Ok, so I pretty much decided last month that I can't call it "baby weight" anymore. My daughter is almost a year old after all. Not sure where that line is exactly for me (and it is a purely personal decision), but once the new year rolled around, my patience with my Mom Body reached critical mass. No pun intended.
I think a lot of mommies can identify with me on this. Before pregnancy, I had a pretty healthy self image. Sure, there were some days where I felt bloated or frumpy, but most of the time I was comfortable and confident with my body. When I would hear pregnant ladies complain about their bodies and the amount of weight they were gaining, I was usually the first to remind them that "It's for the baby." Then, I was pregnant. And I was the one whose waistline DIS-AP-PEARED and who saw some mind-boggling numbers on the scale at the doctor's office. And you know, it still helped to hear people say I was beautiful and glowing and that the weight gain was for the baby. But let me be honest -- all of that weight was not for the baby. A lot of it was due to the extra burrito from Taco Bell or the mozzarella sticks from Sonic or the real Coca-Cola I had about every other day during my third trimester. And I promised my future self that I would lose all the weight relatively easily after our girl was born. After all, I would be breastfeeding which supposedly burns like 100,000 extra calories a day or something.
And you know what? I did lose a lot of the weight. Most of it. But weaning time came and went with little fanfare (thanks to a very laid-back and adaptive baby girl), and I realized that I still had more than a few pounds to lose. It wasn't about the number. I probably couldn't tell you right now what I weigh. For me it was about how I looked, and how I felt about how I looked. On one of my harder PPD days, I told a friend, "I just don't feel alluring anymore." But that day was like in November or something. I just kinda sat there for awhile, literally and figuratively.
I learned in one of my grad classes that a depressed person actually has to come out of the pit a little before she'll make any lasting changes. Someone who is truly at rock bottom cannot - by virtue of being at their very lowest point - pull themselves out. There has to be some sort of inciting event, a bounce if you will. (I love finding grace in the most unexpected places, don't you?) My grace happened on or around January 1st. I can't remember exactly when, but it was like the curtains on the windows of my mind were opened and I saw the cobwebs and dust and dank for the first time. I told myself, "2010 was baby year, and 2011 will be recovery year." I gave myself two goals: read the Bible all the way through, and get my body back. The Bible reading I felt would give some structure to getting some Light and Truth into my tired soul, and it has. And getting my body back has been a healing event as well, empowering and enlightening.
When I was pregnant and a brand new mommy, I plunged way into that identity. Listen, I wanted it so badly, and when it happened I was more thrilled than any blog post can describe. But by the time JB was drinking bottles and crawling around, and we had found a workable rhythm at home, I actually had a little time to look at myself in the mirror. And whoa...in the words of Fred Willard, wha' happened?!? So, you know what? I am not just a mommy. I'll tell ya, I am primarily a mommy and all you have to do is try to mess with my baby or family if you need to be convinced. It is the biggest part of me now, but it's still just a part. I'm also a wife, and a friend, and a sister, and a professional. And it's time for the outside "me" to reflect the inside "me" again.
So. How am I doing it? I devised (ok, more like stumbled upon...it's how I find all my good ideas to be honest) a two-step approach:
1) Start with The Master Cleanse (shout out to Carmen and Andrea here). Follow the link for more information. I did three days of Ease-In, five days of the Cleanse, and three days of Ease-Out.
a. Pros: It was like hitting the reset button on my appetite. It is essentially a fast, and I made it a spiritual as well as physical exercise. I would get hungry at mealtimes - no big surprise there. But I would also get hungry if I smelled food, or if I saw a food commercial on TV, or if I drove past a food billboard. My stomach was responding to my eyes seeing the pictures of yummy food. I wasn't any hungrier 30 seconds after seeing the advertisement than before, but my body wanted me to think I was. I think I read this in one of Richard Foster's books, but the stomach really does act like a spoiled child sometimes.
b. Cons: Bathroom time. Please reference the website.
2) Super Top Secret Mysterious Weight Loss Plan: reduce intake of energy, increase output of energy. Diet and exercise, people. I am using the LoseIt! app on my iPhone, which is also available on the good ol' interweb. It tracks calories and other nutrition info of the food I eat, and calories burned for the exercises I do (even housework is included in their available exercises, and sexual activity...can I get a what, what?!). But my favorite part of the app is that it asked for my goal weight, and how much weight I want to lose each week (0.5 lb, 1 lb, 1.5 lb, 2 lb)...and then it calculated my net daily calories based on that. Too cool!
But you know, the main thing is that whatever plan you choose, you stick with it. It's not magic. But it has been fun, finding new recipes (allrecipes.com and epicurious.com both have lots of healthy recipes) and -- the best part -- RESULTS. Can I get an amen on that one?! I was wearing my biggest pair of jeans the other day, the ones I wore during my first trimester, and my Mom said, "Wow, Rachel, those pants are about to fall off you! You're gonna have to get some new ones soon." I could have done the Rocky shadow-boxing dance. "Getting strong now...won't be long nooowwww!" I was so pumped.
And that, my friends, is exactly the kind of empowerment this mommy/wife/grad student/sister/friend/soon-to-be-professional needs.