Hello Babywearing Readers! I have not been posting regularly since the fall because, well, we started homeschooling 4 kids and we moved. With a baby. And 3 year-old twins. It was a bit cray-cray.
A visit to one of my You Tube videos revealed that it had over 2,000 views and instead of rejoicing in this unexpectedly high number I almost cried. Why is that? Because I was about 60 lbs lighter than I am now. I receive so many comments asking me for more babywearing videos and believe me, I tried. I probably started a dozen new videos since Damien – our baby number 9 – was born. But I just can’t finish or post them. Why? Because I can’t stand to see myself looking the way I do. I have been struggling with poor self-image since my baby was born and I just can’t seem to accept this new normal.
I’ve always been able to lose most of my baby-weight slowly in between pregnancies. I never cared too much about my weight. I know that I can’t lose weight while breastfeeding. I’m one of those metabolisms. After the twins were born, I went on Weight Watcher to lose the last 20lbs and that’s when my health went pear-shaped. As soon as I restricted calories, I started gaining weight. That spurred me into more restriction, believing as I was told all my life that the only reason one gains weight is because more calories are going-in than coming out. So I cut back, and I gained weight. I ran longer distances, and I gained weight. I became anemic, and I gained weight. I counted how many carrots I ate with my tablespoon of hummus. I ate 10 instead of 5, I gained weight. I realized that an avocado was as many calories as a double chocolate chip muffin. I stopped eating avocados, I gained weight. I replaced sugar by Splenda in all my baking and I gained weight. And every week, the Weight Watcher app would tell me:
“Ooops, you gained. You’ll try harder next week.”
I tried some more and I gained some more. I had my thyroid checked. It was normal. (*** UPDATE: my thyroid is not normal, it’s completely screwed. My healthcare provider was simply poorly informed on what “normal” is and which tests to run. Message me if you want to know more.) I was discouraged and overwhelmed. I felt guilty every time I ate something I enjoyed.
Then I got pregnant. And I gained A LOT. A month after my baby was born, I weighted as much as I did when I was 38 weeks pregnant with twins. I went back on Weight Watchers when he was 7 months-old. I gained 11 lbs in 6 weeks. My husband, who is really the most supportive husband I know, told me: “There is something weird happening with your body.” Seeing myself in pictures at Christmas time made me cry. I lost sleep over my ballooning body. I’m always on my feet, I eat well, I’m making breast milk for two children, one of them exclusively breastfed. Then I saw my You Tube babywearing video, with my size 8 jeans, and I almost broke down. I told my husband: “I am almost 200 lbs! I just want to stop gaining! I know I won’t lose much while breastfeeding but the gain must stop!” I was no longer fitting in my pajamas. I had gone from a size 6-8 to a size 14 while watching my diet and the size 14 was getting snug.
It was clear to me that the problem was not “how much I ate” but “what I ate.” I didn’t eat too much; I knew that from years of food journaling. The story couldn’t only be about my caloric intake. I watched this video about the effect of sugar on our metabolism and I reduced my sugar intake. That’s when I stumbled upon a friend’s testimony about the Whole 30: 30 days of strict no added sugar, no grains, no legumes and no dairy. I thought: “No way!” but the idea kept nagging me. I knew that I couldn’t moderate my refined carbohydrate intake: I needed to punch my carb demon in the throat. The Whole 30 is not a lifetime commitment to never taste a brownie again, it’s a chance to reset your eating habits, to give more emphasis to good food and keep the less healthy stuff in proper proportion within your entire diet. It is not presented as a weight loss diet or a cleanse, but as a tabula rasa, a baseline from which to start eating well again.
I’m publishing this post three weeks into my Whole30. So far, here’s what I have experienced:
– I am much more alert during the day, especially when driving. I had to fight sleep at the wheel when I drove anywhere in the afternoon and it’s no longer the case. As someone who spends a fair amount of time driving young children on lonely country roads in winter, this is a welcome improvement.
– I am awake in the morning. My 5 youngest children hit the ground running at 6am sharp. It used to take me an hour or two to catch-up with them. Now I wake-up awake. I don’t want to get out of bed at 6:00am but I can.
– My night sleep, completely hammered by years of never sleeping more than 2h in a row is still crappy. I suffer from occasional bouts of insomnia and when I do sleep, it is always with one foot in in the real world. I am never deeply asleep. I was hoping that the Whole 30 would deal with this but so far it hasn’t.
– My sugar cravings are all but gone. I miss chocolate more than anything. Last weekend was a test of my willpower: friends were visiting, I made crepes for everyone (with whipped cream and maple syrup), our friends arrived heavily laden with all sorts of croissants and brownies and I DIDN’T HAVE ANY.
– I have discovered the natural sweetness of food. I find almond butter sweet. I find the taste of blueberries to be an explosion in my mouth. I really appreciate the food that I eat.
– I rediscovered the sense of smell. When my friend came over with her award-winning brownies, I found that having a deep smell of them was satisfying. The smell fills your nose and mouth and your brain gets a little kick, just enough to be able to walk past them without having to eat them at all cost. My husband thinks I have a problem sniffing croissants but I think it’s awesome.
– I don’t feel like the pastries in front of me are the last ones I will ever have. That’s a big one. I always indulged whenever something particularly good was in front of me because I felt like it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” Even though I knew rationally that it wasn’t, my cravings thought otherwise. I felt driven to indulge. And if I didn’t indulge, my mind would stay stuck on the food items. Now I feel in much better control of my eating.
– I don’t want to eat all the time. I can easily go between breakfast and lunch without a snack. I don’t even think about eating unless I am really hungry.
– When I am tired in the evening, I want to go to bed, not eat a gallon of ice cream. My body is better able to read its own signals without reverting to “EAT” automatically when it needs rest, exercise, fresh air, water or relaxation.
– Because I’m not always lusting after food or ravenously hungry, it’s easy to skip meals. That’s never a good thing when you are breastfeeding.
– And from the TMI files: I just had normal periods with no PMS. No PMS people! That’s something.
– I drink my coffee black and it no longer tastes like death warmed over.
– Generalized pain: I have been struggling with generalized pain all my life. Tests performed in childhood and as an adult were always inconclusive and the pain remained. The Whole 30 helped a lot with pain but didn’t make it go away completely. A food intolerance panel ordered by a NaPro doctor who was investigating my thyroid dysfunction revealed that I had an intolerance to eggs and corn (among other things). Cutting the right foods from my diet has made a huge difference in my generalized pain. I saw a physician specialized in body mechanics (a physiatrist) who told me that while there was little scientific evidence linking generalized pain with diet, she saw it all the time in her practice. Especially as it concerns dairy and gluten.
– And the big question: did I lose weight? I don’t know yet. The Whole 30 authors don’t recommend weighting yourself during the month because failure to lose weight might discourage you and blind you to the other many benefits of cleaning-up your diet. If my clothes are any indication, I didn’t lose much weight. I’m still firmly a size 14, can’t even squeeze into a size 12. So I may lose 2-5 lbs (which is within the parameters of a healthy weight loss while breastfeeding: 1 lb /week) but certainly not the 10-15lbs and more that some people have reported. *** UPDATE: I lost 12 lbs doing the Whole 30, which is certainly not the 20-30 lbs that some people lose. I think that it was due to the fact that I was already eating very well, in other words, I was hanging to some pretty pernicious weight. Nowadays, I eat Paleo about 90% of the time and an elimination diet has revealed several food intolerance that were allowed by the Whole 30 such as eggs and several nuts. After eliminating the foods that I was intolerant to, I lost another 12 lbs over 6 months. I went from almost 200lbs to 175lbs, and I am now at a plateau where I gain and lose the same 5 pounds over and over again depending on my hormonal cycle. I’m still ways away from my personal “normal” of 135-140lbs but honestly I have accepted the fact that I have done everything I humanly could to lose this wretched weight.
You can follow my clean eating-babywearing-homeschooling adventure on Instagram where I am @fearless_family_life
That’s the before picture, maybe 4 weeks pregnant with our baby number 9
And that’s the after picture, me 9 months post-partum, weighting over 190lbs, the same as I did the day before baby was born. Just before I started my Whole30.
Whole 30 Before and After. I only lost 12 lbs between the two pictures, going from 190lbs to 178lbs. Still a long long way from my “normal” or “usual” weight of 135-140 lbs.