An 80 Pound Net Gain.

I have lost 80 pounds. Eighty. Damn, that sounds like a lot. It doesn’t feel like I had 80 pounds to lose.  Granted, I’m sort of cheating. I’m counting from the day I gave birth, so about 15 pounds was lost in just two hours. Regardless, it’s a nice round number.

I’m going to use real numbers here, so everyone applaud my bravery.

On the day I gave birth to my second child I weighed 248 pounds. The baby did not weigh 48 pounds. I did not gain a huge amount during the pregnancy. In fact, I gained only 20-ish pounds. The baby also did not weigh 20 pounds. For everyone who isn’t a math whiz, that means I was overweight (228 pounds) when I got pregnant. I narrowly crossed that all feared 200 pound mark during my final year of law school, which coincided with my first pregnancy.

Law school is stressful, pregnancy makes it more so, and nachos make me feel better. No regrets. Truly, really, I’m not kidding: no regrets.

I’ve been a variety of weights in my adult life. Some of this was the result of crash diets, “fat blocking” supplements, 1,000 calorie a day regiments, meal replacement bars; the whole gamut. When I look back on all those days and pictures there is one actually uplifting thing that sticks out to me: despite those terrible plans, I always generally liked my look. I never felt as totally comfortable as I’m beginning to now, but I always thought I had at least a little something going for me.  I wish I could go back and tell myself to focus on that. Tell myself to build on that spark of self-esteem rather than obsessively calorie count.

Hind sight, amiright?

I understand that women who aren’t being featured in an inspirational Glamour exclusive aren’t generally supposed to call themselves attractive – it’s an open invitation for every person on the internet to loudly determine whether or not they’d sleep with you (I’d probably just “friend-zone” you anyway, brah) or explain that you can’t possibly be healthy if you’re over 130 pounds. I don’t really care these days. Not because I’ve come to some fully self-assured perfect place, but because I’m too tired to genuinely care if other people think I’m too jiggly to be hot.

I’ve got my two young kids, an old home we’re remodeling, my marriage and my career to manage: take your harmful social constructs elsewhere.

Of course, confidence (or tiredness) isn’t an “end all be all.” I have insecurities. I don’t like every little piece of myself every day, all the time. I simply like the majority of myself, the majority of the time. That spark of self-confidence was a brilliant place to start a new outlook.

Breastfeeding did a lot of the calorie-burn heavy lifting that led to the weight loss, but I exercised every single day and have learned to be mindful of everything I eat. I’m proud of those changes. I won’t discount the extra push I get from nursing, but I certainly didn’t lose weight like this nursing my first baby. Most of this was me.

In my recent efforts to get healthy my focus has been on a few key goals:

  • What does 1,800 to 2,000ish calories a day look like and feel like? Eat about that. Sometimes you need to say no to food you like. Sometimes you should say yes. DO NOT OBSESS. Just be in the ball park, don’t fret over the seat number.
  • Walk (which later transformed into a wonderful running habit) a minimum of one mile per day. I love tracking data (nerd alert!) Tracking my routes and weekly and monthly mile counts truly delights me. Check out my #mileaday feed on Instagram, @peltoinspace, for my daily walking and running pictures, often exploring UNL East Campus.
  • Try new exercise and fitness challenges that sound pleasurable. If I would rather do laundry than a particular activity, let it go guilt free. It’s not for me.
  • Be outside often. Make sunshine a priority.

Surprise! That worked. It still works. Really well, in fact. My brain and body are in a really good place. I’m celebrating that. Sure, the weight loss is cool, but the person I was 80 pounds ago was amazing, bad ass, tough, hot, all of it. I refuse to discredit her.

What I want to celebrate isn’t what I’ve lost, but what I’ve gained from these 80 pounds.

Let’s do 8 things, because 80. It’s on theme.

  1. My babies. I made both of my babies carrying that weight. That body nourished them and held them. I’ll always be grateful for my pre-pregnancy and pregnant body.
  2. Surprisingly, I gained confidence when I hit my heaviest weight. At my highest (non-pregnant) weight I didn’t really feel conventionally attractive, so I explored less conventional styles that didn’t “require” the body I didn’t think I had. I had purple, blue, and pink hair. I started making my red lipstick a habit. I established my personal style (I call it “Hipster Stevie Nicks”). I was so confidently myself. I started to value my vessel, and at this point I really starting putting my body related self-esteem struggle to rest. From there it was so much easier to be mindful and work on small consistent goals. I learned to START with the self-esteem, not wait for it to come once I reached some arbitrary numeric goal.
  3. Playing on the floor sucks less. Far and away, the best part of losing 80 pounds is the impact it’s had on my relationship to my kids. Life is so much easier when you’re not carrying the equivalent of two of your preschooler before you even pick him up. I’m all about making life easier. This helps!
  4. My relationship with food is changing and growing. I had a notable “starving college student” attitude for years; when it’s there take it, eat it all, and never ever say no to food. Now I’m able to look at the left over pizza in the break room and say, “This isn’t the last time I’ll ever be offered pizza. I’ll say no this time and enjoy it during a time when it’s more fun to indulge.” On the flip side, sometimes I still eat the break room pizza and make a mental note that I should skip the nightly wine and popcorn. Balance, people, who knew? I use a food-dairy app to help me with this. I hope someday to drop the app, but for now it helps me keep track of what I put in my pie hole. My memory tends to get patchy when melted cheese is involved. Recording my food helps keep me honest with myself.
  5. I have good parents. A woman raised in this culture doesn’t get to proclaim that she’s valuable, attractive, likable, or deserving without adults in her formative years who told her that confidence isn’t just OK, it’s mandatory. Because they had gentle but high expectations of me I was forced to acknowledge my inherent worth. I hope I can give this to both my children – I hope they know they have value for simply existing. When one feels worthy of moving mountains, one tends to try.
  6. Jeans, my old foe. It’s a love/hate relationship. We’re back to solidly loving each other. Someone who loves unique style as much as I do would be remiss not to mention how much easier shopping in non-plus sizes is. Note, it should NOT be this way and I hate it, but I won’t pretend it hasn’t made shopping easier.
  7. Podcasts or simply silence. Choosing to be active every single day is a wonderful self-care driven act. Between kids, students, work, emails, bills, you know, life, it’s sometimes a challenge to truly enjoy something that’s just mine. My podcasts, listened to while I huff it around lunch, are my time. I did this before too, but I make more of a point of it now. Once I got into running I started to forgo the ear buds all together. Running for over an hour, just paying attention to city around you, is some good therapy.
  8. I realized I’ve always felt pretty damn hot, and wow, that clarity has been empowering.

I may continue to lose weight as I continue to challenge myself with running. That’s cool.

I’m happy with my vessel wherever it takes me.

What a god damn gift that is.