True Life: I used to be fat.
And then I was thin.
And now I’m fat again.
I’ve spent the majority of my life obsessing over my weight. During the times I’ve been overweight, I’m obsessing about food…and during the times I’ve been thin I’ve been obsessing about dieting. Achieving balance in this area of my life will likely always be my biggest personal battle.
As a child, I would overeat and hide food wrappers. As a teenager I would skip meals, try fad diets, you name it. In college, I tried to lose weight the “right way” and did—30 pounds, three different times—and regained it each time. When I was 27, I lost 90 pounds in 2 years by essentially counting every calorie and exercising constantly. I would punish myself for eating by getting on a Stairmaster. My body looked great—but my mindset? Not so much. When my weight plateaued, I started getting panic attacks when I’d step on the scale, and cry for at least an hour if the number stayed the same or—gasp—went up. I started seeing a counselor and gradually started re-gaining some weight. For a hot minute, I’d found BALANCE.
And then life happened. A house. Wedding planning. A pregnancy with undiagnosed gestational diabetes that caused more weight gain. Being one of the only women I know who can nurse a child for 12 months and not lose a pound. Choosing to get pregnant again, since I’m 34 and it’s not going to get easier to carry babies or lose weight. Having another pregnancy with gestational diabetes, followed by the post-partum period of time where you don’t know what hour or day it is, and you grab whatever food is available. And the food is normally quick and hopefully tasty.
Like muffins. My muffin top is made of actual muffins.
So here I am. The fog has lifted a bit, my baby is 4 months old now. But I’m also exhausted. The baby still gets up 1-2x/night, and so getting up at 5am to get a workout in doesn’t seem reasonable. I work full time so all I want to do is rest and hold my little ones when we get home. Two children equal less cash and so now there’s the challenge of planning healthy, quick, and cheap meals. I miss the gym, but sleep is at a premium these days. I feel like I can’t sacrifice those hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings because they are precious and make me feel human.
I want to lose weight. But for me, that’s a loaded concept. My eating and dieting are disordered. I have fears of spiraling back into my over-restrictive habits due to the fact that as a mom, the simplest way to lose weight is to not eat. All the other options (meal prep, exercise, etc) require TIME and ENERGY, things that I am lacking these days. My health is a priority but when you’re sleep deprived, does sleep trump going for a run?
But I need to do something. I’ve been hiding from cameras, since seeing photos of myself makes me cringe. Those who know me encourage me to give myself a little grace—2 babies in three years and an uncooperative metabolism—and they remind me my baby is “only” 4 months old. But I’m trying to be honest and realistic. The benefits of getting healthier are more than just wearing pants with zippers. I want to feel normal again. I want to stop dreading cameras. I want to get dressed in the morning without feeling depressed that I only have three pairs of pants that fit. Those mental gains you make from taking care of yourself cannot be underestimated. I know, because I’ve felt them before. And the reality is, I miss the gym. I miss cooking. I miss having the time to take care of myself.
So I suppose the question is—how do we do it? How do we find the time to take care of ourselves? I mean, really DO it? Not an occasional bubble bath or date night, but the kind of self-care that actually results in forward progress. I’m still wondering this myself, but for now, I simply have to accept that there aren’t enough hours in the day for it all. I’m going to keep brainstorming small ways to make progress. (I just went grocery shopping and bought broccoli—look at me go!) And while weight loss is a priority, those 5pm snuggles rank higher on the list.
So for now, I’ll be over here, pleasantly plump and cuddling my babies. I’ve got the rest of my life to lose weight, but they’ll only be this little once. And thank goodness for elastic waist pants.
February 25 – March 3 is Eating Disorder Awareness Week. If you are struggling, the National Eating Disorders Foundation has great resources including a screening tool, information about online, text and telephone helplines & treatment information.