As a Mom, practicing self-care is very important. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of your children? Even though this seems like a pretty simple concept, it took me a long time to realize this, and even longer to figure out how to do it.
First time around
After a relatively uneventful first pregnancy, I lost myself in a haze from sleep deprivation. My son was not a good sleeper, and it seemed like all he wanted to do was nurse. After reading all the books, I figured all this breastfeeding would magically make the pregnancy weight come off. Go figure that my body would decide to hang onto all the weight. It didn’t help that I was shoving anything and everything into my mouth. No sleep, plus breastfeeding was the perfect combination for me to gain, gain, gain.
Honestly, though, I didn’t really care. I was too focused on being a mom for the first time, and all the things I was probably doing wrong.
Second time around
My second pregnancy, with my twins, was filled with complications and emotions. I actually lost weight at the beginning because I was so sick and stressed out. I had to force myself to eat a high protein diet for the health of my babies, and toward the end of the pregnancy, really started gaining again.
My babies were born really early (25 weeks,) so the months following their birth were highly stressful, as they were in the hospital fighting for their lives. My life definitely took a backseat.
I could not breastfeed them at first, so I pumped around the clock. Again, I was sleep deprived, and breastfeeding, well, pumping.
Once they got home from the hospital, we still had the stress of them being premature, and had to isolate ourselves for over a year to keep them healthy. I’m not even sure if I changed out of my pajamas during this time. It’s still a bit of a blur.
A few months before the twins turned three, I finally took a look at myself. I was heavier than I’d ever been, and I wasn’t happy. I had acid reflux, high blood pressure, and was so out of shape it wasn’t even funny. I had been paying so much attention to my babies’ health, yet I had neglected my own. I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes, and I just couldn’t ignore how terrible I felt anymore. It was time to get back to myself and practice some self-care.
It’s been a year since I started on a healthy eating and exercise program. It’s not anything I signed up for (although I did start out the first month with 2 protein shakes a day,) or any program I’ve followed. It’s my own form of self-care, and it’s basically been about 2 things:
- Moving my body
- Watching what I put into my body
I’ve lost over 40 pounds, and I wanted to share more about those two elements of self-care to help other moms who are struggling right now.
I’ve tried a lot of things when it’s come to getting myself to move. When I first started, I did exercise DVD’s in our basement. I just didn’t have the time to get to a gym, and I was a little embarrassed with how out of shape I was.
After I started getting a little less out of breath (and really, really bored,) I looked into joining a gym. I’ve belonged to a gym before, but was never successful. I would go, get on a piece of equipment, watch TV or read a book while stepping/biking/walking, then go home. The novelty of going would wear off after a couple weeks.
This time, I signed up for a family membership. Childcare for the twins, and alone time for me. Well, alone time, but not being alone. I discovered my love for Group Exercise classes.
The first class I took was Zumba. I totally looked like a crazy person, but I loved it. The music, the awesome teacher, and everyone in it together. No one was watching to see how ridiculous I looked, they were just having fun themselves…or trying to figure out the moves too.
After I conquered that class, I moved onto Boot Camp…and I love it. It feels like I’m part of a team, and we’re all trying to accomplish something together. The teacher is our coach leading us to our big win.
I started to lose weight by watching what I was putting into my mouth. I used a free program Online to track calories, and I was in shock. I was eating A LOT. No wonder I was at my heaviest weight. It was truly eye-opening. I had never paid attention to the calorie content on food labels before, and dessert was something I had after every meal.
So, I bought some protein shakes from a friend, and then tracked my calories for a month. That was how long I could stand eating liquids for two meals. After that, I just counted calories, and eventually figured out what I liked to eat, what would fill me up more, and what I couldn’t eat. I also broke it up into three meals a day, plus 2 snacks.
I’m not going to say it’s always easy, but the rewards have vastly overshadowed the struggles. I fit into my clothes again, and in fact, had to buy new, smaller clothes. I no longer treat myself with food, but with a new workout outfit. I no longer take high blood pressure medication because it is in the low end of the normal range. I also finally am the actual weight that is on my driver’s license!
I’m even starting a new eating challenge, called the Whole30, to see if I can feel even better. If you’d like to join me, leave your email, and I’ll get you the details.
So, if you are struggling with your weight, or just not feeling good, there is always a way back to yourself. Self-care may not be easy for us moms, but it is necessary. It may have taken me longer to realize it, but I’m so glad I finally did.