I like sitting down. Truly– I enjoy the act of doing nothing. Maybe reading a book or watching Queer Eye on Netflix. Maybe aimlessly scrolling through social media. Maybe staring at the wall just eating my weight in guacamole.
However, four months ago, I decided to dive headfirst into action because I didn’t know what was hiding on the top shelf of the pantry or beneath the backside of my yoga pants. Aaron was leaving for three months, so why not pass the time by staying busy? I decided to do three things:
- Finally lose the baby weight.
- Deep clean the house, Marie Kondo style.
- Go on adventures with Anders as much as possible.
And I did it.
I promised before having Anders that I wouldn’t write about post-partum weight loss because I never want a new mom to feel unnecessary pressure or self-loathing if she isn’t ready to lose the weight. READY. As in, have enough energy to be mentally and physically motivated to knock off the pounds– on top of keeping her baby alive and herself halfway sane.
I hated when people would tell me to “take time for yourself to be a better mom” during Anders’ first year. Great. One more way I’m falling behind– one more thing I have to “do.”
Between managing the house with my husband gone half the year (endless dishes & laundry, dragging the trashcan to the curb on Tuesdays, fixing broken appliances, scheduling yard work, buying groceries, getting the dog groomed, applying for a new passport, doctors appointments, etc. etc.), working full-time, and finding time to nurse, play, rock, feed, bathe, and entertain my child– I was barely able to breathe by the time I put Anders to sleep at 7 p.m. (followed by housework and maybe a shower).
And you’re telling me that at 8:30 p.m. when all the essentials are complete, I now have to push my body to physical exhaustion (aka workout) for 30 minutes? Or wakeup extra early without a decent night’s sleep under my belt just to exacerbate my depletion? And throughout my day eat things that make me irritable on top of it all?
And you’re saying that if I don’t find the strength to do those things “for myself,” then I’m not a good mom because good moms take time for themselves…? WHAT?
I almost dropkicked a woman who had the nerve to slide into my DMs with an “offer” to lose the baby weight by joining her workout club, and when I said “no thank you,” she said “remember you can’t take care of your baby if you’re not taking care of you.”
YOU THINK BASICALLY CALLING ME FAT AND A BAD MOM IS GOING TO MOTIVATE ME??? You guys. I was angry.
Why did it matter that I was a bit heavier? I didn’t like the way I looked, sure, but I also didn’t think for a second that I was going to look that way the rest of my life. For the time being, I needed to focus on Anders. On my job. On keeping the house vertical. And one day when I’d have a wee bit of extra energy again, then I’d worry about what I look like. (Okay my “health”– whatever.)
Well, by the time Anders was 11 months old, I could tell I had some extra energy lying around. With Aaron about to leave on deployment, I was ready to focus on my diet and exercise. And you know what? I’m glad I gave myself the time to be READY.
That was a long rant to preface the fact that I lost 20 pounds when Aaron was gone, but writing about my pride in that should have no bearing on anyone else’s own self-worth. Please know that. I am talking about it because I am so glad I pulled the trigger (again– when I was stable enough to do so), as it taught me a ton about my own capabilities.
Lawd it was tough, though. I had to be disciplined despite a pretty serious back injury that left me depending on diet-only for six weeks. Once healed, I had to squeeze in exercise when I didn’t feel like it after work or during nap time on weekends. But I did it because I knew my spark was back, and it was my job to turn that spark into a flame.
In the process, I rediscovered that it’s easier to improve one area of your life when you’re focused on a general shift in betterment. I was seeing results physically, which made me proud and motivated in other ways, too. Instead of watching TV while mindlessly looking at Instagram in the evenings– which was still tempting simply out of habit– I began watching TV while doing something productive. Best of both worlds.
Finishing Anders’ baby book. Organizing all of his outgrown clothes into bins. Swiffering the floor. Folding laundry. I still got my down-time, but also the satisfaction of my house looking awesome. I was so happy every time I looked around and saw a well-organized space.
I threw out 6 bags of trash after deep diving into every single bin of junk beneath the bathroom vanity or packed in the guest closet. I threw out anything in the kitchen that we never used. I ended up with 5 bags of donation clothing and towels and shoes and sheets, and an enormous amount of empty shelf space. What sparks joy, amirite???
I revamped my body and my home all while single-parenting for three months. I became accustomed to constantly doing something that made me proud when it was complete. Almost like a constant high. That even included spending some evenings writing Bachelor Recaps for 3-4 hours, even when my eyelids were heavy and my brain was fried.
Making goals and following through. That’s what I was doing, day-in and day-out.
I love love love my husband, but wow, what a feeling of accomplishment to know that I was strong enough to channel my energy towards productivity without distractions, even when the dishes felt endless or I really really wanted to order Thai food. What to do with my time was my decision alone, and I chose to be disciplined.
I should mention that during that time, Anders and I had the best times riding my bike around the neighborhood, taking a road trip to visit my friends in Northern Virginia, and trying each different flavor of organic chicken sausages from Trader Joe’s. Of course there were many moments that I would’ve given anything to have my husband around to help, but most of the time, I felt extremely in control.
When we greeted Aaron on the pier when his ship pulled in, I felt strong. I felt lighter physically and mentally– and I couldn’t wait to show him that our house was lighter too. Our home and I both have that last little bit of weight to lose, but the ball is rolling strong.
It’s amazing what you can do when you make forward movement a priority and a habit. All it takes is acknowledging when you’re ready, then diving head first. I’ll never say “if I can do it, you can do it,” because I’m not you. Maybe you’re not ready yet, and that’s totally fine– and healthy to acknowledge, if you ask me. But when you feel that little nudge in your heart telling you that it’s time and you’ve got this, I hope you know you certainly do.
My suggestion is to do it all. Sounds crazy and maybe a little too intense, but living your best life is about being well-rounded. Marie Kondo your house. Lose the weight. Do all the crafts. Take the trips. Write the blogs. Do the dishes. Go to church every Sunday. Take neighborhood walks listening to a podcast. And take a few breaks to keep up with your favorite TV shows. The more you fill your life with an array of experiences that boost your pride and joy, the less anything feels like a chore. It just feels like success at every corner.