This week my daughters turn 10 years old and somehow this birthday seems like an extra big one. Our daughters are truly growing up and the time when they were babies is starting to seem long ago. It makes me appreciate where we are and all that we’ve accomplished in that time period as a family.
Today, I wanted to share my #transformationtuesday story. It’s not success in two weeks or 21 days. It’s a comparison that has been 10 years in the making, and one that I’m personally really proud of. It’s a story about diligence and consistency and doing what’s possible in the moment. I was never trying to be perfect all the time, but living and cranking up the dial where I could, when I could.
So that pregnant belly is me almost exactly 10 years ago to the day. I was 37 weeks pregnant with twins.
I’d been on strict bedrest for 11 weeks and on restricted activity from the time I was 16 weeks pregnant. My body was having a very hard time carrying the girls and reducing stress however I could made the contractions a little less frequent, so it’s what I could do. Being on full bedrest may still be one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I’ve ever done. It has made me grateful for every day I could move after that and also aware that I should never take my fitness for granted. I was extremely fit when I got pregnant, and I truly believe that fundamental strength and health helped my pregnancy go better. My body needed all the reserves it had to bring the girls into this world.
The first couple years were a blur of breastfeeding, sleep training, diapering and surviving. I needed sleep when I could get it, and I had to put that ahead of everything else. I was also back to working full-time by the time the girls were 12 weeks old. I tried to walk and slowly resume running as it was logistically the most manageable, and I could do it with the girls in their strollers.
My weight ebbed and flowed. While I was nursing my body didn’t want to lose weight, so I finally gave up on that effort until I was done. It came off easier later without the added stress of nursing.
Over time my workouts shifted to the wee hours of the mornings as I got more continuous sleep and the quiet mornings became my time. Cooking for the girls became about cooking for all of us, so we focused on quality food and good habits to be good role models. We shifted to organic and buying grassfed, pastured meats. We worked to cut out processed food. I made all of our baby food and did everything I could to cram as much vitamin-rich food as I could into the girls, while I was the only one providing food for them.
I added more weight training to the running I was doing when the girls were about three, and I started Crossfit for the first time in 2011. The scale went up with added muscle from Crossfit. I started cutting out carbs and experimenting with Paleo and keto, but again my body stalled. Maybe this is it I wondered? I had counted calories numerous times before and done Weight Watchers to finally lose the baby weight post nursing, but it felt impossible to find the right balance with the higher intensity exercise and life. I was fit, but not super lean, but tried to be ok with that.
Then at the end of 2013, I ruptured my L3-L4 and found myself out of sports altogether again. I had to have back surgery at the start of 2014 and spent most of the year recovering. I was still trying to learn and absorb as much as I could about nutrition and food to heal and support my body when I wasn’t training. All of my fitness, like my life post-babies, went back to zero. I had to rebuild from the ground up extraordinarily slowly as I healed, but over time I got back to being me.
Then in about 2016 I decided enough was enough and got serious about trying to get leaner and moved into tracking macros. The girls were doing great. Work was manageable. I had time to focus on me and to invest in new routines. I learned how to weigh my food and became a macro tracking wizard. I’d already built the food quality foundation and meal prepping habits. Those were long-ingrained in our family’s weekly routine, so I wasn’t trying to do that all at the same time. I quickly shed some of the weight I was carrying and also learned to appreciate my body for being mine. My scale weight has never gone as low as it was pre-babies, but I carry more muscle now. My pre-pregnancy jeans and slacks fit (yes I saved some to try) and my measurements are close to what they were before. For a race I did a while back, my friends made me encouragement cards to read while I ran, and one of them said, “Your body made two babies! It can do anything!” I think my body acceptance has been helped enormously by the fact that women with muscles are now celebrated, but I try to tell myself this too. It’s empowering and reminds me that it’s about more than a scale number.
Once again in 2017, I had to take some time off for surgery, this time to repair some of the damage from having twins. It was two months of zero activity, I did get a little looser during that period, and my weight actually dropped some from loss of lean mass, but I just tried to keep my nutrition consistent and the pieces came back together.
And this is me today. I’m 41 and damn proud of all that I’ve accomplished over the last decade. In addition to all that I just shared, I changed jobs twice and my whole career, my parents navigated some major health challenges, and we lived our lives. I’ve also been raising two humans! In so many ways it was so much harder that I could have expected, but also richer and more fulfilling. I wasn’t a three month and she had her body back kind of girl. The change was so slow that if you didn’t know me for a decade you wouldn’t know how dramatic it was. I just never quit, and I realize I’m still a work in progress. We always are.
For so many of my clients navigating the path forward and negotiating the incremental changes is impossibly overwhelming and hard. We want our old selves back and to be as resilient as we are when we are in our 20s, but we shoulder so much more than we did when we were 20. We are asking a lot more of ourselves, and we have to give ourselves time and grace to get to our goals. The path is never 100 percent linear, but to move forward we have to get on the path. We don’t have to do everything perfectly all the time, but most of the time we can do something. And that something keeps us moving forward until we can add the next thing.
It isn’t about an overnight success or a crash diet. It’s about reshaping your lifestyle and building a life that’s in line with your goals. Being fit and healthy is one of my goals, but that’s not all that I’m doing either. It is just a slice of my life that gives me joy. The other thing that gives me joy is helping people find their paths and put the building blocks together for their journeys. If you need help with yours, let me know.