Regression

Four days. That’s as long as I lasted with carb cycling. I was exhausted and starving, my mood vacillated between angry and depressed, and my milk supply plummeted so low I resulted to my freezer stash to keep Ella happy. The Hub kept asking me one thing, “Is this worth it?”

It wasn’t. I still believe carb cycling is effective, but it’s not the method for me and their are other ways to reach my goals. Before I started I kept saying the same thing, “This is the best I’ve ever felt! I’ve never had such a healthy relationship with food! I am happy!” If I couldn’t keep saying that, if in four days all of that was torn to pieces, what was the point?

I’m not into fitness to just look the part. Of course I want to look fit, I want more abs and less muffin top, but health is about more than my appearance. I need to be healthy inside and out, and letting one slip in favor of the other isn’t balanced.

All of this is the slippery slope that is body dismorphia, struggling with disorded eating and making strides forward while still slipping backwards once in a while. It’s so tricky each time I don’t see it happening. Just because I wasn’t completely starving myself doesn’t mean what I was doing wasn’t creating that cycle for me. On day three I thought, “Maybe I can get used to this…” This being extremely strict eating habits that made most of my favorite foods off limits and severely restricted my caloric intake to such an extent that I was hungry ALL OF THE TIME. So it’s back to the drawing board. Something tailored to my needs; adequate calories to support weight lifting, running, and breastfeeding balanced with an adequate deficit to encourage fat loss that incorporates eating smarter, maybe some natural thermogenics (though my babe is quite caffeine sensitive so we’ll see), and overall a happy and healthy me at all times.

Regression

Beating the Baby Belly

I’ve told my story before, my struggle with body image and an eating disorder that almost killed me. I’ve traveled a very long road to recovery and currently have the healthiest relationship with food that I’ve ever had. I’m eating well (my only cravings are almost always after a big workout) and I have more energy than I have since before having kids. I’ll always struggle with body image or see some way I could improve physically, and I may never be able to truthfully say that I LOVE my body. Still, I love myself; the parts of me housed inside of my skin, my spirit and persistence and confidence in myself, and I believe in my abilities and strength.

But, I do not love my “baby belly”. I love the children that it grew and birthed, but I am not in awe of the aftermath. I don’t believe pregnancy is meant to wreck your body. Change it? Absolutely, but leave it deflated and dysfunctional? Absolutely not. I have many regrets from those prenatal months when my ignorance led to a neglect of things that may have saved some of the issues I have now, but that’s another post entirely.

(My two belly care MUST HAVES are a Maternity Support Belt and Motherlove Pregnant Belly Salve.)

Three pregnancies in three years coupled with extreme weight gains (60lbs+) and little to no belly support or skin care is a perfect recipe for the mess that is my midsection. Stretch marks, Diastasis Recti, and a natural propensity towards fat storage has left me less than impressed with how I look even though I am in the best shape of my life.

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I don’t love it and I don’t have to live with it. I’ve avoided most dieting programs up until now because I am breastfeeding and know that my body reacts negatively to calorie restrictions, especially low carb situations in regards to milk production. Now that Ella is over a year and eating solids regularly, I am not as worried about my milk production and am going to begin my first try at carb cycling. My supply is well enough established that I’ll be able to tell whether or not it’s being affected too much. Ella still nurses a million times a day and weaning is not something any of us are interested in.

Carb cycling is (at the most basic level) alternating days of high and low carb intake while keeping fats at a minimum. This forces your body to turn to fat for energy, thus helping you burn fat and lose weight if that is your goal. I don’t really want to lose much weight or compromise my strength gains so I will not be restricting calories much, just changing up my macros. Currently I eat around 130-160g protein a day, 65-75g fat, and fill in the rest of my macro needs with carbs. It’s taken me years to figure out what feels right to me, what keeps me fueled and full, and the right ratio of everything especially on my high training days. With this diet I’ll be dropping my fats to .25-.5g per pound of body weight dependant on low/high carb days, my protein intake to 1.5-2g per pound of body weight depending on training days, and my carbs will fill in from there. On low carb days I’ll be avoiding grains all together, focusing on fruits and on high and medium carb days I’ll be adding in oats, rice, and the occasional sweet potato. 2 days of low, 2 of moderate and 1 of high is my goal but I’ll be re-evaluating as I go. I expect to be a little sluggish and hungry, I also expect to be kind of grumpy, so I’ll need all the love I can get.

Have you had any experience with carb cycling? Did you feel it was effective? Lay it on me. I need all the support I can get as I prepare to give up the love of my life, chips and salsa.

Beating the Baby Belly

New Beginnings

As my very first post here I think a little introduction is appropriate. My name is Melanie, I am an ACE certified personal trainer, a gym rat, and reluctantly now call myself a runner. This last point is what has gotten me on the track to becoming an accidental athlete. I am training for my first Triathlon this summer, so I’ll be adding swimmer to the list very soon. (Right after the 15 mile race I’m running in the middle of February. Sometimes I make bad decisions…)

But let’s back up. I was never an athlete. I didn’t play sports other than one season of softball and a few years of cheerleading. In fact, I was as opposite as it gets. In the past I have struggled with anxiety, depression, and anorexia. I was a self-destructive party girl for most of my teen years and truly believed I could never be an athlete.

It was my husband who introduced me to the gym, who encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and see what I was capable of. I hated it to begin with. If you’ve read my about me page you know the journey wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for me. We worked on a military base and going to the gym was almost humiliating at first. I was the only girl in a sea of soldiers and could barely lift an 8lbs weight. I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious, I care a lot about how I looked to everyone else. With my husband’s support and encouragment I kept at it, researching excercises, form, execution, muscle groups, and nutrition. I slowly gained self-confidence and stopped caring if I looked out of place. This was my journey, and only those who supported me deserved any place of importance.

When I became pregnant with my first child I continued training. As a natural birth supporter, I strongly believe pregnancy is NOT an illness or a reason to suddenly plant yourself on a couch and wait for 10 months to pass you by. I lifted through my entire pregnancy. I was a sight to behold in the squat rack. Birthing my daughter naturally at home was one of the most empowering experiences I’d ever had. I felt strong and primal and capable of anything. For the first time in my entire life I realized that I mattered, that I had purpose. I knew then that I needed to show my daughter that for the rest of her life.

My second pregnancy was not so easy. I conceived shortly after a devestating miscarriage, I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t feel strong. I felt terrified and helpless. When I started bleeding 5 weeks in I was put on pelvic rest and didn’t even feel comfortable with hiking the trails that were my second home. I became anxious and sluggish, my stress levels were sky high and I just felt lost. My little rainbow baby was a fighter though and after that rocky first trimester she showed her mightiness with every chance she got. Another beautiful homebirth later and I was suddenly Mama to two someday women and I knew this was my purpose. This path I am on now is where I had been heading my entire life, I just couldn’t see far enough ahead.

If my second pregnancy was rougher than my first, my second postpartum period was hellish in comparison. I struggled hard with postpartum depression, I could barely function and the gym was out of the question. I started running as a way to clear my head and get out of the house for a bit. As the days passed and the mileage added up I started to feel more comfortable and confident in my new normal. Once I got back into the gym all of the pieces fell back together for me.

My journey hasn’t been easy or linear, I’ve started and stopped many times, I’ve started completely over twice now. I know that it’s not the easiest road, I know that it’s scary and uncomfortable and intimidating. I won’t deny any of these things, but I also know that the journey is worth the reward and you never realize just how bad you feel until you start feeling good.

I find so much joy in helping others to make changes, to take chances, and to begin their own journey. I have a passion for women’s health, I care deeply about the loss of sisterhood among us, it’s my dream to inspire a movement of strength for the women in my life. You’re stronger than you think you are, believe me, I know.

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New Beginnings