“I’m not going to have a cookie for dessert”, said my nine-year old daughter. “I don’t want to get big and fat”. The irony of this statement is that she is the exact opposite of fat. She was born 5 pounds 12 ounces and for her entire 9 years of life can best be described as tiny, but fierce. As a baby she was diagnosed as failure to thrive. Her tonsils were so big she couldn’t swallow food. After getting her tonsils removed and a year of therapy we were finally able to get her to start eating solid food at the age of three. Of our four kids she is now our best eater, but she has always been, and will always be tiny. She barely makes the growth chart for weight. The highest she has ever gotten is 3rd percentile. So of course I had to start thinking why she would be worried about getting big. I wanted to blame TV, but with only one TV in the house and no cable she barely watches anything. Maybe it was influences at school, but she is usually oblivious to things happening around her so that didn’t seem possible. As much as I didn’t want to admit it there was only one plausible reason. It was me. Having four babies has not been kind to my body, and she has heard my complaining.
In 2007 when I got married I was 5’1” and 92 pounds. Like my daughter I was tiny. My diabetes and heart attack inducing diet was nothing to write home about. I would eat two donuts and a cup of coffee for breakfast, Portillo’s Italian Beef and Sausage combo with fries for lunch, and a big plate of rice and chicken curry for dinner. Fruits and vegetables were non-existent, but I was still in perfect health and never gained a pound. My first experience with weight gain was after I had my first daughter in 2009. Post pregnancy I was about 15 pounds heavier than I had ever been. Luckily, I had time and money on my side. I hired a personal trainer, went to the gym 4-5 times a week, and got really disciplined about my diet. The girl who never ate healthy was now eating salads, yogurt, fruit, vegetables, and rarely ate out. I quickly lost all the weight and got in the best shape of my life.
Three years passed and I had my second child. I bounced back like a movie star. Within two weeks I was wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes and felt great. I didn’t have money for a trainer this time around and was not as disciplined about my diet, but I was still pretty fit. I ran a half marathon six months after giving birth and a full marathon a year later. I wasn’t doing weights so I didn’t get as toned as I would have liked and ended up with a bit of a belly. I leveled off at 115 pounds. It wasn’t where I wanted to be, but it was nothing terrible and I felt good. Fast forward another 3 years and I had my son. I’m not sure if pregnancies are different with boys but it was the worst pregnancy I ever had. I was sick the entire time, could barely get out of bed, and gained a ton of weight. He was a big baby and came out weighing 8 pounds 9 ounces. His giant size caused a lot of damage to my body. The post-partum recovery was painful and it took a while for my body to feel good again. By the time he was a year old I was getting back to the gym and starting to feel good again. Life was going great and then BOOM I got pregnant again. I stayed healthy for most of the last pregnancy and recovered pretty quickly, but let’s just say two babies back to back after the age of 35 is no joke. It has been 2 years since the baby was born and instead of losing weight I have gained. I am close to 140 pounds and despite trying a few times have not been able to commit to a healthy lifestyle.
So here I am at 40 realizing that in order to ensure my children have healthy body images I need to be an example to them of a healthy lifestyle. My goal (although it would be great if I could) is no longer to get back to 100 pounds. Instead I want to show them how good it feels when you work out and eat healthy. I want my daughter to enjoy having a cookie for dessert and not worry about getting fat. I want my kids to be happy with their bodies because they eat healthy and live active lifestyles.
So here it goes. Below are my current stats and pictures. Warning: it is not pretty. My hope is that by laying it all out here I will stay motivated to living a healthy and active lifestyle which will result in better measurements for me. I will post updates every 2 weeks. Fingers crossed!