When it comes to sharing about my fitness journey, I find myself feeling embarrassed and, often, ashamed. I see so many women having babies and looking perfectly thin mere weeks later. I feel as if everyone else in the world doesn’t have to diet, exercise, and actually try…just me.
Even though this is simply the way my body works and I am not actually the one woman in the world to experience this (shocker, right?), I find myself feeling embarrassed…embarrassed that I didn’t start trying early enough, that I didn’t reach pre-baby weight until almost a year later, or that I ended up gaining weight after having a baby. Instead of feeling proud of doing something about it, even if it took a little longer than someone else, I find myself feeling ashamed.
But then I realize, this is my journey. It doesn’t matter how fast she lost weight or how long it took. This is about me. This is my time line. I don’t have to measure up to anyone else or compare statistics. This is my journey. The fact that I am doing something about it, no matter how long it took, is an incredible thing! It is never too late to start making changes. Today is always the best day to start.
With all of that said, I want to share a little about my fitness journey. It is really interesting to look back at where I started to where I am now. I never had the perfect pregnancy where I gained the perfect amount of weight. I have never lost the baby weight quickly after having a baby. Both times, it took almost a year to feel a little more like my old self.
But each time has been so different. My second pregnancy was healthier than my first and I was better off at the start. I don’t want to forget how important it was for me to be lighter and healthier before starting another pregnancy. It made a world of difference.
So here I go!
Ryan and I got married in January of 2012. As newlyweds, in the winter time, we were not active at all. We were scared of debt so we tried hard not to spend money which caused us to not value having gym memberships. (I wish I had known about Beachbody in home workouts!)
I don’t know how it was for you, but marriage was quite the adjustment! When he wanted to eat, I ate. We made sure our plates were even with food so I was always eating as much as he was. Movie nights were a regular thing and what’s a movie night without snacks?! Needless to say, we were eating a lot. To make it worse, I was trying out every recipe in my new cookbooks! So, the foods we were eating were definitely not the healthiest.
Finally, 7 months later, I found out I was pregnant. I was 15 pounds heavier and starting an incredible journey of growing a life! I had no clue how important my health was back then so I simply didn’t care.
I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I craved chocolate ice cream, so I ate it…almost every night. When I had a craving, I sent Ryan to the store to get it. We ate lots of potato chips and burgers! And, of course, Ryan had to eat with me so he was putting on the pounds too!
By the end, I had gained 47 pounds and found out I had preeclampsia. I was induced 9 days early and delivered a beautiful, tiny 6 pound 4 oz baby.
Wow…these pictures are really hard to share. But this is my journey!
With all of the extra weight I was carrying (the original 15 plus 47), my body was bloated, swollen, and worn out. Because of the preeclampsia, my daughter was very small and I was heartbroken believing that this would be the case for all of my future pregnancies.
In the months to follow, I spent a lot of time figuring this whole mom thing out. My dream to breastfeed was shattered as I was forced to put Myra on formula at 3 weeks. She wasn’t gaining weight and I felt completely helpless. I struggled with feelings of failure and turned to food for comfort. My eating habits didn’t change from my pregnancy and I ended up gaining all the weight back.
Finally, at 8 months postpartum, I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore. I lacked confidence in everything I wore. I was sick of buying the next size up. I wanted to have energy and be in control of my eating habits. The next day, I purchased a gym membership and started counting calories.
Within the next two months, I lost almost 50 pounds and found out I was pregnant! Thankfully, this was news I wanted to hear. I was 8 pounds lower than what I weighed before Myra so I hoped this pregnancy would be better.
And it was! Even though I wasn’t exercising as regularly and still gave in to some pregnancy cravings, I gained less weight and felt better. I took walks here and there, trying to keep the preeclampsia at bay. And it worked! I ended up gaining 37 pounds, never got preeclampsia, and delivered a healthy 9 pound 1 oz baby girl!
My labor was faster and easier. I was shocked to see that chubby baby! My healthier choices truly paid off as I didn’t experience any complications or sickness. This time around, I wanted to do better and get back to pre-baby weight faster. I was determined to breastfeed and, thankfully, Vivian was too! I planned on letting the breastfeeding melt the pounds away like everyone says it will…ha! Not so much.
About 2 months postpartum, I started exercising. We ate well when we could but it wasn’t a priority. I ended up losing some weight and got down to 5 pounds above pre-baby weight. Then, the stress began. This is the part that makes me ashamed and yet, I have to understand the circumstances. Our life started to change. Ryan was called to be a pastor in Ohio, so we started to pack our house up to move across the country.
I was overwhelmed, to say the least. I stopped exercising. I didn’t value what I put in my body. I constantly ate for comfort and any time I felt frustrated or stressed. I knew I needed a change and felt discouraged that I allowed this to happen. After gaining 8 pounds and moving for the second time in one year, we decided to make a change.
The day after we moved, we started Whole 30. I knew that my eating habits were horrible and my emotional eating had spun out of control. After much research, I knew that this was the best way to accomplish what we needed. After 30 days, I lost 10 pounds and fixed my emotional eating problem (you can read more about it here).
During this journey, we began training for our first 5K which we ran on Thanksgiving day! I finally made it to pre-baby weight (and below!) and decided that I needed just a bit more. My body is getting smaller but it isn’t really changing like I want it to quite yet.
That is why I began 21 Day Fix and Shakeology. This program is teaching me something that I had yet to learn, and that is portion control. I am being challenged in my workouts and am already (after only 3 days) feeling change!
The thing about this journey is that it has its ups and downs. There were times I didn’t do so well. It has taken me 4 years and 2 babies to find true value in health and fitness. I have gone from gaining weight and experiencing unhealthy pregnancies to figuring out how to eat real food, how much to eat, and how to make daily healthy choices.
I fail a lot, but I have learned to take it one day at a time. When I mess up, I start fresh tomorrow. I still eat chocolate and have movie nights where I accidently find the bottom of the tortilla chip bag. But that doesn’t make me a failure. That doesn’t make me worse than someone else. This is my journey. I will be on this journey forever and, every day, I have to choose to live a healthy lifestyle.
I’m not doing this just for me…I am doing it for my family. My hope is that my children will see the value in filling their bodies with real, whole food. I never want to experience an unhealthy pregnancy again. If God blesses me with a third chance, I want it to be the best one yet! Looking back, I see that I didn’t value being fit and healthy. I didn’t think it was worth the money and I obviously didn’t give it the time.
Now, I get it. If you want to be healthy, you have to invest the time, money, and effort. This is not the time to be cheap or busy. If it is worth it (and it is!) then make it happen!
What does your fitness journey look like? I would love to support you! Let me know if you want accountability and encouragement in reaching your goals!