Many women struggle with weight gain during pregnancy, and then find it very difficult to shed the excess pounds once the new little one is in the world. Babies can be very demanding, and for people whose inclination is not toward exercise (like yours truly), it makes it an even more daunting challenge. Feeling frustrated about weighing more than wanted can be a debilitating and depressing feeling.
When I got married, I was about 20 pounds heavier than I wanted to be. I was okay with this. I had accepted that my ideal weight was just a dream weight. Since I was never a skinny girl, what with my childbearing hips and 5’7″ height and all, I was comfortable with my size 12.
However, after I learned that according to my BMI (Body Mass Index), I was technically overweight, I became less complacent about my weight. Then I got pregnant and gained about 40 pounds. Sound familiar? It was incredibly disheartening to watch my weight balloon.
Unexpectedly, I lost much of the weight not long after I gave birth. I attribute this weight loss to my on-demand nursing and the lack of a second car. Whenever I needed to get from A to B, I pushed the baby in a stroller and walked. At some point, I realized that I actually weighed the amount stated on my driver’s license (I don’t know about you, but that’s one thing I always fibbed about). What a rush!
When the baby was about six months old, I started working as a substitute in one of the elementary schools in our community. If I couldn’t get a ride from some kind soul, I had to walk to the sitter, drop off the baby and then walk to school. Then, in the beginning of April, I was hired as a full-time teacher until the end of the school year. This meant that I was clocking about five to six miles a day. A day, people!
For the first time since, uh, high school, I weighed my dream weight. I was no longer overweight. It felt amazing and euphoric that I was actually able to reach a goal which I thought entirely unattainable. Not only that, but I felt better. I had more energy, and I was happier with my appearance. It was a surprise to me that something I had deemed so superficial and socially-dictated would make a difference, but it did.
Then we bought a second car.
While quite relieved to finally have wheels at my disposal, I knew one things was certain: I would have to start exercising if I wanted to keep the dream alive. So, while exercising never ranked high (or at all) on my priority list, my motivation is higher than it ever has been. This means that in the morning, after I feed the little guy (and myself) breakfast, we go for a brisk three-mile walk. I haven’t done it every morning, but I’m aiming for three to five times a week.
Combined with this simple exercise, I’m trying to cut down on the Ben and Jerry’s binging, and to eat an appropriate amount of healthy foods. Since I’m expecting little one #2, it’s important that I eat enough, but it’s just as important that I eat just enough.
A pregnant mommy only needs an extra 300 calories a day. This is roughly equivalent to a glass of skim milk and a half sandwich (according to ACOG in Your Pregnancy & Birth, fourth edition). That’s all, folks, and it ain’t much. This definitely is not a free pass to finish that pint of ice cream. Shucks.
It’s a blessing that I was able to be in such great shape before I got pregnant with #2, since studies have shown that overweight mothers are at a higher risk for health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and a baby that’s too large (that can increase the risk of Cesarean section) (ibid.). Yikes! ACOG recommends that a woman of normal weight should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy.
I wouldn’t have reached my dream weight if I hadn’t been forced to walk everywhere, but after reaching that elusive number and feeling the difference it made to me both physically and emotionally, I have to say to all my ladies, it is doable and so worth it! All I did was try to make good eating choices, and walk, walk, walk. Nothing fancy, just consistent.