Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pregnancy Weight Loss Myths

There are several myths regarding weight loss after you have a child that I feel I must address.  I don't want to deflate the hopes of so many (and, indeed, for some lucky women these are not myths but truths), but to not do so would be cruel.  Please forgive me.

Myth 1: You Will Quickly Lose the Weight You Gain During Your First Pregnancy

I gained 55 pounds during my first pregnancy - I didn't start out to do so, it just kind of happened.  I kind of watched what I ate, but for the first time in a long, long time I didn't have to worry about what I was putting in my mouth, so I didn't.  It was depressing watching the scale go up, but I kept remembering everyone who said that losing the weight after the first baby is so easy, it's the second baby you have to worry about. So, I have baby #1 and, by 6 weeks postpartum, I had lost 30-35 pounds. Surely this was incorrect - why was there still 20 some odd pounds hanging on.  And they wouldn't go away. I didn't start at 186, it seemed royally unfair that I stopped losing there (I will confess that at this point I wished my tiny six pound nine ounce baby had weighed 20 pounds so that I wouldn't be having this current problem with my weight).  Alas, it took five months of really hard work to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. On a side note, I gained 55 with my second as well (this time I really tried to not gain that much) and, 10 months later, I still have 10 pounds left to lose.  Life can be a bitch.

Myth 2: If You Breastfeed You Will Lose All the Pregnancy Weight and Possibly More

LIE!  This is a horrible, wretched lie.  I did not lose any weight because I breastfed my children.  All I did was eat more and end up with two deflated balloons to show for it.

Myth 3: If You Don't Lose Weight While Breastfeeding You'll Lose Weight When You Wean

See Myth 2 

Myth 4: Cutting Out Dairy Will Speed Up Your Weight Loss

 My youngest daughter didn't handle dairy well so I cut it out of my diet for the first 6 months of her life. I ran into an old friend just when I began my dairy ban and I was surprised at how thin she was. She said it was because she had cut dairy out of her diet. I was beyond ecstatic - if she had gotten this thin without dairy then how thin would I be? I felt like I was going to be rewarded for having to give up something I love. I forgot one, small, important fact: Just because it works for someone else does not mean it will work for me. In fact, it never does. I am cursed to lose weight the hard way - diet and exercise. Doesn't matter anyway, I've decided I don't want to be that thin.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

We Have Hit Rock Bottom

I read a story in the news today that shocked and scared me.  A couple has been charged with starving their baby because they were worried she was getting too fat - they would put laxatives in her bottle to keep her from gaining weight.  It all came to light when she was hospitalized for not gaining enough weight and the doctors commented that she did fine in their care.  Are you ready for the real shocker - the baby was less than TWO MONTHS OLD!  What has our society come to that someone would even consider starving a baby for being too fat???  She weighed just over 13 pounds and her mother thought she had a fat baby.  Babies are supposed to gain weight - they are supposed to be chunky with adorable little fat rolls and chubby cheeks.  It's the one time in your life when chubby thighs are considered cute!  My youngest was in the 90th percentile for the first few months of her life and my pediatrician always commented that he wished all his patients were as healthy as my little girl.  We are so blessed to have children who have access to the best nutrition in the world, and to have parents who have access to the information and wisdom of so many about what a baby needs - why would anyone be so deluded to think that a baby needs to lose weight?  I can seriously think of nothing sadder than this - what have we become?


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Food Battles

Do you ever battle it out with food?  I do, all the time.  Like tonight I had a brownie (that was supposed to be for my husband), a bag of Butter Lover's popcorn, ice cream with chocolate chips and Hershey's syrup added, then just chocolate chips and Hershey's syrup, a glass of Coke, a cheeseburger and fries from McDonald's and a bowl of cereal - all in about a two hour period.  Why did I eat like this, you might ask.  Well, I had a lovely evening planned with my daughter and due to several breakdowns and misbehaving on her behalf said evening did not happen and I was crushed to cancel it.  She went to bed upset and I came downstairs upset, and thus I turned to food to help me feel better.  That and Juno, because the movie makes me cry and I needed to cry.

Why does food make us feel better?  By tomorrow I won't be feeling better at all by what I ate, but right now I'm in a happy state of "stuffed on bad food."  This is one of the reasons why I have struggled with my weight - okay, probably the main reason I have struggled is because of my unhealthy relationship with food.  So many times I would order food at a restaurant and then shovel it in my mouth before too many people noticed the fat girl was eating a cheeseburger and fries instead of a salad, no wonder I'm fat!  Of course, if I ordered a salad it confirmed that I was fat because the fat girl needs a salad.  I am so messed up mentally when it comes to food...and what other people think.  Even now, when I'm really not even overweight anymore, I struggle with what people will think of me depending on what I order.  If I order off the Weight Watchers menu at Applebees will the server think I'm fat?  He may not have thought I was fat before, but if I have to order off the WW menu then I must be fat.  Notice how I said he?  Because unless my server is a hot chick or a guy, I don't really care what the server thinks.  And there is the true problem - I worry about what "pretty" people think of me.  But what defines "pretty?"  Aren't we all beautiful in the eyes of God?  I suppose it's because it was the "pretty" people that I strived so hard to impress and please back in junior high and high school - it was their acceptance I craved and even now, at the ripe old age of 30, I still want that acceptance.  If I could move out of my warped mind for a few days and into the real world I would truly see just how ridiculous this desire is - but it's still there.  Sadly, it is still there for a majority of us because only a small minority fit into the category of "pretty" people.  But, you know what, I think I am a pretty person.  I may not be beautiful and airbrushed, but I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that needs to be enough - I hope one day it is, for all of us.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

An Impossible Standard

I knew a girl in junior high, let's call her Elizabeth, who was my friend, kind of.  We had been friends in elementary school and we still said hi in the hallways but due to our schedules we never really saw each other.  I used to dream that I was Elizabeth.  She was tall and skinny with big green eyes and I just knew that if I looked like her my life would be so much easier.  No more fat jokes, no more being embarrassed because I didn't fit into stylish clothes (there was no plus size teen department in those days), no more awfulness.

In high school and college Elizabeth and I became good friends.  One day we were talking about Junior High and she told me that she had always wished that she was me.  I burst out laughing - why would anyone want to be me?  Especially in junior high?  I told her how I had been teased and tormented and the only thing I wanted was to be like her.  This caused Elizabeth to start laughing.  Why would I want to be her?  She had been teased and tormented too.  She was too skinny, her hair was too frizzy, she was flat-chested - the insults went on and on.  I was shocked - Elizabeth came closer to the ideal than most women I knew - at 5'6 and 115 pounds she was tall and thin and gorgeous.  But apparently I was wrong.  I suppose you can be too skinny.  I remember reading somewhere that Gwyneth Paltrow was teased for being too skinny.  Here is a woman who defines beauty in our culture and she was teased for being too skinny.  Really, we women just can't win.  We're never perfect. Even the most beautiful women in our culture are airbrushed to death.  There is no real woman that stands up to the scrutiny placed on her by society.  Heck, I could be a swimsuit model these days with everything Photoshop can do.  But why do we need Photoshop to be considered beautiful?  I just want to be beautiful as I am.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hypocritical Me

So before I go any further with this, I feel that I must make a confession - I am a hypocrite in this area.  I still want to be thin - like 120 pounds thin.  I'm 5'6 and 115 is the low end of a healthy weight range for me.  I would be too skinny at 120 with my bone structure, but there is still a part of me that wants to see the scale read 120.  Why is this the magical number???  I don't know, but 120 sounds so nice to say, "I weigh 120 pounds."  Even 119 - then I'm in the really low 100s.  Sad and pathetic, I know, but true.

I realized what a distorted view of myself I had about 6 months ago.  I gained 55 pounds with my first daughter and the scale topped out at 220-something.  I figured I'd lose it all right away though, because this was my first pregnancy and everyone loses all the weight right away from their first pregnancy.  Such a lie!  I stopped losing at 186.  I had been comfortably fluctuating between 162 and 168 for years so this was very bad in my mind.  Between June of 2007 and June of 2008 I lost 45 pounds the healthy way.  And I still thought I was fat (at 139 pounds).  I was in size 6 jeans but this wasn't small enough - I needed to be a four or a two.  And let's not even mention the havoc being pregnant wreaked on my stomach so I also had a glorious muffin top.  Now, I had been overweight most of my life, but being pear-shaped my stomach was always somewhat small.  No longer (let me insert here and now that I would not trade being pregnant and having my girls for anything - the world's biggest muffin top is worth their being here).  With my second daughter I also gained about 55 pounds (although I tried so hard not to) and knowing how hard it was the first time, started back on Weight Watchers 2 weeks postpartum.  When my youngest was about 3 months old I went through some old pictures and found one of myself from June 2008.  Um, I was thin, there is no question or doubt about it - the woman in the picture (although her hair is atrocious) is really thin.  Why did I think I was fat?  Why did I still want to lose another 20 pounds?  Why is there a part of me, even now, that still wants to be 120 pounds?  Why do I talk and talk about being happy with who you are and I'm still not entirely happy with who I am (although I am getting there)?  It's therapeutic I suppose.  And I hope, that through this, I will recognize, once and for all, I'm beautiful just the way I am - the way God intended me for to be.  I hope you realize that too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Obsessed With Being Thin

I barely remember a time in my life when I didn't obsess over being thin.  I was confident throughout elementary school (I started gaining weight around age 8) and I clearly remember going to my first day of school in Junior High.  I walked in with confidence.  It was going to be a great year - I was no longer in elementary school, I was growing up, I could wear make-up and shave, I was beautiful and the boys were going to love me.  I left that day with the new knowledge that I was fat, ugly, undesirable and that people I knew in elementary school would no longer speak to me for fear of being seen with the "fat kid."  It was an eye-opening experience.  I've never had the same confidence since.

When I was 12 I found an advertisement in one of the many teen magazines I received.  The headline basically screamed "Be Thin and Beautiful for $12.99!"  It showed the before and after picture of a young girl who had been so transformed you wouldn't even have guessed it was the same person.  The article talked about how guys now flocked after her, how she could wear a bikini, how confident she was, etc. etc.  In small print it was promised that the package would arrive in plain brown paper so no one would know the contents.  I was sold.  I gathered up $12.99 (the exact change) and stuffed it into an envelope with the order form.  I snuck out to the mailbox so my parents wouldn't know and then I waited for my plain brown package to arrive in the mail - the package that would cure all my problems.  It never arrived.  I don't know if it's because I mailed .99 in change or if it's because the company was a fraud, but to this day my miracle in a box hasn't happened.  Throughout high school I would try various things - I wouldn't eat for a week at a time, I was constantly on diets.  I would binge in secret so no one would know how much I really ate.  I even knelt in front of the toilet and tried to make myself throw up - praise God I couldn't bring myself to do it.  Even in college I tried various diets, including the hot dog diet, but, of course, nothing worked.

What is it with this obsession?  Girls in elementary school are now dieting, convinced that they are not beautiful or thin unless they look like the girls in the magazines.  There are websites and blogs committed to helping girls be anorexic and bulimic.  We are a culture obsessed with being thin and being beautiful.  We don't care about character anymore, we don't care about doing what is right, about being kind and helping others, we care about looking better than everyone else.  Where did we go wrong?  And how do we correct the course we are now on?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Time

Do you believe you're beautiful?  I've never thought of myself that way - for many reasons.  The boys in junior high who made sure I knew I was too fat.  The boys in high school who would date my friends because they didn't want to be seen with the fat chick.  The girl in third grade who asked me if I wanted to be thin.  All of this told me I was not the ideal and thus I was not beautiful.  At my 10 year high school reunion I saw one of my tormentors from junior high and realized that for the past 12 years I had allowed this guy who I didn't even know anymore control my life.  He controlled how I thought about myself.  He was always there in the back of my mind, "How does it feel to be so fat?"  "How did your butt get pregnant?"  "Do you like to jiggle when you run?"  I vividly remember the girl I sat next to in gym class - the only person I knew who was teased more than me.  I never spoke to her, because as long as my tormentors focused on her it meant they weren't focused on me.

Two years later I still struggle with how I view myself.  Instead of wanting to lose weight to be healthy, I want to do so to be thin.  I want to feel good about myself and that is tied directly to how I look and the size of my pants.  I'm currently a size 10 and I see myself as fat.  10 is too large.  Honestly, my goal is to be a 4-6.  I often lament that if I had been born in the Renaissance Era I would be the most beautiful woman on earth because I'm built just like the women in the paintings.  Enough is enough though.  I'm tired of the world telling me what it means to be beautiful.  We are women, we are beautiful.  It's time to reclaim our beauty.