As many of you know, 5 months ago exactly, our sweet baby Emma Nanor Verano was born. This girl has completely stolen our hearts and even though we had some risks during our pregnancy, she was born happy and healthy! I was also feeling pretty healthy, as I recovered quickly and lost my pregnancy weight in about 8 days after delivering. Unheard of, no? I was blessed.
But, in August, I went back to work after being on maternity leave for 15 weeks. Between August and the end of this month, I found myself 13 lbs heavier and a whole lot sadder.
As many of you know, it was rough for me to go back to work, even though I knew that I’d have to be a working mama (thank you, student loans). It was all part of the plan to go back to work, but I didn't realize how difficult this would be on my mommy-heart. I am slowly learning to trust God each and every day; that Emma is ok and that I am ok. And the more I focus on God and His goodness, the less anxiety I feel and the better I am able to handle our current situation with grace and joy.
But, back to the weight gain. We all know stress causes weight gain for many reasons. In all honestly, my stress just led me down the path of emotionally eating. We all emotionally eat, and sometimes, it’s totally ok! When hubby and I are celebrating, we get dessert even if we aren’t hungry. That’s emotional. When we are sad or are going through a tough time, sometimes we don’t eat, and that’s emotional too. I'm not bashing emotional eating because I believe there is a time and place for that.
But for me, my weight gain happened pretty quickly and the more weight I gained, and the more I tried to “fix” myself, the worse things got. I started going out for lunch during the workday which I NEVER do (I’m a lunchbox gal). I started getting lax with meal planning and preparing our food in advance. And I started to eat not-so-nourishing foods in large quantities.
I could be disappointed in myself for the weight I have gained because let’s face it, it is embarrassing. I am a dietitian and a fitness coach, I am supposed to MOTIVATE and educate people to how nourish themselves and reach their optimal health. It's humbling to write this, because just because I have R.D. at the end of my name, doesn't mean I am the picture of health! I am human just like you all. But I believe in authenticity and being real, because it not only shows that I am a real person, but it is also healing and cathartic for me to share all this. These past 7 weeks have been the toughest of my life, but I've learned that being disappointed in myself would only make things worse. So, I finally took a different approach...
I decided to get curious, without judgment, about these past couple months and ask myself “what have I learned from gaining 13 lbs? What have I learned from how I cope with hard things? And how can I improve and grow from this experience?” Everything is a learning opportunity in life, and I firmly believe that God always wants to mold and shape us. He wants to make us stronger with what we go through.
After some reflection, here are the five main things I have learned about myself and why I gained the weight that I did:
1. I gain weight fairly quickly. My body loses weight fast, but it also GAINS weight fast. I know this and know that just a little bit of going off track can make me gain weight fast. A day here and here isn’t impactful, but 7 weeks? That’s definitely going to have an impact.
2. Rules and restrictions don’t work for me. When I noticed the weight creeping on, I tried to cut out carbs, then cut out meat, then cut out sugar, and with each restriction, I triggered myself to ONLY want the banned food even more. I learned that type of restriction just doesn't work for my brain and mindset.
3. Portion control and eating intuitively DOES work for me. When I am able to chose from a variety of foods and follow my portion controlled meal plan, this always sets me up for a balanced and clear mindset towards food. I don't feel deprived, but rather, I know that I am nourishing my body with all the food groups in the correct portions. As a dietitian, I know we need all the food groups to show up on our plates in a balanced way, so this system is the best at teaching these healthy habits as far as I’m concerned! Plus the colorful containers I use make it SO much more fun to plan out my meals and stick to my fuel plan!
4. Feeling better physically helps me DEAL with the difficult situations that life brings. Feeling bloated, low energy, and having constant headaches did not set me up to deal with life’s curveballs, such as the week when Emma started waking up during the night again or when she started teething. Other personal events happened these past couple months as well, and my body and my brain weren’t in the right mindset to deal with them healthfully because I was not taking care of myself properly. Sometimes, we think that food will numb the pain and make things easier to handle, but it only makes things HARDER. I not only was worried about what was going on in life, but was also frustrated that I didn't feel my best physically or mentally. I didn't have my usual energy or clear head, which made certain situations harder to deal with.
5. Nourishing my body is better self care than hurting my body (duh, right?) I thought I was taking care of myself by letting myself enjoy the indulgences and extra sweets and treats, but really, taking care of myself by nourishing myself is the best form of self care! I am a better wife, mother, friend, daughter, co-worker, and wellness coach when I take care of my health. And I know my husband would attest to that!
And guess what? We are ALL better versions of ourselves when we take care of ourselves. When we make time to workout or prepare some healthy meals for the week. When we get enough sleep and make sure we spend time being quiet and doing restorative activity. When we choose happiness over sadness. When we call a friend to talk things out versus stuffing hard feelings down. All of these things make us better people. And with this new month and new season, I am going to be refocusing on my own self care because somewhere along the way, my self care got lost in the chaos that is life. And that happens to the best of us, and it's ok! It's normal, but it's also ok to start putting your health and care first again.
Will you join me? Have you had a rough season too? (please, tell me I’m not alone!) Do you want to link arms and start back from square one, taking care of ourselves, our bodies, our minds, and our spirits?
With this new season, I am opening up my Fall Fitness Challenge, a virtual bootcamp, which will be complete with daily workouts, a balanced meal plan that will FUEL you, and accountability and support from a positive community. We will not only be focusing on our physical health, but also on our mindsets and attitude towards self-care. And what a perfect time to get started on your self-care journey as we enter one of the BUSIEST seasons of the year!?
Our bootcamp kicks off October 9th, and I’d love to have you be a part of it! Fill out this application to join, and let’s end 2017 stronger and happier than ever before!