Why I need Spark again (and need advice!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I (half-jokingly) predicted that I'd post my next blog entry after my baby was born... well... now she's almost nine months old. I guess that counts.

Motherhood is wonderful (and sometimes overwhelming, and exhausting, but mostly wonderful). My daughter is a radiant, happy, strong little girl who is somewhere beyond the 95% in weight (!!) and is keeping my life very interesting now that she has mastered crawling, pulling up on things, and using her pincer grasp to bring anything and everything up to her mouth.

My physical recovery from pregnancy has in many ways been a lot better than I expected, which ironically I think has kept me from really taking care of my body in the last nine months. I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes and down to my pre-pregnancy weight in just a few weeks, I was running 5Ks and almost hitting personal records within a few months, and all things considered came through the whole thing pretty unscathed.

A lot of the good habits that I had from my time Sparking, though, have started to slip... and now I'm starting to feel the impact. Thanks to breastfeeding, it seems like I can eat whatever I want without showing rapid weight gain, something I began to realize when I was gorging on cookies when visiting my family over the holidays. So while it sounds great to be able to eat whatever I'd like, this has led me to eat a lot more crap, which makes me FEEL like crap... and I'm getting in a bad cycle. I also know that breastfeeding is already starting to wind down (though I don't plan to wean for a long time still), and I can't hide behind the calorie drain of breastfeeding for ever. I also feel like my eating habits are getting worse and worse, and that's a bad trend.

This week I did some baking for friends who just moved or just had babies, and I don't want to admit how much of what I baked I ate myself. You know that nasty, headache-y buzz that comes from too much sugar? The really full stomach that comes when you eat AFTER snacking on crap all afternoon? Yeah... I'd kind of forgotten them. They're definitely back. Even when I'm not baking, I eat a lot more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than is actually good for me. Or I've polished off a packet of tea biscuits in a few days, just because it was leftover from making something else and it's there. I wouldn't say I'm binging, and I still have a pretty healthy relationship with food... but I don't like the way this has been going. I'm no longer eating the food that makes me feel good or liking the way I eat.

My husband is back to serious food tracking, we're already doing the hardest part of the whole thing-- figuring out how to track dinner and portion out meals. So now I just need to be honest with myself and log my snacks. I like to use the excuse that I'm too busy taking care of the baby to track, but the truth is that I find time for facebook and blogs... I do have the time. I just haven't quite wanted to be honest about what I'm eating these days.

The other reason I need Spark again is that I need to do some serious strength training. A few weeks ago I finally checked all my measurements on Spark, including some fitness measurements. Here's what I found:

Pre-Spark ---> Pre-pregnancy ---> 8 months post pregnancy

138 lb-->127 --> 128 (my weight seems to range between 127 and 129 these days)

29.5"-->26" --> 28.5" (not too happy about this one)

39"--> 36" --> 36.5" (Yay! My hips didn't spread! But wait... that makes my waist-hip ratio crappy... hmmm)

Like my hips, my thighs and arms all shrunk a few inches since I started Spark and are now about a half inch bigger than before pregnancy.

None of this is that big of a deal, but it does tell me that, even though my weight hasn't changed that much since before pregnancy, I've probably lost some muscle (since I'm slightly bigger at the same weight), and I'd REALLY like to find a way to draw in my stomach again. 2.5 inches bigger there isn't cool.

The worse news came when I did the fitness tests.

24/min --> 34/min --> 25/min
(Oops... carrying around my 25 lb baby in the ergo all the time apparently hasn't quite given me the Rambo-like arm strength I thought.)

20/min --> 37/min --> 12/min
Yes... 12. In case you're wondering, 40/min is considered "good," 25/min is considered "marginal," and 10/min is nicely termed "needs work." Apparently I need work.

This shouldn't surprise me... obviously, pregnancy does a number on ab strength, and not doing pushups for, oh, a year will make you lose that kind of arm strength. But for some reason I thought I was fine... running has brought a lot of my core strength back (or so I thought), and I do yoga... oh... maybe for 20 minutes twice a month. Ooops.

Finally, lately I've been losing some motivation to run. Heat and humidity in my part of Israel has hit the "can cut it with a knife" stage, and I also think I set a rather too ambitious speed goal in my latest run. We took a vacation to Rome at the end of June and I didn't run that week, and found it surprisingly hard to keep up with my plan when I got back into it... plus doing those fitness tests left me sore! All this is to say that I think the community here will help me stay motivated.

So that's where I'm at.

Questions if anyone can help me--

What helped your ab strength come back after pregnancy? Do I need to be careful about doing traditional ab exercises? How do I know if my ab muscles separated during pregnancy?

While breastfeeding, how did you figure out how many calories to aim for in your tracking?

If you made it this deep into my rambling, thank you!! It's good to be back.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Ah yes, so a baby girl ! I hadn't noticed the other photo of you wearing your baby girl, when I was sending you a sparkgoodie.

    SparkPeople wasn't around when I had my only child, a baby boy who is now taller than me and in college. I never had much of a pre-pregnancy figure as I'd been carrying extra weight for 10-15 years by the time I finally did get pregnant. So I need to figure out how to do the post pregnancy exercises here in SparkPeople without feeling foolish.
    1439 days ago
    emoticon Starting back is the hardest part and atleast your DH is on board with you!
    emoticon Congrats!
    3069 days ago
    Hello! I had a baby 4 months ago, and I am 5 pounds away from pre-pregnancy weight. And would most likely be there already if I tried harder! I nurse, as I did with my first. This time around I am not so sure it's really helping burn what I need it to! I generally aim for 1700 or so calories a day. I have been very good about exercise up until recently. Now I am eating non stop and slacking. Baaad combination. Have not gained anything yet, but my goal is to lose. The trick is the right mind set. I personally do well with a goal. And I believe it's time to set a new one!
    Steer away from triggers, and invasion how you would feel if your choices were better. I hope you succeed !
    3069 days ago
    HMMM - My babies are 15 years and 11 years old now and I am nowhere near my pre-pregnancy weight. In fact I weigh more now than I did when I was nine months pregnant with my first YIKES!!

    Sounds like you are back on track!! Good for you!!
    3104 days ago
    I definitely can't help. My baby is starting 4th grade this fall, and I'm still not back to my pre-pregnancy weight! It was really interesting to read your blog though. It's kind of cool to see things from a thin person's perspective.
    3104 days ago
    Oh my - I can SO relate. I lost weight rapidly and then lost more than pre-pregnancy (with the exception of my waist). My running didn't come back like yours did (in fact, I've had some other issues from running), but I generally feel in decent shape. But the snacking. Oh the snacking. And on baked goods. I've stopped breastfeeding (scratch that, my son decided to stop breastfeeding) and my hunger went away almost immediately. But the cravings didn't. I'm trying to rely on fruit and dark chocolate to satisfy the sweet tooth, which works until someone brings baked goods to work! I used my pre-pregnancy calorie intake plus 500, but I never tracked seriously. I've been doing quite a bit of yoga again post pregnancy to get my core strength back. It seems to be working. Also, my son is equally big, and I try to really be good about my form when picking him up and down. I can't believe your daughter is 9 months already!
    3105 days ago
    It sounds like you are doing very well on your own lately. I was always told it takes 9 months to put on the weight so you can expect 9 months until you are all back to normal (with a little work).

    So I don't really have a good answer for #1. But I just try to do a lot of exercises that involve your core....pushups, jumping rope, planks, etc. If you figure this one out, let me know. Now that you aren't pregnant, you can do whatever abs you want.

    As far as calorie tracking, I have read that consuming extra calories (about 300 is all that is needed) is really most important the first few months while you're establishing a supply. After that, it isn't as important. It obviously depends on the person, but I didn't realize that after my first, and enjoyed my extra calories for a long time...which is why the weight never came off. What is working for me now is to just do what is recommended if I weren't nursing, but staying on the upper end of it. Everyone is different though, so just watch your baby to make sure it isn't affecting your supply. It sounds like you probably don't need to really cut your calories anyways though since you've already lost it all. :)

    I struggled getting back into it full swing for a while too, but I found that I really had to start over with the basics like I did when I first started SP. If I tried to do too much too fast, I'd get frustrated with myself for not sticking with it. Baby steps.

    We're glad you're back! We missed you! You're baby girl is adorable, I can't believe she's 9 months already! Love the Ergo!

    PS- you look awesome!

    3105 days ago
  • SINGER73
    Well my baby #2 is 13 months and I just got back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I breastfeed for him 10 months and wasn't able to eat what ever I wanted. Since you already know what you are doing wrong stop it now. You don't want to fall into the trap of eating whatever you want because you are breastfeeding. There are plenty of women who fell into that trap and after they stopped BF they gained back a lot weight. Go back to eating more healthy food and if seems like increasing your protein intake is the key. It helps you stay full longer and also helps to build muscles.

    I'm still working on the abs part. I unfortunately needed a c-section so I'm sure that I will have more issue with my abs then with my baby #1 which was a natural birth. But I am about 1/2 inch from pre-baby waist but still about 3-4 inches away from where I hope to be one day.

    I also need to start strength training more. At the beginning of the year I brought a bunch of Jillian Michael's dvd and I LOVE them. I'm still sweating by the end but I know that I need to also lift heavier weights. So I'm now trying to lift at the gym for 2 30 minutes sessions. At first I was totally focused on just cardio but I'm not losing the inches that I want to. So now back to the big boy weights and I have started to see the inches starting to fall off again.

    It's going to take time for our bodies to get back to being normal again. Even though you are 9 months PP you are still BF so your hormones are still not normal. Go back to what you know works and stop snacking (my weakness so I totally understand). No more baking for friends. I love to bake but once I do all I do is eat eat and eat so I just can't do it at this point.

    Hope this helps. There are plenty of us mothers that are struggling with the same issues. Hang in there. You will figure out what works and you will get back on track. The first step is admitting that you have a problem and need help. So you are well on your well to getting back on track emoticon
    3105 days ago
  • FARRAH511
    Sorry can't help, I don't have kids yet ... thinking about it ...

    Thank you for sharing, I'm trying to convince myself that if I get pregnant it won't be "the end of my body", hahahah

    Hope you can find your answers, to me, it looks like you're in a good path (not considering all the snacking you're doing)...

    ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
    ¸.•´ .•´¨¨))
    ((¸¸.•´ ..•´ - -:¦:-
    -:¦:- ((¸¸.•´* Farrah -:¦:-

    3105 days ago
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