We’re now in the new year (Hello, 2018! When did that happen?) and like so many others, I attempt to have a New Year’s Resolution—one that generally centers around weight loss. As a teenager, I always had a fast metabolism. I could inhale fried chicken, potatoes, and cake and not gain a single pound. But like most, my metabolism has slowed as I’ve aged, and childbirth certainly hasn’t helped. Ever since pregnancy, childbirth, and weaning, it seems that if I so much as look at anything sugary, fatty, or carby, I gain three pounds. Instantly. And talk about the bloat. If there’s salt, there’s a protruding stomach that makes me wonder if maybe I’m actually five months pregnant instead.
Six months before pregnancy, I started circuit training with the Bikini Body Program by Muffin Topless (www.muffin-topless.com). I made it through the 12-week program, and while my body had changed for the better, I was not where I wanted to be. One of my best friends was doing bikini competitions at the time and hitting the gym, specifically the weight room, every day for at least 1.5 hours per day. She looked (and still looks) amazing. She would tell me her weight, which would be same as me, but she was so much smaller. And not smaller as in thin or emaciated, but smaller as in no excess fat and super strong. I wanted to be like that. My friend got her physique through online personal training, but I couldn’t afford that. So, I went back to my initial resource, Muffin Topless, and bought her Fit Body Weight Lifting Program for ten dollars. At first, it was hard to drag myself to the gym, but at the same time, I had nothing better to do: I had finished my bachelor’s degree and internship and was waiting to start the master’s program a few months later. Once I started, I was constantly sore but enjoyed it. I began looking forward to my time in the gym and felt so good about myself before, during, and after. I even managed to get my resting heart rate down from mid 80s to low 50s. My anxiety was also getting much better.
Once my master’s program started, I lost the time/motivation to go, as I was working as a graduate assistant and attending classes, both full-time. I was literally at school from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and Friday-Sunday, I’d catch up on school work and go to my other job at the Disney Store. During that first semester, I got pregnant, and my energy completely left. At the end of the semester, I was exiting the first trimester and entering the second. It was an awful time. My morning sickness had passed, but I lost all confidence in my appearance. I was too big for my regular clothes but not big enough for maternity clothes. I was in sweats all the time, and I just looked sloppy and overweight. I didn’t feel pretty or sexy and was confident my husband was going to lose interest me or start looking at other women. I had some great friends at school reassure me that I was still beautiful and there’s no way Zac would do that, but it still didn’t change how I felt. I remember talking to my bikini competition friend about it, and she suggested going back to the gym and reminded me of how happy I was working out. I did my research and found that hitting the gym is incredibly healthy for mother and baby, within reason (please consult your doctor and do your own research first.) However, when I asked my doctor about it at my 12-week appointment, she simply said sure. I asked what exercises were safe, and her response was not to push myself. I was baffled. That tells me absolutely nothing! Why wasn’t she offering more guidance? Come to find out, though, doctors are only required to take one nutrition and one physical fitness class during their entire college career, which I’m pretty sure is eight years. That’s definitely not enough education in that area to provide solid advice, in my opinion.
I suddenly felt hopeless again, like all my dreams had been squashed. Then my friend suggested I get a personal trainer. I figured happiness and health were worth the price for the next six months. Fortunately, though, my brother-in-law, who is a certified personal trainer, offered to train me for free. The goal was not necessarily to increase the weight of my dumbbells or achieve personal bests, but to maintain my strength, stay healthy, and be able to bounce back quickly after childbirth. He set up a very reasonable program, including the macros I should aim for, and I finally started feeling better and strong again. Sure, I felt a little awkward lifting weights and such once my belly really started showing, but it also made me feel like Wonder Woman. I made it through pregnancy feeling pretty good about my body. I’m also confident that his workout routine and dietary guidelines prevented me from getting stretchmarks. Both my mom and sister have them from pregnancy, and I thought I was bound to get them; so either he was on to something, or I’m just lucky.
I was due July 3rd, and come July 8th, my daughter still showed no signs of making her big debut. I had a doctor’s appointment, and I was starting to show signs of preeclampsia and had to get induced. There were three things on my birth plan that I absolutely did not want: induction, epidural, and c-section. After 40 hours of labor, I decided to get the epidural, as I was vomiting with every contraction. Every time they peaked, they would drop a smidgen and then peak even higher. After a few complications, I ended up with an emergency c-section. Those are not easy to recover from. For the first couple of weeks, my husband had to bathe everything below the stomach on me because I couldn’t bend over. He had to help me get on and off the toilet, put my pants on, bring the baby to me, etc. The dreams I had of going back to the gym 4-6 weeks after birth went out the window. At the 16-week mark I was still in pain. Nothing was wrong, and everything was healing just fine, but apparently some people can have pain up to 18 months after a c-section. Thankfully, mine did not last that long, but the time it did last was a hindrance.
At first, I didn’t fully mind not being able to work out. I wanted to spend all my time with Olivia, and the breastfeeding was doing a great job helping me lose weight. Around 9 months post-partum, I was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. However, my pre-pregnancy clothes still didn’t fit. I wasn’t expecting the tops to since I was still breastfeeding and had those glorious large boobs, but I had higher hopes for the bottoms. I didn’t understand how this could be. Why was my stomach still so flabby, thighs still chunky, and butt still wide? I finally realized the reason was because when I was 123 pounds pre-pregnancy, I was more muscle, and now, I’m more fat than muscle. And as we’ve all heard a million times, one pound of muscle takes up less room than one pound of fat. That’s when it really sunk in that weight is only a number and nothing more. It truly is about how you feel and how your clothes fit.
Flash forward to today. I’m now 127 pounds and my daughter is almost 18 months old. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but keep in mind I’m 5’4, and every pound shows on my small frame. I’m tired of all this flabby BS and feeling bad about my body. It is not the kind of example I want to give my daughter. I’ve also come to realize that now that I have a child, it’s not just about looking fit and strong, but also being healthy. Sure, you can lift weights and still look great while eating breakfast pastries and French fries, but when it comes down to it, you’re not actually healthy. I’m kind of a psycho when it comes to my daughter’s nutrition, yet I’m so careless with my own now that I’m not pregnant or breastfeeding and know she’s dependent on what I consume. So, my New Year’s resolution isn’t just to get the physique I want, but to also be healthy and set a good example for my family.
While my goal sounds simple in theory, I know it is going to be a challenge. As I stated in my previous post, It’s All About The Money, I don’t have time to go to the gym. In addition, I really need to focus on completing the CPA exam, which is comprised of four different sections and will require me dedicating a couple hours every day to studying. On top of all that, I’m entering our busy season, which means 55-hour work weeks for 4 months. Just thinking about it all gives me anxiety, but I also know that I will feel so accomplished when I look in the mirror and like what I’m seeing and when I get that bonus at work for passing the exam and never need to open another textbook. To accomplish this, it’s going to take a lot of planning and a lot of support. I’ve already decided to do the 21-Day Sugar Detox with a few friends to jumpstart the health portion. If I keep up with the food prep, I should be good to go on that end. As for the exercise portion, I’m going to revisit Muffin Topless’ Bikini Body Program. I know I previously said that it didn’t fully get me to where I wanted to go, but it’s a good program, designed to be done at home, and will help get me back into the habit of working out again. Essentially, it will get me through busy season and after that I can work on going to the gym. Now for the CPA exam. Woof. I don’t have the mental energy I need to study after work, and I am the worst at getting up early in the morning. I’m just going to have to suck it up and figure it out I suppose. That’s where I’m really going to need Zac’s support. No more binge-watching Daredevil with a glass of wine once Olivia’s in bed. He does love reading his comics, though. So maybe, just maybe, he can read those while I study. That might just work. I’ll have to get up earlier to fit everything in, but after a couple weeks it shouldn’t be that difficult. All in all, I think this sounds like a solid plan?
Do I have any readers that get up early to workout? What are your tips/how do you do it? Is anyone else’s daily schedule super slammed? How do you fit in exercising and/or studying? What about the working moms out there?