carrying a baby. I looked like this.


This first 5lbs came off pretty easily after I stopped pumping. Maybe it was all in my boobs. 😉

On June 4th I saw this on the scale.


I was stoked to be out of the 160s. At 165 I had really started trying to lose the weight but it was slow going.

It took until mid July to get down to 155. That was my first goal, because I knew once I hit it I’d be a lot more comfortable in my body and able to wear some of my non-maternity clothes. I was very excited to post this shot.


I honestly didn’t think I’d lose much more weight in the weeks that followed, but one of the benefits of being really stressed and upset is that I didn’t eat much when school was starting. To my astonishment, I saw this on August 12th.


That was a HUGE day for me. I was thrilled. It kept me motivated to keep working out and watch what I was eating.

This past weekend I stepped on the scale and saw this:


Now I’m only 2.5lbs away from my ultimate goal (though I wouldn’t mind getting all the way back down to 140, which is where I was before I was pregnant with Osita). I also fit into my size 8 pants, and honestly? I never thought that was going to happen.

My body has changed a lot in the five years since first carried a successful pregnancy–the pouch around my midsection will likely never go away, no matter how much weight I lose–but working out has shown me that I can still look and feel great in this body, even for all the ways it has changed. I may be a couple pounds more than I weighed before I got pregnant with Monito, but I honestly think I look better, because I’m more toned than I was before (thank you 30 Day Shred). I look and feel strong, and that has always been really important for me.

I know it’s annoying to post these scale shots, but I did it because with each one I’m reminded of the work it took to get there and the feeling of accomplishment I felt when I took each picture. Losing the almost 25lbs since April has been a huge undertaking and I battled for every one of those pounds lost. Losing the weight after my first pregnancy was easy (and I had to lose 55lbs!) but getting my body back this time around has been really hard (despite the fact that I “only” had to lose 35lbs this time). I attribute my success to our elliptical, the 30 Day Shred (seriously, it has transformed my body) and my medicine, which helps keep my depression/anxiety from causing me to overeat.

This weekend we went to an amusement part with a water area and not only did I feel confident walking around in my bathing suit (despite my glowing white legs), I actually asked my husband to take a picture of me dancing with my kids while wearing it.


I may not have the body I did before I had my daughter, but I feel so good in the one I’ve got now, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.

Smaller, More Reachable Goals

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement on my last post. I realized as I was reading them that my post made it seemed like, at 155lbs, I was where I wanted to be. That isn’t actually the case, I want to be at 145 so I can wear all my old clothes, especially my size 8 pants. I was going to write a post about how I haven’t really reached my goal, and that I still have a ways to go, but then I stopped.

Because you know what? Fuck that. I did reach a goal. There was a reason I was focusing on 155 first–I knew that when I reached it I’d feel a lot better about myself, my clothes would fit better, and I wouldn’t feel so desperate to see the scale move. And I was right. I feel so much better in my skin. When I see myself in the mirror I don’t cringe. Sometimes I actually think, Damn, I look pretty good! I got myself some capris and tops for the St. Louis trip so I don’t have to wear my worn out, stained maternity clothes anymore. The bras I bought at the beginning of my pregnancy fit pretty well. I don’t feel the need to starve myself to see drastic weight loss. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m in a MUCH better place than I was when I started. Those 15 lbs made a HUGE difference and I worked hard to get them off, so I’m going to celebrate where I am, instead of just thinking about where I want to be. I’m glad I set that initial goal of 155lbs. I’m glad I was working toward that first, so when I got there I could take a moment to reflect on what I had done. If I were only focused on 145 and fitting into my size 8s, I’d probably feel pretty battered down right now, like I’d never cross the finish line. Instead, I feel proud of myself–and I should!–for making a real, measurable change to my body.

I’m glad I had this experience now, before I start really working toward bettering myself as a writer. If I set smaller, more reachable goals on that journey, I will set myself up for more celebration and less disappointment. Especially in the beginning, I want to make sure my goals are achievable, things that I KNOW I can do because only I stand in the way of not doing them. Signing up for a writing class was my first goal, and I already achieved that. Completing that class will be my second goal, along with a few other things that I’m working on now (and will talk more about soon). These are all things that I am in complete control of achieving. They don’t require anything outside of myself, like a certain number of page views or having submitted work accepted. I hope I can remember this lesson for at least the first two years; my goals should be about what I can control, otherwise I might start feeling hopeless or depressed. Otherwise I might give up.

I need to do this with some other things too, like paying down my credit card debt. I think I’ll make my first goal to get down to $4000, and then down to $2000. It’s hard to pay that thing off, and every time I reach a goal I should take a moment to appreciate what I’ve done. Maybe then it won’t seem so daunting.

I’m sure some other goals of mine could be restructured in this way. I’ll have to start doing this more.

Are you more successful when you create smaller, more reachable goals? Is there a goal you’re working toward now that might benefit from some restructuring?

More Thoughts on the Postpartum Body Project

I wanted to add a few more thoughts on Operation: Getting My Body Back. I think I’ve mentioned countless a few times before that I have a very sordid history with disordered eating. I spent a decade loathing my body and tethering my happiness to the number on the scale and on the tag of my clothing. It was a dark time, and there were moments when I saw my life as a series of days stacked up like dominoes, each one looming as nothing but another 24 hours period during which I’d do little more than obsess about food.

During my year abroad in Spain I brought my weight down to 125 (a European size 4) and I was officially the skinniest I had ever been. I was also the most miserable. That year taught me an invaluable lesson–being skinny does not guarantee happiness. After that, I stopped my obsession with food, and while I did initially gain more weight than I wanted to, I eventually settled at a size I was happy with.

I spent the next ten years specifically AVOIDING dieting because I didn’t EVER want to go back to that place of severely disordered eating. I was so lucky that after my first pregnancy I was able to lose the 55 lbs I gained almost effortlessly, I assumed through breastfeeding. This postpartum experience has been different. Despite pumping 36-40 ounces a day for six months, I stayed at a steady 165lbs–a full 20lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not sure if this was due to hormones or an increased appetite. Either way, the experience was totally different than before.

I would normally not take my weight loss to the deliberate place of counting and restricting calories with a specific weight loss goal in mind (and I do want to add that I don’t expect to lose two pounds a week, I’m just following the calorie amount that MFP suggests for a two pound weight a week loss), but when I began this project I was a full 25-30 pounds over my target weight (and again, I don’t usually fixate on a number on a scale, but I know that I won’t fit into my clothes (my real goal) until I’m at that target weight). I knew that if I just focused on healthy eating I would only lose about a half pound a week, which means it would be a full year before I would be able to access my wardrobe. Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but I am on a very strict budget and buying clothes I’ll only use for a (hopefully) limited time just isn’t an option for me right now. For that reason I’m trying to get down to a weight where the size 10 clothes I saved (specifically for during and after pregnancy) fit, so that I can revert back to my healthy eating attitude to lose the final weight required to get back into my full wardrobe. Mostly I just really need to not be wearing my maternity clothes anymore.

I guess the short way to say it is, no, I’m not thrilled to be formally “dieting” right now–I wish I could fall back on the attitudes that got me through the last decade–but between the amount of weight I have to lose, the severe lack of clothes I have to wear and the inability to buy clothes during the interim, I’m making the choice to count calories and track exercise.

I will say that I’ve found calorie counting to be a productive exercise. I noticed that I had lost track of serving sizes and portion control during pregnancy and breastfeeding, when I basically let myself eat what I wanted, when I wanted. The sheer amount of what I’ve gotten used to eating, both in the different things I consume throughout the day, and the amount of food I consume at each sitting, will never be conducive to even maintaining a healthy weight, let alone losing slowly over a prolonged period of time. In the first three weeks of tracking my calories I was immediately reminded of how quickly it all adds up, and even now, when I’m not being as dedicated to tracking my calories, I can think back to the weeks when I was and make more educated decisions accordingly. I know that I only need to eat half a burrito in one sitting to be sated (and I have another meal ready and waiting! Bonus!), and that if I have a whole thing of fries with my In-n-Out burger I’ll have consumed 700+ calories. I’ve also been reminded that sometimes just a few bites of something is plenty satisfying, and I don’t have to finish a serving just because it’s there. These are valuable lessons, and I know I’ll carry them with me as I move from more restrictive calorie tracking to an attitude of more relaxed healthy eating.

I also think being aware of my daily steps is a valuable tool; it’s good to know there are days I can barely take 3,000 steps if I don’t do something specifically to get my butt in gear. I want a moderate level activity to be a part of most days, and having my fitbit holds me accountable to that goal. I’m learning how to incorporate movement into my daily life, making decisions I wouldn’t have made before. Like today I’m at a training so I’ll get home later than usual and it will probably be impossible to pick up Osita by the time I get home. I also have a ggmg magazine meeting in the evening so I can’t use the elliptical (I’ve been using it after Monito has gone to bed and so far it’s been quite successful! He doesn’t wake up!) so I’m going to go for a walk during the 30 minute lunch break. I never would have done that before, but knowing I won’t make my step goal today is helping me being proactive in finding opportunities (like my lunch break) to move my body.

So that is where I am on weight loss right now. I suppose I want to make this clear, both to others and to myself, because I am SO TERRIFIED of returning to a place of disordered eating. I want to make sure I’m doing this for the right reasons and in the right way. If you think I’m making an missteps, please tell me.

What is your personal history with body image and weight loss? What philosophy do you want to live by moving forward?