Any quest for fitness cannot be embarked upon without paying ample attention to two main components; exercise and eating. This post is a little insight into my eating habits since pregnancy and the healthy habits I am forming now 🙂 .
Pregnancy was an incredible experience. I learnt so much about the astounding capabilities of a woman’s body , the feats that our bodies will face and overcome in order to bear new life. No pregnancy is ever easy and mine was not without it’s struggles but they were a tiny price to pay for the little miracle I received at the end of them. 🙂
At five weeks pregnant I was admitted to hospital for severe vomiting. I left work on the Friday evening feeling completely fine and woke up Sunday morning feeling horrendous! I vomited all day and thought perhaps I had caught a bug but as evening fell I knew it was something else. My sister drove me into hospital and by morning I was on a ward in Holles Street Maternity Hospital, diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravardium (HG). Basically a severe form of morning sickness, HG results in constant vomiting and can last anywhere from a few weeks to the entire pregnancy. I had different fluids intravenously to keep me hydrated and to ensure that my body maintained the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy pregnancy. I really feel for any woman who suffers with HG it is absolutely awful! I couldn’t move from the bed, I couldn’t eat or drink a thing, all smells made me vomit and I vomited stomach acid all day every day. I lost 4kg in the first week and I was terrified that the constant vomiting and inability to eat would harm my baby. The doctors tried various tablets that had been developed to help with HG but unfortunately none of them had any affect on me 😦 . I tried four different medications before my doctor and I gave up, resolving to let the sickness run it’s course. The first six months were a battle but for the final trimester I had days that weren’t so bad and allowed me to eat.
When I could eat I lived on tomato soup, white bread and peanuts for the first while. Eventually, on a good day, I might manage a slice of bacon. It wasn’t fun! Before pregnancy I ate a pretty decent diet, toast or cereal for breakfast, lunch on the go at work and a protein with vegetables and rice or couscous for dinner. Towards the end of my pregnancy I had intense sugar cravings, all I wanted was chocolate , custard creams and doughnuts! Now with a big bump, backache and sore feet to add to the nausea I allowed myself the above in moderation, despite feeling guilty that I was giving my unborn child an irreversibly sweet tooth!
I ate very healthily for the first two weeks after giving birth as I was living on the hospital diet. Once I got home I allowed myself to enjoy the odd bit of chocolate etc over Christmas. I didn’t go mad but I was no angel either 🙂 .
Time to get serious
I set a target for myself that I would start my fitness journey with the new year on January 1st . It gave me the advised six weeks to recover physically and to enjoy a few of the foods I had missed while pregnant, before I began my fit-mum mission! My partner aptly named this period “Off Season.”
Since then I have cut down on my carbs, cut out all junk food and began the following healthy eating regime.
Breakfast: 2x Wheatabix with milk (no sugar!)
Lunch: Either Salmon or Chicken fillet with salad (lettuce, rocket, spinach, grated carrot, spring onion, cucumber, tomatoes, sweetcorn)
Dinner: Similar to lunch but I may have red meat now and then and I sometimes have vegetables instead of salad.
Snacks: Breastfeeding is hungry work and I did find that I was still craving a little sweetness for the first month so if I felt I needed something, I would have one of the following;
- Rice cake
- Fruit (apple, pear, plum, orange)
- 2 squares of Dark Chocolate (must be over 85%)
- Honey and Oats cereal bar
I found that exercising made me want to eat cleaner (why work so hard just to eat back the calories!!??) and so I slowly cut the snacks down from daily to seldom and hope to eventually cut them out all together.
Killing the comfort food myth
I think the biggest issue with the way we have come to think about food is the idea that we are entitled to unhealthy food that tastes good because we’ve had a bad day or a great day! We passed or failed a test, got or lost a promotion, attended a wedding or a funeral and so on! Once we attach foods to achievements or losses , to events or emotions, we will inevitably always fight a loosing battle. If you think about it, this entitlement argument is the exact same reasoning that many use internally to justify abusing alcohol or even drugs!
We are not entitled to poison our bodies with junk food as a “treat” at the end of a particularly good or bad day. Treat yourself with something other than food!
Food needs to be seen as nothing more or less than what it is, the necessary fuel to feed our bodies. With this view in mind, it is also vital to eat the correct foods for our bodies, just like putting diesel into a petrol car, we won’t run efficiently for long on the wrong fuel!
Don’t do cheat day!
There are so many diverse healthy eating plans out there, this is just what works for me. Find something that works for you and stick with it! My biggest piece of advice is don’t fall into the trap of treating yourself with food. Don’t do cheat day because you’re really only cheating yourself and reversing the hard work you did all week!
There are two acts in the healthy lifestyle play. Act one is getting to your goal, act two is maintaining it. Make eating healthy the only way you eat until you reach your goal because anything else is just delaying you! Once you get there, if you want to indulge now and then you will be able to and coupled with success, it will taste even sweeter! 🙂