My Weight Loss Journey – 100 Pounds & Counting
After 31 hours of labor and a last minute C-section, I gave birth to my son a month early to the date. In 2009, I started my pregnancy weighing 215 pounds. At the time of my son’s birth, early 2010, I weighed 266 pounds (keeping in mind that I am barely 5 feet 6 inches tall and a medium build). As of August 2013 I have kept off 100 of the 266 pounds for one year and counting. I still have weight to lose (if you’re counting, 30 plus pounds) but I’ve stopped using my scale at this point in my weight loss journey. It’s all relative to how I feel physically and mentally, not based on a number on the scale. I made slow modest changes and set realistic short term goals that ended up providing long term results. I didn’t use magic pills, drinks, drops, or special diets. It was a combination of real food, physical activity, sleep, and lots of fresh air and sunshine. I had plans of writing about my weight loss in early 2013 because people around me inquired, “How’d you do it?” Time slipped by and I had not taken time to write. Then summer came and I’d hear “you’re so lucky you lost that weight, I wish I did!” Time passed again and I’d yet to write the post. Then recently the interwebs went a buzz for a week or so about a young mother of 3 who took a picture with a caption that sent the world in a tizzy. It wasn’t the photo that prompted my motivation to write this post. It was the comments; the array of comments from both sides of the fence. I don’t often let the drama of the interwebs conflict with my daily operation but the comments hit home for me and so here I am sharing my story and support.
On my 32nd birthday I went to my annual doctor appointment with stress and concern. I was 215 pounds. The heaviest I had ever been. I was over worked and under nourished. I was not getting enough sleep because of my anxiety. I was eating bad food and too much of it, I was drinking too much, and I was working too many long hours at my computer with no fresh air or physical activity. I was stressed and depressed because of my mental and physical health.
In general, I was a healthy woman. I had no major ailments or physical challenges other than stress and a lot of extra weight. Unfortunately the lack of care for my health was going to cause ailments if I didn’t do something about it. From my early 20s to this point I was a health conscious individual, making sure I made time for plenty of outside activity as well as real food consumption. Now in my early 30s I had never carried so much on my medium frame, tipping the scales at 75 pounds over my natural weight. My once excellent blood pressure was now at a deathly rate and they were ready to place me on medication.
This annual doctor visit was different for me than most. I had been trying to get pregnant for the past year. The doctor didn’t sugar coat it. She did not want me to get pregnant yet. She wanted me to lose weight. Any weight loss, even 5 to 10 pounds would be a step in the right direction. I had to maintain my life and the life of another so I had to be healthy. I set out on a plan to change my work habits. This plan would allow me to get back to real food and to allow me time outside for fresh air and physical activity. I needed to get my mental focus back.
It was hard going. Work was stressful and I let the comments of others invade my motivation at times. All this said I didn’t let it stop me from trying. If I failed on day one and two, I’d get back on track for day three, four, and five. After a couple months I finally started to lose a few pounds. It’s amazing how one’s body will respond to positive change, no matter how small the change is. I had been trying to get pregnant for a year and within a couple months of adjusting my health behaviors I found myself pregnant.
I didn’t need a test to know I was pregnant. I knew right away because I was immediately sick. I couldn’t eat and I could barely keep water down. Within minutes of eating or drinking anything, it would come right back up. Nothing helped. I couldn’t function. I was left to bed rest. Thankfully my boss was supportive during this time. I laid in bed with my computer and phone at one side and a bucket on the other. The first ultra sound gave us the impression we were having twins. There were two images on the screen, not one. They ordered an emergency ultra sound the next day where they determined I had a septate uterus. A septate reduces the amount of space the baby will have to grow. Some septate’s are more severe than others causing a higher rate of miscarriage. Then there was the constant sickness. This was not your typical morning sickness. Not being able to keep fluids and foods down was becoming a negative health matter for both me and my baby. It was determined that I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum (aka HG), a severe form of morning sickness. I was unable to keep anything down, no food, and no fluids. I received a couple instances of an IV treatment over the course of the pregnancy because the vomiting was so severe. I took a medication every few hours that is given to cancer patients who go through chemo and radiation, just to keep small amounts of food and liquid down. If I did not do this, the ability for my child and me to receive proper nutrition would have been null and void and so would have been this pregnancy.
The first 6 months of my pregnancy were spent in bed a majority of the time in between weekly doctor visits. During the early months I couldn’t function, even with the medication I was not stable. The sickness stayed with me throughout the pregnancy and it wasn’t until the 7th and 8th month that I was able to regulate the ability to maintain throwing up, getting minimal movement, and keeping food down. I had not gained any weight until the last couple months of my pregnancy where I ballooned and my weight skyrocketed. I was severely swollen and the doctors couldn’t figure out how or why the weight piled on so quickly.
At 7 months pregnant, this would be one of the very few pictures you’ll see of me while I was pregnant due to my severe swelling and lack of ability to get out and about.
Due to his rapid growth my septate could not accommodate the space he required and exactly a month to the date, my water broke early. I spent the next 31 hours in hard labor before they determined I needed a C-Section. The septate made it difficult for my kiddo to move around thus he was not properly positioned to be pushed out the natural way. They had to cut me open. As quickly as it all began it was done and we had a beautiful healthy 7 pound 7 ounce awesome little boy.
A few moments earlier I had my cell phone propped in the crook of my neck. This is one of the biggest reasons why I was so overweight, undernourished, and depressed. I was working hours after having a C-Section.
Within a couple hours of having the C-Section I was up and walking around, which surprised the nurses and doctors. I was so sick of sitting. I was so sick of being confined for so many months. I was so sick of being sick; my will got me out of bed and moving around. I spent the next 8 days in the hospital. They had to keep watch due to the C-Section. Since my son was born a month early he developed jaundice and was required to lie under a blue light for 2 days. He also had not developed proper sucking ability and my milk had not yet fully developed since he was so early. During the 8 days there we worked heavily with a lactation consultant. I ended up having to pump every couple hours for the next few months and place my milk in a special bottle that allowed him to properly receive the milk.
Home at last. I can remember my first shower at home since being back from the hospital. I sat in the bathroom and cried for hours. My body was thrashed. I was a mess. I was mentally and physically exhausted from the last 8 months of sickness and pain. The thought kept running through my mind, would this have been easier if I had weighed less at the time of pregnancy? The fear of what was to come for the future health of my baby and I weighed heavy. I was depressed at the sight of my being. My body was stretched beyond belief. My stomach was gross, laden with stretch marks. I was so swollen I couldn’t wear real shoes. Again thoughts ran through my mind, if I wasn’t so heavy would I have blown up so much, would I have stretched out so much?
It took a week at home to have a sense of normalcy start to trickle in. The second week home from the hospital the hubs went back to work and my mom arrived daily to help around the house, run errands, watch the kiddo while I showered, and most of all get me off my ass and moving. We packed the kiddo in the stroller, snuggled and bundled, and hit the road for afternoon walks. The walks were uncomfortable because of my swollen over weight feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs… everything ached but we took baby steps and by the end of the week I was able to walk normal alongside my mother.
I continued the daily outings with my son in tow and by my six week checkup I had a 20 pound weight loss and was able to finally wear real shoes. The doctor was very happy I had lost 20 pounds but at 246 she knew that if I didn’t continue this weight loss journey I would not be able to provide my son with ample nutrition. She was right too because by the end of 3 months I was no longer able to produce enough milk to feed my son. The weight and the stress in my current environment did not bode well on my physical being. I had to depend on formula now.
At my six week visit I was given the green light to begin regular physical activity (aka exercise, working out). I was motivated. I bought a super heavy duty bra for those mom boobs that were in the double alphabet category. I invested in used copies of exercise videos on craigslist and I set a schedule. I was ready to regain my physical and mental health. Then life happened.
Less than 3 months after having my son, I was released from my job and went from full time career focused person to full time stay at home mom. My husband moved to night shift and we moved over an hour away from family and friends to a small farming community where we started over. There were long sleepless nights. I was preparing a move and packing for my family alone since the hubs was on night shifts. I was driving close to 3 hours a day round trip to our new community managing our move (unfortunately use of the internet was slow going out here thus the need for travel). I was doing this while trying to bond with my newborn son. These tasks were cutting into that planned workout time. Still, I tried to not let this stop me.
Between long distance drives, packing, cleaning, and other tasks, I still fit in my daily walks with the kiddo. The swelling was gone and I was able to wear real walking shoes so I upped the ante on my mileage. Each day I’d walk a little further than the last. It wasn’t easy but it made for a great bonding time for my son and me. We were both outside getting fresh air and he was seeing (yes at just a couple months) his mommy working hard towards something good. Prior to my pregnancy I was given gift certificates which I put to good use in purchasing a very basic, no bells and whistles, elliptical. It did what I needed it to do – move forward, backward, and provide resistance. Roughly once or twice a week I was able to get on the elliptical for a few minutes. I’d place the kiddo in his swing and he’d rock back and forth giggling at me while I exercised. I’m not sure if he was laughing at the sight of me or if the noise of the machine provided him entertainment? It didn’t matter because he was happy and I was able to start chipping away at my block of motivation.
The super heavy duty no messing around sports bra for mom boobs arrived and fit wonderfully. I felt supported and ready to run, jump, and kick with the best of them. I was slowly incorporating walking, elliptical time, and some basic strength training. What’s next… nutrition.
When my husband and I found out I was pregnant it was a wakeup call. The realization that we were now responsible for raising a sound healthy strong equally participating human being hit home hard. Things we never considered before we now paid close attention to, specifically the food we consumed and the chemicals we were exposed to. We read everything we could get our hands on. Our research got deeper. We were paying attention to everything now we knew we were going to be raising a human being. Unfortunately my pregnancy did not allow me to receive the quality nutrition I needed due to the HG I experienced. Water, chicken broth, watermelon, and fruit popsicles were the basis of my consumption for a majority of my pregnancy. It wasn’t until the last couple months was I able to eat more substantial food. It wasn’t until after I gave birth to my son was I truly able to focus on my nutrition.
We moved to our new community and settled in. My kiddo was now 4 months old and I was down 40 pounds, to 226, since having him. It was a step in the right direction but I had a long way to go. I still weighed more than I did before I got pregnant. It was around this time we discovered the documentary Food Inc. This movie gave us the arsenal we needed to begin the transformation we we’re in the thick of today. We immediately began exploring our community. We sought out the local farms, ranchers, and producers in our area that provided real, whole, organic, pasture raised foods that were going to provide us real nutrition.
Me shortly after we moved to the community, 40 pounds down and slowly pushing forward…
It was then I began focusing on canning, preservation, dehydration, and fermentation of our foods too. I had to find creative ways to keep solid nutrition in our home on a very tight single income. I focused on homemade vs. processed. I focused on back to basics, something that seemed to have been long lost after my great grandmother. Raw milk, raw honey, local pastured meats, homemade foods such as yogurts, homemade granolas, breads, and other real foods and fats that would otherwise come to us as processed goods. I was eliminating the junk and the fake stuff. This along with a focus on physical activity did I start to lose more weight. Real food and physical activity; the magic pill many are seeking. It also required hard work and dedication. There were days I fought getting out of bed at the sound of my alarm because I was too tired or too depressed to tackle the day’s workout or the day’s tasks of real food preparation. Needless to say the journey to this point had not been easy at all. What it has been are grand learning experiences that make me stronger and wiser each day.
Prior to having my son and getting wrapped up in the chaos of work I was focused on physical and mental health as much as I was on my education and career. I participated in charitable runs and walks (can you say 60 day breast cancer walk times 3); I hiked every weekend with my younger brother. The hubs and I would have weekend cook fests making homemade meals with ingredients from our local producers. It was around 2006 to 2009 that I lost my way. I got wrapped up in the chaos of proving myself in my career that I stopped proving myself to… me. Before I knew it the pounds had packed on and so did the anxiety, depression, and the lack of drive and motivation.
It wasn’t until we moved away from everything I’ve ever known did I wake up and decide it was time to focus on me. I was raising a little human I had to be an example to – this was my aha moment. I had a household to maintain and I also had to maintain myself. If I was no good to me, what good would I be to anyone else? Each month that passed I saw a slow transformation.
Life always seems to have a plan of getting in the way of the goals I set forth for myself. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another. I realized “challenge” was going to be a constant theme; so what was I going to do about it? It boiled down to how I chose to deal with the difficult situations that came at me. In the past, I’d curl up into a ball (not literally – ok, well maybe… not always… sometimes) and retreat from the world around me. Today, I’m learning to face those days with my head held high. I am learning that whether I waste my time sulking or tackle the day ahead… the challenges will still be there.
Four months after my son was born and I was still 86 pounds away from my natural weight. Our journey of real food and regaining physical activity was slowly starting to kick in. We made weekly trips to our farmers market and weekend trips to a local organic farm stand. We slowly started removing processed foods from our pantry and replaced them with real whole and homemade foods, using primarily organic and local ingredients. Each day I diversified my exercise routine, adding in longer walks with the dog, additional afternoon walks with the kiddo in tow, strength training, cardio kickboxing, and yoga. I would get a walk in, in the morning, and a good hour of hard yard work in, in the afternoon. Not all exercise is created equal; doing just one or the other is just not enough especially when you’re trying to loose large amounts of weight. The more I did the same thing the more my body got use to the activity and only maintained vs. loosing… plus it can get boring at times. I had to keep it interesting so there were times when it seemed like the journey was taking forever.
It was a huge achievement for me to be able to carry my son on my back while hiking, still pushing past the 40 pound mark.
The pounds were slow to drop because I wasn’t consistent. Like I said, life has a way of getting in the way but I didn’t let that stop me. Just because I had one or two bad days didn’t mean it was time to give up. After my son’s 1st birthday I found myself finally at the weight I was when I got pregnant. I had lost a few more pounds bringing me to 216. It took a little under a year to lose 50 pounds but I did it and I did it the right way. I did it naturally, with real whole foods, real fats, and physical activity. No pills, drops, or gimmicks; just food and activity. After hitting this milestone I decided to do something different to keep me going, to take me out of my comfort zone and prove to myself that what I was doing was all worth the effort. After a weight loss of 50 pounds, with the support of friends, I did the Warrior Dash Challenge – and survived!
Warrior Dash 2011… I did it!
Life continued to throw us curve balls. We went from two stable incomes to one very unstable income. The hubs endured a rough going knee surgery that impacted us all. Financial burdens of student loans and the IRS provided many of sleepless nights and stressful days. Finding cheap educational ways to keep an active rapidly growing baby into a toddler was proving challenging. Establishing ourselves into a community we’ve never known was lonely and scary at times. The list of life continued but each day I fought hard to not let it impact the focus I had on getting my health back. There is no doubt after doing this for so long that taking a good brisk walk or a long deep stretch will help clear the mind and improve the body allowing me to be that more equipped to handle what’s ahead.
I’ve continued to follow this path, focusing on real whole foods and consistent exercise. By late summer 2012 I had met another weight loss goal of 50 pounds bringing me to 166. I had made it to my first goal. It took two and a half years but I lost the weight and like I said before, I did it naturally. I’ve maintained this weight now for a year. We’re now in the fall of 2013 and I’ve maintained this weight but I would be happier with reaching my last goal which was my healthy weight ranging between 145 and 135 pounds. I want to be able to run next to my son while he rides his bike, without running out of breath so soon. I want to know that I’d have the capability to help my family if ever in a dire physical situation. I want to live comfortably in my clothes. I don’t want obesity and a family history of diabetes and cancer impact my future opportunity of watching my son learn and grow and spending later years with my husband. These are the reasons why I don’t make excuses anymore. Why I have good days and bad days and keep going no matter what.
A clear comparison of my weight loss – 100 pounds and counting.
My thoughts on the mother who posted the photo of herself and her boys… I say more power to you. I’m more amazed at one managing three boys and multiple businesses than I am at her “rock hard abs” as someone quoted. I interpret her photo quote, “what’s your excuse?” as a basic question towards those who are more than capable of changing their current health situation but let the excuses get in the way. I don’t think she’s advising people to get out and run marathons or lift massive amounts of weights or do a spinning class overnight… what I think she’s trying to convey is if I can stay healthy with what’s on my plate… so can you. Her quote didn’t say, “Don’t you wish you looked like me?” although it seemed by the comments that is how people interpreted it. Genetics alone won’t allow you to look like her. For those with ailments beyond basic nutrition and health, the comment wasn’t directed at you. It seemed to be a general statement aimed at those who can help themselves. Would there have been less controversy if the photo was of a women athlete running in prosthetics and the same tag line, “what’s your excuse?” I have no idea. What I do know is that I was disappointed by the comments, especially by women, with grand assumptions made based solely on a photo and some quotes. Bad mothering because she posed in this picture with her sons, inability to breastfeed due to being too healthy & fit, too sexually suggestive by her outfit, and the list goes on of the negative comments aimed at her picture and quote. I think the following blog post by Matt Walsh hits home the points I wanted to address but he says them best.
I don’t have any full figured pictures showing all of me since I’m always behind the camera instead of in front but I thought this picture showed it best; My glow, my happiness, my strength of being 100 pounds lighter. Summer 2013
I continue have hopes that we can stop being mean to each other and instead support each other with our stories and experiences. I hope my story has provided some insight into the life and journey of one’s health and to not judge a book by its cover. I will continue to work towards my health goals, be fit, and inspire my son and others around me while doing so. I think Matt Walsh said it best concluding his post, “This isn’t about her, she’s just a case study. Congratulate her for what she’s been able to do, then set out to do what you want to do. But, she’s right about what she said: you’ll have to stop making excuses first.” The keys to success (in weight loss and overall physical & mental well-being) are real whole natural foods, plenty of sleep, plenty of varied physical activity, and fresh air and sunshine. Now go… and be happy!