When I started seeing a fertility specialist to help us get pregnant, I continued my low calorie/low-fat diet. To me, it helped me feel “in control” of the one thing I could during all of the appointments, tests, negative pregnancy tests, etc. - my weight. Looking back, I see how this could only impact things more, since diet/stress on the body from under-eating can only do more harm than good - leading to jacked up hormone levels and no menstrual cycle/ovulation (raises hand to both). But at the time, I was clueless.
Once I finally got pregnant with Reagan, what I wanted to eat changed drastically. I mainly craved fried foods (think drive-thru chicken tenders and fries) and sweet tea. But just because my cravings changed didn’t mean my mindset did. Even though I indulged in these things, I was still hyper-conscious about my caloric intake. I would log my food and make sure those things fit into my 1200 calories, not even considering that my fat and sugar intake was crazy high and protein waaay too low. Not to mention, that my diet choices could be effecting my growing baby! Ugh.
At the same time, I began binging, too. If I started to eat something that I knew was outside what I thought my calories “should” be, I would just say “screw it” and binge on it. Chips, pasta, chocolate cake, etc. Then I would go out and run for a bit longer to burn it off. (Running was still the only exercise I was doing at the time, logging 25-28 miles a week.). In my mind, the miles cancelled out the extra calories that I had consumed. And while the theory of “calories in vs calories out” does hold true, that’s just not a healthy way to view nutrition and fitness AT. ALL.
After I gave birth, my mind fixated on getting back to my previous weight/clothes. Of course, our bodies are so different post-baby (and rightly so - you just grew and birthed a LIFE!), which only made my fixation/restriction worse. I went back to my low-fat, sugar-free foods and started running again as soon as I was cleared by my doctor. Between that and breastfeeding (which I was so lucky to be able to do), within a few weeks, I was back to my previous weight and into my pre-baby clothes. But mentally, I was riding the struggle bus. Hard.
I was started on an antidepressant to help with mild postpartum depression. While this did help my overall mood, it didn’t touch my obsession with being thin again. (Disclaimer: Medications for mental health - when used in the right situation and for the right reason - can make a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing. It’s up to you and your doctor to discuss EVERYTHING that’s going on and decide if it’s right for YOU. I, unfortunately, did not disclose my eating disorder to my doctor, which could have changed what was prescribed/done.)
It wasn’t until Reagan was about 6 months old and B gifted me some workout clothes (high-waisted leggings FTW!) and encouraged me to join a gym and start lifting weights that my mindset started to shift. I had seen friends of mine transform their bodies lifting weights, and I was intrigued.
I started going with some of those friends to Crossfit for the free Saturday WODs and instantly fell in love with strength training. I felt more energized, my sleep improved, and my mood lifted. I would scour Instagram, looking for other people’s transformations and advice from fitness gurus. I joined a local gym and started taking boot camp style classes (think Body Pump). During this time, I still continued to eat my previous diet, not thinking that nutrition could effect your fitness results in any way. [SMH]
[to be continued in Part 3…]