The Lies “Before and After” Photos Tell

Everyone loves a good before and after photo; lots of people loved mine a few years ago. (Let’s be honest – as much as I wish it were the other way around, it’s the photo that made that post go viral, not my writing.) But, for me, before and after photos perpetuated a lie.

A “good” before and after photo is no better than an ad in a magazine with a too-thin model. A “good” before and after photo says “it is possible to achieve society’s standard of an acceptable body!”

I wonder what my before and after photo made you think…

But, here’s the thing…

Real “after” isn’t so pretty.

Real “after” isn’t always a flat stomach, smaller rear, and toned limbs.

Real “after” is loose skin and stretch marks that I will always carry with me, because I was overweight, and I can’t ever escape that.

Real “after” is persistent and painful skin infections that I get due to moisture getting trapped in the sagging skin on my abdomen.

Real “after” is looking in the mirror and constantly questioning “are those rolls of fat or just loose skin?”


(Sept 2018)



Real “after” is seeing one body when you’ve got clothes on and an entirely different one when you’re naked.

Real “after” is adjusting your own droopy skin throughout the day, trying to make it look more flattering or feel more comfortable.

Sometimes, real “after” is just as uncomfortable as “before.” Sometimes, possibly more uncomfortable.

Real “after” can mean body dysmorphia.

I wish we could take before and after photos of our minds. What might those look like?

Are “after” minds happier? More relaxed? Freer?

Are they satisfied? Full of self love? Content?

Is life easier?

Or, are they more anxious? Terrified of losing “what they worked so hard for?” Lost? Lacking in a definition of self?

How much mental time, energy, and space is maintaining that weight loss taking up? Can the “after” mind even accept that “after” is here?

And, if we could see before and after photos of minds, would we still choose to pursue weight loss?

And, if so… why?

This is Real Life…An Uninspirational Blog Post

It’s been a month since my last post, and though I have been reluctant to write, I wanted to stick to my goal of including  this blog in my present journey. So, here I am…with a confession:

I’m tracking macros again, and my abusive relationship with numbers (and myself) is in a definite “on again” phase.

I am very frustrated this morning.

I’m angry, actually.

I’m angry that this is so difficult.

I’m angry that the real “meat” of a disordered relationship with food and body is so illusive.

Honestly, the food is the easy part. Food is concrete: eating it or restricting it in many various ways are all firmly graspable behaviors that can be forced in one direction or the other. It’s the mental and emotional battle that leaves me feeling hopeless. As I said in one of my online support groups this morning: I can make myself eat bread; I can’t make myself be OK with it.

The thing is, I feel like the only thing anyone is prepared to help me with is the food, and it’s making me worry that that’s all that anyone CAN help me with. That I’m doomed to one of two fates: follow my obsession & live it out loud… or don’t actually act it out — follow someone else’s plan instead — but still be trapped with it in my head. And, honestly, I’m not sure which of those two outcomes is the easiest to live with.

I really don’t have much more than that to share at this point. I will say that the path I’m currently being nudged down is towards “intuitive eating.” I’m reading the book, and I’ve joined a couple of online intuitive eating support communities, but I currently can’t even imagine it ever being possible for me. I’m not even sure I can bring myself to want it. The truth is…I don’t trust my body to tell me how to eat, and I don’t trust myself with food. I can’t imagine a world in which my weight doesn’t determine my worthiness, and I’m not sure I can ever believe that to be true…not in my world. True for others, but not for me.

Whole30 Did Not Make Me Whole

“I am Whole30!” That’s what those who complete a round of this elimination diet post on day 31 (or beyond). Well, today is my day 31, and so, today, I felt it important for me to say…though I successfully completed a Whole30 round, I am not Whole30.

Whole30 did not make me whole.

Let’s rewind.


Like most people with food and eating issues, I have relationship problems.

My relationships with people? …fragile.

My relationship with food? …complicated.

My relationships with numbers? …obsessive.

My relationship with myself? …abusive.


Like a lot of people with or without food and eating issues, I often struggle with a feeling of “never enough.”

Never enough money.

Never enough time.

Never enough energy.

Never full enough.

Never fulfilled enough.

Never thin enough.

Never strong enough.

Will I ever be enough?


Funny thing about food issues — they are rarely solved by food. Neither the addition nor elimination of it. That’s because food issues are rarely about food.

They are about fullness. Enoughness. Worthiness.

They are about feelings and the overwhelming act of feeling them.

They are about aloneness and emptiness and the desperate search for connection and safety and something reliable…that will not leave you, nor hurt you, nor change.

They are about control and the terror of realizing how very little of it we have in life. Over anything. Not even over our own bodies.


No diet, meal plan, exercise regime, or heroic amount of self control can solve food issues. And, I desperately wish I could sit here and tell you what can solve them, but your answer will likely be different from mine.

I can tell you that it’s not Whole30. It’s not Weight Watchers or keto or going paleo, vegetarian, vegan, or raw. I can tell you that the answers aren’t there. Those are merely different ways of eating, and food issues aren’t solved through eating (nor are they solved through starving).

In fact, maybe food issues…at least mine…aren’t even food issues at all. Maybe they are, in fact, a coping mechanism for something not even remotely related to food.

This is tough shit, guys. This is coming face to face with yourself and realizing that deep fear of “not enough-ness” you (I) carry will not just go away if you (I) lose weight.

Changing the number on the scale… that’s the easy part of this. Changing the “number” (the value) I assign myself… that’s the hard part.

TL;DR – 3-Week Check-In

Fair warning: if you’re looking for a short, inspirational post, this one isn’t it. This is the down-and-dirty, nitty-gritty details of the past 3 weeks. This is the ugly underbelly. A TL;DR post that I have not put my “writer’s cap” on to turn into prose.

It has been 22 days since I last tracked a calorie, a carb, a gram of fat, or even a gram of sugar. I have to confess, it has not been 22 days since I last stepped on a scale: between doctors appointments and starting a program at a new gym, I have been on the scale a couple of times. But, you know what? It’s not quite as powerful as it was a few weeks ago. (It’s going to take a long time to totally escape its grip.) I wanted to come back here and share both the highs and lows — as well as the intense psychological battles — from the last 3 weeks.

Let’s start with the lows from the past few weeks and get those out of the way.


  1. I am still pretty fixated on weight. I find myself looking in the mirror more and trying to guess if I’m losing, maintaining, or gaining. I also had to come face-to-face with the reality that a part of me still wants to lose weight (and it feels like it always will).
  2. I have struggled with urges to go more extreme in my food limitations:
    • Contemplation of switching to keto with the sole purpose of losing more weight
    • Pushing myself to just ignore hunger between meals (despite my early proclamation that the point of this was not to lose weight and not to be hungry)
    • Feeling food anxiety (as if some foods are “not safe to consume – ever”)
  3. I have struggled with tons of doubt and shame. I’ve certainly come right up against “maybe this is bad for me…maybe I should just quit this and go back to tracking…” A lot of people have implied that that’s what I should do. (Or, at least, a lot of people have implied that what I’m doing is unhealthy – but, then, so was what I was doing before this…nobody has yet to tell me what exactly they think I “should” be doing.)
  4. I’ve officially been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Again. Let me tell you more about that…

So, I’m not doing this alone. I am in therapy. Actually, I’m in a couple different kinds of therapy: individual and group therapy. My group therapists are eating disorder specialists; my individual therapist is not. Because of points 1-3 above, I decided to have an individual consult with one of my group therapists about what I am doing. That therapist has confirmed the eating disorder diagnosis I was given at my highest weight: ED-NOS (eating disorder – not otherwise specified; that means my ED doesn’t take any one shape).

It was really hard for me to hear that. Doing this — especially the discomfort other people have expressed about my eating choices — has really made me feel like I’m wearing a scarlet letter (or…scarlet letters: “ED”). It really feels like once you’re labeled with an ED, then that’s all anyone can see. Any change in my weight, eating patterns, any measure of control I might choose to take all seem to send up red flags of “is this ED behavior?”

I also don’t feel like I’ll ever really be allowed to feel proud about losing 100 pounds, because the last half of it was lost due to an eating disorder. Just saying that straight up: I feel shame about my weight loss – not pride (and, sometimes, I feel like that’s what others think I should feel about it). And, I feel shame about the health decisions I’m making now – not because I think I’m doing anything wrong, but because so many people seem so uncomfortable with them.

But, not my therapists. Let me make that clear to anyone who sees those “lows” above and is sitting there thinking “Uh, yeah… what you’re doing probably IS your eating disorder.” My therapists disagree. I disagree. And, next week, I’ll also be seeing a nutritionist to work out where to go from here.

Just because I have bad days – just because I have days when I am not happy or when I am struggling with disordered or unhealthy thoughts and urges does not mean that all of my behavior and decisions are disordered. As my therapist pointed out, the key here is that my eyes are wide open about what’s going on, and I am talking about all of these things that are coming up. That is not what an active eating disorder looks like: EDs thrive on secrecy and silence.

This feels like a good time to switch over to all the positive things that have come up in the last three weeks.


  1. I have rediscovered my love and talent for cooking. When I was tracking calories and macros, I shied away from cooking, because it was so tedious to try and calculate the nutritional information (and the portion sizes that fit that nutritional information) for everything I made. Now that I’m not tracking or relying on macros, I feel free to just cook!
  2. I don’t have to weigh and measure anything. Ever. I can cook a recipe and just feed my family without trying to make sure I know the exact amount of food that’s left over so that I can accurately calculate my nutrition later. I thought this was going to be a difficult piece for me, but it’s not… it is a huge weight off my shoulders to just be free to cook and eat without doing a bunch of math.
  3. My body’s signals are, indeed, becoming more clear. Even just a week ago, I would’ve ranted and raged at you that it was impossible to learn your body’s signals eating this way because my body wasn’t giving me the signals I was used to. I was experiencing a LOT of digestive upset (because vegetables), and that really impacted my ability to know if I was hungry or not. But, in week 3, everything calmed down. My digestive upset is gone, and my body is telling me when I’m satiated in a way it never has before.
  4. My mood is absolutely improved. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t had bad days – I have had horribly irritable days! But, it’s not as often as it was, and I feel much more in control of it. I am less “snappy,” less irritable, I have more patience and, I believe, even a little less anxiety overall. One caveat, though: my insomnia actually got worse, especially in the first week. I feel like that’s evened out now, though. I would not say I am sleeping better; but, I’m no longer sleeping worse.
  5. I joined a gym! Not just any gym, though — I’ve joined a small local gym that focuses exclusively on personal training. I’ve started strength training for the first time ever! I’ve always avoided strength training because of what it tends to do to the scale; removing the scale means focusing on other goals… like not being squished when doing bench presses 😉
  6. And, fine, I will tell you what I’ve seen on the scale those couple of times when I had to step on: initially, a small 1.5-pound loss, after which I gained about half a pound back. But, you know what… that’s really, really ok with me. In fact, it’s awesome. It means I’ve gone 3 weeks without tracking my food (in fact, I’ve piled my plates HIGH — if you care to see, you can follow me on instagram @saladflambe), and I’ve not gained a bunch of weight.

    It means that there’s another way to live, and I am so excited about that.


Weight Loss & Self Abuse: It’s Got to Stop

Ten years ago, I truly believed that happiness lay at the other end of the scale. I thought that so much of what made me unhappy in life would be fixed by changing numbers: the one on the scale, the one on the tag of my pants. And, for eight years now, my life has been consumed by numbers: Points, PointsPlus, calories, carbs, sugar, protein, fiber, fat.

My brain is full of numbers. I can tell you there are 73 calories in an egg, that 100 calories usually equates to roughly 3 Points on the old Weight Watchers plan, that a typical serving of fries at a restaurant is about 400 calories. I’ve had so many numeric goals: 100 carbs or less; 1,500 calories..1,200..1,000…800 calories a day; 200, 180, 150, 145, 135, 125, 120, 115 pounds on the scale. As you may have guessed, some of these goals were not healthy; some of these goals were not even safe. I didn’t care. I cared about numbers: I cared about making the numbers smaller and smaller and smaller.

Then, I had a daughter, and she was more important than the numbers. And, for a time, I thought that was it: I was fixed. My relationship with food, with the numbers, it was all OK now. Pregnancy had taken me back from the brink of underweight, and as long as I didn’t get back there, then what I was doing was healthy. I could let go of the shame of knowing that “After picture” was really just the outcome of an eating disorder.

But, over time, the numbers have crept in on me again. They’ve wrapped their claws around me. And, I look back now and see that all of those numbers have taken something away from me: I am less happy because of them.

Ten years ago, I thought weighing less would make me happier. But, now, I weigh less, and I don’t feel any happier. I don’t feel accomplished and content; I don’t feel any safer. All I feel is like I’m on the edge of losing all control of a bunch of numbers. And, that losing control of those numbers will bring destruction and failure and loss. I am afraid of the very numbers that I thought were making me better and happier.

So, you see, perhaps, why I have not written in this blog in a very long time. I have been too wrapped up in the numbers — in making them smaller (even while they have become HUGE in my mind), keeping them steady, trying to control them all the while knowing, deep down, that they are controlling me.

But, tonight, I am back. And, I’m here to say that I am going to be trying something new: I am going to try to break up with numbers. We’re in an abusive relationship, and the only way to end an abusive relationship is to cut it off.

To say I am scared would be an understatement: I have no idea what I am doing. I am terrified that I am going to regret this decision. I am terrified that all of this will be, in the end, just a bunch of words. I am afraid that I will ultimately go right back to my abusive relationship with numbers. I’m also carrying the fear of those numbers still — I am afraid of them changing, of them increasing. I’m scared of gaining weight. I am so so scared of gaining weight. And, I’m telling you this, because I just want to be honest. This blog is about honesty. Raw, open, unfiltered honesty. And, I’d like to use it again while I go through this breakup.

Now, I hesitate to share this next bit, because I don’t do endorsements or gimmicks or fads — ESPECIALLY here in this blog — and I do kind of fear that’s what this next thing I’m going to share might be. But, as I am committed to transparency, I will just blurt it out: I’ve decided to start this break-up by doing Whole30. There. I said it. Ugh. That was hard. I’ve no idea if it’ll be a good choice for me or not; I’m choosing to do it this way, because it feels right to me — it feels “safe” to me. I do want to say this though: if, at any point, any of you see this becoming some sort of act of restriction, please call me on it. Because, that is not what this is about, and if it goes that direction, I need to stop the program immediately.

Also, let me be clear, this is pretty much the only time I plan to mention this program’s name. I’d like to use this blog to talk about what this is really about: processing my breakup with numbers and working on my relationship with my body and food. Because, I’ve realized that not only am I in an abusive relationship with numbers, but I’m in an abusive relationship with my body. Only, in that relationship, I am the abuser.

I have both physically and emotionally abused my own self. And, right now, I’m not entirely sure why…or how to stop. I do know that my abusive relationship with with numbers feeds my abusive relationship with myself, so, it seems to me that cutting that off is step 1. I hope you’ll hang with me while I try to figure out steps 2 and beyond.


An Honest Account of New Motherhood (with Postpartum Anxiety, Depression, and OCD)

The day my daughter was born was not the best day of my life.

Pregnancy was long and hard – so hard – for me. I did not enjoy being pregnant. And, the day my daughter was born, I was glad for the pregnancy to be over. But, when they lay my wiggly little girl on my chest, I was not overcome with emotion. In fact, I felt nothing at all. Later that day, in tears, I would write a message to my therapist saying “she feels like a stranger.” Which, in truth, she was.


I had dark thoughts during those two days in the hospital. As honest as I strive to be on this blog, I am not brave enough right now to tell the entire world what those thoughts were. But, I will say that I was ashamed of them. I did begin to feel one thing, though: anxiety. Lots and lots of anxiety. When it was time for us to go home, I found myself in the throws of a panic attack. I told myself that it was normal. I was a new, first-time mom. Anxiety was expected.

When we finally got home, I needed my mom. Not to do anything for me; I just needed her presence. I had said repeatedly while pregnant that I didn’t want anyone staying over at our house when my baby was born. But, I now found myself crying like a small child when my mom went to go home. (And, so, she stayed.) “How funny,” I thought, “that in becoming a mother, I find myself feeling more like a child than I have in many years.”

I cried a lot. Constantly, really. Deep waves of pain would strike, welling in my stomach like grief and crashing over me. I never cry in front of anyone; now, I could not help myself.

I regretted becoming a mom.

I did not regret my daughter’s existence, but I regretted thinking that I could be a mother. I told my husband and my therapist this daily. Hourly, sometimes. And, I Googled… I searched all over the internet for other women who regretted becoming a mom… desperate to see if any of them had found their way out of this pit. But, nobody’s story, nobody’s thoughts sounded as dark as mine. Nobody seemed as far gone as I felt.

And then there was the insomnia. In the first two weeks after giving birth, I found I was able to nap and sleep whenever I had even 30 minutes of downtime. But, I soon found myself unable to sleep even when the baby was sleeping. I was exhausted, I took Benadryl, and still, I couldn’t sleep. Increasingly, it got worse, until I was sleeping maybe an hour in total every night; two if I was lucky. Always broken up in to 15-20 minute increments. Not because of the baby, but because my body physically refused to sleep. I spent countless nights writing panicked messages to my therapist in the dark, alone, on the stairs… nobody else was awake. But, I could not rest.  In truth, I felt relief when the baby would wake up, because then I could nurse her – I could do something – I could be productive rather than sit there, tortured.

And it was torture.

I began to struggle with caring for my daughter. I was exhausted. My body was exhausted. My brain was flooding me with nothing but anxious fear and intrusive images of terrible things happening to my baby, my family. I was miserable. I was in constant pain. But, I didn’t really think much of it; I have struggled with anxiety, depression, and mild OCD for so long that I just figured that this was normal for me and had nothing to do with having had my baby.

I went to my 6-week appointment with my midwife expecting nothing more than a quick check and sign off to return to work at 8 weeks postpartum. I filled out the questionnaire honestly and then sat in the exam room holding my screaming, over-tired baby who refused to latch and nurse. My midwife walked in.

In the first minute of that appointment, she could tell that I was not OK. And she called me out on it. In fact, she said she would not clear me to return to work. I was caught off guard. I was scared. I was ashamed. I felt like a failure. But, also, I was so…so relieved. She SAW me. She SAW that I wasn’t OK. Nobody else, nobody, not even my therapist who I had unloaded everything on had recognized how much I was struggling, how I was drowning. I was relieved to hear that I would not have to go back to work yet. I had been so afraid of how I was going to manage working at my fast-paced, mentally demanding job when I couldn’t even sleep for longer than 15 minutes at a time.

I left that appointment with so many emotions. I thought it would be my turning point. But, it wasn’t. Not quite yet. Then came one of the hardest decisions for me: whether or not to go back on my antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication and stop nursing. The anxiety exploded. The intrusive thoughts exploded.

I knew that I needed to go back on my medication. I still remember my last nursing session with my daughter. It was in the morning, and I ate poptarts while she nursed. I, who had never ever thought that I even would nurse at all, found myself flooded with grief and fear. When she was done, I stared at that stupid antidepressant pill and second guessed myself over and over and over.

There were the logical arguments: What was I going to do if I couldn’t nurse her for comfort? She wouldn’t take a pacifier.

The emotional arguments: She wouldn’t need me anymore; anyone could feed her. She wouldn’t need ME.

And the completely illogical: Would formula cause her to developmentally regress? This became a very real fear.

After I took that pill, I instantly felt like I had become poisonous. Tainted. My daughter could no longer nurse. I was poisonous. Poisonous. Poisonous. It echoed and echoed in my mind.

Unfortunately, it seems I had waited too long to start medication. I rapidly deteriorated. I could no longer sleep at all. In desperation, I took some Ambien that my psychiatrist had prescribed during a previous bad fight with insomnia. Despite having not slept for 2 days, the Ambien only got me 1 hour of sleep. My mom took me to the ER where they gave me Valium, which made everything worse, causing huge waves of cold anxiety that made it hard for me to breathe.

Finally, finally, I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t take care of my daughter. It took 6 and a half weeks for me to break, but in the end, I did break. I asked my mom to take me back to the ER, where they admitted me to a psychiatric unit.

Have you ever hit rock bottom? Have you ever fallen so low that it doesn’t even feel like real life anymore? Have you ever questioned your own sanity? Whether you might actually be asleep and dreaming rather than going through something in reality? As they wheeled me away to transport me via ambulance to the psychiatric unit at a neighboring hospital, I truly thought that what was happening could not possibly be real. And, I could not stop the tears. Though I had not felt much love-based attachment (mostly anxiety-based attachment) to my baby, I now found myself crying for her. I kept telling my mom, the doctors, the nurses “I want my baby…” I begged for her like a small child.

The bottom of the postpartum anxiety, depression, and OCD pit is a very dark place for those who find themselves there. It seems endless, inescapable, hopeless. But, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself with people who care about you – with people who want to help you – you will see that, if they can shine just a little light into your darkness, the pit is actually lined with ledges that make climbing out – while not at all easy – definitely possible. Going into the psychiatric unit was my lowest low, but it was also a huge turning point in my journey – both as a mother and as an individual.

I want to pause here to say – if you are someone coming to the edge of this or any other deep, dark pit of despair but are too terrified to ask for help – to go into a hospital, even – please know this: it is not at all like they show in movies or books. The psychiatric unit of a hospital can be a very helpful and uplifting place. The people there – we were all just people. Just people. Some sad, some afraid, some lost – but all of us people. They don’t strap you down and pump you full of medication; I had complete control over the medicines that I took, and they never once pressured me into taking something that I didn’t want to take. Not all hospitals are alike, but in this one, I had my own room, my own bathroom. I had privacy, but I was also not alone. In the deep dark of the night, there was always someone right there – someone to help me when I couldn’t sleep. It’s a safe place. With good people. Good, caring staff. And people who are just in dark pits of their own needing some help finding those ledges on the sides of their pits. I would go back now, if I needed to, without the fear that I once held.

It took them 5 days to get me to sleep. But, when that sleep came, when my body finally remembered how to function, everything changed. My husband visited me every single day. He brought me pictures of my baby, reassured me that she was not developmentally regressing, and we worked together to craft a plan for when I got out so that we could all be ok. I was also so lucky – so lucky to have my family. My inlaws stayed with my husband and helped him get our daughter on a new feeding schedule now that she would need to be on formula. When I got out, they had it all sorted out – all of the things I had been so anxious about (pacifiers, feeding schedules, figuring out when she was hungry when I’d always nursed on demand) – my mother in law had sorted it all out with my husband. And they helped me so much.

The best day in my life is the day after I came home. When I successfully slept in our house. When our daughter ate and was fed, and I had slept and was finally OK. The day that I realized that having her had been the best thing that I had ever chosen to do. Ever.


Postpartum mental health issues do not go away overnight – not even after a 5-day stay in the psychiatric unit. I still struggle sometimes – even now, months later. But, that is ok. Because everything is going to be ok; I believe that. Even though every day is not a good day, I still know – beyond any shadow of a doubt – that having my daughter was the right thing to do, no regrets, and that these days are so much better because I have her.

If there are any new mothers reading this out there – whether struggling with postpartum mental health issues or not – here is what I want to say to you…

Mama, those early days, they are so dark. They are so hard. They are heavy and long, endless and slow. You go ahead and cry; it’s ok to grieve. It’s ok that this is too hard. It’s ok that you are overwhelmed. You are in the thick of it right now; even though people keep telling you that this time is going to fly by, the truth is that it will be so slow right now while you’re doing these days. And you have to do every single one of these hard days, mama. Each one. And it sucks. And it is too hard. Too much. And, mama, if you are drowning, scramble hard to get help. Even if it feels like failing. Even if it feels all wrong. Take the hand. It feels like failure, but it’s not. It’s the right thing.

Remember this: you are important. You. Apart from your baby. Apart from your significant other. Apart from anyone else. You are important. You.

This is not your new forever. I promise.

Birth, Babies, and Body Image

I have tried to write this post many times over the last 8 months. It’s not that I haven’t had time; well, that’s not been the reason for about 5 months at least. It’s partly been fear and shame, and it’s partly been my telling myself that if I waited just a little longer, I’d lose more weight, and then I would feel better about sharing. But, it’s time. I made a commitment to sharing how my body responded to pregnancy. I made this decision because, when I got pregnant, I could not find information anywhere about how my body might look during or after pregnancy given my weight loss history.

Would my “bump” be round? Would I simply look fat? Would I get stretchmarks? Would the fact that I had so much loose skin make my pregnancy easier? How much might I lose after giving birth? Would losing weight be more difficult after giving birth?

Well, of course, everybody and every body is different. But, I wanted to share my experience. So, where were we? The last month.


I went into labor the day before my due date; my daughter would eventually be born on my due date. So, I am, in fact, in labor in my 40-week picture. I waffled back and forth on how much about my physical changes I wanted to document and share. But, ultimately, I wanted to provide an example of how a body that has lost a large amount of weight might look during pregnancy. So, I’m taking a risk here, and I’ve decided to share.

At my largest, I weighed 235 pounds; at my lowest, I weighed 117. I ultimately maintained a weight of about 120 pounds for roughly 8 months before deciding to try for a baby. After a 115-pound weight loss, I had quite a bit of loose skin.


I was always frustrated that, despite weighing 120 and wearing a size 4, I would never get to have a flat stomach. When I got pregnant, I wondered if this “B-shaped” stomach would translate over to pregnancy: would I get to have a round bump? Would I get stretch marks? Would my belly button pop out? Or, might the extra skin and old stretch marks save me from anything new?

I gained 34 pounds during pregnancy: I went from 123 pounds to 157.


Here I am in labor again 🙂

I was pleasantly surprised at how my body changed during pregnancy. I did not get any stretch marks, and my belly button ultimately did not pop out. My bump was fairly round with a sort of small “curtain” of still-loose skin hanging underneath. Though I carried my daughter way far back, which prevented me actually looking pregnant for a good while, by my third trimester, I ultimately felt comfortable dressing in clothes that showed “the bump.”

I believe had I not lost all of that weight pre-pregnancy, I would have gotten stretch marks as I got MANY during the years when I was obese. I also feel that having been many different “shapes” in my life ultimately allowed me to feel more comfortable with my post-partum body even immediately after giving birth.


Many women say that they lose lots of weight in the first week or two after giving birth. This was not my experience. A lot of the weight that I gained during pregnancy was, indeed, actual fat on my body – not fluid, blood, or baby. My daughter weighed 7 pounds at birth; I lost 10 pounds total after having her.



I maintained a weight of 147 – 150 for basically 7 months and have only recently dropped a couple more pounds. I now weigh 143 – 145. Breastfeeding did not assist me – at all – in losing weight.


Behold my messy living room…

So, that chronicles the physical changes that my body went through. I hope that it might help someone who has all of the same questions I once had. As I said before, my body is my body – everybody and every body is different. There is no shame in how your body changes or handles pregnancy. So, please don’t look at this as some example of how your body “should” do pregnancy; there are no “shoulds” here.

At some point in the near future, I will share the far more difficult struggles I encountered with antenatal and post-partum anxiety, depression, and OCD. But, those are different topics for different days.

I can’t close this entry without, of course, sharing a photo of of our family: my how far life has brought us!


Happy New Year, everyone 🙂

Learning to Trust My Body

One. More. Month!

Of course – they say it’s the longest month of your life, so… But here I am!

36 weeks pregnant.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 8.41.58 PM

I’ve gained 35 pounds.

So, I think I can officially say that I will be going over the “recommended weight gain” guidelines for pregnancy. That’s ok. It’s going to be ok. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout this process it’s that pregnancy is a time for trusting my body. And my body wants to gain more than 35 pounds. And it’s going to be ok.

Honestly, the fact that I can say that and mean it really gives me some hope. At my lowest weight, I could never say it was going to be ok. I was terrified. I needed control. Of my food, of my body, of my weight, of everything. I’m still scared; I still want to be in control. But, I can say that it’s going to be ok. And I can mean it.

I’ve tracked my food throughout my entire pregnancy. It’s something I’ve done for 6 years now, it’s how I lost my weight, and it’s now a habit that I think may be a life-long change. For me, it’s comforting to be able to look back and say that I know what I’ve consumed, so if my scale jumps, there is no wondering “did I really eat that much?” I can know: no, I didn’t. So, it’s something else.

Pregnancy has taken a lot of control away from me. I can’t control a wiggling baby inside of me. I can’t control swelling, my increased heart rate, or any number of symptoms. This has been scary and difficult for me. It’s been especially hard to not be able to fully control my weight. I was really frightened early on because while everyone else seemed to lose weight 1st trimester, I gained. I belong to an online community of pregnant ladies, and I swear…every time we’d talk about weight gain, the conversation would go something like… “I’m 20 weeks and up 3 pounds!” “I’m 22 weeks and still at my pre-pregnancy weight!” “I’m 25 weeks and am 10 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight!” … then, there was me: I gained 14 pounds in 1st trimester alone. Everyone told me that 3rd trimester would be rapid weight gain. I was terrified. But, fortunately, my body (so far!!) has been more of the slow and steady type. And, gradually, I’ve begun to trust it. I’ve begun to listen to it rather than force it into my strict guidelines. And, it’s been ok. Everything is ok.

Once the baby is born, I’m going to need to reevaluate. I’m not who I was a year ago when my “After Myth” post went viral. I’m not the same me. I’m not even the same me that I was 9 months ago when I got pregnant. I will never be the same me again. I’m not sure what that “me” is going to look like, believe, feel, think, care about, eat…. But, I do know this: it’s going to be ok.

I think I can trust my body.

I think, maybe, I can even one day trust myself.

Dear Body, You’re Pretty Badass

I don’t spend a lot of time really connected with my body. In fact, I quite often try to tune it out or escape from it. I haven’t given my body a lot of credit. I don’t often acknowledge its strengths (although I’m damn good at tearing it to pieces for its failures). But, lately, I’ve been really appreciating my body — not for what it looks like but for what it’s doing. And doing well.

I’m now 30 weeks pregnant, and I have seriously been lucky. Aside from the ridiculous insomnia I had in first trimester, early-onset braxton hicks, and a slightly irritable uterus, my body has physically been handling this pregnancy splendidly. I’ve passed all my blood tests, my blood pressure remains right where it’s been since I lost weight before getting pregnant, and I haven’t had any swelling so far. I can still get down on hands and knees every morning and evening to give my foster cat his pills, I can still squat down to read labels on the low shelves at grocery stores, and I was even able to walk endlessly for 4 days on our pre-baby vacation to St. Augustine. I’m certainly gaining weight (28 pounds so far, if I’m being transparent and honest), but even that has been just steady since the beginning.

26 to 30

Excuse me while I go knock on some wood, because we all know I’ve just completely jinxed myself.

Truly, I don’t mean this as a bragging post. I really can’t take much credit for any of this — I’ve just gotten lucky. But, I do want to acknowledge it. Because I’m really really hard on this body. I criticize it so much and so often, and I just feel like it’s worth it to pause and acknowledge that no matter what happens from this point forward — even if it all goes to hell in the next 10 weeks — my body has done something pretty awesome these last 30 weeks. And that really makes me appreciate it in a way I’ve never taken the time to even think about.

I remember the first time I joined a Zumba class was when I first started thinking “look at what my body can do!” I’d push myself so hard jumping and kicking just because I could — because there was a time when I couldn’t. When I returned to horseback riding, I marveled at what I could do with my body: I could use it to communicate with a creature 10 times my size, and that animal listened…usually…unless it was a mare. 😉 When I started cantering and jumping bareback, I loved the knowledge that my body was strong and balanced enough to stay on.


These feelings — I’ve not had them at all since getting pregnant. I’ve been so so focused on the weight gain that I’ve just not acknowledged at all what my body is doing.

We’re doing this — my body and me…and the baby too. We’re growing life. I’m pretty sure that trumps flying bareback on a horse. You’re pretty badass, body.

So, anyways. I just wanted to take a moment and appreciate this: that my body is doing this. I know that not everyone gets to do this – and through absolutely no fault of their own. I’m lucky. I’m blessed. And I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that.

Pregnancy After Weight Loss is Really Freaking Hard

Yeah, my title is not creative today. I’m not really feeling creative right now. I’m struggling. Because, like the title says, pregnancy after weight loss is really freaking hard. I’ve promised to be honest with you (perhaps too honest), and so I will be…even if it means opening myself to criticism.

First: an outright update. Here I am in all my pregnant glory, now 22 weeks along:

18 to 22

Our little girl, Emma, weighs nearly a pound. She’s healthy, and I can feel her wiggling around every day. I’ve gained 18 pounds and have zero pairs of pants that comfortably fit. The maternity pants I ordered also don’t fit, though, so I mostly live in leggings. To try and reduce my mounting frustration (and, honestly, depression) related to gaining weight and my changing body, I purged my closet. I packed away clothing I hope to fit into again someday and donated a ton of clothing that I will likely never wear again. What’s left are outfits that look like this:

Christmas pic

Because I’m not comfortable “showing off the bump.” Also, have I mentioned that I have zero pants? I have zero pants.

One of the biggest things I’ve noticed, though, is how different my mentality seems to be compared to my fellow pregnant compatriots. I belong to a few groups of ladies who are pregnant, and I have to admit that my brain just appears to be in a completely different place than most of theirs. While they fawn over nursery decorations, I fret over my caloric intake. While they show off cute little bump pictures every week, I find myself taking my picture and using it to compare where I’m at versus others at a similar stage as me (probably the worst thing I could do, really, because I never realized just how extremely different women look compared to one another while pregnant…every body is just so different). I glow when someone says I’m “small” for how far along I am, and I get frustrated when people tell me the weight will “come right off…at least if you’re breastfeeding.” (That’s not how my body works… weight does not “come right off” of me… ever.)

When my blog went viral, a lot of people called me inspirational. Now, I feel like a drag…constantly criticizing my own weight, menu, and appearance. Instead of focusing on growing a healthy baby, I’m really a lot more focused on not gaining too much weight, not using my pregnancy as an excuse, and not breaking my food-tracking habits while pregnant. I worry all the time about what people are thinking about my weight gain: do they think I’ve already gained so much more than I should? Are they judging my food choices? What will they think if the weight doesn’t “come right off” post-pregnancy? …I’m fairly certain that I will never weigh 120 pounds ever again. And that matters to me. And I don’t want it to. I really want the other parts of my life (you know, like my family) to matter more than the number on a scale.

In the last week, I’ve started telling myself to view this as an opportunity to try again. When I lost the last 50 pounds of my weight last year, I did so without allowing internal issues like those above to be resolved. I lost the weight, but the weight was only a symptom, and the underlying disease (self-hatred) did not resolve. This time, I would like to change that. I would like to re-focus on learning to love myself and allowing my weight to settle itself at whatever number that might be: 120, 130, 140…just something healthy. It’s supposed to just be a number, after all. I really hope that, someday, it can just be a number.