The Super Whites The ordinary life of a Super Mum

The Super Whites
Part One – weight loss

My journey to weight loss and fitness has been a long one with many twists in the road. In fact for the majority of my adult life I have had a love/hate relationship with diets, food, fitness and my body. I think that I might even have a diagnosable case of body dysmorphia because despite gaining large amounts of weight and knowing and feeling my body change shape before, during and after pregnancy, I have never felt fat. Sure I have known that I have been overweight and it’s been hard to deal with the feelings of guilt associated with overeating and not taking care of myself. But the one thing (or two!) that has really changed me, is becoming a parent.

(a few weeks before falling pregnant with Amy, overweight and uncomfortable)

Before the girls I was always conscious of my weight and quite focused on my health and fitness, especially around certain milestones, my first trip with Ron to Australia, getting married and travelling overseas to friend’s weddings. Many of my memories of my life include observations about how I looked or felt, weight-wise.

 (Germany – friends wedding September 2004, happy, fit, just before running a half marathon.)

On our road trip up the East coast of Australia I bough a bikini in a little shop at the beach and I have such great memories of that bikini! I wore it when we were the only people on the most beautiful beach on one of our unplanned stops on the way back to Sydney.

(bikini body – Australia trip December 2002, healthy and happy)

I wore it when we decided to stay an extra night in Byron Bay after I fell in love with the laidback attitude of the place.  I wore it in the pool at the gorgeous hotel we stayed at in Port Douglas. When I look at the photographs I don’t see my weight or my body shape, I see how I FELT…. Which was happy, content, in love.

(Byron Bay, extremely happy, December 2002)

My weight has always been linked to my feelings of well being. When my weight has been lower its usually related to the amount of exercise I am doing and therefore my physical wellbeing is linked to how I actually feel. I have not been a dieter, I have been an exerciser. I think this is the key to understanding my relationship with my body and my weight. Despite having very bad eating habits at various points in my life, so long as I have maintained an exercise routine, my weight has always been stable and I have felt happy with the way I look. The times where I was unhappiest have coincided with periods of low exercise and poor eating habits and the inevitable weight gain which then compounds the feelings of poor self-worth and sadly, occasionally self-loathing. It’s important to get this in context to explain what has happened to me over the last two years.

(Christmas 2007, Amy was a year and a half old and I felt uncomfortable and unhappy in my shape.)

After the birth of Stella I felt an immediate sense of achievement thanks to not gaining much weight during the pregnancy. I gained so much unnecessary weight while I was pregnant with Amy and I don’t think I ever felt quite like myself after her birth and even up until getting pregnant with Stella. Looking back its obvious, having a baby coincided with so many other big changes in my life, leaving my job, becoming a mum, moving to a new country, all things that meant exercise fell far down my list of priorities again and with that came those creeping feelings of inadequacy.

(Christmas South Africa 2009 – fat and unhappy, unhealthy and unfit)

It all came to a head for me after our trip home to South Africa for Christmas 2009. Stella was 9 months old when we came back and my weight had not gone down like I was expecting it to, instead it had crept up further and further until I weighed more than I had ever weighed before. I had been justifying my weight gain or lack of weight loss by rationalising that I had two children, I was still breastfeeding my baby who wasn’t sleeping much, I didn’t have the time. You name the excuse and I would have used it, never out loud but quietly to myself. There was a moment when we came back to Sydney and saw friends who we hadn’t seen in nearly two months, we had both had babies around the same time and I had felt smug that I had lost my baby weight quicker than she had, now suddenly she was 10kgs lighter than me and she made it sound so easy. Just go on a diet, she said. Join weight watchers, cut out the crap and the weight will fall off.

(March 2010, still very heavy but on my way!)

Instead of inspiring me, it sent me over the edge and I started to obsess about everything I ate, I lay awake at night planning how many spoons of cereal I would have, what I would eat for morning tea, what meals I would make and then the next day I would find myself standing next to the cake at playgroup, shovelling in a piece and joking about how I needed the sugar because Stella had been up five times the night before.

I started a secret weight loss blog at this time and my first post, dated 17 January 2010 is a sad record of how I felt:

“ Its not really a laughing matter. I just deleted the first post on this blog from back in October where I stated that I weigh 90kgs. I now weigh 93.3kgs and have been living deep in denial. I am overweight. A lot. Huge in fact, for me. All through our wonderful holiday I felt uncomfortable, awkward, big. Unhappy. And yet I still gained 3.3kgs.

Tomorrow morning I will weigh myself and take my measurements. I will not feel guilty or talk myself out of taking better care of myself. Next weekend I will do my first boxing class and the week after I will plan to start my six week exercise bootcamp. I will ONLY weigh myself on Monday mornings and only take my measurements at the same time. I will not cheat and make it harder for myself. I will still enjoy all the same meals and foods and family time whilst eating but instead I will make smaller portions and enjoy healthier options.

I will quietly and gently ease myself out of my sad stage of denial and into reality. I will talk to my husband and ask him to encourage me and help me along the way. I will not set unrealistic goals and strive to achieve too much, too soon. I will treat myself with love and respect and enjoy the journey.

This I swear to myself.”

(May 2010, Margaret River, Western Australia – overweight, uncomfortable but getting there slowly.)

It took a while to make those changes, there were weeks where I struggled with guilt about over eating, I did start boxing classes on a Sunday but I didn’t make the commitment to a fitness bootcamp then, I don’t think I had realised quite how unfit I was, those first few boxing classes were pure torture. But slowly and steadily the changes started to happen.

Monday 25th January 2010
Weight: 91.8 kgs
Loss-to-date: 1.5kgs

I still struggled with portion control, helping myself to huge portions that I would then battle to finish. I was still eating food off the girl’s plates when they had finished their dinners and eating too much cake at playgroup morning tea, but the difference was that I wasn’t beating myself up over it, just taking a moment to refocus and then move on.

Monday 1 March
Weight: 89.7kgs
Loss-to-date: 3.6kgs

Another extract from my weight loss blog:
“As you can tell the last few weeks have been quite tough. I have spent some time analysing why I went wrong so quickly and I think its because I didn’t really take into consideration how much of an emotional journey I would need to go on whilst undergoing the physical changes necessary to lose weight. Last week it came to a head, premenstrual, tired, overwhelmed, I cracked and cried on my husband’s shoulder. I told him how hard I was finding everything and that I didn’t think I could do it and that I needed so much more encouragement and care. He has been wonderful, gentle and caring and encouraging. Dishing me up smaller portions, phoning me to ask how I am doing, making helpful suggestions and following through on them like walking with us to preschool. I am feeling calmer, less obsessive, more in control and despite not counting points or restricting myself, I have lost weight this week and finally dipped below that 90kg point which I have been waiting to do for a long time. I am going to carry on slow and steady and take care to spend some time thinking about how I feel about myself on an emotional level, hopefully I can work through some of my issues surrounding eating and why I have let myself gain weight and lose fitness without calling myself out on it.”

At the end of March 2010 I achieved my first big goal which was a 5kg weight loss and I carried on steadily for the rest of the year. I loved my weekend boxing sessions and as I got stronger I started to think about what my next fitness goal could be……

To Be Continued.

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4 Responses to Part One – weight loss

  1. Robyn says:

    OMGosh Sarah I think we must have been parted at birth! I’m so in tune with this post it’s uncanny. The only difference is I dieted and didn’t exercise.

    In the UK after winning £5k with one of those text comps after The Mentalist, the first thing I did was sign up to LighterLife. When I weighed at the doctor for medicals to come over, I was 68kg on the scale. The lightest I had ever been since my teens. Then that first dreadful winter hit the UK and I was back to comfort eating. I made a conscious decision recently that I am going on one more diet and that’s it. I’m 42 years old now and I don’t want to spend the rest of my adult life dieting. I have also recently joined a gym and ran for the first time in my life. Even if it was only for 8 of the 20 mins on the treadmill, it was a huge milestone. While the gym has taken a slide during these holidays it’s back to routine on Monday. Diet wise I have cut out all junk and am eating smaller meals and less carbs. My portions are now the size of my 5-year-olds. I may nly be losing a little at a time, but at least it’s coming off.

    I’m so looking forward to the rest of this story!
    Robyn recently posted..Great Ocean Road, Day 2My ComLuv Profile

  2. Lucy says:

    Oh Sarah, I had no idea you were feeling so fed up 🙁 I can relate to so many of your points and I pretty much guarantee that there will be millions out there who can also. For some reason 2010/11 has been a good time to get moving. So many of us (maybe it is the post-baby thing?) have FINALLY pulled a finger out and started something verging on exercise. Claire and I were talking the other day and had a laugh about how we’d previously kid ourselves into the odd crazy diet whilst remaining couch potatoes. Trail and road running plus circuit training has helped me to lost a stone (6.35kgs) since February as well as using http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk where you can keep an informal food diary (essential for me as I find that my intake increases slowly and I am good at kidding myself!). I also did as you’ve done and pulled myself back into line when I’ve fallen off the ‘wagon’ but without getting in a state about it! – so far so good. I am really proud of you – you’ve worked hard and I wish I could have been around to work with you – we could’ve been a great support to one another! still, we are managing on our own determination and will (something I was previously unaware existed for me!). Good luck lovely girl (miss you!) xxxx

  3. I love this post, Sarah, and I can’t wait to read the rest. We have all been down this road at one time or another. I’ve been on the yoyo for years now. Fit in my 20’s, then fat in my 30’s. Just turned 40, and I’m determined to get the weight off and keep it off. I’ve already tried all the fad diets, so this time I’m doing it the old fashioned way – counting calories and exercising. So far so good – down 3kg. My mom gave me a fitbit (google it) for my bday, and it has really helped me. I’ll show it to you next time I see you.
    A Cajun Down Under recently posted..Old McDonald’s FarmMy ComLuv Profile

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