My twin daughters turned five last month, and while we celebrated that milestone and how far we’ve come Hope, Dreams and a Miracle. Times Two. (Plus Five Years) I also marked something else. After a couple months of busyness, snow days, holidays, a number of adjustments and general multitasking, my scale announced that I’d reached the weight I was when I was about to deliver the girls. Trust me, it doesn’t look quite so cute.
I’ve been up and down, from within reach of my pre-pregnancy weight to here. From the ever-fleeting I-can-almost-wear-anything-in-my-closet to all-I-can-wear-is-sweats-and-pajamas. I work out. And then I eat half a package of jellybeans, a couple of Lindt truffles and drink three glasses of wine. On a weeknight. Yes, I know exactly how I got here. The question, really, is why I keep torturing myself.
Three years ago, I started running. I lost some weight. Then it got cold outside and I got annoyed with my (lack of) speed, and I stopped. Two years ago, I did an awesome spring training program at the studio I work out at. I lost weight, got in shape and wore a bathing suit comfortably for half the summer. Then I got lazy. And frustrated.
Although it’s important for moms to make time for themselves and especially their health, the reality for me is that I just couldn’t stay committed. I’d do it, love it, see results, then relax and want to cross it off my to-do list before I drowned myself in the juggling act. I know it doesn’t work that way, but in the grand scheme of multitasking, the first thing to go has always been my “me” time. My exercise. My outlet. And yes, my health.
Not that it’s really helped me do anything else better. In fact, I’m certain I waste more time thinking about how bad I feel than it would take to fit a good workout into my day. So, why is it so HARD?
Because my history is on infinite repeat. A healthy weight is never something I’ve achieved while enjoying a normal, consistent day-to-day routine. As a nervous kid, my mom often had to bribe me to eat. Usually with Entenmann’s marshmallow-iced devil’s food cake, and I’d eat it for breakfast. I was thin, yes, but not exactly a picture of health. Which, I’m finally learning, counts far more than the number on the scale, no matter where you are on the weight spectrum.
As an adult, the only times I’ve ever liked the way my body looked is when I was overdoing, stressing or otherwise a nervous wreck over something. I’d get on the scale after a straight two weeks of migraines, nausea and inability to function, and relish in the number on the scale. Sick, I know. A new low, in more ways than one. I’m not proud of it. Especially now, as a mother of girls.
I’m finally confronting an unpleasant truth about myself: I’ve never had a healthy relationship with food. And that’s why nothing I do works. No matter how much I’ve tried to work out, or how much I enjoyed what I was doing, my head has never been in the right place. It was all or nothing. Under-eating or overeating, courtesy of whatever life kicked my way. I lost control and I’m terrified I won’t be able to find it again.
But I’m working on it, slowly. Part of my inspiration is my daughters, who already understand that if they don’t have fruit with breakfast, it’ll be their snack. We’ve been discussing balanced nutrition since they were old enough to talk. They tell me – and stop eating – when they’re full, run with me, and cheer me on when I’m on the treadmill, in between fighting over the correct lyrics to Kip Moore’s “Beer Money.” (Must edit my playlist.) I’ve been running and working out at home five to six days a week, at whatever time of the day I can fit it in, and practicing moderation and portion control. (Note: a bag of jellybeans is neither a serving nor what nutritionists mean when they say to “add color” to your diet.)
I’m learning and relearning old lessons, and trying to be patient with myself and not throw it all to the wind if I have a bad day – or a bad week. I’m trying to be realistic, and to do what works with the demands of the day-to-day. I owe it to myself (and my girls) to find a healthy balance in my life, and in my own heart. And with any luck, before long, I’ll be able to trade my sweat pants for my favorite pair of jeans. Hopefully, I’m on the right track to doing it for good this time.