When I had gestational diabetes during my twin pregnancy, everyone said, "Well, it's a tough diet to follow, but the good news is that it'll be easier to lose the baby weight!"
Which makes sense to a degree. Due to obscenely healthy eating, the weight I gained during that pregnancy was entirely in the baby-carrying region; the rest of my body was actually thinner than it had been since I got pregnant with Bean.
But what those people didn't consider, and something I knew from a previous post-partum experience, is that I gain weight while nursing. I am not one of those shiny, glowing new mamas who credits breastfeeding for helping her fit into her regular jeans a month after cutting the umbilical cord.
When I am breastfeeding, I crave carbs more than Paris Hilton craves attention. We practically had to take out a second mortgage to afford all the bread and pasta I wheeled out of Costco. What's worse, it's only the white stuff that satisfies me. Nothing brown with floating grains and nuts and crap. Shiver! And trying to nurse twins while caring for a 2-year-old (even with all the help I had) was so taxing, there was no way I was going to deny myself even one delicious, pleasurable bite. If I was sleep deprived, at least I wouldn't be hungry -- so pass that box of powdered sugar Donettes. And quickly.
I would have to breastfeed an entire day care center to burn all of those calories.
And it was tempting to try.
By the time I weaned the twins at their first birthday *sniff* I was completely fed up with my body and it was negatively affecting my mood. I was ashamed thinking about all the junk food I had inhaled in the past 12 months, and that guilt spilled into my outward appearance. I weighed the most I had in my entire life (just shy of 160 pounds at 5'5"), and almost nothing in my closet fit me anymore. I was wearing drawstring-waist pants and t-shirts every day, and not the cute maybe-I'll-strike-a-downward-facing-dog-pose-on-my-way-to-the-parking-lot matching yoga clothes that some women sport at the grocery store. I half expected Stacy and Clinton to accost me at the post office with a camera crew and a $5000 prepaid credit card. We are talking Full-On Frump, in attitude and ensemble.
I promised myself I would lose weight after I weaned the twins and didn't have to worry about keeping up my ever-questionable supply of breastmilk. (Yes, I realize I could have eaten healthier before weaning and it could have helped my supply level even more. Thanks for the tip.) The time finally arrived, and I really needed to step up to the plate. I decided to use the Wii Fit Plus to track my progress. As I stated previously, I learned from my Wii trainer that my BMI was firmly in the "overweight" category. I was 35 pounds heavier than the day I became Mrs. Sunny (almost 9 years ago) and just over 25 pounds heavier than when I got my positive home pregnancy test with Bean.
The "ideal" method of losing weight is healthy eating and exercise. With the three small and incredibly clingy children, I find the latter of those two to be nearly impossible. I purchased Zumba for the Wii to help (no babysitter needed!), but in trying to learn the steps from a two-dimensional computer image, so far I've only succeeded in flailing around like a monkey covered in fire ants. (Although it was worth the $35 for the game just to watch my husband attempt the calypso. I certainly burned a few hundred calories in uncontrollable laughter.)
So that left diet. In a perfect world, I would go to the grocery store every couple of days to buy fresh ingredients, then make myself healthy salads and sandwiches and snacks. In reality, I have approximately 45 seconds to make a meal for myself and 30 seconds to eat it before Gax is done with his food and climbs up on the tray of the high chair to hurl himself down to the ground. Strap him in? Sure, I will enjoy my lunch while he screams bloody murder and shatters every mirror in the house with high-pitch wailing.
I decided to go with the SlimFast diet, one that I used successfully to lose almost 10 pounds to fit into a dress for my brother's college graduation in 2004. I realize this is not a sustainable nutritional change, but it's easier to maintain a weight than to lose weight, and I'm fairly certain I won't be nursing twins again any time soon, so I'm hopeful that I can return to my usual non-pregnant, non-nursing diet after I shed some pounds and hover in a better weight range.
Some people have asked me how SlimFast works. I am not an expert on it by any means, nor am I a nutritionist (obvi, as my sister-in-law would say). You probably shouldn't even read beyond this paragraph. But this is how I shed some weight, and I haven't died or lost all my hair, so I'm pretty sure I'm not putting anyone in danger by posting this. Pretty sure.
SlimFast has three main categories of products: shakes, meal bars, and snack bars. You have two shakes and/or meal bars, three snack bars (or replace with a 100-calorie snack of your choosing), and a sensible dinner (around 500 calories) every day. This is what my typical day looks like:
- breakfast: chocolate shake
- mid-morning: snack bar
- lunch: meal bar
- mid-afternoon: snack bar
- dinner: sensible (I don't count calories, just try to be smart)
- dessert: eight Nilla wafers and a glass of skim milk
I don't stick to this diet every day, all day. But pretty close. I tend to follow it exactly for a few days in a row, then (often on weekends) I'll cheat a little bit with a "regular" lunch and/or snacks. One of the great side-effects of the diet is that your stomach grows accustom to smaller portions, so even on my cheater days, I'm not gorging myself by any means. And while the outline above may sound boring, the shakes and meal bars are actually really tasty and don't leave me craving sweets. My favorites are the Creamy Milk Chocolate shake, Chocolate Fudge Brownie meal bars, and Double-Dutch Chocolate snack bars. The Peanut Butter Crunch Time snack bars actually taste like a Butterfinger.
I also often get asked: "Do you get hungry during the day?" And the answer is... well, yeah, sometimes. But it's less as the diet progresses, and since I'm still eating every few hours, my blood sugar stays relatively stable so I don't have those crashes that make me so grumpy I want to hurl furniture through the windows when the twins dump their milk onto their trays, cover the soggy food in it, and then splash it all over themselves, the walls, and the dog. Again. Grrrrrrrr.
But I'm not starving by any means. Plus, the way I figure it, the times that I'm hungry are the times that the diet is really working. I visualize myself shrinking.
So when I first stepped on the Wii Fit scale and got the news that I was overweight, my eager virtual trainer asked me what my goal was. I decided 20 pounds would be a good starting point. Ambitious, but not unattainable.
After two months and one week on the diet, cheering along the way as the Wii Fit reflected my melting pounds and return to the "normal" weight category, I stepped on the scale last Wednesday for what I anticipated to be the achievement of my first weight loss goal.
My heart fluttered as the Wii trainer narrated: "Measuring... Measuring..."
And the results? Drumroll please: 19.8 pounds lost overall. "You're steadily approaching your goal!" he told me, as he has every other time.
The damn Wii doesn't round, apparently.
Well, I don't officially count it as 20 pounds, but it's close enough that I went off the diet for a few days to catch my breath and gear up for the next round.
At this point, I feel wonderful. I still struggle with my tummy -- every extra pound on my frame is centered there, and combined with a full-term twin pregnancy (of ginormous babies for a multiple pregnancy, I might add), my flabby stomach reaches almost to my knees and does not lend itself to fitted shirts. But I fit into a lot more of my clothes and don't feel the need to hide behind my Where's Waldo "Dude, I'm right here!" t-shirt all the time. (Although I do still wear it on occasion, because come on, it's funny.) I also feel empowered that I was able to set a goal for myself and achieve it, one that is a bit loftier than "keep all three children alive all day long."
I am hoping to lose another 5-10 pounds. I have a trip to Boston planned in one month (by myself! alone! to visit a great friend I haven't seen in 8 years!) and I'm hoping my stomach will be slightly less flabby by then, maybe mid-thigh level.
I think this diet works for me because I:
- am motivated to lose weight
- lack self-control with food portions
- have very little time to prep and eat meals
- love chocolate
- am a lazy cook
- have no patience for slow weight loss
If the above describe you as well, SlimFast may be a good fit for you, too. At the very least, try those snack bars that taste like Butterfinger. Yum!