Not Giving Up: Getting into Shape after 4 Pregnancies

Not Giving Up: Getting into Shape after 4 Pregnancies

It was pretty much my worst nightmare. Except it was really happening.

People swarmed around me while I stepped on a scale and a muscly guy with 8% body fat recorded my weight and my body measurements. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Mr Muscles then proceeds to stare in disbelief at the numbers he’d just jotted down.

“But I see you in here all the time,” he said, genuinely perplexed.

And I had nothing to say.

I’d been working with a personal trainer for a whole month, giving everything I could to getting into shape after 4 pregnancies and yet there was absolutely no discernable difference in any of my measurements. Like any.

Not a pound. Not an inch.

Nothing.

My kindly trainer could not figure out what was going on. Not only did I show up in beast-mode daily at the gym (he was a witness!), but I was breastfeeding, right? Hadn’t he read like EVERYWHERE that breastfeeding just melts away body fat? Why wasn’t I melting?

I could feel myself slipping into a junior high-like feeling of insecurity. Deflated and disappointed.

Well, I explained, it didn’t work that way for me. In fact, I usually gained weight while I nursed.

We finished the workout, my usual enthusiasm absent. And like the little leaguer after the last game of a losing season, I went home ashamed and defeated.

getting into shape after 4 pregnancies

Couldn’t shake it

Days later, I couldn’t help but replay the humiliation of the scale and the measuring tape.

What was I going to do? I was exercising daily and changing how I eat. Basically, I was giving everything to getting in shape. And apparently, it wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I’d mulled over my failure for a week when the thought suddenly dawned on me: Actually, things had really changed.

First off, I was nursing and I wasn’t gaining weight.

Wait a minute…this is HUGE!!!!

Also, I had more energy, slept better, and I simply felt better.

While the fruits of my labor were invisible, things were actually changing for me. I realized then that my hard work was indeed paying off.

And I wasn’t about to quit.

The Dreaded Fourth Baby Body

Just a few months earlier, I knew I was ready for a serious lifestyle change.

Looking in the mirror shortly after the birth of my 4th child December of  2016, I was shocked by how drastically 4 pregnancies in under 5 years (and a whole lotta stress) had altered my body.

To begin, I was the heaviest I’d ever been not pregnant. And more than the weight, my body showed all the signs of 4 years of not making exercise a priority. Nothing remained of a once-toned body.

But my belly. Oh, my belly.  

While pregnancy always left my tummy soft and droopy, this time it was different. My stomach basically looked like a huge pile of discarded pizza dough. While the 1st three pregnancies certainly impacted my belly, the fourth pregnancy seemed to have made a bet that it could blow away all the others in level of destruction.

And it clearly won.

Now, I firmly believe in loving your body–scars, stretch marks and all. But because I love and respect my body, I was resolved that things were going to seriously change. Perhaps my pizza dough mom belly would never completely go away, but I was determined to have the healthiest body possible.

Getting into shape after 4 pregnancies would not be easy, but I was like a toddler fixated on an unreachable toy. I was bound and determined to get what I wanted.

Once the 6 week postpartum mark approached, I swallowed my fears and insecurities and marched straight into the gym and got a membership. Determined to change (and a sucker for a well-honed sales technique), I even signed up for a personal trainer.

And nearly every single day, I showed up at the gym. The sweaty sore spot in a sea of fit and fashionable gym goers.

Weight loss after 4 babies

Getting into Shape after 4 Pregnancies

Babe Ruth once said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”

After the disappointing weigh-in, I resolved that I was not about to be be beaten by a scale and a measuring tape. My journey to health was just too dang important.  

So on I plowed, more determined than ever.

While I only continued with the trainer for a few more sessions, I continued to workout regularly and research health and fitness topics. After getting the go-ahead from my pediatrician, I started intermittent fasting while I nursed.

Suddenly, the changes started to happen more rapidly.  I gradually developed healthier habits. And, lo-and-behold, the number on the scale actually started falling.

Just this week, almost a year to the day of the catestrophic weighin, I ran into my old trainer at the gym. Mere feet from the scale and drawer that held the measuring tape. .

But this meeting was waaaay different from the year before. My determination and hard work paid off: I had lost 30 lbs while gaining a ton of muscle, completely reshaping my body.  

“Wow. You look great!” he said. “Smaller every time I see you.”

We stood and chatted for several minutes and caught up on each others’ lives.

It wasn’t until after we said our goodbyes that I realized that it had been almost exactly a year since that intensely disappointing day when I could see no discernable impact of all my hard work.

Ironically enough, I realized that I was even wearing the exact same shirt (that fit much looser now).

What I couldn’t see the year before, but saw so clearly now was that my hard work did pay off. From the moment I started my health journey, even though I couldn’t see the results, I had started on the path that led me to very real changes.

getting into shape after 4 pregnancies

Determination is everything

When you are determined to change a habit–whether it’s not yelling at your kids, eating healthier, reading more, waking up earlier, exercising more, keeping up wth your laundry–the most important thing you can do after you decide to change is to never give up.

Even when the results are invisible and you feel like you’re going nowhere.

If you are actively working towards your goal, getting back up after you fall, reassessing your strategies, educating yourself, big changes will come.

Even if you’ve failed a million times before.

Results may come slowly, but they will come if you keep trying and never give up no matter how many times you fall.

Honestly, I still haven’t reached my health goals. I still have about 20 more pounds to lose and there are still habits I want to change. I’m not per definitely mess up. (In fact, I may have eaten half a wheel of brie today…)

But this I know:

You just can’t beat the person who never gives up

Weight loss after 4 kids. Getting into shape after 4 pregnancies

Back to my pre-motherhood weight!

Stick with it, mama. If I can do it, so can you. You’ve got this!

 

12 Steps to Combat Picky Eating and Create Healthy Mealtime Habits

12 Steps to Combat Picky Eating and Create Healthy Mealtime Habits

12 Steps to Combat Picky Eating and Create Healthy Mealtime Habits

You’ve just spent an entire evening preparing a new recipe and setting the table only to have your children outright refuse to eat anything you’ve made. Your pride in rocking this new recipe is dashed as your kids devolve into tears and gagging noises, convinced you are trying to poison them. How on earth are you supposed to teach healthy eating habits?

As many as 50% or kids, at least for a period of time, fall into the category of “picky eater”. As a parent, this is incredibly frustrating. You’re going to great pains in trying to nourish your offspring and instill healthy eating habits while your child wants to just eat fishy crackers and Doritos.

But you can create a healthy home and instill healthy eating habits–even in your pickiest eaters.

Here are 12 tips to help you do just that.

1) Get your husband on the same page.

Nothing will sabotage any new parenting endeavor then being undermined by dad. However, I’ve found that this is usually because I didn’t fully inform him of the new strategy I was trying. Sit down with your partner and determine what kinds of foods you want to be eating and your plan of action.

2) Involve your child

Ask your child what you should make. At the grocery store, have them help you pick out foods. Kids love picking out produce. Have them help you in the kitchen preparing the meal.

This was really helpful in our house. Involving my pickiest eater in the cooking process has not only been fun and bonding, but she’s now much more likely to eat something she helped prepare.

3) Talk about how food impacts us

I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. It’s been in the last few years that I’ve really shifted from a weight-loss mindset, into a being really healthy and strong mindset.

As a mother of 4 daughters, I can’t tell you how badly I want them to avoid the struggles that I’ve had.

So we talk a lot about how food affects our bodies and energy level. Will this food give us energy to play and help us be stronger? Or is it going to make us feel crabby and tired? I talk about how sugary foods, while okay for occasional treats, totally zap me of energy. But salads, vegetables, raw nuts,  give me energy and make me feel good.

12 Steps to combat picky eating & create healthy mealtime habits

4) Set a good example

Children are much more likely to do what you do and not what you say. Our children are walking testaments to our actions, not our words. This applies to how we eat as well.

I’ve also found that if I am eating anything around my kids, they will want to try some. From salads to smoothies packed with kale, if I’m eating and enjoying something, my kids want a piece of the action. And I’ve been really surprised by what my children will not only try, but end up really liking.  

5) Keep only healthy options around your house

If there aren’t unhealthy options littering your kitchen and pantry, then your child will have little else to beg for in place of the meal they’ve been presented.

For example, I never have juice or soda around the house and I only buy dense whole grain bread. They think white bread is candy. So all sandwiches or toast is made with heavy fiber and nutrient-packed bread. I try to keep all snack foods they healthiest options available.

6) Make meals fun

Making mealtime fun is will go a long way in having your associate healthy eating with positive emotions. If mealtimes are a always a battle, everyone is trained to get frustrated at dinner time!

Get your kids to help out, experiment with fun dips and sauces, and switch it up (like breakfast for dinner).

7) Don’t make a seperate meal

Making a seperate meal for your child–while it may keep the peace at dinner time–only ensures that picky and limited eating will continue.  When one of my kids outright refuse everything (rare), they are always welcome to have any raw vegtables, nuts or seeds, and sometime fruit. But no seperate meal.

8) Don’t bribe with dessert

This just teaches kids that healthy food is bad, but must be suffered through to get to the true reward: dessert. If dessert is the reward, then dessert is always the goal–not healthy eating habits.

I’ll admit that I tried this…a lot. And the result was that my children would constantly try and negotiate “how many bites” until they earned dessert. It wasn’t about eating until fullness. It was all about the dessert.

If your goal is to help your children enjoy healthy eating, bribing with dessert will not get you there.

9) Introduce 1 new food at a time with foods they already like

I have found time and again that of I have 2-3 things I know my kids like at a meal and a third or fourth thing that they will try for the 1st time, they are much more likely to try the new thing than if I just try and give then a plate of full of new and strange food.

10) Never force kids to eat

Forcing kids to eat just ensures that kids will have negative associates with the food you are forcing them to eat. But unfortunately, I think for most parents this is the go to response.

But think to when you were a kid. Did your parents ever force you to eat? Did it work?

As a kid, anthing I was forced to eat became enemy number one. If my parents forced me to eat something, I was turned off to that food for years. I vividly remember as a child being forced to eat oatmeal. As I imagine it, I can still feel the revulsion I felt and my gag reflex on high alert.

I was absolutely convinced my mother was trying to kill me. So I refused to eat oatmeal for almost 20 years. And lo and behold, I discovered that I actually love oatmeal. I can’t help but wonder if I could have spent years loving oatmeal if I hadn’t been forced to eat it.

Healthy eating habits come with positive associations to healthy foods. 

11) Stick to a Routine

Keep meals and snack times at roughly the same time everyday. If a child isn’t hungry for a meal or snack, then they should be hungry enough once the next one comes around.

12) Be consistent

Children’s brains are pattern seeking. If the pattern is that you enforce something new for a day or two and then forget about it, they pick that up quickly. But if you maintain consistency with your expectations and practices, they will pick that up and develop healthy eating habits.

For most people, healthy eating habits aren’t just going to manifest overnight. But through consistently encouraging healthy eating through these steps you can help your children try new foods, enjoy healthy eating, and create habits that will serve them for life. You can create a home of healthy eaters.

You’ve got this, mama.