I wrote about my struggle with my post-pregnancy weight ages ago. What sparked that post off was a comment from an aunt who saw my monthly photos of Ayaan and asked if I was expecting again. Well, the same aunt visited us this week and her much more palatable and immensely quotable quote from this encounter was:
“Ayaan, your mom is looking like a sex bomb”
Quite obviously, a lot has changed since that last post – and it’s not my aunt’s levels of diplomacy since she did comment on the fact that my walls were looking grubby, that Ayaan was so thin and that my wardrobe for the upcoming wedding was too simple…
Overall, I have to say that I am blessed with pretty good genes in the weight area. Other than the pregnancy and breastfeeding era, I have always fallen within the recommended weight range for a person of my height. And it’s never been hard – I’ve always had a healthy appetite and outside of compulsory school sports, haven’t been anywhere near what you would term as a fitness freak.
But pregnancy changed all that, albeit temporarily. I put on a whopping 15 kilos (against a recommended 12) when I was pregnant and was still holding on to 10 of those a year into motherhood. And while I pretended that I was okay with the excess weight, I now realise that it did affect my life in somewhat insidious ways.
None of my old clothes fit me any more and I didn’t replenish my wardrobe beyond what was absolutely necessary. Buying clothes in a larger size was too depressing and somewhere lurked a foolish hope that that weight would magically disappear one morning. And from there, it was just one short, easy step to being downright frumpy – I would tie my hair back rather than bother with styling it, didn’t wear earring till my ear holes almost closed up and manicures and pedicures were things of the past. It was like I had just given up and sacrificed my femininity at the altar of motherhood (a tad overdramatic I agree but I like the sound of it, don’t you?)
Well, most of the weight did finally go and most of the pre-maternity clothes do fit (with the exception of the skinny jeans and such like). But in the end, it was none of the ambitious things I planned in that old post that contributed to the weight loss – the walk in the park never saw the light of day, the GM diet had zero impact and the gym membership lapsed without me so much as even thinking of going there.
In nutshell, I made no focussed effort to lose the weight but it went anyway. What helped I think was:
- My hectic life as a working mom – for some sense of it, read this post from last year. Life is a bit more relaxed now since Ayaan gets up later, we don’t do the morning walk thing and I don’t have to carry him around as much – but otherwise, it’s still much the same. But overall, I think the level of activity on an average day in my life did a lot to help me shed some of that excess baggage.
- The weight loss actually started just after I stopped breastfeeding. I know the dominant logic is that breastfeeding makes you lose weight but in my case it worked the other way. My appetite went from healthy to voracious in those days and the fact that I was at home all day with easy access to a fridge didn’t help either. Even when I went back to work, the scales didn’t budge till Ayaan was weaned. But in less than a year after that, I was fitting into my old clothes again.
- I didn’t diet but I made one tiny change to my eating habits. I cut down the size of my dinner. I read somewhere that dinner should be the lightest meal of the day and I thought that that was the least I could do.
Having got back a semblance of my old shape, I have to admit that I got a bit complacent and kept postponing the moment when I would get off my behind and start actively doing something to get back to previous levels of fitness. Finally, it was a really interesting fitness class and the persistence of a friend who wanted me to join up that finally pushed into taking action. A couple of weeks ago, we joined up at a class where we do a high intensity workout involving weights, squats, crunches and kickboxing thrice a week.
It's early days yet but I’ve been quite regular and I have a good feeling about lasting this time round. The big difference between this and the gym is that the class is like a group exercise and therefore a lot more fun than the monotonous gym workout. And more importantly, I am doing it with a friend and we push each other to wake up and make it for class in the mornings.
Another investment I have made in my health is taking on the nutritional consultation that they offer at the same place for a period of three months. It’s been quite an eye-opener. While I am only 2 kilos over the ideal weight for my height, my body fat percentage is not so well under control. Really fit and athletic women have about 18% body fat but anything under 25% is considered healthy. Mine is 32.2%!!! To get this under control, just exercise is not going to be enough – I need to alter my eating habits in a manner that can be sustainable. Here are some of the things I have been told I need to do:
- Avoid long gaps between meals. This means that I have to eat something every 2-3 hours.
- Increase the amount of raw food in my diet. This means starting the day with three servings of fruits and having a bowl of salad a couple of hours before dinner.
- Avoid processed food (and that includes bread and branded breakfast cereals)
- Avoid fried food, sweets, aerated drinks and fruit juices
- Cut down oil to a maximum of 2 tsps per day.
- Eat non-vegetarian food only three times a week and even then, no red meat
- No eggs or milk for breakfast
While I am quite confident about sticking to the exercise class, I am less confident about the making these dietary changes in the long term. The big challenges are going to be keeping shorter gaps between meals/ snacks on weekdays, sticking to some semblance of this eating plan while I am travelling and getting my oil-happy maid to cook within the oil limit. The rest of the diet restrictions are quite doable (minus the odd binges) except the bread one – I love bread!
Anyway, wish me luck! Here’s hoping this is more successful than my previous attempt. I just re-read that last post and realised how confident and enthusiastic I sounded about my plans and look how that turned out... :-(