My journey from high school, college, married life and post-three kids…and how I finally found food freedom. How I’ve found that real food affects every aspect of my life.
Oh man, this is a post I REALLY didn’t want to write. I don’t like talking about this stuff…to anyone…ever. But here I am, putting it in writing on the internet for the whole world to see. Yikes.
I ONLY share this because I want to be transparent, accountable, and honest. If one person resonates with me, or is helped by this in any small way, then I’m happy and I’ve done my job!
So many seasons
When I talk about my weight, it’s always in reference to different times in my life. High school, college, wedding, pre-kids, post-partum, between pregnancies, nursing, etc. The scale has fluctuated close to 100 POUNDS between all of those seasons. That is insane for me to put in writing, but it’s the truth. There was probably close to a 100 pound difference between my lowest high school weight and my highest weight while I was pregnant with my kids. And then I’ve literally been EVERYWHERE in between in the 15 years that I’ve been an adult.
My weight has never been consistent. I’d try a diet, do well for a while, lose 20ish pounds, but then stop that diet and eventually just gain it back, and sometimes more than that 20 pounds too. I wasn’t happy with it, but it didn’t consume me either. There were way too many things to be worried or excited about in life. I didn’t really like my body, but it wasn’t the focus.
After lots of contemplating over this “journey” I’ve been on, I realize one common thread. I have struggled with weight the most when I stopped making the time. That might not seem revolutionary to you, but it’s what helped connect all of the “heavier” times for me. I gained weight when…
- I was a college student who had access to lots of foods I hadn’t indulged in before at my fingertips in the cafeteria. Hey, my (skinny) friends were eating them, why couldn’t I?
- I was a young married teacher who couldn’t eat during the day (with high needs special ed students, their needs came before mine). I would be HANGRY by the end of the day and eat whatever was fastest.
- I was a new mom who had a colicky baby who nursed terribly and didn’t sleep for the first 9 months of his life. That was rough. Again – I ate what I could grab quickly and didn’t really put much thought into what food went into my mouth. I was honestly in survival mode.
- I was a mom of two who felt great after my second pregnancy, but eventually became quickly overwhelmed with life as a mom of two kids under two years old, living in a fixer upper…all of the time I had went into the house, or my kids. Definitely not food for myself (but I worked hard at giving my kids great food).
wasAM a mom of three kids who has a full-time business that I have built from the ground to the point it’s at now. I work from home, while being a momma to my three kiddos, which is everything I could have ever asked for. BUT, as you can imagine…doesn’t leave a lot of time for self-care.
But for a little while, I was forced to make the time.
I had gestational diabetes – three times
I had gestational diabetes with all three of my pregnancies. It was terrible. People who haven’t had GD don’t realize how consuming it is. For the first time in my life, I had to make calculated food choices. If I just had to make them for myself, I would eventually go back to “lazy eating”. But for the first time, what I put in my body directly affected someone else. My child. I worked SO HARD at controlling all of my food choices with my pregnancies – it was like a full time job.
- FIRST: I followed the hospital’s dietary recommendations when I was pregnant with my first baby, and ended up on insulin for the last few weeks because I couldn’t get my fasting blood sugars low enough.
- SECOND: When I got GD with my second pregnancy, I tried a different approach. I read the book “Real food for Gestational Diabetes” – and it was incredible. I finally fueled my body with real foods, and felt SO GOOD. I didn’t have to go on insulin with my second pregnancy, and I was so proud!
- THIRD: Fast forward to my third (and final) pregnancy, and I got diagnosed with GD once again, but this time at 14 weeks. I never had to deal with GD until the third trimester with my other two, so this was jarring. And this time? I was on insulin by 16 weeks, AND eventually had to get on high doses of Metformin because my body was insulin resistant. I felt out of control, frustrated with my body, and worried about the implications of this pregnancy on my little growing baby.
The research says that if you have gestational diabetes three times…there’s a pretty good chance you might get “actual” diabetes down the road.
Actual diabetes. That scares me. I know there are worse things to deal with, but if it’s in my power AT ALL, then I’ve decided to work on reducing my risk of getting diabetes as much as I possibly can.
What I felt when I was on whole foods
Like I said, when I had gestational diabetes I was forced to make the time. It became a real job for me. Since it was not just about me…I made the time. It was about my little baby. I did a LOT of research on a whole food diet for gestational diabetes. When I followed a whole food approach, I felt so good. SO good! Besides being super pregnant – ha – I felt less bloated. I felt like I had less brain fog. I had great energy! I vowed when I was pregnant with my third child that this was going to be a lifelong way of eating for me. It made all the difference!
The other crazy thing – when I was eating whole foods, my allergies and asthma were almost non-existent! I have had asthma since I was a little kid, and for the first time, I felt great even through the winter (the hardest season for my asthma). My skin was also so much clearer than it had ever been – such a nice added bonus. And my anxiety is way easier to manage when I’m not eating refined sugars too!
My big realization
Now that my third is 9 months old, I feel like we’re coming out of the newborn craziness, and I look around at my kids and I realize something.
THIS ISN’T ABOUT ME. I mean, of course it is. It’s my body. But for real, I have three kids (and a husband) to live for. We have a life together that’s so important to be present for. I want to be a mom who demonstrates healthy eating, has good energy levels, and also doesn’t make it my life. I want food to be something that helps me live my life, but not what consumes my thoughts.
So – what about the weight?
OK – what I want to stress about here is that it’s NOT ABOUT THE WEIGHT. I am repeating that to myself every day. It’s hard to get the focus off of the scale, but it’s very important to do.
I told my husband that I wanted to be “healthy on the inside”. Seriously. The diabetes scares me. The asthma limits me. Did I mention I have had high cholesterol since I was a teenager? Even at my lowest weight? Fun times.
If I do whatever I can to take care of the inside of my body, these things will be managed as much as possible. And I’m guessing that as I keep taking care of the inside of my body, it’ll start to show on the outside too. But believe me when I say it’s not my focus. Which is so liberating.
I went into my pregnancy with my third at a much higher weight than I’d like to admit. I gained just about 25 pounds during that pregnancy, which was great. And now that she’s 9 months old, I’m actually down 15 pounds from my PRE-pregnancy weight, which feels amazing. I’d honestly love to lose 15 more pounds, but since I’m nursing, I’m taking it slow and realizing I have time. I’m not planning on getting pregnant ever again – haha…so I honestly have time to do this!
I haven’t been able to work out much at all the past 9 months, so this is all dietary. Now that it’s finally nice outside, we’re getting out for family walks whenever possible! But food is KEY. I’ll have time to exercise eventually, but I’m doing whatever I can in the kitchen right now.
This is (loosely) what it looks like for me:
- Lower carbs (but not Keto), saving those carbs for starchy vegetables and seasonal fruits instead of breads/sweets.
- Protein and even more protein! I learned that my body needed protein throughout the day, at least every 2-3 hours. I learned to never eat carbs by themselves, but to always pair them with a protein.
- Not being scared of fats. We eat a good amount of fat, and I feel like it makes my body function well when we add fats to our diet regularly.
- Avoiding processed foods as much as possible. The fewer ingredients, the better!
- Eating a good amount of healthy foods. I load up my plate with those vegetables!
- No calorie counting, measuring, or restricting. I listened to my body – if I felt hungry, I ate. If I didn’t, I drank water and tried to get out of the habit of eating just to eat.
The other big thing? Being OK with having dessert sometimes. When my kids want me to eat something with them, I don’t want to hear them say “Oh, Mommy can’t eat that.” Food shouldn’t be “good” or “bad”.
I am trying SO hard to find this balance, and I want to model that for my kids, especially my girls. I want to teach them that healthy foods make us feel great, and that it’s okay to have brownies that we bake in the kitchen together. I want them to use food to make their bodies feel strong & capable.
Real food for real families
That’s what this blog is about. Adding in healthy, nourishing foods to our family’s everyday lives, and using that food as fuel to live a full life.
Thank you so much for being here, reading this BOOK of a post, and for going on this journey with me. It’s truly a lifelong journey, and I’m happy to do this alongside friends like you.
Please follow my food journey on Instagram too – we’ve already built up an AMAZING community and I’m so proud of the discussions we’re having over there!
…and get my weekly meal plan for a family of 5 trying to eat healthier dinners every week in your inbox…sign up below! You’ll also get my free ebook on how I get my kids to eat more veggies 😉