Obese. Yes, that’s what the BMI calculator that I had googled, read back to me. Recording a whopping BMI of 33.4, this was by far the heaviest and unhealthiest I had ever been. Yes this was just 8 weeks after having my second baby, yes this was my body having just endured an emergency caesarian section and yes this was after spending most of my pregnancy in lockdown. But no, none of these things were an excuse for me to stay this way. Something needed to change.
I’d spent most of my twenties being pretty comfortable with my body’s shape, size and general fitness level. I’d grown up playing a whole host of sports which allowed me to have the terrible carb loaded diet that I loved. But then my thirties crept up on me and so did the excess weight.
My years of trying to conceive certainly played their part too. Injecting myself with hormones, suffering losses all whilst eating myself happy eventually took its toll. I was no longer comfortable in my clothes. I’d crept up a few dress sizes and my size 10 days seemed like a distance memory. It wasn’t until I eventually fell pregnant with Diyan, that I felt I had the perfect disguise!
After becoming a mum for the first time, I was fairly determined to get out of my stretchy maternity jeans. So I signed myself up to a local exercise class. I lost some of my baby weight, but parenting was hard. Days were long and nights were tough. Crisps, chocolates and pizza seemed to make everything momentarily better.
In the back of my mind though, I was never fully committed to getting back into shape. I’d always wanted a second child, and naively concluded there was no point in working so hard to lose the weight that I would inevitable put on in my next pregnancy.
However, whilst trying for a second, I suffered two miscarriages in the space of a year and as a result I found myself in a very dark place. I turned to junk food which quietly consoled me and slowly but surely the kilos started to pile on. When trying to build our family, I felt like my body had failed me. I blamed it for making falling and staying pregnant so hard. But then as I stared back at my reflection, I felt a completely different set of emotions. My body hadn’t failed me, I had failed it.
In Jan 2020, just as I had jumped on the new year weight loss resolution bandwagon, I learnt I was indeed pregnant again. Perhaps this was why my jeans were tighter than ever before (or was that the over indulgent Christmas?) Either way, I had the perfect excuse once more.
But then, 3 months into my pregnancy, lockdown hit. I found myself juggling a full time job, with looking after a toddler all whilst suffering with pregnancy nausea. This was stressful to say the least and like always, I turned to the well stocked snack cupboard to get me through the long days and even longer nights. Once I have the baby, I’ll start eating better (is what I used to say to myself every guilt infested evening).
Scarred for life
Getting back to pre pregnancy weight is difficult for most, but after a c-section it’s particularly hard. It took me 2 months to recover from the surgery and post surgery infection that I had. Being both physically and psychologically scarred, made the idea of exercising and weight loss even more daunting. But the extra weight I was carrying was having a huge impact on my overall health and wellbeing and I knew it needed addressing.
I’d never been one for fad diets (although I had googled plenty of them). I loved food way too much. I was much happier exercising than I was restricting my food intake (particularly carbs). But I knew this time I’d have have to pay attention to both.
By the end of November 2020, my scar had healed. But because of the national lockdown, gyms were off limits. It seemed I’d have to do this the old fashioned way! To ease myself into it, I started taking Niya out in the pram on daily walks. Having spent the majority of my pregnancy self isolating, it felt freeing to finally be out of the house! The fresh air did me wonders. The walks gave me an opportunity to catch up with friends and family on the phone, to listen to podcasts and to explore all the local parks in my area, and best of all the motion of the pushchair helped Niya to sleep.
One particular walk, I met a friend of mine who had used lockdown to get into great shape. Once a similar size and fitness level, seeing her inspired me to knuckle down and set myself a goal. I tasked myself to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, control my calorie intake and cut the comfort eating. The aim was to get comfortably back into my work clothes by the time I returned from maternity leave, this gave me 6 months to feel better in my jeans, totally doable.
I started off with 30 min walks, slowly extending these to 60 mins strolls and some days even managing 2 hour adventures! The walks gave each day a sense of purpose and really helped to overcome those postpartum blues. I was even lucky enough from time to time to have some awesome walking buddies to keep me company, time seemed to fly so much faster whilst having a good natter!
Rain or shine
Even the winter cold didn’t stop me in my tracks, I was a woman on a mission. I found the longer I walked, the longer Niya slept. It really felt like a win:win situation.
Being out and about meant I was avoiding the temptation to graze on snacks at home and arriving back just in time for lunch meant there was usually a tasty incentive waiting for me. But walking actually made me more conscious about my meals choices. I didn’t want to undo all my hard work, so crisps, chocolates and junk in general suddenly lost its appeal. Walking became my hobby and the weight steadily started to shift, I was on a roll.
Despite my self motivation, it was also really helpful to have my hubby holding me to account, encouraging me to meet my exercise commitments and eating better with me. I knew couldn’t do this alone, particularly with two children. I didn’t just have to build my exercise plan into my routine, but I had to work it around his busy calendar too!
Alongside the walking, I built short workouts into my weekly routine. I would scan youtube for videos that would get me on my dancing feet and on days where I couldn’t meet my step targets outdoors, I would stay home and rave away. Soon enough I started to feel much more toned, my clothes were looser and my joints (especially my knees) were grateful for the kilos I was shedding.
Food for thought
Eating had always made me happy. I’m that person that will order chips with every meal, the one that could finish an entire pizza (and a side) and someone who probably has Dr Pepper running through her veins. I didn’t give any of these thing up whilst trying to become healthy, instead I simply rationed how much and how often I had these ‘treats’. Planning meals really helped me to stick to healthier choices, I would often prepare my meals early in the day so that come dinner time I had no other option!
Avoiding post dinner snacks was tough, even though my tummy was full, the habit of a lifetime was a difficult one to suppress and every now and then when I’d beaten my step target, I would allow myself to succumb to the temptation.
It’s a marathon not a sprint
The last 6 months have been absolutely game changing. I’ve clocked up an incredible 1,000 miles on my fitbit, that’s an average of 6 miles a day! And I’ve lost 16kg (2.5 stone)!
I am so excited about the fitness journey I have embarked on (even more so that I didn’t have to pay for a gym membership or a personal trainer). By no means am I at my final destination, but I am so proud of how far I have literally and metaphorically travelled.
A picture paints a thousand words
When beginning this journey, I had to bring myself to do a weekly weigh in. Some weeks no matter how much I’d walked, or how good I’d eaten, the scales just didn’t read what I wanted them to. This was often demotivating, so I decide to take photos too. This really helped me to keep track of the real progress I was making and better still this method didn’t fluctuate like the scales did!
So as I reflect on the last 6 months, I can’t help but beam with pride. I set myself a goal, I worked hard and I did it. This is the new me. 6 months later, 16kg lighter!