Weight gain is already an issue for us moms. Not only do we have to deal with the postpartum weight-loss, but also the inevitable fluctuations in our weight as we parent.
While in high school I recall hearing my friends talk about weight gain. They often spoke of retaining water and becoming bloated during their period or ovulation, but I never experienced this. I was very skinny and barely developed a slight pudge in my belly when bloated. I remember feeling proud of this and boy did I take advantage. I would overindulge in unhealthy foods knowing that my weight would be unaffected.
Well… here’s my gift to every girl in high school that envied me. I have been 30 pounds over my average weight for most of 2020. You’re welcome! I called it quarantine weight gain at first, and I know many of us have to make it more acceptable. While in isolation we tend to stress eat on top of doing a lot of baking, and cooking becomes a hobby. My husband and I made cakes just to decorate them (with the yummiest buttercream), and they stuck to me like glue.
On top of eating a lot of cake, I also found myself suddenly craving candy every night. Sadly, I seemed to have developed a new superpower. I could finish a bag of candy without even trying! I had no idea where this new skill came from, but I wasn’t complaining. I also found that I was hungry more often, and the weight just piled on from there. When my daughter started kindergarten I had to start walking her to school, and I discovered two things. One, none of my pants fit me! Even my large sweat pants were too tight. Two, it was exhausting walking my daughter five minutes to school!
That’s when I decided it was time for me to give it my all and lose the extra weight with the same methods that have worked for me in the past. For me, it’s usually been the easy changes that yield great results. I switch out all white grain products to brown/wholegrains. I cut out almost all dairy products (except for cheese), and I have every meal with a large salad. I also get rid of juice beverages; only lemon water for this overweight Mama!
Nothing changed. NOTHING!
I was still doing my average workout routine daily. See, I have severe scoliosis and I have exercises that I do regularly to keep my back strong despite its fifty-degree curve. When postpartum, these exercises were all it normally took to have me looking slimmer. It didn’t work this time. In fact, I started putting on more weight! I especially noticed this after I decided to include weightlifting in my routine. Apparently, muscle weighs more than fat; seems fishy to me, but who am I to argue with science?
After complaining to friends of mine about my difficulty in losing weight, three of them pointed out that my anxiety medication could be the cause. I did recall seeing this as a listed side effect on the package but laughed at it, thinking that my body never held weight and wouldn’t this time. Hah! Joke’s on me because according to studies I read online, it can take up to two years of being on Zoloft before signs of weight gain show. In my research, people reported having a greater appetite and craving more high-calorie foods after two years on medication. I suppose adding this to being stuck at home on quarantine is a recipe for extreme and sudden weight gain.
Many of my friends on the same medication offered that the weight gain is well worth our sanity. And while that’s not fun to accept, it’s true. It literally can take work to love the body you’re in, but it’s worth it to do so. It’s not worth it to consider giving up on medication that keeps you mentally healthy just so you can be your ideal weight. Not to mention, I remember looking at myself in the mirror before being on medication and feeling disgusted with what I saw. Despite my perfect size, I didn’t see myself as perfect or even beautiful. My mind wouldn’t let me love myself.
Of course, an unhealthy lifestyle is not what I want, so I exercise every day and continue to fight the desire for unhealthy foods. I’m happy to report that I’ve seen my body become leaner, but I have not seen the pounds disappear. So, I’ve made some tough decisions concerning my wardrobe. I went out and got myself clothes that fit! I was always a size M, and even that size fit loosely on me. Now I’m a size L and my clothes fit my body the way they are meant to. The change in size is hard to accept, but it can also be so freeing.
Something that has helped me is going to my husband and asking him what his favorite parts of my body are. Surprisingly. he has pointed out parts that have been challenging areas for me. My thighs were always a lovely lean and slim part of my body, and I loved looking in the mirror and seeing that my inner thighs didn’t touch. Since gaining weight, that gap in between my thighs has gotten smaller and smaller. Would you believe that when I asked my husband to choose his favorite parts of me, he instantly grabbed my thighs? I tried to protest.. Husband! How dare you love what I view as the worst parts of me?!
I then realized that maybe I was being way too hard on myself, and it brought such clarity to my situation. For those of you with a man in your life, I encourage you to do the same. Ask him what his favorite parts of you are and be open to listening.
I also learned that I need to enjoy looking at myself. I actually put a large mirror on my work desk. It’s huge, and as I work, I periodically look into the mirror and smile or make a silly face. I put music on and sing while staring at myself and enjoying what I see.
It’s not an easy journey being a size you’re not comfortable with, but it’s a journey worth embracing! Please remember that you are beautiful, always and no matter what!