Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weight Watching

I've never been someone who was thoroughly obsessed with weight. As long as I feel healthy, I'm happy with whatever the number may be. But, I am happy to report that I am currently tipping the scales back around pre-baby numbers. I'm actually at the number I always reported, which was just slightly less than the truth. For example - the number that's listed on my driver's license and forms and what-not. During pregnancy, I gained approximately 40 pounds, so getting back down to size in the time frame that I did was somewhat surprising to me. Though I'm not quite finished. With the advent of Wii Fit came a better understanding of my healthiest BMI. I was aware before, but am now more or less constantly updated by a hopping, talking balance board. Regardless of my conscience's form, I was working toward the "ideal" BMI for my weight prior to getting pregnant the first time around as it is reported that it is best to be that size for the healthiest pregnancy and I was very blessed with a healthy and relatively uneventful pregnancy the first time around. Now on to how... after my life changing college credit course, I was pretty diligent about getting in some form of exercise each morning, usually in the form of a yoga or pilates video. I continued this when I was pregnant (except during those extremely tiring first few weeks when I could barely lift my head from a pillow) right up until I delivered. And afterward, you're supposed to wait 6 weeks to exercise, but I tried to get some walking in and low impact wii fit activities until my a-ok from the doctor. After 6 weeks I tried to make time to exercise (mostly through wii-fit and post-natal videos) but with a baby that can be a bit tricky. Fortunately, I was able to work out with Jeff different times that would be set for him to keep an eye on the baby so that I could exercise almost every morning.

When I came home from the hospital, I still looked VERY pregnant. The key to weight loss as a new mom is...breastfeeding! You knew I'd work that in somehow, didn't you? Breastfeeding releases a horomone called oxytocin and in addition to other things, it stimulates contractions which get your uterus back down to it's original, much smaller size. Until you do that, it continues to take on a balloon like shape as if still holding a fetus. Once the milk came in and Cecelia was actually eating, I could literally see a difference in the size of my belly after each feeding. It was shrinking before my eyes. Women who choose not to breastfeed (which is, of course, a personal decision) need to get that stimulation through artifical, and less efficient means. Breastfeeding actually burns 500 calories a day. While you're supposed to add 300 calories a day when you're pregnant, if you choose to breastfeed, you are more literally eating for two and burning the calories to prove it. Now, some women's bodies, while breastfeeding, actually hold on to a few extra pounds until their baby weans. It's believed to be a natural instinct of the body to preserve a layer of fat in order to keep providing for the baby in the case that the mom can't get food (i.e. out in the wild..our bodies haven't really caught up to current technology in that way). I am fortunate that my body did not seem to hold on to any extra pounds and breastfeeding has definitely helped me to shed a good bit of weight.

What breastfeeding can't do, however, is tone what's left. And for that, healthy eating and exercise are still a good choice. I was fortunate to attend an information session on a program called "One Fit Mama." While I was there, I answered a question and voila - I was give a week free pass to try it out. Anyone gets one free class as well, so I did my initial class and the following week did an unlimited week and...I loved it! It was really nice to get out of the house and have a program of exercise that involved the baby too. I thought that Cece wouldn't tolerate being in the stroller for that long, but she's starting to get better and if she fusses, I take her out, strap her on and continue on my way. I wasn't originally (i.e. before I tried it) planning to continue, but now I am. I actually asked family members for gift certificates for the program instead of other gifts for Christmas. I'm planning to wait on that and start after the holidays. They also start another program that time of year with a team challenge, similar to the Biggest Loser, only it's not just about weight loss. And I think that will be very fun too. When I first decided to do it, I was planning to do a small package and go once a week. When I priced out all the different programs for the time frame I'm looking at (before I go back to school in the fall) it ended up being least expensive to do an unlimited year. I also have a 10% off coupon that I plan to use, but it was interesting to look at all those options. I hope to continue with post-natal videos and wii fit at home too, but doing a class like that will give me the incentive through the winter months to get out of the house. When I first tried the post-natal videos, many involve the baby and during those first few months, Cecelia was not having it, but as she gets more active and mobile, I think she'll enjoy that more too and I'm looking forward to that.

Another key to keeping moving, in my case, is having a daughter that frowns upon sitting down. When she's fussing and wants to be held, she doesn't JUST want to be held. She wants you to get up and move around, walk, bounce, sway, jiggle, etc...and all that motion does a little something for you too. Though at times, I felt like all I wanted to do was sit/lay down, it certainly didn't hurt my figure to be holding a growing baby and moving with the incentive of a soothed baby - that is quite gratifying on many fronts.

While I'm still not someone who's obsessed with weight or body image, I think it's important to stay active. When I'm teaching, I'm constantly moving around the classroom, crouching down next to students, and getting up and down from the floor (it is first grade after all). But at home, it can be easy to slip into a much more sedentary lifestyle, especially as it gets colder outside. I'm hoping to instill in my daughter the importance of activity and be a good role model for her in that way, as well as others. A good rule of thumb for new mothers is 9 months on, 9 months off, so don't take my situation as the norm - everyone is different and weight loss is certainly not the most important aspect of being a new parent. Loving every moment you get with your baby is.

P.S. I know that I shouldn't end a sentence with the word is...but I did. Get over it.

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