Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So this is my "exciting" post!

Some of you have seen this already I'm sure. I'm posting here because I want to talk about the special needs parenting aspect of it. If you've seen it already...read anyway! I have some important things to say!

Sooo....I've lost 35+ lbs! I never was a larger person. After Adrian, I hung on to the baby weight for about 9 months, but then it all fell off and I actually got below my pre-pregnancy weight. After Charlie....not so much. When Charlie was born, I really stopped taking care of myself. I still showered and wore clean clothes, but that was about it. I didn't care about my appearance. And on top of that, I was so focused on taking care of this fragile little girl, that I didn't care about what I ate! It started in the NICU. After we left the Ronald McDonald house, I went home and just drove up every other day or so to sit with Charlie. My mom usually did the alternating days. I was always in such a hurry I'd just run out of the house and grab something at McDonalds's...it was on the way! Then at night I'd be too tired to cook a lot of the time and it was either frozen pizzas, fast food, or PB sandwiches. Even after she came home, I fell into this routine. I was pumping 6-8 times a day, our schedule was packed full of therapies and doctor's appointments. I remember one month, the only free days we had were weekend days. There was something on EVERY other day! So you can see where my focus was.

I ended up actually gaining weight. After Charlie was born and after some of the initial baby weight came off (fluids, ect) I was at about 165 or so. I thought with pumping for one kid and nursing the other I'd be fine with eating badly. I was WRONG. You can't eat like that! My highest weight was about 180 I think, but I tended to settle at 176, thankfully. Really, the way I was eating I should have been over 200 easily. The weight was hard on me. I was self-conscious even at a healthy weight. I would actually avoid looking in mirrors and reflective windows. Sitting in the PT room at therapy, with the big mirror covering the wall was like torture for me! Still, I could not bring myself to change the way I ate.

I didn't just eat badly, I ate for comfort. One of my favorite things to do was grab a fast food meal or a big box of candy (or both) and curl up with a book. Particularly fantasy books so I could escape the real world for a while. Every time Charlie would go into the hospital, I would binge on crappy food. Which is plentiful at the hospital. When we took her home on hospice in May of 2009, I binged then too. I went to the store and consciously bought everything bad I craved and ate like crap for 2 weeks. I KNEW what I was doing! But I still did it.

For months I told myself I would not let Charlie's health determine my BMI anymore. She's everything to me, but I cannot let her control my health like that. I was bound and determined to FIX MYSELF. I did not go see doctors, or therapists. I did something I'd been thinking about for a very long time. I went vegetarian! Now, vegetarianism doesn't just magically help you lose weight. But for once I was doing something important to ME! I think along with this change I gained some self-respect and some motivation. I was vegetarian for about 2 months before I even really lost weight. I still had issues with over-eating after all. But I felt like I was making a DIFFERENCE. I felt what I was doing was important.

With my diet change I noticed immediate health improvements. Most of my GI problems disappeared. I've always had awful reflux. I had been taking meds daily for quite some time. Well, it vanished almost overnight. I haven't taken anything for it in 9 months. And I'd always known I had problems with dairy so I gave that up too. More GI problems disappeared (the more embarrassing ones that I won't get into!). And that's when the weight started to melt off. I started eating 8-12 servings of fruits and veggies a day. I learned to love green smoothies so I could get in my leafy greens without gagging or smothering them in dressing. I started eating whole grains and eliminating refined ones. I was trying tons of new foods! Lentils, quinoa, seitan! I was trying new dishes! Curry, falafel, bean burgers! I was cooking with new spices. And I was truly APPRECIATING my food as I never had before. Not as something to bring me comfort, or just fill me up. But as something nourish me and energize me. I realized that Charlie needed me! She needed me to have more energy. To not end up with diabetes or otherwise sick.

And so here I am, 9 months later and 37 lbs lighter. People keep asking me if I'm going to start eating "normal" again. Why? So I can get fat again and have my reflux come back? No thanks. I'll admit to missing cheese, but I don't miss meat at all. I don't crave it at all. I remember how I felt with the reflux. Constant pain, always a feeling of something "stuck" in my throat. I won't do that to myself again. I'm vegetarian for good. Right now I'm essentially eating a vegan diet, but I'm hesitant to identify myself as vegan because I feel it's a lifelong commitment, not something you can fall in and out of as you choose. Vegans are different than vegetarians in that vegans are primarily in it out of respect for animals. The original definition of "vegan" actually states that it is out of respect for animals. Obviously language evolves, but I still respect the original definition. So that's why I call it a "lifelong" commitment. I don't feel like you can choose to respect animals in such a fashion and later say, "You know what, I just don't really care that much." You either do or do not care about the cause. So because my reasons are 3 fold (health, environment, and the animals, in no particular order) I do not call myself a vegan. And because if it came down to it and my health lacked from complete elimination of animal products I would probably resume some amount of them (probably 1 free-range egg a day). So call me a "strict vegetarian" for now, k? ;-)

I could probably talk about this forever. I want other moms to know it's OK to do something for YOU! I think moms of special needs kids in particular do not take enough time for themselves. I didn't change my diet to lose weight...it was just a nice side effect. After 2 years of struggling, I don't even have to think about it anymore. I've always been concerned about the environment and after Charlie was born I was aghast at the amount of trash going out of my house, most of it from medical supplies alone. And I was using more disposables than I used to. And using my car a heck of a lot more for appointments and such. I felt like I was undoing all the other good I was trying to do. Well as it turns out, eliminating animal products does more to reduce your impact than any other "green" practice. So I'm feeling better about the other things I've slipped up on. I'm still using disposables for Charlie but I've thought long and hard about it and I think I will continue to use a combination of cloth and disposable even after Medicaid pays for her diapers. I was looking forward to the switch before, but knowing the good I'm doing has given me that extra push I needed to keep up some of my old, green habits. I'm doing it for ME. To make ME feel good. And it feels WONDERFUL!

Of course, I can't leave you hanging without pictures!

In mid-January, at about 173 lbs (having lost 3 lbs already):

In June, I think, at about 160ish:

Last month, at 141 lbs:

Face close-up, before and after:

Same shirt, before and after. Thankfully it's stretchy! And that's a wax statue, btw!:

I still have some weight to lose, but at least I'm much healthier now. And I'm not actively "dieting" so there's no fear of falling off the wagon and gaining the weight back. Sometimes I eat a little too much sugar but I catch myself, especially because it makes my teeth hurt. LOL I can't wait to be a size 6 again and I know it will happen in good time! :-D


Dawn said...

Shauna You look amazing keep it up girl!!

ady said...

That is awesome! Congrats! (I love your red shirt, BTW!)

Janis @ Sneak Peek At Me said...

I can't do the vegan thing...but want to applaud you for sticking to it!! Great job!

swgoats said...

Congratulations! I try now and then to give up my food crutches but haven't been able to do it yet. That's great you did it!

Angie said...

Congratulations!! That IS an exciting post!

Sherrie Bee Bop said...

So, so proud of you! I know how hard it was for me recovering from an illness and losing that weight while working/going to school. I can imagine trying to make such huge lifestyle changes working, taking care of two kids, one of them special needs, is just as hard, if not harder! So of all people, I know how much of a challenge this has been and I am so incredibly proud of you for sticking to it. And of course, you look phenomenal. Granted, I'm biased but I mean it!

Debbie said...

So incredible! You look wonderful! I'm just catching up on your last couple posts and it's funny because I just went to do a yoga class today for the first time in 2 years. I am going to be sooooo sore tomorrow...but I feel great! I'm going to try and get there at least once a week...not to lose weight, but to feel good and centered. However, if my body should happen to tone up and some weight disappears, I'm cool with that! Cheers Momma!