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The Journey to My Better Way Body

By now, many have you have gotten to know me here at Better Way Moms. To all of you new readers, I’m Michelle, the Chief Technology Mom, and I’m here to start a personal journey to my better way body.

This isn’t a contest, nor is it something I’m doing for good PR. In fact, much of my life has been spent dealing with the scale. I’m sure many of you can relate. You step up on the scale and once that number shows up, you’re either convinced you’re living on another planet with entirely different gravity or that your scale is broken. Once the reality sets in that the number is, in fact, true, you may feel inspired to change or you may just go about your day in a complete state of denial.

I’m in the former category.

The thing is, I’ve never been skinny. Sure, I’ve been at a healthy weight many times, but the fact of the matter is, I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing my stomach flat. Perhaps I can chalk it up to bad genetics, or that a life of consistently being up and down on the scale has done such a number on my body physically that I never once felt what it was like to have a flat stomach. I don’t mean the rock hard abs kind, either. I just mean one that wasn’t sloped in some way.

I was an active kid, and I never really knew that I was “different” until about middle school when I had a friend over to swim in my pool. You see, she wore a two piece suit that showed off her flat stomach, and there I was, in a two piece, and I noticed that my stomach curved. My thighs were thicker. Everything about me was a bit more plump. It was that very moment that I become self-conscious about my body, and thus started a many years long battle of feeling completely uncomfortable in my own skin.

Around high school, I took matters into my own hands and joined Weight Watchers with my mom and, after months of following the plan to the letter, I got down to a healthy weight and felt amazing. While my stomach still wasn’t “flat,” clothes fit better. I was somewhat confident, and I was happily wearing smaller, skinnier jeans and dresses that fit in all the right places.

I managed to hover around that weight for the majority of my high school career, and in college I only gained about 20 more pounds, but was okay. College for me was some of the best years of my life, and it wasn’t until after my college graduation that I went off the deep end and hit a number on the scale I never thought I would ever see: 190 pounds.

It felt pretty awful. I found myself shopping in the plus size section of stores. Here I was, a recently graduated student out in the world trying to find that one job, and I absolutely hated my body.

I landed a job in the Back Bay area of Boston, and one of the girls I became friendly with in the HR office turned me back onto Weight Watchers. I remembered how well it worked for me all those years ago in high school, and so I started on another weight loss path, diligently counting my points and measuring my food, and saw the weight melt off.

I was in a steady relationship at the time, one that was long distance, so the majority of my time was focused on myself and getting healthier. I spent my weeks taking long walks to work versus trekking it on the T. The weight was coming off at a stable pace. Before I knew it, I was 30 pounds down and feeling awesome.

Once again, I was buying smaller jeans, skinnier clothes, and I felt confident. I was in control of my eating habits but the focus was more about being skinny and not so much being healthy.

Eventually, I decided to move back to New York and, after a few months of being back in my home state, realized that my steady relationship was on a slippery slope. We got engaged anyway. A few months later, we broke that off.

I found a decent job and managed to not put any weight back on even during my sadder times. While I was uncertain about my future, I knew I didn’t want the scale to reach that ungodly number again.

And then I met a boy.

The dating process kind of put me in that happy state where my eating habits took the back burner. I was focused more on enjoying myself, and that meant many late nights of eating out and drinking, but I didn’t care all that much because I was having the time of my life dating and having fun.

And then we moved in together. And we got comfortable. And the weight crept back on.

Years later and a proposal to boot, I found myself inching towards that 190 number again, so as my soon-to-be husband and I planned our wedding, I desperately tried to get the number back down. It stayed at about 175. While not ideal, it was still a few numbers away from 190 before I would wave the white flag.

I managed to go up and down quite a bit during that time, and so it goes after marriage, we bought ourselves a home and that’s when I just let myself go. Before I knew it, that 190 was back on the scale, rearing its ugly head, and I was completely angry with myself.

It was okay, though. I managed to stay active by refereeing for a local roller derby league, and while my weight didn’t go down, staying active meant it wasn’t going up, either.

Cut to a few years later, and we decided that we wanted to start a family. In my head, I knew that getting to a healthier weight would up my chances of conceiving, yet I didn’t have the drive I used to in getting that weight down. Suddenly, the pressure of trying to conceive was too much to handle in addition to dieting, and when conception didn’t come easy for us, I didn’t even give the getting healthy thing a thought at all. I was more consumed by the idea of getting pregnant, so much that healthy was an afterthought. Of course, in the back of my mind I knew that healthy was important to pregnancy, but I let myself wallow in the fact that month after month after month after month, it just wasn’t happening for us.

Until it did.

I wasn’t even scared at the thought that, here I was, 190 pounds, and pregnancy meant that I will likely put on more weight. I was just elated that I was finally pregnant, and I let myself enjoy that pregnancy for all that it was worth. It was a great pregnancy. I was happy, content and I even enjoyed my growing belly. It was big for a good reason, and I actually didn’t mind showing it off for once.

We had our son in the summer of 2011, and were overjoyed to be parents. Little did I know that the scale would hit an all-time high that I was not at all prepared to see, and while the glow of motherhood was shining as bright as it could, postpartum depression hit hard, and so did the feelings of inadequacy, not to mention my confidence went out the window. Here I was, a first time mom, sad, fat, and tipping the scales at a whopping 215 pounds.

I didn’t even have the energy to try and change that, as new motherhood was so overwhelming and terrifying and not to mention exhausting. I sort of just drifted along for a few months, adjusting to not being able to breastfeed, the new sleep schedule (which involved very little sleeping), and trying to keep my freelance gig up.

It was around the time my son was 8 months old that I was just tired of feeling sad and overweight and unhealthy and bogged down, and so I followed in the footsteps of some of my family members and attempted a low carb eating plan.

Dieting in general was so foreign to me at this point in my life. As a new mom, you sort of succumb to the wealth of information out there on the Internet, to the point that you’re completely overloaded. Eat organic. Don’t eat meat. Eat only grass-fed meat. Don’t eat grains. Eat whole grains. Avoid dairy. Drink milk. I wasn’t sure what the bloody heck was right anymore, but I eschewed any and all confusing information and did what I felt was right for me. I cut out carbs and refined sugars and ate mostly lean proteins and vegetables.

For me, this was a good choice because diabetes runs in my family. I had teetered on some high sugar levels during pregnancy, so I figured anything to get those down wouldn’t be a bad thing. I thought that maybe it was a bit extreme at first, because let’s face it, I come from a long line of Italians and we love our carbs. I thought I would miss them, but after a week, I found that I didn’t.

I started to exercise a bit more (I fell in love with Zumba because, really dancing as exercising? Sign me up!) and within 5 short weeks, I lost 21 pounds. It wasn’t any fad diet or crash dieting. I was eating healthy and whole foods and the weight was happy to leave me as fast as I wanted it to go.

And then I found out I was pregnant with our daughter.

This caught both me and my husband by such a surprise, and while we all know how these things happen, I was under the impression that pregnancy wasn’t something that was ever going to come easy for me. I simply wasn’t as concerned about preventing it. Little did I know that my healthier lifestyle was clearly so good for me, it also made me impeccably fertile in addition to feeling lighter.

My first thought upon seeing that positive test was “Um, I just lost all this weight. And now I am going to gain it all back again.”

That was a hard thought to have. Usually pregnancy brings about a feeling of elation, or something positive. I was scared. Scared to see the scale go back up. Scared to revisit postpartum depression. Scared to never fit into the new clothes I had just purchased.

To make matters worse, my husband didn’t have a job secured at the time, so I was petrified of our financial health, not to mention how I was going to be a good mother to two when I was just getting used to being a mother to one.

I spent a lot of that pregnancy scared and anxious. It didn’t bode well for the scale.

We had our daughter in the winter of 2013, and her arrival was such a joyous occasion. I didn’t give the scale a second thought during those days in the hospital. I kept my focus on her, on our son, on getting home and recovering from a c-section while maintaining my sanity.

Unfortunately the baby blues hit pretty hard, but I was at least somewhat prepared for them. I was back at that ol’ familiar 215 pounds on the scale, but I was more overwhelmed with having an 18 month old and a newborn that I just didn’t really give a hoot to try and change it. I was in survival mode, and if it meant that I could sleep just a few more hours, then nothing else mattered.

My daughter’s first few months were a bit tumultuous. My husband found employment, and my freelance gig was steady, but I was just overwhelmed with having two babies so young and so close together. We weren’t exactly rolling in the dough at this point, but everything was mostly in place, except for the fact that I was back at the scary number on the scale that sent me into a deep depression not all that long ago.

Cut to 16 months later, and while I mostly have the hang of being a mom of two, I am in no way at all in control of my health or my weight. It has been, literally and figuratively, weighing me down to the point where I just can’t muster up the energy to get back to what worked before I found out I was pregnant the second time. The routine is entirely different. Our dynamic at home has changed. The environment is not the same.

Which brings me to the point of this post: I have to stop trying to “get back” what it is I had and change with the environment that has changed around me. It’s time to stop using anxiety and stress as a reason not to change for the better and instead use them as a motivator for good.

The scale says 213 pounds as of this current moment. While it’s two numbers less than the 215 I’ve become so familiar with, it’s still too high for my health and my wellbeing.

That is why I am here. I want to take you all on a journey with me to my Better Way Body. I’ll be honest, I’ve never done something like this on such a public forum, but I am no good without accountability. I’m not doing this for fame or fortune. I’m doing this because maybe, just maybe, there are some of you out there who need a little inspiration and help, just as I do. And maybe, with your help, the accountability factor will be a motivating force to do this for myself.

The number on the scale has always been such a big star in my life. I’m tired of it being the main attraction. I want to take the center stage once and for all. I want to set forth a positive example for my children, that the number on the scale doesn’t define you, but being comfortable with it is important. I’m not comfortable with it, so I want to change it. I want to set an example that, if you want to change, you can. I want to teach my kids that being healthy is a gift, and we should keep our health a priority, for we can be better people for ourselves and for others if we put health at the top of our lists.

It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be amazing. And no matter what, I plan to share all of the good and bad with you. I promise, in the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you everything.

So, please, join me on my Better Way Body journey. We’ll be featuring some tips and solutions that might help you in your own personal journeys, and I hope that, if nothing else, this inspires you to do something positive for yourself today.

Watch this space for updates as they happen!

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