Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pregnancy and Weight Gain

My side of the closet is bigger than my husband's side. I have twice as many clothes as he does. Not because I am a fashionista, far from it! Instead my clothing is divided into regular, maternity, and in-between. One shelf for each {see, I told you I am not a crazy clothing lady!}. The "regular" size has definitely gotten closer in size to the in-between. Thankfully, they haven't merged . . . yet!

Why do I share about my clothes? Because it chronicles the journey I, and many women, make through pregnancy after pregnancy dealing with the roller coaster of weight gain and loss {maybe more gain than loss!}. A few weeks ago Tristan asked "How do you handle getting and staying healthy while having so many consecutive pregnancies?" I'm not sure I am a good example of this {especially the last few years} but I do try!

First, what I don't do is make a big deal out of the weight gain. I want my daughters {and my sons} to have a healthy view of a woman's body in all the stages it goes through including pregnancy. Weight is an inevitable part of pregnancy. What is hard is losing the extra weight especially when children come close together.

Here is a glance at my pregnancy and weight gain journey. I am 5'2" just so you know.
Fat Jiggling Machines: What Were They Thinking?
As you can see I started off tiny. I was pretty athletic but not overly so. After child #3 I never got below 120, mostly because I thought that was too thin. I did pretty good getting my weight back down to the 120s until those miscarriages. The year was 2008. It was a hard year because of many changes that happened. I've written about that before. I weighed 20 pounds more at the end of that year than I did at the beginning. I've had two more children since then and just haven't lost the extra weight. . . .yet. I am working on it. Right now I weigh 150 but have been slowly losing weight for the last two months {more on that later in the post}.

What have I done over the years to lose the pregnancy weight?

☀ Make time to exercise. We all know the benefits of exercising. It helps us feel better. We have more energy. It helps us combat certain health conditions and diseases. Even knowing we should exercise doesn't mean we actually do it. This is especially hard for moms of lots of little kids. It seems like you just get started and some little one needs your attention NOW. There a few ways I have tried over the years to resolve this.
Get up earlier in the morning. Child #2 was wonderful as a baby. I was able to get up in the morning and exercise for an hour while she lay contentedly awake in her crib. I am a morning person and prefer to exercise in the morning. This really isn't an option right now for me because I teach early morning seminary.
Break the exercise sessions up into smaller ones throughout the day. There were some years where I had to do 10-15 minute exercise sessions three times a day.
Have my children exercise with me. The younger ones love to imitate. When they see me walk out with my exercise clothes on they immediately go and get their little one pound weights and join me in front of the tv. Now my older girls exercise with me to encourage me and also to get in their 30 minutes of required exercise for their P.E. classes. It's a lot of fun to do it together....and I think the laughter that ensues from our conversations is just as healing and healthy!

☀ Find an exercise program that works for you. The one video I have used consistently throughout the years is The Firm Low Impact Aerobics. It is an oldie but goodie. I have tried some of the newer exercise videos that people get excited about. Honestly, they don't work my muscles as much as The Firm does. After making fun of me and the video for a week {it was made in the late 80s} my daughters decided to try it. Guess what their favorite video to do is now? :) I also go jogging and walking every other day for variety. My goal is to be able to run around a section of our land - 4 miles.

☀Eat healthy. When I had to meet with a dietician for my gestational diabetes I had to bring a list of everything I had eaten the previous week. She looked it over and said, "I think you are the first person I have met with where I don't see a thing wrong with the way you eat." We don't have pop or juice. We don't eat processed food {for the most part}. We eat whole grain foods, including homemade whole wheat bread. We have a variety of fruit and vegetables available for snacking and as side dishes. I only had to make a few small adjustments to my diet when dealing with the gestational diabetes. It was easier because I was already used to eating healthier than the average American.

☀Stop making excuses. This is for me right here, right now. After Ganache was born I wasn't thinking about exercising or losing weight for the first three months. I was worried about making sure he got fed and gained weight.

Then the excuses started. It was October and we were just beginning birthday season at our house. From the end of September through the end of January there is a birthday every two weeks. Then there was Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday season. I told myself it would be too hard to start exercising and losing weight with all those delicious holiday foods available to eat. I gained more weight over the holidays. January and February came. It was too cold to go outside and walk. The days were shorter, there wasn't time to fit in exercise. March came and I realized I really should do something. I started walking but only for about 30 minutes every other day. Finally the beginning of April came I realized I needed to stop with the excuses.

I weighed 160 pounds and was still wearing my 'in-between' clothes. Not good. It was no fun realizing I weighed as much or more than I did at the end of pregnancy with eight of my children. I started by eating smaller portion sizes. I lost eight pounds the first three weeks. I decided it was time to seriously start exercising. Up until this point I was just walking three times a week. I did The Firm video everyday for two weeks and guess what happened? I gained those eight pounds back! And yet, I wasn't too discouraged. I dropped a pants size and was starting to see the results. After adjusting my diet slightly {lowering carb intake a little bit} those eight pounds plus two more have come off. I am down another pant size and into my regular clothes again! My goal is to get back into the 120s by the end of summer. There are 14 weeks until the end of August so with a healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week it is totally doable.

I'll keep on trying to follow my own suggestions and report back periodically during the summer to let you know how I am doing.

What have your experiences been with pregnancy and weight gain/loss? What do you do to stay healthy?

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