You hear about weight loss stories all the time, but rarely hear people talk about gaining weight. Well, today I am going to talk about it. It is healthy for women that are pregnant to gain weight. It is inevitable. The baby is going to grow, that is healthy! Your body is going to change, that is healthy! Every part of your body is going through trauma to help this baby grow. These changes aren't easy to cope with, especially with all of the hormones raging through your body. Gaining weight and seeing numbers on the scale that I never wanted to see was one of the hardest parts for me during my pregnancy. I have written up my weight gain story below. It is full of the good, bad, and ugly.
Before we can dive too far into my weight gain story, I need to give a little background. Being overweight runs in both sides of my family. I am 5 foot 9 inches and "big boned" as they call it. My three brothers are all about 6 foot 5 inches. We are not small. To top it all off, I have hypothyroidism which means that my thyroid under produces. In case you don't know, the thyroid controls your weight gain and weight loss, among other things. So, it is hard for me to lose weight. I have tried for years to get to that "perfect number" or size, but my body just has a mind of its own.
If you have ever lost weight, you probably had an "ah-ha" moment where you realized that you needed to change. My "ah-ha" moment was in February 2019 when my husband and I were visiting some family in Texas. I remember feeling so bloated and full all of the time. I saw a picture of myself and I knew that I needed to start working out again. Come to find out, we were pregnant (hence the bloating). So here I was, completely motivated to lose weight and I couldn't.
We didn't have a scale at the time, because my weight can be an idol for me. I like to just focus on eating healthy and working out and not focusing on the scale. At our first doctor's appointment a couple of weeks later, I weighed in at the most I have ever weighed. My jaw dropped. I was so embarrassed being "weighed in" right in front of my husband who is a toothpick. This was just the beginning of the countless "weigh-ins" for pregnant women. My doctor encouraged me to try to gain between 15-25 pounds over the next 9 months. (I am not for sure how you really can control this. I was working out, eating healthy, and the scale just went up whenever it wanted to.)
At the next doctor's appointment, I crossed into numbers that I never wanted to see, EVER! Obviously I knew they were coming, but seeing them on that scale made my heart sink. I actually cried in the doctor's office. I was devastated. That evening, I bought a scale. I needed a plan to try to gain as little as possible but still being healthy. I wanted to have an idea of what the scale was going to say when I went into the doctor's office.
I dreaded getting weighed in at each appointment. I remember feeling like a cow getting weighed in for 4-H. The nurses never said ANYTHING, but I was so self-conscious that I felt they were judging me. Again, they weren't! But, at the time it was humiliating and I couldn't wait for that part of the appointment to be over.
I ended up gaining 30 pounds throughout my pregnancy. It was more than I wanted to gain, but I tried my best. I think I found a good balance between being careful but still enjoying life. I have no idea how much I would have gained if I wasn't watching what I was eating! My little boy came 3 weeks early and weighed 9 pounds. Who knows how much I would have gained if I went full term!
If you are pregnant, I want you to know that it is NORMAL and HEALTHY to gain weight. Don't go and "eat for two", that is not healthy. Talk with your doctor or do some research, but you only need to eat about 300 extra calories a day. Try really hard to stick to that. It was tempting for me to "pig out" and just eat whatever I wanted because I knew that I was going to gain weight no matter what. But, thankfully I reminded myself that I will have to work that much harder after the baby is born if I am not careful now.
Also, something that I found helpful was tracking my weight gain. I think it is important to pay attention to the weight, without being consumed by it. Have a bit of a goal like gaining 2 pounds a month, or 1 pound between your doctor's appointments. But don't forget to give yourself grace too. Your body is going through a lot of changes!
Above everything, just pay attention to your health and the baby's. Find a great workout program (I love Beachbody on Demand) or just walk for 20-30 minutes a day. Eat the recommended amount of calories for yourself most days. Treat yourself occasionally, after all you are creating a human being inside you!
Check out my post on How To Prepare Your Body for Labor.
After having our baby in October of 2019, I knew I wanted to start working out again as soon as the doctor cleared me. I did some research and chose to start with 21 Day Fix.
What is 21 Day Fix?
This is a 3 week workout program with Autumn Calabrese. She has lots of workout programs. Her most famous one is probably 80 Day Obsession. I have not tried it yet, but would like to at some point.
Overall, I really liked this program. It served its purpose for me. It helped me ease back into working out slowing and safely. I would not say that this program is "easy" per se but very doable! I think almost anybody could do this program!
The workouts are 30 minutes long. Again, I am a busy mom with a newborn. Finding time to workout is not always easy. Having a good program that is 30 minutes or less is essential! It is the perfect amount of time for some self-care and doing something for yourself.
It is a short program, just 21 days. I liked that it was short so you could feel accomplished when you finish the program. There is a sense of pride when you finish anything! After working out with a program for 21 days, it feels good to cross that off and move on to something else. It also worked out really well for me to quickly squeeze this 21 day fix program into the calendar year before January started. If you are looking for a good place to start working out, this program is great for you!
I felt this program was repetitive. Autumn has 7 workout videos focusing on something different each day. For example, there is cardio fix, arms, legs, abs, pilates, yoga, etc. So each Monday you do the cardio fix video. Each Tuesday you do the upper fix, etc. It might not be a big deal to others, but I didn't like that. I don't like hearing the same jokes or phrases week after week. Part of this could be because Autumn has a workout video for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester that I did throughout pregnancy so I got used to hearing her talk all of the time and continuously say the same thing :)
It is a short program. (This is a pro and a con) It is hard to see yourself physically changing and getting stronger with this workout program because it is only 3 weeks. I know multiple people that just repeat it over and over. I couldn't do that because I would get tired of this program. I like something with a little more variety.
No rest day. Because it is such a short program, there is no rest day built into each week's workout. It is fine for the three weeks, but I wouldn't want all of my workout programs to be this way. I enjoy not working out on Sundays.
When I went through this program, I lost 6 pounds and 2 total inches in just 3 weeks! Some of that was probably postpartum weight, but I was very encouraged! Along with doing this program, I did the nutrition plan that correlates called 21 Day Fix portion control. Overall, I did really enjoy this nutrition but it wasn't perfect. I have liked counting calories better.
I live in a small town. We have one gas station, two restaurants, no stoplights, and many farmers. In this small town is a very small women's only gym. Last year I was debating getting a membership there, especially during the winter months when running outside didn't sound appealing. The gym membership was expensive though and I did not want to commit to paying $30 a month. It wasn't worth it to drive 25 miles to a cheaper gym. One of my coworkers told me about working out at home with Beachbody (thanks Kasey!). For those of you who have not heard about it, Beachbody is an online library of many popular workout programs. Some of their most popular ones are Insanity, T:20, P90X, 21 Day Fix, 80 Day Obsession, and their newest hit Barre Blend.
I found some great workouts on Amazon Prime that I had really enjoyed doing. I loved working out at home and finding a good workout for my level of fitness. Then, my husband and I found out that we were pregnant. I knew that I wanted to be safe while working out so I needed a pregnancy safe workout program. I also knew that after we had the baby, I was going to want to lose that baby weight. Knowing myself, I knew that having a great workout program would help motivate me. After doing some research and number crunching, I decided to pay the $100 for the year. It has completely paid off and I am happy to say that we will be renewing our annual membership in the years to come.
I found multiple workouts in Beachbody's Prenatal series. I will admit that after doing the trimester workouts 40+ times they do start to get a little boring, but they helped prepare me for labor so I am not complaining! I loved the coaching that the trainers gave during their prenatal workouts. It truly helped prepare my body and mind for labor.
Now that I have had our son, I am taking advantage of so many of their other programs. I have done the 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and now Transform 20. Morning Meltdown and Barre Blend are next on my list to complete.
If you are on the fence about getting a membership, I highly recommend it!
With that being said, if you are going to get the program and only work out 5 times throughout the year, DON"T YOU DARE BUY THIS!!! Membership programs make so much money from people with "good intentions" but that don't follow through. I want you to be wise with your money. I want you to get this program and use it! If you aren't fully committed to working out, take it slow and do activities that are free or pay as you go. Once you get hooked, then consider a membership program.
If you would have told me a couple of years ago that I was going to run multiple half-marathons and a full marathon I would have laughed! I would have said, there is no way that I could do that! Other people run and are active, not me. Only certain people do that, and I am not one of them. I am not thin, there is no way I would belong next to all of those runners. But I am here today to tell you that you can! Everybody can, but it does take some serious time and determination.
Ah, our before picture. We had no idea what we were getting into. No idea what to expect. Just ignorance and nerves, lots of nerves. A couple of years ago, my brother and I decided to do a charity bike ride consisting of 230 miles in 3 days. It was a huge challenge, but such an accomplishment. It really wet our appetite for challenging ourselves and pushing our bodies to the max. There is nothing like the experience! We decided our next feat would be a half-marathon. I convinced both of my brothers to participate this time though.
This picture doesn't capture all of the emotions going on here. There is the basic pre-race jitters. Frantic lines at the restrooms. Are we going to make it to the starting line in time? Where are we supposed to be going? It was raining so we tried to decide what clothes we wanted to wear for the next 2+ hours. Not to mention the 25,000 other people running the race and trying to get to where they needed to go. There was also this huge feeling of "everybody-else-knows-what-to-do" and "we-stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb".
This picture was about the halfway mark. When we entered the Indianapolis Speedway track we were at about 6 miles and when we got out it was 8 miles. That felt like such an accomplishment, even though the track itself was difficult and VERY boring! Leaving the track behind us was such a boost in our spirits and energy.
Our medals! The medal itself means nothing to us, but the medal represents the fact that we survived our first half-marathon! It is a sense of accomplishment! We made it!
Going into the mini, we had two goals...
1. Run the whole time and don't walk. Unfortunately, I don't have as much will power as I would like and I fell into the temptation to walk, so I did, multiple times. Overall though, I would estimate that I walked under 1 mile throughout the whole 13.1 miles. I never walked for long, just long enough to catch my breath and build up my motivation. I will warn you though, it is much harder to start running again after you walk! If you can run the whole time, do!
2. Our second goal was to finish under 2 and a half hours, but ended up finishing at 2 hours and 32 minutes. It was so discouraging that we missed our goal by 2 minutes! At first I wanted to cry. Why didn't I push just a little harder? Why did a walk all of those times? Why did we stop to take that picture? Then, I realized we made! It was our first ever mini! I remembered how it felt giving 110% as I crossed the finish line. I learned a lot, that is what matters!
1. FIND YOUR MOTIVATION
Figure out what kind of a runner you are. Do you like to listen to music? Do you like to run with others? Are you more motivated when you run by yourself? Experimenter and find what works for you! There are a couple of different types of runners. First, there are the hard core serious runners who are ALWAYS running. They do countless races and run hundreds if not even thousands of miles each year. They eat, sleep, and well of course run. This is a very small percent of people. Most of the time, these people don't need anything else to help them stay motivated. They are incredibly driven and can push themselves without needing help. The much more popular type of runner is the casual runner. That's me! We run for fun. We run for certain events. We run because we ate too much dessert. It is not in our blood. Once you figure out what type of runner you are, you can better decide your goals, partners, needs for motivation, etc.
It sounds obvious, right? Nobody just shows up to a mini-marathon or a full marathon without training. It isn't something you just wake up in the morning and decide you are going to do that day. You need to be prepared and have a plan. Find a good training plan or create your own based on your schedule. Stick to it. It is so encouraging seeing yourself get stronger each week as you increase your miles. Yes, the finish line is the final goal, but that is not the whole picture. That doesn't show the countless hours of training. It doesn't show the journey of how we got there. Training really is a journey and the finish line is just your destination. There are so many great things that happen on that journey.
3. BE PREPARED
Do research! Talk to others that have run before. Read blogs (thanks for reading mine), Watch videos. Learn tips from other people. I guarantee that other runners can give you specific advice on what they would do differently next time.
4. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
As you can see, we are not professional runners. I am sure we looked silly multiple times throughout the race. We made mistakes. We were not perfect. BUT we finished! We got a medal just like the really fast runners way up at the front. They had goals, we had goals. We met some of those goals as we ran across the finish line. No, we didn't make our goal time. No, I didn't run the whole thing. Don't focus on the goals we didn't accomplish, but the goals we did!
When I look back at these pictures, I have so many memories with my brothers. I remember the inside jokes, the laughter, the pain, but mostly the fun. We had no idea what we were doing, but we did it, and you can too! Our bodies are capable of so much more than what we think they are! It just takes determination, hard work, and commitment!