Before: 180 lbs.
Current: 129 lbs.
The last time I stepped on the scale before giving birth to my daughter, I weighed 180 pounds and stood in awe.
I’d happily gained what I referred to as “love weight” after meeting my husband, an incredible cook whose food I loved to eat. But after a year and a half, I couldn’t fit into any of my pants and had resorted to flowy tops with leggings or dresses to hide what was underneath. It was time to get back in shape, except nothing seemed to work. I was exhausted, craved food I’d never been drawn to and thought age must be the reason my waist was thickening. It never occurred to me I might be pregnant. After all, I was 40 and had been on the pill for years. Thankfully, God had other plans.
Now here I was, hours away from meeting the daughter I’d carried for months, in awe. I had never experienced such love for my own body. I felt strong, beautiful and at peace, all 180 pounds of me…us.
Hours after labor, I cradled Olive in my arms while my husband slept on a cot nearby, grateful tears rolling down my cheeks as I looked at the two most important people in my world.
Less than three weeks after becoming a first-time mother, I was asked the dreaded post-birth question – “When are you due?” – while on a quick solo trip to grab a few items at my neighborhood grocery store. Surely, the stranger had not meant to be rude, so I laughed it off without correcting her, but the comment stung.
When I began to receive unsolicited Facebook messages and texts from people who wanted to help me get my “pre-baby body back,” I was deeply hurt. Well- intended or not, the offers were offensive. This mama was focused on learning how to parent (and finding pockets of time to slip in moments of sleep). What I looked like – what I weighed – was not for others to judge.
Instead of accepting someone else’s perception of me, I marveled at how this body had produced a tiny human and was now responsible for providing her what she needed to thrive. I knew I was, for the first time in my life, clinically obese and resolved to get back in shape when I was ready – not a moment before. Immersing myself in motherhood was the sole priority.
A year later, however, I grew tired of being tired. My joints hurt, my balance was off, and I lacked energy and stamina. I’d lost a little bit of weight without trying, but as a doctor gently pointed out, I was an older mom – 41 the day I gave birth – with a family history of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. My health needed to become a priority in my life.
So, I started working with a trainer and following a diet plan. But as soon as I lost a mildly noticeable amount of weight, I’d allow life to intrude, the excuses to flow and give up. I’ll start again Monday, I told myself again and again, sometimes lasting to the weekend but reversing any gains I made in the matter of a few days.
I didn’t feel like a failure; I just didn’t care. I was juggling multiple jobs, and working hard to be a good mom and supportive wife. That was enough, I rationalized. What I looked like did not – does not – define who I am. As someone who decades before had battled anorexia and bulimia for 10 years beginning in the eighth grade, this stance was proof my body image was strong, and I was proud of how I had evolved. But confidence and self-acceptance were not going to make me physically healthy.
I don’t quite know what sparked my resolve to get off the roller coaster of losses, gains and plateaus, but I woke up one Saturday morning ready for a change. Forget waiting for Monday. The time was now. There is no guarantee about longevity of life, but finally I wanted to do everything I could to lead a healthy one.
My method was simple: Reduce portions, know my calories, no skipping meals, eliminate alcohol, drink at least 64 ounces of water and exercise.
I purchased a cooler, prepped all of my meals except breakfast, scheduled workouts on my calendar and set a routine: Wake up, drink 8 ounces of water while packing my meals in my cooler, get ready for the day with my husband and daughter, make a simple breakfast, go to work, eat lunch, eat again four hours later, spend time with my daughter, eat dinner, prep for the next day, eat a snack before 8 p.m. if still hungry, go to bed.
If I had an evening meeting or event to attend, I’d eat beforehand so I wasn’t hungry. When offered a cocktail or some sort of delicious treat, I’d decline, explaining I was on a mission to get fit.
When life threatened to get overwhelming because of work duties related to coverage of the Kentucky Derby and my husband’s campaign for Floyd County Commissioner, I researched a local meal service called MacroMan and started ordering freshly-made meals from them to supplement what I was preparing.
As my clothes began to get looser, my motivation, energy and productivity strengthened. Sure, it felt good to have my waist back and zip up a dress I hadn’t been able to wear for the better part of three years, but what I valued most was my decreased anxiety, calmer approach to stressors and mental sharpness. I called it “getting my groove back,” though it was nothing more than setting a goal of getting healthier and – finally – proving to myself I could do it.
I’ve lost more than 50 pounds since my all-time high of 180. My goal now is to lose more body fat, gain muscle mass and continue increasing the strength of my heart and lungs through exercise.
These days, when I feel my motivation waning, I take a moment to stand in awe and remind myself I’m worth being a priority.