As a teenager my antidote for times when I felt anxious, sad or angry was to blast some music and start dancing. I would dance until I was drenched in sweat and out of breath. Until my muscles felt like they were on fire. After this soothing sensation, it was only then that I could relax and maintain a clear head.
So it was no surprise to me when my doctor told me that a surefire cure for postpartum depression was exercise. And I was so happy to hear that because I was only three months postpartum and ready to lose weight. At this point I was still fifteen pounds heavier than my average weight.
Because I did not have my typical energy level as I did prepregnancy I had to take things at a slow pace at home for a while before I could start going hard at the gym. I did what I thought should have been enough exercise to see results. But I still felt disappointed when I looked at myself in pictures and when I looked at the numbers on the scale.
Two months into my slow pace fitness regime and I was ready to start at the gym with a fellow mom friend. I went hard at the gym and I ate the right foods, expectant of seeing results in no time. And I suddenly found I woke up in the morning excited to start my day and conquer another challenging class at the gym. My mood was lifted, more than the time period of when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression.
One month into my regular gym schedule and I felt so much change inside of me that I just knew there must have been some change happening to my weight. So I checked the scale… and I was exactly the same weight I was one week postpartum.
But my body looked different to me. It still looked bigger than what I was prepregnancy but my posture was different. I looked strong and confident. I walked in a strut instead of an awkward waddle. Could I be ok with this being the new me instead of going back to the old me that was fifteen pounds lighter?
After this disappointing moment I did what most girls do to feel better. I went shopping. Except I did things a bit differently than I had right after I gave birth. This time I picked clothes that fit.
You see, one week postpartum I did some online shopping and picked out clothes that was my prepregnancy size in an effort to encourage myself to lose my postpartum weight. Honestly, often times that I wore these outfits I looked like a skank… pardon my language. But I did! I was used to being a small chested and skinny girl that could wear low cut tops and short pants without my boobs and butt hanging out. But with my bigger size, I drew unwanted attention to myself.
My effort to encourage weight-loss was actually affecting the progress that started with my mental health. So I found that I had to be ok with seeing more of a change on the inside than on the outside. I had to look forward to seeing changes in my mood and on the way I processed information. Allow myself to feel the joy of recovering from postpartum depression.
So I picked out outfits that fit my new physique. Looser fitting tops with higher necklines. And high waisted jeans to tuck in my love handles, (which my husband does love).
And funny enough, after accepting the joy of seeing progress on my mental health I actually saw a huge change in my weight and size… mostly because my husband and I contracted food poisoning and I ended up losing my appetite for a week. Haha, look how life works.
I’m actually now back to my prepregnancy weight 8 months postpartum… which is exactly how much time most moms say it takes to get back to your prepregnancy weight anyway… go figure.
So in conclusion, I wish I took the opportunity to celebrate my efforts in dealing with my postpartum depression even though it didn’t show on my size. Because in my opinion, mental health is more important than physical appearance. So if you’re on the path of recovery from postpartum depression and have decided to join a gym, just enjoy the journey and ignore the scale.
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