All or Nothing

My therapist tells me that I have a problem with the concept of “all or nothing.” This has been an ongoing issue with resolving my negative feelings about each of my births. I used to think that employing epidurals for pain relief negated all the unmedicated labor I’d gone through before reaching that point. That the only “good” birth was a completely natural one, and because I’d had epidurals, Pitocin and — most recently — a cesarean, that my births were therefore “bad.” And I was a failure.

I don’t think these things anymore, thankfully. I’m not as hard on myself about birthy and parenting stuff as I used to be. Too bad I can’t do the same when it comes to food and fitness.

In my last therapy session I spent almost the whole hour whining about my weight and the fact that I’ve started slipping back into my binge-eating ways. I have almost no self control over my appetite these days. I blame this on breastfeeding, as my body naturally wants to pad itself with lots of calories in order to feed another human. My cravings for sweets are nearly instantaneous whenever I have a letdown.

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This baby is always on me. Always.

On top of this is the fact that I have grown and birthed a terribly high-needs (albeit gorgeous) baby who requires constant holding and nursing — sometimes for nourishment, sometimes just for comfort. And no, she won’t take a pacifier.

This makes it hard to prepare healthy meals and snacks for myself throughout the day. I was doing well with prepping a few days’ worth of breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for a while; but falling behind just once can really back up the conveyor belt and the next thing you know you’re shoveling Pirate’s Booty in your face by the handful because it’s the only thing you can quickly grab before sitting down to nurse Her Royal Highness, Lady Fuss-a-Lot for the umpteenth time. And therein lies the problem.

I can’t just pig out on some of my kids’ Goldfish crackers and move on with my life. You’d think I’d be able to shrug it off, recognize that I just need to kill my next workout to make up for it, and eat normally/healthily for the rest of the day. But that’s not the way my screwy all-or-nothing brain works.

One dietary transgression creates a domino effect. I pig out on the crackers, then I’ll have one, two, maybe even three bowls of cereal. And then a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Maybe I’ll just eat peanut butter straight from the jar, drizzling some honey on each spoonful.

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Before I know it I’m stuffed to the point of feeling ill. All because I thought, “Well, fuck it; if I’ve already had this one imperfect moment of eating, I might as well skip my workout and keep gorging until I hate myself as much as possible.” And then I’ll cry. I’ll cry because I’m not a triathlete anymore. And I’ll cry because my clothes don’t fit (again, NOT from the pregnancy, but from the postpartum bingefests). And I’ll cry because I hate the way I look, and I hate the way I feel. And I’ll cry because I know that eventually I’ll have to stop using the “Because I’m nursing/ because I had such a hard pregnancy” excuse for justifying my eating disorder and face the real truth: I’ve simply given up on myself.

So I have some work to do. I’ve had a bad week. A bad one. But I haven’t fallen so far down that dark hole that I can’t climb out of it yet. I’m going to take my therapist’s advice (since that’s kind of what I’m paying her for anyway) to forgive myself and move on. I’m not going to see my health journey as black and white/good and bad/success and failure. I’m going to try really, really hard to eat for joy and for nourishment. I will make an effort to move my body every day, no matter what the menu looks like. And I will do this because moving my body always ALWAYS makes me feel better. Case in point:

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Believe it or not, she's latched on and nursing in there. Multitasking Mama.

Today, I created my own babywearing HIIT workout. I’ve really enjoyed the Sara Hailey 4th Trimester program I’ve been doing but since I have the aforementioned high-needs baby, I really need to be able to wear her in order to get my workout done. So I downloaded a Tabata timer app, set it to 30 seconds on/10 seconds rest intervals, and did the following (each exercise is AMRAP — as many reps as possible — during the 30 seconds):

1) step ups on a Step with 3 risers
2) bicep curls
3) tricep dips
4) reverse flys
5) shoulder press
6) plie squats
7) walking lunges
8) reverse lunges

Use whatever weights you’re comfortable with (I’m just restarting my fitness so I only used 8#s) and repeat the cycle for 30 minutes. Dry off your baby — who’s now covered in your sweat — when done.

And you know what happened after I got this done this morning? My day was awesome. I had energy, I felt good about myself, and I intuitively ate healthy foods. So I’m going to go ahead and do that again tomorrow, and hopefully grab a quick run in the evening when my husband gets home, as well.

10 weeks postpartum, pounds lost so far: 0, and most likely a negative number at that. But I’m avoiding the scale this week so I actually have no idea. However, I may have possibly gotten my groove back today so who really gives a crap about the numbers.

Another recap in a week. Hopefully I can hang onto that groove..

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Pausing for a selfie during a slow two miler on the hills earlier this week.

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Days just don’t get much more perfect than this one.

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This day is the kind of day I fantasized about during my neverending crappy pregnancy. I dreamt of taking my three children to the orchard on a sunny, crisp fall day and baking yummy apple-y things in the kitchen, filling our home with fragrant cinnamon and nutmeg while the autumn breeze blew the curtains back and forth. I dreamt of these things to get me through the long, sick, anxiety-ridden days because few things in life make me happier than fall, and all the festivities and foods that come with it. I believed that if I could just survive the pregnancy and get myself and the baby to the other side in one piece, we’d have fall as our reward.

Well, I survived and I healed and I got my reward today. My whole, complete family went to one of my favorite places in the world. There’s nothing particularly fancy or unique about the orchard we went to, except it holds some of my favorite childhood memories from autumns past and is therefore very special to me. We frequent it every year around this time. It was a spectacular day in every sense. My older children ran and jumped and laughed. My youngest snuggled and nursed. My husband and I cracked jokes. We held hands.

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We brought home over forty dollars worth of produce (I just kept adding things to our basket because I have no self control over apples and apple accoutrements) that I’d turn into a yummy dessert later that evening. An apple and pear crumble, to be exact, which followed a fantastic one-pot dish of salmon, cabbage, and new potatoes from this Martha Stewart recipe (I omitted the horseradish and added leeks to the vegetables).
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The weather — which, as I’d mentioned, was spectacular — had inspired more than just baking. I took full advantage of the magic this day had to offer and fulfilled another dream I’d had for the past nine-ish months.

I ran.

When we got home from the orchard, I changed into my (rather snug) running gear and nursed the baby down for a nap. I carefully transferred her to my husband’s lap and prayed she’d stay asleep for him while I was out. I knew I had a small window of time to get this done so I didn’t bother with playlists, headphones, or much of anything other than my Hokas and my Garmin. And off I went.

It was glorious. It was also painful and embarrassingly slow, but that didn’t stop me from crying tears of joy when my watch beeped to signal the first mile complete. All total, my grand comeback was a whopping mile and a half. But I didn’t stop or walk once. I ran the damn hills and I sucked wind and it all felt amazing. Like reuniting with an old friend.

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This marks the end of my second week of postpartum fitness. I’ve had ups and downs. I’ve had a few binge eating spells that, unsurprisingly, tended to coincide with our more stressful days. I skipped two days of workouts after lifting weights again for the time (while babywearing, thankyouverymuch) because my body was incredibly sore.

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I expect to have ups and downs for a while. I don’t expect to be able to follow a strict exercise or diet regimen with a newborn and two other small children. So I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do and I’m excited to know that the next time I run or lift, it’ll be easier. Starting over doesn’t have to be a bad thing; I can enjoy this journey of rediscovering my fitness and repeating the process of getting strong again.

Week 3 check-in next weekend, which will hopefully be as awesome as this one was.

Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me

I’m nearly at the end of my first week of postnatal fitness and healthful eating. It’s been…educational, for sure.

Before we dig into my progress, here’s an update on my bitty May, who’s been working on getting the scale to go in the opposite direction:

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We hit 7 pounds last week! And technically, as of this post, she’s at 7 lbs, 6 oz and 21″ long. Because she was both low birth weight for gestational age AND an early term baby, keeping an eye on her growth was of paramount importance. The early weeks of nursing were a struggle. My milk supply wasn’t anything to write home about and she wasn’t transferring milk very efficiently due to an upper lip tie and posterior tongue tie. She lost more weight than we were all comfortable with after her birth and was slow to gain thereafter. I corrected the milk supply issue with these galactagogue capsules from Euphoric Herbals, as well as snacking on lots of these lactation bites (I increase the brewer’s yeast amount, as that’s the key ingredient my body responds best to). We also corrected her ties with a double frenectomy. Since then, nursing has been a lot better and she’s gaining a half ounce to an ounce per day. Yay, baby! Yay, boobies!

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Look how big she is!

As for me, my progress has been up and down. I signed up for a DietBet challenge to lose 4% of my body weight by the end of September, which came out to be a weight loss of about 1.5 pounds per week. I started tracking my calories in My Fitness Pal, which said I needed a 1,300 calorie-a-day budget to hit that goal. Adding on 500 calories a day for breastfeeding increases that amount to 1,800 per day. This is a perfectly reasonable caloric intake for a breastfeeding mom.

Planning my food was key. I prepped mason jar salads with lots of chopped veggies and either organic deli turkey or leftover roasted chicken for lunches. I prepped overnight oatmeal jars (with some personal modifications) for breakfasts. I hardboiled some eggs and bagged up some baby carrots or sliced bell peppers for grab-and-go (or grab-and-sit-and-nurse-the-baby) snacking. Diet was on point and I never felt deprived.

I faithfully did my 4th Trimester workout daily, even if it was 9:00 at night after I’d finally gotten the baby down, or — as was the case this morning — while wearing her in the carrier. Squats while babywearing is a surefire way to make a sleep-deprived and harried mom feel kind of badass.

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I got in some walking in my sporty new Lillebaby Airflow carrier. I moved more, cleaning things around the house and preparing meals. This carrier has been very comfortable to nurse in so it’s been easier to stay semi-active.

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I'm in love with the Lillebaby Airflow.

And then my supply tanked overnight. Literally. I woke up Thursday morning to empty breasts and a fussy, unsatisfied baby. Whereas I’d been having multiple letdowns per side per feeding, I was suddenly having one short, weak letdown and then nothing. I panicked. I dipped into my precious freezer stash and fed May some frozen milk while I racked my brain trying to figure out what went wrong. My workouts weren’t intense or long, my diet was sufficient for a nursing mother and full of diverse foods. I’d kept taking my EH capsules and was well hydrated. Why was I hardly producing anything anymore?

Oh, right. Calorie counting meant I’d cut waaay down on my yummy aforementioned lactation bites, which I ate liberally pre-MyFitnessPal.

To test this theory, I didn’t track my calories yesterday and ate my lactation bites again. I even made a batch of these super healthy lactation carrot muffins. (Again, increasing the brewer’s yeast.) And guess what? Happy baby, leaky breasts, lots of letdowns. Problem solved. Apparently I just have to keep eating sweets. I mean, twist my arm.

So I’ve backed out of the DietBet and am getting refunded. 1.5 pounds per week is too much to lose at this point. She’s still a newborn and my body is still recovering from many months of malnourishment during the pregnancy. I’m absolutely loving the workouts and the feeling of being sweaty again (aside from the night sweats, which have been a blast) so I will keep up my activity and increase it gradually, as I definitely want to be in shape enough to get in some fall runs and/or bike rides by the time the leaves are changing. But I’m not going to stress about food or calories. She needs to eat, so I need to eat. And eating is awesome.

Will check in again next week!