Since I have had Mary Clare, I've gotten to know other new moms both in real life and via social media. I have noticed that within the new mom community "losing the baby weight" or "getting your body back" are hot button topics. It's no surprise, I mean, the culture of thinness and focus on weight is running rampant in our society.
I personally hate the phrase, "getting my body back." I don't know about you but I actually did not lose my body. In fact, it did some pretty rad shit - it grew another human and then delivered that human to the world. Regardless of my body's rad features, I have struggled with my weight and body image for a long time. It is exhausting! Since giving birth, I have worked to focus on these rad features (I will stop saying "rad" now). Pregnancy and child birth is an incredible feat. So my mindset has shifted somewhat but old habits die hard!
As a new mom, life has changed drastically. Early on, I could hardly get myself a meal and I couldn't imagine a day when I would be able to cook again. I was so incredibly anxious after giving birth, I was unable to eat. This rarely happens to me. If I can't eat, everyone knows something is very, VERY wrong. Within 6 weeks of giving birth, I lost upwards of 45 pounds. It's simple. If you do not eat, you drop weight, a lot of it, quickly and unsafely. It is not healthy or sustainable to drop that kind of weight in such a short period of time.
Once I was treated for postpartum depression and anxiety, some weight came back on because my appetite returned. I was at my pre-pregnancy weight. However, pre-pregnancy I needed to lose some weight. So I was kind of back to square one.
As things started to settle emotionally and mentally, I got a handle on my new life. I began figuring out what it was going to look like to take the best care of myself. This is so important for a mom because self care, means we are able to be the best mom and partner possible.
Part of taking care of myself is eating in a mindful way. Now, I find some time to prepare for the week ahead so I have lots of delicious, healthy meal options. I have some specific steps you can take that will support you in finding your way to healthy, mindful eating.
If you struggle with weight and eating, there most likely is an emotional component to it. So to start, here are some important mental and emotional guidelines I keep in mind.
1. Reset Your Mind: There is this deeply entrenched way of thinking that foods are "good" or "bad." Try to shift your mindset to the space where food is food. Food becomes "good" or "bad" only when you decide to give it that designation. Yes, roasted fish and sauteed veggies are healthier and have fewer calories than a cheeseburger and fries. But as soon as you start giving food that title of "good" or "bad" you are giving food power it really should not have.
2. Be Gentle: YOU are not good or bad based on what you eat. We have this tendency to beat ourselves up when we eat that food that is "bad" and pat ourselves on the back when we eat the "good" foods. Your food choices do not dictate your value as a person. Be kind to yourself. That punishing voice is doing nothing for you. You would never speak to your child or even a cashier that way. So keep that nasty voice in check, she don't know what she be talkin' bout!
3. Don't Deprive: I don't know about you but whenever I say, "I can't have this or I won't eat that," it backfires...big time. When I restrict myself and say "no fried foods" or "no more candy for a month," I generally end up hoovering mass amounts of whatever I have restricted and then feel like complete garbage. If you want a cheeseburger and fries or something that may not be great for your health, here is my advice. Track down the very best version of it, take time to sit down and really enjoy every bite of it. Eat a little lighter for the rest of the day and don't you dare feel an ounce of guilt over it! If you allow yourself the best version of food you truly want to have, you take the power away from the food.
In addition to shifting your thinking, you obviously also need to consider what's going in your mouth! So here are some of my tried and true methods that keep me feeling good and eating well.
1. Plan: I always find some time on the weekend to consider the upcoming week. I look at what we are doing and where I will be for meals. I make sure to have a few choices for my lunch and snacks I want to eat. I plan out our dinners, leaving some wiggle room for take out as well.
2. Order In Smart: We order in about 2 times a week. I have made it my business to know which places have good choices that I really like. The key to being satisfied is getting flavorful meals that are not going to make you feel gross.
3. Pack on the Protein: It is no secret that protein fills us up and keeps us full longer. I have deli turkey, hard boiled eggs and greek yogurt in the fridge at all times. I love that Boars Head makes so many kinds of deli turkey and chicken. Some of my faves are the turkey pastrami, buffalo chicken and teriyaki turkey. Mixing up what I buy each week keeps me from getting bored. I make a point of making most snacks somewhat if not completely protein based.
Protein Packed Snaxxx
- turkey rolls ups with apple and mustard
- greek yogurt with sliced almonds and frozen raspberries
- hardboiled eggs rolled in everything bagel spice (droool)
4. Stock Up: It sounds crazy but an empty fridge makes me anxious! I feel much better having the fridge full of foods that taste and make me feel good. This really goes back to that idea of being prepared. I make sure the options I have are either ready to eat or easily prepared. There is little worse than a hungry woman in a house with no good food options!
Everything has changed now that my beautiful blue eyed girl is watching me. The way I care for myself isn't only about me any longer. The way I treat myself and my body impact Mary Clare. Her sense of self won't develop just from how she is treated but by how she sees the women around her treating themselves. It is my greatest responsibility to show her how important I am to myself, through my actions.
All I have written about here is a complete work in progress for me! I definitely do not follow these rules exactly, all the time. I am human, a quite flawed one at that. The key is not to beat myself up over anything. I am so much more than how I look. So the most important takeaway is just that, be kind to yourself. And remember that by taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your babies.