Darling pregnant women. We’ve all known one. We love to hate them. I met a sickeningly cute, expectant lady at a party when I first got married. She ruined pregnancy for me.
Jenny looked like her usual size 2 self, but with a basketball stuffed inside a fashionable Michael Stars tee. She droned on and on about how much she loved being pregnant. She glowed like a bioluminescent sea turtle on the sandy beaches of Florida. I tried to like her.
I wish I could say I had the same joyful experience with pregnancy. There were a few wonderful moments when I felt the baby move, but the majority of the time I felt like a sick or ravenous dog. The first giveaway I was with child? Cheez-Its and Sprite for breakfast at the office. Every day. They were my only hope. Otherwise I felt trapped on a ship of drunken sailors.
Next came the cravings. The most devoted vegetarian couldn’t’ve held out against my desire for red meat. I’d stop on the way home from work at my favorite dive, belly up to the bar and wait for my burger. Occasionally I would drink an O’douls on tap. You can imagine the looks!
My second pregnancy was similar to the first, only this time I had to have ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The baby was born, my husband was traveling, and I entered a time warp. I kept using the excuse “I just had a baby.” But when my youngest was two years old I looked in the mirror and realized: I was in the worst shape of my life. I had to do something about it.
I made simple changes to my habits. After a few months I was in even better shape than before my first tummy tango. The following ideas were key:
- Find a form of exercise you love. You won’t workout if you don’t like the activity. Find something fun! For me it was kickboxing. I found a crazy instructor and made new friends in the class. I looked forward to seeing them twice a week. I absolutely hated when I had to miss. I was also a more patient and balanced person after hitting things for an hour.
- Challenge yourself with a new sport. Find a type of exercise you’re not good at. Yet. I despise distance running. It’s just me and the road. My mind says, “This hurts! Your legs are like cement blocks. Stop this instant!” Yeah, I’m more of a group sport girl. I registered to run a 5K for a great cause. I had to train to avoid complete embarrassment. It forced me to stick to a schedule and push through the negative self-talk.
- Put exercise on your calendar. Literally put it down as an appointment. But that’s not enough. Treat it like a doctor’s appointment. You wouldn’t cancel unless you had a true emergency. Don’t let life or other people allow you to cancel. When someone begs your time simply say, “I can’t. I have an appointment.” (This point was THE key for me).
- Eat more. Eat more often and spend more time eating. Small children create an insane pace. But you have to take the time to sit down and eat. Don’t go too long between meals. If you wait too long, suddenly you’re starving and reach for the Doritos bag while preparing steamed carrots for your children. I did not go on a diet. I simply started eating what and when my kids were eating. What: a variety of healthy foods including whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables. When: every two to three hours. Kids need to eat often. I sat down to eat with them 6 times a day. This is better for your metabolism and also prevents hunger. I ate a lot of boiled eggs, avocado, almonds, broccoli, fish and chicken. I let myself have dessert when the kids had dessert.
- Display your favorite pair of jeans. You own a pair of fabulous jeans you’re dying to wear again. I hung mine up in a prominent place. Instant motivation. Seeing them every day helped me make good choices. I never weighed myself. I don’t even own a scale. The jeans were the perfect measurement for my goal.
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or fitness expert. Results will vary based on a variety of factors. Consult a registered dietician or physician before starting any diet or exercise plan.