How kids have helped me gain perspective

It was in college, freshmen year when I started to realize that my body didn't stack up to those around me.  I have always had an athletic build with bulky legs and sitting in a college class I realized that I had some blubber and everyone around me just looked perfect.   I can thank Villanova for everyone looking a 10 almost all of the time and my lack of self confidence for thinking/caring that I wasn't thin enough.  During freshmen year I drank ALOT having had my first drink only during the second half of senior year of high school.  I went into sophomore year the heaviest I had ever been.

At that point, things changed - I took it to a new level to lose weight. I started counting calories, I joined the crew team and worked out all the time.  In the years that followed,   I knew the calories of everything I was eating. I stayed away from eating out or brought my own food if I didn't know the nutritional facts on what I was eating.  I turned down party invites, dinners out and social events. In addition, when I was trying to lose weight (I lost 25 pounds in about 6 months), I tallied up all of the workouts I was doing to be sure that I was burning more calories than I was eating.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?  This was a dark time in my life that lasted on an off - not as intense as in the beginning - for YEARS.  I've recently realized that the authors of a good number of the solely food blogs out there with awesome recipes might be suffering on the inside. :(

Before having kids, I wasn't afraid to have kids, but I was resentful that I had to sacrifice my body to do so.  Now I think it's the coolest thing to feel a baby's kick from the inside.  I didn't love being pregnant because you are limited. I feel like people treat you like you are handicapped sometimes. I didn't like that. But it is a blessing.

Fast forward to getting pregnant and having kids.  I was probably a bit concerned especially with Nick about weight gain while pregnant and worked out every day to be sure that I was in shape and not gaining too much weight, but at this point after going through 2 pregnancies, seeing what my body can do, and seeing the results (babies!), it has really given me perspective as to what really matters in life.

The first months with a new baby you learn that you cannot do everything that you want to do when you want to do it. This continues when you have kids of any age. This means you might have to skip a workout. You might just shove a meal down without thinking about it because you are overtired and starving.  There is a loss of control. My life before kids was all about control.  Then I had the kids and learned that I do not have the control anymore - their needs do.  This has created a sense of balance for me. Instead of counting calories, I have turned into a healthy eater seeking out healthy snacks and all natural foods. Instead of logging calories burned during workouts, I've finally realized that I need to do what makes me enjoy the time and gives me a high.   I'm still in the process of working on the running and making sure that I enjoy it and not just posting junk miles, but I'm getting there.  I'm not sure that I love running, I think it is more of the high that I get from doing it?  I think I love swimming with the group.  Maybe the running group will change this for me! Having to stop running at the end of pregnancy #2 (at 34 weeks) really helped me to see that I don't need to run to be fit and in shape.  Now I realize that my body is a pretty cool thing that grew 2 babies in there and now they are 2 special little people that I love to death!  My body and diet shouldn't be something that determines my happiness or be in my thoughts all day long. I think this is an issue for many people and it is sad. I've suffered from it and I'm glad to be coming out on the other side. I have my kids to thank for this.

And just to be honest, I can't say that I never think about my weight or how I look or get down about feeling like I need to lose a few pounds - who doesn't? The difference is that I don't have the time or energy anymore to devote to thinking about how many calories I am eating or a pouch on my belly that I want to go away.  I'm doing my best to eat the best things out there and working out to stay fit and that is the best that I can do.  I have the two little ones who depend on me for everything.  I really want to be a good role model of them and picture of fitness and health.

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  1. I can completely relate to this story, especially when I was in college. It used to be a daily struggle, but now, just like you said, it's my son's needs first and just trying to stay healthy and set a good example for him! Keep it up! :)

  2. I am so happy for you Natalie! I can't wait to fully understand what you mean about kids!

    I have really never battled weight issues until now. I'm a terrible eater though so I know if I work on that and recover from my injury then I'll be fine- plus it's winter and I always thicken up this time of year! :-)

  3. You are a lucky lady! You have found the meaning of life and where to find balance! That takes a strong woman, be proud.
    I'm not sure I've shared this with you, but I suffered from an eating disorder from the age of 3 to 19 - at all ends of the extremes. But, I found I had to love myself and work on my own balance to find that food and looks didn't need to drive my whole universe. I'm excited to see what 2011 brings for you - I know it will be good!

  4. Yeah - it is definitely all about them. It is a learning curve to get used to the fact that your life is now all about the 'juggle', but then they smile or sit up for the first time and honestly who cares if you've run/biked/climbed everest... your wee bundle has done something amazing. It is incredible what our bodies can do to bring a new life into the world - I'm rather proud of that and felt like a woman for the first time in my life (I'm so petite and small I'm, constantly questioned about my age). I am so glad you've found some balance. I was thinking the other day that hopefully the fact that your baby weight has gone even though you've not been working out as much might help to lessen the grip. Well done on such a honest blog - I'm sure it will help a lot of folk who struggle with those fears.

  5. I can totally relate. (I went to college just down the road from you BTW, where it was like a designer fashion show every day too.)

    When I had troubles conceiving my daughter (which I already knew for years was going to happen due to my rigid habits), I had to resign myself to "letting go". I used to beat myself up if I didn't work out at least 6 days a week. Now stuff happens, other things are more important.

  6. Awesome post, my friend. I think it's great to keep everything in perspective like this. The best thing that you can ever do for your kids is to be a good example for them.

    Angela/Pretty in Orange

  7. Oh my, no due date in the near future. We'd like to give Emily a sibling, but none are in the works just yet. She'll be 2 in the beginning of February.

    I'd been a runner throughout high school, but really dialed it up when I got to college (my husband and I both went to Drexel). The student population was only about 30% female when I started, so it felt like there was even more attention given to appearances. My freshman year roomate was a former Miss Teen NJ for pete's sake. Having the Upenn Barbies right next door was no help either, lol.

    So many of us share the same insecurities. I think it's awesome how honest you are in your blog.

  8. Very well written. I'm so happy that you've been able to progress so well, and through the joy of your kids!

  9. I'm so glad that you wrote this Natalie! Definitely puts things in perpective, espcially when I think about the sacrifice my body will make if I decide to have children.

    Hope you have a happy holiday! And I look forward to getting to know you better in 2011!

  10. One of the best gifts we can give both ourselves and our children is that of being healthy. I know what you mean about wanting to find balance and be healthful enough to keep up with them, healthy enough to be strong. Good for you!

  11. I had a similar experience in college and hope to never fall into those patterns again.

    I know having kid/s will change me, though I think it will all be okay in the end. =)

  12. well put Natalie! Glad things are coming out better for you. It's an amazing change that mommies go through.

  13. Great post! I think we've all had those feelings-both of feeling not good enough and being thankful for our bodies, but we (especially me) don't spend enough time on the thankful side of things.

    By the way, I'm pretty sure some of those "10" girls in college were looking at you and thinking the same thing- wishing they were as skinny/cute/fit as you!