In January of 2007, I got home from visiting my family in the states and decided it was time to change the way I was eating. I have a rule when I’m pregnant – I can eat what I feel like eating. This rule has to do with the fact that pregnancy makes me pretty uncomfortable and adding the “Best Odds” diet or some other such nonsense to that discomfort might just make me lose my head. It’s not that I go through pregnancy eating hot pockets and ice cream every day, but I don’t say no to dessert and I sometimes eat very little during the first three months. However, following pregnancy, I was having a hard time going back to proper eating. I lost my baby weight after Jenny in six months and after Elias, in a record breaking six weeks. The catch here is that I put on twenty pounds after I got married – all before getting pregnant the first time. It was that twenty pounds of extra weight (plus a few more, I’m sure) that I was carrying around at the beginning of 2007. I had also spent my holidays in traditional form – eating ridiculous amounts of useless food…cookies, chips and dip, crackers and spread, and that New Years, these baked ravioli sprinkled with cheese that my dad made (mmm). I had also experienced something on Boxing Day of 2006 that was another inspiration for proper eating. It turns out it was an allergic reaction, but at the time, we were told that the awful pain and ambulance ride to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning was most likely a gall bladder attack. Gall bladder attacks are often brought on by excess consumption of greasy high fat foods. This was pain worse in some ways than childbirth and not something I felt like experiencing again, so I decided this was another good reason.
Anyway, I changed my habits loosely based on the South Beach Diet, restricting carbs to the good ones, cutting out white flour, even in my baking, eating more protein and cutting way back on sugar. I did really well and by August I had lost twenty-five pounds. I was lighter than I had been when I got married, which was a great triumph for me. And then I got pregnant with Erik. I only gained thirty pounds in my pregnancy with him, and lost most of it fairly quickly, but I have stalled back at ten pounds heavier than my lightest of that August. I calculated my ideal weight somewhere and found that I have a high end that is currently twenty pounds less than where I am at now. I would actually be quite happy just to lose half of that, but I wouldn’t mind knowing what it feels like to be technically normal weight. I have fit into the “overweight” category since I was a teenager, and while I have never been obese, I have always been very self-conscious about my weight. When I was at my lightest, I felt really good, but I don’t even think that had much to do with my actual weight anyway. I just know that I need to get back into some good habits with regard to my eating.
So, today, I had a normal breakfast: one egg and a bowl of yogurt with granola. I am quite sure that this breakfast habit was one of the good ones, as I always felt pretty satisfied after eating it. Also, I am going to start drinking white tea again, as it may have some weight-loss benefits and is good for me anyway.
The trick for me seems to be in how I snack. Lately, I’ve noticed a return to the old ways – if I’m a bit hungry between meals or at night, I make myself a sandwich or some sort of improvised dessert – and this cannot be a good thing. I suspect that breastfeeding is keeping a few pounds at bay for the moment – so perhaps my snacking isn’t actually causing me to gain weight -but if there is a better way to snack, then why not do it? This better way was another of the South Beach influences – nuts and string cheese. For me, it had to be pistachios, because I am sadly allergic to almonds. I parceled out 20 pistachios in individual little snack bags – something I saw on TV – and ate two bags each day if I felt I needed a snack. I never really restricted my quantities of string cheese, but on average, didn’t eat more than three or four each day, depending on how late I was up at night. With this “diet”, I was able to eat whatever I wanted when we went out to eat or were at someones house, which is much easier than following a strict plan that can leave you appearing rude when you refuse white pasta or a piece of cake that the hostess slaved over all day. When I did any baking at home, I would eat a small amount, but the rest would either go to work with Mike, to Bible study with me, or to English Corner on Monday nights.
All of these things added together seemed to work wonders, so I plan to go right back to them. I may very well get pregnant in the middle of it, but if I can at least lose a few pounds before that happens, I will be in a better place than I am now.
On the subject of getting pregnant again, I read an entry on Virtuous Living – my friend L.H.’s blog – highlighting a book that I have now purchased: Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing; How Natural (or Ecological Breastfeeding in newer editions) Mothering Spaces Babies, by Sheila K. Kippley. This idea was not new to me, but a more thorough examination of it was very interesting to me, since the only form of birth control I ever use is breastfeeding. If you don’t believe in taking birth control, dislike taking it for physical reasons, or just find it to be a hassle, and you are expecting a baby (or have just had one), this book is worth reading. It highlights the benefits of not only breastfeeding long term, but co-sleeping, as well, which is a too often misunderstood topic. We do not have a “family bed”, but Erik does spend a good part of each night sleeping in our bed, just as Jenny and Elias did when they were still waking up to nurse at night or in the early morning. This book suggests that night feedings are one way to prolong the effects of breastfeeding on ovulation – something that surprised me, but that I found was probably true. After Jenny was born, I had my period (and presumably began ovulating) when she was two months old. Elias was nine months old before they resumed after his birth. I never gave it any thought, but something else happened during those months as well – they started sleeping through the night: Jenny at two months and Elias at nine. Erik did have a time when he was sleeping for extended periods, but he hasn’t been very consistent, and I am willing to assume that this is why I am still experiencing amenorrhea (which is something I definitely do not mind in the least). While God is still my primary form of birth control – He is the one who will have the final say in when our children are born – this method is of great interest to me in the area of keeping ovulation and menstruation at bay. The trick is to forgo all supplementing. Even soothers are a no-no when used too much. The same goes for expressing breast milk and bottle feeding. Any supplementing you do lessens your body’s natural suppression of ovulation. This is why even What to Expect when You’re Expecting will tell you that you do have some amount of natural birth control for the first six months of your baby’s life – up until the point when you introduce solids, if you have not supplemented in any other way, you are doing what you can to ensure a lack of ovulation(unless you want to get pregnant before your baby is six months old, in which case, supplement away).
L.H. has more to say, so check out her blog, linked above, or buy the book if you think this is something that interests you. As for food, eat well, don’t overdo the sweets and snack stuff, eat good fats, don’t restrict good carbohydrates, balance your protein, and for goodness sake, do not get into diets that restrict you to the point where you start to resent them – this just won’t work – you’ll fall off the wagon, gain back any weight you lost and start feeling bad about yourself…I’ve seen it happen with myself and others too many times to count. It is far better to be somewhat overweight and eating healthy than going on crazy diets repeatedly trying to get down to a size four (or eight, ten, fourteen, whatever!).
I’ll leave you at that – and re-iterate my title: this is not a New Years resolution…it seems that those are too easy to go back on. This is just a decision that happens to coincide with the start of a new year.