One Year and Seventy Pounds

I did something today I haven’t done in about ten years: I wore a bikini. At a public pool. I bought this bikini in the spring, hoping that I would be able to work up the courage to wear it this summer. A couple days later, I went back to the store and bought a tankini top as a back-up, which is what I have actually been wearing all summer. But it was so hot today, and my tankini needed to be washed after a few days at the cottage, and I really wanted to take Penelope to the pool. So I dusted off that bikini top, and we headed out to cool off with a swim.

Best selfie I could manage. I'm thinking I need a millenial to give me some selfie-taking tips.

Best selfie I could manage. I’m thinking I need a millenial to give me some selfie-taking tips.

I wish I could say that I tore off my tank top and shorts, and jumped into the pool with a victorious, “Look at me now, bitches!” cry. I may have parked us behind a tree because it had lots of “shade” (ie, I could shed my clothes in relative privacy and take a few deep breaths before venturing out to the pool). But I wasn’t as nervous or self-conscious as I thought I would be. Part of that stems from the fact that I’ve lost about seventy pounds over the past year or so, though my body is far from what most women’s magazines would classify as “bikini ready.” Thanks to two pregnancies and multiple cycles of weight gain and loss in my lifetime, my stomach will never be flat again. I have stretch marks and flab and I just love ice cream too much to ever be a size zero. And of course, breast-feeding did a number on my boobs, so I’m no longer as perky as my twenty-something self. I am healthy and strong now, though, and that knowledge gives me the confidence to wear and do what I want.

One year and seventy pounds has made a huge difference in my life. I don’t shy away from activities because I am unfit or ashamed of my body anymore. I used to spend my summers covering my body in as much clothing as I could get away with in the heat. I used to avoid doing things like going to the beach or to the splash pad or even just for a long walk, because I knew I would be sweaty and gross and out of breath and I felt terribly ashamed of myself. It would take me forever to get dressed to leave the house, because I would have to try on many different articles of clothing to figure out what made me feel the least hideous. This has not happened to me even once this summer. I wear tank tops and shorts most days. I have gone to the pool and the park and on many long walks with the girls without even thinking about how I would look or feel during these activities. I can get dressed in about thirty seconds (once I track down whether my clean clothes are still in the dryer or the laundry basket, waiting to be folded). I’m just living my life, without those seventy pounds weighing me down, physically and emotionally.

So yeah, I wore a bikini today. And I know that’s not much of an accomplishment in the grand scheme of things- I mean, I wore a weather-appropriate article of clothing to a local pool, it’s not like I climbed Everest or cured cancer. It just speaks to how much I have changed over the years, and I think it’s a change for the better. I wore a bikini, and I survived. There was no laughing and pointing or “beached whale” comments (at least none that I noticed). Most importantly, Penelope and I had a fun afternoon without my body image hang-ups interfering. And that’s something worth writing about.

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Separation Anxiety

So last week was a pretty busy week, which you may have surmised from the fact that I didn’t post anything all week. For starters, I was coming off a stretch of evening shifts, so my internal clock was mixed up, and I spent most of Monday in a zombie-like state. As well, there were a lot of appointments to attend last week- a feeding assessment for Penelope, dentist for Charlotte, grooming for Barkley, and doctor for me.

At my doctor’s appointment, I was weighed for the first time since I started my whole healthy-lifestyle/ weight-loss initiative back in July. I was pretty pleased to discover that I have lost over 60 pounds in that time. Even without knowing how much weight I had lost, I knew that I was reaping many rewards from this lifestyle change. I feel great, both physically and mentally; I am less self-conscious and I’m fairly satisfied with how I look (I know “fairly satisfied” isn’t exactly a glowing review of my appearance, but it’s a vast improvement over how I felt 60 pounds ago, which was “want to cover my body in a burlap sack and never go anywhere or see anyone, ever”). So yeah, a definite improvement.

Down sixty pounds and no longer hiding from the camera!

Down sixty pounds and no longer hiding from the camera!

There was one benefit in particular, however, that I was hoping to receive with my fitness regimen that sadly has not come to fruition (and this is where you should stop reading if you are at all squeamish): I really want to get rid of the enormous, hideous hernia that I have as a result of C-section number two.

This particular type of hernia is known as a diastasis recti, and is somewhat common among women who have given birth. Basically, the muscles in my abdomen which hold my internal organs in place have separated, and so when I stand up, it all spills outward. My separation is pretty large- around 7 cm- and despite my focus on core exercises, I haven’t seen any improvement. In fact, it is far more noticeable now that there isn’t a cushion of fat surrounding the area. It isn’t causing me any physical problems- it is completely painless- but I hate the way it looks and I worry that it will cause physical problems in the future.

I spoke with my physician about it at my appointment last week, and she is recommending Pilates-based physiotherapy to help close this separation, as well as an abdominal binder to help keep everything where it should be. (Side note: when my doctor was palpating my abdomen, she commented, “Wow, I could reach all the way to your spine if I wanted!” I am not a squeamish person, but hearing that made me want to vomit a little).┬áSo this week, I will be looking further into my physiotherapy options and hopefully coming up with a plan to get rid of my unsightly bulge. Any readers have any experience with this? I would love to hear from you!

Alright, I am off to try and track down my belly binder of choice: the Squeem. Apparently, it is more comfortable and easier to wear under clothes than it’s popular counterpart, the Belly Bandit. The only problem is that is tough to find here in Canada. I will not give up though- if I can lose sixty pounds, I sure as hell can find a way to acquire the belly binder I want, right?

The Gym

Since about the beginning of July, I have been going to the gym on a regular basis- about 3 times a week. It was fairly easy to work into my schedule over the summer, especially with Mark being off for the month of August. But now it’s September, and it’s definitely a lot harder to find the time to go. I will find a way though- I’ve been feeling a lot better about myself since I started going. I’ve definitely lost weight, though I don’t know how much, since I’ve decided, for now at least, not to weigh myself. I get too bogged down with that number- if I don’t lose as much as I thought I would have, I get depressed and discouraged, and it’s just not good for me. I know that I’ve lost weight by the way my clothes are fitting, and that’s enough for now. I’m not counting calories, either- again, I just get caught up with those numbers, and it makes it too hard. I’m making healthy choices when it comes to food, and a huge part of that stems from going to the gym. If I’m going to work hard and get all sweaty and gross and sacrifice time that could be spent with my family (or Netflix), then I’m not going to flush that down the drain by eating a tub of ice cream. And that’s not to say I don’t ever eat ice cream anymore- I do, but it’s a normal amount, and it’s only once in awhile.

Charlotte loves ice cream almost as much as I do!

Charlotte loves ice cream almost as much as I do!

So those are some of the major differences between my current weight-loss journey and ones from years past. Another is the way in which I simply do not care anymore what anyone at the gym thinks of me. When I first started going to the gym as a teenager, I would be sure to have my hair done perfectly and I actually wore make-up to my workouts. MAKE-UP. To WORK OUT. That just seems beyond ridiculous to me now. If I went to a class back then, I kept up with what the instructor was doing at all costs. For step classes, I would have at least two risers for my step and I think one time I even put three risers on. And no matter how much pain I was in, how much breathing trouble I was experiencing, or how close to death I felt, I would not slow down, lest anyone notice and think I was out of shape. Now, my attitude is more like, “Risers? I don’t think so. Just the step is enough.” And I will ALWAYS take the lower impact option the instructor demonstrates.

The elusive Mommy and Penelope selfie

The elusive Mommy and Penelope selfie

After I gained a lot of weight in my early twenties, one of the barriers to me losing the weight was the fact that I was too embarrassed to go the gym- the thought of working out while fat, with people around to see me, was enough to make me hyperventilate with fear. I did eventually, sort of, get past it. I would time my gym visits to when there would be the least amount of people there, and then as I lost weight, I became more confident. But I still feared being judged. Now, I just do not care. I mean, I don’t love the way I look, but I’m at the gym, trying to get into better shape- what more can I do?

I’m realistic enough to know that, after having two C-sections, and years of my weight going up and down, my body will never look like Jennifer Aniston’s does, and I’m fine with that. I just want to be able to enjoy shopping for clothes again. I want to get in front of the camera for pictures instead of hiding behind it because I don’t want there to be photographic evidence of my double chin. I want to be able to run around with my family at the park without feeling like a hideous, out-of-shape blob. I want to take Penelope to Parent and Tot swim classes without anxiety over how I look in a bathing suit detracting from my enjoyment of that. I want to live a happy, long life, and being healthy will go a long way to making that happen.

I have to stay healthy for my two girls

I have to stay healthy for my two girls