I was in the best shape of my life before I got pregnant.
I have always been a chubby person. I was a fat kid who grew into a fat adult. Family lore has it that “cookie” was my first word. I love to eat. Unfortunately, I eat when I’m hungry, when I’m not hungry, when I’m stressed, when I’m happy, when I’m bored, when I’m busy, when I’m with people, when I’m alone, etc. Food is my friend and my enemy.
I don’t remember what year it was, by I do recall the moment when I said to myself, “This is enough.” I was in a hotel over the winter holidays. I was en route from visiting family in Ohio back to my home in New Mexico. During this particular trip, I had exchanged my reward points from one of those hotel loyalty programs for a free stay in a rather upscale room. I was checking out the fancy bathroom when some impulse prompted me to get on the scale. I don’t know if it was the wonderment over why a hotel would even offer a scale or idle curiosity, but I got on nonetheless.
I did not like the number that I saw on the digital display.
That number staring up at me was just too much. I knew this explained why I got winded climbing a flight of stairs. I knew this explained why I was tired all the time. I knew this explained why I was developing a second chin.
I knew I did not want to be this weight.
After returning to Albuquerque, I started watching what I ate and walking the dog more. I knew this wasn’t going to be enough. Serendipity stepped in, and I received a postcard advertising the grand opening of a Curves in my neighborhood. I joined a few days later.
That was the first step I needed in getting my health back. Over the next few years I managed to lose close to seventy pounds. I moved back to Ohio, started a new job, got divorced, changed jobs, remarried, gained back and lost a few pounds but, through it all, I always transferred my membership to the local Curves.
I was getting closer to my goal weight and decided I wanted to do something more. Again, fortune stepped in and I received an email about the Breast Cancer 3-Day. This was in 2007, the first year the event was to be held in Cleveland. I signed up and set about training for the 60-mile walk. After completing the event, I felt strong and capable. I knew I had to do it again.
I registered for the 2008 event and set about training. I had lost a bit of motivation since the mornings were still cold and dark. I was also feeling queasy most mornings. I figured that I must have eaten something off or wasn’t drinking enough water. I wasn’t too worried about intense training as yet. I was still fit from the previous summer’s event and at my lowest weight since high school.
One morning, I threw up while walking the dog.
After a trip to the local drug store, I used my purchase in the pre-dawn hours to diagnose the cause for my tummy troubles.
The little stick told me I was pregnant.
So, I was the best shape of my life when I got pregnant. I continued to walk and to go to Curves late into my pregnancy. I didn’t, however, keep training for the 3-Day since walking 60 miles, camping for two nights in a tent and having limited access to only portable restrooms while seven months pregnant did not sound like fun.
Nausea was my constant companion during all nine months that I carried Philip. I found myself eating all the time. Despite the exercise, I gained back many of the pounds that I had worked so hard to lose.
After Philip was born, I obviously dropped a few pounds. I was certain that the rest of the weight would come melting off when I began to breastfeed. At least, that was what was promised in those “what to expect” books and articles. As things turned out, my milk never came in. I was not going to lose weight that way.
Before the baby was born, we had decided that Peter would quit work to stay at home. Since we were living off just my income, I gave up my Curves membership. I assumed that, once my child got on a sleep schedule, I would be able to work in other, free fitness activities. Again, the “what to expect” books had not prepared me for life with first a baby and then a toddler with such an erratic sleep schedule.
Despite these challenges, I had been keeping relatively fit by walking the dog twice a day. I didn’t get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but things got better once I started pushing Philip around town in a stroller.
Last summer, after I started my new job and we moved, bad habits started to creep back into my life. I was spending more time in the car commuting to work. I was eating more fast food, walking a little less. When I began walking with Philip rather than pushing him in a stroller, my walking regime decreased in its intensity and efficacy. Over the winter, my clothes got tighter. I started getting winded when I took the stairs. Hell, I was getting winded walking in a straight line. One weekend about a month ago, I got on the scale at my parents’ house.
I did not like the number I saw on the display.
As much as I don’t like how I look when I’m this weight, what I really hate is how I feel: blah. Plus, I know I’m putting myself at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. It runs in my family.
More importantly, I don’t like the message I’m sending to Philip. Sure, he may not notice and be embarrassed by my weight now, but he will notice if I’m too tired and fat to play with him. As I read this blog post at The Oxygen Mask Project, I found myself nodding in recognition and agreement.
Enough IS enough.
Peter kindly got the stroller out of storage a few weeks ago. I cleaned off the cobwebs, and Peter inflated the tires. Now, as part of our new morning routine, I put Philip in the stroller and push him while walking the dog. Not only will this help me get back in shape, it’s turning into an excellent way to wake up Philip in the morning. I’ve written about sleep issues before. There is this vicious cycle in which Philip sleeps in, takes a late nap and then stays up late which makes him want to sleep in, take a late nap, etc. Without the structure of the school day, it has become more of a struggle to make sure Philip wakes up and stays awake.
During the school year, Philip was never awake early enough to eat breakfast. He takes after his dad like that: they both eat like birds and have the waists to match. In preschool, skipping breakfast isn’t ideal, but it’s not the end of the world. But once Philip starts full-day school, there won’t be morning snack and he won’t be going home for an early lunch. I need to get him in the breakfast-eating habit now. So, while I’m getting in a workout, Philip can munch on cereal and check out the sights.
Philip isn’t always awake when I put him in the stroller. This is one reason why I don’t try to make him walk on his own. I tried that, but ending up carrying a still-sleepy toddler. Sure, THAT would be an excellent workout, but it’s hard to pick up dog poop while carrying thirty-plus pounds of crying child. In the stroller, Philip can ease into wakefulness while the dog and I can walk at a brisk pace. Well, a brisk pace until the dog stops to sniff something. But you get the point.
I’m hoping by the end of summer that my pants are fitting a little better and that I’m not out of breath from a flight of stairs. I need to be in the best shape of my life now, to take care of myself, my son and my family.