We are Motherhood: What, did you stop eating?
Note to the reader: When someone loses weight quickly it may be a first reaction to comment on her weight whether positively or out of concern. If you are really concerned, please ask in private. Eating disorders are serious and can accompany (or be accompanied by) anxiety and depression. If you suspect someone you know has a problem with food please encourage them to seek help. Please visit the National Eating Disorder’s website for more information.
For those of you who have known me for a really long time, I’m going to take a moment to address my weight. Partly because I get questions like: “are you eating?” Or “are you okay- what are you a size double zero?” (No, I’m not…mostly anyway.) And, the most uncomfortable “I’m worried about you, you’ve lost a lot of weight.” I’m not going to do a post with a bunch of before pictures or tell you how you too can lose 20 lbs without trying (like Cosmo did about cancer– ya know because everyone wants to get cancer so they can look like a skeleton). Because, that’s not what happened.
And, I think it’s significant that I post about it during mental health awareness month because, weight fluctuations can be normal with mental health struggles. I sometimes look at pictures we take and think- “who is that girl?” I mean, sometimes I’m like “who is she and why does she have four chins?” – it’s all about the angles people! But, I did not set out to lose a bunch of weight. I did not set out to spend my last pregnancy afraid to put anything in my mouth and nervous because I hadn’t gained the normal weight. I didn’t expect to worry because I lost 5 pounds in the matter of a few days, that my baby would not be getting the nutrition he needed to grow. I didn’t set out to be anxious every time I stepped on the scale postpartum because I worried that the rapid (unintentional) weightloss would affect my milk supply (and is one of the reasons I ultimately- sadly- had to quit breastfeeding).
Anxiety and depression affect different people different ways. For me, when I had slight depression in the past (never severe- which I think God for as I’ve seen and heard how hard that is) I ate- a lot. I can remember feeling a bit lost and lonely right after I got married. I didn’t have a job, we moved somewhere I had no friends; there were days when all I did was sit in the house and watch tv. Oh and drive over to 7-11 where I’d buy a cup of (sugary) coffee and whatever pastry hit my fancy- sometimes two. I gained 20 pounds in a month.
After I had my first baby, I was still in a similar situation, except now the option of working was pretty much off the table completely. So, what did I do? Watched TV and washed my donut and nachos down with sugary drinks and topped it off with frozen laffy taffy (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it). It’s not that I didn’t work out- I did. And, I dieted. But, after my first, my weight soared to an unhealthy 172 on my 5 foot 4 inch frame. I worked hard and got down within a healthy range. Then, I hurt my knee (while working out actually). I was terrified of weight gain but too worried I’d never walk again (ya see postpartum isn’t the only time I’ve experienced anxiety) to really care much. But, I didn’t gain, I lost. For the first time since having a baby, I was not only back to, but below the weight I was when we got married. And, that’s when I learned how my body handles anxiety.
It was proven again after my second baby when I experienced my first round of PPA. That baby weight melted off and stayed off. With my next baby, I was happy and breastfeeding and my postpartum weight loss stalled out at about 10-15 pounds over my happy weight. But, I didn’t stress, I embraced it. Sure, I worked out and tried to not totally binge but I didn’t worry much.
Until I found myself in a series of stressful situations. That’s when I ended up in the ER for the first time. I was advised by a natropath to do an elimination diet and those few extra postpartum pounds? They were quickly a thing of the past. Then we found out baby HeyJ was on the way. I got off the elimination diet as advised by my allergist (you’ll see I had a lot of doctors by the end of that whole ordeal). Even so, I spent my pregnancy so sick that I never did gain much weight.
After I gave birth, I expected to feel better. When I didn’t, I spiraled quickly into this whirlpool of physical versus emotional ailments. I was in the ER twice. I went to numerous doctors and had phone consults with all the nurses I could get on the line. I had an endoscopy (which showed evidence of damage either from acid reflux or the medications I took to combat it). I quickly lost even more weight.
Long story short, I’m not skinny because I want to be. I’m not skinny because I tried to lose weight. I’m not skinny because of diet (I do eat gluten and somewhat dairy free and can tell when I don’t follow my healthier diet because of how I feel). I’m not skinny because of excercise (unless running after four rambunctious children counts). I’m not skinny because I deprive my body of nutrients (I go through so many bags of Justin’s PB cups a week you wouldn’t believe).
I’m skinny because that’s how my body deals with anxiety. I’m skinny because I have some allergies, food sensitivities, and medical concerns. I’m skinny because sometimes after feeding the kids third breakfast, I realize I still haven’t had time to eat my first. I’m skinny because if I eat poorly, I don’t sleep. I’m skinny because I am. And, you know what? Tomorrow, My body might decide, hanging onto those extra pounds is a better idea. I always say “I’d rather be fat and happy than skinny and miserable” and I stand by it. Skinny, fat, somewhere in the middle, happy is best.
Dress: Old Navy, similar
Bonus styling tip: always stay modest with bike shorts under short dresses. They also help in warm weather under any dress to avoid uncomfortable sweat situations. I bought these from amazon this year and they’re the perfect fit and comfort under dresses of all sorts.