Since this whole infertility project (nightmare?) began, I have watched my weight cycle up and then down and then up, up, and further up.
This has been tough for me because my body and my health are important to me. After being sick with lymphoma, I worked hard to gain my strength back. I used to lie in bed after chemo treatments and think to myself, almost as a mantra, "When I am well, I will never take my body for granted again. I will never take my strength for granted again." And for the most part, I haven't. After I was declared in remission, I started exercising. At the beginning, I was so deconditioned, I could only run a single block before needing to stop to rest. But I kept working at it. After about a year, I joined the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training program and raised money for lymphoma research while training for and running two marathons and then completing two Olympic distance triathlons. I felt strong. I felt fit.
And then came infertility.
I've typically gained a little weight each IVF cycle (some combo of all the hormones, the stress, and my clinic's absolute prohibition on any form of exercise, including yoga, swimming, elliptical...). It would seem I'd just have gotten into a good groove with diet/exercise and then it would be time to cycle again and my routine (and then my motivation) would deteriorate and take months to recover. So each IVF saw me packing on approximately five pounds. Each pregnancy too, was accompanied by some increased poundage.
Fortunately (fortunately?! Really, Mo? You're going to try to make a positive out of this?), each miscarriage resulted in weight loss. At least the first three losses or so. I would be so grief-stricken that I would pretty much stop eating and drop five to ten pounds. I had no appetite. Couple that with the fact that running provided one of my only sources of solace during the first two losses and the result was that I became quite slim.
So the weight cycle was something like this: IVF #1 (pork up), pregnancy (porkier), miscarriage at nine weeks (start running, stop eating, weight plummets), IVF #2 (gain weight), BFN, then pregnancy #2 (weight stable), miscarriage (weight plummets)...pregnancy #3 (porkier), miscarriage #3 (weight drops) etc., etc.
Until I got past miscarriage number three.
Then somehow, I stopped grieving in the acute howling animal kind of way I had been and began some kind of chronic grieving. A grieving that involved no running and lots of mindless snacking and comfort eating. And then I started my clinical internship, and dissertation hell (so no time to exercise plus tons of stress - which resulted in more comfort eating), and then just for fun added on IVFs #3, #4, and #5, and pregnancies #4 and #5, and miscarriages #4 and #5 and well...
I am bigger than I have ever been in my entire life.
A lot bigger.
THREE clothing sizes bigger, if you want to know.
This is a fact I have been avoiding. Or that I have been acknowledging but not feeling able (willing?) to do anything about.
But then two weekends ago, we went shopping. To some of my favorite outlet shops (Banana Republic and Ann Taylor and Nine West. Sigh). Previous shopping trips have included me not buying anything because my usual size doesn't fit, nor does the size above that. But this time I really needed some work clothes and I just sucked it up and told myself I deserve to have clothes that aren't cutting me in two because they are so tight, and I bought clothes that fit, beautiful clothes that I'm really excited about, but that are much bigger than my pre-IVF size.
During the trying on of all these clothes, and the acknowledgement that my size has skyrocketed, I hit a limit. I "got" it. I realized I can't keep going on like this. I decided that I am going to take action. During that weekend, I outlined a plan.
I'm a psychologist, so I'm well versed in positive reinforcement. I decided to implement some contingency plans for myself. I could purchase clothes that fit, but I would have to "earn" them to actually get to wear them. When I've tried to reinforce myself in the past, I have rewarded an outcome (example: "for every five pounds I lose, I can get a massage"). This sounds good, but has never worked so well for me. THIS time, I decided to reward the process. So here's the plan:
For every three days that I (1) Exercise for at least 60 minutes / day AND (2) Eat according to healthy limits (three meals, two snacks, approx. 1,500 calories), I "earn" one of the items that I purchased.
I'm keeping a food diary with every morsel put in my mouth recorded, which research shows by itself is an effective technique to fuel weight loss.
So here we are, one week into the Mo shape-up plan. Would you guys be willing to follow along with me as I hopefully progress?
Total exercise this week: 6 hours
2 spinning classes
2 hours on elliptical
1 hour run with puppy
1 hour on treadmill
Diet: According to plan all days
Items of clothing earned: 2
Weight lost this week: 2 lbs!!!
When I think of how much I have to lose, it feels daunting and I want to give up. And I'm a little bit nervous that it's the holidays coming up, starting with the American bingefest known as Thanksgiving this week. I'll loosen things up a little that day (and obviously it won't count as a day toward "earning" any clothing), but plan to not get too far off track.
Overall, I'm hoping that by focusing on short-term goals of three days at a time of exercise and diet, I will find myself off to a good start and getting there before I know it. By my calculations, if all goes according to plan, it should take approximately 3-4 months to get back to a weight and fitness level I'll feel very happy with. We'll see. I really want to wear these cool new clothes!
Stay tuned for weekly updates.
In other news, Will and I attended an awesome adoption conference in Brooklyn this weekend and day 3 bloods have been drawn and are on their way to Denver (yes, apparently only their lab can analyze day 3 blood samples...). Posts on these topics coming soon...
5 hours ago