A Story of Motherhood and Gaining Weight. And Pushing 40.
I got pregnant with my first child at the ripe age of 37. I had him at 38. Gone was my slim body. But I did not care. I was in denial for a very, very long time, about the fact that I had put on a third of my previous weight. I had never seen such numbers on the scales.
It doesn’t matter… I said to myself. It’s not that bad. I looked down at my body and I swear, I did not have the impression that I was overweight at all.
One day I exploded one of my favorite pairs of jeans. I struggled really, really hard to put them on and managed to make it to the car. My husband raised an eyebrow but, ever the encouraging man he is, he didn’t say a thing. So I sat down. And… rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrip. Crack. Down the middle. In the back.
“Oh, these jeans were getting old and worn out!” I laughed and blushed a little. But not too much. I really, really believed that it was the jeans’ fault.
Until the second pair of jeans that I managed to break, in the same manner, a couple of weeks later.
I still didn’t believe it.
I bought new jeans and continued my emotional eating.
You see, I was full of anxiety. I was pumped full of fear, the heights of which I had never known in my life.
We all have such a glossy image of motherhood and nobody prepares you for how afraid you get when you become a mother, for a million and one reasons: afraid that your baby will be hurt in the most ridiculous ways (that all seem likely to happen); afraid that YOU will be the cause of hurt for your baby; afraid that you will be a horrible mother and mess up big at some point…
I had suffered with anxiety and depression before. I was already plagued by fear. And this was all before I discovered the good feelings life.
So I didn’t really know what to do with all that.
So I ate. To calm down. To soothe this enormous amount of fear.
Sometimes I marvel at the fact that I didn’t triple my weight.
The hard facts came down on me though the day I saw a picture of myself.
“That’s me?!” I said incredulously. Because that person did not seem to be me at all. I went to the mirror in the bathroom and looked at my face… I really didn’t think I was that changed. And yet… there was the picture…
That was the beginning.
I was craving my old body back.
I wanted to feel like an attractive woman again. Slender. Fit. Strong.
So what to do… what to do…
Hooked on the Past… Trying for a New Future…
For a while I tried things that I had tried before:
- cutting down on portions, skipping meals etc. – in other words, trying to reduce the quantity of food I ate. That felt pretty bad. I had the impression I was hungry all the time. I felt cranky. I felt woozy from the hunger and extremely irritable. So I stopped.
- gritting my teeth, I started an exercise program that I had tried and succeeded with many times before: Callanetics. I didn’t have the time for the full program, which is one hour long, but I did the AM/PM version, 20 minutes each, one per day. That worked a little better – for about a month or so. I struggled really hard to find the energy to do it – and beat myself up really well for when I couldn’t. Nevermind I had a baby… nevermind I was breastfeeding… Nevermind. Plenty of reasons to be a punching bag for myself. That was all too familiar.
So I stayed overweight. Also, it really was a little harder to lose the weight than it had been when I was younger… or so I thought.
In any case, life got in the way… my mother passed and I had a miscarriage. I got pneumonia that summer and lost a lot of weight. Thank you, hard times… you’re good for something…
Somewhere in there I became painfully aware of the fact that I was drowning in some very powerful negative emotions, while I had all the reasons in the world not to. Yes, I had lived through intense moments… I knew grief, oh so very well… But I had my son and my husband… I had the life that I had always dreamed of.
And yet I was struggling…
Feeling Good is the Foundation
One day I discovered that I could start cultivating good feelings. On purpose. One good feeling at a time. You can read the free book I wrote, for the short version of how I do it, or “The Happiness Switch” for the full version.
This started me on a journey that felt entirely different from anything I had tried before.
Of course, my feelings about my weight were not my first priority. I had the people I loved to think and feel about… and then… there was… me. How I felt about me. Which had everything to do with how I approached this whole weight thing.
To begin with, I started to cultivate love and kindness. Not only for others, but for myself.
At first, love was a very tall order. But kindness… I could sort of do. Even in moments of being super tough on myself, I could find it in myself to slow down and gently say “Come on… be a little nicer… Try kindness…”.
That did not help me lose weight… but it got me pregnant with my second child. I have a beautiful baby girl at the time of this writing – and I didn’t put on nearly as much weight during the pregnancy as I put on with my son.
My fears are not having their way with me either – not about her, not about my family.
I am still afraid… I still have crazy thoughts that everything will… well, I won’t even say it (if you are reading this, chances are you know exactly what I mean).
But I know how to turn it around. Soften it. Cultivate kindness. And calm. And comfort. And gentleness. And tenderness. Lots and lots of tenderness.
As love would have it, my (much stronger) awareness of goodness and what, in particular, is good for me is pointing me towards things that are good for me.
I’ve been saying for years now that, much like the sap in a plant, our own life force knows what is good for us. It will point us in the right direction, much like a sunflower turns towards the sun. Or the plants in our garden that knows which bugs are good for them. Or the stray cat that visits us almost daily, who can tell the nice people from the not so nice ones.
So this time around, my weight loss journe is quite different.
Woo-woo and Woohoo
A few months ago I discovered Anthony William and his “Medical Medium” book. I was very curious about it because for years I have been plagued with mystery pains in my joints and other symptoms that doctors did not what to do with (one even said “Yeah… that’s weird…” about one thing, then sent me on my way!).
This may not be your thing, but it is mine. I resonated with that book – and started a smoothie diet that he recommends. I’m drinking huge quantities of fruits, in the form of smoothies, every single day.
I’m not even a purist – as in, I’m not really doing a diet. I’m just drinking smoothies… losely following his recipes. But I’m mostly going with what feels good to me.
As for exercise… I’ve decided that I don’t have the time or energy for even 20 minutes of a gentle stretching program like Callanetics.
So… I do planks. Once a day. For a couple of minutes.
Because that is all I can do right now.
Do you want to know the results?
Three kilograms (about 6.5 pounds) in the first week.
I’m not keeping track anymore.
Once in a while I get on the scales, just because it feels very nice to see the number.
I’m not worried anymore. I’m fully enjoying it already, because I know I have found my way.
It feels super easy. And fun.
Now that’s the good feelings life.