Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My body, myself

There's this part of the Kalevala as sung by Ruth Mackenzie (coolest album I ever stumbled upon in the library, by the way, and my kid adores it) where Aino (she's the lady in the story whose brother sells her into marriage with a sorcerer and she decides to drown herself instead of marrying him, only to come back as a salmon, or maybe she got a spell to change herself into a salmon) sings about the change in her body from woman to fish, with lots of wailing. That's how I feel about this body of mine.

Post-partum with the kid, I lost all the weight I'd gained within a month (and it was pushing 60 lbs on my already overweight frame). Then when we weaned and I loafed around with a broken ankle for several months, I gained it all back. Ugh. Then after the first miscarriage I lost about 20 lbs and hovered around there a year, then back up that 20 lbs again after the second miscarriage, then back down again after the third one (although that was more a medical deal than me obsessing about food and I'd lost about 10 lbs in the 10 weeks I was/wasn't pregnant because I was so sick). That 20 lbs has been wandering around a long time now, 3.5 years later. It's the weight that's been tied up in my struggle with infertility, going up when things are bad or down again when they are worse.

I had a hard time coping with how my body changed during the pregnancies that failed early, and then waiting around thinking I shouldn't start any rigorous exercise because I might get pregnant at any moment... and then of course not being pregnant again for a year. After the third miscarriage and while waiting to figure out why I was uninterested in eating, I was so glad to see that 20 lbs go away without me intervening, even if it was disconcerting to lose weight without dieting or exercising.

My body. It's a complex thing. I know I will never be a thin person, not ever. My body just isn't built for thin. At the weight where I'm happiest I'm a size 16/18. I can be in shape and move around properly and all that jazz there. Is it possible for me to be thin? Yeah. I tried that. I quit eating for a few months as a teenager and suddenly I got noticed by guys and was so thin (well, for me. I hit a size 10 at the lowest, and I wasn't skeletal but I look hollow to myself in pictures). It was weird and scary to realize all of what had gone down during that period looking back. It was a time I was totally detached from my body and just moved it around.

So I worry about that end of things much more than I worry about being fat. I'm used to fat. It's me and I don't generally mind it. I am tired of the struggle to move though. I have an arthritic hip and it is so much worse because I am hauling extra weight on it.

Now, at 3 months postpartum again, I am gearing up to run a 5k in July. It's a slow gearing up and I worry about milk supply while doing all this, but I want to feel like me again. I have felt like my body isn't mine to take charge of for a long time (first lose weight because it might help you get pregnant, then don't lose any weight so you can stay pregnant, but that didn't work anyway so give up trying to control it at all and lose weight anyway, then gain only a little weight while you're pregnant). It is time. Today is my first day of training (well, yesterday since that's when I wrote this). I'm doing a couch to 5k training deal, repeating each day. In July I aim just to finish. Maybe someday I'll get to working on improving my time, but for now, finishing.

I just hate that my body is so awkward. It's hard to get around on the floor to play with the girls, but I do it. It hurts a lot, but I'm doing it anyway. I'm looking forward to less pain and more fun.

I'm also trying really hard to focus on healthier eating. Not eating less, not necessarily tracking what I eat with the intent to count calories or anything, just healthier. When I get into a cycle of unhealthy eating, it can be bad. It can be dangerous. I can very easily totally break my sense of hunger and being full and I am not going there again if I can avoid it. I am feeding me and a baby, so I have to eat and eat a variety of foods. I have another meeting with a dietician to see if we can figure out something like a proper diet for me with all the allergy limits, and I'm going to go shopping with the grocery store dietician to see if she has any ideas for healthy but quick meals either.

I would say that I am not inclined to make time for me and that I'm worse about it now that I'm a mother. When I am tired, I don't feel like exercising, so I loaf about and feel worse because I'm guilty and inactive. BUT having a non-eating kid, I can see that healthy eating is something she needs modeled for her. Even if she spends weeks sitting at the dinner table and not eating, I aim for my kid to see what healthy eating looks like.

It's an experiment, this attempting to get into shape, but I am hopeful that if we can make it work now, we can maintain from here on out. (You'll notice I am being very good and not mentioning anyone else who lives in my house and how other persons have gained much more weight than me and are going to have a bigger project getting into shape, but that "we" there is for the both of us because we eat together and therefore we need to be healthier together too.)


  1. It is indeed SO MUCH EASIER with a partner that is on board and you can bounce encouragement off of each other. I could never have lost the weight that I did without JP being my cheerleader. Allowing the occasional slip without beating yourself up is very important, too!

  2. I did C25K pp with Leopold and I loved it! You'll get there! I was still breastfeeding during my training and my first 5K and I didn't lose any of my milk supply. just be sure to keep hydrated.

    Good luck on the healthy eating. I was doing so well for a while, then morning sickness really messed me up and I'm still struggling to get back. Lots of carbs right now and there shouldn't be.

    Good luck!

  3. "I can very easily totally break my sense of hunger and being full and I am not going there again if I can avoid it." -- I totally get this.

    It sounds like you're doing things the healthy way this time around. Good luck at your 5k!

  4. I love how you are taking back your body from all those infertility years. It must feel empowering to reclaim your body as your own!

    Good luck with your 5k and keep at it. I hate running and have done 5k and up to a half marathon. You can do it! Don't worry about the time focus on being present and if you are running outside focus on the beauty of your scenery rather it be country side or city streets.