Monday, August 8, 2011

Join Us! Health & Wellness Internet Community

Before I start this post about health and wellness, I have to confess that I have eaten 4.5 large cupcakes, a piece of cake, a bag of donut holes, and countless homemade chocolate chip cookies (plus lots of dough, of course) in the past week. I eat when I'm stressed, tired, and/or bored--all of which I've been feeling a little of lately.

So when I read my internet friend Jennie's post about her health and wellness goals for August, I thought, "Yes! I need to jump on the health and wellness bandwagon!"

You see, I always believed the idea that it "takes nine months to put on baby weight," so it's perfectly acceptable to "spend nine months taking it off."

Before I talk about this issue, I want to state for the record that I am not an expert in any way, shape, or form. I've only done this once!

Okay, now onto my [potentially invalid and inaccurate] thoughts about this.

You see, I think a lot of us "eat for two" when we're pregnant. In other words, we use pregnancy as an excuse to eat way more calories than our baby-nurturing body actually needs (which, incidentally, is only about 300 extra calories in the second trimester and 450 in the third trimester).

If you use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever you want, then you put on extra weight in addition to your baby weight, and it can take a lot longer to return to your pre-pregnancy weight (hence the nine months argument).

I worked really hard not to gain any extra weight (mainly because I had a strict midwife who didn't want me to eat refined sugar, which meant no cupcakes, cake, ice-cream, or cookies for the vast majority of my pregnancy). The recommended weight gain range is 25-35 pounds. I think I gained about 28.

After I delivered Henry, my weight dropped dramatically. In fact, about a week or two after my pregnancy, I wasn't very far above my pre-pregnancy weight. I did have lots of extra skin around my abdomen, but I didn't have any extra fat elsewhere.

If I had continued eating really healthy foods like I had been doing during pregnancy, I am pretty convinced I would have returned to my pre-pregnancy state really quickly.

But that's not what I did. Ever since the night Henry was born, I've been eating cupcakes with abandon, which is not good on my wallet or my body. I'm not going to beat myself up about it; I know that I need to be patient with myself as I adjust to motherhood and my new identity (and prepare for a move to a new city). I also know that depriving myself of sweets for so many months makes me want them even more, now that I can have them.

But I'm also not going to keep making excuses about it. I want to live a healthy lifestyle. I don't want to follow my mom's path of emotional eating that has led her into obesity.

When I want to accomplish something in life, I usually start by making a list and then I try to institute some kind of accountability. I've already made my list of healthy lifestyle intentions. Now I need the accountability.

After I started a little sewing club and read Jennie's blog about her health goals, the idea dawned on me: I should start a community discussion area for kindred spirits who are pursuing their own healthy lifestyle changes and need a little extra accountability. The Health & Wellness Club within the Feeding the Soil community will be great for me. It will be a place for people to share their health and wellness goals, update the community about how they're progressing toward those goals, share motivational articles and links, post healthy recipes, etc.

So, if you want to join others in chatting about topics related to this blog, please Join the Feeding the Soil community discussion area!

Once you do that, you can opt to join any of the sub-groups, which are currently the Sewing Club and the Health & Wellness Club.

Hope to see you there!

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Anonymous said...

As someone who as struggled with an eating disorder since I was 11 years old, I have to admit that this post was a bit triggering for me. It took me a long time to get to a place where eating "unhealthy" food wasn't a source of real shame for me--shame as in secretly eating cupcakes late at night that I would only buy with cash so a bakery did not show up on my debit card statment kind of shame. This could be my own wounds talking but I wonder if there is a way that you could rephrase this post so that it doesn't read like you were "good" during your pregnancy and rewarded with little wait gain and "bad" afterward and punished by extra lbs. I am positive this is not what you meant, but I do think that we need to be very careful when talking about food. Often times "Health and Wellness" becomes a code word for the same kind of body shaming that goes on in Vogue. Just a thought.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Anonymous: Thank you so much for sharing your feelings with so much honesty. I appreciate that you pointed out the discrepancy between my intent and my impact. I didn't mean to trigger anything for you or hurt you in any way.

Whenever I write about weight or health and wellness, I tend to hurt some people, which makes me feel terrible. I keep coming back to the topic because I try to share my life wholeheartedly and openly in this space, and it's something that's on my mind. I truly appreciate your comment because it helps me understand the way others internalize my perspective.

For me, there are very causal relationships between my emotional state, my eating habits, and my weight. When I'm stressed, feeling anxious, unfulfilled, bored, tired, etc., I eat unhealthy food to try and fix the problem. That food usually makes me feel psychologically good in the short-term, but then I tend to feel physically ill because I've eaten too much sugar, or I'm simply too full. If I continue this pattern over several weeks, the extra food then causes me to gain weight.

That's my pattern; I recognize that different people have different relationships with food.

For me, I want to find moderation in my life. I want to enjoy food (even unhealthy food) in moderation. I want to savor its flavor and immerse myself in its taste, but I don't want to stuff it in my mouth to fill up any psychological emptiness I'm experiencing. I want to get to the root of my emotions and help work through them in different ways. I also want to make time for exercise in my life because it helps me de-stress, and it helps my body function at its optimal state.

For me, it's about cultivating healthy habits day in and day out, which will in turn lead to weight loss (since, for me, my weight gain is connected to excessive eating). The weight loss is a by-product of being more fulfilled and having healthy habits.

I'm not sure if my thinking around this is healthy or not. I'm just being honest about how I see it for me.

Carissa said...

NPR had a story that I thought readers hear might find interesting. It is about if we can install a love for flavors and food to our children while pregnant. It is interesting to think about it....

Jet's Journey said...

Great post, Sara!

During pregnancy, I was not one to eliminate sweets (or grease, for that matter). I wholeheartedly intended to eat well and I think I did for the most part, save the french fries and/or the occasional "Ritter Sport."

I gained about 35 lbs. and have subsequently lost it all (4.5 months postpartum). However, I am like you in that I have this unusual skin surrounding my midsection. I, desperately, would like to lose more weight to get to a healthier baseline before conceiving baby #2.

Breastfeeding has become my downfall. Really! I feel hungrier now than I ever was pregnant. I can't seem to get enough sweets, followed by savories, followed by sweets. In fact, I'm sitting here with some brie AND chocolate chip cookies.

Needless to say, I've joining your group. I need accountability with the ability to commiserate with women in the same shoes. Well done, once again.

(P.S. Come visit
I'm a fellow Montessorian figuring out life with a babe.)

Kelsey said...

Sounds like a good plan, a community creates accountability, support, and a place to get new ideas.

diana said...

I too cut out a lot of foods while I was pregnant. I didn't cut out all refined sugar or anything, but I cut most sugar and carbs from my diet to slow my weight gain while pregnant, and then once my son was born, I began eating the things I had been avoiding. I dropped most of my baby weight, but have slowly put back on 7ish pounds.
I too struggled with eating disorders over the last 15 years, but have mostly been in a good place for the last few years. I want to improve my diet and fitness before my son gets any older. I'm still not sure how to do that, since I've never been too good at losing weight healthily, but I'm working on it.

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