My weight has bounced all around over the past four years. I'm not a yo-yo dieter - I've gone through two pregnancies, gaining 35 pounds each time, and two rounds of losing the baby weight. I was back to my normal, happy weight earlier this year when I got hit with a house full of sickness: both of my kids were sick nonstop, and I suffered from a terrible three-day stomach virus on top of the aches-and-fever awfulness of the flu a week later and several sinus infections that killed my appetite for a month.
I dropped 10 pounds like I'd discovered the latest miracle weight-loss drug. Unfortunately, it was such a miserable way to lose weight that it'll never be approved by the FDA. Once my appetite resumed and I felt human again, my weight settled back to normal. And then I weaned my son off breastfeeding and BAM. Pounds on!
I haven't even bothered to step on the scale, but my pants are certainly telling me to watch out or I'm going to have to pull out my maternity pants again. That extra 300- to 500-calorie allowance you have during pregnancy and breastfeeding? Well, turns out when you aren't pregnant and you stop nursing, you don't get to keep eating those additional calories without some pants-tightening consequences!
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But I'm not going to diet. I don't believe in diets, which is one of the reasons my Fit Bottomed Girls co-founder and I wrote an anti-diet book. To me, diets are all about deprivation. About cutting out everything fun, entire food groups sometimes, and focusing on what you can't have, rather than everything you can. I've never believed that any certain foods should be off limits - it's more about how much I'm eating when I'm not really hungry, than exactlywhat I'm eating that's making a difference.
I know where I'm going wrong. I have to remember that just because the kids are snacking, I don't necessarily need to. I need to cut out a few of those extra snacks that I used to require during my breastfeeding days - the days of "OMG, I must eat now or perish!" Those snacks have become a habit, a 15-month-long habit, and I've found myself reaching for snacks when I'm not truly hungry. To fit just a little more comfortably into my pants, I'm now focusing on listening to my appetite, which has already dropped a couple of those mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks that used to be mandatory. When I'm tempted to grab that habitual snack, I check in with my stomach to see if I'm truly hungry or if I'm just eating out of habit, or if I'm stressed or bored or just need a break. It was a few small bites that helped me put a little weight on; it's a few small tweaks now for my pants to feel more comfortable again. It's also those few small tweaks that won't leave me feeling like I'm on a miserable diet, but just being a little more conscious of what my body actually needs - and when I'm just reaching out of habit. Now if only my appetite would tell me to stop eating sweets at 9 pm...
Photo credit: InExtremiss, Flickr
-By Erin Whitehead
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