postpartum body adventures

June 6, 2014
I was going to finally do the long-promised planner post — I even took pictures in daylight today! — but both Laura and Ana wrote about weight loss recently, and I feel moved to add my current thoughts.  My relationship with weight is perhaps more complex.  Less than 4 years ago, I struggled with hypothalamic amenorrhea and ended up having to gain a few (undesired, but somehow necessary) pounds to get pregnant without having to resort to injectables or more heavy-duty interventions.  I was never underweight, but ran lots of miles and probably didn’t eat quite enough to compensate.

During the TTC process, I think I gained something like 7 lbs, bringing my BMI from something like 19.5 to 21.  This doesn’t sound like much, but I hated those 7 lbs on my (short, compact) frame.  They were SO worth it, don’t get me wrong!  I would have done it again in a heartbeat had I needed to.  But I never felt particularly attractive in those days.

After the pregnancy, I drifted back to my old ways, at least somewhat.  I definitely ate more than pre-Annabel, but got back into the swing of things with running.  By the time she was 3-4 months old, I had started training for my first postpartum half marathon, and ran it in October of 2012.  I don’t remember making any real effort to lose weight, but I was running, working, pumping — and it just happened.  Over the course of those months breastfeeding, I ended up back at my previously “infertile” weight, and even lost a little bit more after weaning.

By the spring of 2013, I was running a fair bit, even thinking about the Miami Marathon (or half) in 2014.  I was regularly tallying 25-30 miles a week, and just decided not to worry about fertility.  I felt good and just wanted a break from feeling guilty about what should have been considered a very healthy pastime.

THEN I got pregnant.  One ovulation, one month after my breastfeeding days ended.  And fast forward a few short months, and now we have Mr. C!  So I guess my hypothalamic amenorrhea was cured by pregnancy (of note, I know several women who have had similar experiences).  I consider myself so incredibly lucky to have had two healthy pregnancies, and thrilled that I didn’t have to experience a long TTC process (or any TTC process!) with #2.

SO, here we are, and Cameron is 3.5 months old.  It may be a short time span, but I am pretty sure that by this time with A., I was starting to feel ‘normal’, and even good about my appearance.  In this post, I went shopping when Annabel was 4 months and actually enjoyed it.  And so I am puzzled why right now, despite exercising and not eating all that differently from back then, I am not making any progress to shed those ~7 lbs.  I actually wore pants today that definitely felt TIGHTER than when I bought them over a month ago.  And to be truthful, I’m not any more comfortable with them now than during my TTC days.

I don’t care about weight as a number at all, as I’m in a healthy range.  This is pure unapologetic vanity, and I want to fit back into my clothes and feel ‘normal’ again.  I am not willing to be hungry all the time to get there, nor do I have lots of time to spend on additional exercise (obviously).  But clearly, something has shifted, and needs adjustment.  By my analysis, these subtle (or perhaps not-so-subtle) factors have changed:

* I am running fewer miles.  As I mentioned, I was training for a half marathon.  Now I’m getting in ~12 miles/week rather than 20-30.  I’m doing other workouts sometimes, but they are short (30 minutes) and I’m not always consistent with them.

* I COMMUTE now.  I used to have more time because I didn’t have to spent 30-45 minutes in the car each AM and PM.  This is completely sedentary time unless you count going on and off the brakes on stop-and-go I-95.

* I have an office.  I do go back and forth between said office and patient rooms, but it’s probably not that many steps overall.  Therefore, I’m more sedentary at work than I used to be.

* I eat in the cafeteria at lunch instead of bringing it.  I generally get salad and soup, or salad plus chicken or something, but it’s still not homemade food and I don’t know what’s in everything.  I also have a habit of bringing something less-than-ideal back to my office for an afternoon snack (pretzels + a mini container of pb = my current favorite).

* Our nanny does the cooking instead of me most nights.  However, I don’t really think this is a factor as she cooks similarly to me and often follows Cooking Light or Real Simple recipes just like I used to.

* I’m older.  Seriously, maybe 34 vs. 32 makes a difference.  It can’t be helpful.

I also have milk supply paranoia — I tend to want to eat every time I’m hungry because it seems like the right thing to do to keep my supply up, and I am obsessed really want to be able to continue to produce enough for Cameron right now.  I eat a coconut milk popsicle (150 calories, and with decent ingredients) during my nighttime pump because I feel like I deserve a reward.  But none of this is different than what I did post-Annabel, so I don’t think it counts.

I suppose I’m left with a few options:

1) Ignore the issue for a little while longer and hope it sorts itself out.  I don’t love this option because I really don’t want to gain any more.

2) Try to make some subtle changes and see what happens.  Things I am considering:  some healthier snacks to keep at work, perhaps lengthening some runs by a mile or so, etc.

3) Increase awareness.  I’m considering one of those fitbit/jawbone type devices that are all the rage these days.  And maybe I would benefit from writing down my intake for a while/trying a logging app.  But, I don’t want to become obsessive and I hate that the apps can be so inaccurate.  (Plus I refuse to measure every bite.  Or any bite, really.  I’d have to estimate.)

4) Go paleo.  Okay, not really.  But SOMEDAY — when I’m no longer breastfeeding — I just want to see what it would be like to eat more in that style.  I do think I eat too many processed grains and such. I could never give them up forever, but it would be an interesting experiment.