A Tale of Two Pregnancies

 

I want to start by saying it took a lot for me to write this post, partly because I really struggle with the whole ‘before and after’ photo thing – everyone’s transformation story is different and can’t adequately be captured in a photo – but also because I shudder to think that anyone may feel discouraged or diminished because of my story. Everyone’s body type and experience is different. However, the big reason is I just don’t like to admit that there was a time when I was doing things the wrong way. But, perhaps that will prove to be an encouragement.

 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m a couple thousand richer – although many of them don’t elicit happy, joyful emotions.

 

This is me one week after my son, Monta, was born. I have a love-hate relationship with this picture. As someone who has always been fit and active and relatively healthy, this photo elicits feelings of failure and self consciousness.

 

While pregnant with Monta, I gained roughly 50 pounds. I was teased by co-workers for the size I had become. I felt sluggish and without energy. My back and knees hurt beyond that of normal pregnancy because they couldn’t support the extra weight.

 

And nothing fit. Not since 10 weeks pregnant, and not for months after I gave birth. Getting dressed was an uncomfortable, stressful ordeal because I had so few options and none felt flattering. Adjusting to my new role as mom was already uncomfortable, and feeling as though I didn’t look the part was even more defeating.

 

All through my pregnancy I kept telling myself the weight would come off easily. Heck, I’m a personal trainer for crying out loud. If I could get results for others, I certainly could do it for myself. But it wasn’t that simple.

 

My son was born via emergency c-section, which meant a long and slow recovery. Add the pain of surgery and the fall that caused it to the discomfort of achy joints from extra weight, and there was little strength to train. It’s hard enough to exercise with the exhaustion of new motherhood.

 

Then there was the self defeat. I felt awkward and out of place at the gym, so I avoided it. I didn’t like how I looked, so I shied away from pictures – even with my new son. Because I wasn’t training, I wasn’t physically able to do the things I enjoyed.

 

And everything I tried just made it worse – cutting calories made me hangry; exercise binges depleted even more of my already low energy levels; watching moms who gave birth the same time as me bounce back without problem was discouraging.

 

A time that should have been one of the happiest of my life was one of the lowest lows. It wasn’t that I was less of a person because I was overweight and out of shape, it was that my excess weight and poor fitness was keeping me from being the best person I could be. (It’s well established that excess body fat causes hormonal and neurotransmitter disruptions that impact mood – effects that are countered with exercise alone. Oh, the irony.)

 

Fast forward 2.5 years to the green-shirt photo, a narcissistic selfie taken one week after my daughter, Gabby, was born. The uphill climb following my first pregnancy inspired the promise to myself that I wouldn’t get back there again. I would do whatever it took. Thankfully, it didn’t take much, and this photo is only a piece of that proof.

 

A few months after Monta was born, a colleague turned me on to the program Metabolic Precision. I already had experience as a trainer and nutritionist, but this program put many of the missing pieces together for me, specifically how to eat and how to exercise for my specific goals and body type.

 

I was seriously at that point ready to try anything, and if this particular trainer believed in it, that proved to be even more powerful incentive. Thankfully, it was something that not only worked but was safe and healthy.

 

Sure, this new knowledge helped me lose weight and get back in shape, but there was more than that. I felt empowered and in control of my health for the first time, well, ever. No longer was there the fear that eating a certain food would cause me to gain weight or that I had to exercise religiously to achieve a certain outcome (I’ve written about these struggles here and here). I had a way of life that was manageable, maintainable and motivating.

 

Here are the big differences between my pre- and post-MP lifestyle –

  • Before MP, my workouts consisted of cardio-style routines centered around intervals and high-intensity. This is great for burning fat in the short term, but not for creating long-term metabolic activity. Missing a workout meant a big difference in my energy expenditure, which created issues in how my body used the food I ate. Speaking of food, I didn’t know what to eat or when, so I focused on things that were generally “healthy,” even though I ate them at the wrong times. I often had little energy, ultimately because I didn’t recover properly as a result of not eating enough, or not eating the right things, or exercising the right amount for my needs.

  • Since MP, my workouts are a balance between focused, intense strength training and intense cardio exercise. Based on how much I eat and what my current goals are, I know exactly how many workouts to perform, as well as how intensely and how long to perform them. When it comes to eating, I know exactly what foods to eat based on the time of day, the activity I’ve performed and what goals I’m trying to achieve. I even know exactly how many “cheat” meals I can enjoy. I’m never hungry, I workout only a few hours each week, and I have a ton of energy because my focus isn’t just centered on how I look or how I perform, but how I feel and how my body at the cellular level functions, meaning I’m doing things that are good for my body and overall health.

The love-hate relationship I have with my postpartum photo springs from the painful memories of a time when I felt lousy about myself. However, I also feel empowered and encouraged looking at this photo.

 

I remember feeling like nothing would ever change and that I would never get back to my “old” self. I overcame those feelings, persevered through that dark time and mostly achieved what I set out to do. I never did get back to my “old” self – I got better. I can honestly say I’m in better health and better shape than I was before I became a mom. I am happier and more confident in my abilities, and I build upon these successes daily.

 

Seriously, there are days when I stand in the middle of a toddler tantrum with a baby screaming and the phone ringing and dinner burning and I think, “I can lift heavy weights over my head. In fact, I could lift both kids and the phone and maybe even the oven right now if I needed to.

 

There was a time when I couldn’t say this, but I overcame that and I’ll get through this moment, too.”

 

The reason I do what I do as a trainer and nutritionist is I want every woman to have this same experience, but in her own way. Whether you have weight to lose or health to gain or confidence to improve or energy to increase, there is a simple, straightforward and empowering way to wake up every morning feeling better than you did the day before.

 

Don’t buy into the lie that you have to punish yourself with food or exercise in order to achieve some status. There’s a better way, and I’m excited to show you how.

 

{I've got an online program that will teach you everything you need to know about food and fitness, so you can be done with dieting and self-defeating practices and fulfill your true potential. It's training & nutrition that fit your life, literally. Email me today to get started!}



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