For the first six weeks after Birch was born I knew I needed to give myself grace in all ways. I put no pressure on myself to work on the blog, no pressure to exercise unless I felt the urge, and certainly no pressure to lose weight. My goal was just to do what felt good movement wise, to care for my baby, and to eat whatever and whenever I desired in the moment.
Exercise has always come easy to me. I crave a good sweat, and I found myself walking with other new mom friends and eventually doing some light workouts and jogging by the end of the six weeks. I couldn’t wait to do more when I was cleared by my doctor.
On the other hand, eating mindfully has always been a bigger challenge. As I have said before, it’s easier to add than subtract, so adding exercise was easier to me than subtracting delicious food. During those first six weeks, I wasn’t trying to subtract food. I ate 100% intuitively. I ate by my heart’s desires and by my hunger cues. Our sweet friends brought us meals that were very much appreciated. With those meals came whole pans of brownies, not one but TWO pies during one week, home-baked cookies, and more. Because my hunger levels were super high from sleep deprivation and breastfeeding, I enjoyed them all. Thomas and I finished BOTH of those pies within the week! I ate pie for breakfast dessert, lunch dessert, and dinner dessert 🙂
Eventually, though, I got a little tired of eating so many sweets (because they really don’t make you feel that great, amiright?) and started to crave nutrient-dense meals again – soups, salads, all the Roots bowls. I told myself after the six week mark, which coincided with Thanksgiving, that I’d cut back on the sugar and settle into a normal healthy eating pattern again.
I want to get back to the healthiest version of my body which does involve losing weight. I obviously don’t have any grand plans for a diet, cutting out food groups (even sugar), or extreme weight loss. That has never been me – life needs to be enjoyed! But I do want to get back to the place where I feel confident in my clothes and I think it’s important to acknowledge that. I love my body now, and I loved my body at 9+ months pregnant. Wanting to lose some weight doesn’t mean I don’t love my body. It also doesn’t mean I’m throwing intuitive or mindful eating out the window. It simply means I have intention to change my habits and tweak my diet in the direction towards a healthier me, more squiggle downs than ups.
I feel like it’s hard to talk about weight loss online now without people thinking you aren’t accepting your body as it is. But the truth is, it’s OK to want to change your body composition as long as you are doing it in a healthy, slow and steady, still-enjoying-your-life and respecting your body kinda way.
There isn’t one right way to parent, to manage your work flow, or to fold laundry. Nor is there a one-size-fits-all exercise regime. Everyone has to ‘know thyself’ and do what feels best for them. Similarly, there isn’t one formula for losing weight. The free spirits and the data nerds aren’t going to be happy with the same techniques. For some counting calories or food journaling sounds like an exhausting, restricting chore, and for others it’s a fun way to organize the day and the mind.
I know that I need some form of accountability. It seems that there is now a stigma against using any kind of tool other than intuitive eating to lose weight. I believe you can use a combination of intuitive eating and food journaling and/or calorie/point/macro counting and lose weight in an emotionally healthy way.
I am almost afraid to tell you that I’ve been tracking my meals in My Fitness Pal for a few weeks. But in the spirit of transparency and vulnerability, I want to share. I have been keeping a log to encourage that connection between what I’m putting in my mouth and its nutrient and energy density. For me and my personality, this technique really helps me be mindful of mindless snacking and consumption of empty calories. As I said above, I’m not on some hard-limit diet, and while I’ve been loosely journaling I’ve eaten donuts and pizza and wine and french fries plus lots of kale salads and veggies and oatmeal and superfoods. As much as I know about nutrition, it is really eye opening to reflect on the composition of food. It is that pause, that reflection, that is ultimately why food journaling is always a successful tool for me.