When I had my sweet little girl (big girl…9# 6oz) November 3, 2011 I weighed in at 200 pounds! As you can see from the picture, I gained quite a bit of weight during my pregnancy- about 65 pounds. The current recommendation for weight gain in pregnancy is about 25-35 pounds if you’re “normal” weight prior to becoming pregnant. Well I was at my “normal”-ish weight when I got pregnant. However, since this was my first pregnancy, it was very much a novelty for me. I had looked forward to becoming pregnant my whole life! I looked forward to the time when weight gain would not only be expected, but even welcomed and viewed a sign of a healthy baby! So I looked at it as an opportunity to let loose a bit on my diet. Okay, I let loose A LOT. I didn’t eat everything that I wanted, but let’s just say I didn’t hold back. In my defense, I had a serious aversion to vegetables, which posed serious problems for me because I’m usually an avid veggie eater. So needless to say, my diet was not the healthiest it could have been when I was pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for gaining weight during pregnancy, but I definitely didn’t gain my weight from eating healthy fats if you’re picking up what I’m putting down. But, nutrition in pregnancy is a different post for a different day.
Somewhere in the course of our courtship, my husband (then boyfriend) spouted off a statistic that stuck with me! He said that women who don’t lose all of their baby weight within the first six months post-partum, typically never lose all of the weight! Now I never checked on that statistic so I don’t actually know whether it’s accurate or not, but whether it’s true or not is irrelevant because I NEVER forgot it! So I had a Cesarian section on a thursday, went home on a friday (yes the next day), and started operation-lose-baby-weight on a saturday.
In retrospect, now I realize that I probably did not go about it in the way that was the most beneficial to my body. Don’t misunderstand, I ate extremely healthy, or at least what I considered to be healthy at the time. I ate lots of fruits, vegetables and lean protein (yikes). One of the things that I was missing from my diet was enough saturated (healthy) fat! I was exclusively breastfeeding this very large infant (who never even made it onto the growth chart she was so big), and I just did not eat enough fat! Ugghh! When I realized that I hadn’t been eating nearly as “healthy” as I thought I had, I felt pretty guilty for depriving my little one, even though she thrived despite my dietary choices. I did the best I could at the time with the information that I had. Now I know better. So I’ll move on and do better next time.
Another staple of operation-lose-baby-weight was my cheat day. The idea was that I would eat super “healthy” and “clean” six days out of the week, and one day I would allow myself to “cheat” and eat basically whatever I wanted. I stuck to that principle pretty strictly for about 5 months. By 5 months post-partum, I had lost ALL 65 pounds of baby weight! That’s pretty fast…too fast in fact.
Even after I had lost all 65 pounds of weight that I gained throughout the course of my pregnancy, I continued with my cheat day. I LOVED my cheat days. I looked forward to those cheat days all week! So why would I give up my cheat day?
- Cheat Day encouraged an unhealthy cycle of restricting and binging.
As a person who spent many years fighting an eating disorder, engaging in food habits that are cyclical in nature has the potential to send me into a tailspin. I worked so hard to break the cycle of restricting and binging that had taken over my life for so long. So cheat day was a very slippery slope for me. There is a certain satisfaction that accompanies successfully controlling (and that’s what it is…control) your intake for 6 full days. Then, as a reward, you allow yourself to lose control, which inevitably induces feelings of tremendous guilt and panic. Punishment in the form of another six days of restriction is your penance.
Notice some of these key words I use:
These are not words associated with a healthy diet or a healthy mind. If this cycle of restricting and binging, even in a mild form compared to what I had been through years before, caused me to have these feelings of guilt, shame, panic, regret, satisfaction- it’s not right for me. It’s downright dangerous.
2. Cheat Day forced me to ignore the signals my body was sending me.
When I say that I ate “clean” for 6 six days out of the week, I mean I ate CLEAN. Nothing processed (which is definitely still a good thing to shoot for), no seasoning on anything (including salt), no dressings or condiments of any type, no refined carbohydrates, very little fat, and lots of water. When I think of it now I can only imagine the signals my body was desperately trying to send me that I did my damnedest to tuck away for the sake of losing those extra pounds. But you can only ignore your body and tuck away those cravings for so long. Then cheat day rolls around, and you try to make up for 6 days of deprivation in a single sitting. Yet you leave the meal still feeling unsatisfied, but again, guilty and panicked.
3. Cheat Day does NOT promote a balanced diet.
If you are eating a balanced diet 7 days a week, there is simply no need to have a cheat day, because nothing is off-limits. Nothing is actually cheating. It’s simply enjoying your food. Even things that we consider indulgences such as ice cream, bacon and butter can be- and should be- part of a well-balanced diet. I don’t eat ice cream everyday, but when I want ice cream, I eat it! And I don’t consider it “cheating”. I don’t need to wait around for Cheat Day and eat 2 pints of Ben & Jerry’s like it’s the last meal I’ll ever eat, because I know that it’s there whenever I want it. And I don’t need to feel guilty for eating it either. We need not attach moral standards to our food. It’s really just ice cream. It’s not an indication of our character.
What I have found is that when I maintain a balanced diet on a day to day basis that includes plenty of fruits, veggies, sustainably sourced meats, healthy fats, water, exercise, and sunlight, I simply do not feel the need to “cheat”. Nothing feels like cheating or deprivation. It all just feels like living a balanced and healthy life!
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PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.