By Jessica Fletcher
We all seem to always be looking for the easiest, most painless way to get in shape. Its not as if we have five free hours every day to spend at the gym. The trick is to never let yourself go in the first place. I say trick because it is extremely tricky. It took me the better part of three and a half years to lose 70 pounds off my 5’4, medium frame. I weighed in at 237 pounds after delivering my youngest son, and I was devastated to see that number.
I was already working very hard on losing the weight I had gained from two previous pregnancies, when I found out I was pregnant again. I weighed 185 pounds in 2011. I gained over 75 pounds when I got pregnant with my very first child. I surprisingly did not have gestational diabetes or any blood pressure issues. I ended up being obese, but all my pregnancies were quite normal, no complications. After each baby was born, I’d succumb to my post partum depression. I would fall into the same habits of eating on the go, eating late at night, and eating because I was lonely and sad. My husband works nights, and he has done so for the entirety of our relationship. It works to eliminate the cost of daycare, and that is the only perk. My husband has gained over 100 pounds since we started dating 10 years ago. A lot of it has to do with the fact he can not get quality sleep. More of it has to do with portion control and an addiction to soda.
My husband had never become disgusted with me, the way many men do when their significant others pack on the pounds. Maybe this was because he also packed it on, or maybe he was disgusted, but he never showed it. Regardless, he never put pressure on me to exercise or order salads. He never failed to tell me he thought I was beautiful and sexy to him.
I would try to see myself as he saw me. When I’d look into the mirror, I would look at my protruding, flabby stomach, complete with the shiny, purplish stretch marks etched all over. I stared at my enormous thighs, my deflated breasts, and my pudgy arms and wonder… what in the hell he was on, and why wasn’t he sharing? I decided to make a change. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror, and I refused to be in any pictures with my kids if I could help it. I was ashamed of how large I was, and how ugly I believed that I looked. I rarely wore makeup. I almost never did my hair. A day that I showered would be momentous, when it came to trying to look decent. This is where most moms would say that their children deserved better, but if I’m being honest, this is where I told myself that I deserve better.
I wanted to look good, and I wanted to like myself. I didn’t look good, and I didn’t like myself at that weight. My kids could poop and puke on me to their heart’s content. They didn’t care what I looked like. They just wanted me to be happy. And to make them macaroni and cheese. I turned to the internet, and as internet searches are wont to do, I found a plethora of advice on how to lose weight quickly. How to get toned abs. A tight ass, toned arms, and a sleek figure. I wanted these things.
My initial purchase for the sole purpose of getting in shape was a dance video. I didn’t even purchase it. I told my husband I wanted to get a Zumba video. I loved to dance when I was young, and a piece of internet advice that I had read instructed me to find something active that I enjoy doing. The video was called, “Cardio Hip Hop.” I did this video every other night, and I would be dripping with sweat and sore all over from exerting myself with only the moves shown in the video. The video was 45 minutes long. After a few months of this, I noticed a difference. As results tend to do, the results turned into motivation to do more. I re-joined the gym where I had been a member previously, and hired a personal trainer on the cheap to guide me into fitness. I found myself able to crank out push-ups. This gave me more confidence. I was lifting weights, and doing exercises I never imagined I’d be able to do. I’d never considered myself athletic, ever. I was now down to 200 lbs (from 237) and I felt amazing. I knew I had a long way to go, but it didn’t seem so daunting. I got down to 190 and stayed there for about a year.
Of course, no matter what I did I couldn’t get below 190. I counted calories. I reduced my caloric intake. That resulted in cravings and crabbiness. The scale was frozen. I had seen advertisements for all manner of fad weight loss cleanse products. None of them interested me. I knew I would lose weight quickly, and then gain it back once I dared reintroduce my regular food. No thanks. My doctor encouraged me to try a “fast” with emphasis on fruits and vegetables. This one encourages nutrition and forces you to create a habit of health. The fast was 21 days long and it got results. After 21 days of no dairy, no eggs, no nuts, no sugar, and 11 days without meat, I felt refreshed. I lost 7 lbs on the fast, breaking my 190 plateau, and have not seen it come back. I continued with my exercise regimen and ended up at my lowest weight in 13 years: 168 lbs.
I have learned that my body weight fluctuates very easily. I have fought so hard to keep my weight down below 180 for the last year. I took up jogging. I ran a 5K in public. I never imagined myself walking more than a mile without getting winded. I’m still new to running/jogging, and so the longest I’ve run is 5 miles. However, running long distances is not my goal.
Trying to accept my body for what it can do, what it has done, and being kind to myself are the bigger goals. I’m that chubby suburban mom out there on the trails with her earbuds in, periodically pulling up her ill-fitting yoga pants. Look closer and you’ll see me lip syncing to Nicki Minaj and Pitbull, pretending I’m 16 again and getting my groove on at the club. I’m taking it one day at a time. Some days, it’s moment to moment. Some days, I fall off the wagon, but I get back on it. Because I deserve more than excuses, and sometimes I even remember that and believe it.
Jessica Fletcher is a guest writer for Mommy Perfect.