It’s different then I thought it would be. I have FOUR kids. Four. Four seems wayyyyyyyyyy more then three. I’m not sure why, but it does. After spending most of my life about 50 lbs overweight, when my third child was 3, I decided I could no longer afford to be fat, and unhealthy. My oldest special needs son needed me to be strong, fit, and able bodied to care for him the rest of his life. So I did it, FINALLY. Exercise became a priority, EVERY DAY. I counted calories for over a year, calories in vs calories out. I lost almost 60 lbs. I was at my goal weight, and fitness was my new passion, my favorite thing in the world to do. It was almost an addiction, as I was in a super bad mood if I didn’t get it in. Being in the birth and pregnancy business, (doula and childbirth educator), I imagined how I might mold the two worlds together. I would become a personal trainer, and specialize on pre-natal and postpartum fitness. Because even though I had never worked out through pregnancy and postpartum, I now knew so much, that I just KNEW that EVERYONE should be able to do it, and had no good excuse for NOT being fit. Uhhhhhhhh…………… yeah. Until I got to live it. In December of 2012, we found out we were expecting a new baby, a fourth, our very first girl.
How exciting! I was going to be able to LIVE OUT working out while pregnant and staying fit and getting back into shape quickly and easily after birth!! Um, yeah. Not so much. It wasn’t quite like that at all. During those first few months, I kept my workout regimen about the same, maybe only getting in 4 days instead of 5 or 6. I was tired, and really nauseous, but I kept at it. After-all, I had to be an example for all of my future clients. I couldn’t run anymore, at all. My huge boobs and growing belly would not allow it, or my breath. I just couldn’t breath and run anymore. But I modified. In boot camp, I walked with weights instead of ran, I was an inspiration they said. But man, did I go carb crazy those first few months. My previous non pregnant lifestyle included staying away from things like bagels and cream cheese, Peanut butter and Jelly and pasta. In the first 4 months of my pregnancy, that was literally ALL I could eat. I was queasy all the time, and the only thing that made it better was bread. Usually white bread of some kind. Oh, and McGriddles from McDonald’s. I would go to boot camp, workout, (be that inspiration) and then hit the Mcdonalds drive through from a McGriddle, hash-brown, and OJ afterwards, just hoping none of my workout buddies would see me. I was STARVING all the time. But the ONLY things that sounded good were things I didn’t have to cook, and usually included total crap. However, I did make sure I was getting adequate pregnancy nutrition as far as protein, veggies and iron……….. but just ate too much sugar, carbs and junk food on top of it. Sigh. So even though I stayed VERY active during my WHOLE pregnancy I gained over 50 pounds. Ouch. At the end of my pregnancy I was just over 200 lbs, which was the weight I started my weight loss journey at almost 4 years prior. But I was pregnant, and as soon as that beautiful baby was born, the breastfeeding alone would be enough to shed that weight in the first 6 weeks, as it did every-time with the boys. Nope. Wrong again. With the boys I lost all the weight in the first 6 weeks, but that was always RETURNING to the 200 lb mark, not starting at it.
So without spending hours writing about every aspect of what it’s been like, I just highlight a few things. It’s different. It’s hard to make the time to workout. It’s hard to WANT to make the time. I still LOVE to workout. I still do it at least 3-4 times a week in some form. But I’m not as strong, at all. I’m not as fit or thin, and the thought of someone at my new gym even KNOWING that one day I thought I was fit enough to be a personal trainer kinda terrifies me. Eating well has been especially hard. While breastfeeding, I was starving all the time, so busy being a mom of four kids, (with school and sports to and therapies to manage for each) a wife, an active church member and leader, a childbirth educator and doula, spending time on ME just didn’t seem as important. I don’t have time to make all the amazing healthy food I did when I first lost the weight, I don’t have time or energy to make three different meals every night. I just needed to fill my belly, and if the kids were having PB&J it was just easier to eat that too. I started to NEED chocolate again, in a way only a tired, hormonal, hungry woman NEEDS chocolate. And I started to REALLY relish my time with my kids, especially my baby girl. Times like this morning, when I slotted specifically to work out, I even got all the way dressed down to my sports bra and running shoes to go to a spin class I have been going to regularly on Wed mornings. But after being up with Hannah THREE times last night, and looking at my day, realize the ONLY time I was going to really have with her that was not in the car or making dinner or having everyone else to take care of was indeed THAT morning………… I decided against it. I love to watch her play. To move about, to interact with her world, to dance whenever she hears music, to hug everything with a face, (stuffed) to work hard on puzzles and shape sorters, to stabilize and move forward towards walking…… I just can’t get enough of it.
Jason and I were talking the other day, and he said, “If you had two hours with no responsibilities, what would be your absolute favorite thing to do” My answer, was “Go the the gym, or exercise”. He agreed, and knew it was true. We both felt good about the fact that I had such a healthy hobby. But I realized this morning, that has changed. I think watching her play, and interacting with her, is my new favorite hobby. Even on top of exercising. Because I know all too well, that I will never get these moments back with her. She will grow, and grow, and soon she will be a sassy 6 year old who’s friends are more important then her mommy. I’m starting to be more okay with it….. I’m starting to believe even if I’m not the super fit and thin and healthy eating Willow I was before I got pregnant with Hannah, that I still can be someday, and committing to myself that I WILL BE. I’m starting to accept the fact that I can still be beautiful and healthy with 15-20 more lbs on me then before. I am thankful I can still run, (jog), can still lift, and squat, and have God willing many years to get my optimal health and fitness. It hasn’t been easy, and check with me tomorrow because I might be back into the self doubt negative self image trash talking, (about myself) Willow that I have spent too many days in the last 13 months being. But for today, I’m thankful for the day. I am enjoying every minute of my baby girl, who is quickly growing up. Going to my big boys baseball games, and laughing with Benjamin. Turns out, there is more to life then being thin. There’s living. I’m just thankful the passion is still in me, and looking forward to the day where I can say……. I knew I could get back there……eventually.