I was so smart in my 20’s. I had a super awesome job at a brand new bariatric surgery clinic. I had a huge office. I had a few years of experience under my belt, a few letters behind my name, and a certification in adult weight loss management to prove that I knew what I was talking about. I was considered the local expert in the nutritional management of bariatric surgery. I was helping people gain control of their lives and loving every second of it.
I was an imposter.
At the time, I called it “being real.” Fourteen years later, I can see that the credentials, certifications, and even my career as a bariatric dietitian served as a protection from my own fear of weight.
For the most part I did a lot of healthy things. I exercised, ate lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, drank well over 64oz of water per day, monitored my carbohydrates intake, and avoided sugar. Exactly what I educated patients to do during the day. But when the sun set, an alter ego emerged… Binge Monster.
What would I binge on, you ask? Weeeellll… Bacardi and Diet’s. Which would lead to French fries, tacos, mac & cheese or anything else that was salty and within reach.
Sometimes it was beer. That, for sure, would lead to me shoving food down my face.
Those episodes didn’t look that bad to me at the time. The majority of my friends did the same thing. It was somewhat normal to get smashed at the bar and end up chowing down at the local 24 hour food establishment. Why else would Taco Bell be positioned next to the bar and open well after last call? It was a normal thing. At least it seemed normal.
The abnormal part was the illegally obtained prescription diet pills, otc fat blocking diet pills like orlistat, laxatives, stimulants, and if those weren’t enough, there was good old fashioned vomiting.
I knew what I was doing to keep my weight down was not going to last throughout my life. In fact, I always felt that once I reached the weight I wanted to be, I would change my habits. But in the meantime, I had to uphold a certain image. Because who wants to listen to a fat dietitian about weight loss?
Fast forward through when treatment became obvious as well as the therapy that help me break the cycle.
By the time I was pregnant with our first baby, I was totally fine with where I was with my weight. Things began to go the opposite way. Between pregnancy cravings and an insane appetite, I ate everything I wanted; healthy or not.
I got back to my pre-pregnancy size after pregnancy #1. Pregnancy #2 wrecked havoc on my physical and mental well being. Our tiny angel left us at 12 wks gestation. Roughly 6 weeks later, I could wear my pre-pregnancy clothes again. As fast as that happened, I was back in maternity clothes with pregnancy #3.
This last pregnancy was different in many ways. For one, I was petrified of losing another baby, so I rested a lot. Second, I worked at a cancer center where people were constantly bringing staff gifts of gratitude like Amish-crack doughnuts (a Northern Indiana fave) and other kinds of sugar-laden goodness. Drug reps catered lunch every Tuesday. Skilled Nursing Facilities brought the social workers breakfast every week. A constant flow of muffins and bagels and cookies were available to a hangry preggo all day, everyday.
You’re really gonna tell me to watch my sugar intake? Well sure! I’m gonna watch this cinnamon roll disappear from this plate into my belly. The baby wants it!
Failing my glucose tolerance test should have been a good indicator that things were going south. But I honestly didn’t care. My husband was working 12-14 hour days. I was working full time at a highly stressful job and taking care of our 2 year old. I was exhausted. I felt most accomplished when I made it all day without falling asleep on my desk at work.
My weight climbed and I began swelling. When my OB told me that I should wear compression hose, I was all “fat guy in a little coat..” (If you’re in the peri menopausal age-range, you hopefully get that Chris Farly reference).
By the time I rolled onto the Labor and Delivery unit, I believe I topped out at 230lbs. On a 5’3″ (with wedges) stature, I was miserably uncomfortable. I felt like Violet Beauregard after she turned into a giant blueberry. Kinda looked like that too… minus the shade of blue.
A semi-emergency c-section was not something I was prepared for, and it saved my baby’s life. It was technically my first ever surgery and the recovery was harder than I imagined. With that being said, I would do it over again if the end result meant a healthy, happy baby.
If you’ve had a baby, you know that amazing sense of satisfaction of your first post-partum OB appointment when you lose like a ton of weight! I was so happy to be down 20lbs, a few weeks after leaving the hospital.
But that was it. No more. No less.
There I sat. Nursing. Expecting that “increased metabolism from burning energy to feed the baby ” would kick in. Nope. I’m one of those rare mamas who do not lose weight from breastfeeding.
My littlest guy was colicky so my lactation consultant suggested I try going dairy free to provide some relief for both of us. I should say, relief for the whole family! A colicky baby can add a lot of stress to a household. At that point, I would have tried anything. Within a few weeks I was able to be 100% dairy free and my little guy was thriving!
Surprisingly, my weight thrived as well.
To be continued…
Disclaimer… This is the end of Part 1 and I feel the need to make a disclaimer. I chose to be forthcoming with my actual weight during my struggles. Weight is a vital sign. The same as your temperature or blood pressure. I am not at all stating a weight where one should or should not feel their best or worst. According to research, a 10% loss of body weight can provide marked improvement of blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood lipids. Not to mention a boost of self confidence!