It was pretty much my worst nightmare. Except I was awake. This was really happening.
People swarmed around me as 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.
I was speechless.
I’d been working with a personal trainer for a whole month, giving everything I could to get in shape after 4 pregnancies and yet there was absolutely no discernible difference in any of my measurements. Like any.
Not a pound. Not an inch.
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 wanted to sink into the floor.
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 then I went home ashamed and defeated, like the little leaguer after the last game of a losing season.
Getting in shape after 4 pregnancies was going to be a serious challenge.
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 pooch, 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 in shape after 4 pregnancies (in under 5 years!) 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 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.
Getting in 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. I changed my eating habits after reading this book and this book.
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 catastrophic weigh-in, I ran into my old trainer at the gym. Mere feet from the scale and drawer that held the measuring tape that humiliated me the previous year.
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.
Decide to never give up.
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 with 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.
Stick with it, mama. If I can do it, so can you. You’ve got this!